A Tribute by Jody Brooks
We went to your last concert, our grins purple with wine. The Crescent Street drunks stumbled from the theater, fireball drunk on the early show, angry because you didn’t play your signature song—their weekend lover—angry and swerving to their status cars through white pigeons rummaging for scraps.
We took our seats among the garish sequins of your fans—women in heels too high to walk, men watching the stage through their phones, unable to clap as the ceiling turned to twilight and the backdrop bloomed into kaleidoscope. Your shadow appeared, propped on a stylish cane, behind an ever-changing mandala, mystic and celestial.
Just you and a piano to make the stage feel small. Funk, jazz, pop, cream, nothing compares, and you stood up to dance only once—a sign, in retrospect.
You died on a full moon, the smallest of the year, a moon named after a flower, mauve and shaped like a star. Had we known, we would’ve celebrated louder, listened closer, gazed longer as you glowed beneath the fiberoptic sky.
The lights went down one last time and the lavender smoke led you back on stage. We thought about the fiery drunks from the first show, who booed and hissed as you left the stage. They never meant to cause you any sorrow. They didn’t know you were in pain.
We rose to our feet in the purple light, because we knew what you were singing about up there, and we raised our hands in joy while the moon waned across your slender back.
Jody Brooks’ short fiction has appeared most recently in Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Hobart, The Florida Review, and The South Dakota Review.