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The Jazz Singer
Dirty dishes lay on the table after their weekly Sunday meal. A kitten played with a loose string on the floor. A group of people sat around a dark dinner table with the leaf in the middle. Buddy Baker wore a fedora and a nice pin striped suit jacket, Dwight Walker had a white button up shirt and a black hat with a feather in the brim, and Lenore Baker wore a cream colored chiffon dress, tight around the middle and flowing near the bottom. Howard Langston sat at the very head of the table wearing his favorite tux with a white rose in the right breast pocket and his hair slicked back.
After dinner they all went to the local club, Club Cabana, to perform some of their best jazz hits. Dwight on drums, Buddy on bow fiddle, Howard on saxophone, and Lenore on lead vocals singing songs such as At Last and Cry Me a River. Their instruments, though small in quantity, were big in sound. Lenore's voice flowed above them sending all the audience into a trance. Howard watched Lenore as she performed; her smoot golden-brown skin glistened in the stage light beneath her artificial blonde hair. She was going for an Etta James look, but Howard felt Lenore looked better. Buddy watched Howard as he watched his younger sister. Buddy felt he should be the protective older brother, but Howard's obvious fondness of his sister was endearing. Howard was such a genuine guy, that he really couldn't object to his feelings.
The trance was broken, and the audience clapped. Lenore smiled and looked out among the crowd, then back at her accompaniment. Howard couldn't help but wonder, what does she think of me? Her almond eyes looked right at him. Right through him, he figured.
After the show, the group felt like getting an after-the-show treat, so they walked to the corner drug store. Ding! The door's bell announced them. The soda jerk looked up at them. His eyes went from greeting to dismissal.
He approached them and said, "I'm sorry we're closing." He was white. All the customers sitting at the counter, in booths, and at tables, were white.
"Excuse me? There are a ton of people in here," Lenore steamed. The bell dinged again as two young white teenagers walked in and took a seat at the counter. Another younger soda jerk gave them immediate service.
"Well, I'm sorry folks, I can't accept your service." He pointed to a sign behind him that read, "We have the right to refuse service to anyone." Defeated the group looked at one another and turned out the door.
Howard looked at Lenore whose eyes were gleaming. His heart ached with hers. He went to comfort her, but Buddy swooped in and put his huge arms around his sister's petite shoulders. She began to cry. Although she cried, Howard had never seen Lenore look so lovely in her life; he wanted to forever keep this moment in his mind. He blinked and the next thing he knew they were back at his dinner table.
Dishes sat piled up in the kitchen. The grandfather clock in the living room rang. It was four o'clock. Pictures were placed all over the tidy house; pictures of their grandchildren, their children's weddings, and their wedding. Howard loved looking at that picture. Lenore had looked so lovely in that slim white dress, her hair pulled into a bun, and her lips painted red.
Every Sunday Howard would put a leaf in their dark dinner table and Lenore would fix a great Sunday meal. This Sunday she didn't make the meal, she and Howard's daughter Joanne did, along with the help of close family and friends.
Today, Buddy sat wearing a plaid shirt sipping his coffee; his hair was thinning more and more every day. Dwight wore a ratty t-shirt and picked at some coffee cake. Howard just stared down at his half empty plate. His daughter Joanne entered the room and placed her hand on her father's shoulder.
"Dad, Joe and I need to head out. The kids have school tomorrow, but there is food in the fridge, and about a weeks worth of laundry done. I'll call tomorrow and be back on Friday, but if you need anything please just give me a call, ok?" He nodded his head, but she knew he hadn't heard a word. She kissed his cheek and felt a dried tear upon it.
"I love you. See ya Friday." Again he nodded. Joanne exited through the dining room's swinging door.
"I'm sure gonna miss her, " Buddy said as he pointed to a picture of Lenore sitting on the table.
"Yeah, she was really something," Dwight added. Howard could only nod. He didn't want to think about it anymore. He just wanted to sleep. So he closed his eyes. His friends watched as he napped, but he didn't notice them. He was too busy watching as a beautiful young girl in a fitting chiffon dress at ice cream at the local drugstore.