The Blue NoteMarvin Perkins / Mystery & Detective
The Blue Note
Marvin K. Perkins
Copyright 2012 by Marvin K. Perkins
The night fell, darkness covered the city in inky blackness. A slinky red ribbon of light slithered through the peep hole of my favorite night spot, “The Blue Note.” The cool sounds of Jazz permeated the atmosphere with delightful melodic tones, laughter and the sound of clinking glasses joined in to complete the ensemble. It was a sweltering August night, sweat soaked through my cotton dress shirt, meeting the river that poured from my tortured face. That was the first time I saw her, but it wouldn’t be the last.
I was in Memphis, Tennessee hiding out from the mob. A particularly scary individual named Vinnie “the pick” Demucci from Los Angeles had some unfinished business with me and I had no plans on letting him finish, if you know what I mean.
Oh by the way, my name is Dirk Bogart, former private eye from the “city of angels” currently working as a bouncer at an after hours joint on Main Street near Beale. In the winter of 1952, I had witnessed a murder by the same aforementioned Vinnie “the pick” and was the star witness at his murder trial where he got life without parole. Needless to say he was a little pissed and vowed, “You’re a dead man, Bogart.” I believed him for some reason which explains why I was hiding in Memphis working at this dive joint.
I’ve seen a lot of dames coming and going but this one caught my eye. She was a real looker, but as good as she looked, you could tell she spelled trouble with a capital “T.” But I’m a sucker for a pretty face, voluptuous full breasts, and beautiful gams, and believe me she had the full package. I’m a man, right, so what can I tell you.
Inside the club the joint was jumping with the sound of the one and only Sam “T-bone” Phillips and his quartet. Sam was the piano player at the club, and I’m proud to say a personal friend of mine. He was a huge Negro with a thick beard that made him look like a big grizzly bear stuffed into a suit, straining its threads almost to the breaking point if he took too deep a breath. He had the stub of a cigar hanging from his lips that he chewed to the rhythm of the bumping music. But man could he tickle those eighty eights.
I had taken a much needed break from my post at the door to dig the cool sounds for a few minutes and suck down a bottle of brew. The club was massive and luxurious with tables, private booths, secret meeting rooms, a fully stocked bar with padded stools, and the stage where the band played seven nights a week. The smoke was so thick you could cut it with a knife, the air was stale with the smell of beer and body odor, mingled with the sweet stench of perfume applied a little too heavily. The crowd was mostly the elite of Memphis, politicians, police officials, and even the mayor himself was known to frequent the club, cruising the tables for loose women. He was married but unhappily, and it sure as hell didn’t stop him from trying to make it with every sweet young thing in the place.
Sam and the band was hot as the weather that August night and I stood there enjoying my beer and checking out the crowd. The band finished a rousing number, followed by wild applause, and I was just about to return to my post outside, when Sam got on the microphone and said the Blue Note had a brand new attraction, a blues singer all the way from New Orleans.
And then there she was, the girl I had seen at the door earlier. I was mesmerized once again by her beauty, my eyes were glued to the stage as T-Bone introduced Michele Dubois, all the way from New Orleans. The crowd burst into riotous applause as she took the microphone, gently caressing it, making love to it, as the band started playing. Then it was time for her to sing, filling the club with a voice so pure and sweet, I’m sure the angels were jealous. “Them that’s got shall give, them that’s not shall lose, so the Bible said, but it still is news.” She sang an old Billie Holiday classic, that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, every nerve in my body erect and pulsating to the beat of the music, desire filled my very being as I listened. My eyes were transfixed on the stage as if I were in a trance or was in the midst of an out of body experience enveloped in the sweet sound of her voice and the enchanting allure of her very presence. That moment seemed like it lasted an eternity, a moment I wished would never end as I was transcended into another dimension, time and place.
So intent was I on the beauty on the stage, I didn’t notice, at first, the arrival of the mayor, Richard Dennison and his henchmen, including Pauli Salvatore. They had taken a secluded booth over in the corner, ordered a couple of drinks and were checking out the entertainment with great interest. I thought I smelled something rotten and just happened to notice them out of the corner of my eye with great displeasure I must admit.
The mayor was a tall slender man, with salt and pepper hair, an imposing presence and that look of success. He was a somewhat unscrupulous character, with an eye for the ladies and known to be in bed with the mob, if you know what I mean. He was reported to be in the pocket of every crooked racketeer in town, along with union bosses or anyone else he thought he could make a profit from.
Pauli Salvatore was a straight up gangster, heavy set but not fat, with piercing blue beady eyes and a head that seemed too small for his body. He was president of the local teamsters union, who were involved in every crooked deal that went on in the transportation and shipping business. High jacking, payoffs, extortion, and even murder were a part of his repertoire. Dennison was in on all his crooked dealings, but of course none of them could be linked back to the mayor’s office, go figure.
A hand reached up and tapped me on my shoulder, bringing me back to reality, a place I really wasn’t interested in returning to quite yet. “Get your sorry ass back to work Bogart. I don’t pay you to sip suds and watch the band.” It was the voice of my grumpy boss and manager of the Blue Note, Ralph Smithson. He walked away muttering obscenities under his breath, entering his office and slamming the door with a bang.
I reluctantly headed back out to my post on the door just as Michele Dubois was finishing up her number to the riotous applause of the overflow crowd. I happened to glance back at the mayor’s table just in time to catch him giving the lovely singer a standing ovation. I was insanely jealous for some reason at that very moment. What the hell? How could I be jealous of a man who showed interest in a woman, I didn’t even know, nor have ever met in life? But I was, it perplexed me and gave me food for thought as I made my way back outside the club.
A fight had broken out in front of the club and a fist to my face greeted me as I stepped through the door knocking me on my rear. Two mugs were throwing punches right outside the door about some skirt, isn’t it always. It always comes down to some dame, nine out of ten times. When will men ever learn? I got up as quick as I could shaking my head to clear the cobwebs and proceeded to separate the two idiots involved in the pugilistic activity. “Get the hell out of here, We don’t allow no fighting at the Blue Note. You guys come back when you sober up,” I said motioning them to move along.
The club closed around four o’clock in the morning. The end of another long evening on the job, but this night would be the beginning of something, a situation that would develop first as a dream but would soon turn into a nightmare.