RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Maybe you’ll get a replacement…” (1991)

<!–[if !mso]>st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>
Please God, don’t hold a grudge…

Dimitri was making his One Phone Call. The dank cell walls authored their own miserable chill, even though it was August. When he’d been caught with one of Gianni’s girls in an epic scene “under the boardwalk,” there was a hurricane moving up the coast, but the warm breezes of the Atlantic City night had made the culmination of their romantic night out inevitable.  The “girl” was 24, same as Dimitri, with a naturally sexy body and lonely eyes. Maybe she wasn’t the best choice as a kept woman, working in a sinecure for one of Gianni’s businesses. Maybe it took the attention of Dimitri, a reasonably attractive, talented man with a cocky sense of humor and a talent for making you feel like you were the most important girl in the world, for her to figure it out. Or maybe she just wanted to steal a night of fantasy that she would remember into her dotage before returning to her comfortable position as one of “Gianni’s girls.” Their romance had been blissful. So blissful that both Dimitri and the girl neglected the cardinal rule of sex on the beach:
The subtle changes in the ocean breeze when the sun began to rise should have alerted the lovers that they had overstayed their welcome. Instead, it was the unpleasant grasp of a police officer that did the job. It seems that the morality squad that started its shift on the beach at daybreak was equipped to gather photographic evidence. Who knows how much evidence was on that camera? And who knows in whose hands it would wind up? Dimitri’s mind jumped from the most pleasant somnolence to the shock of the policeman’s grip to the still-perfect connection between the flesh of his thigh and hers, to recognition that he was BUSTED, to his nakedness, to the camera, to Gianni’s trademark black suit with the oversized pinstripes. He had known that he was messing with a girl that sort of belonged to his patron at the casino lounge. But he was young, he was horny, she was the very breath of beauty, and he knew that she WANTED him. She waited until closing time, and practically dragged him out for a walk on the Boardwalk at 3am. Her tube top was really a floral scarf wrapped loosely around her breasts, her skirt was the same translucent filigree, and she was carrying her flip-flops. They talked about everything and nothing. He remembered something about some of Gianni’s other businesses, the fact the Gianni pays her way too much for her job so that he gets to keep a key to her apartment at the casino, how she has dreams, too, and then he remembers her scarf falling gently around his arms and her waist, and how her bare skin glistened in the light of a crescent moon. Now he was trying to grab for his tuxedo pants. The girl, untouched by the officer, woke up with a start, apprised the situation, and touched Dimitri on the soft hairs at the bottom of his stomach, that she had blown and stroked and kissed just a few hours earlier.
“Don’t say anything. I will try to get us out of this. You just show up to work tonight like nothing happened.”
The girl, left unhindered by the policewoman, groped for her peach bikini bottom and slid it on. She wrapped her skirt and tube scarf, and in thirty seconds, all that remained of the storybook encounter was the sand in her hair and on her skin. In the meantime, the policewoman had stood Dimitri up and handcuffed him, naked. She shot him an icy stare when he tried to pick up his tux pants, as if to shout, “EVIDENCE!” Even so, the girl dressed Dimitri the best she could, considering the handcuffs, and the cop didn’t interfere.
Dimitri’s brain turned into a tzimmes, a virtual stew of speculations, worry, reasons, and panic all at once. Somebody once gave him this line, maybe one of the internationals on the kibbutz:Man hat verschissen in deine Gehirn und hat vergessen umzuruhren,”  which roughly translates as, “Somebody used your brain as a toilet and forgot to flush.”  In the commode that sat between his ears, glowing red with embarrassment, anger, and fear, the following witch’s brew was boiling:
They really bust you for this? Haven’t they done it too?
Maybe not this cop. Jealous bitch. Maybe yes this cop. Mind your own business, pervert!
Shit. The woman knows Kelli somehow. She let her go like that? Damn, Kelli is every bit as beautiful as I thought. How can she put up with that fifty-five-year-old pig?
Can Kelli bail me out, and maybe we..
Shit! Gianni! He pays my salary, and he’s been my connection down here. She’ll never tell, but what about the cop?
Fuck! What about the police blotter?
Do I show up tonight, like nothing happened, just like Kelli says? If I don’t show up, it’ll look like I did something. If I do, maybe I just go back to work, save up, and maybe in a few months me and Kelli…  But she’d have no references, and if Gianni ever knew, where would she work? Maybe I could go back to Sam?
Konyechno, certainly, I just bailed out on her for a better offer. She can’t have wanted me like a boyfriend long-term, she’s almost thirty.
But if I went with Kelli on my arm…
Hell, no! Gianni will find out for sure that way. He recruited me there at a Second Tuesday.
What happens if I show up tonight and he knows? Does he care? If he does, will I just “disappear” like the crooked croupier did in July?
Fuck. I’m so alone.
It must have been a blink of an eye during which these thoughts swirled in Dimitri’s head. Kelli was still there, moving to kiss him once more, when…
            “Beat it! If you know what’s good for you,” snapped the lady cop.
Kelli stole a furtive glance in Dimitri’s eyes, turned, picked up her flip-flops, and ran away through the sand to the next stairway. The stairway was two hundred yards past the point at which Dimitri and she had dropped down from the boardwalk like lust-driven spiders.
“You’re under arrest for public lewdness. We’re taking you to the precinct.”
“Can I get my shoes on, please?”
“I’ll return them to you at booking. If she weren’t who she is, you’d be in the truck naked until you got to your holding cell.”
Dimitri wanted to probe. In fact, he believed that his continued existence on the planet depended on it. But he knew that the cop knew, and if he pissed her off even a little bit, Gianni would know. So he silently pushed off, barefoot and with his tux shirt and jacket draped over his shackled hands, in the direction of the officer’s Land Rover.
At booking, he was given the choice to provide local references. He twisted in his seat, his wrists chafing against the handcuffs. Again the cyclone started up in his brain. My employer is the casino, not Gianni, but everyone knows that they are one and the same. But I have to give them a place of employment, or they’ll add vagrancy to my charges and I’ll never get out in time for work tonight. But they want a personal reference. Do I give them Kelli? I sure as hell don’t give them Gianni, sovershenno nyet. Hell no. Do I give them my parents? Yes, that’s what I’ll do. No, what would I tell them when they get called to pick me up? I can feel Dad’s red-hot anger already. And his fists of a rabochii, a real proletarian. I don’t have the strength in my whole body that he has in one of those fists. Oh, shit, right, my sister and her husband. They don’t hate me, and they live in Voorhees.  Maybe they’d even take me in. That’d be awful. But it’s better than cement overshoes courtesy of Gianni’s boys.
Dimitri gave the sister and brother-in-law, and magically remembered their address on Lantern Drive. And the phone number. OK, I think I got it. (609) 442-XXXX.
“Due to the nature of your crime, and the fact that you have so few connections to the community,  I will have to ask the judge for ROR. In the meantime, we’ll call your contacts to ask them…
“Pardon me, what’s ROR?”
“Released on Own Recognizance. The judge might allow it, given the circumstances. Otherwise, we can ask your sister to post bail.”
Now Dimitri felt safe enough to probe just a little bit.
“The circumstances, ma’am?”
While the officer told Dimitri what he suspected already, he started speculating again. Why would the judge give me ROR? Does he want me as a source in building something against Gianni? I live in Gianni’s hotel. What the hell? I guess I could be a plant, but I see myself getting planted at the bottom of the harbor. Maybe he’s jealous for what I did and who I did it with (damn! why couldn’t I just grab Kelli and run against the wind until we find our own place outside Gianni’s shadow? Kak-tak?[roughly translated: WTF?] I barely MET this girl!) and he wants to let me go to get back at that pig? Him and Kelli? Gross. Uzhas – disaster. Poor girl. I wonder if she’s pregnant? Maybe the judge knows I’m toast, and wants me to get out of town while I still can! Maybe I could find my way up to New York and hook on with a bar or a casino up there. I can’t give references, but I can play anything from the last half-century, and back-up a band, to boot. Then I could come back on my court date, pay a fine, and…
Damn! What do I do about my stuff? It’s all up in the suite. If the cop knows, there’s a chance Gianni knows. Or do I play dumb, get ROR, go to work, and just act like nothing happened?
The police officer led Dimitri to the holding cell, unlocked the handcuffs, and returned his shoes, socks, and bowtie. “Get dressed, stud-boy.”
Time passed; God only knows how much. Dimitri tried lying down on the stainless steel bench.  Sleep? He hadn’t had any for more than a day, but fuggedaboudit, as they say in Jersey. The tzimmes started cooking again. How perfect that evening had been! How many men would give how much to have had that in their lives! How beautiful and how perfect was sex when you fall in and forget anything but HER! Was it that he, and she, could not bear to disturb the perfection that they fell asleep, embracing, naked as Adam and Eve under the stars with just enough moon to take their breath away? Or were they assholes? They had so much to lose, maybe everything! Certainly, they had to have the assignation, but by acting like Adam and Eve, they spat in the face of the reality that hulked over their barely shared lives. Kelli! Good Lord, what would have happened if Gianni popped into her room while they were making love? Is she alive? Is she safe? Does she have an alibi? Will someone cover for her? She had to be OK, right? She started it all. She was a vision of love in that translucent, floral two piece sari without a stitch or a button to resist the passion underneath! She had to have turned away a hundred guys who saw an angel in front of them. but she was determined to be HIS angel. Where was that gangster, anyway? Would he really hurt his business by doing away with his new star pianist?
Suddenly, Elton John’s voice flushed the commode.
Maybe you’ll get a replacement,
There’s many like me to be found,
Mongrels who ain’t got a penny,
Sniffin’ for tidbits like you…
In counterpoint, Sir Elton’s voice sang against itself:
So goodbye, Yellow Brick Road,
Where the dogs of society howl,
you can’t plant me in your penthouse…
I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.
Just then, the prison guard clicked the keychain against Dimitri’s cage.
“That’s me.”
“Who did you say your contact was?”
“My sister. Didn’t the judge release me?”
“Yeah, ROR, pending my resolving this little problem.”
“What problem?”
“That’s not your sister. Says her name is Samantha Frankel. She knows you, but she’s not your sister. You have one call today; if you want to get out of here, it’d better be to this Samantha Frankel.”
“OK.” The die is cast.
“Hello, Samantha speaking.”
“Sam? It’s Dimitri.”
“What did you do to yourself now, you knucklehead?”
“I love you too. Sam, how fast can you make A.C.?”
“In the Beamer, about 35 minutes, no cops. But considering where you’re at, I don’t think that’s
such a great idea.”
“Sam, I owe you. Big time.”
“Damn right, you little shit! You run off just as you get me falling in love with a kid and now
you call me back from jail?”
“If I didn’t know you like I do, I never would have thought to call you.” Sometimes even my
mistakes work out. I hope Kelli’s OK. Shit, I hope Sam’s OK. I had no idea I even mattered to
her. “Sam?”
“Bring a suitcase. Empty.”
An hour later, Samantha picked up Dimitri’s key, wearing gloves. She packed up his stuff,  resisting the temptation to check for condoms, and took the suitcase out to the car. She returned, asked for Enrique, a clerk who Dimitri had gotten close to, and they carried Dimitri’s keyboard and sound system out the back door.

Yeltsin on the Tank I

Yeltsin on the Tank, Part I (1991)

Rafi’s Volvo wagon knifed through the sheets of late-August deluge battering the Merritt Parkway. Since the 1988 season at Blossom Music Festival, he had become an item with an overweight Methodist soprano, right now a medical student en route to second year coursework and a nervous breakdown. The soprano’s sister and brother-in-law lived near New Haven, where both survived on the periphery of the Yale classical music scene. If Rafi’s olive hands could blanch, like the soprano’s vitiliginous skin, this would be a white-knuckle ride.
 “Margie, could you find us some music, please, habibi?  I can’t even make sense of what they’re saying in this fucking hurricane. “
“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am…” sang the soprano,
“Stuck in the middle with you!” joined Rafi in perfect two-part harmony.
It dawned on Rafi that the band that wrote this ditty, Stealers Wheel, had a name that was vaguely relevant.
“Try this one, Margie, ‘Riders on the storm, riders on the storm, into this house were born, into this world were thrown. Like a dog without a bone, and actor out on loan, riders on the storm’”
“Whoo, Rafi! The next verse,…”
“There’s a killer on the road. Hope it’s not us!”
“…Gorbachev’s whereabouts are not immediately known,” crackled the NPR announcer on WSHU.  Rafi shot a quick glance at Margie while easing off even further from the gas pedal.
“It sounds like we’re not the only ones getting some inclement weather!”
Rather than going for the tuner, Rafi’s right hand hit the Soprano’s left at the volume knob.  Cokey Roberts was giving an up-to-the-minute accounting of the events that accompanied the awakening of Eastern Europe to a day whose implied threat had seemed to dissipate with the coming signing of an agreement to replace the Soviet Union with a Commonwealth of Independent States, a final step on the way to perestroika-ing the Bad Old Days out of existence. Cokey Roberts was providing the connective tissue from an announcement over state TV by the Chairman of the KGB eight months earlier and the sudden collapse of communications into and out of the Kremlin. The announcement last December, said Roberts,  concerned possible “perverse and negative outcomes that would present the Party with a national state of emergency.” Roberts was reporting on speculation within the CIA that the KGB and allied forces had, in fact, staged a coup designed to prevent the Commonwealth Treaty from being signed.
There’s a reason to go for a chick with brains. Just how many guys get to drive cross-country with their girlfriend, listening to history being made?
Rafi had Met the Soprano (that was not a typo) when he was auditioning for the Metropolitan Opera in the regionals. Clevelandwas the home of these auditions, which took place at Severance Hall in University Circle. On this, his fifth y’ridah from the Holy Land, Rafi was pursuing his music on a semiprofessional basis. After serving as an emergency replacement when the baritone he had hired for the premiere of his orchestral song, “Ozymandias,” fell ill, Gareth Morrell, then Music Director of  the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, sought him out to congratulate him.
“What a marvelous surprise!” exclaimed Morrell. “You have such a strong, clear tone, and even a supported falsetto. Have you ever thought about becoming a singer instead of a composer?”
“Well, not really,” replied Rafi, trying to act casual, as if the short man with the wispy golden hair standing in front of him was not an artistic executive who could put “Ozymandias” on the program, if not at Severance Hall, at least at the Blossom Music Center, the summer home of the orchestra.
“Well, listen, auditions for the fall season begin on Tuesday. Do you know any arias?”
“Not really, Mr. Morrell. I think I can give you some highlights from Elijah and Messiah.”
“Which ones?”
“I learned the tenor arias in college, and I’ve done much of Elijah’s part in synagogue.”
The maestro drew his left hand to his face, whereupon he buried his chin in his cupped palm.
“Well, are you a tenor or a baritone?”
“I’m a composer who can sing what I write, mainly, Mr. Morrell.”
“Oh, call me Gareth. Mr. Morrell is my father, and he’s back in Walton-on-Thames  right now. So you’re a tenoritone? Or are you a baritenor? OK, I could still use you, and you might get solos from time to time in the midrange while your voice decides what it will become…
“When it grows up,” Rafi interjected.
“Exactly,” Morrell responded.  Tell me, how old are you?”
“Good answer, and you’ll stay that way for at least the next five years. Have you ever heard of “The Devil and Daniel Webster?”
“Eh? I’m sorry. No, I never have. Is it a musical?”
“An opera, actually, an American classic. I performed the title character when I was in school. It’s at least as much of an acting role as it is a vocal role. You might have a look at it.”
Rafi and Morrell prattled on like this for some time. It was the audition that Rafi had met The Soprano.
Margie was a few years older than Rafi, and like him, things (mostly good) found a way of emanating from her mouth.  The youngest of nine children from a west Ohio farm, she could stop you dead in your tracks with a sardonic comment. Or she could sight read a part for soprano with the full support of her lyric but undersized voice.  The size of her voice posed a rather odd conundrum for Rafi: even at her most fit, The Soprano hefted a Wagnerian 180 lbs. She was possessed of a very pretty farm German face, and at her happiest, her extra freight was evenly distributed across her silhouette like the gearing of a farm tractor. It would take a psychic collapse, combined with the unrelenting pressure of being a medical student in her mid-thirties, to break an axle. Now there was no such crash on the horizon: the ground seemed fertile as far as the eye could see, which after the hurricane passed, would be an East Coast record. The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus audition, at which the accompanist shrewdly scheduled the two of them to follow each other and to sight read a duet, would follow on that next Tuesday evening. Of course, the voices blended well – a too-light soprano with an underpowered tenor, musical sensitivity, breathing together. Furthermore, the rehearsal with the repetiteur, also a Minister of Music who had his eye on a completely ecumenical Jesus, scheduled itself. Rafi would bring his Concerto for Orchestra and Highland Bagpipes, and they romanced over the parts. Margie had played highland bagpipes for fun in high school. Rafi hadn’t. It was obvious. Still, she had to fall for a guy who had the chutzpah to write for an impossible instrument. He had to fall for a gal who had the chutzpahto butcher the Hebrew word to an Israeli.
He was considering yet another swing of the yo-yo back to the Kibbutz, this time to teach music and math, when The Soprano happened. They had exchanged numbers a few weeks earlier at the audition, but until now, nothing had come from it. Tonight, though, she was singing in a summer concert, and she got him a ticket. They had a picnic on the concert lawn, and Rafi promised Margie that he would critique the performance afterward. They had boarded the Festival Chorus bus from Macy’s in University Heights. On the way back, Rafi had to restrain himself from joining when the baritones burst into an impromptu recitation of “Estuans interius.”  Not good first date etiquette, especially as the other baritones might oversing. On a bus on I-71. Windows open. Ouch.
Well, Rafi was in it for fun. Not like him. He was the guy who almost ran to Pennsylvania when Vered dumped him. He was looking to lose himself in love, like a real Lord Byron. But Margie was too fat, he told himself. So, all the time wondering whether he was right or he was a sexist pig, Rafi let the “thing” ooze its way into every crack of his life. He joined Margie’s gym. He sang solos at Margie’s church. He joined the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, even though she only made the summer ensemble. He even hit her up for book money so that he could register for classes so as to have a good reason to keep working part-time.
This is the way that the world ends,
this is the way that the world ends,
this is the way that the world ends,
not with a bang but a whisper.
Ok, Rafi, it’s not that bad. Besides which, she’s this and she’s that and …
Rafi was unable to silence the voice murmuring, just beyond the level of inaudibility, “But you don’t LOVE her.”
But it was August 19, 1991, and hurricanes hit Connnecticut, and the Commies were un-Revolutionizing the Soviet Disunion. The Volvo wagon (see, you are going to marry her!, wrote Semyon from the Kibbutz) rumbled safely down the Merritt Parkwayinto Gordon and Terry’s driveway. This was a conventional ranch house in a conventional neighborhood not far from the Yalies in New Haven who paid Gordon to do their lawns and teach piano to their children, even though Gordon could have written their requiems and directed their ceremonial ballets in the good old days of artistic patronage. Terry was The Soprano’s sister, and she was also quite talented, but not in Gordon’s league. But she had a practical side to her that had managed to reach the next generation, both members of which had the good sense to be taking the end of summer in the Berkshires, having caught on with a junior program at Tanglewood.  Rafi honked the horn, and Gordon cranked open the garage door revealing, not a warm, dry extra parking spot, but an 1840’s Spinet that was in the netherworld between an authentic restoration and so much junk.  Gordon, in a Pendleton lumberjack shirt half open over heavily worn blue jeans, opened Margie’s door, acknowledged Rafi, and dragged them into the dry. “Hey, you guys hear, the Russkies are tired of perestroika and perestriking!”
“I heard,” said Rafi. “I think they are going on the air around now telling us what the hell they think they’re doing.”
“What I want to know,” interjected The Soprano, “is how they’re gonna take that hammer and sickle off Gorby’s head.”
“Maybe they’ll keep the stigmata and leave the brains?” interjected Terry. “C’mon. CNN is going live.”
 “Emergency situation with dire consequences. My ass,” muttered Gordon.
“The only dire consequences were to the apparatchiks who stand to lose their jobs,” added Terry, attired only in loose shorts and an oversized, “Official Couch Potato T-Shirt” top.  “ It’s looking like the Republics are starting to make some independent money by trading with the West. The bureaucracy must be shaking in its boots. Rafi, you grew up on a kibbutz, didn’t you? What’s your take on all this?”
Rafi felt suddenly exposed. Fortunately for him, his instinct to hold forth stood him in good stead. “People here in the States have an…illusion, that the kibbutz is …still works, you know, like in the days of Rabin and all the Fathers of the Nation. And Mothers, too. I was born there. I know, it’s no Gan Eden. We all look for ways to get by with someone else’s work. Kids who take their history lessons too seriously, you know, get made fun of by the others. And like, I work very hard in the fields, volunteering for extra work, living my own personal Aliyah PR campaign movie, they call me a freier, Yiddish word that means, kind of, a free lunch.”
The hosts leaned in, captivated. Even The Soprano had never heard this before.
“It’s just that the land is so blessed that we can grow anything, and our schools are so good that our children can do anything, build anything, even bombs, although if I were a spokesman for the government I would tell you that the facility at Dimona was a milk processing factory.”
Gordon interrupted. “So you’re telling me that the collective system in Israelisn’t the panacea we hear about?”
“No, it is not,” replied Rafi. “I can use an analogy that you will relate to, I think. The kibbutz is like thousand-dollar strings in a fifty-dollar piano. The piano is the broken spirit of human nature. We were dreamers fifty years ago, but now we are just like everyone else.
“So what do they do on the Kibbutzes?” interjected Terry.
“We still have kibbutzim. They’re mostly museum pieces. Tourist traps, I’ve heard the phrase, and I guess you call them that. Some of them have new lives as resettlement centers for Soviet refugees. I wonder how this,” Rafi gestured toward CNN on the TV, “will affect that. Maybe  there will millions of newly minted Zionist Jewish pioneers – we called them ‘chalutzim,’ with big dreams.”
 “You’re not going to believe what’s for dinner,” laughed Terry.
“Borsch and stuffed cabbage,” Margie replied laconically.
“How did you guess?” replied Terry with a certain degree of amazement.
“You always had a sense of history,” Margie replied.
Terry padded back to the kitchen, blissfully unaware of the fact that she was wearing bedclothes to meet her possible brother-in-law, added sour cream to the borsch and checked on the stuffed cabbage, all while taking in every detail from the NPR reportage on WSHU.

Second Tuesday (1990)

Samantha made sure that she had the night off, but she was working up a sweat. Dimitri had certainly talked up his cabaret well enough; a ninety-minute set had sucked up all the tables in the Hooters side of the restaurant from 6:30 to 11pm. Samantha’s regional manager had the GM duties for the evening, a clear sign that Dimitri had “moved the needle.” The business expected for a random March Tuesday was 80% over par, but if the earlybirds had their say at the bar, this evening would do the corporate numbers double.  At 5:30, with the afternoon just giving in to evening’s bullying, Samantha made her entrance in a flowing crème brulee backless dress (in Dimitri’s dreams, it turned out, come true). She was met by the star, in a sequined half-buttoned black satin double-breasted number competing with hers for the lowest neckline. He glad-handed customers, took repertoire requests, made drink suggestions (Dark Russian for Rachmaninov, White Russian for Scriabin, Berenguer for Poulenc, and Schlibovitz for Chopin)and lit cigarettes for the ladies. She made the men feel sophisticated, and in charge. And also, in charge of showing how well they controlled with the pulchritude of their wallet.
The way Dim and Sam had planned this, there would a build-up of tension before each classical showpiece, a drink order before every show tune or selection from the American Songbook, and a major side wager for each round of karaoke. Karaoke winners got their next drinks free. Was this any way to develop a serious audience? Hell, no. That’s why Dimya got to frontload the program with show pieces like the Schubert impromptu in D that he started this evening’s festivities.  
Schubert didn’t specify high-flying left-hand antics in the impromptu, certainly not a choreography. Dimitri seemed to shape the lyrical left hard phrase exactly to fit the date of the richest diner, and then asked the woman how she was impressed, and what she would hear next. If the girl showed more cleavage than class, Dimya would transition to a karaoke set using something like “More Than a Feeling” as a bridge. If she was simple but sweet, she might get “Fur Elise” by Beethoven. If she were a real aficionado, she’d call the tune, and if Dimitri could find it in the Great American Songbook, she’d get it, along with a piano break Dimitri would make up.
Samantha, beaming, left her position as hostess and walked forward in just the dress that Dimitri had  imagined for the Sunday morning when he first played for her. She dipped her elegant silky cleavage below the piano hood and gave Dimitri a hug that was more than just appreciative of the success of the evening. Then she turned to the crowd, noticing that two waitresses were busily taking more drink and hors d’oeuvres orders.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, from Russia with Love, via Israel and Bridesburg, Dimitri Kats!”  Samantha smiled and put her arm on Dimya’s black satin shoulder and waited for the applause to die down. “I think that it’s safe to say that Dimitri can forget about taking the second Tuesday off for a while.
“I’ll send my boys if he does!” called out a beefy guy with wire-rimmed glasses and a double-breasted suit with oversized white pinstripes.
Dimitri made eye contact with the imposing figure. “Don’t worry, Gianni, I’m not going anywhere without a piano.”
Samantha winked at Dimitri. “Do I get to make a request”
“Lady calls the tune.”
“Could you do a medley of Israeli dance music?”
“You lead the dancing?”
There was a small space behind the piano that had not been set up for the last tables that should have been squeezed in. Samantha kicked off her beige satin high heels, showing her always tan feet, in the style that she had learned to do r’kudey am (the dances of the nation) that had kept her in Hebrew school for a year beyond her Bat Mitzvah. Tapping Dimitri on the cheek, she announced the existence of the unplanned dance floor, bounded out from behind the piano, and called out, “Hora Mamtera! Join me, anybody?”
Dimitri noticed that in motion, Samantha’s backless opalesque dress with the deep plunging neckline forgave her trim, well-shaped form  its every wish, freeing her nipples when she bent down before a jump, and snapping back into place when she rose up to her full 5’11” form.