Oh, you dont have to do that. I live very far away."
That doesnt matter," the doctor said. I dont have much to go home for. You see, my wife died in childbirth recently "
You poor thing," Branwyn said, placing a hand on his forearm.
Anyway, Eric, thats our boy, is usually asleep when I get home, and theres a nanny there . . . and Im not very tired."
Branwyn was taken by the doctors handsome Nordic features. He was blond and blue-eyed, and his smile was kind.
They drove down to Branwyns neighborhood near Crenshaw. He parked his silver Mercedes in front of her apartment building, and she said, Thank you so much, Doctor. You know, its a long trip on that bus at night."
There was a moment when neither of them talked or moved.
Are you hungry, Miss Beerman?"
Why . . . yes I am, Dr. Nolan."
She wasnt really, but the way the doctor asked the question, she knew that he needed company. A man losing a wife like that would be lost in the world, she knew.
There was an all-night place called the Rib Joint on La Brea, run by a wild character named Fontanot. He was a six-foot-seven Texan who smoked his ribs in the backyard of the restaurant and whose great big laugh could be heard from a block away.
Fontanot had a long face and sad eyes. He was very dark-skinned and powerful, in both his limbs and his will. At that time, the Rib Joint was very popular with the Hollywood set. Movie stars, directors, and big-time producers came there every night. They ordered Fontanots ribs for their private functions and often invited him to come along.
I aint got time for no parties," hed say, shunning their invitations. Make hay while the sun shines, thats what my mama always told me to do."
Fontanot did not fraternize much with the muckety-mucks from Hollywood. He laughed if they told a good joke, and he put ribs along with his homemade sauce on their tables.
When Minas and Branwyn came into the restaurant, sometime just before midnight, there was a line of at least a dozen parties waiting to be seated. Men and women were laughing and drinking and trying to get their names put ahead on the list. Minas hunted up a stool and put it against the jukebox so that Branwyn could get off her feet.
When Fontanot saw this simple gesture from the tiny window that looked out from his kitchen, he came out and shook hands with the doctor.
Ira Fontanot," the restaurateur said.
My names Minas. Minas Nolan. And this is Miss Beerman."
You two are in love," the sad-eyed giant informed them.
Oh, no," they both said at the same time.
You might not know it yet," Fontanot announced, but you are in love. Theres no helpin that. All I need to know is if youre hungry or not."
Starving," Minas Nolan said with a deep feeling in his tone that struck Branwyn.
Then come on back to my special table and I will serve you some barbecue."
To be seated at the special table was the desire of every powerful customer at the Rib Joint. That table was there for Iras mother and for his new girlfriend.
Minda, Iras sainted mom, said that her sons girlfriends were always new.
The lady hes seein might be with him for one birthday, but shell never see two," Minda would say through her coarse smokers rasp.
Other than that, the special table, set in the corner of Iras kitchen, usually went empty. When a famous director like Heurick Roberts would ask Ivy, the hostess, to give him that table, shed grin, showing her gold tooth, and say, If I was to sit you in there with Fontanot hed skin ya and clean ya and slather yo ribs wit sauce."
Copyright © 2006 by Walter Mosley
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