The Happy Sound of the Blues

Disclaimer: Joe isn’t mine. He belongs to Davis/Panzer and Rysher Entertainment. Simone and David, however, are mine.

The blues club was much bigger than the small bar he was used to, with one large, open room and a wall-to-wall crowd. Dark blue covered the walls while light blue carpet decorated the floor. Small, black tables surrounded a light brown stage. The only bright source of light in the room focused on that stage. Taking a deep breath, Joe Dawson sauntered inside.

People smiled and greeted him as he passed by. It didn’t matter to them if he were hobbling in leaning on a cane or not. They were there for the same reason he was, to hear some good music.

He found a secluded table against the left wall and sat down. A pretty dark-haired waitress appeared, took his order, and disappeared into the crowd. He settled back and pulled a small, white piece of paper out of his pocket.

An advertisement graced the front of the sheet, telling everyone about a blues band that would be playing at this club tonight. Joe wouldn’t have thought anything about it if it hadn’t been for the picture of the band. Standing to the left of the singer and clutching a guitar was his old friend David.

He smiled as he remembered his buddy. They had served in Vietnam together and had sadly lost touch when he joined the Watchers. Joe hadn’t been able to tell his friend about his new life. Over time, the secret organization consumed all of his time, and he spent less and less time talking to David.

But that was all in the past. One well-placed phone call, and Joe had a front row seat to his friend’s concert.

As he made himself comfortable, the waitress reappeared with his drink. He tipped her, and she vanished into the crowd again. At that moment, the club owner appeared on the stage. He announced the name of the band, and they walked out to the sound of thunderous applause. Joe leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes as the music began.

For a time, he could forget about Immortals and Watchers. He was now only Joe Dawson, a man with a good business and a passion for music. His life was his own for one night.

“Excuse me! Is this seat taken?” Joe opened his eyes to see a woman standing over him, a drink in her hand. He couldn’t make out her face in the darkness, but smiled at her anyway.

“No, please have a seat,” he said.

She did, and he saw her clearly in the reflection of the stage lights. She looked to be a little younger than he was, with salt-and-pepper curls, brown eyes, and a beautiful smile. She was gorgeous in a blue, short-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans. Joe sat up straighter.

She felt his eyes on her and turned to look at him. “I’m Simone,” she said, holding out her hand.

“Joe.” He shook it.

“So,” she drawled as she leaned across the table. “Come here often?”

He rolled with laughter, not quite expecting the cheesy pick-up line to come out of her mouth. “No,” he answered, taking a sip of his drink. “But something tells me I should start.”

The first song ended and the crowd applauded loudly. Joe and Simone joined in, anxiously awaiting the next number. As the band’s lead guitarist thanked the crowd and started into the next song, Simone exchanged another smile with Joe.

“Does your wife know you’re out?” she ventured.

Joe smiled as he leaned back. “I don’t have a wife.”

“Lady friend, then?”

“No lady friend either.”

Simone placed her elbows on the table, resting her chin in her hand. “Surely you’re joking. A handsome man like you with no wife or lady friend?”

“Strange, isn’t it?” He met her eyes again. “How about you?”

She shook her head. “No wife or lady friend either.”

Joe laughed again. “You know what I mean.”

“No husband or boyfriend. In fact, I think I’m too old for a boyfriend.”

Joe titled his head. “Old? You don’t look old. In fact, I would guess you were no older than thirty.” He took another drink.

Simone tossed her curls behind her shoulder. “Bless you. That definitely earned a point in my book.” She reached across the table and touched his hand. “Got any plans after this? I know a great all-night restaurant downtown.”

Joe tapped his legs with his cane. “You sure you want to be seen with a lame duck like me?”

“What lame duck?”

He had to smile at that. Raising his glass to her, he said, “Dinner, it is.”

After finishing off his drink, he studied the woman across from him. He didn’t know who she was, but he would certainly like to. Yes, it was good he chose to come tonight. This night had just gotten much better.

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© 2005 Crimson Idealist