I know it’s been awhile – I’ve been working on longer pieces. Too long for this venue. Here, however, is a short short. It was inspired by a bridging exercise, but has changed quite significantly. Forever thankful for Langston Hughes’ “The Trumpet Player” for the inspiration and two unbeatable turns of phrase, although I incorporated them a bit differently. Enjoy!
Rocks glisten in an amber pool. Rocks that melt. Amber that’s liquified. Combined they’re both diffused, weakened. Over time the volume replenishes, but strength diminishes.
I drain it and order another.
The mahogany bar is worn russet. Smoothed by decades of wipe-downs. The gold-plate edges have tarnished the same amber sheen as the liquor. Muted, rounded, cool. Bellies and elbows need not fear. Splinters have long been eradicated. Sweat rings from cooling glasses disappear with one flick. So fast, I never quite catch it. Around me voices ebb and flow. Their dissonance is punctuated by short bursts of laughter, meltable rocks clinking, and the soda hose hissing. A saxophone croons in the distance, drowned out by the business of searching.
Ollie and Amy will be leaving soon. Each sip brings their heads closer together. They’ll be tonguing each other before long. Trisha, my champion, or captor, is currently bent on conquest. A compact blonde. Timid, but kinda cute. Amos is sounding off about Parker to James who wishes Parker were out of the picture. I’m on the corner, the outskirts. Present, but not really here.
I look down, unsure what else to do. This time the amber’s more viscous. Jerry must’ve taken pity on me – or been distracted. I shouldn’t have come. I want to go.
The music changes. A trumpet now. Two measures in my world stops, hitches, then starts again – altered.
The rhythm slams and jolts and murders me.
It’s ecstasy, distilled from old desire.
Silver-tongued, bright-eyed, incomparable.
Each rendezvous more heated than the last.
We yearned, we danced, we shimmered. But, passions fade, seasons change, the “cool”ness passed.
Eventually, she left. Or I did. The details have melted away. The longer we spent, we diminished. When a fire burns too hot, it goes out. Embers however, are different. Lying dormant, they flare at a spark. I didn’t know that tonight would be tinder. Liquid amber. Melting rocks. Trumpet. Out.