This poem is taken from Stand 218, 16(2) May - June 2018.

David Ball Two Poems
Detective Story


An empty café. A young woman at a table, seated, her fur collar opening on to her low-cut dress. Who or what is she waiting for?


Standing beside a filing cabinet, another woman, her hair neatly pulled tight into a bun on the nape of her neck, hands a document to a man who, sitting at his desk, now reads it beneath the light of a lamp, his jacket buttoned, his tie tightly tied. What is the relationship between these two people?


A bar, almost empty. The name on the neon sign: Night Bird. A summer evening, the music flowing out on to the street. Two customers, a man and a woman, not speaking, sit at the bar. Behind it a waiter in a white jacket washes glasses. A man enters and sits at the bar close to the waiter. He doesn’t take off his hat, but orders a whisky, drinks it straight off, orders another. He then turns round on his stool to face the room. Is this the one?


It is. She sings for him. Improvising. She asks him, why, oh why, my love? She tells him again and again how much she has suffered. Life without him, one long night, has lost its spice, lost its sense.


How then do they eventually get his body, lightened of its load, out of the bar? Inside the case of the double bass player, a young black man who could have been a boxing champion, if music hadn’t been his calling.


One of his best, I think, a real flair, that guesswork.


An American, yes?


Yes, but politeness itself! Never a rude word, never raises his voice. He doesn’t have to. It’s the way he puts the questions.
...
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image