I was new in town, looking for a job. I found one at the Flamenco Club downtown, where the rich and famous went to rub elbows. I walked into the club thinking about how lucky they were to have me. Up front near the stage, some dame was exercising her lungs at the piano.
So you meet someone who set you back on your heels. Goody goody. So you met someone and now you know how it feels. Goody goody. So you gave her your heart too, just as I gave my heart to you, and she broke it in little pieces. Now how do you do?”
Her back was to me. She turned around, still singing and walked over to where I was standing. She stopped half a foot from my face.
“Are you just going to stand there or are you going to use that thing?”, she had some mouth on her.
“Which thing is that?”, I had one too.
“Who are you?”
“I’m the new trumpet player”
“Want to go out and get a drink to celebrate sometime?”
“Don’t you think my husband would mind?”
“Do you care?”
“Would you two quit jabbering and start rehearsing?”, the boss, Jerry, liked me already. Me, I liked the canary.
My first show was that night. Afterwards, I was feeling good, and I wanted to celebrate. There was no one to celebrate with. Well, almost no one.
“I told you, I’ll be home when I get there!”, her husband told her as he stormed out the back door of the club.
What was a girl like that doing with a guy like him?
“Does he always talk to you like that?”
“He talks to everyone that way, that’s his voice”
“Want that drink?”
She took my arm. That night was the beginning of the end. We started seeing more of each other, then all of each other. But I won’t get into that.
I always play my horn with my shirt off, late at night, near an open window with a flashing neon light right above my head. It helps me think. I was thinking about Rita, what she was doing and who she was doing it with; I couldn’t get that dame out of my mind.
I heard a knock at the door. It was Rita. She smelled of violets and rainy nights. What I didn’t realize is that she also smelled like trouble.
“I don’t suppose your husband knows where you are,” I said later.
“He doesn’t know and he doesn’t care.”
“He might if he knew you were here.”
She kissed me again.
“Where are you from?” I asked her as I lit a cigarette.
“Deluca. I had to get out of that town. The moment I had a chance, I was gone. Get me another drink, will ya?”
“How can you play that thing? It’s so hot.” she said.
“Takes my mind off the heat. Speaking of which, why don’t you put some clothes on?”
“These have been the best two weeks of my life. They’ve also been the worst two weeks of my life. I think it’s time.”
“Hallelujah,” I said jumping up.
“No, not that. You know, Jerry.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Jerry’s worth twenty thousand dollars of insurance money. If we got rid of him, it would just be you and me. Not only would we be set, but we could be together, forever.”
“I can’t do that,” I told her
“We can make each other happy,” she pleaded.
“I might be a wife stealer, a cheat, and a bad dresser, but I’m not a murderer.”
“Does that mean no?”
“Yes, means yes, or yes means no?”
“What was the question?”
“Forget it, I understand,” she said turning away. “I can’t go on seeing you. These brief moments are too painful for me to endure any longer.” With that, she was gone. I couldn’t believe she walked out. But I knew she’d be back. She left her clothes behind.
From then on she gave me the cold shoulder; the cold everything. I missed her, but I didn’t want to kill Jerry, and that’s that. Two days later she walked into the club with a black eye.
“Rita! what happened?” I asked.
“He found out about us and hit you, didn’t he?!”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“No, it matters to me. Maybe you’re right, maybe we should get rid of Jerry.”
It was then that we started to plan the murder. When dealing with murder, planning is everything.
“Are you going to rehearse with us tonight?” I asked Jerry.
“I dunno,” he said.
“What’s to know Jerry?” Rita asked, “The guy wants us to rehearse with us!”
That night we meet at the club, and hour before the show. I knew what she wanted me to do, I just didn’t know if I could bring myself to do it. I don’t even remember actaully doing it, all I remember is looking down and seeing Jerry dead. When I looked up, Rita was smiling the damnedest, coldest smile I’d ever seen.
“Everything’s rosy, everything’s Jake. Just how much can a good girl take? I told ya I loved ya, now get out!”
That night the curtain got caught on the catwalk, turning it over, and Jerry’s body fell onto the stage. The police assumed he’d been hurrying to make the show on time and the fall killed him.
I walked the streets for hours that night. My mind was reeling, adrift, I’d never murdered anyone before. I didn’t know what to do. Would there be an investigation? Would I have to lie? Would I be able to handle the guilt? How long was I supposed to walk the streets?
I couldn’t get Rita out of my mind, I wanted to see her, hold her, touch her. I went into a bar and ordered a scotch.
“All women are the same,” the bartender told me as he slid the glass across the bar.
“Not this one, this one’s special.”
“Yeah sure kid.”
I had to be right, I just killed someone for her.
Two days later the police knocked on my dressing room door. They arrested me and charged me with Jerry’s murder. Rita was standing at the police car when we got outside. She had turned me in.
“Sorry kid,” she said, “Thanks for the good times though.”
They’re giving me the chair tomorrow. I have a feeling that when they flip the switch, I’ll only see birdies floating around my head. Canaries to be exact.