Excerpt Journal Entry – A Rolling Stone
….and just four days in New York, again.
It isn’t like I miss the thrill of the lights or the toll of the clinking glasses through the murmur of a crowd. Every night is exactly the same and I hear them as they comingle with the heavy atmosphere and smoke until you forget what tour bus you took to get here.
Even if the scenic byways on the roads to get here were bucolic enough to make me homesick for the Midwest, the brick and mortar inside these basement dives all begins to look the same, is what I’m trying to say.
Christ, what am I thinking? Just sapping myself into the mold of a true believer. You know that guy from the commercials: He’s the one who hangs a coat by the front door and kisses a pretty dame on the cheek as she takes his hat. The same fella who finds himself in black and white, sitting down to a pot roast and asking some half-pint how his school day was while holding up a bottle of ketchup for the camera with a smile full of platitudes.
That white-picket song and dance just feels so god damned dirty. I’ll be sure to shower after I buy this vanilla cream-puff behind the courtesy counter a drink and call her sugar until the dawns early light streams through the curtains of this cheap motel on 42nd street.
We were on a break after the first set in Chicago. I headed to the bar to get a drink. The bartender handed me a matchbook with a phone number and a single word: Regrets.
Now that’s a new approach. Either I was going to be sorry for of all the sordid things I’ve ever done or, I was about end up having the night of my life. I tucked the matchbook inside my jacket and picked up the glass of gin on the rocks leaving that bartender with a toast to his stamina.
The closest payphone sits next to the coat-check. I remember the girl inside like it was yesterday; her quirky mouth innocently tipped in a smile framed by the silkiest dark hair I’d ever seen. I picked up the handset and dialed the number making the split decision to give her something to smile about as soon as I was done making the call.
The phone rang several times before a dusky contralto came on the line. “Soretto’s, this is Diana.” She had a furry, velvety voice.
“What if I said I’m the guy holding a matchbook full of some dames Regrets?” I asked looking at the inside cover where I had her number in bold script, smudged with a little pair of red pressed lips.
“Who is this?” Her question was a hoax – one that I wanted to close my eyes and roll around naked in.
“My name is Henry Rule, you watched me play at the Blue Door,” I said conspicuously. She laughed. The promise behind it rich enough to be considered the stuff dreams are made of. The kinds of things you do not want to talk about it with other people present; Not with an acquaintance – Not with your pals over a Cuban cigar – Not even, with your wingman.
“A man who wants to be watched while he plays. Why, Mr. Rule, I think I like you already.” I felt it then, the tug of a knowing smile because she had no idea what would come next….
…and neither do you.
There is nothing like a Jazz bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, to remind you that the world is a lonely place indeed. Present company excluded of course; because this doll-face at the end of the bar I had thought to chat up suddenly had her hands (and perhaps her legs) wrapped around an ol’ green-eyed swarthy Monster who looked down the length of the bar directly at me with what seemed to be murderous intent. Defeated by the circumstances of self-loathing (and her Cuba Libre swirling in the glass she held next to a bicep the circumference of my head) I pushed off the bar stool leaving a hefty tip for bartender in the process of making my exit.
Behind the auspiciousness of a suit and tie, a man is only ever just a man in the eyes of a complicated, indifferent woman. While nestling a hat on my head from the rack near the door, I offered a good evening to her by way of a wink of understanding. She seems to have herself and that big shaggy jealous ragin’ cajun in check.
“Evenin’ Mistah,” the cigarette girl who’d been so helpful earlier said from the venue of the hostess stand where she draped leisurely, gossiping with a girl-friend. She waggled her fingers from their perfect poise against a pink blushing cheek right at me.
Whew. “Darlin, if you only knew what you do …” Whistling sharply twice before letting it dwindle to a low note the tune from a sad-sack, of a sorry excuse, for an old man. I leaned close in passing, inhaling deeply the sweet rose perfume she’d dotted under her earlobe. This’ll sound strange, but in a way I am sure that subtle scent was put there just for me to stop…and smell.
Slowly I lifted an umbrella into the heavy downpour down through the 8th ward. Torrents run off the awning of the down-cellar bar hammering at the taut stretch of black nylon. Smiling and looking up into the sky, I felt the rain pelt me right in the kisser, lifting the grain against my five-o-clock shadow with the chill.
The river, I’ve heard tell, waits for no man to rock and roll, so down the shoreline of a sidewalk I tumbled on a lightness of being like a stone in the current; unhurried and unhindered.