I gave the institutes a try. I fell in and out of music. I enjoyed the blissful sleep of freedom. I cherished waking up to the perfect mix of strong coffee and the soft burn of hand rolled tobacco. I absorbed the earthly wisdom from books passed down. I searched the depths of being to find a cure for my longing. Each new indulgence only managed to deepen my hunger.
I stood at the edge of the deck observing the crowd a wavelength away. Other than the chatter in the distance and a lonesome saxophone player, it was quiet. It was calm. In the distance, the sun was slowly sinking into the ocean. I was far from home. It was there in Eastavona, during my quarter life crises that Hope walked in.
My surroundings blurred as she came into view. She had on black stilettos. They had pointy toes. They knocked down the floor with every step she took. They had six inch heels. They were crafted from black suede. They emanated confidence. They radiated self reliance. They attracted attention. They demanded devotion. They appeared ruthless in character. There were no bows nor flowers. They clicked louder and louder, one in front of the other, as she made her way.
She reached the edge of the deck. Our eyes met. We exchanged pleasantries. It was formal. I noticed her skin. It appeared soft. It glowed in the light. Her voice was a seamless mix of blues and jazz. As delicate as a songbird. As perfect a mix as a sphere of milk chocolate melting away through its wafery crunch into its soft inner core in the heat of the moment. The hypnotic rhythm in her tone left something to be desired. Heartfelt and hospitable like whip cream on hot chocolate.
“That saxophone sounds sentimental,” I commented.
“It does!” Hope replied.
“You like music?”
“I love music,” she responded with exceptional excitement. “I sing all the time!”
“That’s awesome,” I replied. “What do you sing?”
“Oh just anything! I am always singing when I’m home.” Her revelation caught my interest. Good singers were hard to find in my circle. Good female singers were even harder. I always wanted a music duo with a female vocalist. An immediate rush of excitement broke through my walls of resistance.
“I can’t sing to save my life,” I confided. “I can play the blues though.”
I noticed an honest sense of curiosity in her eyes. Her head tilted slightly to the right. “Is that a song?”
“No, it’s a genre. All of today’s music is based on the blues.”
“I don’t believe I’ve heard of it,” she said.
Hope was much too young to know the blues. “People in Eastavona think it sounds sad. I don’t see it that way. The blues is about one man standing alone to face his fears.”
“That sounds interesting,” she said. “I am going to look it up.”
“They don’t have the most poetic lyrics but the music is good.”
“So you like the music?” she inquired. Her head tilted slightly to her right as she waited for an answer.
“Yea. It’s about the soul. It hits you. You can feel all the emotion in the music alone. The lyrics, although there, aren’t the focus.”
“Okay, give me a song. I’ll look this up.”
Her excitement was magnetic. Her sincere curiosity reminded me of myself in my early 20s. Her words drenched out fast, like darts. “Look up ‘How will I know’ by Alf,” I said. “This gentleman was a bastard. His mum slept with a sailor. Eight months later he was born. He never met his father. Then some 30 years later when he himself had a baby, he didn’t know how to be a father to him. That’s what inspired the song.”
“That sounds interesting,” she said. Hope pulled out her phone. She held a stylus pen in between her fragile fingers and scribbled the name down on her phone. She tapped the pen on the screen to save and set her phone aside.
“You actually use that thing? I have the same phone. I never used it.”
“I use it to jot things down,” she said. “I really like it!”
“Yea! I use it quite a lot. The phone, I like to read on it!”
“You read on your phone?” I asked.
“Yea it has a big screen. My mum, she gets mad at me for being on my phone all the time, but really, I just read on it,” she presented her case. Sincerity and conviction echoed in her tone. She shook her shoulders ever so slightly. Her palms opened up candidly. The rings in her fingers sparkled.
“What do you read?” I asked.
“I just read stuff online. And books I pick from the Eastavona Library. My mum asks me why I’m always lost in books even when I finished studying for my college. I find it relaxing.”
“Sure is,” I said. “I just finished reading ‘Best Damn Fool’”
“I watch that show,” Hope interjected. “My brothers and sisters, we are always having discussions about it.”
“About ‘Best Damn Fool’?”
“You watch ‘Best Damn Fool’ with your siblings?” I asked in disbelief. “They show tits in every episode.”
“No,” she clarified, “we all watch it on our own and then we talk about it after.”
“That makes sense.”
“Yea! My brother, he is the same age as me, we have this thing where we try to break into the other person’s room and narrate the whole episode knowing that the other person has yet to watch it.”
It was clear she had a close knit family. I was envious. “How many siblings do you have?” I asked.
Hope smiled and nodded. “We should go out sometime,” I suggested casually. Hope responded but her voice sank beneath the saxophone. Before I had a chance to seek clarification, Hope faded away. She blurred out and the deck came back to life. I returned back to the solitary act of watching life from afar.
Vanilla notes from her fragrance and music notes from the saxophone slow danced in midair.
Categories: Crimes of Passion