“By the time the singer appeared, the house was full. Arlene Gray stepped elegantly on the stage and approached the microphone, one hand moving in time with the music, the other resting against the curve of her hip. There was warm applause. Light-skinned and full-figured, she wore a black, strapless sheath with sequins that sparkled in the house lights.
She looked like a diva, but her voice was delicate, almost shy. She opened with “Willow Weep for Me”. Six years ago, when he was courting Fay, it had been the torch song for a generation. Irene Taylor had the hit, a big, show-stopping number with orchestral flourishes and quavering grace notes.
But Arlene Gray’s version was low-key and off-center. She sang as if speaking to her audience, and the phrases moved gently and rhythmically, like the sound of lapping waves.
Whisper to the wind and say that love has sinned
Left my heart a-breaking, and making a moan
Murmur to the night to hide its starry light
So none will see me sighing and crying all alone.
The sad music washed over him. Unused to whiskey, he grew maudlin. He thought of Fay. A lost cause. Solving the case wasn’t going to make any difference. It would land him the job with her old man and make him a shitload of dough, but none of that mattered. She might stay with him for what he could give her, but she hated something inside of him.
Something that wasn’t going to change.
He drank his whiskey. Let Mickey get the dirt on her. Let him find out the worst.
At the end of the set he moved unsteadily to the bar. He ordered a double. The bartender was brisk but deferent. He wiped the counter with a cloth and set the drink on a beermat.
“She’s something, huh?” Emmett said.
“Yes sir. M’s. Gray, she know how to sing.”
— Excerpt from REACH THE SHINING RIVER by Kevin Stevens
Available here: http://viewbook.at/reachtheshiningriver