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This part of town, you couldn't take a step without walking bumping into either someone looking to hear good music, someone looking to play music for some cash, or someone looking to just dance.
Giovanni actually was happy in mostly listening and a bit of the drink. He found a rather non-descript club that he was rather fond of visiting since he had come to D.C.
It wasn't too swanky, and far from a dive. With good service and clean glasses, and music most folks came to dance to.
But Giovanni wasn't much of a dancer, so he was the only one at the bar, his long legs strechted out. His grey slacks covering two stools across infront of him as he watches the bar. He hadn't yet gotten a drink, but had a cigarette he was just lighting. He had come to know most folks around here, and gave a simple nod as folks walked by.
"He buddy get you a drink?" The large bartender said, with a broad smile. Big white teeth contrasting on ebony skin.
Giovanni didn't answer quite yet, as he eyed the band.
A woman of average height, with lustrous reddish-brown hair and an ivory complexion stepped into the club. Her hair, instead of the fashionable shoulder length, fell in soft curls to her mid-back, and she moved with unassuming grace. She was considered by most to be attractive, but her large blue eyes were truly beautiful.
Tess loved good music, to listen to, to dance to, and tonight she was in the mood for jazz. Not knowing the city made her search something of a hit or miss proposition, but the woman was rather pleased with the look of this place as she entered. With a little luck the music would be decent as well.
Tess slipped off her raincoat and draped it over her arm, revealing the gentle curves of a slim, athletic figure beneath. Living the life of a university student, Tess did not have much of a wardrobe for dressing up, but managed to look presentable if not fashionably decorative in a silky cyan blouse and navy skirt, with black pumps. But then she was here to enjoy the music, not to impress the male populous.
Tess made her way to the bar, pleased that there was plenty of room to sit, as there was only one other person at the bar. She chose a bar stool and ordered a Rum Swizzle. Then she flashed a polite smile at the man who sat a couple of seats over, noting that he was rather attractive, before she turned to give the band a gander.
Giovanni finally answered the bartender, but still had his eyes toward the band as the lady walked in, "Should probably let the lady order first, huh Dibs?" He said with the cigarette in the corner of his mouth.
He pulled his legs off the bar stools slowly and smoothed his slacks. As he spoke a bit of ash fell onto his black shirt. It was simple t-shirt, but it was obviously brand new. Giovanni liked black t-shirts, especially with this pair of pants. Whatever was in mind when Hanes made the size 'large' shirt, Giovanni was quite pleased because it fit him quite well, better than buying button-up or a tailored shirt, and whenevered he combined the slacks and t-shirt though he was rather casual, everyone asked if he was going out.
"Cripes," Giovanni said under his breath but audible enough as he carefully picked the ash off his shirt. He got it removed well enough and just shrugged.
He stood up and reached along the bar and stretching his arm so that it his hand was near the woman, but it went behind the bar and grabbed an ash tray. Which he set his cigarette in.
"Pardon me." He said while he did so. His voice so far didn't seem out of the ordinary but when he pardoned himself, it suddenly became heavily accented. Obviously Italian, not surprising with Giovanni's dark olive skin, and black hair.
"Dibs, can I get Southern Comfort," he spread apart his fingers to show how much, "annnnd Coke, this much." He said with is thumb and index finger not spread nearly as far apart.
Getting his drink he sipped on it, and listened contently. After a bit he tilted his head as in thought, then he tapped the bottom of the ladies barstool getting her attention. His legs easily making the stretch.
"Hey, you been here before? Just askin' I've been comin' here almost two years now? Don't think I've seen you before. I usually sit here by the door so..." He paused for a bit. "Are you here to dance, 'cos those shoes, if you're gonna dance the night away, hats off to ya. Well, I guess," He grabbed his fedora off the bar and placed on his head, then removed it purposefully with a little nod, "there ya go. Sorry, I said, just askin'." Giovanni again paused but a little more awkward this time. He grabbed his cigarette from the tray and inhaled in falsely bobbing his head then exhaled through his nose.
Ah, shit, name.
"Sorry, the name is Giovanni." There the accent came right back, he wasn't hiding it, more as if he was losing it or never had much of one. "You can call me, Johnny, though, so people can't get their name around the former."
Damn, you're an ass.
As the fellow reached over the bar, Tess turned her attention back from the band to the man. She smiled as his apology and then accepted her drink from the bartender, enjoying the music.
Tess smiled again when the man addressed her, and, stifling a chuckle, replied, �This is my first time here. I just arrived in town. Fortunately, I just came for the music. And you�re right about the shoes,� she laughed, her blue eyes shining.
Italian American and quite handsome. What a promising combination, Tess mused. Then he offered his name.
�Nice to meet you, Johnny. I�m Tess,� she replied, not bothering to provide her full first name. Only her mother called her Tessalee these days.
�So you�re a regular here. Seems like a nice club,� the woman observed in a friendly but not flirtatious tone, as she sipped her drink.
"Yeah, yeah." He said sipping his drink. "Dibs the bartender actually owns it, the old owner willed it to him, not to long ago." He said in a slight whisper. "He actually hired the janitor, an old friend, to pose as the owner--he's white, and Dibs didn't want any trouble, ya know...because he's colored." He slid across one of the barstools between to share the gossip, and rolled his eyes concering the last part.
"All the regs, know it, but ya know don't speak it." He said with a genuine smile. Hard to tell if Giovanni's smiles were honest, he had fuller lips, so he didn't have one of those toothy smiles.
Giovanni stomped out his cigarette in the tray, and reached for another, "You want one?" He placed them on the bar between them. "You're gonna go with Johnny, huh." He said smiling while lighting his cigarette. "I'm sorry, but the accent I put on it is bred into so, I make so much harder than it is. G-O-von-E." He said slowly trying not to accent it. But ended up laughing at it. "Mmm, yeah," He exhaled through the side of his mouth to avoid blowing smoke in his and waved it away from her. "It's like people who speak another language, ya know, like spanish. Even if they just learn for few years, they never say, Day of the Dead they say...huh--my minds a blank--but yeah, they say with it's spanish name, and with an accent if they know the language well."
Giovanni turned his head away, and carefully ashed his cigarette, and looked back with a bit more of a sidelong glance and a grin, "Sorry, I'm rambling. But I went to school to learn how to say a lot with out saying anything at all: Political Science. I graduated, and was going to graduate school at Paul H. Nitze-- School of Advanced International Studies. Ran out of money, to put it one way. So, I thought maybe try the musician thing."
"You're not good." Dibs said as he bustled by.
"But I ain't bad." Said back to him as he was getting out of ear shot.
"Ya should go back."
Giovanni shook his head and turned back to Tess, "Love that guy. I should, my pop says the most dangerous thing is a mind partially educated. Nah, but I ain't dangerous, don't get that idea. I cried a couple times while reading Gone With The Wind, but not the movie though, I thought that was drivel."
"Sorry, babbling. So, Tess, what do you do?"
Tess listened as the man spoke, wondering why it was that people always found it so easy to confide in her. Not that that bothered her; in fact, she enjoyed it.
She quirked an eyebrow at Giovanni�s reference to Dibs� being black and was surprised that it might be a problem. Things were more liberal in Canada, where the man�s colour would not bother people as the owner of such a place. Some might even expect better quality music from a joint with a black owner, oddly enough. Tess smiled sympathetically as Giovanni rolled his eyes.
As he offered a cigarette, Tess shrugged and replied, �I�m ok, thanks.� She did not really like smoking. It was a habit she felt she had to assume around her colleagues; another attempt to fit in.
She chuckled as he commented on her choice to use his nickname. With her love of languages, Tess would just as happily have called him by his given name.
�Giovanni is a very nice name,� she replied, pronouncing the name with ease. �I�m happy to use it, if you prefer.� Again she smiled, as she brushed a stray lock of hair back from her face. She knew that he was thinking of el D�a de los Muertos, but there was little point in mentioning it. The woman did not want to appear the know-it-all her colleagues often claimed she was.
�Do you speak Italian?� Tess asked. She herself spoke Spanish at least well enough to get by as a tourist, but she hoped to learn other languages as time went on. Still, this was not the time or place for academics.
When the man joked about the nature of studying politics, Tess laughed. Certainly, this would be the city for such pursuits, although she had no interest in them. She was surprise then to hear him say that he was a musician, and she could not help but laugh at Dibs� quick wit and Giovanni�s retort.
�A student of politics, turned musician?� Tess asked, intrigued, her blue eyes reassessing Giovanni and wondering which roll would better suit the man. It was too soon to tell.
�Me?� she rose from her reverie at his question. �I�m an archaeologist. Starting my Masters at George Washington U.� Tess shrugged as if it were not big deal, which, or course, it was. Yet, somehow in social situations, it was a deterent to company and conversations. Most guys just were not interested in a smart girl.
"Speak Italian? Oddly enough, no...well not really. I don't speak it so well, I understand it better. My parents spoke english around me more than anything. ...Wanted me to seem more American?"
Giovanni shrugged his shoulders and looked at Tess in an asking way, "So, I don't know, did it work?"
"George Washington, hmm. I knew a friends that graduated there, and a lot that didn't. But not a single archaeologist--they were all married." Giovanni nodded his as if deep thought. Then shook his head with a slightly embarrassed smile. "Wow, that was a terrible joke."
Giovanni tapped his sneakers on the ground quickly, "So, yes, I don't really know what an archaeologist does though. Is diggin' around findin' bones, pottery and gold, and that about it? Because if so I should have signed up for that gig."
Tess laughed and replied, �Well, I�m probably not the person to ask. I�m Canadian,� she explained, smiling warmly.
She then groaned at his joke about archaeologists, but her expression, particularly in her eyes, showed that she found it humorous. Even so, she agreed, �Yes, terrible, but true!�
�The digging�s just a small part, unfortunately. The rest is research and writing,� Tess explained. �But actually, I love it.� The gleam in her eyes confirmed the truth of her words, as she looked at the man beside her.
She wondered where his passion truly lay. It was something that Tess had discovered within herself quite easily, but she knew that hers was a rare experience. Many never found theirs at all.
�If you could do whatever you wanted, what would it be?� she asked Giovanni, leaning her chin in the palm of her hand, elbow on the bar.
"Oh, that question!" Giovanni said laughing at the 'anything you can do question'. He grabbed his fedorea and placed it on his head covering his yes. "Mmm, you know I love what I was studying too, and obviously to do tell, it's obvious." He took off the fedora again, "Well, intellectual being a political advisor would give me the intellectual needs of my life right, but damn, I would be happiest."
Giovanni inhaled deeply on his cigarette, "So, alright, don't jump to conclusion on this answer. I would be a succesful musician--but not like The Duke, and I don't want my name next to him. And not like these guys, who mostly for hobby. But in the middle right? Where you play good music, and make enough money where you aren't ever set for life, and never really famous...unless someone hangs around clubs you play it, savy that? Besides that, a lady who thinks I'm a god and I think she's a goddess, a pretty little bella, it would be nice if she was italian, but it doesn't matter that's just me exploiting the hypothetical situation."
"But, you, you are set, you have found what you want to do? I always want a little more limelight, ya know he said with a smirk, and then finished his drinks. "So, where do you wish to...have a dig at--that the right way to say that? Find lost treasures in the middle east, amongst those booby-traps, and the like, or maybe South America, find some culture no even knew about?"
She listened, watched him, as he made his reply. Tess had never wanted fame, but she understood what it was to want to be successful enough at a career to be respected, but to still have something to work for. After all, from the pinnacle there is only down, and that thought did not appeal to Tess at all.
�I think I get you, yes,� the woman answered thoughtfully.
As far as family went though, that was an area Tess gave little thought. Men could have a career and a family, because they had wives to take care of home and kids. That was obviously not an option for a woman. It seemed to be a one or the other proposition, and Tess had chosen a career.
A far-off look filled Tess�s blue eyes as she pictured the places she longed to explore. Her voice sounded slightly dreamy when she answered Giovanni�s questions.
�I believe I have. I want to work in South and Central America, but particularly in South America, east of the Andes. Dense jungle. Dangerous animals. Insects the size of birds. And lots of secrets to discover.� Tess cast a sideways look at Giovanni that told him that she knew full well that it was not nearly so romantic as her tone made it all sound. Then she chuckled. �No, seriously, I do hope to work in South America, despite the� challenges. And who knows, maybe I will discover a lost civilization some day.�
"A lost civilization, now that would be something. I always knew some folks never asked for directions, but a whole society, now that is something. Hopefully, you can give them a ballpark idea on where they are."
Giovanni nodded, "Yeah, that would really great of you."
Giovanni, finished his drink and chewed on some ice, "So, do you have a plan on when you are heading out?"
Tess laughed. She considered making a comment about it having to be a civilization run by men, since men never ask for directions, but thought better of it. Instead, she took a good sip of her drink, her blue eyes dancing with merriment.
�I shall do my best, just as soon as I learn their language,� the woman quipped. �Mind you, that could take some time�, but then I�m not exactly booked up in the near future,� she added, laughing again.
�In search of a lost civilization?� Tess went on, in response to Giovanni�s question. �Not really. Maybe a couple of years from now. Until then, it�ll be more well-charted lands that I visit, I expect,� she admitted with a sigh, although her smile did not entirely fade. �It�ll depend on the department for the next year or so, I would imagine,� Tess explained.
�I wonder how long it�ll take this bunch to realize that I don�t have to be protected and pampered and kept out of the dirt and all?� she speculated out loud, more to her glass than her companion, her voice betraying a hint of the vast irritation the thought actually conjured within her.
Then she looked up at Giovanni again, her smile returned, and asked playfully, �I don�t really look like some shrinking violet, do I?�
"Well," Giovanni said nodding for refill, "we have been here for fifteen or twenty minutes and you seem about the same size to me. And you have more a peach and rouge quality to your color as opposed to some shade of purple, so I am inclined to say no."
Giovanni nodded to himself, "I know the feeling about graduate school, I mean, the second I found out that after I graduated I wouldn't be president, I was out of there."
The tall Italian lit a cigarette, "Nah, probably best to start slow, then to get overwhelmed. That can really burst a ballon, ya know. I'm sure they'll stop carrying you around like a gentle flower, once they are positive that you are not. For all they know, you may just be."
Giovanni lit a smoke and thought for a second, "I'm a bit of perfectionist myself, so if my first assignment was to find the City of Atlantis, and I didn't I would still be upset."
Tess laughed at Giovanni�s literal interpretation of her words and then his joke about graduate school. He had a quirky sense of humour that appealed to her.
�Well, it took awhile, but I finally got through to most of my professors at U of T�, that�s the University of Toronto, sorry,� she added the clarification, just in case he was unfamiliar with the abbreviated name used by students and alumni, which it was likely he was not.
Then he spoke of Atlantis and she laughed again, replying, �Now that�s an interesting subject. There�s an archaeologist in Greece that thinks he�s found it. A man named Marinatos. I wouldn�t mind meeting him someday, although I�m not sure I agree with his theory.�
�But I understand exactly what you mean,� Tess added, finishing her drink and signally for a second. �I don�t like to do things by halves, especially when I feel passionate about something.�
Giovanni raised both his eyebrows, "WE'VE FOUND THE LOST--AH--THE CITY ATLANTIS!" He told the whole club his hands in the air, mostly drawing odd stairs and laughs from those he knew.
"I really have to keep up in the news--aside from politics. I'm sure you will met this fellow you talk of some day." He sighed slightly and looked down thinking, "I am rather sure that the majority of the people in your feild are male. I am sure they will be quite willing to...share professional tricks of the trade...I mean out in some jungle or desert for months. I couldn't do it. I can't stay out this place for days let alone months."
"Don't take this the wrong way, or being brash, but...as a young man, I do enjoy seeing a young woman every now and then. So, if I was digging in the dirt for months, you would be a welcome sight."
Tess laughed at the man�s audacity to make such an announcement in such a place. He really was fun to spend some time with.
Then he spoke of the men in her field and her smile turned to a wry grin. The men tended to want to coddle her, court her, or cheat off of her work. Their ideas of sharing all seemed to be for their benefit alone. Still, Giovanni was right; the solitude of an isolated excavation site could be a lonely experience.
Then she found herself laughing once again.
�Well, to be honest,� Tess replied, a playful glint in her large blue eyes, �I would like to think I might be a welcome sight a little sooner than that.� She quirked her eyebrows at him, wondering how he might response to what was could easily be interpreted as a flirtation. In fact, it was practically fishing for a further compliment.