In Friday’s music session, Eunice and Dennis struggled through trumpet scale drills neither of them knowing how to play. The larger group had been partnered up to spend one hour practicing before coming back together to perform scales as a group. The objective was to understand the value of notes and the difficulty in hitting the right ones.
The only time Eunice had seen brass instruments up close was when she’d dropped into Arisbel’s marching band practice after school one time, “What’s this dohickey for?” she asked, pointing at the spit valve on the trumpet.
“That’s no dohickey, I believe it’s called a thingamajig,” Arisbel said, laughing. Her Mexican face was bright red from blowing so hard just to get the slightest bleat out of the damned instrument. “This is friggin’ impossible!” she said.
Eunice wondered how songwriting and trumpet scales even went together. Dennis seemed to hit the right notes.
“I get it now. It’s the muscles in your lips,” Dennis said.
“Huh! I didn’t realize my lips had musculature,” she said.
She took the trumpet mouthpiece to her lips. For some reason she imagined Sam’s face in her mind as if he were a musician which he wasn’t and blew into the trumpet. She knew she had hit the right note by the look on Dennis’ face.
“Mike says it’s the way you pucker your lips,” Eunice said, as she made a high-pitched squeal from her instrument.
Later Mike Watts led a discussion that likely gave his students zero hope of making it. “Musicians are peace and love. That’s why they end up prey to vultures who want to ‘manage’ their money and take control,” he said.
Aside from the business part of music, Eunice found a sense of equality and camaraderie amongst her musicology mates. Perhaps working creatively lowered her inhibitions and prejudice. She had never felt as much a part of something as she did at Musicology Camp.
She came away feeling confident. She learned that musicians seemed an ideal set for her. They didn’t give a second thought to her identity. Hopefully over time she would stop thinking about being the right type of white girl or the right type of black girl!
Her sense of harmony also opened her up to Sam’s obvious interest in her.
Sam arrived for his invitation by 9:00 a.m. as planned. Cecile had gone for the weekend. Eunice didn’t have a strict agenda for his visit so they took a walk along the water’s edge of the Shute parklands.
“What’s your sign?” she asked. She had thought up a few things to ask in case of dead silence.
“Taurus, what’s yours?” he asked.
“Scorpio. What’s your Achilles heel?” she asked.
“I don’t even know what that is,” he said.
“It’s this long part of the back of my heel, see?” she said, showing him hers.
“Yeah, Isaiah Thomas tore his Achilles tendon and ended up retiring,” he said.
“I bet it hurt something fierce. Just the thought of it makes me wanna barf,” she said.
“It’s basically an expression for your most debilitating weakness. Some call it vulnerability. I hate that word,” she said.
“Sounds like church talk or the deadly sin stuff like don’t lie, steal or kill your neighbor,” he said.
“There’s a neat story about the Trojans, the war not condoms! Ha! Remember the story where people hid inside a fake horse to enter a walled city? One guy was killed in the end by an arrow shot from a bow severed this part of his heel. Guess what his name was?” she asked.
“Eunice that’s terrible! I don’t get it. Let’s sit here,” he said.
“It was Achilles silly! Achilles heel,” she said, laughing.
They found a bench. She curled up like a cat and wedged in the crook of his arm. She imagined herself a beautiful black woman with her basketball player husband.
“What I’m trying to say is I don’t let anyone inside. I do have feelings. I just don’t think I feel them half the time. I act tough. You know. Well imagine my toughness and think of what my sore spot is,” she said.
“That’s dangerous territory for me. I’d be walking right into it answering you. Okay, you have such pride you can’t admit when you’re wrong,” he said.
“Yes. That’s right. Try another one but think positive and stop being silly, Silly!” she said.
He thought about it for several seconds.
“Come on Sam. Or else I’ll chicken out telling you,” she said.
“This is hard. Let me guess. You love me so much it pains you and near kills you but your Achilles heel is you’re too proud to show me or tell me,” he said.
Eunice got a bit misty eyed.
“Okay I’ll stop playing. Why do I find it so difficult to discuss my feelings? Sam it’s as powerful a fear as parachuting out of an airplane, which I’d never do either,” she said.
She decided to open up to him. She told him about her folks and all the chaos at family gatherings growing up. How her parents’ visitors probably saw her as some tragic mulatto girl who didn’t matter. How she felt abandoned by her mother who was often medicated and resting due to health problems. Sam seemed like a thoughtful listener so she continued.
“There was one episode I don’t fully remember. I know Aunt Angela intervened and ended up slamming an iron skillet over a man’s head,” Eunice slumped into him crying softly trying her best to hide her face with her hands. At the same time she’d never been so relieved.
“You poor thing,” Sam said, “but guess what Eunice? I think Kryptonite is green,” he pat her head gently.
“Huh?” she said. She started to laugh from somewhere in her crying mess.
“Kryptonite weakens Superman so badly he can’t move. It’s to the point of not only losing his superpowers but the complete physical shut down of his body. It will kill him with long-term exposure. Eunice your pain is my Kryptonite. All I want is for you to be happy. I want you in my life,” Sam said.
Eunice smiled secure in his strong arms. She looked up at his face following the line of his nose to his lips, down to his cleft-chin below a square jaw, then to his throat and Adam’s apple.
Don’t ever leave me Sam.
One day he would and she’d be alone. She would always be alone. The summer breeze blew up off the water giving her the kind of chills she feared would never go away.
He was smiling at her, “There’s nothing you need to worry about. I got you,” Sam said, cradling her ever so gently.
Back at her place, Eunice wanted to spend quality time and hibernate with him like in The Blue Lagoon where the couple were stranded alone on a deserted island. She had thoughts of going all the way with him that night. Summer Lovin,’ it happened so fast!
They spoke of running away to Europe, fantasizing how they could blend into a provincial village, run a vineyard, or make designer cheese. “Sam, you might be the one for me. I know you can take care of us. My strong solid man, I want you to protect me from the hooded claw and keep the vampires from my door. Yes I’m quoting song lyrics but I mean it!” she said.
“I feel different here. I’m not shy. I don’t stammer with you. I feel like I’m the real me right now,” his voice was husky.
She noticed his chest and biceps. Was he secretly flexing for her? Was her childhood neighbor showboating for her? She hoped so.
When did he become a player and why hadn’t she ever noticed him? He could see the part of her no one else saw but also show her his foolish vulnerability. Their sense of ease together coupled with his Michael Jordan cologne unlocked her synapses.
The thrill of being loved was intoxicating. Their mutual affection really did happen as clear and simple like in a movie. Telling each other truths about each other. It was an entire courtship in one long day.
Sunday when he got up to leave, she had forecast the attention he would shower on her. Soon he’d be gone and she’d be alone in her room waiting for Cecile to return.
“You’re off then, okay mister!” she looked him up and down, “Make sure you’re wearing your ball cap straight. No close calls,” Eunice said.
“Yes ma’am,” he kissed her forehead.
“If you see a police officer, you call him ‘Sir’ okay? Tell him where you live right away. Remember what happened to Charlie from school?” she asked. She knew how police would respond to Sam. The cops would think he’d been out looking for trouble. Charlie was stopped for no reason aside from his complexion and questioned with his back against the wall and his hands up. He ended up in jail overnight for no reason.
As a female whose complexion was associated with whiteness she didn’t need the same warnings so she guessed that qualified as having white privilege. It made sense to her. Although young pretty girls had to abide by their own warning checklist of questions.
“I’ll do my best to stay out of trouble. Thank you for inviting me for a beautiful weekend Eunice,” Sam said.
“It was nice to feel no pressure Sam. You had no expectation. I adored it,” she hinted for him to kiss her.