California Congresswoman Cynthia Kang gazed out the window overlooking Lennox Avenue five stories below. Last time she’d been in Harlem she watched horses the color of arctic drifts pulling a matching glass-walled carriage along that street. They’d clopped by carrying James Brown in a gold coffin. Men and women dressed for the bracing cold marched behind the procession. The whole of it was on its way to the Apollo Theater, where the Godfather of Soul’s body would lie on display before being shipped to Augusta for burial–or at least the fight over who had control of Soul Brother Number One’s body.
“Interesting,” Chet Kimbrough mumbled, checking the current primary polls now post the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire. He routinely skimmed various political sites on his PDA. He placed it aside on a round table he stood near and removed the lid of his travel cup. He swirled the coffee dregs as if portending the future.
Kang turned from the window. “What?”
“Your name came up on a blog in the context of a thread about Larry Craig.”
Irritated, Kang lifted an eyebrow. “Hey, I don’t have a wide stance.”
Kimbrough allowed a chuckle. “More speculation about your choices in partners, CK. ‘Fortysomething, never been married, no children…seemingly no permanent situation.’ ”
“Me and Condoleezza.”
Kimbrough remained silent while he sipped his residue.
Sighing she said, “Speaking of the departed.”
“I was reflecting on when we’d been uptown last and the impact Mister Brown had on music, his domestic situations, to use your word, notwithstanding.”
Kimbrough touched the screen of his crackberry. “You know JB and Pavarotti sang together on TV, right?”
“Indeed,” he assured her. “Can’t remember what the program was. But with full strings going, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business sang ‘This is a Man’s World’ in English, while the big tenor did his parts in, you know, opera.”
“It was all over the ‘net when Pavarotti passed. You didn’t see it?”
“I’m an ascetic, I can’t stand too much excitement.”
Kimbrough smiled crookedly. “Yes, like that time you were dating the baller. The younger man. The younger man with cornrows.”
“That’s good,” the Congresswoman said wagging her finger. “You gave it just the right amount of middle-American disdain.”
Kimbrough countered, “I know you don’t give a damn, CK, but it does matter who you’re seen with if you’re to have a higher profile than your district.”
“If,” she repeated, trailing off. She regarded a poster of little- known civil rights heroine Septima Clark. “Besides, when I was going out with Evan, I was bridging to my black constituents.”
“You don’t have any,” Kimbrough, an African-American, remarked. Her California Congressional district, comprising mostly parts of the San Gabriel Valley, was populated with Asians, with Chinese and Chinese Americans being the majority of those. There was a minority of Latinos, and a smattering of elderly whites left from the era when that area was saturated by the Dust Bowlers.
“I might one day.”
“Yes, that is so,” he agreed quietly.