Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marriage is forever -- #friday flash

The car pulled up in the snow covered driveway. The drifts were as high as two feet. It was a private road so the goal was to get the vehicle close enough so that they could trudge up to the door.

Three months after their first date Samantha and Allen had decided to elope and Maryland was the closest state that had a very short waiting period. It was less than five hours away if the weather held out and luckily it did. Rockville was famous for its out-of-state elopements. You applied for a license, waited 48 hours and then could get married at City Hall.

Now, here they were scraping the snow off the doorway, lighting a match to unfreeze the keyhole and finally going inside. The house was cold after five days of abandonment. After putting down the bags Allen lit a fire. The atmosphere was cozy as the newlyweds were settling into their home. Well, actually it was Allen’s house and the pre-nup ensured that it would always be Allen’s house. Even in Maryland before the pronouncement Sammi had considered the fact that if something didn’t work out she would be homeless. But nothing was going to go wrong. Allen came in from the kitchen with two brandy snifters each containing a double shot of Remy Marten V.S.O.P. This would certainly warm their bodies—the romantic ambience of the fire, the cognac and the uncovered windows through which they could see the pure white snow.

And then the phone rang. Sami asked Allen not to answer but he could never control his compulsion and let a call go to the answering machine. He turned away from Sami and spoke quietly into the mouthpiece.

“No, not tonight,” he said. “We just got back from our honeymoon. It’s our first night alone in the house.” His voice was getting weaker. Allen didn’t like to say no. He hung up the phone.

“Honey, that was Tony. He had a fight with his wife and he wants to come over for awhile to talk.”

Sami was shocked.

“Couldn’t you put him off until tomorrow?” She had never heard of Tony during three months of being with Allen. It was incongruous that Allen wouldn’t mention a friend that was so important to him that he would relent and allow him to come over on their honeymoon celebration. Sami was again reminded that it was not her home. It was Allen’s and Allen had friends about whom he had never told her.

As Sami was taking her overnight bag upstairs the doorbell rang. Allen opened the door and welcomed a short Italian man in a denim suit. Tony looked like he had just stepped out of a disco. Allen called Sami down to meet him and Tony insisted on hugging and kissing the bride. Sami felt the bulge under his jacket and immediately realized it was a gun. Allen went into the kitchen and brought out another snifter of cognac.

Sami sat down on the couch and expected Allen to join her when he returned. Instead, Tony stepped around the coffee table and planted himself close to her—too close. She felt uncomfortable so she excused herself and went upstairs. She changed her clothes and came downstairs. Barefoot, she walked down the carpet covered stairs. At 105 pounds she was silent. The living room was empty.

She wondered where the men had gone. Then she remembered that Allen had put in a new state-of-the-art sound system in the finished basement. Sami was sure she would find them downstairs. Allen was all about possessions. More than she had known at this point.

Sami added a little cognac to her glass and started down the steps into the basement. She got about halfway down and realized that there was no music. She stopped and looked into the fully furnished room. Between the two couches was a coffee table. Beyond the table Sami saw her husband on his knees with Tony standing above him. She slugged her cognac and tiptoed upstairs to pour another.

In her mind she had always said that marriage was forever and she still believed it. Annulment never entered her mind. She realized she had married a stranger. She was living in a home that was owned by someone else. Her husband was involved with a man who was married and carried a gun. Were there others? She would have a lifetime to find out. At her age and with virtually no money in the bank she knew she couldn’t leave. After all, she had always believed that marriage was forever.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Leroy Hog Cooper on Sax - excerpt from his college years

It was a beautiful school, Huston-Tillotson. The band would play and the choir would sing and the president of the college would beg us to play The Bells of Saint Mary and it would make him cry.

“In the early years, our forefathers got together to bring this institution about to lift the ban of ignorance…” he would say. I still remember that.

People like Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and Adam Clayton Powell used to come to the school. Every Wednesday night we had a celebrity speaker. They were so happy to see a bunch of kids trying to get educated. I enjoyed it. I played in the school band three years. I was the lead alto player which was a big deal. We had to try out for the school band like a football player. You earned a scholarship. I didn’t have to pay for nothing but books. Everything else was a freebee, food, dormitory.

Every time the Nat King Cole Trio would come through to play, our band would play the opening for them and then the Nat King Cole trio would play. All those bands would come through there and we would see those musicians dressed in those latest styles.