Dinah Washington

1 11 2009


Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963)

Smoke filled her words. Fog filled rooms. Gentlemen prayed. Barbie dolls on their knees. The Dutch Princess Wilhelmina published. “Lonely, but not alone”. And Dinah could feel that hand. Flesh on her bones.

Thump thump goes the base line. The piano keys rattling. The beautiful negro singer. Opens her mouth. A butterfly on the end of a pin. Is it pain she feels? Or is it part of the show? Automobiles waited at the curb. Filling the air with song. And the taxis moved. Randomly through the avenues. Carbon monoxide is such a sweet drink. In the late afternoon.

Her voice was light. Drifted off. Into the damp evening air. Bounced off the sun. Dresses fell below bony knees. Promises were made. Kisses were laid. She placed the microphone. Between her parting lips.

Ladies and gentleman, I am an evil gal. I have been married 8 times. Who would have thought there were so many Sundays?

The far side of the moon was seen. For the first time. It was a great disappointment. Dinah was doing gigs in clubs. Detroit to Montreal. Playing piano in Sallie Martin’s gospel choir. Nikita Khrushchev was denied access. To Disneyland. Even when he offered to pay twice.

Dinah loved to wear mink. In the pouring rain. Some said that mink was her real skin. Sang from the heart. Sang from the gutter. A couple of 45-caliber pistols in her purse. And worse.

A bottle of sleeping pills. Lay sleeping at her side. “Sleeping Beauty” released. Some of the pills had escaped. Into Dinah’s empty stomach. Dr Leakey discovered the oldest human skull. 600,000 years old. Dinah was only 39. And what would Dinah have said? To the audience. Prisoners to her next breath?

So many evenings I wanted to die, but this wasn’t one of them.



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