“Who’s coming back from the grave tonight, Max?”
“Let me see,” Max said, and began searching through a crate of old 33’s. “How ‘bout Lady Day?”
“Oh, that’ll do me just fine,” Cole replied.
Max, the bartender, knew him and quickly placed his favorite beer before him. Cole nursed it, as Max gently placed the needle down. “I’m a fool to want you, I’m a fool to want you, To want a love” came through scratchy, but pure. Cole smiled at the thought. 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 the smoke mixed 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. She sat down two stools from him.
“Double tonic and gin, please,” she asked.
“Preference in what gin, ma’am,” Max asked.
“Don’t matter none. It all gets you drunk, one way or another,” she said.
“Coming right up, ma’am,” Max said.
He gave Cole a look, but he just shrugged back. The woman searched in her purse, and Cole took his chance to give her the go over: soft hair set up on her head, low cut showing, shapely legs, scuffed pumps, a little weight on her hips, eyes set apart by mascara. Man, does she have some eyes. He took another swig of beer, and slid over a stool.
“That’s a tall order for a pretty thing like you,” Cole said.
She glared back at him, and didn’t say a word. Her drink arrived. She took it, and standing up, made her way to the opposite side of the bar. Cole smiled to himself, and decided on a different approach. He stood up, gave a wink to Max, and started his way to the mystery woman. He took a drag of his cigarette for effect, and sat down beside her. He extended his silver case and calmly asked,
Her smile seemed irritated, but she grabbed one.
“I must say you’re persistent,” she said, as he lighted her cigarette.
“The truth is most call me Cole,” he said.
Well then, Cole” she paused, letting the tip flare bright, and as the smoke leaves, said “you can call me Sarah.”
“Sarah –isn’t that a beautiful name. Way you walked in here reminded me of how Sarah Vaughn sings.”
“Oh, and how’s that,” Sarah purred, leaning over.
“When you walked in, all that sass comes right on out.”
Sarah rolled her eyes, but let a laugh out.
“Mr. Cole, you are something else.”
Cole smiled and took a drag. He looked at her eyes, and slowly let the smoke leave his mouth. Max brought Sarah’s drink over, and sent Cole a wink. This might be the start of something good he thought to himself. He leaned over to Sarah, and whispered into her ear. His smoke slowly circle, then joined Sarah's, and began dancing on the ceiling dancefloor, all to Holiday singing "For all we know, We may never meet again. Before we go..."