Purple Clovers (The Proverbial Peacock)

“Yup. This is it for sure,” I murmur to myself, folding the piece of paper with directions on and pocketing it.

As soon as I step inside, I see the giant peacock statue she had told me about, standing a good eight feet in height at the back of the dimly lit room. It’s a rather impressive sight to bare in a bar, in a not-so-fancy part of town. Poised tall and perfectly still with intricate detailing. The realness of its eyes almost give it character, its own personality.  Its diligent and unchanging expression reminds me of some kind of overseer at the back of the bar, making sure everything’s in order. Not in an uncomfortable way, though. It is quite a pleasant figure to stare back at.

My gape of admiration is disturbed by a waving hand in my peripherals, then a confidently voiced call of my name. Remy is sat at a small table near the back. I make my way over to her and pull out the seat opposite.

“You’re a little early,” I mention in a semi-playful tone. She dubs out a half-smoked cigarette in the ashtray on the table before saying,
“Oh? I guess that makes you a little early, then.”

With a smile, she reaches to shake my hand. The first thing I notice about Remy since the last time I saw her is her change of hair colour. She had plum-coloured hair before, now it is a pale blonde, nearing a grey-ish white. Slick and short like a newborn baby’s hair. It contrasts almost artistically with her sheeny, mahogany skin-tone.

She’s in a puffy faux fur sweater which is burgundy in colour. Probably an expensive Julien David piece. It sure looks expensive. The rest of her attire is hidden beneath the table. Smokey red brown eye-shadow circles her narrow eyes, but doesn’t do a job of concealing the deep lines under them. Lines which have developed overtime under eyes which appear to have seen much, shed much.

With her forearms placed neatly before her on the table, Remy stares at me with a faint smile as I remove my jacket and place it behind my chair. I notice her big hooped earrings, and then some of her other piercings; a tiny stud in her right nostril, a Medusa piercing, double helix, and one forward helix piercing. Her image was clearly deliberate and polished.

“Drinks? Drinks,” she says, then signals for a waiter. She orders two tall glasses of red wine, and tells the waiter to put both drinks on her tab.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she says to me as the waiter trails off to fulfill the duty. “What, you’ve never had a lady pay for your drink?”
“No, actually, it’s just that I can p-…”
“Nonsense,” she interjects. “It’s your first time here, right? I’ll treat ya.” She smiles.

*

We clink glasses and take a sip. I give the rest of the room a once-over. It’s far more spacious than any bar I’ve been to, and is arranged less like a bar than it is a restaurant (they even serve a decent selection of dishes). Groups, couples and individuals all based on various tables around the room, sipping away merrily, chit-chatting about who knows what. Soft jazz sounding from a direction I cannot quite decipher. Waiters scurrying professionally from table to table. The sound of glasses being placed and retrieved onto and from tables. The clanging of knives and forks against plates. A vast sea of conversations ringing all at once.

The place is all very new to me. It’s like a hybrid of an ambiance restaurant and a bar. There could be someone winding down after a long day, enjoying a nice quiet dinner, whilst a group on the table beside him aren’t far off excessive drunkenness. No one appears to be disturbed or out of place, though. It seems everyone knew exactly what to expect before they came in. And the archaic peacock statue, in its own, bizarre way, compliments this vibrant restaurant-bar setting. Lax, though enticingly atmospheric.

*

“So, what d’you think of the statue? You like it?” Remy begins, directing her gaze at the peacock, then back to me. She’s sat deliberately upright with her hands rested on the edge of table. At the tip of her slender brown fingers are long, sharp nails painted a few shades darker than her hair.
“It’s impressive, I must admit. You weren’t kidding. It’s a more than decent piece of work,” I tell her. “Nice to look at.”
“Told ya. You know, each time I’ve come here, it’s like the statue says something to me. Something different to the previous time,” she says in a more introspective tone. I don’t quite grasp what she’s saying.
“Oh, really?”
“Mm-hmm,” she nods, mid sip. I turn my head to the peacock, then back at her.
“So what’s it saying to you today?”

For some 20 seconds, Remy says nothing. Just stares intently at the lifeless peacock. She places her right elbow on the table and then rests her slightly cocked head in her palm. Eyes subtly squinted. Eventually she says,
“Not sure yet. Need a few more swigs at this,” tapping at her glass of wine, then laughing a little. I let out a smile and notice Charles Mingus’ ‘Celia’ oozing from the bar’s sound system.

Thank you for reading. This is an old, unfinished piece I decided to work on. I decided to make it two parts. The link to part 2 is here: https://wordpress.com/post/mmwiinga.wordpress.com/4953
Criticisms and feedback are always welcome.

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Sweet, Sweet November (The lady on stage)

It was a Thursday evening. I had clocked off from work a little earlier than usual. And so with that little extra time on my hands I decided to go to a bar for a drink or two. Somewhere different from my usual local selection. Somewhere not too far out though, I had a long Friday ahead of me and wanted to keep the bar visit fairly brief. I hailed a taxi.

“Do you know any decent bars somewhere away from this area? Say, a little further north perhaps?”
“Hmm, up north… up north.” The taxi driver gave it some thought with his hands gripped firmly to the steering wheel.
Half turning back to me, he said, “Ah! I know, there’s one I like to go to in Brent Cross. About 15 minutes’ drive from here. That’s a fairly decent joint.”
“What’s it like?” His face became smirched with a utterly reflective expression. “Umm… Well, it’s nothing fancy, I’ll tell ya that. It’s convenient, though. Reasonably cheap, and it shouldn’t be too packed on a night like this.”

I had no idea what a “convenient” bar was supposed to be like. But as he hadn’t mentioned anything notably terrible about the place, I checked my watch and decided to give the bar a chance.

The bar, named ‘Arthur’s, had a very hollow feel to it. The lighting was dim, and not in a relaxing sort of way. Just dim. It was as if a few bulbs had died out a while ago and the owner had no intention of replacing them. The carpet was dull and plagued with spill stains, decorations were minimal, and very few souls occupied the building (of which hardly any looked as if they even wanted to be there – like attending the bar was some kind of duty they had to serve).

Removing my thin scarf and jacket, I ordered a chilled brew and pondered why anyone would name a bar ‘Arthur’s’. Unless of course the owner’s name was Arthur, which would prove Mr Arthur to be a very drab and unimaginative individual, much like his bar setting. I sipped slow while surveying the interior of the building. Then I retreated my gander and noticed my fingers tapping against the counter to a Radiohead song which hooted unfittingly in the background.

I didn’t stay for very long. I downed the beer and left the bartender a £5 tip beside the almost empty pint glass. When the frigid winds outside struck me I buttoned my coat to the top, burying my chin inside my scarf. The beer had left a grimy, salty taste in my mouth. I had to wash it down. So I began to amble through the unfamiliar streets, hands shoved in pockets, searching for another bar. One characterised with a little more ambiance, I’d hoped.

Five minutes’ walk down the high street, I strolled into a bar which enticed me for reasons I couldn’t give. I mean, it didn’t look all that great from the outside for one. It may have been the faint noise that was coming from inside. It sounded like a live band performance.

The inside was fairly large. An impressive-looking bar stood at the far right of the room, a smallish stage was directly opposite the doorway, and there were tables scattered in the centre of the room. People chattered, laughed, watched the live performers, and drank. But even with all this going on, the place held quite a relaxing air.

I took a seat at the bar. The young blokes who were a few stools away gulped down beer after beer and undisturbingly cheered on the performers. The couples and individuals and groups who loosened up around tables sipped away at their various beverages. The atmosphere was loose, a pleasant energy filled the bar. And the jazzy performances complimented the mood, too. It seemed as though local artists and bands were invited to display their talents on stage at the bar on specific nights. I’d happened to stumble in on one of those nights.

“Welcome to Blues Ariawhat can I do you for, sir?” My fascination with the lady on the stage delayed my brain from computing what was said to me.
“Umm… uh… I’ll have what they’re having.” I replied, gesturing to the lads on my left.
“Coming right up!” he said, disappearing gleefully.

The lady on the stage couldn’t have been any older than 22. She had on grungy boots, dark clothes, and had long braided hair, black with midnight-blue streaks in. Her lips were coloured in a bright pink, which I thought was ill-fitting with her tender cinnamon brown complexion (but what do I know about all that).

She sang over an enchanting blues melody. It reminded me of Paul Desmond’s ‘Glad to Be Unhappy’ collection. Cool and dark. Her emotionally fuelled voice gave the number something more though. It was somehow like a graceful butterfly’s reflection on a still, forgotten pond. She would occasionally face the trio supporting from behind her. Then she would turn back to the audience, giving us an intense, meaningful look whilst clutching the mic close to her lips and swaying in motion to the music.

Once the song was done, the lady thanked the audience for its’ round of applause before exchanging a few unheard words with the band, and they geared themselves up for the next number. I recognised it almost immediately. It was a jazzy rendition of SZA’s ‘Sweet November’. The lady on the stage sang with such striking passion and with a certain bounce to it that didn’t do away with the elegance the original carries.

Our eyes met at one point. It was strange. I got one of those weird little sensations you can never quite put into words. I was so caught off guard my stomach sank a little. And it was like in that very brief slice of time, the pace of everything changed and grew unclear.

I stood motionless, beer in hand, taken aback by the brilliance of it all. When she and the band were through with her set, they waved thankfully at the applauding audience and took a bow. The lady on the stage blew kisses to audience, the band behind her, and exited the stage while the applauds still reigned.

Thanks for reading! This is a revised piece from roughly two years ago now. I wanted to continue it, but thought I’d better redo this part first. I didn’t really have a particular focus with this one, simply just writing. Criticisms and feedback are always welcome. Also, let me know if you’d like me to read and give feedback on anything you’ve written, I’m more than happy to.

Elsa

Her silhouetted form swayed and gyred before me. Long, dark hair, which was like liquid and silk, leaked from her scalp down passed the length of her spine. The subtle parting between her lower and upper lip was detectable even in the dimness of the room. A caliginous crimson glow painted the four walls from head to toe.

The preamble to Ahmad Jamal’s ‘Invitation‘ surged through the atmosphere, gently finding a comfortable descent onto my skin – each note, each melody oozing its way through my veins.

I simply watched her. The tasteful undulating of her hips ingested my focus, holding me fast in bewitchment. With her arms raised loosely above her head, her fingers pointed to the ground, and her head tilted towards her left shoulder, she continued wavering to the chiming of the song like a supple flame, dancing in a still, dark room.

A few feet behind her, an array of six lime-green lava lamps sat on a protrusion of the wall (the way books may rest on a bookshelf nailed to a wall), three on either side of the shadowy figure before me. The bright blobs of wax emanated an alluring glow, but still did not seize my gawk in the same manner the figure before me did.

 

***

 

From through the window, the keenness of his surveillance was that of a sentinel keeping watch through the night in enemy encampment. What he was watching for, though, was no enemy troop or military vehicle from the opposition. He was watching for her.

Elsa.

He’d arranged with a private (and expensive) taxi service that she be picked up at 9pm sharp. Something dark that looks good, he’d said when asked what type of vehicle he wanted her to be picked up in. Opulent, but subtle.

Once he recognised her stepping out of the black 1975 Opel Manta that pulled up beside the restaurant, his heart began thumping at the wall of his chest. Rapid and unsteady.
He tried not recall the lines he’d spent all morning (as well as the evening prior to it) reciting in preparation to fill any awkward gaps in their dialogue.

Just let it flow. Yes, let it flow, he murmured under his breath, dabbing his mouth with a napkin. He watched as the neatly dressed chauffeur closed the door behind her, and gave a slight nod before she headed for the entrance.

The restaurant lighting was dim. The ambiance, vibrant and consistent. A blanket of soft conversation stretched throughout, and gapes of awe daubed most of the faces of those present as they watched the quartet on stage perform a live rendition of Ahmad Jamal’s ‘Blue Moon‘.

He pulled out the seat for her as she removed her furry camel jacket. Beneath that, a skin-tight halter dress in a slyly darker shade of the same colour groped her frame down to her shins. Black, suede, cross-strap scarpin heels at her feet, and a light brown fur scarf rested loosely around her neck.

“You look great. Amazing, actually.” he began. She thanked him, and they exchanged pleasantries for some moments.
“This place,” she said, “is very nice, I must say. Quite fitting to my taste.”
“You think so? I was really hoping you’d like it,” he said as he gave the room another once over. “I visit here every now ‘n’ then, but I’ve never actually invited someone here for dinner before.”
She averts her gaze from the stage to his eyes. “So I should feel special, right?”

Waiters sifted professionally like cordial ghosts from table to table. The sound of glasses being placed and retrieved onto and from tables rang softly in the air, as well as the clanging of knives and forks against plates. The quartet reformed and then performed a rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Stone Flower’. 

A tall, slim-bodied waiter approached their table politely with two menus in his hand. Placing a menu each before them, he said, “Good evening, welcome, and I hope you’re enjoying your visit at Blues Ária so far. This is the menu for tonight. Inside, you’ll see a list of our soft drinks, warm beverages and alcoholic drinks. May I please take your order for the drinks first?”

Smiling competently, the waiter poised his pen to his small pad and waited for the two to respond. Elsa asked for a glass of water. “No ice, please,” she added.

“One water, no ice,” he repeats. “And anything for you, sir?”
“How about your finest Cabernet Sauvignon,” he said to the waiter, then – looking to Elsa – said, “You like wine?”
With her chin propped on the palm of her right hand, she said, “Yeah [small nod]. I like wine.”

The waiter echoed the order for Cabernet Sauvignon and told them he’d be back in a brief moment with their drinks, and also to place the orders for appetizers.

The pair talked for a little while about work as they surveyed the menus.
“You work with children? What’s that like?”
“Only like the most amazing thing in the world. Kids, I believe, have this life more… Well, I won’t say figured out, but they are definitely more in touch with the world and the essence of life than we grown-up. Of course, they’re still in their primitive and essential stages of cognition. But the fundamentals of the essence of life are sincerity and passion. Although their minds haven’t yet grasped the concepts of being sincere and passionate, they still exude them in the purest form almost one-hundred percent of the time. Because sincerity and passion aren’t things that should be thought out or planned or contemplated. They should just happen.

As grown-ups, we don’t only ruin ourselves, but the entire meaning of life when we get wrapped up with so-called politics, pragmatics, social correctness, and being a normal human being, whatever that even is.” Her stare went awry and caught onto something apparently more dazzling to the eyes as she closed this sentence. An attractive dress, perhaps.

Gazpacho soup with toasted garlic bread. She opted for black bean choziro soup.

 

 

[Draft. Unfinished/Unedited..!]

 

 

 

Don’t Explain

“Elevator music?”
“Jazz,” I say. “Bossa nova is more typically considered elevator music.”
“Same thing.”

I clamp my eyes shut tight and cup my throbbing forehead with one hand. Every morning, and I mean every morning, I start the day some jazz. Of recent, it’s always been either a Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, or Miles Davis record. Within the first few moments of my waking, I’ll reach over to my bedside table, place down the pin on one of my vinyls, and sit without a word for a few minutes before actively commencing my day. It’s a method I use to ease myself into the new day. For me, it’s almost like a bridge I cross each morning from a dreamy state to consciousness.

She’s sat on my bed with her back against the wall and her knees to her chest. I peer with one eye to the clock on the wall which reads a little before 9a.m. A glimmer of sunlight struggles its way through the slight parting of the curtains, and clings onto the carpet and the wall crosswise from the window.

She lets out an exaggerated sigh, lighting a cigarette.
“You want something to eat?”
“What do you have?”
“I don’t know. Eggs, toast, waffles, cereal, oats.” She says nothing to these suggestions.
“There’s also sweet potato. That’s what I’m havin’.” I tell her, looking to her.
She exhales before saying, “How about I prepare us some french toast and you make us sweet potatoes? Done. You’ve got coffee, right?”
“Sweet potato, french toast and coffee. That’s a bit of a weird breakfast compilation, don’t you think?”
“So? Most recipes are somewhat strange in their own way, if you reeaally think about it. Even just common cereal is weird.”

She pauses briefly and blows smoke towards the ceiling. “Think about it. You add cow’s milk to it. Like, who even said it was okay to drink cow’s milk in the first place? Surely it’s meant for calves, not humans. Yet we take it with almost everything. That’s strange, no? Why don’t we drink horse’s milk. Or, say, elephant’s milk.”

She had a point. I’d never thought about it in anywhere close to that much depth before. I let another 5 or so minutes pass before actually getting up to go to the kitchen.

She strolls into the kitchen with nothing on but underwear and one of my T-shirts. She passes a transient comment about the shirt as she ties her hair up into a no-less-than-sleek ponytail. I’m leant up against the counter with a chilled glass of water by my side while the sweet potatoes boil on mellow heat.

She walks up to me and presses her lips against mine, then stares unwaveringly into my eyes, arms slung loosely around my neck.
“Have a cigarette for now. You’ll be fine once something settles in your belly.”

Without a word, I do as she says. She always knows when something’s on my mind. In the same kind of manner a clairvoyant reads palms, she gazes intently into the very back of my idle eyes. And she reads. What she reads, I don’t know. I’ve never known and it’s likely that I never will.

But the simple fact she can tell gives me some degree of comfort.

 

Blues

(* = shift in time or place*)

There was this one time, my mum went to go pick up an old friend of hers and her daughter from the airport. “Make sure you hoover the lounge once more.” she said before she left. The third time that day. Yes, mum.

Apparently the old friend of hers used to look after me and my brother when we were young. Too young to remember. I began practicing that smile and small laugh you offer when an adult gives you that, ‘My god, look how much you’ve grown!’ line. They were passing through, but their main purpose for the journey was to go to Wales to see some relatives.

I turn up the Ahmed Jamal jazz that’s sounding from my speakers to try shut off the sound of my mum talking on the phone. She has this habit of having her phone on loudspeaker and talking so loud that every corner of the house is blanketed in the sound of her conversation. She speaks in her mother-tongue, though, of which I can’t understand, so I never usually bother listening. I do, however, catch a few glimpses of English. Random words like ‘battery’, and ‘stop’ and ‘helpless’. I imagine she’s telling my auntie about the time her car-battery ran out, and she was left stranded in the church car-park for forty-five minutes.

Anyway, the time my mum went to the airport – the thought occurred to me that, of recent, my sister no longer stayed at home with my mum, brother and I, and so I wondered arduously about what I would offer the daughter to do for entertainment. It was typical in my home for the children to leave the adults to talk in the main room while they went off to play or whatever whenever we had guests. But this would prove to be somewhat tricky being male and female (not to mention never having met beforehand). I had no clue how old she was, or what she was in to.

I remember hoping for some reason that she wasn’t my age. That she wasn’t attractive. I just didn’t want to encounter that sort of ‘our mums are friends and we’re opposite sex age-mates so we should have some kind of reticent, unspoken but mutually agreed attraction going on between us’ scenario. I mean, it seemed great in movies and books, but how feasible is it in real-life?

My mum came back from the airport with the two. Unfortunately, the daughter looked just three or so years younger than myself, and she was cute. But how unfortunate was it, really?

*

Not half an hour later I hear the doorbell go off from upstairs. “Come in, my sister.” my mum joyously says, then they exchange a few words in their mother-tongue as she wipes her shoes on the rug which has Psalm 139:14 printed on it. It never made sense to me to have a Bible verse on something you clean your shoes off with. If anything, it deterred me from wiping my shoes.

I guess their uproarious conversation wasn’t intense enough over the phone. I skip gently down the stairs and greet my auntie before offering her a warm drink. She says she’s fine.

“How are Lou and the others?”

“They are all good, my dear. I was just with Lou’s wife and the little one.” she replies. I place myself beside my mum for a moment, and at that very moment my old man walks through the front door into the main room. I check the time. 4PM. Yep, ’round about the usual time he strolls in. I look down to the carpet. I look to the wall. To the switched off TV. Back down to the carpet. He greets my auntie in the same mother-tongue and they briefly catch up. My mum stands up and retreats to the kitchen without a word. The stale lines which rest below her eyes and at the sides of her mouth daub a zestless expression on her face.

She can’t bare it. We all hate it, too. My brother, my sister, me. The way he comes in and acts in front of guests like everything’s okay, like everyone is fine. Nothing is ever okay and we’re far from fine. That’s the case when he’s about, at least.

‘I could never divorce him’, my mum always says, ‘it’s not right for me to do that.’

You’re not in the wrong, mum! Things aren’t the same as before, and most likely never will be. You have to let him know that! I just want to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her sometimes.

Anyway. Anna was her name. They’re from the States. Anna’s mum and mine go way back. They lived together for some time in England, then eventually separated when Anna’s mum (Agatha) moved to Manhattan with her husband. He died though, two years ago, from undetected Leukemia. My mum couldn’t make the funeral.

I rather uneasily invited Anna upstairs.

“My room’s a mess, by the way.” She laughed faintly. “Didn’t your mother mention you’d be having visitors ’round for a few days?” she asked, sounding half surprised half rhetorical. I looked at her sheepishly and said nothing. My room wasn’t as bad as I had thought. Or perhaps I knew it wasn’t that bad, but it’s just one of those phrases that comes out automatically in case you’re dealing with a clean-freak.

She stepped in. Barely looking around, she picked up a book off my desk.

“A really good book, this.” She said as she skimmed over the back of it, then flicking through a few pages.

“You’ve actually read it?”

“Yeah, why so surprised?”

“No, it’s just I just hadn’t figured you being into Guevara.” I answered, wondering why I’d said it. “Oh? How come?” I was tongue-tied. “You’ve met me before, so you therefor have basis on what and what not to figure about me?” Double tongue-tied.

Her strong undertone of sarcasm prevented her from sounding angry, and even rude. More genuinely inquisitive and thorough than anything. “Or is it ’cause I look too young?” Triple tongue-tied. I didn’t know if she was looking for an answer. For the first time since she came into the room she was staring me directly in the eyes with her own, small but powerful eyes. Her general expression wasn’t plain nor particularly suggestive. Just bold. Meticulous.

After I decided to stop slyly, and yet half unconsciously, acting condescending towards her, we manage to hold a decent conversation. We talked books, old movies, the States, touched on history, British politics, then somehow circled back to books. She had an interesting and insightful viewpoint on most things. It’s nice to converse once in a while with someone who gives you a fresh perspective on things and almost makes you question things you know (or thought you knew). Anna was one of those people. I remember being impressed with her knowledge and understanding in general. Certainly a lot more than I knew at her age (I still wasn’t sure how old she was at this point).

About an hour in total passed before we even realised the flow of time was still gearing in motion. I heard my mum calling from downstairs, and it’s not until then that I noticed her sat on my bed, legs crossed, toying around with a pen she must have found on my bed. I clocked that next to her were three or four of my T-shirts she’d folded neatly for me and laid beside her.

We ate dinner all together, our mothers, my brother and the two of us, and I set up the sofabed for Anna while Agatha set up camp in the spare room.

*

My mum and auntie are lost deep in their foreign language chit-chattering, and I find no better opportune moment to escape back to my lair upstairs. I only took two characteristics from my old man: a profound liking for jazz music, and a habit of wanting to be alone a lot.

He loved being by himself, and would release his signature grunt whenever someone disturbed him. 90% of the time he was in this gloomy bad mood, and so naturally, everyone left him alone. Just as he pleased.

*

It came to about twenty minutes past midnight when I heard a gentle knocking on my bedroom door. A distinctively slow knocking. My mum’s fast asleep and my brother never knocks, I thought to myself.

It was Anna. She said she couldn’t sleep, and that she needed a book. I asked her why she hadn’t brought any with her.

“They’re in my suitcase in the room my mum’s sleeping in. I don’t wanna go rummaging around in there and end up waking her up.”

“Fair point.” I said. “And you knew I was awake?”

“No, but I thought I’d take a chance,” she replied in a low tone. “I find it very difficult to sleep without a book by my bedside.”

I switched on my side-lamp and pointed her towards the shelf where my books are kept. She gently felt her way across the spines of the books, then did the same again trailing in the opposite direction. I watched her as she did this. I watched how her bare left foot crossed over and toed the outer side of her right foot subconsciously. She wore a silk gown which spilled down to her knees. A blue-grey hue. The meek lighting that exuded from the lamp left most of her frame silhouetted. Her braids are tied up in a sleek bun. The shape of her collar bones peering through the gown. The slight crumpling of her eyebrows as she surveyed which book teased her fancy. She turned her head suddenly and stared right at me before asking inquiringly, “Which do you recommend? For a bedtime book.”

She named the ones she’d read quietly, and I retorted her a few suggestions. She finally picked out a book. A book of short poems. She pressed it against her chest and thanked me.

“Are you cold downstairs?”

“A little.” she said.

“You need me to grab you a spare blanket or something?”

Her eyes wandered around my room, then squinted and fixated keenly on a painting on the wall. She pointed to it. “Who’s that?”

“You don’t know Miles Davis?”

“No. Well I’ve heard the name, but how many Miles Davis’ are there in this world.”

I said nothing to this. She studied the paint splashed portrait a little longer. His shades. The saxophone he so passionately blared in to. The swirly signature of the artist. “I’m guessing he’s a musician. Jazz player?” she continued.

“A very famous one. Extremely famous.” I told her.

“Well he can’t be that famous, now, can he?” She walked up to the painting, and her arms flopped lazily on either side of her hips, book in left hand.

“You must really like this… Miles Davis then.”

I smiled a little. “Yeah. Is your mum a light sleeper?”

She looked at me for some five seconds before saying, “Very heavy. You need to bash her a couple times to wake her up sometimes.”

I got out of the bed and put on Davis’ ‘In A Silent Way’ album at a hushed volume. She said she’d never really taken the time to listen to jazz music. We sat in the dimly lit room, soundlessly listening to brilliance of it all. She seemed to have enjoyed the album quite some much. After a fairly long but finite silence between us, we plucked out from the tranquil thin air a conversation which oddly had nothing to do with Davis, or music at all.

Anna could hold a lengthy conversation, but somehow, almost skillfully, she managed to never touch on her personal life. At all. We talked about mostly abstract or general things. Anna didn’t ask many questions, especially not personal ones, so the conversation never had the chance to hold an intrusive element of privacy.

I’d got to know plenty about her thoughts and opinions, but nothing really about her. I felt passably distant from her.

Again, time had its way of passing by us inconspicuously but without doubt. It came to 2:13AM. The room was submersed in the proficient, lingering works of Miles Davis and our quiet, on-and-off rounds of verbiage.

Somehow – don’t ask me how – I’d happened to find her sat on the edge of my bed with my head stationed between her knees. She’d been re-twisting my dreads for goodness knows how long. The realisation of it all had only struck once Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue‘ album had come to what seemed to be an abrupt end. We looked to each other for some clues, both wondering how we ended up in this position. Her face carried a don’t ask me look on it.

She lifted her legs to the bed and hugged them. I told her to cover herself with the blanket.

“Are you tired?” she asked.

“No, not really. I was so lost in the music and conversation that I forgot about sleep.”

I forgot about everything.

That’s the kind of effect being with Anna had on you. I wasn’t too sure whether this was good or bad. It was partially trying to tackle some clash of perspective we each had on whatever matter, and partly just listening to her explain something and simply wondering. Wondering about what? Well, I don’t know. A million-trillion thoughts gallop through and around your head when speaking with Anna. She evokes oodles of thought.

I put on another jazz album. This time the 1962 works of John Coltrane. She laid her head on one of my pillows and closed her eyes. I sat on the floor leaned up against the wall. Silence.

It came to about 3AM. She was fast asleep, but her face carried a very calm expression. As if she was still awake, just closing her eyes listening to the music which seeped softly from the speakers. At this point, I decide to quietly leave the room and take up position on the sofabed downstairs.