I entered a 300 word short story competition a few years ago, and although my entry didn’t get a place amongst the finalists, I always thought it was kind of cool…
The SAXOPHONIST by DAVID COYLE
The saxophonist is dishevelled. His clothes are unloved by someone else before he un-loves them further. His shoes are old. He doesn’t tousle his hair deliberately, his erratic lifestyle does it for him. The frantic way in which he cuts through the streets, as if pupated by jazz itself, makes everyone think him a little mad. Nevertheless, he makes it to the bar on the east side of town just in time.
Unclipping the silver clasps of his saxophone’s black case, he takes out his golden horn. The other musicians start; the snap of the drum, the rain of the piano, the roll of the bass. The audience watches on, drinking in silent admiration. Then, with the chunky valves at his fingertips and the moan of a dead generation on his lips, in his breath, the saxophonist unleashes the raunchy howl into the night.
Everything in his life is otherwise meaningless and off, but for this sole purpose; the breathing of summer’s heat into winter’s evening. For this, he is exact; a sly master, perfectly formed, no longer out of place. Seemingly without effort, like an insect that lives only for a day, he is precise and brief.
With light on him, and all else dim, he takes his listeners to New Orleans, a Chicago noir, back alleys, drunken sophistication, that apartment with that girl, one woman listening even finds herself thinking – “What is life but the enjoyment of sweet delusion?” – and then they’re back to the bar.
To see anyone as good at any one thing is to know that people can be fine.
The saxophonist then backs out of the light on the stage, out of the only environment he suits. He dusts off his jacket and his soul and fades away, never to be seen again.