NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 1 - Winter 2018 - Page 20

Joe looked inside his empty glass and smiled .
“ Naw nigga , no ? You didn ’ t fuck-up the best gig in town !”
Joe extended his glass and Drummer Man poured some gin .
“ Why ’ d his bitch have to be so damn fine ?” Joe admitted .
“ You lying ! Sinatra ’ s crazy ‘ bout Ava !”
“ I know . I fucked up . Sinatra kicked me off the tour .”
“ Kicked you off ! You ’ re lucky the hood didn ’ t cut yo throat ! Maybe we ’ re looking at this fool ’ s last gig ,” Drummer Man nudged Piano Player ’ s rib .
“ One monkey don ’ t stop no show ,” Piano Player said , taking a swig .
“ I have to admit ,” Joe licked his finger . “ Ava was great in the sack , oh my goodness ! You know she ’ s black .”
“ Ava Gardner ’ s not colored !”
Making the Sign of The Cross , Joe said , “ Swear on my Daddy ’ s grave . She told me she ’ s Melungeon , man .”
“ Me-long-what ?”
“ We got busted inside the studio . Ava fixing up her hair . He didn ’ t see us , but man , I could tell from his glare . ‘ I could shoot you ,” Sinatra told me , ‘ but I like you , okay , but you ’ ll never work for me again .’”
“ Shit , man , when you ever gonna learn ?”
“ I know ,” Joe said wiping a lock of hair from his head . “ But the shit keeps coming my way .”
Everyone stopped talking when a gleaming limousine pulled up in the alley . The club opened and the sound of laughter filled the dark alley . Mattie wearing a dazzling evening gown exited the club ’ s back door . Her dress , the color of snow , set off her tan skin . All the musicians turned their heads her way . A famous director was clutching her arm .
“ Is that Otto Preminger with yo chick ?” Drummer Man asked .
Guiding Mattie down the steps , Preminger headed toward the long black car .
“ Mattie ,” Joe said , holding his hat in his hand .
Mattie stopped but Preminger mildly tugged her arm .
“ Joe ,” she mouthed to herself , as Otto and she drove away .
A cop walked out of the club too . He eyed the musicians with unhidden disgust . “ Break it up , Sambos . Hurry up , go home !”
Carrying his bass fiddle close to his chest , Joe walked to his car . Flicking his cigarette in the direction of Otto ’ s departed car , Joe got inside his own car and slammed the door .
“ One monkey don ’ t stop no show ,” Joe said . n
“ The Last Gig ,” is excerpted from Pam Ward ’ s 4th novel , “ I ’ ll Get You My Pretty ,” the true 1947 story of Mattie , married to Nat King Cole ’ s bassist and also dating a notorious doctor , a prime suspect in the Black Dahlia murder , the most vicious unsolved crime in Los Angeles history .
“ Melungeons . A mixture of free niggas , whites and Indians . They lived together in the Appalachian mountains .”
“ So what happened with Ava , man ?” Piano Player wanted to know .
“ Come along , darlink ,” Preminger said , escorting her in the car . “ Ve don ’ t vant to be late .”
Mattie caught Joe ’ s eyes while driving away . Softer than ice cream melting away in the LA sun , the pain inside tugged her heart .
9 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE
memoir The Vaudou Priestess Excerpt from the upcoming memoir By Monique Clesca o Angele Paul. “Celebrating my Mysteries” My older sister Viola and I had moved to her compound on Rue Oswald Durand in January 1961 in Port-au-Prince, after my mother left Haiti to go study in New York. My time in the compound lasted only two and a half years, but even now more than fifty years later, sometimes it only takes a gesture, a sound, a word for me to realize that I have been under her spell since then. For GrandAngele was a singular and luminous personality who was, first and foremost, a Vaudou Priestess to the service of its benevolent values and principles. And I wonder if through her story, surely meant to illuminate several lifetimes because of its origins and her accomplishments, she is not my talisman. I have the feeling that I am continuing a silent dialogue with her and humbly ask: did she pass me the torch? I can place Rue Oswald Durand, named in honor of a famous Haitian musician and composer, almost blindly on any map of Port-au-Prince: it is in the center of town in the Bas-Peu-de-Chose neighborhood, south of Champ-de-Mars Heroes Park. Back then, GrandAngele’s compound was an urban lakou — a traditional African-style rural courtyard with several independent houses, except that this one was located in a city. The capital no less. Huge cascading grapevines covered the mosaic-tiled verandah that extended from the front to the side of the house, doubling its size and giving the lakou an exotic tropical cachet. When in season, an abundance of small chardonnay-type green grapes hung over our heads. The breeze, when it whistled through the vines, made the verandah the coolest place in the compound, providing a sanctuary from the heat. In the afternoon, family members dozed off in rocking chairs. At night, some even slept under the vines during the dry season. Then there was Papa’s house made of concrete blocks and claustras and the pink and yellow-hued brick storefront where GrandAngele ran her small convenience store. When Viola and I moved to the compound, I felt like I had left my country where the hues were stark black and white to travel to another one with bright, vivid colors. Even the language was different. Before that, I mainly spoke French, never raising my voice, as mother had taught us, and only spoke Creole with the maid. In my new home, everyone spoke Creole, not only to each other but also to me. At first, I resisted and held on to what I had — to this small detail — and responded only in French, when addressed. For that, I was ridiculed. After a few weeks, I was left alone and seen as rather taciturn. I gave in and eventually started speaking Creole. My cousin Fritz, a tall, 䰁є)ݥѠ䵍͕Ёѕɸ)ݡɅɕ͵хѕ)qȁMم]ݕȧtѼ)ѕ͔Ѽ͵͔$݅)ͼͅݡ$Ёɥٕ!)ձ䁑ͥѥͽ)ݡͽѽ́ͥ)ȁɥ٥ͥЁٔ)ѡɄхЁɬɥ)Q́єѡЁѡЁ)́́她ɑ́ѡٕɅ)͔eЁٔ) Ёхչ́)ͥɅѥȁѡЁ$݅)Ʌѕհ=䰁ݡ)ٕѡЁ+q]ԁٕɔԁݕɔ)݅́չݥѠͽɽݙհ)Ёѥհݥݕȸ)QЁѥ$ͅаԁ͵t)$݅́Ё啅́)ݡѽݥѠ(啅ȁɅѡ)Ʌ)$ٕѡՔх䁉аȁЁ݅)$ձɥ́ݥѠа)չѥЁͅɕݸѡɽи)QݡєЁѡЁՍ)䁉ѕѠȁѡЁѥ݅)͕ٽɥєQ䁉ɽݸ)Ʌ݅́́ɕ́́ѡ)ՍɥаͥɅٔ)Ѽ䁽̰ͥ)ѡ䁽ȁɕЁɐȁ)͔݅͡ѕѼ͡܁ͽ)Ʉٔ5䁕ѥѡ͔ݕ)݅́ɕ䁍хݡ$)ݕЁѼ͕ȸɝаѡѥи)ɽ͕́х䁍ɽݹ)ݥѠݡєȁͱѱ䁉)͡ձ̰͡ȁ)ݕЁѽѠɽ͕Ѽ͕)ٕ䁽ѕ$ɕձȁЁ)ȁѡѡ́ЁѽѼ)ɕȁ䁍٥ѥ̸)Q́ԁѡɕɥ)ɕЁՍɕ̸%́ѕ)݅́ѡݽɉɕ)ݼɽ͔եЁѡ)ɱ̸%Ёѡѽ՝ͽհ)ѡɽ՝݅ݡɔ䁱ٕ́)ѕ͕ѕѥ́)Qɬɕȁѡ݅)Ё́ѕȁ啅́ɔѡ՝)́ѕͥ丁Q٥ɽ)ݥѠ́͡䁵Ё)́эхɅѕ)ݥѠم͔ɕѥݕ)ѡЁչѥѱ䁅́щ)݅́ѡЁչ͕ѡ)͔єѡѕɕ)٥ͥѽ̸Qፕѥ݅)ݡݼձ́Ѽݡȁ)ͥȁݡѥձɱ䁥х)٥ͥѽȁչݽѡ䁽ѡ)ɵ䁽ѡٕɅɥٕ)$ѕЁݡձ́ݕЁѡɔ)͔䁽ٕݡɥͥ) Ё$݅䁅ɽչѡ$ձ)ѡٕ́ѡѕɥȁ́Ѽ)ٕ͑ɽٕͥ役ѡ͔)̃q䳊t$͔)ѡ䁭܁ѡЁ役ݡ)ѡɽ՝ѡٕ́Ё)́ݡЁ݅́ͥ)Ʌ̸݅́M)ȁ٥͕ݕ̸IЁɽ)ȁٕɅѡɕЁͥ)ѡɽѽɕɽЁѥ͡)եЁѡMхєA卡ɥ)!хɔхѱ䰁)ѥɕ$ͅ܁ȁͥѥ)ȁɅѥȰ)ѡ՝́́ѡ)хɕЁمɥѥ́)ձѤɕ䰁ȁɅ)ѡɅ٥ٕɅ