R Young. Bird’s Song. Acrylic on canvas, 2021.
It all started right after sunset yesterday when the dark-haired stranger slipped quietly into Antony’s through the screen door and took a stool at the end of the bar closest to the door. She appeared just as I woke up from dozing two stools away down the bar closer to the fan. I figure I must have been dozing because when I opened my eyes, there she sat as if she had materialized out of the humid, salty air whole and substantial. One second nothing. Then her. Apparition? Nope, she was real.
She was speaking to me, or so I thought, so I faced her again. I explored her sad eyes when she said “Is it good?”
Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology” came on the Seeburg.
Aside from the Bird’s song, the only sounds in the cafe now came from the fan and Antony, the owner, who eternally perches behind the counter, ole magpie that he is. He folded the afternoon paper into a newsprint bat and slowly raised it high over the bar where he held it tightly poised for a breathless instant before bringing it down smack onto the bar. His beady black eyes focused on mine and he grinned.
“Satan fly! Another of the Devil’s minions bites the dust, Eugene, my boy.”
He turned away so I turned away, too.
“Is it good?” she asked again, impatiently this time.
Was she nodding at the sign over Antony’s cash register which read “Filé Gumbo Our Speciality?” Maybe. Was she referring to the music? Hard to tell.
“Yeah,” I answered and gave her an answer that covered all bets. “In my opinion, it’s good all right, lady. No, it’s the best there is.”
Text by R Young.