277. The jazz trumpet sounded blue

The jazz trumpet sounded blue to Haskall Winton but then again, so did every other instrument since his wife left him penniless.

Haskall had been frequenting seedy clubs after midnight, when the crowds were rowdy, the whisky homebrewed and the music filthy. In the smoke-filled jazz holes he sought solace for his bitter heart but all he got was an extra portion of bile.

This night had promised more of the same when he stumbled out of the Marsalis Club a tooth or two short. Hiding from the deluge, he had ducked into a tiny bar he hadn’t noticed before. Judging by the clientele neither had anyone else.

The rye alcohol clotted the blood flowing from Haskall’s gums as dissonant trumpet notes reverberated against the naked walls and darkened the black thoughts running through Haskall’s head. Perhaps tonight he’d finally have that drink that gave him the courage to end it all.

“I’d recommend a gun,” a deep voice from the shadows at the far side of the counter spoke.

“Why would I need a gun?” Haskall asked.

“Don’t want to throw yourself off the levees. Chances are you’ll live. Forget about pills. Messy business. And a rope takes guts. Not the kind you have. So yeah, I’d recommend a gun.”

“You know where I can find one?”

The man shoved his hand into the light, revealing a revolver.

“I haven’t got money.”

“Consider it a gift,” the man replied, returning to the shadows.

Haskall checked the cylinder. It contained a single bullet.

The trumpet player sounded another fierce note as if to spur Haskall on, as the bartender refilled his glass with whisky of a markedly better variety.

This is why Haskall was proud to be a Southerner.

Here you could always depend on the kindness of strangers.



Did you enjoy this story? Then why not try the 101 stories in 300 words or less in YOU’RE GETTING SLEEPY, THE HYPNOTIST’S APPRENTICE YAWNED.

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10 thoughts on “277. The jazz trumpet sounded blue

  1. araneus1 says:

    that’s got an interesting edge

  2. FloridaGirl says:

    I really like this one! Great writing!

  3. thewriteedge says:

    Because I grew up in the south I can actually laugh at this. LOL!

  4. lorilschafer says:

    Wow. I mean, wow.

  5. William says:

    Heh. You’ve been down here before, haven’t you?

  6. Kate Loveton says:

    Classic last line, works so well as ending to this tale.

  7. I’ve been reading your stories for a while and have quite enjoyed them, but this one was especially outstanding. Words and phrases like “…but all he got was an extra portion of bile” are exquisite and deliver a literary punch of extreme satisfaction. For some reason, despite its somber ambience, this whole story delivers satisfaction. You mentioned once before if you compiled your stories into a book, would we (your readers) buy it. I don’t think I answered then but I will now — YES!

    Btw, how did you learn so much about New Orleans? Did you visit there once? Or was your intimate take on the dark side of the city derived from research?

    Keep up the good work!

  8. A slew of stories about suicide lately. This is pretty interesting.

  9. […] of these two stories do you like best? The one about the kindness of strangers or the tale of Peruvian blackmail? Let me know by filling out the poll […]

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