Tag Archives: jazz

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.

 

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176. Sax ad, noun

Sax ad, noun: personal ad that disguises itself as something equally fun and freewheeling but rather less lurid.

The word was printed on page 2,954 of the Oxford English Dictionary – and thus had some credence to it – yet it was a phantom, inserted for the specific purpose of tracing blatant plagiarism in other dictionaries.

So it was quite a surprise to Averick Ghormenghoul, literary phenomenon and main OED contributor, to come across the word during his daily rummage through the tabloid back pages, in a bland typeface, undistinguishable from the personals that surrounded it:

‘SAX AD – woman (27) looking for man to jazz together. Age irrelevant, mastery of instrument paramount. Experience a plus.’

The ad read like a joke yet seemed serious as well. Averick was rather curious: why would a 27-year-old place this ad in-between dozens of overtly less cryptic ones? And what kind of man would react? He wanted to find out desperately.

So he picked up the phone and dialled the number. At the other end of the line a hoarse yet youthful voice replied.

“I’m calling about the sax ad.”

“You feel like jamming?”

“I do.”

“You have a sound instrument?”

He did. He’d been playing saxophone since he was eleven. If that was what she meant.

“Be here at nine. You got a pen?”

Averick scribbled the address down. It was in an upscale part of town.

“Will there be other … jammers?”

“Just you and me. You did get that from the ad, right?”

She hung up before Averick could answer. He was still none the wiser, though he had an inkling.

At half past eight he left the house.

His saxophone never left the patio cupboard, but Averick made some beautiful jazz that night.

 

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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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