Wall of sound
Marcus noticed that Lucky was watching
him closely. Emmie kept leaning her lips in
toward his hand and each time
she did he dutifully produced the zippo.
Emmie would look up at him
and giggle then shrug her shoulders.
Vanilla, he’d whisper and chuckle.
As she then walked over to the stereo
and began leafing through the records Marcus
turned toward Lucky and raised
a joint. Lucky shook his head slightly but walked over
drinking a beer he’d found in the back
of the fridge.
Where’d you get that?
I think it’s the last, Lucky said. The only one.
Marcus shook his head. I can only drink so much wine
in one evening. Besides, man, it’s getting
really hot in here. Lucky took a sip but didn’t offer
any to Marcus though he knew he’d
accept it if he did.
I don’t think all this smoke is helping much
and he glanced up at what was then swirling
around the stilled ceiling fan.
Marcus took a puff and blew smoke out his nostrils.
This is a cigarette bro. He held it out
for inspection. I take my time. I don’t overdo it.
Lucky raised an eyebrow.
Marcus pulled the pack of Chesterfields out of his pocket
and with the flick of his wrist brought one out
of its open corner offering it up.
These are just smokes-
Lucky said taking it tentatively.
I’m not lying, man. Swear it.
Marcus produced his zippo again but Lucky
whipped a matchbook
out of his own pocket. I didn’t know athletes were allowed that
and he nodded as Lucky drew a long drag.
You’ve been listening to your brother,
Lucky inhaled. The rule follower.
Marcus laughed. Yeah, that’s my brother.
Hey bro! Come over here
he shouted at Lou who was looking at an album
carefully on the couch. Put that Miles record down
and get your ass over here!
Lou gently laid the record down on top of the phonograph
avoiding close contact with Emmie
as he did so. She had placed her ear next to the speaker
and was mumbling something about
waiting for a wall of sound to come crashing down.
Have a smoke, brother. Have a smoke.
It’s not going to do you any harm. This isn’t one of those
and he flicked his wrist again
to reveal one fresh and clean. Lou looked at it
a moment but then took it. Marcus lit it for him and said
You know what they call these over in England?
Fags. He shook his head.
I never did understand those English cats. My father used
to have them over to dinner when they’d be
visiting his department. The younger ones
they liked mama’s “soul food” and always asked Dad
if he had any Muddy Waters or some
Chicago blues. You remember that one cat,
Willoughby or Barnaby.
Shit, Lou. What was his name?
Lou chuckled and said Carnaby.
His name was David Carnaby and you and I laughed
about that tweed name every time we went to church.
I’d put on my suit jacket and you’d call me
Carnaby and act snooty.
Yeah, Marcus laughed. But that cat was alright.
He knew Dad had Muddy Waters
and Big Momma Thornton and Howlin’ Wolf
and Lord knows what else. Then Mama asked him if he ever went to church
back home and he said all deadpan: “I’m sorry, ma’am (which sounded like “mum”).
I’m an Anglican.”
Lou smiled. I don’t know if mama got
that joke but dad seemed to.
He took a drag.
Dad always brought interesting people home and-
Marcus cut in -He even pretended
to find British culture interesting! I couldn’t do that,
not for money! But they do like our music.
Isn’t that what the dude said: It’s your music, guvnor.
Lucky finished his cigarette.
If you want to hear about yours and mine
you should come and drink with my father. He’ll tell you
where to get yours.
But not you, eh? Marcus smirked. Not you?
Lou shot him a glance.
Lucky shrugged. I’m a cracker. And I know it.
But my father’s the one who’s proud
of it. He only wanted me playing football.
Lucky eyed up the Chesterfields again
and Marcus flicked him one.
They were silent for a moment then Lucky said
What the hell are we listening to, anyway?
The three of them turned and watched
Emmie gyrating by the speaker
but it was another moment before Marcus said
It sounds like the record’s skipping, man.
He looked at both of them.
Am I crazy?
No, Lou laughed. It is skipping-
-Jeremy Nathan Marks