Writing Samples

“Close Enough for Jazz”

I remember the radio was playing the best song. Song, piece, work, opus, fake… whatever you call it in jazz. Anyway, Coltrane was blowing pure love through his sax. Pure love. Enough said.

Or maybe it was lust. Infatuation. A passionate friendship? Whatever it was, it was pure.

I drove on, my best friend sitting beside me, listening to the ambiguous relationship the sax was portraying so purely. My friend loved jazz, too, even more than I did. It soothed him, blissed him right down to a gentle chill-out. I loved watching that vexed look just slide off his face. Then he’d become all candy apple sweetness.

“You mind?” he asked, stuffing some pungent tobacco into a pipe.

“No,” I quick-fibbed. Lies don’t count if you don’t hesitate. I really wanted to crack a window, but I knew the white noise would spoil Coltrane. Better my lungs be polluted than my ears.

He lit up and sighed. Jazz and pipes. that was so him–steady as a slow strolling bass line. Me, I was more like an unstructured solo improv, or maybe the momentary chaos of a drum fill reluctant to return to the constraints of a measure.

Still, we fit.

There, in the smoky blue nightclub of my sedan, the winding dark road became the slow dance we weren’t sharing. If I could have looked into his eyes, it just might have been a romantic moment.

It was close enough for me. Carpe diem and all that.

“So… you wanna…?” I asked maybe too quietly, doing my best to blend my voice in with the syncopation of the piano. I wasn’t sure I wanted him to hear me as much as I needed to just get the question out. It had been like a crescendo poco a poco, building into this unresolved cadence screaming in my head for a dominant chord, an answer, some closure.

He was still for a long time, long enough that I figured I must have obfuscated my semi-question pretty effectively. He breathed through his pipe, sending up contemplative smoke signals.

“Alright.”

Oh! I wasn’t expecting that… didn’t think he’d….

The bass did a breakaway into a hot little solo.

And he had hesitated long enough that it couldn’t be a lie. Lies don’t have fermatas on them. No, he really did want it. And oh man, so did I. So did I.

Becca MacLean Lyman

Originally published in The First Line, Volume 2, Number 4, July/August 2000.

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