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Thursday, January 17, 2013

NEW YEAR. NEW LOVE_What is the color of love?



The love of each New Year's Eve soon or late becomes a ghost.

  It is the way of a broken world
                 to break those who walk its surface ...
                                                                        especially lovers.

{FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE is a speculative Noir thriller. An alternate history, if you would, of what could have happened after Katrina but didn't --

in a plane of existence where the supernatural exists. And who is to say that it doesn't exist in this one?}

With the soft voice of twilight, ghost music sang in my memory. It was accompanied by the chorus of the whispers of the wind from the listening sky. I closed my eyes, thinking of the last New Year's Eve when I was happy.

New Orleans was timeless, especially to me with the blood of Death in my veins. My transformed eyes only told me the truth, and the truth was not what I wanted to see. So I closed my eyes, and for a moment the truth was what I wanted it to be.

Meilori was back in my arms, supple and vibrant, the peach velvet of her cheek nestled against mine. She pulled back to murmur "Beloved."

Slanted eyes looked up into mine, seeming like jade quarter moons waiting to rise. Her smile was a promise of wicked delights to come in the evening hours before us. And my heart quickened.

Her hand lightly squeezed my gloved one. Her head bent forward, and soft lips tickled my ear. And we were dancing, dancing as if our bodies were the wind given life.

It had taken me a hundred years, mind you, but I had learned to be a damn fine dancer. The firm body in my arms had been ample incentive.

Some moments lose their way and grope blindly back from the past into the present. Such a moment swept me up now. Meilori and I were dancing across this very grass.

I had paid a prince's ransom to pry King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band out of Tulane's old gymnasium to play out here under the stars. In my mind, I could hear young Louis Armstrong on cornet, see the pleased faces of the other dancers stepping lightly all around us, and hear Meilori's low laughter.

How amused she had been at being flirted with on the front porches of Jelly Roll Morten, Buddy Bolden, and Papa Jack Laine earlier that day. Those same houses had somehow survived Katrina, though not without damage. I made myself a promise I would see those places repaired.

Renfield rasped beside me, "Sam, are you doing this?"


I opened my eyes and went very still. The speechless shades of a long-gone night whirled and wheeled all around us. That long-ago evening was replaying itself before our eyes.

Renfield and Magda were laughing as they danced beside Meilori and me. Outraged dowagers bent heads together, their silent tongues wagging at the sight of a priest and nun openly dancing under the watching stars.

Renfield sighed, "I'd forgotten how your face looked happy."

I looked at my ghostly double, envying him the sheer delight in his eyes. "I'd forgotten how it felt."

The sound of my words settled an old score with truth, and the evening shades slowly faded from sight. I shivered.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Renfield look wistfully at the disappearing Magda in his own double's arms. I sighed. Some truths were best seen only by starlight.

Renfield shook his head. "Remember the last dance of the night, Sam?"

I nodded. "Yes, I remember. Don't understand it. But I remember it."

"Why did Meilori shush you off like that to dance by herself -- as if someone invisible was dancing with her?"

I sighed. "Haven't a clue. But it was a sight. She was so graceful, so full of sad love."

Renfield frowned, then nodded. "Sad love? Bloody Hell, you're right. I could never pin down the expression on her face until now. But sad love says it all."

"All. And nothing. I still don't understand the why of it. Just that she was so hauntingly beautiful as she danced."

Renfield made a face. "She could have been washing clothes on a rock, and you would have found her beautiful."

"I may have many sorrows, Padre, but the memory of Meilori is not one of them."

Renfield was about to say something, then looked off to our left. I followed the path of his eyes. I smiled. Swartz. Not that I called him that to his face, mind you.

He was a career soldier, full of discipline and respect for tradition and position. He was striding purposedly and brisk towards us. He smiled grim at me. I smiled back.

He stopped abruptly right in front of us. I smiled even wider at his clothes. No insignia or rank on his uniform of desert combat khaki, but it was starched and pressed as if just out of the cleaner's.

{Swartzkoph tells Samuel that he will be leaving FEMA and New Orleans in two weeks, not being able to follow orders given him by President Bush. Sam tells him not to worry, that his jazz club will be open by then.}

Swartzkoph raised an eyebrow. “Hardly a priority, McCord, with all the hurting people in this city.”

“You misunderstand, General. I’ll be able to start my pay-per-view internet concert of the jazz greats. The profits from that non-stop concert will funnel into a Katrina Relief Fund.”

Swartzkoph seemed doubtful. “I don’t know how much money that will pull in.”

I smiled wide. “Worldwide? Quite a bit. When you factor in that most of the jazz greats playing will be dead ones.”

I called upon Elu’s and Rind’s blood within me and misty shapes began to form all around us. Young Louis Armstrong, cornet under his arm, slapped my shoulder.

“Be glad to be there, Sam.”

Dizzy Gillespie shimmered beside him, his trumpet sparkling in the starlight, his beret set at a rakish angle. Jelly Roll Morten, his eyes dancing with “Spanish Tinge,” laughed at Swartzkoph’s startled jump. Charlie “Bird” Parker winked at me, holding his saxophone tight.

Cigarette hanging from his lips, Duke Ellington drawled, “You provide the piano. I’ll provide this old body. New Orleans is our mother. And we aim to be good sons.”

Swartzkoph looked a haunted question at me. He wanted to know who these spectral visitors were. And the hell of it was that I didn’t rightly know.

Just because I had summoned them, didn’t mean I knew.

Were they my friends drawn from my heart’s memory when they were young, or could I reach out into the night and bring them to a remembrance of shadows? Think you know the shape of death? I did once. I was wrong.

I thought it a dark tunnel at the end of life, whose end was blazing light. I found it to be a cloud that filled the horizon with flickers of black light and scarlet winds. Thickly it spills over ocean and land, sweeping up all in its billowing path. And even that glimpse is misty, flawed with things my mind cannot contain.

I spoke softly to them. “Give me two weeks, and we’ll put on a show like none has ever seen before.”

Louis mopped at his forehead with a white handkerchief. “Time ain’t what you think, Sam. Nor is the reason we’re here. You open those doors. We be there. Now, you owe someone a last dance.”

He turned to the others. “C'mon, Boys, we’ve got us an empress to play for.”

There was a movement of shadows to my left, and my heart hollowed out as Renfield breathed, “Dear Lord above.”

Meilori’s shade danced open-armed in front of me.

What does love look like? What is its color? A white flash of fright. A billowing wave of warmth, its reach beyond the microscope and further than the length of hope. Is it a jewel sparkling in the night? Or a whisper murmuring within the corridors of the heart?

Once more Meilori danced across the velvet grass, her empty arms beckoning to me. Her soft voice carried like a specter in the dark. Her words brushed by me and into my soul.

“Beloved, one last dance.”

And I finally understood her dancing empty-armed that magic evening so long ago. She had seen me, as now I saw her. Perhaps she thought me the ghost of a future me, dead and searching for her. And not understanding completely, still she took me in her arms.

As I, not understanding completely, now took her in mine. She smiled, brushing soft lips against mine. And my jazz friends began to play in a heart-clasp of sound.

Love is not a shy beast to be caught but a rare moment to be treasured. It burns within each cell, a living seed of hope. Its rays invisible to most, seen only by the searching heart.

Meilori was in my arms, and her love was a sheath that kept me whole. She lightly kissed me. I almost felt it. We danced through the embrace of shadows. And for a very short moment, I was home.

As I stated before, I am a fan of old Hollywood classics. Some consider the concept of romance outdated and old. And it is old -- as old as myth, as enduring as the lonely heart's quest for its soulmate, and as fragile as the bodies which house those souls we love.



  1. One from Sam's point of view - excellent!

  2. Alex:
    Victor is fun to write, but Sam is my personal Avatar. I'm happy you enjoyed it. :-)

  3. Lovely, everyone should learn to dance. Josh is a favorite too!

    I enjoy your writing, but loading and or commenting gives my computer 'warnings' very difficult.

  4. Yolanda:
    I'm sorry you're still getting warnings when loading my site. I had my cyber-Jedi Knight, Nicholas, clean up my site. I thought it was done since everyone else who mentioned it said my site was loading easily now.

    Wasn't that vid by Josh great? :-)

  5. Thank you, Roland. I enjoyed that - reading about Sam and Meilori. So many of my favourites were there too - Louis, Dizzy, Bird, and Ellington. Whose band I wonder?

    I liked this phrase: 'Love is not a shy beast to be caught but a rare moment to be treasured.'

    Didn't know Sam was so poetic.

  6. You know Roland, Sam is my first love from your writings :) I adore his dark romantic nature and this in one of my favorite scenes from you novels.

    For a while there I thought you wouldn't be able to come up with an excerpt from your published writing to fit this prompt. Oh me of little faith, lol.

    Thanks for participating in this months RFW challenge.


  7. I echo Donna, Roland. Great excerpt for the prompt and Sam as narrator is a popular choice. I loved it, and loved the stardust and sparkle, along with the greats of jazz...inspiring.


  8. D.G.:
    The tragedy of Sam is that he is a poet and philiospher by nature, forced into a life of violence by circumstances. He tends to wax poetic when thinking of Meilori.

    In CREOLE KNIGHTS, it is revealed he rescued Oscar Wilde from Reading Gaol and took him to safety and refuge to Meilori's, where he still lives. Oscar admits to stealing from one of Sam's love letters to Meilori for his own letter to his wife.

    In RITES OF PASSAGE, he tells Margaret Fuller he corresponds with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and shares with her the ending of ULYSSES to help ease her anguish.

    The jazz greats think they are in Sam's band for the rescue of New Orleans -- for the city they love they will ease up on their ego's. :-)

    Sam would not let me fail in helping you and Denise. He is a gentleman of the "old school" in more ways than one!

    He tips his Stetson to you for such nice words.

    This is one of my favorite sections in the narrative of Samuel. It felt like I was merely copying down the words of an old friend by campfire light.

    May this weekend go well for you and Donna. :-)

  9. Hi, Roland,

    Such beautiful and romantic imagery. I always enjoy your writing. So full of soul....

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, full of emotion and empathy. 'Sad love' really got me.

  11. P.S. Great video that says it all.

  12. Sally:
    "Alone" is a word with teeth but "lost love" is a ghost with a caress of pain. Thanks for enjoying the post and the video - josh really did a great job with the song,didn't he?

  13. So romantic!
    Thank you for your kind words on my post.
    Best wishes,