LADY J’S JAZZ CLUB
certain I saw her,” Ruby said as she craned her head to scan through the crowd
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Calvin laughed.
“You probably just saw some who looks like her.”
“Looks like who?”
Naomi was continuing to do her best to act interested in anything Ruby
had to say, although it was taking every last bit of willpower she could muster.
“Ruby swears she saw the woman she works for,
Mrs. Linford, here somewhere,” he explained.
“You saw your boss here?”
Naomi leaned back in her seat and gawked at Ruby in disbelief.
“I highly doubt those folks in that big white house would be caught
dead in here at Lady J’s. We’re
not exactly the kind of people they would socialize with.”
“But I’m positive that I saw….”
Before Ruby could finish speaking everyone’s
attention was drawn towards the snappily dressed man walking briskly towards
them with his arms outstretched.
“Naomi!” Tyke Harris called out as she
quickly jumped to her feet and flew into his arms.
“It’s about time you got yourself in here during business hours.
I was beginning to think I was gonna have to up and drag you in here
kickin’ and screamin’.”
“Now, you know you wouldn’t have had to do
that.” Naomi flashed him a coy
smile before turning her attention to Calvin and Ruby.
“Tyke, I’d like you to meet my brother, Dr. Calvin Jackson, and his
girl, Ruby Thomas. Calvin, Ruby,
this is an old friend of mine, Tyke Harris.”
a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Jackson.” Tyke
shook Calvin’s hand firmly and then smiled at Ruby.
“But even more of a pleasure to meet this lovely young lady.”
spoken for.” Calvin put his arm
around her and pulled her close. “So,
Naomi, how do you know Mr. Harris here?”
“Please, call me ‘Tyke.’
All my friends do.”
“Ol’ Tyke and I go way back,” Naomi
explained with a playful smile.
“Naomi here used to sing with my band.
Had a voice like an angel. Damn
shame the girl refuses to sing anymore.”
“Tyke, you and I’ve done talked about
this,” Naomi grumbled. The topic
was clearly one she didn’t like having brought up and she desperately wanted a
change in conversation. “Anyway,
Tyke here’s in town now and leading the band.”
ain’t just leading the band,” he grinned slyly, “I bought to whole damn
club!” He loudly slapped his hands
onto the table, clearly excited by that development.
“And I really wish you’d reconsider coming back to sing for me,
“Tyke, I’ve already told you that…”
“Well, I’ll be!
Tyke Harris! What the devil
are you doing here in Albanyville?”
Everyone turned in the direction of the familiar
voice to see Burt and
Janet standing at the table.
“Mrs. Lamont!” Ruby gasped.
“I… I didn’t expect to see you here tonight.”
Ruby, please. Enough with the
formalities,” Janet laughed. “You
don’t work for me. Call me
‘Janet.’ Now, Burt, why don’t
you tell me how you two know one another.”
“That’s something I’d like to know
myself.” Naomi turned and looked
at Tyke, curiosity clearly etched on her face.
“You remember that club me and the boys played
at back in New York,” he began to explain.
“Well, ol’ Burt here was working the bar.
I say that he’s got to be the last person I ever expected to see here
in this town. Now, Burt, whatever
happened to that blonde society gal you were seein’ who liked to come slummin’
down at the club?”
um….” An anxious Burt glanced in
Janet’s direction to see her reaction, but was relieved to see that she was
far too caught up in idle chatter with Ruby to pay Tyke or his comments much
attention. “Let’s just say that
it didn’t work out. Besides, I’m
married now to this pretty blonde
society gal.” He let out a slight
chuckle to downplay the true drama behind his simple story.
“Calvin, Ruby, why you’re getting caught up
with the Lamonts, I’m goin’ to go track down that pitiful excuse for a
waiter and get us another round of drinks.”
Naomi quickly hurried away from the table.
All the extra effort to make nice with Ruby was beginning to take its
toll on her and she desperately needed any excuse to get away for a break.
What Naomi didn’t realize was that Tyke, who she’d presumed was still
at the table going over old times with Burt, had quickly followed along behind
what’s the story?” he asked as he reached out and grabbed her by the arm.
“Is that girl and your brother serious?”
You mean Ruby?”
Naomi let out an amused laugh. “Those
two are connected at the hip. That’s
part of my problem. She thinks that
just because she’s my brother’s girl then she can stick her nose into my
business where it don’t belong.” She
paused and eyed Tyke with suspicion. “Why
are you so interested in Calvin and Ruby?”
“No real reason,” he grumbled as his eyes
drifted back towards the table where Calvin and Ruby were now alone, Burt and
Janet having long left to return to their own table.
“It’s just that that Ruby is a mighty fine dish.
I was just thinking that if she and your brother weren’t real
serious…. But, nah, it’s obvious
that she’s got herself real hung up on him and I wouldn’t want to go treadin’
into someone else’s territory.”
course, you wouldn’t,” Naomi muttered.
As she stared at her brother and Ruby, the gears
inside her head began to turn and a plan began to formulate.
Mrs. Preston had told her that if Ruby had some sort of upheaval in her
life then she wouldn’t have enough time to go worrying about Naomi’s life.
With Tyke’s words still echoing in her head, Naomi realized that he
might be just the upheaval Ruby needed.