Five nights a week, Al Latta turns the Cigar Box into a hot spot

It’s His World 

Five nights a week, Al Latta turns the Cigar Box into a hot spot

Page 8 of 8

You don't bring me flowers anymore.

Earlier in the day, he played the members-only Kansas City Club at Ninth Street and Baltimore. After the set, he told his audience that he wanted to join the club, and someone agreed to sponsor him. He thinks it will be a good chance to make friends.

He's going to make an offer on a new home in Independence, he says. And he's planning to burn 200 more copies of his CD, Coming to America, an album of standards recorded at a studio in Belton. The original 400 copies have sold out.

"I got my act together," he says.

He pulls a bar stool beside a trim 24-year-old, her face framed in blond highlights, and leans close, telling her how he loves pretty women and how he loves Vegas and how he's a single father who flies to Vegas to see his only son and how he recently gave his son a cell phone to call him.

A few minutes later, he cues generic big-band backing.

"I wrote this song," he says to no one in particular. Stepping off the stage, he stands in the center of the room, eyes closed, one arm raised like a conductor's. He sings softly, mumbling words that are drowned out by cheers and banter around him.

In my life, the stars will shine ... and glow ... and my life ... my life, in our room ... in the summer of my life. And the time of my life went fast ... What do I say to my child?

The crowd watches him warily. No one has heard this tune or seen this impression. A guy in a chef's uniform bumps into Latta, but Latta's eyes remain closed. The waitress in the go-go boots -- the one who always turns heads -- squeezes by with another tray of glassware, but he doesn't see her.

The audience disappears. Al Latta is singing for himself.

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