blue smoke screen dressing room : a noir primer
(click photo to download)
1. Jeri Simpson - In My Black Lace
2. Artie Shaw - Nightmare
3. Tom Waits - Temptation
4. Angelo Badalamenti - Silencio
5. Jimmy Smith - Bayou
6. Blind Willie Johnson - Dark was the night, cold was the ground
7. Link Wray - American Sunset
8. Jack Durpree - Bad Blood
9. Elmer Bernstein - Taxi Driver
10. T- Bone Walker - Evil Hearted Woman
11. Link Wray - Rumble
12. Angelo Badalamenti - The Pink Room
13. Nina Simone - I put a spell on you
14. Tom Waits - How’s it gonna end
There are two lights in the bar when you walk in. One, a bare bulb, hangs over the bottles of liquor, the amber light refracted through plays on mirror behind the bar. The other, a floor lamp covered in red muslin cloth, is perched at the back of a stage as large as a household refrigerator on it’s side.
No one at the bar turns away from their drink to look, to study you, to notice the rain-slick gabardine coat, the mud covered wingtips. There is no talking. No music.
Every single one of them is smoking. The ceiling is swathed with light waves of wafted tar. Twenty years of exhales. A man at the end of the bar lights a match and slams an overturned shotglass over it, watches as the oxygen depletes and it snuffs itself out.
'Anyone got a light?' No one answers you.
You move past the bar and to a door that says, ‘Knock.’ You don’t knock.
Her back is to you when you enter. She is studying herself in a make-up mirror, the light from the twelve overripe bulbs catches you by surprise after the dimness of before. The top half of her black dress is pulled down to her hips. A cigarette burns in an astray shaped like a maple leaf.
'I wasn't expecting you. You know I've got to go on in two minutes.' She uses an eyebrow pencil to give her upper lip a beauty mark.
'You've got something for me, no?'
She turns and without pulling the dress up crosses the room and embraces you.
She presses something into your hand, leans in and exhales a hard plume of smoke past your left ear.
'That should set us straight.'
You leave, not wanting to see the show, and it’s not until you’re under the taxi’s backseat map light on the way home that you open your fist and realize that the ring isn’t the one she owed you. That you realize the ring is a fake.