Flash Fiction Friday: His Red-Cloth Past

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“Please welcome our last performer of the evening, Pablo B. Gutierrez!”

The audience clapped gently.

Gerald did not clap at all. He squinted through the darkness, secondhand smoke, and Spanish whispers of the Buenos Aires nightclub and tapped the counter twice.

The bartender slid him his second Scotch on the rocks and, with a frown, whispered, “She hurt you that bad, eh, amigo?”

Gerald sipped, fighting the bleary tears from his eyes. “He.

“Oh.” The bartender wiped a fresh glass. “Lo siento.

“Not your fault.” Gerald downed the rest of his throat-burning Scotch and turned his back to the bartender, waiting for the next performer. Pablo? Rodrigo? Whatever his name was?

Apparently, he played the bandoneon, carefully cradled it in a red cloth as he walked across the stage to his chair. Not a bad looking guy either. Just enough stubble and hair to being tastefully rugged. Better looking than… than…

Gerald tapped the counter again. His third Scotch on the rocks slid across the counter into his hand. He smudged away his tears with the bank of his hand. No. I need to forget him. I need to start over. No more of him.

Murmurs faded to whispers. Pablo draped his red cloth over his knees, placed his bandoneon on top, and played.

At the first note, a wave of regret and lust numbed Gerald’s senses. Pablo’s passionate facial expressions, the sorrow-filled rendition of such a classic tune — none of it mattered.

With each push and pull of the bandoneon atop Pablo’s knees, his legs widened and collapsed.

Delicately. Assertively. Gracefully. Playfully.

Like Gerald’s legs.

Like Lionel’s legs, every night, after their Luke Cage Netflix binges.

Every night before Lionel threw a lamp on the floor.

Every night before Gerald left.

The memories and wounds, old and fresh, rose from the depths of Gerald’s subconscious. There was no escaping this, was it? The Scotchs, the plane ride, the pointlessness of it all.

He bit his knuckles, stifling something between a drunken giggle and a downright sob. He had to forget. He had to. How could he overcome this if he didn’t put it behind him? How could he get on with his life if Lionel was still in it?

The bartender slid him a fourth Scotch and pat him on his back. “This one’s on me, señor.

Blood and emotion rushed to Gerald’s face. “G-Gracias.

Pablo finished, his head as low and solemn as the final chord. There was no point in forgetting for Gerald. There was no point in remembering.

Only was there any point for Gerald in accepting his red-cloth past.

***

This week’s flash fiction piece is inspired by a YouTube video I haven’t seen in a long time: Adios Nonino interpreted by Pablo V. Fernandez. Believe it or not, it’s a five-year-old cover. And believe it or not, I enjoy Astor Piazzola and most manner of tango music. And no, that’s not an accordion. It’s a bandoneon, peeps.

There’s not a whole lot going on in terms of speculation, but hey. I can write other stuff, too.

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