Michael is a musical force in his own right, always was. The talent that made Von a sensation at 12 helped Michael stand out at 21.
Fresh off a run through Lincoln Park, beads of sweat still glistened on my forehead when I heard a voice. "Nothing against Louis, but Dexter Gordon's 'Go' is on sale if you'd rather have that."
I observed Michael's dark brown eyes, his fair skin. The wavy, mocha-colored hair and round, black-rimmed glasses. A charming smile spread across his face, revealing flawless dental hygiene. In the light of his fresh glow, I felt myself shrink like a wilted daisy after a storm. Everything about me, from the hairline down to the ankle socks, was damp. I allowed myself to go to Tower in this sweaty state because it was on my way home. I'd been prepared for a quick encounter with Louis Armstrong, not a meet-and-greet with a handsome record store clerk.
"I don't know Dexter Gordon," I said, avoiding eye contact.
"He's a saxophonist. 'Go' is a great album, and it rarely goes on sale."
I believed him, because it wasn't on sale. As a former Record Town employee, I'd become adept at identifying hot pink sale stickers. Dexter didn't have one.
"I'll give him a try," I said, taking it from him.
"Why do you have ink all over your hands?"
"The ink. On your hands."
Michael pointed it out for emphasis. I looked down, noting Kincaid's weekly bar specials scrawled in black Sharpie all over both my hands.
"Oh, that," I said with a laugh.
I explained how I wrote for Metromix. How someone had called to update their bar specials. How I couldn't find a notebook, so I wrote them on my hands.
"Naturally," Michael said with a smile.
I smiled too, but I was mortified.
He walked me over to the register, stood beside me.
"Aren't you going to ring me up?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't work here."
"I'm a musician, a drummer."
That's how I met Michael. That's how I learned who Von Freeman was.