She sat as far apart from him on the bench they shared as possible without being *too* obvious about it. Along with looking just plain awful he also reeked of dead flesh — death itself. Yet he talked as if nothing was out of the ordinary. He was chattering on and on about his club — Jim’s Club, before he insisted that you add an A. to it, a Brown, or an A. Brown if you wish. But not plain ol’ Jim; not after his club sank after, first, Your Mama and Keith B. left, and then Lena herself. She’d never known him as Jim A./Jim Brown/Jim A. Brown, since she hadn’t seen him since the fall of the Club — last fall she believes. She only knew him as Jim.
“Jim,” she began innocently, trying to excuse herself and daring to insert his name in his soliloquy. Bad mistake.
He waited for more which didn’t come, then: “Jim. That’s it? As in Jim’s Diamond Club, red and black together to make something not quite as good as either separately? *Jim*?”
“Yeah: Jim,” she repeated. “Isn’t — that your name?” She was sweating now. She shouldn’t have wore her fur costume she was going to sing in tonight. Probably brought back bad memories for Jim (Jim?) and his club — same outfit she wore at times there, she now recalled.
He stared at her: no life atall in his eyes. “Call me that again and you’ll be as dead as me. Get it?”
Lena Horned got it. She just let him talk and ramble on about the past after that. Finally he’d unwound everything he wanted to say to her. He got up. “Well, ’bout time to head back into the grave, honey. I thank you. I think you’ve — saved me.” He left the park, sauntering up the street he came down from, into the sunset. She stayed on the bench, wondering what just happened. She better get back to her apartment and talk to Zach Black about all this, before she forgets. Was this all a dream? she wondered, snapping her fingers and finding they just pass through each other. Yeah: dream.
Thank Gods. She takes the tension out of her shoulders and heaves a deep sigh and wakes up, Zach’s arm draped about her midsection. Her new man. Her new *club* man.
“The past again?” She’d been fidgeting for a while, keeping him awake. He contemplated prodding her but just let the dream unwind. Always the sigh at the end to wake up. He knew it wouldn’t last long; never did. The dead can’t leave their grave for too long.
(to be continued?)