Excerpts from ENCHANTED
Excerpt from Part 1
Waikiki, Honolulu, HI., March 1968
“Theresa. What an elegant name! I thought, as it swam effortlessly through my consciousness. Okay, hold on now, hold on. Sure, she’s gorgeous—on the outside. She could still be mean as a water moccasin, or brainlessly—like lights-on-but-no-one’s-ever-coming-to-the-door—silly.
“I’m just having Seven-Up,” she said, her voice low and rich. Her huge, wide-set eyes flickered up from under her lids for a second before flicking into the crowd to scan for someone, probably anyone, other than me. Okay, she’s really stunning . . . and she didn’t sound silly . . . jury’s still out on mean, though.
I gave the waitress our order and added a Coke for me.
“Would you mind if I sit with you?” The girls glanced at each other and Theresa shrugged with indifference.
“You’re in the band, aren’t you?” she accused when I was seated. I admitted I was. With a wry twist of her full lips, she dismissed me again, gazing away uninterested. Well, no less than I’d expected. As soon as the drinks arrived, I’d make some lame excuse and slink away.
“I’ve only been here a few days,” I said, needing to fill the awkward pause while we waited. “It was weird, you know, getting off the plane. Had this freaky feeling between footsteps. Picked up a foot, and it slowed way down before hitting the ground, like I was walking in pea soup.”
“You stay island time now,” Charlene diagnosed with an emphatic nod. I worried Theresa might get a crick in her neck, she avoided looking at me so purposefully.
“We’ve been playing in Southern California and Las Vegas for the last few years. Thought that was exotic. This place is almost too much for me to get my head around, feel like a fish out of water here.” I glanced toward the dark beach, moonlight rippling over the water less than a football field away. “I’ve been hanging out over there as much as I can without getting sunburned. Surprises me that it’s so beautiful but there’s almost never anyone around. I like to walk over there on my breaks at night, makes me feel like I could be a million miles away on a deserted island. . . .” My smile faded in dismay at how touristy I must sound. “Fortunately, I don’t moon burn.”
Charlene gave me a dark gaze. “You go over dare at night time, you betta watch out fo dem giant flyin’ cockaroaches. Dey lot bigger den reglar ones. Big enuff fo carry you away.”
Theresa, barely suppressing a giggle, turned to watch me parse my way through Charlene’s dire warning. At least I was entertaining her.
Excerpt from Part 2
North Hollywood, CA., July 8, 1968
“I have been dreaming of when we would be alone in California.” She slipped out of her shoes with a provocative shy smile and demurely slid panties down from beneath her cotton dress. “I have been practicing in front of a mirror for you.” She began to rock her hips seductively in front of me, her deep cocoa-brown eyes crinkling at the open mouthed attention I was giving to her swaying body.
“Do you remember Kapiolani Park, my haole man, how you wanted me to dance the hula for you?” She turned to her left and rolled a hip towards me rotating in a circle to show me how things looked from the back before facing me again, hips never stopping, naked feet stepping. “How that would be the best day ever, you said?”
“Uh huh, I remember. And sweetheart, this is by far, the best day ever, but—”
“I’m telling you an ancient Polynesian story of love with my hands.” She raised her arms gesturing sensually, fingers moving to the tempo of a heartbeat. She tipped her head in a teasing glance. “But I don’t think you are paying any attention to them. Ah,” she chuffed. “Perhaps you do not think I am beautiful when I hula?” I hadn’t seen her in weeks; and here she was dancing barefoot in front of me, wearing only a thin flowered dress that clung to her sumptuous body as she moved. In my wildest fantasies, she couldn’t have been more breath-taking.
“You are the most incredible vision I have ever seen. ”My voice husked with arousal.” I’m having trouble concentrating, though . . .” I frowned in mock concern. “I remember someone telling me that, historically, hula girls didn’t wear tops. I think that’s what’s throwing me off.”
“Oh,” she said with feigned surprise. “So you think I am not an authentic Hawaiian girl then?” Theresa turned her back to me, gazing over her shoulder with parted lips as she kept her rear swaying from side to side. She swept her hair aside and tilted her head down to loosen the top of her dress. As the front of her dress dropped she retrieved the lei perfuming the mini-apartment ever since she’d brought it in. Draping the garland around her neck strategically, she swept her soft dark hair over the flowers before rolling her hips to face me again.
Excerpt from Part 3
HOT VEGAS NIGHTS
Las Vegas, NV., July 31, 1969
A few minutes later, Leonard gave up his drumsticks to a lanky guy who’d come up to join us. I didn’t know much about Jim Gordon then. He was considered the heir-apparent to Hal Blaine, every producer on the West Coast’s first call. He’d teamed up with Eric Clapton in the Delaney and Bonnie band and would soon help form Derek and the Dominoes with Eric. The two of them would compose Clapton’s classic lament of hopeless love, Layla, inspired by Clapton’s uncontrollable passion for Pattie Boyd, married at the time to his friend George Harrison of the Beatles—one of the most famous and public love triangles in rock and roll history.
I, on the other hand, not the greatest keyboard player on any coast, played like I was possessed. With this guy so rock solid behind the drums, I was caught up in the sheer musicality and emotion that consumed us as we burned through lengthy jams extending far past the break.
Afterward, I was drained flat from the purity of music flowing from my fingers without volition, not a note out of place. The unyielding rhythms lifted and guided me through time without measure, synchronizing the flow of my heart’s blood to the sublime players, now my cherished companions, who shared the experience with me. I felt weirdly exposed and embarrassed when our public intimacy ended. I slouched quietly at my B3 letting the sensitivity recede. I’d touched the lodestone, sipped at the virginal source of music’s great river of emotion that true musicians can pull from the ether and transform into reality. I’d been gripped by euphoric moments singing in perfect harmonies before, but I’d sat at this keyboard for six out of seven nights for three years never experiencing this even more powerful spiritual force as a player. I’d caught a glimpse of something so fundamental there were no words. This was the most memorable night of my life as a musician.
Excerpt from Part 4
Las Vegas, NV., May 21, 1970
Listening with one ear, my mind’s eye drifted over the two of us here late at night in the Flamingo’s nearly empty coffee shop and how we might appear to some invisible observer. I’d taken a course in oil painting at Murray State and had some training in sketching when I’d been dead set on becoming a cartoonist in high school. The malleability of light and texture in oil-based paint fascinated me, and though I was no prodigy, I believed my eye wasn’t altogether terrible. I visualized a dreamy composition of the two of us sitting here together from a viewpoint across the room. The Beauty Queen and the Rock Singer. Me, disheveled in my shiny, old-gold suit, collar open, tie askew, rumpled from a recent performance, she perched on the edge of her side of the booth in her white bikini, high heels, and Miss Nevada sash. I could see how to paint it; her expression animated and focused, me sprawled, listening, admiring. The over-bright light in the restaurant saturating the colors and deepening shadows like an Edward Hopper composition, a sliver of smoke from the ashtray in front of me, no one else in the picture.