Scene in a ’40s nightclub

by practicalspactical

Half cracked light bounces against dark velvet corners, in which men in suits sit with women in cheap dresses made beautiful by the soft light and their laughings at old jokes long forgotten by the turning — on the little half stage, old footlights shining up the red velvet suit is a tall and pale androgyne, with greasy long black hair hanging across his eyes, singing into an old 1940s microphone, circular with great big spokes like some pagan wizard’s staff – his voice is haunting — high pitched jazz — words beyond meaning in the smokey room — glasses on the tables vibrate, liquid amber shakes — visceral shivering as the voice crawls higher hitting higher and higher notes — the song is an old one — invented someone else, not hear in this city, but down many rivers, in the rice fields, in the cotton fields, brought here by a subject race from deepest furthest Africa, still a mystery to these white bankers and their ladies, drinking at the end of the world — the alcohol is an imperfect medium, but still, with enough of it coursing down their arteries and up their veins, pushing past the blood brain barrier and making vision skew and twist — out of the corner of their eyes, these sad humans, the audience, can see something else, some shadow vision of the world that will be, the world without them, the 21st century they won’t live to see, or the 18th, or before, but also, heightened sense of the now, that holy moment they’re usually too dead to feel — the alcohol clears some dead wood, and the voice clears some more, and the girl in their arms, living and breathing and looking back at them, maybe that clears the most. It is dark in the club, so dark, light bouncing out of the way, but they know that they are here, now, in this special place. They have some sense they are on a speck of dust floating in a vast unmeasurable cold emptiness — they have some sense that the religious tales they hear on Sundays may not be so different than the fairy tales of unicorns and dragons they read to their children at night — but the alcohol and the voice and the women — counteract these feelings, remind them of the present, here but not here, always slipping, held on to, but slipping — the voice sings on — carrying them into the next moment — eighty years from now this building will be gone and these people will be gone — there will be other people and other buildings and another singer — different lighting — but here they drink and listen, sitting in shadows, lights fragmenting —