Downtown Johannesburg back in the day. Oh yes, late on Thursday nights through the arcade, down two flights of stairs, through the padded black swing doors, with the bodyguard’s muscles testing the limit of his too-small shirt.

It was not the booze that was illicit, but the company we kept. Apartheid, you know. There was Thandi riffing and bending on her alto sax in her high heels and fishnets, and dark frilly party dress. Her full lips needed no lipstick but she wore it anyway out of defiance.

We all listened, sitting squashed up cheek by jowl at small round tables, our legs crossed and wrapped round each other to save space. Early in the evening, a slow intro to Baker Street, with a slightly altered syncopated African beat. The drummer in his dark Ray Ban shades.

Andrea always liked a neat scotch on the rocks. The saxophone brought that risqué strand out in her.

Tonight there was a new woman there. She had ordered a beer but could not reach the bottle or the glass that the overworked waiter had put on the table.

Thandi was in full swing now flirting with the guy on the keyboard.

Andrea took that beer glass and held it at an angle, and slowly, as the sax did more bends with a vibrato flourish, poured the perfect slim beer for the woman eyeing her.

She handed her the beer silently, and lifted her own glass in a toast. That woman had lesbian eyes. It was too loud to say anything. Thandi was having a good night on the stage tonight. And how.

©2019 Allison Wright
[277 words. 7 minutes writing, 3 for typo correction]


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