The Jazz Moon

The aroma of the coffee was wafting through the air of the small kitchen. Her eyes burned as she opened the shade of the window overlooking the courtyard. The smell and taste of chicory were her salvation; it eased the effect of her daily hangover, and it provided income.  Daddy was the sole owner and heir of a fortune built on chicory blend coffee, it became popular during the shortage of coffee during the First World War.  Daddy Deveraux’s New Orleans Roast, available at fine stores everywhere. Cynthia Devereaux lived to please Daddy. She had since they met at Tulane many years ago. Before they married and had the girls. She hated the taste, but drank it out of respect.

She poured herself a cup of coffee. The chicory tasting earthy; it too reminded her of the taste of Daddy. She sat at the bistro table and stared out at the courtyard, sipping her coffee and fighting back tears that she knew would only exacerbate her raging headache.

She would have to have the garden tended to before Daddy came back. He would be mortified at the condition of the old house and garden. The Jasmine & Rosemary long ago wilted and brown, while the Bougainvillea hung on by a thread. She considered leaving the garden un-kept as payback for Daddy leaving her desires and passions unattended.

Cynthia just didn’t see the point with him gone now. Much like the robe she now wore, Chenille instead of the silk that Daddy preferred. The robe, much like her appearance of late faded and tattered at the edges.

Unacceptable, as appearances were everything in the Garden District, and to Daddy.

As she sipped the last of her coffee, she knew forgiveness for his absence was absolute. All would be well when he returned. She made a vow to find a new gardener next week.

She navigated her way through the big lonely house. Once so full of life and joy she thought. Pausing briefly at the parlor door, she saw Daddy’s baby grand piano. Remembering how he loved to play. Many nights she could swear she heard the piano from upstairs, the melody of his favorite jazz pieces echoing through the empty house.

She hurried on now, not proper to be late to lunch with the girls.

Cynthia no longer enjoyed what she saw in the mirror. She dressed hurriedly, quickly touched up her makeup. She began pulling her flowing red mane in a ponytail, the grey not so visible this way.

She met the girls at the café Démodé. It was rare she saw either Kayla or Karla anymore. They refused to come to the house once Daddy left. The Café held good memories for them all, and this seemed best now.

Both looked so skinny now Cynthia thought. But seemed happy and in good spirits. They drank Bloody Marys & dined on shrimp salad and baguette.

“Momma, what have you been doing to stay busy “? Karla asked

“Oh honey most days I send the requisite cards to friends, what with all the birthdays, births and sadly the deaths. I read my Times Picayune every morning. And garden in the afternoons just as your Daddy would expect”. 

“Momma, have you considered what we discussed about the house.” Kayla asked ? She watched the tension at the table increase as she feared would happen.

“Kayla, Daddy would be horrified if I sold the house, especially when he returns and we entertain again, we need the space.” Cynthia replied.

Karla abruptly rose and left the restaurant without a word. Nearly running down other patrons in the parking lot as her car sped away.

“Momma, you know he is never coming back.”  Said Kayla, as she began to cry.

“I know no such thing, he was back last October, Kayla Elizabeth”. He always comes home for the Jazz Moon. And your sister needs to show some respect or perhaps we don’t need to do these lunches anymore. Cynthia said angrily. She grabbed her purse, paid the bill and walked out to St Charles Avenue where she disappeared in to the lunch crowd.

She strode past the Hotel Maison de Ville. Most associated it with Tennessee Williams; it was where he completed a Streetcar named Desire.

Cynthia heard what she believed was the sound of Daddy playing the piano. It was coming from the bar. She stuck her head inside only to see the face of a young man at the keyboard. The song, as well as the hotel, would always belong to Daddy she thought.

As she drove back home and past Tulane and the lower garden district, she angrily spoke to herself. “Just you wait, all of you. Those women meant nothing to Daddy”. He was gentlemen enough to keep his whoring in the French quarter where those sorts of things belonged. “Just you wait and see, he will be back any day now”. As she passed Lafayette cemetery, she had to slow for a Jazz funeral. The tears came hard. How could her own children have forsaken her and Daddy?

She arrived home in time to wash the black mascara from her face before being seen by a neighbor. She went directly to the bar and mixed Daddy’s favorite drinks, a pitcher of Hurricanes.

Cynthia poured herself one, and turned on the turntable to play Daddy’s favorites. 33 rpm Vinyl records of all the greats, Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, and the Preservation Hall Jazz band.

She drank quickly as the memories came flooding back. Three hurricanes later she made her way back in to the chenille robe, hair down and focused on thoughts of Daddy, with a dash of tears and black mascara. It had become a nightly ritual.

She recalled their nights at Pat O’Brien’s, the dinners at the hotel Maison de Ville.

Her tears flowed like the Hurricanes she drank. Drunken and exhausted she laid her head on the table. A puddle of drool formed at the base of her arms as the 33 ended, and the loud hiss of needle on vinyl echoed from the stereo.

Her muffled mumbles of “Daddy”, the last thing she recalled before passing out.

Sometime later she awoke to the sound of the baby grand from the parlor. Still drunk she stumbled to the foyer. Looking through the door she saw him. His black hair and moustache perfectly manicured as always. He played as beautifully as ever, his song calling to her now. She rushed to the piano where she threw herself at his feet.

“Oh Daddy, you have come back just as you promised you would.” Cynthia mumbled her head now in his lap. She wiped dirt from his shoes. The familiar odor of chicory its earthen root smell, filled her nostrils. The smell of Daddy she thought.

“Of course I have my love”. Daddy said. “Every Halloween, just as I promised I would Cynthia”.

Daddy’s hand fell off, on to the ivory keyboard. It made a clanking melody. She stared blankly in to the eye socket where the whore’s switchblade had ended his natural life some years ago. The Jazz Moon shined in his one remaining eye.

© J K Dark


~ by onthedarkside on October 18, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Jazz Moon”

  1. Oh my…. JKD Poe.

  2. Super-Duper internet site! I am loving it!! Will come back again once more – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

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