Sol stood alone, shivering despite the warmth of the midday sun. Valerie would have come if he'd asked her, but if he decided to go through with his plan, then this was not the way he wanted to say goodbye.
The reverend was still talking, though he had no idea what about. Sol had stopped listening when he realised he hadn't cried once all day. How could he not cry? Was there something wrong with him? Didn't he care at all?
Of course he cared; he was just numb. The tears would come later.
After a few minutes, he realised the reverend had stopped talking and was looking at him. Had he missed something important?
"Would you like to say anything?" the reverend repeated.
Sol took a moment. He wanted to say many things, but after a pause he just shook his head. In his mind, the woman who raised him had faded years ago; the woman who lay before him was someone else. A shadow.
When it was over, Sol made the long walk home at a slow pace. As he went, he retrieved a neatly folded piece of paper from his pocket. He opened it and read the advert for what must have been the fiftieth time that day.
Negro Musicians of America.
LAST CALL GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
IF you want to do your DUTY in this present crisis.
IF you are not in a Financial position to give your services to Uncle Sam as a private volunteer.
IF you Would serve Should you be able to make a Living wage for your family.
IF you are a First Class Musician.
IF you have dreamed of belonging to a Famous Military Band.
IF you have longed for the time you could devote All Your Time to your music.
IF you want to belong to a regiment whose officers are sparing no means to make their regimental band the Best in the World.
IF you want to be in a band that in the time of Peace will devote its time to Concert Tours.
THEN WIRE OR CALL
Lieut. James Reese Europe, care 15th Regiment, N. Y. Infantry, N. G,
Harlem River Park Casino, 127th Street and 2nd Avenue,
New York City
P. S. THERE ARE ONLY A FEW MORE VACANCIES LEFT,
AND THE REGIMENT GOES TO CAMP, SUNDAY, MAY 13TH.
SO HURRY! HURRY! HURRY!
Sol refolded the paper and tucked it carefully back in his pocket.
YOU ARE READING
Manhattan, 1929. The City is on its knees following a devastating crash in the stock market. Thanks to the Prohibition, criminals are making a killing off illegal bars while thousands of honest labourers can't find a single day's work. And in the Bo...