Of Song and Water

Of Song and Water by Joseph Coulson Read Free Book Online

Book: Of Song and Water by Joseph Coulson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joseph Coulson
goes out, whether for a day or an evening sail. She’ll make an excuse, report a sudden headache or discover a forgotten but long-standing appointment. It’s all an extravagant game. Dorian, naturally, is too tight-lipped to say anything about it. But Cole could’ve let her in on the joke. The knot in Jen’s stomach starts to loosen. She says, “Would you like a drink?”
    â€œI’ve had more than I need,” says Meredith. “Where’s the concert tonight? What time does it start?”

    â€œIt isn’t a concert,” he says. “We’re doing three sets at the Green Mill. We’ll probably start around nine.”
    â€œFine. Where can I take you to dinner?”
    â€œI don’t eat dinner,” he says.
    â€œThat’s absurd,” she says.
    â€œI don’t eat before a show.”
    â€œSo when do you eat – 2:00 A.M.?”
    â€œMore or less.”
    â€œYou’ll wind up with ulcers,” she says.
    â€œWe can grab a salad before the show,” says Jen.
    â€œAbsolutely not,” says Meredith. “If Jason’s crazy enough to eat in the middle of the night, then I can be just as crazy.”
    â€œMom, how many times – ?”
    â€œI know. Coleman. Coleman. Coleman. What do you expect? I called you Jason for almost twenty years. Now, if you’ll kindly point me to the guest room, I have some freshening up to do.”
    Carrying her bag, she glides down the hall and disappears.
    â€œShe’s hydrophobic?” says Jen in a loud whisper. “You never mentioned it.”
    â€œIt didn’t seem important.”
    â€œNot important – in your family I’d say it’s very important. For Christ’s sake, Cole, that’s like forgetting to tell me you play the guitar.”
    â€œNot exactly.”
    â€œDid your father know? I mean, did he know before they got married?”
    â€œI suppose so.”
    â€œAnd he still married her?”
    â€œShe swept him off his feet. It’s that Swedish thing. He probably thought he was marrying Ingrid Bergman.”
    â€œEven so. He spends so much time on the lakes. It must be difficult.”

    â€œMaybe he likes it that way.”
    â€œMaybe she’s a sexual athlete,” says Jen.
    He shakes his head. “I can’t think about that,” he says.
    HE ANTICIPATES a long night at the Mill, but the sets run smoothly from one song to the next, the music flowing like water, and it seems they’ve just begun when Brian announces the last number, a request from Meredith, “Moonlight in Vermont.”
    Tom and Brian fall back, leaving plenty of space, and so he takes the opening, finding new turns and dark corners in the song and creating a world all his own. He plays a cascade of diminished runs that electrifies the air. It sparks a small flame of tenderness and fills the room with audible light.
    When the music stops, he glances at his mother and notices that something in her face has changed. Rather than the usual distance and pride, he sees sadness, even helplessness, but when he looks again the vulnerability is gone. Her eyes still sparkle, he thinks. She still commands attention.
    Afterward, Brian and Tom politely explain that they’ve made other plans for dinner. Jen suggests an Italian restaurant on Halstead.
    â€œIt must be interesting,” says his mother, “to live so close to a baseball park.”
    â€œWe have friends,” says Jen, “who can watch games from their rooftops.”
    â€œDo they sell tickets?”
    â€œSome people do,” says Jen. “But it’s considered bad form.”
    â€œThere are many kinds of bad form,” says his mother, “but that, I think, is not one of them.”
    â€œIf we had a driveway or a front lawn,” he says, “we could charge people for parking.”
    The waitress brings three glasses of red wine and a basket of bread.
    His mother

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