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
dying," he said out loud.
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.
could he help?"
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
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
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
felt good. Secret. Redeeming.
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
him. Doyle knew that it was Estella that stared back
at him from the vinyl sides.
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.
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.
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.
back for our own past needs can never lead to a satisfying
the audio doctor asserted.
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
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
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.
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 "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.
like Feliciano, man," Ellis had approved.
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.
now a look at the weather...
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
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.
shook his pocket that still held the Jaguar keys and
headed down the subway steps.
- - - - -
from the forthcoming Between Covers. Concept, characters-
© Copyright 2002 Joseph Carney.