Shorty was a patient soul and Hackenbush loved him dearly for it. He made her look like a better dancer than she was and made her into a better dancer than she thought she could ever be. So as not to provoke him and because she really was interested in this complicated new dance he’d concocted, she only smoked half her Pall Mall. “Okay, boss, I’m back on the clock,” she said, picking a shred of tobacco off her tongue.
Shorty giggled and turned the metronome back on. He worked them hard for another hour and then they had dinner at a Thai place across from the Samsara School of Oriental Medicine on Third near Rampart.
“You think I ought to let those Chinese doctors stick pins in me, Shorty?” Hackenbush asked over a plate of panang curry. “My right shoulder and thumb are killing me.”
“I think you type too much, Mabel, and should carry your purse on your left side,” Shorty said.
“Yeah, maybe,” she said. “I’ll be typing less when we start the new gig next weekend.”
Shorty’s mouth was full, so he just nodded. Eddy and Mabel had landed the band a peach of a long-term, high-paying gig in Santa Monica. A good room for music and dancing and it was a chain of hotels, so they might be in the money for quite a while. “We can all save a little money on this gig,” he said when he could.
“I’ll be saving a little money when I move in with Eddy,” she said. “You know what they say about how two can live as cheaply as one. I’m giving my fucking landlord notice next week.”
“Hey, congratulations! I would dance at your wedding, Mabel.”
“You dance at everything, Shorty, my wedding would not be exceptional. Except that it would be my wedding,” she murmured. She was distracted with toting up the check, adding 23%, and dividing it in half. “And don’t jump the gun so fast, darlin’, we’re just moving in together.”
“Well, it’s nice,” Shorty said, digging in his wallet for money. “You really love this guy, don’t you?”
“‘Deed I do, Shorty, ‘deed I do.”
They smiled across the table at each other. Shorty had seen her through some ugly, tawdry affairs, one or two married men (until she finally learned that there really is no trouble like another woman’s man), and months of snarling celibacy and borderline man-hating. He occasionally wondered why she didn’t just switch to women, but the lesbians that made the rare pass at her were politely, but firmly, rebuffed. Shorty figured Eddy Lee got in under her radar because they had a foundation of mutual musical respect to fall safely in love on.
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