Where new writing finds its voice
Short Story

Jazz Trick

Wayne H W Wolfson


The entire second set had been one of indifference on the part of both band and audience. Six songs and it was the only real collaboration to have occurred.

It was all over. I did not feel like going home, but despite being payday I had no money, settling up my tab so as to prevent Zippy from distracting me mid-set with his passive-aggressive coughing.

If I had known how things were going to play out, I would have waited a week, but at least now my credit was good again.

Zippy was not his old man, who had always been happy to let things slide as long as he was provided with things, something to see and add to his collection of tales.

An empty wallet and this temporary dread of being alone with myself conspired against me, she won. I called her from the corner phone booth, the one whose counter she had carved the heart into.

She won.

Annabelle, her life was a story without a protagonist with whom one could sympathise. Besides my horn and the girl who bagged my groceries, she was often all I had. Did I care? It varied, widely.

I got home, time to get ready. On the phone, her very lack of emotion showed me her excitement.

In an attempt to try to work a reverse voodoo, I had not cleaned up the place, often the surest way to run into someone who wants to come home
with you.

I look around. Hollow repository of desire, appetite. The bed-rumpled sheets littered with shiny blue dragonflies made up of disregarded candy wrappers. A quick scan of the clothes on the floor. What do I bring with me, what could I afford to lose?

I left my best tie at her place. She had pretended not to notice; she called it insurance, I called it laziness.

I almost thought of asking about it on the phone, but I preferred our fights to be more spontaneous. 

I looked in the mirror, the lighting was bad so I ran my fingertips across my cheek. Whenever I saw her, I was always at one of the two extremes.

I look in the mirror. Age takes away some of our characteristic features and over-emphasises others.

Tonight, often, I need music, her, me and a drink.

One last, fresh razor would allow me to continue the pattern. I turned on the hot water. I put the record player on the floor in the doorway. A magazine on the arm prevented the slope from affecting the play.

I was now in deep thought, carried away on the lush, anguished notes of ‘Body and Soul’.

I walk to her place, biding my time in hopes of some unknown. What had she expected of ‘us’? What did she want?

I sometimes liked staying the night, it had nothing to do with her. She lived above one of the many small cafés populated by the locals. 

Her open window, in the morning, small round tables. The old men and the click-clack of their dominoes, castanets upon the table. I found it peaceful.

Her need though, sometimes made me uneasy. There is enough hopelessness in the city without her trying to bed me from added motives, discussing what we would do in the future and why.

I look at the tape holding the corners of my horn’s case on. She had not been able to hide the emotions once we were face to face.

She kissed me, murmuring ‘Anything you want’ as she disengaged.

‘Pay me to stay.’

She may have gotten the answer she needed.

The tears upon her cheek, jewels reflecting a prism of colors. A king’s ransom paid off with a kiss. Annabelle, my broken promises, your blues, your blues, your blues.

She smacked me. She had seen in my eyes that I knew it was wrong and there was no danger in doing so. Then, again the kiss. The urgency of her kiss, a call to arms, we did not have enough time tonight for lies, so remained silent.

Her dreams fall, dirty sheet to the floor.

Sleep, the uneasy peace which can be broken at any time.

When I first saw her, she had been sitting on the lip of a fountain, an urban Venus gone to seed. Although it was not late, I had been burning copper all night and needed something sweet. 

I nodded with my chin, and she slowly got up.

Chocolate ice cream eaten out of a silver tulip dish. She ate with a hushed, melancholy intensity which moved me.

That was then. Now here we are. Her sleep breath had not altered, nor would it, if I put my shoes on in the hall. I crept out at first light.

When I could manage it, I liked to be out and about at this hour. Even though I knew better, it was as if everything was offering up the promise of a new start.

That was just until the people appeared though.