Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I've known Wesley and Rosa for nearly ten years. Wesley is an extraordinary saxophone player who has fronted about a dozen jazz bands during that time. I first heard him play in a seedy dive on Avenue A, which I believe is currently a Sunglass Hut. When the session was over I had to tell Wesley how overwhelmed I had been by his performance. Money and fame are apparently not in the cards for Wesley, so he settles for flattery of which he never grows weary. After taking in my words of praise, Wesley introduced me to his band mates and then to his lady.

Rosa was and is a beautiful Ecuadorian woman with a sultry accent that reverberates in one's crotch, and huge eyes which seem to be gazing adoringly on whatever they behold. These things were immediately apparent despite the low lighting and smoky haze of the club, as was the fact that she was pregnant.

Wesley and Rosa spawned two more kids in the years which followed, the last for whom I serve as godfather in a strictly symbolic capacity. The whole father figure mentor thing isn't really my bag. They seem as in love today as on the night we first met, my role model couple despite or perhaps because of the fact that they never married. They claim to want the freedom of being able to pack a bag and hit the road with a minimum of hassle, if and when either one of them ever sees fit. In their shared opinion, Abraham Lincoln's emancipation proclamation declared ownership papers of any kind involving fellow human beings illegal, so marriage should therefore be considered a crime.

Despite the lack of until-death-do-us-part commitment on Wesley's part, he manages to exist in a temptation filled environment as a relatively pure man. His expert manipulation of his instrument's keys float seductive notes from brass tunnel through ear canals and into warm, moist places where women frequently beckon him to follow. For the most part, Wesley turns down these offers. He claims this isn't so much for the sake of his unofficial union with Rosa, but because he refuses to use the gift of music that God gave him for as pedestrian a purpose as getting into groupies' panties. He considers the lust his melodic riffs evokes as evidence that he is successfully following the footprints headed towards immortality laid out by Coletrane and Parker. On the rare occasion when his flesh does succumb, Wesley always says the same words in his defense. “It’s not as if I’m a married man.

I was perusing the shelves of Barnes & Noble one day when a siren song summoned me.

"Hey, Mike."

I greeted Rosa with a hug and asked what she was doing uptown in my neck of the woods. Though we had hung out countless times, it was always I who visited the apartment that she, Wesley and their brood shared. This was primarily because I usually got invited over after listening to Wesley play in a club and the vast majority of his gigs were below Fourteenth Street, as was his home.

It turned out Rosa had been visiting a friend. The kids were with her mother. Wesley was working with his band on some new material.

"When will I be able to find a book of yours in here?" Rosa was one of the staunchest supporters of my literary endeavors.

"As soon as I buy a publishing house. Know of any for sale?"

Rosa replied with that adorable smile of hers, taking me in with saucer sized eyes. I suppressed a thought I knew better than to be having as I scanned her ample cleavage, generous hips, and conversely narrow waist.

"You know something, Michael. In all these years I've never been to your apartment. It's pretty close to here, right?"

"Only a couple of blocks."

There were no illicit intentions in my heart, mind or any other part of my anatomy. I was simply playing host, getting better acquainted with the wife of one of my dearest friends. It is my lot in life to be capable of many actions that later cause me shame. But I also know where lines should be drawn, at what point my conscience will start to get restless.

Rosa and I had been flirting harmlessly in a covert manner with each other for years. That was as far as things had ever gone, as far as they were supposed to go.

Not only had she never been in my home, but the two of us had never been alone together for an extended period of time. There was always the presence of Wesley, or a band member, or the kids. On this occasion however, Rosa and I were accompanied only by a near decade of repressed longing.

In my defense, it was Rosa who initiated what was to happen. But I am not making excuses, for her advances were met by no resistance. She confessed that she knew about Wesley’s infrequent dalliances, for he was not very adept at covering them up. She felt herself entitled to one of her own, which would be equally meaningless and harmless to their relationship, and which she would be considerably more discreet about. We had both fantasized about this for a long time, and when it finally took place, it both surpassed our grandest expectations and saddened us immeasurably. We knew it would never happen again, but curiosity in the long run proved mightier than friendship or love. At least for one memorable afternoon that I simultaneously look back upon fondly and would gladly forget if I could.

The next time I saw Wesley, I feared my guilt would be apparent. But if he suspected anything he certainly didn't let on. He seemed as happy to see his second most loyal fan in the audience as ever. So after listening for an hour or so, I did what I always do. I let my worries drift into the heavens on the wings of his music.


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