Luis, Keith mused, had given him hell about dropping him off at his doorstep last night lit up like a Christmas tree. Well, too damned bad for Luis. Luis, after all, had somebody to come home to and catch hell from.
Keith sat in the kitchen nursing his hangover and a cup of strong coffee, nibbling at a bagel. Remembering a morning not so long ago…
He and Lesli had exhausted each other in bed. Both were hungry. Neither had enough strength to move. He’d lost the toss, shrugged the covers off his shoulders, swung his legs around, feet touching the floor, willed himself to stand. And walk. Far enough to go take a shower. Reasonably awake, he’d come back in toweling off and asked, “Baby, what you want for breakfast?” Then looked at the clock on the dresser. “Uh, lunch?”
She had stepped into a thong and was fastening her bra. “Whatever you feel like cooking.”
That would be nothing. The only thing he’d felt like making for lunch was reservations somewhere. He went into the kitchen, grabbed a handful of menus and sat down on the living room sofa, spreading them out on the coffee table. Which is when Bruno had stirred from his catbed, stretched, and strolled over with a hoarse, barely audible, “Meow.”
“Meow, yourself.” He looked at Bruno and Bruno looked at him. “Go talk to her.” Bruno kept looking at him. “Oh, okay.”
In the kitchen, he’d opened a cupboard. No catfood left. Somebody forgot to jot it down on the shopping list. He’d groused, “Whose cat is it?” Keith opened a can of tuna, gave it to him, and made a mental note to get the little guy some grub.
He chuckled: For all his lady’s acumen when it came to organizing the library and having her apartment meticulously arranged with everything in its appointed place, she wasn’t so good at other things. Like having a full fridge, barely keeping more than a cold light bulb in the ice box. Or, much as she loved the rascal, keeping Bruno’s water bowl fresh. He’d shrugged, musing, “Ain’t nobody perfect. Not even the perfect woman.” And decided to order them both some Chinese.
Then he’d put Samantha Smith’s demo on the stereo. Lesli had strolled into the kitchen in her underwear and gone straight to the fridge, gulping grapefruit juice from the container, a little dribbling down her chin. The music started, some nice piano work followed by a bright, wistful voice with sensual depth to it.
“A Black Carly Simon,” Keith had immediately thought. Though he still wasn’t sure she was Black.
“Who’s that?” Lesli’d asked, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand,
“You missed a spot.” She’d smiled, dabbing at her chin. “Remember those kids we ran into at the airport?” he said. “One of them a brassy young broad?”
She’d stopped smiling. “Yeah.”
“This is her.”
She’d given him a sour look. “I’m gonna get dressed.” He’d watched her go and decided not to say anything. Smith’s envelope lay there on the table. Listening to the demo, he’d pulled her headshot out. And was able to solve the mystery of her ethnicity. The mile-high cheekbones, those wide eyes. Sensuous lips. A generous smile that could tempt a saint to commit sin.
Whatever the mix, how much of which, the kid was Indian. Not Native American. From India. Not quite the spitting image of Hollywood indie-hottie Jo Mani, but still close enough he was surprised it hadn’t occurred to him right off the bat.
He’d laughed out loud. And kept listening, raising an eyebrow to a blues rock number that had an angelic lilt to the vocal that belted out some pretty bawdy lyrics. The kid had chops. Potential. Wasn’t all the way there yet, but she was damned good.
Now, months later, he recalled Lesli’s sour look that morning and couldn’t figure out for the life of him what he could do about the woman’s jealousy. Still nursing the coffee, not doing much damage to the bagel, he asked himself, “Even if you do get her back, you can bet it still will never be a good idea to have her and Samantha in the same room.
Not good. For several reasons. He and Samantha both would be working with Helen St. James. And, for that matter, he was already hatching a brainstorm about producing Samantha in the studio.
He took an earnest gulp of coffee, a bite of the bagel. “Damn.”
Next week: Keith ponders his work with Samantha Smith, object of Lesli’s jealousy
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