Produção de um conto em grupo.
Marina Pavelosk Migliacci
Thalita Serra de Castro
KIND OF BLUE
‘A whisky, please.’
‘Yes, Sir. No ice, right?’
Chet Baker on the background. Inevitably, this is how most people have been addressing to me in the past few years; no thank-you's and no good-night's. Being a barman is far from bringing the excitement of old times. Remaining unknown is my strategy to uncover the human soul. You can learn much more about people by observing than by talking to them.
The singer, for example. Every night she presents the same husky voice, the same gestures, high heels and silk stockings, all black, suiting her chocolate skin. Every night she evokes the same atmosphere of enchantment, though. Men are driven to her by some mysterious bittersweet behavior and tonight was only different because, among the usual observers, a new figure entered the bar – curiosity was arising from his expression. Tall man, with deep blue eyes, he seemed to be one of those with whom she could get trouble.
‘Dry Martini, please. And… Good night! How interesting place.’
Yeah, trouble. This one is hunting something in here. I can smell it far from me, like the loneliness in those desolated eyes in the left corner, back in the bar. Dry Martini, asked by a man. That was interesting, my fellow. Someone completely out of the box completely isolated. But weren’t all?
He introduced himself as a single and clever young man. Jay was his name and by this aggressive disposition and physical posture, one could assume that he was very confident. Straightly plumb, he never looked down but to despise whoever he was not concretely interested.
In the dressing room, she would fit a daffodil – her favorite –, offered by one last admirer, in her hair and examine her face in the mirror. Eyes full of memories from the long night before, awake, uncomfortable, unreadable. ‘L’enfer, c’est les autres’ – these words echoing inside her as a mantra. She would drink a glass of Gin to prepare her voice. Almost ready to face the audience out here; almost ready to fill empty hearts with the whole cliché image needed to do the job. Night after night performing this ritual, she would strangely feel herself smaller, as if another person was inside her, a person without her past, without her pride, without her problems – an interesting person! And when she woke up in the improvised room at the bar, still stunned by the hangover, she would probably feel that the headache and the pain that tied down her body to the bed didn’t belong to her, but to that “another person”, who she had once incorporated for the stage and even more became part of her life. Morning after morning, what she considered to be herself seemed farther and farther in the past – a reminiscence of another life, a life outside the bar.
Now, you should be judging me a vain, mean old man. How do I know all that? Who in the hell am I to judge this young girl? What kind of sick observer am I to reduce the complexity of a life to my stereotype of sadness and pain? I understand your question. You’re too young to understand human nature… You are too young to have experienced the things I did, and probably will never do, you in your comfortable life of professor! I’m a guy who dragged my thin body around the States and most of Europe longing to see what was going on out of this city. Worked as a bartender attending in English, French, German and trying to understand Italian. I’ve met the one who I believe to be the great love of my life somewhere around a British city in the Sussex valleys, or what was knew sometime in the past as Sussex. During my road life I’ve learnt to look in the eyes and got answers without pronounced words.
I do not guess her pain and her sadness: I identify myself to it. For three years, I’ve been analyzing her behaviour. She shook the whole city with her wonderful voice years ago – until the day of departure, she spent several months singing in a bar that was not as empty of drunks as it was of audience. For three years, I saw her glory and suffering, and for three years I saw her melancholical expression in each daylight morning.
But not that night, when the weird Jay was in the bar. After hours out during the evening, she came in with unordinary good humor:
‘Today I’ll fascinate them again, my darling’, she told me, with smoke coming out of her lips.
This idea made her repeat the ritual of preparation at such great pains that night. She entered the stage at midnight punctually and sang her own composition, “Don’t blame the moonlight”, which was supposed to be played only in special occasions:
You could stay, but you will go
You may have reasons, don’t let me know
‘Cause I feel bad, but don’t care why:
Don’t blame the moonlight
When the trumpeter finished, a sole clap of hands was heard: Jay praised her enthusiasm. A group of men continued chatting indifferently. In a dark corner of the hall, the lonely guy signaled me with his finger, without ever taking his eyes off the singer, and, despite the distance, I read in his lips:
‘A whisky, please.’
No ice, no ice…
When she closed the show with Billie Holiday’s “Somebody’s on my mind”, the group of men was already annoyed by Jay’s exhibitionist admiration, and looked at him angrily. Jay was certainly a stranger there. The guy in the dark, still quiet, had drunk two more whiskies. Just a few minutes after she disappeared to the dressing room, which was nothing but an exclusive bathroom for her, Jay suddenly approximated and put a ten dollars note into my pocket:
‘I will meet her.’
I said I would do whatever I could, as it was the best tip I’d received since the singer’s popularity started to fall. But I knew Jay was not exactly her type of person: ‘What does that stupid snob think I am? A whore he can call whenever he wants? I’m not a whore, I’m a singer, an artist!’, she claimed. The easy mood that the evening out had given her disappeared completely. She had no audience, and didn’t want either. I judged it impossible to convince her and returned to the bar, nodding my head negatively to Jay. When he was coming towards my direction, the singer crossed the space between us to the bottom of the hall and sat at the dark table of the lonely man. Impetuous, as always.
‘It is not the first time I see you around here, Sir.’
‘Hmm, hmm…’, he nodded his head condescendingly.
‘Why do you come here for?’, she asked, obviously waiting to hear compliments as a response.
‘Because there is nowhere else to go without being disturbed.’
‘Well, I’m sorry if I’m disturbing to you, Sir.’
‘You’re asking me to stay?’
‘I didn’t say so.’
A long silence interrupted only by the sound of the ice inside her glass of Gin took place instead of the uncomfortable words. The singer was searching for his eyes to find in them strength to maintain the stream of that conversation. Or what was trying to be a conversation. After resisting for few seconds, the man could not continue pretending she wasn’t there: he could be shy but, after all, he was a male.
‘What do you want?’, he asked harshly after finally staring at her.
She put the palms of her hands on the table, like a support to lift the weight of her incoherent body. She had never been so disesteemed since she started to sing at that bar. She was a star, a shooting star, that was true, but the most important person around there and he was daring to ignore her brightness.
That man realized immediately how impolite he had been. He was definitely a misanthrope, someone not used to the meanders of social life. He held her wrist with his cold hands before she could complete her movement. After a glance of supplication, he looked downwards slowly:
‘I didn’t mean it…’
She still desired incredibly to run away from that rude person. On the other hand… Well, we all know how attracted we feel for those who reject us. The singer had just found. That is why instead of the expected reaction she could have, she simply asked him:
‘Have you never noticed that I always look at you during the last songs?’
‘Yes, I have.’
‘I was waiting for you to ask me for a drink or so…’
‘I’m sorry, I don’t really think that I’m good company.’
‘Why do you say that?’
‘I’m not used to it.’
‘I’m sorry, what?’
‘I’m not used to be around people. My work requires isolation.’
They kept on talking and ordering more drinks. He told her that he was an astronomer – and was now touching his moustache compulsively, glancing at her with the black misleading eyes of a lynx. She was visibly nervous too: her voice was lower and her tremulous hands were playing with the yellow flower that was in her hair.
Despite being in the bar, I could overhear the whole conversation. Jay was beside me, also staring at them. He seemed not only disturbed, but humiliated. ‘Why does she want to talk to him?’, he asked me. Such an arrogant person he was, so sure of himself… The truth is that while Jay resembled those who worshiped her in the good old days, the misanthrope intrigued her. She told me already that she had never seen someone so quiet and so sad. Their difference relayed on the surface, though. The singer herself was also truly melancholic, despite acting as an outgoing person. She could find darkness even surrounded by enchanted listeners.
‘An astronomer, you said?’
‘Is it nice? Do they pay well?’
‘Not so much… Nowadays, people thing they already know everything about stars.’
‘Nobody knows everything about a star’, she said, expecting and answer.
‘What really matters nowadays is studying the atom. Quantum physics!…’
‘And why don’t you do that?’
‘Well, I like stars.’
Silence again, but not like before. She was smiling now:
‘What is it about stars that puzzle you?’
‘The fact that they are so bright, despite being dead.’
She looked down and thought about the last sentence for a minute or two. We all had the impression that he was saying something about her that has never been said before. The singer leaned back on the sofa very serious. Somehow her face acquired the same expression of the astronomer when he entered the bar. I had never seen her so introspective.
‘Dead star, right? Hmm… But still bright.’
‘I’m no longer bright. My career is dead and my brilliancy is gone.’
Opaque...that was the disturbing lack of gloss in her eyes. The entire shinning image that had just performed at the stage was now melting away. Her hands were sweating and moving in her lap in ecstasy. She was looking downwards as if she was incapable to face the astronomer.
He was shocked. In any other situation, he would stand up and go away, disdaining all that whipping he had tried to avoid for his whole life. However, there was something different that night: he was really sorry for having made such an unhappy – though involuntary – comparison. But he was not exactly the kind of person someone should expect comforting words from:
‘Come on, I was just talking about my work. It has nothing to do with you…’
‘Of course not!’ she said, leaving the table.
His face showed a mixture of impatience and pity. Suddenly, he stood up and came after her. It was the first real movement he made that night, besides asking more whiskies:
‘Don’t leave, please… I didn’t mean that.’
‘You never mean anything, yeah…?’
‘I’m sorry. You’re wrong. I mean: you’re beautiful and bright, you were wonderful today on stage…’
Though these words came from his mouth, they seemed to have no consistency. He looked as he didn’t believe in what was said. More than that: he looked as if he was talking in the name of someone else – someone who had not the courage to lie.
‘Seriously, it was great, as always!’
‘Great for whom? Who cares about your opinion?’
The question really irritated that misanthrope. Her face completely changed and he started to say, in a loud voice:
‘Who cares about my opinion? Nobody cares about my opinion. You certainly don’t, my students either! My university withdrew me from all research, my science is an old-fashioned science, the closest I get from a relationship is by asking a barman that doesn’t know me at all to keep on bringing more whiskies. Why? Because everything I say is a catastrophe, every word I say is to let people down! This is what I do best, this is the only thing I can do, and that is what I’ve just done to such a wonderful girl: contaminating her with my hopelessness… Every time I entered this bar to see her, I admired her spontaneity and her naivety. I thought I could learn something from it, be someone better. The only thing I did is to destruct the best thing she had, which were her dreams…’
‘Yes’, she mumbled, ‘it would have been easier not having any hope, just like you.’
I never realized if this was serious or ironic. She entered her dressing room with her hands covering her face. Jay followed her. I always prevent clients from getting in there, but his blind admiration was exactly what she needed at that time: good and old flattery; fake, but convincing. She was certainly not prepared for a slice of bare, real life.
The few clients who were still at the bar started to leave, disgusted by that sad, pitiful show of self-depreciation. Jay came out of the dressing room and asked for more drinks, leaning on the bar with a triumphant expression. While preparing the drinks, I could see the singer through her image on a mirror to which she looked.
‘Who are you?’, her lips seemed to say.
When Jay came back to the dressing room, I searched the hall for leftover clients. In a dark corner, there it was the lonely guy, who signed me with his finger:
‘A whisky, please.’
No ice, I knew.