Saturday, November 15, 2008
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THE VIRTUOSO ©
A Love Story in Scarlet
g. p. walmsley
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This book is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents depicted herein are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance in actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
“Stop, thief!" Shouted the stout, balding man while running down the middle of the street; his large white apron flapping in the breeze around tired legs. "Stop those little bastards!" Puffing hard, heavy patches of sweat saturated his white shirt.
Jack Dupree could hear the shouts from the grocer many yards behind as he and Jim Campbell ran quickly ahead with their youthful stride. Large limbs from old stately trees filtered the late afternoon sun into shards of light, dropping long shadowy fingers across Esplanade Avenue. This was not a race to be won by overweight store-keeps. The two slim figures vaulted fences and leaped over hedgerows as only young teens could be expected to do.
Looking over his shoulder and hearing the fading voice, Jack seemed to fly as he vaulted over a four foot fence, disappearing around the next corner. Once he and Jim were far enough away, they slowed the pace and started to walk more leisurely. Even their youth could not escape the humid heat of the Big Easy’s summer.
"I dropped my booty; two oranges and a tangerine. Sheeit!" Jack’s labored breathing caused his thin chest to pound while the sweat rolled across his pale face.
“No problem, man. I got enough for both of us.” Jim, the taller boy with tufts of red hair, wearing blue bibbed overalls told his friend. “I copped an apple and three bananas," a sense of accomplishment filling his labored voice.
Jack, clad in cut off pants and a white tee shirt, looked over at Jim’s booty with envy. His blond hair was longer than he liked, but haircuts were sometimes a luxury. He didn’t like it when his mother cut his hair because you could see the bowl line. He was not as muscular as Jim, nor as tough. Jim, the older boy, would lift heavy things to build his muscles. Whenever they played, cops and robbers, Jim always wanted to be the robber.
Jim’s mom was like a mother to both boys. Birds of a Feather was how Jack’s mother refereed to the boys. Jack knew their mothers were quite different.
Jack valued Jim’s friendship and sometimes thought of Jim as an older brother with two years between them. They lived just a couple blocks apart in Faubourg Marigny, a part of New Orleans connected to the infamous French Quarter. Both of these neighborhoods border the Mississippi River on one side.
Jim's red hair earned him the nickname, Reds. Not very original, was Jack's thinking, nor Jim’s either. The red hair made Jim stand out in the eyes of the law. Jim was not happy about either the nickname or the hair. Jack never called him, Reds. Jack recalled how Jim beat up another boy for calling him Reds. At eleven and thirteen years of age they ran the streets of New Orleans day and night. Sometimes they would just fish off the banks of the Mississippi while other times they hung out with musicians. That was Jack’s favorite time.
Apart from odd jobs, they knew how to pick up a fast buck now and then. Jim liked the way Jack played music, which sometimes brought in tips. But they also made some money hustling papers or sometimes delivering scratch sheets with the latest numbers.
The world was at war for the second time this century. Their families, like many others were going through hard times, especially with no fathers at home. Many men were away fighting. Jim's dad was reported missing in action, while Jack’s own dad was just missing; missing from the streets of the ‛Big Easy’.
Jack thought often about his father; a wandering piano player from the ragtime days. Jack was about nine when his father left him and his mother to make it on their own. He could recall sitting on his father’s lap when he was younger and playing on the keys of the piano. As he got a little older his dad would teach him some chords and talked music with him often. Jack liked those days. The days he didn’t like were when his dad came home drunk and his mom and dad would get into it. When they did it was usually loud.
Jack’s frail mother was often sick and always tired. Waiting tables at a local café and taking in wash hardly made enough money for the two of them to get by. He knew she was too proud to accept charity. He would watch her pray often and in spite of her religious devotion he knew she had an unforgiving bitterness toward his father.
He watched as the afternoon sun cast long shadows against the gray concrete streets. Jim hopped and skipped over some of the shadows as if they were obstacles in his path.
"You play’en tonight, Jack?" Jim asked. "I hear that some of the boys from ole’ Storyville Bricks are gonna jam with some down and dirty blues."
Jack looked over at Jim. He felt a broad smile creep across his eleven year old face. "You betcha, man. If they give me the nod to join in I surely will."
"Whatcha gonna play, blues harp?" Jim liked Jack's harmonica playing, but knew he had been practicing on an old piano that had belonged to his father. Word was, Jack could play by ear. Jim would tease him about his ear playing the piano.
Jack boasted, “Maybe I'll play the clarinet." He positioned his hands as though holding the instrument and swaggered a bit as he walked on.
"Shit, man . . ." Jim bellowed. "You ain't even got one."
Jack looked him in the eye. "Do too! Well, almost! I almost have a clarinet. I have the mouthpiece and a pack of reeds."
Jim looked away, "Well, kiss my go-to-hell! Then I’ll see your sorry ass tonight."
The boys parted company, agreeing to meet later that evening. As usual they planned to sneak over to Mama Goldies' in the colored section near Basin Street. Ole’ Storyville Bricks was the name used by some to describe part of the old Storyville area near Basin Street. He was told the Bricks was the colored section of old Storyville. Once upon a time this area, which was about sixteen square blocks, had the only legal brothels in New Orleans until shut down by the government around the time of the first world war. The word was it had over 2,000 prostitutes.
Jack was attracted to Mama Goldies', a rib joint that catered to blues and jazz musicians. Some of the men would say that blues musicians were a dying breed. It seemed to him that most blues players were colored, but he knew some good white players too. If the colored and white were caught playing together they would spend the night in jail. They called it the “Salt & Pepper Act”. New Orleans was not a city that took lightly to the mixing of race. Not even for music. That was a fact of life that puzzled him. He felt music should be beyond those bad feelings that he knew existed between the colored and whites.
Jim thought differently. He minded himself around those fellows out of respect for Jack, but he wasn’t fond of the colored. While Jack would play, Jim would drink beer when he could get one. He liked drinking and he liked listening to the music, but he really didn’t have any special interest in music.
Later that evening the boys met up with each other near Jim’s house. Jack brought his Bugle Boy harmonica and clarinet mouthpiece and they made their way through the streets to the colored section. Jack knew he was a welcome player with his blues harp; enjoying for his age a modest reputation for playing with that certain feeling, or so he was told. With soul, some would say. He would bend those notes in just the right way to make some really neat sounds.
As he and Jim arrived at Mama Goldies' he could see old Uncle Cotton, a brown, husky man in his late sixties with a head of hair like snowy cotton sitting on a wooden quarter keg of pickles. He was Jack's inspiration. Cotton Blanchard took a liking to Jack and would teach him with a reverence for music that was almost holy. He knew they both shared this feeling. Ole’ Uncle Cotton was a jolly man with a protruding belly that would shake when he laughed.
Jack heard the stories about Uncle Cotton; stories that told of his early days and the many great musicians he worked with. Some say, he was almost a legend along the mighty Mississippi. Some would say, he is a legend. The men, all colored, gathered around in front of Mama Goldies', knowing they had come together for a common purpose, to "jam". Some were old and some were younger. All played one or more instruments.
The shadows filled the night as Jack imagined how the ghosts of long ago slaves, playing and dancing against flickering flames from oil lamps might have done. The odor and sooty smoke from the kerosene lamps helped fight the attack of mosquitoes as the subdued light surrounded the haunting melodies and faceless forms that either played or listened. The mood that Jack always felt was one of jubilant entertainment. The excitement of music seemed to run through his veins.
When Jack attempted to join the men with his mouthpiece he was met with looks of scorn. The noise drew chills.
"Hey, boy!" Shouted one of the men. "What you tryin to do? Shee-it. You got yourself a pitch pipe or somethin?"
The grumbling turned into laughter, with one of the men slapping Jack playfully on the head in a joking manner. Jack’s sidekick, Jim Campbell, seemed to laugh the hardest. While he didn’t share the same love for music he liked hanging out while they played. Sometimes they would give him a beer or some wine. He never said no.
Uncle Cotton took the mouthpiece from Jack and studied it for a moment. Pursing his large dark lips, Ole’ Blanchard looked at Jack from the corner of his eye. His head cocked to one side as his gaze was drawn into a squint.
With a wrinkle to his broad, brown nose Uncle Cotton spoke directly, "How would you like the rest of the stick so yawl can get serious about reed music?"
Jack's eyes lit up like it was Christmas. "You bet Uncle Cotton. If I had a licorice stick I'd play my ass off"
Uncle Cotton cut him short, "Say what? Don't call it no licorice stick! It shows disrespect. You hear me, boy? When you can make it wail, then you can call it what you want."
Jack dropped his head, slightly. "Yes, sir. Will you teach me how to play the clarinet, Uncle Cotton?"
Uncle Cotton was a reed player of some respect, having a preference for saxophone these days. The tenor sax was what he played most of the time. Jack knew this, but when he saw Uncle Cotton play clarinet from time to time he knew this was the instrument for him.
Uncle Cotton looked at Jack; a look of sternness freezing his face. Then, with a flaring of his large nostrils and a big grin, his sand-paper stubbled cheeks relaxed as he looked at the other men and winked.
"Boys, Uncle Cotton has done got himself a student. If you gonna learn from me, boy, you gonna learn a lot more than clarinet. Does I makes myself clear?"
Jack leaped into the air with exuberance. He couldn't wait to get his instrument and his very first lesson.
Later, that same night, Uncle Cotton presented Jack with a clarinet in an old brown leather case, worn with age. He also gave him his first piece of advice.
"This is a fine ole Selmer. You and this instrument become one, boy. You tame it and make it a part of you. You're 'bout to move into serious music, now."
Jack looked at the instrument. The pads and springs appeared in good shape, except for one or two held together with rubber bands. He knew he would learn to make this instrument and himself into one tight unit.
Learn he did. In the weeks and months to follow, Jack studied and played with a seriousness that came from the only source for real accomplishment- a true love for music. As his playing improved he earned a few dollars playing from time to time on street corners and at Jackson Square near Saint Louis Cathedral. Canal Street was not far from there while Bourbon Street was usually good to pick up a few coins, also. He knew he was still too young; too inexperienced for any serious "gigs". Still, it seemed to make him a better player when he knew it counted.
In the ‛square’ near Saint Louis Cathedral, street players, artists, jugglers and the like would gather and work for tips. Situated across the street from the mighty Mississippi River, this was indeed a great location to find a crowd. Sometimes you could hear a Calliope play from a river boat while churning its large paddle wheels filled with sight-seers.
For now, he earned money doing chores for people. Sometimes he made a little money collecting lard and other fats for the war effort. He also collected newspapers, again for the war effort. He even hustled empty bottles of soda and beer for the returned deposits. That was the most lucrative. At times he and Jim would steal empty soda bottles, just to return them for the deposits at another store; two cents for small bottles, a nickel for the large. No one seemed to think in terms of making bucks. Kids, mostly colored, would tap dance using bottle caps for cleats. No one worried much about permits for public entertainment, especially if they were kids. It seemed the hustle was everywhere.
Chapter 2The years moved on and Jack Dupree climbed this ladder of time like most. When he wasn't in school or practicing his music, he was hustling for a buck. He actually was getting some gigs with bands from time to time. He was a young man of fourteen and feeling pretty good about himself. The Big Easy wasn’t always easy, especially for a young man struggling to help his mother and establish himself in the, City of Jazz. With the war on the city didn’t have a lot of musicians around.
His mother had not improved, physically or mentally. Although he seldom felt the whip from his mother, she had a mouth that could pulpit shout hellfire and damnation better than any Preacher man.
"God knows when you're being bad!," she would yell. “He will surely punish you for any bad deeds.”
He recalled that moment almost two years earlier when his mother found pictures of naked women hidden under his mattress. She chased him with a wire hanger while threatening to, "Cut your bird off if I find out you’ve been doing sinful, dirty things." Her screaming arousing the neighbors once again. He never remembered seeing her happy. Nothing I do seems to make her happy, is a thought he often reflected on.
The owner of a neighborhood grocery hired Jack after school to stock shelves, lifting heavy cases of food. Later, on his own, Jack would use a wagon to haul groceries for tips. Some ladies tipped him well, while others just seemed to think he was part of the service, giving no tip.
It was one of those boring mid-summer afternoons when he met Sally. Jack was waiting for customers outside the grocery store. It was a hot day with the sun riding high and blow-torch breezes reminding you how nice it would feel to be somewhere else. He heard a voice calling and turned to see a very attractive young lady wearing spiked heels and a dark blue dress that clung to her respectable looking form.
“Hey sport! . . .Yes, you with the wagon!." She was calling him to haul her groceries - two small bags.
Jack popped to attention. "Yes, ma'am! Can I help you with them groceries?" Wow! he thought. This is a real 'dish'. She looked like one of those uptown entertainers he had heard about. She had nice rosy cheeks and long red fingernails. Her lips were bright cherry. A dark blue bow pulling back her golden hair, exposed a long thin neck of milky-white skin.
Jack loaded her groceries in his wagon and followed her up Frenchman Street, then to Elysian Fields Avenue. She lived in a large, three story brick house. It was one of those old stately houses in need of some paint and repairs. Like many of the fine old homes in the Crescent City, most had witnessed better times. Some were being converted to apartments.
He followed her up the stairs, watching her stocking-clad legs climb each step, exposing more thigh the higher she moved. Her small waist curved nicely downward into hips that were pressed tightly against her short dress. He smelled her cologne, lying delicately on the staircase before him. Entering her apartment a few steps behind, he placed the groceries on the kitchen table, still inhaling her pleasant scent. He watched her pick up a glass while opening the ice box.
”Would you like a cool drink?" she asked.
He stood motionless, watching her drop ice cubes into a glass. She filled it with water from a pitcher. Jack’s eyes followed her as she turned on the Victrola and gracefully moved about the room while the music filled the apartment. It was a hot tune, the kind he played. He watched as she kicked off her spiked heels and the heat seemed to rise quickly in the room. He pulled at the neck of his shirt as though letting the heat out.
Jack felt both excitement and a little apprehensiveness. He wondered if this was going to be one of those experiences boys on the corner kid about, but never really expect will happen.
She took a sip of water, her moist lips parting on the wet rim of the glass. He watched as the tip of her pink tongue licked the rim. Her eyes locked with his as she handed it to him. He felt feverish and took a big gulp of the cool water. Although he was a virgin; not unlike most other boys his age, he pretended not to be. Of course, he had seen naked women in magazines -.mostly very black women in the National Geographic Magazine. Somehow he was sure that didn't qualify him as an expert on sex. Nothing he could recall seemed to help now. He thought he might have learned more from those pictures his mother burned on that day so long ago.
She looked at him with pale blue eyes that accented an ivory complexion. Smiling warmly, she said, "My name is Sally Jo. What's yours?" The words rippled from her moist red lips in a most inviting tone.
Swallowing hard, he replied, "Ahh . . . Jack, ma'am. Jack Dupree!"
"Sally Grayson, Jack; please, call me, Sally. Do you think you would like to stay awhile, Jack?" She moved closer to him. "I think you're a handsome young man. You look so strong. The way you handled those bags of groceries.” Her upper torso quivered. She stroked his arms gently, drawing her long fingernails across his tanned skin. His flesh tingled as she did this, causing him to shiver.
"I never did it before!" The message blurted from his mouth before he could stop it. He felt embarrassed that he made such a statement. He felt the heat from blushing and just knew his face had to be scarlet.
“What did you say?”
“Sorry. I have to go. Thanks for the drink.” Jack started toward the door.
Sally followed him, reaching out and touching his shoulder. “Listen Jack, I’m so sorry for frightening you. I just thought we could be friends. Not the way you thought. Just friends.” She looked at him, a little nervousness in her voice. “Can we be just friends?”
Jack looked at her, then turning his head away said, “Sure. I’d like to be your friend.”
“Would you like to sit and talk awhile, Jack?”
“Sure. You are so beautiful I was excited, I guess.”
“And you are a very attractive young man. I am twenty one, may I ask how old you are? No, don’t tell me. I will simply think of you as my age. Perhaps a little younger. Is that okay, Jack?”
“Yes, I think I like that, Sally.”
“Now Jack, tell me, what did you think was about to happen when you decided to leave?” Jack scuffed his foot, “I thought you wanted to . . . well, make love.”
“I could get in trouble, Jack if you were under age. Do you understand?” She stood up and walked slowly to the Victrola. “Do you dance?”
“No. But I always wanted to learn.” He quickly added.
“Well, I’ll just put on a slow song, a foxtrot and we can try it. Is that okay?
“Yes, if you want to.”
Sally beckoned for him to stand and meet her in the middle of the room. “Now just relax and I will lead. Put your right arm around my waist and your other hand on my shoulder. Come closer, that’s it. Now when my toe touches your toe, move that foot back and feel the direction my body bends and leans. When you get the hang of it you can do the same to me and we will move around the room that way.”
He trembled nervously, but liked what was happening. He couldn't believe the rush of excitement. He could feel the flush of heat and knew it had to be more than what the day had brought. He also felt a little lightheaded.
“You can lean your head on my shoulder if you like.” She put her head on his shoulder as they continued to move around the room. “You can repeat in your mind; one, two, three, four while you make a box with your feet. That will help you get the rhythm.”
As the tune ended, they both lifted their heads and looked at each other. Without expression he stood still, staring. He could feel every curve in her body pressing against his and felt the rush of excitement and then embarrassment. He wondered if he should pull away, but felt her firm arms that were wrapped around his waist pulling him tighter. After a moment or two he let his lips touch hers and felt the tip of her tongue brush his lips then slide into his mouth. They stood motionless, holding this position for several moments.
“Are you really a virgin?” she whispered, breaking the kiss and now nibbling at his ear.
Jack nodded, acknowledging that he was indeed, a virgin. It felt much like the first time he played solo in front of others. But something tells me . . . not for long, was a thought that bounced into his mind.
She took him by the hand and led him to her bedroom. He felt the sopping wet sweat between their bodies and hoped it wasn't his alone. The New Orleans summers could be brutal. They were entangled now. Nervous hands were roaming everywhere over the tautness of their twisting bodies. He listened to his heart pound against the background of Sally's heavy breathing. There was a rhythm; a movement that somehow guided him. A naturalness, he thought. Their mouths met in a quietness that brought them to the floor, and he felt his nostrils flare wide as he fought for air
With Sally's dress pulled high to her waist, he felt her nakedness against his and then was lost in the most remarkable experience of his young life. She unbuttoned his pants. Her legs opened and he felt himself disappear inside her. In the quick movements that followed he found himself inside her one moment, and out the next. His feelings drove him to the brink of exhaustion. He was breathing very hard. Panting, actually, as their flesh squirmed against each other. Almost as fast as it all seemed to begin, it was over. Jack rolled off and lay beside her in quiet thought. What now? his young mind pondered.
Sally lit a Lucky Strike cigarette, taking a deep drag as she lay on her back, slowly letting the smoke curl upward from her puckered mouth. Her hair was damp and disheveled now.
“Want one, Jackie?” She asked, extending the pack to him. “You guys aren’t the only ones that like a cigarette after sex.” She laughed softly.
While Jack wasn’t a real smoker, never inhaling, he answered her with a nod. She struck a match and held the flame while she puffed once to get a light. He watched her inhale then slowly blow the smoke from her lungs. She extended the cigarette to his lips. He took a big drag, inhaling it. He started coughing and then felt foolish. She would know this wasn’t his thing. He felt dizzy and the room started revolving. He felt this once before when he was eleven and tried smoking. It was then that he decided smoking wasn’t for him.
“Can I be excused?” Without waiting for an answer he got up and headed for her bathroom, following her pointing finger.
He apologized upon his return. What an ass I am, he thought. He noticed she had put his cigarette out in the ashtray.
Before the day ended they made love again. The first time was lost in rampant anticipation somewhere on her smooth thighs. That embarrassed him. But this time was better. He was more in control. He felt her fists press hard against his side. He thought the excitement would never end. He hoped, at least, it wouldn't.
“Oh my God!” jack moaned. Several thoughts raced through his mind. Life would never be the same again. He was a man now. At least, he was no longer a virgin!
She bent down and they kissed for what seemed like the longest time to him. It was a gentle kiss, not passionate. She lay beside him, twisting his curly blond hair with her finger until they fell asleep, holding one another. When the day ended, something told him this was just the beginning.
On his walk home he thought about his mother. He thought about religion and God. He thought about sin and suddenly felt ashamed. What if my mother finds out about this? Sex, with a real woman! Not like the trips to the bathroom when he would let his imagination take over. She would, "Cut it off", was her warning. He felt horror. He felt dirty. Yet, he thought, What is so bad about something this powerful? Something that felt so good between two people? He searched his thoughts for answers as the visions of he and Sally saturated his mind with overpowering excitement.*** Jack's meetings with Sally Grayson continued for several months as they grew closer and the two found more time to be together. This was a relationship with spaces in it as each went on with their own lives. She told him how she worked as a hostess for one of the finer restaurants in the city, making a little extra money as a dancer in some of the bars. Jack listened attentively as she explained how her marriage to a young soldier seemed to end when he shipped overseas. A marriage that hadn't worked. For whatever reason, she was using her maiden name these days and planned on getting divorced. The war was over, but he hadn’t been discharged. On occasion he visited briefly on one or two furloughs. Jack stayed away on those occasions.
Jack, lying about his age, found work with bands around town. Nothing steady, but as a clarinet player and sometimes pianist he was gaining a reputation as a fine player. He could even use his harmonica to liven things up.
The night was wet and people were crammed into The Glass Door cafe on N. Rampart street. The ten o’clock show was about to begin with a six piece Dixieland band. Jack was on clarinet and was rubbing his hands with baby powder to prevent his fingers from sticking to the keys. The room was a typical venue with low lights and clouds of smoke from too many cigarettes. The unharmonious tuning of instruments and clanking of glasses rode high over the buzz of talking. Jack played this room several times; not always with this same group. Many musicians were still away serving in the armed forces. This opened the door for many young men to get gigs.
The first set was over and Jack knew he would be featured on the next set with what was becoming a signature piece for him, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. Someone set him up with a shot and beer. He looked around and then decided, “What the Hell!” The beer wasn’t bad, he drank a few beers once in awhile, but the shot brought a feeling like fire going down. He fought the grimace that squeezed his lips together. Jesus, he thought, what the Hell do they see in this shit?
The band was ready and they started the set with, “Miss New Orleans”, then shook the room with the leader singing, “Sweet Georgia Brown”. Now it was time to feature Jack. They began with pickups to “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”, setting the familiar dirge-like tempo that is so well known to this tune when played right.
The crowd grew ecstatic. Jack knew there were other levels to reach; golden plateaus. The band knew Jack was in a class by himself, at least on this number, so sensing he wanted to take it further they bowed to his wishes. The band was firmly behind him, pacing themselves, holding back just a little to let Jack know he could keep pushing, despite reaching musical climax after climax there was still the unexplored on which to build.
At the tunes conclusion the whole place erupted into pandemonium. On this night Jack reached a new level of playing. Demand would surely rise for his clarinet in the Big Easy.
“Hey!” A hand poked him in the back while he stood talking with some of the band members.
He turned to see Sally, looking as lovely as ever standing there. “Hey, yourself, honey.” A look of pleasure covering his face as he reached out and gave her a hug. He was surprised to see her here.
“Hey man”, said one of the players, “please tell me this gorgeous lady is your sister.”
Jack kissed her on the mouth firmly. “Does she seem like my sister, Harry?”
He took Sally to a table, but was reluctant to order any drinks, knowing his age.
“I’m sorry, Jack. I had no business popping in on you like this.”
“It’s okay, Sally. Jesus these guys will think I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
“Think?” Sally responded.
As the night ended, Jack walked Sally home and spent the night. Times were good for Jack and he often expressed this to others.
As the fall came he was back in school. Often he would stop on the way home to see Sally. Over the many weeks to come Jack spent less time playing with the boys at Mama Goldies'. He was spending more time playing with bands in the Quarter and Sally. She would cook and spend many hours with him. He would play for her and they would talk for hours and hours on end. Sometimes, Jack would tell his mother that he was staying at Jim's house, and then spend the night with Sally. This is not unlike marriage, he thought. He became deeper and deeper involved emotionally. Their age difference didn’t seem to matter.
Sally had a healthy appetite for making love. So did he. Their relationship meant a lot to him, and he hoped for her too. Romance was present and a kind of respect developed between them. Jack loved their long talks and what she taught him. He hoped it would never end.
The bad news came to him like a bullet to his young heart. Sally's husband was returning. He was getting out of the service. Jack listened sadly as she told him she was going to return to her marriage. The news almost broke his heart. He felt himself grow numb.
Through Sally, Jack learned many things about life; about love; and now, about sorrow. His torment wrenched and twisted his stomach into knots. He felt suddenly alone and in deep gloom. He would remember how this older woman influenced him. How she added a new limb to his tree of life’s knowledge; giving him another set of emotions. She was to give him something else, also. Something that could hurl him into manhood. He was about to share a secret with Sally.
"Honey! You're going to be a daddy.”
The news scared Jack so bad he shook as Sally told him she was pregnant. But then she assured him he would not have the burden of being a father at his age.
“When my husband was home on furlough we did go to bed, Jack. I don’t think he’ll know the difference. Besides, the Government will pay all the hospital bills with him being the father.”
Jack looked at her with relief. “How do we know it isn’t his, anyway?”
“Trust me, it’s a woman’s thing. I know!”
Not once did he ever concern himself with using protection. Not for disease and not for pregnancy. He just assumed she knew what she was doing and he made love to her without reservation. Somehow, it all came together for him as she told him how happy she was to have his child and that she would always remember their time together. He began to appreciate what she was doing and how lucky he really was. He also understood why Sally gained a little weight.
“Will I ever see you again?”
“Of course.” She said, a little saddened. I mean I’m still around, right?
Suddenly, he felt very good about everything. It’s time, he thought, to get back to music. He felt more like a man, yet with the hollowness of no responsibility. Still, in the future he thought he had better learn to use protection.