We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?
Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**

"Between Covers"

 by Joseph CARNEY

Doyle let the hood of the ebony XJS gently thump into its latch. He paused for a moment to stare at the shining silver cat on the machine's bow and his mind wandered to Estella.

"She's dying," he said out loud.

Estella had confided the seriousness of her illness just hours ago-right after the facts that she was on the run from a bogus murder charge and that people wanted her dead. A typical Saturday.

"So, could he help?"

She had mistaken him for a reporter. He had showed up merely for a moving sale to buy some albums. He listened and played along. He knew why. This dance teacher was the flamenco dancer whom he had dreamed about.


Bill Evans' piano ricocheted gently and kindly from the office stereo against the hard, dirty, garage walls and through the open door to Fourth Avenue. Outside, late September Brooklyn looked the same. Doyle's eyes locked onto the ice cream truck that always made its way towards the park this time of early evening. It would not stop here. The driver preferred to turn left, swooping closer to Prospect, and to dump his wares of marked up spring water and cold desserts on the joggers and tourists who were fighting off the inevitable Monday. A few neighborhood children chose to chase the truck anyway. Their oversized T-shirts and shorts slowed their progress up the hill ever so slightly as the red glowing tail lights of the beat up vehicle signaled their caravan forward.

"Gypsies. Like Estella," thought Doyle. 


He recalled the photos that he had seen in the apartment.  The dance students proudly huddled around Estella. The children miming the exaggerated positions of the baille.

Estella's dark eyes reflected her own pride and the love that she had for these dancers. Yet, distance shone through the tight portraits. There seemed to be a real pain in the dance. Estella kept the world at bay. Now Doyle had been invited inside. He would help. He could dig around a bit and maybe even use the muscle of his old contacts. That world haunted him now. He could use that ghost to help this woman.  It felt good. Secret. Redeeming.

Doyle had felt this first in the dark music. A few musty, early seventies records had come from the city sidewalks and overwhelmingly surprised him with the flowing, yet occasionally violent, flamenco guitar. The warmth, the connection, beckoned him and soothed his nightmare aches. The beautiful dancer on the record covers had reached out to him. Doyle knew that it was Estella that stared back at him from the vinyl sides.

She was much younger. There, no distance radiated. Only verve and beat and tune and color. Duende. Magic. Lust. Now, some thirty years later, Doyle wanted this woman.

He wanted her the way that he wanted to dive inside the songs and somehow wash away his own black sins. From these spinning circles,  he had somehow found her. Flesh cut from a needle's groove.  Real.


Doyle stepped around to the driver's side and and opened the door. He sat down with his left boot still on the garage floor. He looked into the rear view mirror and then down at the tapes that Ms. Callwell had left on the seat. No music. All spoken word- self help, instant French, great poets. He turned the key and the engine slow-growled to alert. Callwell's help tape chimed in. "
Reaching back for our own past needs can never lead to a satisfying future..."  the audio doctor asserted.

The psychiatrist continued through the piston hum as Doyle coaxed the RPM gage to its ideal berth. Ms. Callwell and the Jaguar wouldn't be back for months. Doyle keyed off the ignition. He ran his hands over the top curve of the steering wheel and patted with his right like a trainer.

Doyle pocketed the keys and rose from the leather seat . He headed for Ellis' office to write up the bill . The sparse room was cramped but soulful. Along side the auto parts calendars and family photos, Ellis had framed an original copy of  There's A Riot Goin' On . The simple American flag cover of the greatest Sly and the Family Stone lp flapped frozen above Ellis' houseplant jungle. Most customers took it for folk art or veteran pride. To Ellis, it was both of these things. First and foremost it was a message. It was the funk. He was more than happy to explain this, but he let the pilgrims come to him. He was, after all, the boss.

Ellis and Doyle had connected through the music. The two men held up Muddy Waters a few heads above Shakespeare. They could debate for hours "Coltrane or Parker?" as easily as "Willie or Waylon?" Ellis knew about Doyle's past. He knew about the nightmares. Doyle had even turned him onto a bit of Flamenco, praising its' calming powers.

"Sounds like Feliciano, man," Ellis had approved.

Doyle hadn't told Ellis about Estella. Only Mac knew. All of Doyle's secrets had found a home with Mac behind the bar at The Black Rock.

As always, the small color television on the corner shelf seemed to be stuck on CNN. Doyle looked up as the announcer narrated Belfast's latest run of the troubles. Talks had broken down again in the slow crawl towards shared government. Young Fiona Byrne and her green book bag were taking a different route to the Catholic school to avoid violent protests. None of this, nor cameras and microphones lunging and taking, suppressed the hopeful, eight year old grin that buoyed a strawberry blonde head. Fiona and
mom marched on, past the riot police, intercut with thrown stones and rueful politicians.

And now a look at the weather...

Doyle went for a shower.


Outside, Doyle headed for the F Train and dinner with Estella. He pushed his fingers through wet hair and walked up towards the park. His headphones thumped and popped with the flourishes of Sabicas. The old master spoke to him in his battering of the guitar's strings. The sun was setting behind Doyle and  long, autumn shadows began to smear the path in front of him. He dragged his hand along the iron fences of the neighborhood that stabbed through the golden light. He fell deeper into the music and head bobbed in time past the sand colored stoops.


In the spinning arpeggios and looming twilight, the visions breathed to life. The next step Doyle took was that of a Spanish sailor washed up on a beach. The back of his head thumped from a battle or a wreck and his legs moved heavily in torn pantaloons. Ahead, a village of thatched and peat homes pulled him. Then he was inside and the fires warmed him. A young woman brushed his cheek. Her blue-green eyes promised shelter. In the next step, a gate crashed. The back of a truck rolled open. Gunfire and screams flew out. Doyle felt himself shooting back. He saw the young face in the darkness. A dying face. Estella reached out, dancing towards him. She stomped and snapped in time to the Sabicas.  She swayed closer-lace and blood red roses. Doyle's head throbbed.


Somehow, he managed to cross the last street before the station. He reached up for his temples and turned back west. The two men on black horses blocked what was left of the sunset. Doyle thrust out a stiff left arm to brace for the attack. Sabicas burned inside his head with the last few bars of El Castillo Moro. The music cut out. The two NYPD mounted police gained the sidewalk and swerved north towards the library. Doyle swallowed and silently watched them clomp into the park.

He shook his pocket that still held the Jaguar keys and headed down the subway steps.

- - - - - -

RIP Waylon Jennings.

Excerpt from the forthcoming Between Covers. Concept, characters- © Copyright 2002 Joseph Carney.

This issue dedicated to such distinguished poet & composer as (alphabetical order):

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. 8th issue. Winter 2002, New York.
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