NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 10

Two older men in loose jogging outfits shuffled past, re-summarizing for the world last night’s professional football game. “He shoulda called a pass play,” one said. “They shoulda fired the sonofabitchin’ coach last year, when they had the chance, “the other said. “Dumb money.” They moved on, each one raising a hand to the heavens to emphasize a point. One was oblivious to the back of a trouser cuff caught in the top of his argyle sock. Loss of style as a forgiven price of aging? I wondered. After a pause the woman coughed, then spat to one side. She had been talking quietly to herself, and I caught only the word “daughter.” Then: “Yes, I was something else, sugar. I’ll get back to my body story later. I could sing, too, I want you to know. Perfect pitch they call it. Watch.” “High C,” she said. “Perfect every time.” I nodded, not knowing a C from a G, but I would remember the effect on the witnesses at the lake during that early afternoon. “But the years fly by,” she said. She sniffed and scraped a fingernail near a mole just above one corner of her mouth. “The voice stays longer than the legs and hips. I got offers to do scary films — stupid shit with hardly no clothes on. You know, strapped down and some guy with wild hair standing over me, slobbering like crazy and bats flying everywhere. You know, stuff like that. Everything that you, a stranger, a dude I don’t know, couldn’t even imagine.” And what could I imagine about this woman stranger in her younger days? From her talk I should imagine her fitting into a sequined sheath dress with slits on each side. My last girlfriend could do it so easily. I might be forced to imagine her nude on a polar bear rug in some crude imitation of a Playboy centerfold — looking dreamily into the camera, her mole apparent, on her side a thigh raised, exposing a fist of pubic hair, a smile brighter than headlights two feet away. And yet, seen up close, she had the skin smoother looking than most women I had ever seen. I wanted to touch her arm with two fingers. If I were a photographer, how would I show off such skin, the skin of a poor woman? Yet how come “poor”? She could be an eccentric with thousands of worn bills stacked and bound by rubber bands in shoe boxes or in Mason jars buried in shallow graves in land willed to her in north Georgia. She could be anyone I could never imagine in a million years. All I know is this skin and this voice and this quick tour of her life’s map. But what might she care to know of me? After all, she must know there is more than one story here. I would bide my time. I pressed on. “Sounds like you have done a lot,” I said. “More than even you could have ever imagined from….where you say you’re from?” “Troy, Ohio. Itty bitty town between Dayton and Union City.” “I’m from Indiana, close by. Small town. We got our stories, too.” She blew out cigarette smoke. “Folks just don’t know. Stor