Let me tell you about love: About real love. About being in love. With a butterfly.
I met Bobby when I was 20; he was, oh — older. Bobby’d been around the block a few times. Me too. But goin’ around the block was what you did in those days, what everyone did. It was 1983. Hey: didn’t none of us know no better; then.
Olivia introduced us; she was his roommate back then. O and me, we met at this club, a bar, really, where she danced and served drinks. There were lots of places liked that in New York in those days.
Bobby, he was a butterfly: Light, delicate. Beautiful. Seemed like he floated. Like music; like his music. And, he was a cowboy — and before you break out the Brokeback Mountain jokes, he never set foot west of the Hudson; but, y’ know — we both were: I mean, I always liked boots and chaps and spurs and leather vests. And ropes; and – stuff. And he really liked me – in them.
The other thing he really liked was music, all kinds but ‘specially the music he wrote. So did I; once I learned a little. Once he taught me; a lot. First time I met him, he was playing; at the bar where O worked. Blues. Not that he had the blues — I was dark; Bobby, he was all light — just, he favored the music. Me, I grew up on C&W; moved to New York when I was 19 and didn’t know much of anything else, then.
But Bobby introduced me, to a lot of things. I guess you could even say: love. Being in love. I came home this one night, little while after I moved in with them, Olivia was there, dancin’. Not the kind she did at the club, but this slow, swayin’ kind, the kind I didn’t really understand. Bobby was playin’ his piano, and he just raised his one hand, real slow, to his lips. “O’s dancin’,” he mouthed, and he kept playing till he finished it, three or four times; and O kept dancin’. Big smile. On both of ‘em. And when he finished, they smiled at each other and he got up and came over to me.
“That’s for you,” he whispered. “Like it?”
“Yeah,” I told him.
“Good,” he said. “I hoped you would. I call it Cowboy Nocturne.”
And he put his arms around me and held me in this, kind of dance, kind of swaying. And Olivia, she danced around us.
“Like a cocoon,” he murmured. “My little butterfly.”
Course, he was the butterfly. His wings were his music, Olivia says. Yeah. And, y’ know, butterflies don’t fly very long. But he still – visits me. In the dark; and when I get darkest. I can feel him, his arms. We sway. And, I still got the music; his music; maybe it’s not the same. But I still got that.
Copyright © 2015 by Evan Guilford-Blake