Friday, May 6, 2011

The Party's Over

Didn't they realize he could hear them? They were all gathered around his bed. The Doctor assured them the end was near and they should consider taking him off the hook ups the hospital had him tied to. He had not opened his eyes in about a week and he was going back and forth between consciousness and coma  or was it sleep. What the hell he thought he lived the good life and although he wasn't one hundred he was pretty near. He wasn't sure of his age since his birth date was elusive sometimes remembered sometimes not. He knew he had many years though. The sound of their voices were fading as though he was entering a tunnel and the voices were sounding as though they were in an echo chamber. He was slipping back in his mind some eighty years or so and he no longer was hearing those voices talking of his demise. He saw himself walking into Sunny's Bar & Grill the place he played for about a year on Saturday nights. He was the trumpet in a quartet that featured Tenor Sax, Piano and Drums and anyone who might drop in for a jam session. He was the youngest of the quartet and entered the bar with youthful enthusiasm happy in the fact that the patrons all knew him and gave him some sort of celebrity status. The older guys brushed it off but he revelled in it with youthful enthusiasm. The Bar was dimly lit and filled with serious drinkers in a blue collar neighborhood, boiler makers were the main drink at the Bar and since they didn't bother getting up early on Sundays they drank plenty of them. He walked through the Bar to a door at rear which opened to a large room with wooden floors and tables set up for customers which came every Saturday. They had as little as twenty people and as much as one hundred and fifty depending on what was going on in the neighborhood. They loved the music that was played, some Dixie, some Latin (Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba), and as the night played on and the drinking took effect plenty of slow Fox Trots, romance was being served up for late night promises of love.


The night started out at nine and went to one, as the law said no more drinks after one Sunday morning. The place never got crowded until ten or ten thirty. At around eleven fifteen Mae, an old lady, maybe around sixty five, who had been drinking for many hours at the Bar, would come in and be welcomed loudly. She had on an old slightly dirty house dress and she'd break up the place with Red Hot Mama songs like "Won't you Come Home, Bill Bailey' "I'll be glad when you're Dead You Rascal You". There would be whistles and cheers as the place rocked and whiskey and pitchers of beer flowing freely. Tommy, the singing waiter would follow with some Al Jolson type of songs which in the Spring would include "April Showers". He finished his act with novelty songs like "The Tattooed Women" which was about a woman who had tattoos all over her body and the song mentioned where and had a comment about it, ending with "...That's why I go to Jersey every day."  The crowed roared whistled and ordered more drinks and some food and looked forward to the last hour of music and dancing. Around mid-night the Trumpet Player would sing "I'm In The Mood For Love" and "Don't Blame me". There were schmaltzy Trumpet solos ala Bobby Hackett and the patrons in their slightly drunken stupor would hold each other tighter, closer and sway sensuously as the night was coming to a close.


He was floating back and forth through the haze of his memories and the voices talking in hushed tones about how they were going to miss him but it would be better for all concerned if he checked out tonight. The voices were beginning to fade into the echo chamber again and he was back at Sunny's in Howard Beach on Cramp Place. Around eleven a wedding party came in. The Bride, Groom Best Man the ladies in waiting, the whole crew. They looked like they were three sheets to the wind already and they got to drinking right away. The quartet was on a break and suddenly a fight broke out among the people in the Wedding Party. The Band immediately headed for the Band Stand to protect their instruments and stay out of the way of any punches. The Sax and the Trumpet players were concerned with their lip, embouchure, while the piano and drums were concerned with their hands. Guys from the Bar and the bartender and waiters restored order and calm. But before they did they asked the Band to play an upbeat tune. The Piano player asked what happened and it seems the best man made a play for the bride and she reciprocated which annoyed the Groom greatly. With this in mind and acquiescing to the request for music the piano play yelled out the key and broke into "Somebody Stole MY Gal". Need less to say not everyone found this funny but order was restored.

The last set of the evening had slow music with the admonition to the girls to be careful and the guys to drive carefully so we'd all meet next week. The set might consist of "Dream", "Show Me The Way To Go Home" but would always end with "The Party's Over". The words of "The Party's Over" was in his mind as he returned through that tunnel to the hospital room and those voices which he wasn't sure he recognized. But he couldn't get those lyrics out of his head:



The party's over
It's time to call it a day
No matter how you pretend

It's time to wind up
The masquerade
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid

The party's over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right
just being with him

Now you must wake up
All dreams must end
Take off your make-up
The party's over
It's all over my friend

You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right
just being with him

Now you must wake up
All dreams must end
Take off your make-up
The party's over
It's all over my friend

Then the voices stopped. The memories ceased. The party was finally over but it was a good party.


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