NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 96

Walking Down the Night By DUANE NIATUM “Why not. With a little luck her night perfume could raise us from the dead for one more dance. Skoal!” “Make that a twice-told skoal! For the sound of its ring!” “Say, Cal. You going to the party?” “What party? Zock, I’ve heard no rumor of any party.” I “Well, according to the bar maid it’s to blast all night two streets north on Ninth in a house that would please any Dickens’ fans.” He sat at the bar, drinking a beer, feeling a welcome pleasure in the music from the juke box interwoven with the bar’s “yeah, yeah, yeah.” “Hi, Ron! Where’s Joy, your better half? Cal laughs, “Sure, right down the street where everyone’s as lit as the dark. Or is it space in the dark?” 94 “Can anyone tell me who I am?” “Say buddy, you got the time?” “Don’t go to strangers, come to me,” which suggested there could be continuity in this collage of people and separate happenings. And to appease the mind running on its track, he took another sip of beer, then a longer one, and finished it. He looked at the glass, the cold, empty, and fuzzy glass in front of him, and was slightly shaken. The three foam rings inside became a three-way circus. He made faces back at the clowns in the center ring whose eyes were the scars of burnt-out light and broken promises. A voice changed the scene to the hopeful, the solid connection of a person known as more than a sound echoing around the bar. “Hey, Zock. Who’s calling you from inside that glass?” 003-Main-Content.indd 94 “Hi, Cal. Would you believe, a three-ring carnival. I’m currently asking the clowns if they would choose someone else to make faces at.” Zock turns to his friend, makes a face, pulls on his lip, and growls. Cal watches and says, “Now I see you’re bulldog Zock, the carny watcher who maybe needs another beer before he gets mixed-up in their show. I’ll buy.” “Gladly accepted, I’m getting thirstier by the minute. So grab a seat. How’s the world treating you, Cal?” “Since the Muse has me chasing images from one wall to the next, I’d have to say, not bad. Asking poesy what the day has made of my life. So shall we drink to the art of life, the sweetest woman on the road, Zock?” “I’ve made a note of the party but would suggest you sit down, Cal; you’d be less a blur to my vision.” “Sorry about your blur block.” “Cal, did I ask for that? But tell me. How’s your sweet Laura? She hasn’t been around for a couple of weeks.” “That girl’s amazing, Zock. She pulled a surprise on me last Saturday by playing a tape of her singing with a local jazz band currently at a gig in Portland. Zock, the songs nearly melted my wax. I almost drowned in the sea of Icarus. Her voice had me dancing round the couch and into the kitchen for another drink. So I’d say Laura’s doing fine and we may yet hear her stomping at the Savoy. Anita O’Day will need to hold tight to her worry beads. And June Christy might as well pack up her bags and move back to Michigan.” 3/29/15 12:07 PM