“You ain't never been blue till you've had that mood indigo. That feeling goes stealing right down to my shoe, while I just sit here and sigh... I'm just a poor fool that's bluer than blue can be, when I get that mood indigo, I could lay me down and die.” ~ Duke Ellington
When Bill Ward, of 'Mood Indigo' by Ken Batchtold, wakes up in the hospital, he can't remember anything, not even his name. Having no choice, he takes it day by day. He soon realizes that, although there are no memories he can call upon, he hasn't forgotten the skills he's learned and eventually gets a decent job as a book keeper. Even with the new friends he makes at his apartment building, Bill is lonely. He wanders into a jazz club one night, The Treble Clef, just to relax after a stressful day. Bill orders an Old Fashioned by instinct and settles at a table to listen to the band. Johnny Desmond, part-owner and band leader notices him and they lock eyes. Johnny is compelled to play 'Mood Indigo', and old blues song, because that's the way Bill looks, bluer than blue. When their eyes meet, it ignites a spark between them that almost scares Bill to death; he immediately gets up and runs out of the bar.
Bill tries to bury himself in his work, but can’t get The Treble Clef or Johnny out of his mind. He decides that if he doesn’t go back, it would drive him crazy, so one night after a long day at work, Bill returns. He sits at a table, drinking and listening to the music. When Johnny sees him, once again, he starts playing 'Mood Indigo'. Bill and Johnny exchange looks until Bill can't stand the tension any longer and leaves while Johnny gets distracted so he doesn't see Bill go. In a conversation with his friends, Bill finally admits that he is attracted to another man. He's also afraid of making any kind of commitment for fear that the person he was is drastically different from the one he is now. His friends try to convince Bill that people don't change that much and, if he really likes Johnny, he shouldn't let that keep him from pursuing him. In the meantime, Johnny's ex-boyfriend, Brad, comes back to cause trouble saying he made a mistake and wants Johnny back. Johnny tells Brad he doesn't love him anymore and doesn't want him back. Brad doesn't believe him but leaves for now, telling Johnny it isn't over because he always gets what he wants.
After his conversation with his friends, Bill is drawn back to The Treble Clef. Once again, Johnny plays 'Mood Indigo' for him. Things are going well until Bill's insecurities catch up with him and he tries to leave. This time, Johnny runs after him, puzzled but intrigued as well. He catches up with Bill and they go to a park to talk. Bill and Johnny talk a while about their reactions to each other and Bill's amnesia. They exchange contact information and agree to meet at the club sometime soon. Bill’s friends from his apartment building are anxious to hear about their encounter and he explains what happened. When Bill is alone again, all his doubts comes back and he decides to avoid Johnny. After encouragement from Gil, Johnny gets tired of waiting and takes matters into his own hands. Johnny has Bill's address, so he goes to find him. Bill's friends are delighted he's come and invite him for tea. This gives them the opportunity to get to know him. About that time, Bill comes downstairs. He's astonished to see Johnny. His friends give them time to talk. Bill and Johnny decide they will go forward with their relationship, but do so slowly. Bill and Johnny grow closer all the time. Then a dreadful phone call comes with Gil, Johnny's best friend, telling Bill that Johnny's ex-boyfriend has kidnapped him from the club at gunpoint and seemed extremely unstable. Bill rushes to the club to help Gil formulate a plan to free Johnny. Gill has a good idea where Brad has taken Johnny, so they rush to the location. When they arrive, they know they have to proceed with extreme caution. In Brad's mental state, they don't want to spook Brad or it could all end in disaster.
This is a good story, written in alternating point of views, with each chapter clearly indicating who is speaking. It's good to know what both men are thinking. The secondary characters, Johnny's best friend, Gil and Bill's neighbors and good friends are awesome. They added lots of depth and were wonderful in supporting Bill and Johnny. Bill's dreams were a good way of presenting Bill's subconscious mind at work. If you like stories about amnesia, Jazz, night clubs, second chances, drama, and angst, then you might enjoy this story. Thanks, Ken, for bringing Bill and Johnny to life and for the jazz history lesson as well.