By John F. Browning
Sitting at a prime unlit back table in the Whither Goest Thou club I nonchalantly snap applause over my shoulder back to the Johnny Clawfoot Trio playing their first order high syncopation low amplitude medicated be-bop music
Thora glances over her shades and under her bangs at me, sniffs dispassionately and silently mouths, I HATE YOU. I nod Buddha-like and studiously sip my carrot juice martini. Thora is hep, occasionally drops mlauts into her drawling pronunciation
The sea creature waitress, accoutred in black ballet tights and banana plantation headscarf says you assholes want anything? and as I hold up two fingers she groans, stamps a silk slipper, and undulates away like light through dark green water
Johnny mumbles something illegible save for its rhyme of people and gazzeeple into the gleaming silver mic and the band disjoins into some inapproximate free jazz version of Marching Through Georgia in the nimbus of dim lighting and cigarette smoke
I lean over to Thora and scat sing to the bass patterns the cat is laying down. An abstract Brancusi-like marble look lies fainting on her face[SB1]
At the break, against an outdoor brick alleyway wall we have very casual sex as Thora chews my ear lobe. When we finish she whispers I hated that and stares into the distance. You’re half a man and half a stereophonic schizophrenic she hisses, which makes me want her again as she straightens her beret
I scat-sing with a heart full of adoration Bop bomb a who bop a zip zap a robot za zee a bobcat brim a boom!
After a second set, her hand in mine, we perambulate, two vertical parallel souls who straggle slowly everward into the receding gloom of our tedious square lives out in Nowheresville
leaving 2 a.m. Johnny to march on Atlanta alone
This work is from John F. Browning’s “Chicago Jazz Tonight” a work that conjures persons from Chicago in 1962 at an Old Town jazz club. This work, inspired partly by Spoon River Anthology, visits the voices of those in and about the jazz club and attempts to capture the feel of Chicago at that time.