Friday night at the Lagniappe Smooth
Jazz Club on Tchoupitoulas Street was lively once
again. The muggy heat of the New Orleans summer night was not enough to keep
the revelers from listening to live performances of the city’s native music.
The liquor flowed freely and the subdued-lighting atmosphere was buzzing with a
general sense of merriment.
Sitting at one of the small
tables directly in front of the stage, Rodney Caldwell was dressed to impress –
a white, button-up shirt, black sport coat, and dark chinos with matching
brogues. His cologne was an expensive import, one that could turn the head of
even the most discerning woman. On his right wrist was a Rolex watch – a real
one, not a cheap knock off – that he made sure was noticeable. Everything about
his meticulously planned appearance screamed class and sophistication, assets
he would need to make sure the night went as
notice him tonight.
And he would love her.
Rodney took a sip from his glass
of bourbon and savored the smooth flavor – top shelf, of course; nothing but
the best for the night he had in store.
He had been
coming to the Lagniappe Smooth Jazz Club every night this week because, as the
name suggested, it had a little something extra to offer. The first time was
out of sheer curiosity. He had lived in New Orleans all his life, but had never
once stepped foot inside the club. On a whim, he decided he would, if only to
see who or what he could find. He had taken a seat in the back, ordered a beer,
and sat through several sets of performances, doing more people watching than
listening. As the night went on, his interest in the various smooth jazz
performers began to wane and he decided to head home.
until he saw her.
gracing the stage with her presence in an elegant silver, sparkling gown, was
Victoria Denise Dawson, as she was introduced. The first few notes of the first
song filled the club as she swayed back and forth. The piano, bass, and drum grooved together in
sweet harmony as the saxophone
player played a relaxing opening solo that seemed to tell a story of loneliness.
Then Victoria Denise Dawson began to sing into the vintage microphone, and
Rodney swore that he was hearing the voice of an angel.
Enamored, he sat back down, his
eyes glued to the stage. He held his gaze upon Victoria Denise Dawson, hanging
on to every beautiful note that rose out of her. To the other club patrons, she
was just another performer. To Rodney, she was an ebony goddess – the perfect
specimen of feminine beauty. Could it have been love at first sight, that
Shakespearean notion that only a fool would believe in today?
Could he ever hope to love her?
The thought at the time seemed preposterous. Even so, Rodney had difficulty
sleeping that night. The image of Victoria Denise Dawson could not escape his mind,
nor did he want it to escape.
Her voice resonated seductively in his head, and he longed
to have her near him as she sang a sweet lullaby in his ear.
She still occupied his mind the
next morning, and every thought that day revolved around her until he resolved
that he would return to the Lagniappe Smooth Jazz Club again that evening.
That night, he sat a little bit
closer to the stage, but still a distance away so as not to appear too eager to
his ebony goddess; after all, she could have any choice of man she so desired. He
waited patiently as several bands performed, though he could not recall their
names or what any of them sounded like. Nor did he care; he just waited in
anticipation to see Victoria Denise Dawson.
As the night progressed, the
wait started to grate on Rodney’s nerves. Perhaps she wasn’t performing
tonight. Maybe the previous night was the only time she was performing. Rodney
felt his heart sink at the thought. Never again being able to set eyes upon his
ebony goddess or hear her voice – one that could make the gods themselves weep
– left a bitter taste in his mouth.
But then, there she was, that
vision of beauty in its purest form. Maybe his memory was foggy, but to Rodney Victoria
Denise Dawson had somehow become more beautiful. As the music began, Rodney
felt himself relaxing. Victoria Denise Dawson then began to sing a passionate
siren song of desire that Rodney swore was directed at him, even though he was
not close enough to the stage for her to see him in the dark room. He felt
intoxicated with each note, and the more she sang, the more he knew.
He wanted to love her.
He had loved other women before,
but none had such a hold over him, nor had they been able to fill him with such
desire. And to love a goddess? That would be the ultimate triumph!
With each passing evening of the
week, he found himself going back to the club, taking a seat closer and closer
to the stage. He would wait in anticipation, knowing full well that his ebony
goddess would reward his patience with her angelic melody. In her own way, he
believed she knew he was there, waiting for the right moment to let him love
her. And every night after the show he would return home, his thoughts and
dreams dwelling upon her.
Upon awakening Friday morning,
he decided it was time that he approach her with the intention of loving her. But
he knew that one does not simply approach a goddess, especially one as perfect
as Victoria Denise Dawson. She would not simply allow herself to be loved by
just any mere man. One must look the part if he wished to love a goddess.
After a day of strained patience
– a day that seemed it would never come to a close – it was finally Friday
night. He had made his preparations. The cards had been dealt and the chips
were on the table. She would see him and she would know he was the one meant to
Rodney waited as several bands
went through their sets. He ordered a second bourbon, sipping it slowly. The
alcohol was no match for the intoxicating sound of Victoria Denise Dawson’s
voice, but it still gave him a nice, light buzz that gave him confidence. He
felt relaxed – a necessary feeling when one intends to love a goddess.
Another band finished as he
reached the bottom of his second bourbon. Rodney ordered a third as a man whom
he assumed was the club manager took to the stage, as he did between every
performance, and spoke the words Rodney had been longing to hear all night.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please
put your hands together for our final act of the night, Miss Victoria Denise
Rodney’s ebony goddess stepped
out onto the stage, her perfect figure encompassed in a sparkling dress. It was
red, the color of love. Rodney knew it was a sign.
The music began, the low thump
of the lite-funk bass and soft groove of the drums setting the stage for the
piano’s opening chords. The saxophone then let out a few soft notes that, as
usual, felt like loneliness. But as Rodney stared at Victoria Denise Dawson,
again somehow looking even more beautiful than she did any other night that
week, he knew that loneliness would be over soon.
Then she began to sing. Her
voice was the usual audible gold that Rodney had heard each night. Being this
close to the stage, each note felt like a soft kiss to him, invigorating his
soul with desire. With each song he could feel his arousal burning all the more
Then she looked at him, staring
directly into his eyes as she sang. The lyrics were about yearning for a love
that would change everything. Rodney felt his heart leap in his chest as she
continued singing without taking her eyes off of him. He knew those lyrics were
about him. He maintained eye contact with her, hoping that she would see into
his soul. Then she would know that he was destined to love her. She winked and
smiled, and he knew she understood.
The show soon ended and Victoria
Denise Dawson blew a kiss to the audience. She then looked at Rodney and winked
again. The other club patrons began to leave, but Rodney stayed seated. He intended
to wait for the ebony goddess to return from backstage and come to his table. If
he was to love her properly, he would need to know where she wanted to go.
As if on cue, a tall, heavy-set
black man approached his table. Rodney recognized him as one of the bouncers
and initially thought he was going to tell him he needed to leave because the
club was closing. Instead, the man placed a folded piece of paper on the table
in front of him. Rodney gave him a puzzled look, but the man’s expression
didn’t change as he walked away.
Curious, Rodney unfolded the
paper. Inside was a message:
127 Seville Street, #4
Rodney felt his soul leap for
joy. He felt both excited and nervous, like a young man about to lose his
virginity – eager to please and prove his sexual prowess. The goddess had
chosen him and it would not be fitting to be anything less than perfect.
glanced at his watch. It was 2:45 a.m. Grasping the note in one hand, he
fumbled in his pocket for his keys with the other as he made his way to his car. Shaking with anticipation
and still a little tipsy
from the bourbon, he almost dropped his keys as he clicked the remote to unlock
the car door. After sitting down in the driver seat, Rodney entered the address
into the GPS on his phone. It was now 2:48 a.m. and 127 Seville Street was four
miles from the Lagniappe Smooth Jazz Club. The time estimate was about 10
minutes, but Rodney did not want to risk being late, especially in the traffic
caused by those still partying in the early New Orleans morning.
Rodney quickly pulled out onto
Tchoupitoulas Street, almost clipping another car. He ignored the angry blaring
horn (and no doubt raised middle finger) from the other vehicle’s driver and
hit the accelerator. Weaving around vehicles and almost running two red lights,
he could feel his blood pumping. The traffic lights and other cars were all a
blur to him, and as far as he was concerned, they did not exist. All that
existed was himself and Victoria Denise Dawson, the ebony goddess that was now
arrived at 127 Seville Street, a surprisingly rundown looking motel, with five
minutes to spare. He refrained from exiting his car, knowing that being too
early might displease the goddess. She had said 3 a.m. and therefore meant 3
a.m. He could feel his desire boiling over, his heart beating frantically as he
scanned the doors for number 4. Upon locating it, he noticed a soft glow
emanating from the corresponding window. There, behind that door and on the
other side of that window, was Victoria Denise Dawson – his destiny, his
desire, his goddess – waiting for him.
his watch. It was 2:57 a.m. He glanced at the door, then at his watch, then at
the door again. Going back and forth between the two, Rodney nervously passed
the time, which seemed to be crawling to a standstill. A small part of him
thought he had been deceived – that time was conspiring to get him so close,
only to stop just shy of 3 a.m. and deny him the chance to love the goddess. He
knew that should that thought be true he would go mad.
But then the
watch struck 3 a.m. Rodney felt the unsettling thought slip away as he opened
the car door and stepped out into the humid early morning heat. His heart was
pounding and his stomach turned ever so slightly as he approached number 4, but
he then remembered the goddess had chosen him and regained his confidence and composure.
up to the door and knocked. Victoria Denise Dawson opened the door a crack and
Rodney could see her face behind the chain of a secondary lock. He caught a
whiff of her perfume and was beckoned by the intoxicating odor. She was still
wearing her dress from that night’s performance. Up close, her skin seemed to
emit an ever-so-faint glow that Rodney figured was a trick of the light.
at him, unlocked the chain, and wordlessly beckoned him to enter. The room was
sparsely furnished with only one small loveseat up against the middle of a wall
and an end table tucked away in the corner. Along the walls the floor was lined
with lit candles, the only light in the room. On the end table was a statue
depicting what Rodney assumed was a goddess, but certainly not one with whom he
was familiar. It resonated beauty, an idol of feminine sexual desire. And yet,
there was a mild undercurrent that Rodney could not quite place. It felt as
though the idol had a secret – the beauty hiding ghastly rot, the sexual desire
really nothing more than depraved lust. Rodney began to feel uneasy.
Victoria Denise Dawson started singing, and Rodney forgot all about his unease
or the figurine on the end table. He turned to her, having not realized that
she had undressed while he was enamored by the statue. Her body was beyond what
he had ever imagined; more perfect than perfection itself. In his desire, he
felt himself getting an erection as sweat dripped from every pore. But it wasn’t
her body that had him entranced. It was her song – that beautiful, enchanting
song, sung in only the way a goddess could sing it. It was the music of their
rhythm of her humming sweetly.
melodious notes, each sung in perfect pitch.
The popping of her jaw as she
unhinged it, revealing rows of sharp teeth.
The guttural roar as she
prepared to strike.
as she sank her teeth into his throat, her jaws clamping down in a vice grip.
The ripping of his flesh as she
tore away a bloody chunk.
of blood as it hemorrhaged from the massive wound.
of wet meat as she chewed and swallowed his flesh.
thud as he fell to the floor.
as she crawled over his body, preparing to strike again as blood dripped from
It was the
music of the goddess getting her sacrifice – a symphony of death, destruction,
and eventual decay. It was the most beautiful music Rodney had ever heard.
Michael Stoll is a former historian and journalist looking to
break into the fiction writing scene. His influences include Clive Barker,
Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Bentley Little. He currently
resides in Rogers, Arkansas, with his wife and son.