He had come to this bar for years and had left countless partners swinging to Monk, Parker and Coltrane. He steadied the cigarette between his lips and lit the match. He inhaled deeply and felt the first exhilaration fill his lung, his body. One of life’s miracles he thought as he let the smoke mix with the music waiting in the bar’s atmosphere. They swirled around each other, then greeted, and then danced towards the ceiling. Watching over them were framed portraits of jazz greats: Basie, Ellington and Henderson seemed to count time to the dancing elements. Countless partners he thought again and laughed. “Time and time again, I said I’d leave you” began playing when the bar’s door opened, and in walked a woman Cole didn’t recognize.
On the way back, a dog ran out onto the highway and met my front bumper. I laughed.
“Are you sick? You probably killed that dog. Why did you laugh?”
To this day, I don’t know why. Maybe I saw in that dog my own attempts to pursue a better life across the highway, and like him, I was blindsided. Or, maybe I laughed because of the absurdity of it all. Fate had a contract out for that dog, and I, the pacifist, was its agent in destruction.