Tuesday, October 22, 2013



Since leaving his employ, hardly a day went by that I did not think of Tennessee Williams. Ten months had passed. Before leaving Key West, I ran into him upstairs at The Monster. He sat with the same sycophants I had tried to keep at bay. He looked tired and worn down—unlike in my dream. In my dream, he was robust.
He must be doing well.
            In my dream, I sit in a grotto, surrounded by the black Formica tables of Café Sud. They have been dressed for dinner—white napkin fleurs-de-lis and silver settings. The green glow of the dessert case reflects across the tops of the tables; tiny lights twinkle on snow-flocked branches sprouting from the ceiling.
            I sit alone.
On my plate, mussels steam in a pool of cream and Pernod, and rising behind the blackness of the shells, a champagne flute brimmed with small silver balls is washed in the pale colors of my grandmother’s Christmases.
I look up to see Tennessee in his white Cuban shirt and his oversized glasses, and as I meet his eyes, the restaurant dissolves. We are alone in the void beyond time and space. We consider each other wordlessly. A resonance wells up within me, the knowledge that whatever had once separated us or caused misunderstanding has been redeemed. 
When I awoke, the February morning was nearly spent. Sunlight glared bright at the edges of the blinds, but the dream still reverberated within me. I closed my eyes, trying to deny the day. The dream was more real than my new life or the still-blank walls of my apartment, but there was no way to go back. I had to let it go.

          I had arrived in Atlanta just three weeks before, transferred by The Magic Pan, the restaurant chain I had found a job with after moving north from Key West. During the six months I lived in Philadelphia, I frequented the ethnic neighborhoods and the funky shops and restaurants along South Street. Of those, Café Sud had been my favorite. In Atlanta, everything was as new as my apartment—sheetrocked and standard fitting, not burdened by character or eccentricities lingering from the past.

           I could not afford to be late. I got out of bed and, falling into the rut of my waking routine, started the coffeemaker. In the sting of the shower, my head cleared. Getting out, I toweled off quickly. Fridays were always busy, and I needed to be at work before the lunch rush. I turned on the television to catch the news as I dressed and gulped my coffee.
“This just in to CNN. This morning, playwright Tennessee Williams was found dead in his Manhattan hotel room. . . .”  


No comments:

Post a Comment