of Her Smile
It was one of those magical, star-filled nights, the moonlight shimmering across the tops of the trees
and filtering like angel hair down upon the parking lot of
the motel we were staying at somewhere outside Philadelphia.
Earlier in the evening it had lightly rained, which accentuated the heady ambrosia of the flowers lining
the driveway. The concert we had just performed at a local high school had ended around 11:30 so
the night was still young.
Neither Stan nor myself was ready for bed, needing the next few hours to unwind. We waited patiently
on the bus while the rest of the guys, smiling and happy the concert had gone so well made their way
off the bus on their way to do things guys do when the night beckons.
parkway Stan stood up, lifted down a bottle of J&B Scotch he had stashed away in the overhead
compartment atop his seat, turned and said:
'Yes,' I replied.
toward one of the side doors of the motel which opened into an expansive conference room. At the far end of the deserted room a concert grand piano, which had seen better days was draped against the wet bar.
their hearts out this evening. 'I think even Fitz had a ball,' he laughed, 'Did you catch all the marvelous things
he did on 'Malaguena?'
resident curmudgeon was in rare form tonight.'
still carrying for Virginia, who had begun divorcing me two months ago in Baltimore, where we
had made our home following graduation
from college the year before.
ever so effortlessly began running his right hand across three octaves.
Magically, light, airy grace notes began dancing lyrically across the
empty room and began turning that dark, dank chamber into a musical
wonderland locked in time and space. As he got more into what he was doing
and was thoroughly pleasured by what he was hearing he swiveled his body
around to the keyboard and began adding a series of mahogany-rich chords
with his left hand.
of a score of complex, superbly-designed passages which floated down the
long corridor of the room. As he came to the end he rested his right hand
on a minor, dissonant chord which rose up and sprang toward the ceiling.
As he handed me
mine, I looked at him sheepishly and asked:
too young, too stupid, too god damn involved to realize I was sacrificing her for the Band.
he said: 'Let's change the subject. I hate living in the past.
Too many ghosts. Too many demons.'
psyche. Yet, being young and a bit self-absorbed I couldn't help blurting
out 'Now, you know how I feel.'
decides it's over. It's done. Finished. It's best to come to grips with it and move on.' Then he reached
over, squeezed my arm and laughed. 'Just keep in mind we always have the Band. Our great, big
about it, the more I knew he was right. Nineteen wandering minstrels sure as hell could spread around
of love, thanks to their extraordinary talent.
in his left hand he began constructing one of his neat, little Kenton-inspired themes. Spreading the
fingers of his right hand out
in block chord style he began adding big-band complimentary phrasing.
pieces were assembled. We had been talking for about 25-minutes when a soft voice called out
from a shadowy corner of the room:
woman in her early 30s approached the piano from out of the dark recesses
of the room..
I might have a chance to meet you.
join us?' he asked without waiting for a reply as he reached for another glass.
she removed a cigarette from an expensive gold case, then held it expectantly against her lips
waiting for one of us to light it. She laughed as two matches flared simultaneously.
'Sure, if I know it,' Stan replied.
"For You. For Me. Forevermore," and "How Long Has This
Been Going On?"
playing. It was apparent she was in another time and place as she kept her eyes closed, softly
mouthing the lyrics. To say I had instantly fallen in love with this enchanting, mysterious woman
was putting it mildly. I could have cared less that she was at least 8 years older than me. I was deeply
affected by her presence and I wished to know more about
It had taken him about 14 minutes to work his way through the three Gershwin melodies which had
turned that dingy, god forsaken room into a mythical place of shimmering romance, thanks in no
small measure to the gorgeous woman sitting alongside him.
like two babbling, schoolboy idiots and walked her out through the room to the parking lot. There,
waiting for her was a somber, giant of a man, holding open the rear door of a long, sleek limousine.
doubt armed and all
no-nonsense. As the limousine slithered into the late night she slowly
rolled her window down, leaned forward, brushed her fingers to her lips
and blew us a kiss.