It was one of those lazy Saturday mornings in the city. Friday night rocked – and soared – with all the usual suspects playing their parts to perfection, making for an outstanding dusk to dawn. The Dancer has left earlier – for her regular Saturday morning routine teaching dance. Java hasn’t emerged as yet – doubtlessly on ‘auto-pilot’ for a soft landing after the experiences of the past twelve hours. I’ve got ‘Pavane’ by Gabriel Fauvre on the machine – just the sort of soothing melody and orchestration to set off the declining buzz – still slightly in evidence. I get my coffee – hot, dark and sweet – like some other things that turn me on – and move to the laptop to check mail.

Riiiing…Riiiing….Riiiing

I pick it up. The reedy, crackling falsetto is like nothing I’ve heard before and it took me back for an instant. It didn’t even wait for my ‘hello’:

Is that you Java?

I regain my composure after the initial shock of that unreal sound:

Java isn’t here right now

Pause:

Would you like to leave a message?

Another pause – and then the falsetto gets back through the receiver:

Yes. Please tell him that Leon called – about a business proposition we talked about recently.

FLASH, went the synapses, neural connectivity faster than the speed of light and the old brain had it all sussed out in no time at all. It had to be Java’s Secret Agent Man – the falsetto should have got through the haze in my head, but the name clinched it.

Okay Leon, I’ll let Java know you called. Will you call back or do you have a number he can call you at?

Another pause – I’m beginning to wonder if this guy takes his time before he utters a word as a matter of course, or if he is being cagey about being tracked. Java’s story of their meeting and what transpired is replaying at high speed on the internal screen. Then, after what seemed like ages:

Er, umm, you see I’m not sure of my movements over the next few days, so maybe I should call back later – what would be a good time to catch him?

It was my turn to pause – and make a lightening assessment of how to handle this. I wondered how he got the number. Java never mentioned exchanging contact information. Should I commit? Then finally:

Why don’t you try around six this evening – he should be back by then.

Another pause – this was getting to be like a phone call in slo-mo.

Aaahhh.. please tell him I’ll try, but otherwise I’ll leave a number with you – it’s a friend’s place I’m staying at, but if no one answers don’t worry, as my friend is away and I only stay there when I’m here on business.

So he gives me the number, thanks me for my time and hangs up. As I take the note off the ‘postit’ I sense a familiarity about the number Leon has passed on. And then it strikes me – it is the number of the phone-booth near the Bareass Boulevard Bar – the very same phone that was used during that Trishaw Mafiosi episode – the one that Mo pretty much controls. Shit! The last thing I want happening in my life is intrigue, I think to myself, as I get back to the laptop and the coffee – now tepid and unappealing. So I get me another and think about replacing Fauvre with something slightly more upbeat. Settling on one from my old vinyl collection, I get Emerson, Lake and Palmer doing their version of Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ and return to the coffee and laptop. I’m just getting into how ELP handle Mussorgsky’s ‘Promenade – the recurring theme that represents the walk between each of the pictures at the exhibition, when..

Heeey maaan, want anodder cup? I be fixin one fo me.

I shake my head. ELP is just getting into ‘The Old Castle’ and I’m with them, but Leon’s call bursts through the other layers and I tell Java about the call.

Saay whaat maaan? I bin wonderin when dat cat be showin up again. I know fo shurre he aint goin to let go of dat stack of cash – all in dose crisp, green, hundred dollar bills!

So how’re you going to handle this guy?

Sheeet maan – I jus tell him da truth – dat I don hav his bread.

Yeah, but Cher does – doesn’t she?

So?

So – you think he’s going to let you off that easy? He left the package by you and left the Bar, so stands to reason you kept it, seeing that he showed it to you and Cher. He has managed to get our number – so he must’ve made some enquiries – he may even know that Cher and you left with the package.

It’s Java’s turn to pause:

Know what maaan? Les jus call dat Cherry lady and aks her if she still has it.

So he does. Cher picks up – no doubt just roused from her deep slumber in an attempt to recover from last night’s revelry.

Hey Cher baby! Yeah hon, sorry bout dis wake up call an dat, but we be tinkin dat yo would have yo pretty lil ol ass outta bed by dis time. Yeah? Now yo watch yo mout hear – dat aint no way for a nice lady like yo to be talkin. No. No, no ,nooo waaay babe. Heey, but yo lissen up now – dis be important. Remember dat cat we met at da Bareass Bar? Shuurre yo do – how could yo forget Leon?!! Aaanyways, da man has sussed out our number and called dis mornin. No, no I be in bed. Yeah, guess he wants his bread back. What??? Yo still have dat package, right? Sheeet girl – yo whaaat???!!

He gives me this look – raised eyebrows, eyes rolling – could mean anything!

Tell yo what den – I be pickin yo sweet lil ol ass up – when? Allrighty den – Bareass Boulevard at noon. Yo be cool now, hear? Later babe!

Java hangs up and looks more than slightly stressed. I wait for him to get over what ever it is got him so shook up while ELP has exited ‘The Old Castle’ and is into a blues variation to end side one.

Know what our girl do wit dat bread maan? She be so spooked bout keepin it at her pad an she don wanta bank it, so what does she do? She bury dat sheet!

I shake my head in disbelief.

Where?

She say she go to da cemetary an fine her mamma’s grave – she do dis late evenin like – makin shure nobody’s aroun and she pull out dis garden fork she bring wit her and den she bury dat sheet in her mamma’s grave!! How bout dat sheeet?!! I be hopin it still be dere – or we be in deeep sheeet – dig? I best be takin off for dat Bareass Bar and see how dis pans out. Be seein yo!

He gulps down his coffee and heads for the door. ELP has survived ‘The Curse of Baba Yaga’, their own inspired interpretation playing off Mussorgsky’s composition, as well as ‘The Hut of Baba Yaga’ and are just entering the ‘Great Gates of Kiev’ – Greg Lake’s take-off on the original. The music takes me back to those spacy days in LA – now however, it doesn’t sound half as good as it did then, so I get Johann Sebastian to fix the vibe and get myself a beer.

I’m not sure I’m looking forward to the rest of this episode, but I’m sure there will be something more to it. And if you’re interested – and if you stay tuned, I’ll turn you on to how it went.

But for now it’s back to Bach!

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