“He wants to know when you can start!” She called to us from the kitchen.
“How soon does he want us to start?” I shouted back.
“Yesterday,” she replied.
“I can do that!” I kissed Sarena on the nose. “Well, darling, it looks like we have a new job.”
“He’s flying up tomorrow to put things in motion. He’ll stay to meet Gabe.”
“Well, on that note, I believe it’s time to start some dinner. Fried chicken and all the fixin’s at my house,” Jesse invited casually.
“Are Ma and Chester coming?”
“Yes, sir. He’s agreed to break with tradition and try my food. I promised him down home cookin’ and that’s just what he’ll get. Cleo, we got our work cut out.”
“Can I help?” Sarena asked.
“Y’all come keep us company. I got my own way of doin’ and if I got too many people in my kitchen, I’ll trip over someone. But I’d love you to visit.”
“We can do that,” I agreed.
We spent the next couple of hours at Jesse’s while she and Cleo cooked. Sarena pitched in as needed and I made a beer and wine run in Cleo’s rented car. By the time I got back, Ma and Chester were there.
“You know what we could use, Mikey,” Ma said. “We could use a concert.”
“You still have your guitar, don’t you?”
“We need some live entertainment,” she repeated. “Go get tuned up and come play.”
Laughing, I trotted next door to get my guitar. Chester helped me move the rest of Sarena’s luggage over and I grabbed some more clothing from the bedroom. We were going to stay at Molly’s until my place could be assessed and repaired.
I tuned up my guitar, sitting on a chair in the living room. They looked at me expectantly.
I opened with a simple melody, making my mother smile. It was one of her favorite songs. By the time I got to the chorus, she was singing with me. “There were Seven Spanish Angels at the alter of the sun. . . .” I finished the song myself. Ma can’t sing the whole thing without crying.
I followed that with an instrumental piece I’d composed myself. It was much in the style of a classical Spanish guitar piece. I’d never finished it, but tonight I found an ending. Sarena’s eyes glittered happily as she listened to me play.
“I didn’t know you could do that! You play beautifully!”
“Michael, you’re a man of many hidden talents. Let’s see if you know this.” Chester went to Jesse’s piano. Flexing his fingers, he started to play. The tune was familiar, but something I hadn’t heard in awhile. Suddenly, I remembered and started to play with him.
“I don’t know the words,” I said as I followed his lead.
In a clear tenor, he started to sing Africa, but Toto. Surprising choice for a dentist from Manhattan, but a good one nonetheless. Each of us took a turn either playing or humming a tune until the others caught on. As the women set up dinner, Chester and I performed out own little concert with input from the audience.
“Do you know, His Eye is on the Sparrow?” Jesse asked.
We did, and all of us sang it together in harmony. After that was done, we had dinner. Jesse was an amazing cook. I was really impressed. I never had figured out how a woman who couldn’t see could do as much as she did.
While they cleaned up, Chester and I went back to our concert. Sarena whispered something in her father’s ear. He chuckled and started to play. She started to dance and sing a song from the 80s called Twilight Zone. I don’t mean the one used on the TV show, this one was by Golden Earring who also sang, Radar Love.
We finally broke up the party around 10:00. I had to get up early and wanted some time with Sarena before I finally went to sleep. Hugs and kisses all around, we went back to Molly’s. Ma and Chester were heading to the motel. We were standing on the porch saying our goodbyes in the freezing cold, when I heard a funny noise at my place. Well, not specifically my apartment, the one next to me that had been empty the last few months. It sounded like a loud poof.
“Did you hear that?” I asked the others. I started off the porch.
“I did,” Chester said, grabbing for my arm.
© Dellani Oakes 2014