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excerpt from my novel "A Series of Hopes"

November 14, 2008

Listen. Listen man, he told himself. Just listen!
Rudolph began the night with a single cigarette.
Exhaled. He twirled a cigarette in his left-hand fingers like a small drum stick, three complete rotations before he gently laid it in between his lips. Ready to smoke.
The night was on. Listen man, he thought. Catch that sound out there. He closed his eyes.
Lit the match with his right hand and brought it to his mouth for the union. He listened to the music, four speakers hung high, angled just right for his seat. Saxophone. It was singing pure sadness. Rudolf sang along inside. The two of them cried and sobbed and pleaded for something, some sort of release from the tension. He was hurtin.
All at once, the horn shifted its argument, the bubbling of a breeze, and Rudolf heard a woodwind laugh out loud. It was sadness turned ‘round. But inside Rudolf’s eyes there was a funeral with old ladies in their black veils and teary cheeks, children sitting proper in their seats. In the darkness he found a casket, open lid, and he saw himself inside dressed up in darkness, fake flesh lipcolor and temples, sad.
Shit. His eyes opened with an embarrassed jerk. Glanced around nervously but nobody was looking at him. He took a big drag off the cigarette, looked down to his bourbon and sipped.
Rudolf held the syrup in his mouth until his saliva dulled the burn, swallowed.

“Alright now,” the emcee coughed, cool as Coltrane, then slipped away, it was all he said, a bastardboy of the whole joint, alive and full of hype.
The piano player, Leon, who was moving his head wavy, back-and-forth, grab the tempo out of thin air, glanced to Melvin and Rudolf, and jammed his fingers into the keys. It was Monkhard, fast anti-melody, all ten fingers worked and spun off in opposite directions, invented a reality all his own, all his own heaphead madness.
Next, Melvin. Black hat down over his eyes, lowdown like a sunset, all you could see was the smoke rising from a glow somewhere down in his dark horizon. Melvin felt around, fondled ideas, spit up silver and flush it all back down until he relaxed into a straight line, gold man, gold, walking downtown then stepped back with one foot, rested on his hind leg. Balanced himself against the rhythm he gave to the room. He plucked four strings, such cautious drama, with his big left hand wrapped around the neck of the upright bass, matched each pluck on the high end up with his ear.
Rudolf slouched. Soon’s Melvin settled back into his real groove, Rudolf splashed the huge ride cymbal to his right, and bounced a wooden tip like a fury. His left hand beat another stick against the snare, oddtime, like back East. His shoulders never moved. He was all arms. The band was off, moving and punctuating everything with question marks, exclamations, and points beyond. Rudolf shook his head, clenched teeth bit sour, a wild pace and he knew there was something extra easy about the way they were playing. Not easy, no, this was fierce, but Rudolf was thinking it was just so damn easy. That night it was just so damn easy.

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