Mud in Your Eye: part two
“Nah, that’s okay…” The Blonde said.
She was not blonde at present―without her stage wig, her hair was reddish, and she wore it in a short braid. “Just talk to me slow.”
Her voice lowered to its usual pitch; no longer in character, she un-bugged her eyes, telling Freda, “But, they cut the joke. They figured no one in the audience would get it. I say, they would get that a professor uses a lot of fancy words, right?”
“Context,” Freda nodded. “And what does ‘adumbrate’ mean?”
The girl hesitated. The man at the piano said, “To outline…an idea, a concept. Generally. Jessie, get over here!”
Jessie’s projecting voice, Freda had heard break out of conversational clusters into spontaneous song, two or three times already during the evening. Jessie was small and gaminesque, not pretty, but done-up for show, lips magenta, headband silver lamé. Freda looked across the room at Bruner’s back.
Her escort, so far—to his unsociability—loyal in devotion, waited only for a signal. There was a bouncer working Boardman’s private affair, who would come out to smoke a cigarette. By this arrangement Bruner would know all the guests had arrived, and Freda, sent scurrying, safely could slide in through the service entry.
“I will play, and you will imagine the strings. However,” the composer caught her eye, “it’s better with strings.” He and Jessie traded lyrics. Freda, who had just seen “Hopeless Romance” in performance, could visually stage the number, the musical’s set-piece. The opening verse, coming on a lush, rising melodic line, the principles entering, stage left and stage right:
You and I
Addled by the heady sent of lilac in May
Find our foolish lovers’ fancy wand’ring astray
These enchanted butterflies live only a day
Until chilled by the fall
What becomes of it all?
Then they exited, the chorus line emerged…a syncopated rhythm kicked in.
Mud in Your Eye
(2016, Stephanie Foster)