Speak Easy


Desmet was her name, and only Desmet.  The girl she’d become, the one exiting onto the horn-filled street from the basement stairway beneath the simple restaurant front above, had never known of a last name for herself, and so she was Desmet and nothing more.

The trumpet man was making short blasts under muted bell as he took in a quick breath to linger upon a small descending line before jumping back into his staccato notes.  Upon seeing the dark haired girl approaching him and his spotlight from the streetlight above, he began to saunter on a small rising and then fast-falling melody, inching back steadily in time with her every step a quieting effort until at last she was in front of him, and his last note died, choked of any breath to free it.  Silence filled the streets as if the night itself was at last allowed a breath.

Desmet stood and stared in the dark man’s eyes which were nearly lost in the night under the brim of his tattered hat.  The trumpet man studied this woman in front of him with his shaded eyes.  She had black hair that traveled down from her head past her shoulders where a thin red sweater fell to just above her knees.  Though it was a boxy sort of garment, the man could tell she was fair beneath it.  Yet as fair as the thought of her skin and the contours of her body were, the man didn’t take his eyes off of hers, for they were staring back, just as dark as her hair, and an opposition to that of the brightness of her skin.

“You like a song?”  The man asked, unblinking.

The woman didn’t respond with words, but with a step forward that put her under the brim of his hat, and her lips pressed against his. A hand soon gripped at the back of his head, perfectly curved nails just shy of digging beneath his skin, and still she continued the kiss.

He wanted to pull back, to make sure that no soul was about the night to witness this and take action upon him for the treatment of one of their perfect women.  He was young though, and to say that he hadn’t considered his lips upon hers would have been a lie by ten, even in the momentary few seconds since he’d first seen her.  He’d already kissed her, felt the curvature beneath the red sweater he’d freed her from having to wear before laying her atop a soft bed as he slowly began to move in time with her.  Their eyes staring into one another’s.  A cadence that progressed until at last it was sadly over.

And it was, for her lips had parted from him at the sound of change falling into the case of his instrument which rang out loudly through the quieted streets.  Even before he had opened his eyes, he could hear the heeled steps of the woman as she continued past him, a fragrance of sweet Earth drifting away as she stepped further away.

As he looked over his shoulder, the woman was already gone, disappeared into the darkness beyond the circular world of his street lamp.  He breathed out as he licked his tongue around the inside of his mouth, her taste still within him.  Sweet bourbon, and something all her own.  He wet his lips with it, and brought the horn up again to sing out to her, a song for her parting.

The mouthpiece met mouth as the man took in a breath and closed his eyes.  He blew air into the instrument, but it was all that passed through it.  No notes rung out.  He pulled the instrument from him and studied it quickly with his eyes.  Everything was still in place, each brass fitting just where it had been only moments ago.  He tried once more.

Again, only air flowed through and out the other end.  As he tried to recall the notes, the placement of his fingers, they too had flown from him.  Even the instrument he held in his hands suddenly felt foreign.  Something he’d known of, but no longer recalled.  All that he knew of it had gone.

She had taken it all from him.

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