The house lights were up and the crowd was in place.
I was in the nation’s capital ready to blow the roof off
Blackplatinum Café. By day I’m Gerald Washington,
magazine publisher. By night, I am Blacksax, the marauder of
melodies. I play the saxophone and woo anyone who walks into
Georgia Avenue’s finest jazz club.
I relocated from Florida and started a quarterly literary
magazine in a one-bedroom condo in D.C.. Block Writers is
now in a separate facility on U Street thanks to my dedicated
staff and a few grants. I wanted to be in the midst of the next
generation of Harlem Renaissance writers. I know. I know.
Harlem is in New York City. I just couldn’t pay a Big Apple
mortgage with my Little Johnny Apple Seeds. D.C. was as
close as I was going to get to the Mecca of writers. Besides,
there was plenty of raw talent in the city in order for me to
gain capital. I was blessed to have my homeboy from college to
set up the computer networking system for my office pro bono.
Moses was an IT Master. He was one of many resources to help
me with the start up of Block Writers.
The magazine’s subscribers came mostly from metropolitan
areas on the east coast. Many high school and college creative
writing classes were our primary readers. There was, however,
always room for improvement.
I’m a hands-off CEO. I remain low key and let the writers
stand in the limelight. My staff is encouraged to explore and
embrace their creativity. I trust they will keep Block Writers
positive by producing quality work that will keep the checks
rolling and me out of the courtroom. Monday through Friday
they rotate the wheels of the publishing machine. I keep Block
Writers financially afloat. Occasionally, I’ll contribute a few
poems or some commentary in one of the sections. Friday
nights, however, are my moments in the spotlight as a musician;
and there was one night in particular that began to change my
life. It was my third set at Blackplatinum Café’s members-
only night and I was hyped. They say three is a charm. When
the curtains opened, I saw the reason my soul danced with
anticipation. She sat in the third row bordered by two other
ladies. Her hair was long and flowing passed her shoulders.
Her eyes twinkled even from the dimly lit candles on the table.
I pretended not to notice her, but found it challenging to do
so while checking out that one leg laying seductively over the
other in her Carolina blue pants. There was a slit on the side.
I had a sneak peek of her right thigh from the center stage.
She was tapping her feet to the sound of the music and the slit
constantly winked at me. I enjoyed watching her move every
limb of her body. She was figurative language in motion.
Like the sound of ocean waves splashing against rocks,
her presence mesmerized me. Her beauty was a ray of sunshine
dancing to my rhythm. Her soul called to me and mine played
a silent tune for her to hear. While on stage, I played the sax
with my eyes closed. I was envisioning our first encounter. I
imagined the lovely melody we’d make without sounding a
The band and I played for what seemed an endless two
hours before taking a break. I wiped my brow and made a beeline to the bar.
“Hey, Jimmy. How ya doin’ tonight?”
“I guess I’ll make it I reckon. The usual, Black?”
“Club soda, man. And uh Jimmy,” I began while scoping
out my chocolate Jessica Rabbit, “let me get another one of
whatever that lady is having.”
SUGAR RUSH: LOVE’S LIBERATION
“You talkin’ ‘bout Dolly?”
“Is Dolly the honey wearing the hell outta that blue near
“Then you got it! I’m fixin’ to make my move.”
I paid Jimmy and took the drinks. I had a small window
to impress this lady and leave with a number before the end
of the night. Time slowed down with each step I made toward
Dolly’s table. I smiled at club goers who complimented me on
the show. The smile grew wider upon reaching my destination.
One of her girlfriends tapped her to let her know that I was
coming her way. Seeing them together reminded me of me
and my boys back home in Auburndale. In slow motion, she
flipped her hair away from her face and positioned herself to
“Bonsoir,” one of her friends greeted me while pushing
her thick hair behind her ears. The other was scanning me
with her eyes. As tough as she tried to look, the butterfly clip
that held her short hair in place gave away her innocence. Her
nonverbal communication just let me know she had her girl’s
back if I said something stupid.
“Dolly, I have less than a minute to give you this,” I began
while handing her a glass of cranberry juice. “and to convince
you to stay until the end of the show so we can talk.”
She smiled a priceless smile and said, “Thank you for the
drink.” She turned back to face her friends.
I kept my cool but didn’t stay and wait like a puppy after
a bone. I let out a brief laugh and headed back to the stage.
When I heard my name being called, I slowed the pace of my
walk and then stopped without turning around.
“Oh and Sax,” Dolly began, “if you can come up with
something original before the clock strikes four, consider the
I nodded because I was confident I could hold up my end
of the deal. I just hoped she didn’t renege on hers.
For the next hour, I played as if my life depended on it.
I didn’t look in her direction while my hands caressed my
instrument. I wanted her to understand the messages I was
sending through my music. I wanted her to know that I was
gently explosive with my hands. The saxophone screamed in
ecstasy. Every note played was perfect and complimented the
other instruments in the background. The thump from the
drums was the heartbeat of the song. It was my motivation. I
know she heard the score because my soul felt hers. By ,
I was ready to have her blanketed in my musical review.
I turned just enough to face the band and the audience at
the same time and asked, “Hey fellaz, do you mind if I take
the last ten minutes to share a little sumpthin’ sumpthin’ with
these lovely people tonight?” Jupiter, the drummer, gave me
the go-ahead to proceed. He got his nickname because his
skills are out of this world. I took a sip from my glass and
prepared to collect my winnings. Dolly sat patiently and for
the first time since speaking with her I looked directly in her
eyes. I was locked on my target as I spoke to the audience.
“Blackplatinum Café, you’ve been a wonderful audience
tonight. So, let me send you off with a new tune I call Doll’s
The corners of her lips stretched into a smile. Dolly
was impressed. To maintain my position, I never took my
eyes off her. She needed to feel more important than anyone
else in that room. It was my duty to pretend that the space
in Blackplatinum Café was occupied only by Dolly, my
saxophone, and me.
I played flawlessly while the band accompanied me. The
audience gave us a standing ovation. At the end of the show,
the band and I greeted those who rushed to the stage to chat
with us. There was a line of women waiting for me. Although
I was only interested in the attention of one lady, I spent a few
minutes shaking hands, hugging those who extended arms
toward me, and took a few business cards only to quickly
stash them in my back pocket. Of all the dimes vying for my
attention that night, none compared to my caramel dream. I
tried earnestly to attend to my fans and cleared a path to get to
Dolly at the same time. My efforts were in vain. She was gone.
At first I was disappointed. Then again, I felt challenged.
“Yo, Black!” Jimmy called from the bar. “’Honey in blue
left you a note.”
I took the slip of purple paper from Jimmy’s hand. He
continued to wipe the counter. I read the note written in blue
ink. The sweet fragrance that once graced the lining of my
nose was all over it. My heart was happy.
Thanks for erecting my house. We’ll speak soon.
Copyright © 2005 by Yolonda D. Coleman.
All Rights reserved.