excerpt from a draft scene~ a word or two on The Detectives and Birdie

The setting: Bing’s Palace

1960

 

At the mention of Birdie, Gladys waved her fingers on both hands to signify wings. She turned, eased past the two sailors to speak with the host. “That one, toward the back wall-” and  pointed to a section of round tables placed beneath a silk wall screen adorned with merchant tea schooners. “Once it’s cleared, we’ll take it,” she said.

Marsha glanced toward the back of the restaurant. It was obvious this group thought they were something special. Dark suits, glints of gold. One look told her these players were high rollers and not afraid to be seen in public. Booze was in plain view. They’d brought their own bottles and she watched as Jimmy the accountant, topped up the half filled glasses.  Notes swayed above the other diners, rang out, and lingered within the room. It was a deliberate distortion of pitch and timbre, a down tempo layer over a backdrop of clatter. Birdie.

The wink from Gladys, told Marsha, that her partner had similar thoughts. ”Sit beside me,” she whispered. “Better view of our targets.”

“Ladies.” The host bowed and motioned for the women to follow. As he pulled out their chairs, he asked, ”Water?”

Gladys agreed. “Two. Tea, as well.”

The young man smiled and lowered his gaze. “I’ll get your waiter, ma’am.” With a half bow, he turned and headed toward the kitchen.

Gladys leaned over. “Watch,” she said.

Marsha looked at the group and saw two fingers rise above the men’s heads. Even from a distance, she could see that the woman’s finger- tips resembled rubies. The fingers snapped for service. Suddenly, a doe eyed face with raven hair piled atop a perfectly formed head, peeked from behind the child seated next to her: Birdie, beautiful songstress, club noir.

Marsha watched as the host paused mid step. Everyone knew that pretty face. Birdie Song was a soul seductress and local celebrity, known to ‘bring the house down’. A tempest, she held sway at the Five Note, an after hours jazz club, modeled after its sister joint in New York City. Word on the street was that Birdie had made it big and everyone agreed, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.”

Birdie’s finger- tips fluttered like butterflies over the blonde head of a tiny girl. She pointed toward a glass, cocked her head to the side, spoke to the child, and smiled at the waiter.

Marsha had to agree with the ad man who wrote the singer’s stage headline, ‘even a hurricane can’t extinguish this gal’s flame.’ Birdie’s lipstick was the shade of pale pink carnation. Here she sat a bloom, as if in a garden, tempting snakes and fate. Birdie Song was the Queen Bee of the honey pot.

One of the men seated at the table looked back toward the front door. He appeared uneasy as if checking to see if anyone familiar was seated in the restaurant. Satisfied, he turned and spoke to the child seated to his right. His hand warmed her shoulder.

 

 

 

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