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Blues for Darius
I needed someplace where I could drown all my troubles in a cocktail or two, so after work I took the L train down to Bedford Avenue and wandered into one of those little stuffy hole-in-the-wall jazz bars with an “open mic” sign out front. I was tired of the endless hours at my desk, filing piles of pointless papers and answering incessant phone calls. I was sick of all the dead-end relationships and meaningless one-night stands. I just needed to feel something real tonight.
The club was crowded—perfumed smoke hovered in the dim, hazy atmosphere, making it hard for me to navigate my way through the maze of tables to the bar. But I made it, slid onto a wooden stool and ordered my unfailing remedy for weariness; a dry martini. As I waited, a man—tall, dark, and heart-wrenchingly handsome—edged up to the bar and asked for “the regular.” It was hard not to stare. I turned away but I could feel his eyes penetrate my profile. My drink arrived. I sipped it greedily.
“You have no idea.” My best imitation of nonchalance. Inside, an explosion. From the corner of my eye, I could see him shamelessly eyeing me up and down. I adjusted the thin left strap of my silk camisole.
“Darius Lovehall.” He extended one masculine hand. I fixated on its long, agile fingers then hesitantly reached out with my own pale, sweaty palm. His full grasp made me drunk.
“Nina Mosely.” We shook, an unseen force traveling between our lingering fingers.
“Mmm…” he murmured as he searched within the depths of my eyes. I shook myself from his mesmerizing gaze, reluctantly letting go of his velvet-smooth hand. He took a long draft of the Heineken the bartender had placed in front of him. I could only imagine the inviting, gritty taste of the beer on his lush lips and how I would react if he were to lean in and…
“Let me buy you another drink, Nina.”
“No, I think one’s my limit for tonight, thank you.” He nodded and looked down at the polished wood of the bar. I instantly regretted my brusqueness.
“Deep in thought, huh.” I traced the outline of my glass, careful not to look up.
“Yeah,” I could feel his eyes on me again as he shifted his body closer.
“What are you thinking about?” I was struck with the sudden, undeniable urge to know this man, inside and out.
“A woman I saw once.”
“Oh…she must have been beautiful.”
“She is.” I felt myself blush.
“And now, our next writer, a veteran here, Mr. Darius Lovehall. Please give it up!” He set his bottle down and turned the corners of his mouth into a smile, as if we had just shared a private joke. He walked up to the stage and nodded in the direction of the man who had just introduced him. Then he squinted into the array of tables and spoke softly into the mic.
“Thanks, Johnny. Alright, this is a little something I’ve been working on--it’s new. I call it, uh, ‘Blues for Nina.’” My face burned.
His presence hung all around me as the sultry seductiveness of the saxophone synchronized with his deep, silky voice. In a matter of minutes, I knew every dusted freckle on his gentle face, every smooth wave in his thick, dark hair, and every curve of his slim, limber body. He shut his eyes and swayed in time with the sax, with the sound of the hushed whispers that lay suspended in the smoky air, with the perpetual clinking of wine glasses, and with my heart’s beating, the steady bass to his flowing tempo.
The words he next uttered, beautifully crafted swirls of emotion, were the reason I stopped breathing evenly, the reason my eyes fixated on his succulent, dark lips, awaiting the next syllable to escape. He didn’t even know me but there he was, caressing the microphone stand as if it were a women’s form, my form, reciting each line to me, for me.
I felt all flushed with fever. He had spread me open in the midst of the audience and exposed me to his listeners--the tables of cultured college students and the middle-aged, still-in-love couples. But the exposure was intoxicating.
He finished his set to deafening claps and whistles and modestly walked back to the bar where I was seated trying in vain to hide the effect he had had on me. He looked me full in the face and I felt my very soul ignite with desire. A moment of silence engulfed us where everything around ceased movement. Then…
“So did you change your mind about that drink, Ms. Mosely?” His tender voice threw my heart offbeat.
“I think I might have, Mr. Lovehall.” He smiled warmly and turned to the scantily-clad bartender to order. I stared at the back of his head and counted the beauty marks at the nape of his neck. Flawless, I thought.
“Miss, two of whatever this beautiful, young woman is having.”
“Right away, sir. Oh, and great performance.” The barmaid winked at him seductively and I could see them maintain eye contact. My heart stopped. Perfection came with a price.
A man approached, tearing him away from their staring.
“Hey, Darius! Amazing poem, man! You got my lady buzzin’ over here…”
My mind was reeling. I didn’t know Darius. All I was sure of was the way he had looked at me and made me feel. Who knew that tonight, if I walked out of here with this man, his eyes wouldn’t glisten the same way in the light of the streetlamp. Who could promise me he wouldn’t re-title his poem the next weekend. Someone else’s Blues would end up breaking my heart. All I could do now was remember him, a perfect vision to remain perfectly as he was. So, delicately, while he thanked the man, I leaned in, mouthed a goodbye near his ear, and slid out of the bar the same way I had come in--alone.