I sat down at the table again, wondering where the night was going to take me. John leaned back in his chair and appeared to be studying me.
I smiled as a slow, smoky bass began to play from the other room. The drums teased it along, and I closed my eyes as the melody of the guitar filtered through me.
When I opened my eyes John leaned toward me.
“You haven’t answered my question,” he said, his eyes studying mine.
“What is it that I want?” I asked.
“Can you be more specific? That is a big question,” I answered.
John bit his lip a moment.
“What do you want from me?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “I think I am looking for a kindred spirit. I am always looking for kindred spirits.”
“But what does that really mean?” he asked.
I was studying the way the candle on the table lit the landscape of his face. I felt for a moment like I was looking at a Roman soldier carved in stone, but his eyes, though vibrant and bright, seemed at the same time to be full of a sad yearning.
“Look, there are things that have happened to me that have led me to the place where I am now. I get tired of feeling like I am the only one to see things,” I said.
“Isn’t that just life?” he said. “A series of things that lead you to where you are now?”
“Sure,” I said, laughing. “That’s true. I guess I’m a dork.”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think there is more to it. I think you are saying that you don’t relate to people who don’t feel the things you feel. People who don’t have the connection to your art that you do.”
“Yes, that is part of it,” I said. I hesitated.
“John…I haven’t sung in five years.”
“Why the hell not?” he asked.
“It’s complicated,” I said, taking a drink.
“And you want me to help you?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
He looked puzzled.
“You just want someone who understands?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Then what is all the kindred spirit stuff?” he asked.
“When I saw you sitting here, I was watching you and for a moment I saw a glimmer of something that I hadn’t seen since the last time that I sung,” I said.
“And what is that?” he asked.
“I don’t know what it is. That’s the problem,” I said. “Five years ago I was sitting in with a band in New York. It was a real sexy jazzy, blues band. Not my usual style, but it was good. It was the kind of thing that I get lost in fast.”
He nodded, a slight smile on his face.
“See, the thing is,” I said, “when I sing like that—when I get lost like that I see things sometimes. Kind of like visions.”
John stared at me.
“This last time I started to go into that place and then everything went black. I couldn’t see anything at all, and for a moment I couldn’t hear anything, either.”
“Drugs?” John asked.
“No drugs,” I said.
“What the hell was it?” he asked. “Did you go to a doctor?”
“No, no, no,” I said. “It wasn’t anything like that. Hmm. How can I explain it?”
John took a drink.
“I think I was dead,” I said. “I mean, I think I got to feel what it feels like.”
“Okay, that’s weird, but why can’t you sing now?” he asked.
“Because I am afraid if I do that I will die,” I said, looking into his eyes. “The thing is, I have so much welled up inside me that wants to come out I am not sure I can not sing, either.”
“That sucks,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said. “I saw you, and for the first time since that night I thought I saw a light. I thought if you understood this place I am talking about that maybe you had been through this, too. Maybe if I saw you were still here, it would be okay for me to sing.”
“Sorry babe,” he said. “I know the feeling you are talking about—the depth, the being lost, but I don’t know this thing you are looking for.”