Just Play Me John Coltrane

We danced through the first CD and continued to hold each other while a second one started.

The sun had begun its late-afternoon descent and strong light was slanting through the front shutters. Pretty soon it would be time to start a fire.

About a minute into the song, Leah asked. “Who is this, anyway?”

“It’s Lucinda Williams,” I responded. “Do you like it?”

“It’s incredibly sexy.”

“Um-hmm,” I breathed into her neck, lifting her hair away.

If you haven’t heard World Without Tears, go looking for it soon.

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Forget about the raw folk of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and picture Lucinda on the stage in a dark, seedy nightclub.

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She’s barefoot and wearing a short, skimpy sequined dress. Her legs are bare and her lipstick is smeared. It’s the small hours of the morning and she’s drunk and has been making out on a couch in the back of the room for hours, breaking only for clove cigarettes and more whiskey.

Last call has come and gone, the club has cleared out, and the band is packing up. But she talks the band into staying on the stage a little longer so she can sing a private concert to the woman in the back.

I move up to a table near the front row, and lean back in my chair, spreading my arms out across the backs of two others. She closes her eyes and leans in close to the microphone, lips touching it, slurring her words. She runs her hands down the sides of her dress and sways a little, catching herself with an extra step. The band looks questioning, but she nods at them to go on, and stoops over between songs to pick up her drink. It shines amber under the lights.

In her second number, “Righteously,” she opens her eyes and looks right at me, singing to me, and through me. She’s seducing me and mocking me, making fun of the whole preoccupation with the butch/femme continuum.

You don’t have to prove
Your manhood to me constantly
I know you’re the man can’t you see
I love you Righteously

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I’m mesmerized. I can’t escape her gaze. Can’t tear my eyes away from the slow swivel of her hips as she keeps singing.

When you run your hand
All up and run it back down my leg
Get excited and bite my neck
Get me all worked up like that

I light a clove cigarette, the smoke rising up into the lights. She gestures to me, asking for it. And I take my offering to the edge of the stage, handing the cigarette up to her, my head level with the hem of her dress. Her eyes never leave me as I back away and sit down. The cigarette barely hangs between her lips as she leans into the microphone again.

Be my lover don’t play no game
Just play me John Coltrane

She breathes out the last line.

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“Holy shit,” Leah said, softly into my ear.

“No kidding.”

“It’s almost as good as sex.”

“Let me tell you,” I said, leaning back a little to look at her, my arms around her waist. “When I picked this up a couple of days ago, I was ovulating and there was a full moon. It was sex.”

“And it will be again.”

Leah turned me around and began to dance me slowly down the hallway towards the bedroom.

“What comes on after this?” she asked.

“John Coltrane.”

###

3 responses to “Just Play Me John Coltrane

  1. “The artist’s dilemma and the meditator’s are, in a deep sense,
    equivalent. Both are repeatedly willing to confront an unknown and
    to risk a response that they cannot predict or control.”
    I only had time to read two of your stories. One worked on the nexus of painting and language, like a painting/story and this one on the verge of music and language like song/story, which to my mind makes them very cool (sorry about the technical phraseology).
    Your prose is crystal clear and lucid, there is a momentum and subtle emotional energy that carries the reader through the story, the characters are revealed rather than described, which is to say very good writing.
    I will put you on my blogroll so I don’t forget to come back and read the rest.
    hello, again,

  2. Oh wow. That image of the narrator handing her clove up to the singer onstage gave me goosebumps. I was there.

  3. That was SO HOT!!! I love it!!

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