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Jazz

by Whit Honea


Sometimes I get too drunk to write. So I dream of Paris. Outside hip-hop is jazz. The jazz of the 90's booming through my window. I love jazz. Jazz got under you, in you, worked you up, and whispered promises in the dark. Rap cuts to the chase. It picks up where jazz left off. It doesn't tease you with what you want; it tells you how to get it. Jazz is to rap what dreams are to reflections. I stand between. My reflection is a dream. This is a dream. Sometimes I get too drunk to write. Paris stinks of blood and wine, vampires and poets. Streets that used to breathe deeply through saxophones of pain and lust now breathe loudly through speakers of pain and lust. I like hip-hop, but I love jazz. I dream in jazz. This is a dream. Sometimes I get to drunk to dream. Even in Paris.

* * * * * * *

That morning began the headache. Being in Paris with a hangover does not entail the romance that one would think. Unless said one considers hostile women, cheap wine, and the myth of the baguette as romantic. In which case, same one would be Romeo among the slightly disappointed.

I'm more fool than lover, therefore I drown in Jazz. There are two types of jazz, there is the jazz that Charlie Parker made, and there is the Jazz that made him. I lack his talent, but I share his passions. Jazz is my Junk. There is an old world funk in my head, cloudy and stale. I'm too lazy for the pageantry of shooting up, so I roll a joint, sprinkle, and smoke.

Duke and I had been in France a month, and eaten at McDonalds every day. Sometimes twice. That is the epitome of America's give and take relationship with France; we give them hamburgers and they give us attitude. What have the French given us? Three things: wine, cheese, and a statue. Why the attitude? They curse us as fast as they can follow us. They have quite a Napoleon complex for a country that just gave itself to Hitler. What has America given them you ask? Jazz. Hard jazz, soft jazz, bebop, fusion, swing, big band, back room jazz. Jazz and Mickey Mouse, Rock and Roll and Jerry Lewis. BEGIN TANGENT- what the hell do they see in Jerry Lewis? He's nothing but a goofball closet drunk, rolling tympanis faster than he can sweat stain a tuxedo- END TANGENT. So other than Lewis we've given them our dreams, our Disney, our Jazz. The Nutty Professor, The Lizard King, The Mouse, and the Jazz. THE AMERICAN DREAM. Kentucky bourbon and jazz.


Back in America the image of Marion is superimposed into beer ads. John Wayne roles over in his grave and Duke boycotts Coors Light. Hence his appearance in this narrative. He needed a break from the degrading monster known as Coors, devouring American icons in the name of capitalism, all the while laughing at us and our plethora of silver bullets (consumers shoot blanks).

I came for my Jazz.

Took a weekend holiday in Amsterdam last week. Rode the train from Paris. Got stopped in Aulnoye at three in the morning. I had been sleeping on a guy's foot for two hours. Cops busted up the slumber party looking for passports. Everyone was fine except the woman whom they hassle. Nice woman, friendly, with shoeless stinky feet. Black woman. Bigotry is international. Fucking pigs are the same everywhere.

Woman turned out okay (twenty minutes later). She sang quietly the rest of the way as she put a stinky oil on her stinky feet with an oversized eye dropper.

Duke and I drank a bottle of wine and smoked a joint in the dark of our compartment. Through the window a herd of silhouettes grazed in a field, prompting Duke, "Do you suppose that people got mad cow disease because cows had mad grass disease?"

"Mad grass." I echoed. Mad grass as we rolled, twisted, and burnt our way into Amsterdam.

"What's the matter fellas? Don't believe Honest John?"

Honest John was the first person to approach us in the Red Light District. He had the body of a whale, the conscience of a cricket, and the dick of Pinocchio. Everytime he mentioned dick it grew an inch longer. He was the bluest fairy I had ever seen.

"Come on, just the tip. Three inches. Just suck three inches and I'll give you thirty guilders."

"No thanks Lying John."

"I ain't no liar, you ask anyone. Four inches, forty."

"Sorry Johnny."

"Five and fifty."

"That's a lot of wood." Duke answered. "We'll get splinters."

"I bet he doesn't even have five inches." I added.

"That is a lie! See!" He pulled down his pants. Two Americans and a naked fat guy in the middle of the street and nobody cared. "See, Honest John has large dick. I am a real boy!"

"You're a real jackass. Sorry, we ain't sucking." We started walking away when he offered me twenty to kick him in the ass. I gladly accepted, causing him to grasp his anus with a loud "Hee Haw" as he trotted down the alley.

"I should have sucked it." Duke said as we turned away.

"What? Why? We're not broke."

"Didn't I ever tell you about my grandfather?" No. "I should have sucked it to spite him."

THE STORY OF DUKE'S GRANDPA

Gene Sis was a painful boil on the face of society. His story is vile, disgusting, offensive, perverse, and immoral; and it is true. He's long since dead now, and he died in jail. Killed by a bunch of blacks, whites, guards and faggots. He had a way of uniting people. The salad tossing motherfucker. His friend, his only friend, told this story at the funeral. Needless to say, everyone left.

"Dirty old bitch, used to get these pretty boys, squawking flamingos, take'em up to his nest. Place fulla mattresses and magazines and shit, all covered in piss and boys. Pigs busted in, found him over a stiff one, grudge-fuckin himself in the ass with the grip-end of a screwdriver. They couldn't get him to stop until he came. All over one a them pigs shoes. He tried to lick it clean, but the pig kicked'em in the head.

Used to fuck them arab faggots 'till sunrise. Had to take'em from the west end so they could be seein Mecca, hard as mornin, risin and creepin over them hills. Sometime he just slit them arab's throat, cut em right there dead, and just out'a jokin, he'd throw them bodies ginst the fence, just as sun comes up. I'm recallin one time, I was sittin on a crate, or box, or somethin, don't fuckin matter I guess, anways, he already killed the two arab fruits, and was pointin his bare butt at the sun, screaming for Mecca to kiss his God fearin ass! You believe that crap? Talkin bout God, right after he got done killin them boys. Craziest shit I ever seen.

He say he like the smell a'hot urine, so I says to him,`then what you drinkin it for?' and he say that it taste like sex, and he's laughin good now, all doubled over, so I stands up and piss on him, and the old faggot don't even look up, just laughin over his belly enjoying the smell a'my piss.

He tol the judge that it ain't his fault he such a different kind. He say was God's plan for him, he doing what the Lord wants him to. Judge frowned,`You sayin God want you touchin boys, and killin their bodies all naked and bent wrong?'.

`Yes!' he shout, waving his fists, `That's what the Lord make me do, it's my callin!' He keep wavin his arms all crazy, `It's God's fault! It's God's fault! He never stop me, he wants me to.' He was cryin now. Strikin his fists at the air like he punchin the face a God himself, damn him all to hell cursin us like we are.

`When God comes back, how will I know him? Where did God go after tellin me his word? Can't say, I'm a sinner because I was told to sin. I been sinnin for everyone. Maybe you should stop lookin at me, and look within yourself. I'm the one who was told to sin. I'm doing it for you, all of you.' Now he pointin at the court, `I'm acting the word God. Dyin for your sins like his son before me. I will have salvation! I will have salvation...

When I was young, seen so many niggas hanged thought they grew on trees. Be walkin bout mindin my own, and see them naked black feet danglin like some over ripe banana. Bet I seen twenty of them boys, sure as I'm sittin here, just swayin in the wind. One time I stumbled on this poor sad bastard, he was hangin like the ones before, but someone had taken down his trousers and taken them off a souvenir. His groin as bare and bloody as some nasty whore in heat droppin her eggs all over God's green earth, I moved myself up closer to take a smell, flies buzzin and restin in his cunt. Then I notice his banana feet twitchin and I looked up into his sad ol'eyes, and the damn thing was still alive! I don't know why I bothered, but I climbed that tree and cut him down. He just lay there cryin, fingerin himself like a princess looking for a pee, so I says, `What the fuck happened to you?'. He just kept cryin, being in so much pain and all after somebody dug out his dick, I couldn't stand it, so I shot 'em dead. Kindest thing I ever did, he was sufferin so, and right then in those trees is when God spoke to me. `Gene,' he said. I mean I actually heard his voice with my ears, not inside my head with that stuff that you never know if it was God or just you puttin yourself on, but around me, above me. He says for me to end the sufferin, that I should go lower than the devil himself to find those in pain, and end their sufferin. I looked at the face of the person I just save, and I knew what God meant. I finally had myself a genuine plan. God's plan.'

IN COURT he said,`Whose this? My judge? No man is the judge of me. God is my judge. Only the Lord may pass me sentence.'

IN COURT he heard,`Well Gene, in this court the Lord will be played by the judge and a jury of your peers.'

IN COURT he replied,`There ain't no man my peer, you hafta go to the gates a hell, and face the damn devil himself if you gonna find me a peer. Your Honor? You ain't got no honor. I refuse to sit here being a pawn for this charade you all got goin. This court ain't no judge, no jury, and no executioner to the hand of God.'

Once he soak his dick in tuna can juice, get the cat to lick it up and down all sandpaper like. Nother time stuck a wad of Spam jelly in his ass, have the dog burrowin for it like an anteater striking the mother load. Man got all creative when it come to bein lonely."

"There was nobody left at the end of the eulogy. His friend was found dead, flowers in his ass, on my grandpa's grave the next morning."

* * * * * * *

 

"Yeah, you should have sucked it." I said for the lack of something better. Whether his story was true or not, it wasn't pretty. I didn't know what bothered me more, that it happened, or that it didn't, and he made it up. "Let's go to a sex show." I suggested.

Crazy. Fucking crazy. Wine bottles in orifices. Cucumbers plugging holes. Whole holes. Audience participation. Couples massaging the balls of Batman, his Batballs. The Batsack. Enough decadence for one day.

I stood in the shower, hot water dripping from my lowered head into countless waterfalls collecting again in the hair clogged drain. Water sliding all over my body, chipping away each word he had said, each piece of filth that he had uttered as it clung to my skin. Leaning under the faucet I watched the layers run into one thick stream pouring from the bottom of my ballsack, and I realized that I was staring at my dick, my balls, and I started throwing up, a mighty river amongst the waterfalls.

Duke stayed in Amsterdam to play Robin. Again John Wayne turned. I went back to Paris. I needed jazz.

I became a regular at La Bastide, a tight little bar with cheap beer and the music that I needed. It was stumbling distance from my flat in the Bastille, and there was always someone with Jazz.

At times I would let it burn in my lungs and watch the notes swirl in the fog around me. The funk was always in my head. Other times it would find me right in the vein, an express train to the soul.

Sometimes plain jazz was enough, and I didn't crave my Jazz, but those moments were short, and I would soon be riding the train.

Years ago, back in America, I wouldn't touch the stuff. It was finally a woman who got me hooked. Then it's always a woman, isn't it?

She got it in me, and before long I loved it more than I loved her. She was a convenience, a tool, no longer my desire, just a way to a means.

When they shot her I didn't even cry. I just emptied her pockets and ran all the way to Paris. I had to escape the rap.

Duke followed a day later to save me, but apparently his superpowers were better used elsewhere. Daredevil would never have put his Jazzed-up friend on a train to Paris so he could stay and suck cock. Daredevil would never suck cock. That's the difference between Robin and Daredevil. Robin smoked bone, and Daredevil had Jazz. God, I fucking hate Batman!

I stole money from tourists in alleys. My flat was covered for months, but my stomach and my liver weren't. The vein I fed through a woman, but then it's always a woman. A Scottish lass who danced for her fix. She fancied herself in love with me, and I gave her shelter for shelter. She always had me cloudy. My wonderwoman.

Didn't talk much. Fucked her if someone else wasn't. Acted tough a few times to collect for her. Sometimes she would fuck Johns in my bed while I watched. Sometimes I would sleep right next to them and dream, if I could. A couple of times a John would want me to join in, so I would take an end opposite him. I never crossed the line. I was no superhero.

Most nights I would drown alone at the bar and think about Duke. I would think how I could make a Batsignal, pierce the overcast sky, and bring him back from whatever cave he was hiding in.

I would think about his grandfather and his funk. What was it that could hook a man like that, turning him inside out, and have him swimming upstream. The man had no jazz. Perhaps he had too much rap. Maybe God was his Junk.

For the most part I would think about the girl I had loved, who had turned me onto Jazz. I loved her so much that I couldn't even cry. I would spend hours watching her face swirl in the fog, and I would try to remember her name.


Whit Honea writes: "My social life consists mainly of my fiancee Tricia, our dog Harley, our cat Norman, and an occasional cold glass of beer." He's a graduate of the University of Arizona, and has had work published at Poetry.com and the Story Exchange.

 

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