Editor’s note: This is the 16th episode of “Black & Single Blues” since the series began in our February 14 issue. Thus far, Dwight Hobbes’ continuation and expansion of a story that originally appeared in Essence magazine has taken Keith Jackson through prolonged reflection on his relationship with Lesli Hall, who remain unaware of Keith’s doubts about their future. Readers who have followed the story from its beginning will find their anticipation amply rewarded in upcoming segments. Readers who have only recently tuned in can access the entire series on the MSR website. Enjoy!
That was a wrap. His contract was up. Keith had finished working The Lion King in Las Vegas. Despite dealing with an impossibly moronic musical director, a wonderful two months it’d been. Especially seeing Lesli on Sundays, after the evening set and on the odd occasion she made it down after the matinee. If he’d taken up the option and renewed for another six weeks, they could’ve gone on with her shuttling back and forth from L.A.
But he’d become bored with the town, bored with playing the same songs eight times a week, and just needed a change of pace. The only thing he was going to miss was her. Keith hadn’t been the only one breaking camp. Gerry, pretty much quitting the business, had been on his way back to being whipped by his soon-to-be wife Denise. Luis had been booked in the recording studio with Carlos Santana, then doing War’s comeback tour.
The three had hunkered down at the airport bar for a ceremonial hosing down before heading off, back to their respective lives. Not the same as going their separate ways. Sooner or later, they’d see one another again.
He’d been first to go and, leaving his buddies still getting nicely inebriated, grabbed his bag and guitar and made his flight. Something to which he’d been greatly looking forward. Time and space with Lesli had been scarce. Accordingly, she would be waiting in the room when he got back from the theater.
They would set eyes on each other and, every time, shelve plans to go out and do something, promptly shedding their clothes. And, after trying to damn near kill each other, collapse, waking sometime around midday, again unable to keep their hands to themselves. They may have poked their noses out from under the covers long enough to make it out of the room once or twice.
Finally, taking the week off from work, he’d be able to enjoy being with her for more than a day or two at a time. No need to thirst after each moment like craving water in the desert.
When he got to L.A., she’d been waiting at the gate. Wearing hell out of a pair of skin-tight jeans, Dodgers tee-shirt, giving him a great big Kool-Aid smile and a cheerful, “Hey, baby!”
“Lord have mercy, girl, would y’ look at you!” With an embrace and kiss that probably didn’t belong in a public place, they couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Her place had been nicely appointed. If he’d ever paid attention to his apartment, it might look something like hers: sharp furniture, cool paintings and pictures on the walls. Tall potted plants.
Soon as Lesli had stepped in the door, her husky feline Bruno had come sidling up. Possibly the dumbest cat in all God’s creation, helplessly adorable. Keith hadn’t been sure whether he liked Bruno or just felt sorry for him. “Drop your stuff anywhere”, she’d said. “I’ll clear you away some closet space.”
With which she’d kicked the door closed with the heel of her sneaker and walked off into the bedroom. Bruno trotted behind, crying and whining. “You’ll eat, cat”, she’d said, “when I feed you. It’s not like you’re missing any meals.”
Whereupon he came over to Keith, who begged off: “Sorry, guy. Can’t help you. I don’t even know where she keeps the food.” The cat cast him a sour glance that may as well have said, “A whole lot of help you are,” then hopped up on the sofa, grooming himself.
Next week: Keith, bored, decides to move some furniture.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
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