The Murder of a Jazz Musicain
Chapter 2The time is now closer to the present, about ten years, and that thief is still at large, but no one cares about a past event about a man that meant nothing to him on them. Instead a pudgy bartender of Italian ethnicity with a thick handlebar mustache in a crusty apron throws coldwater on a familiar stench, the reek of alcohol, stained in the clothes of a drunk with Caucasian features, who slumbered over night. As if the water was a trigger, the 6 ft drunk gets up. His burning skin is now freezing, he breathes in a hasty manner though, as if he was in the boiler. The bartender doesn’t give a damn though, to him he’s just another drunk to stink up the place, as if he smelled better.
“Hey buddy this ain’t no hotel,” he pestered, despite his size is much smaller compared to the drunk, showing as much sympathy as the hair on his bald head. The drunk ignores him; instead he checks inside his sport jacket and makes sure he still has his wallet.
“Did I pay the tab?” the drunk asks thinking about his strange dream, one about some guy robbing a musician in a lounge, ice water dripped from his thick brown hair. The peevish bartender only wondered about the drunks comment. Then he opened his mouth, a stench far worse than the drunk’s came out.
“Yeah you did but you better leave a hell of a tip.” The drunk pulls out a crusty fifty from a leather wallet. The pugnacious bartender snatches the bill. He twirls one end of his long mustache with his index finger, while the other hand held the bill high into the light, making sure he sees Grant’s ghost on it. The bartender starts to feel a bit of disappointment, he’s been dying to use his new shotgun for months now ever since that bank down the street was robbed. His gun is probably not registered, but the drunk doesn’t care, he should though. No, instead he just fastens the strap on his holster and makes sure his badge is still on him. Yes his badge, all homicide detectives have one. Detective Alfred Holmes grabs a beer bottle that was near him, doesn’t even know if it’s his, but he chugs the booze down his throat just the same. The cold liquor burned his throat, and soon his liver. He still thinks he could handle it; after all he’s only thirty-three yet the bags under his eyes make him look forty.
He walks through the door. Then the pain hits him, like a bullet, like Mike Tyson punched him in the face. Funny thing is it’s not the drink, nor is it his health. No, it’s the shrilling noises of daily life in the city. It filled his ear drums, like they were the drums of ZZ Top’s Frank Beard, and he was in the middle of a solo. Oh how he dreaded the noise, those car engines roaring, those jerks honking, and the yelling, oh the noise. Then there’s the people walking down the street, stomping their heels into the cement, reminiscing of a past they both witness to each other. Then others let their cell phones ring; they let the music blast out of their ear buds so loud even the deaf could hear. But wait, there’s another noise, something calm and soothing, yet loud and rapid. What is this music? It sounds like a piano. No, it’s a key board, didn’t know a keyboard could make such a noise. The he sees the man playing, a man of Negro descent who has aged much over time and yet he plays with such energy. He plays his keyboard like it was a drum, like Jerry Lee Lewis. No Old Jerry played rock, not him, this is Jazz, and not the smooth kind either. This is different, the man played in a cheap Stafford suit, and shades you could find at any Wal-Mart, and played music that cannot be played again without him, for he had not a single album published. Yet Holmes only gets closer to the man, as if the man was Cee Lo Green. The black man only smiled at him.
“I see you like my music mista,” he says with an immense grin.
“Who wouldn’t?” the piano player only laughs at the comment, with much agreement.
“Zat’s sir, zat’s true. Even those kids inta’ that pop crap like my work,” he says it without breaking a sweat, and yet he still plays loud, and rapid in this style that’s all his own. All it does is make Holmes more fascinated by him. Then Holmes sees the cheap bucket under the keyboard with a cardboard sign that says tips. Holmes pulled out his wallet, only a crisp twenty laid folded inside, and Holmes regrets giving the fifty away. He placed the twenty into the bucket and walked off.
“Thank you Mr. Holmes!” the old man said in such delight because of this generous sight.
“My pleasure, wait how did…” Holmes turned around to see him, but he was gone, not even his keyboard and stand was there, even his tip bucket was gone. Only a crisp twenty lay on the cemented floor. It blew over toward Al’s feet. I need to quick drinking, he thought; Holmes picked the money up, and then ruminated for a moment. I couldn’t have imagined it all; I can’t just imagine music in my head, especially music I never heard of, could I? Hell, Beethoven did it. What if I did hear it but I didn’t remember it? He scratched his head, pondering more about this unusual event. Then the previous thought I need to quit drinking, came to mind and he left it as that.
The twenty was still in his hand. It was all he had, and this wasn’t enough for him, even if he did decide to quit drinking. There was an ATM across the street. Luckily it was a Worthington Bank ATM, where it’s cheaper. He walked over there and placed his debit card into the machine. He saw their logo nailed above the blue screen, with the phrase “Old Fashion Bank Means Old Fashion Values” engraved underneath. Sixty bucks came out in tens. He grabbed them and placed it in his wallet. The money would last him a good three weeks, if his car still had plenty of gas in it, and if it doesn’t he has plenty in his account, yet he felt uneasy.
Despite of all the noise on the streets, he heard another, moaning and groaning, a quite faint voice, but one none the less. He took two steps to see the alley entrance and the sound grew louder, not by much but louder. He saw blood on the cement, in the form of a trail, continuing beyond his sight. He takes a step into the alley, slowly pulling out his .44 magnum. The moaning is dying off, yet he gets closer to it, following the blood trail. The cold steel of the gun gets warm; his heart begins to pound, as if it was going to burst like a melon target. He stops and places his back against the dull white brick wall, near the intersection of a back alley. He only hears heavy breathing, like a sleeping drunk who had ice cold water poured on his face, but the idea of who is on the other side stresses him. Sweat began to form on his face; then a drop hit the cement, such a small splatter wouldn’t but to him it felt like ZZ Top is playing on his eardrums again. The hammer of a revolver went down; Holmes rolled into the new alley and cocked his gun in one fluid motion. He was ready to pull the trigger, but his opponent wasn’t. Heck he couldn’t. The opponent just continued to bleed from the chest, with his hand pushing on the wound. He slowly turned his head towards him, as if it was a struggle. His round nose seemed broken, and his right eye was black and swollen, with a red dust under it, while his other eye stared at Holmes with relief.
“Sir, are you alright?” That’s a stupid question, yet Holmes still said it while he placed his piece on the ground and took off his jacket. The victim opened his mouth but the only the low pitch sound of half a toad’s croak came out. He coughed up blood and then looked back at Holmes.
“You really need an answer?” his voice was one of a heavy smoker. Blood continued to leak from his mouth. He lifted his other hand, showing his .38 revolver. “I got this baby to defend myself and I didn’t even get to use it.” Holmes tried to put his jacket on the man’s wounds.
“No,” the man said, in a voice calmer than Holmes. “I got no reason to live, you would too if your best friend died.”
“I’m sorry to hear it but we need to-”
“Don’t give me that shit, Chuck Luis, my friend-” he pointed to the alley wall behind Holmes. There was a red sign on the brick wall with the words “Chuck’s Jazz Lounge.” “-died and his killer smacked me in the face as if his fist was a brick and then he shot me.”
“He did hit you hard, who is he though?”
“I don’t know; it was dark, that’s all I can say, but take this,” the man lifted his bloody hand and placed a roll of film on Al’s hand.
“Is there a problem sir?” a patrol officer, towering at seven feet, and muscles bigger than Rosanne, said in a manner most unpleasant, “any drinking trouble perhaps?” Holmes stood up, picking his gun off the floor as he does so. “Yeah I’m talking to ya tough guy, you put that piece back down where it belongs.” Then Holmes just faced him. That pugnacious attitude disappeared. “I’m sorry Holmes I-I just-”
“Save it Rick, you stuck your big chin too deep this time. This man just got shot and is bleeding everywhere so could you-”
“What man,” Rick interrupted. Holmes only looked at him, bewildered to a state almost as big as Rick’s.
“This guy right-” There was no man. He looked back at the floor, no blood. What the hell is happening? He thought.
“Have you been drinking?”
“It’s seven in the morning! Who the HELL drinks at this hour?!”
“Sir, I gonna’ need you to calm down.”
“Don’t get formal with me!”
“Holmes, I’ll get rough if I have to.
“Alright, alright, sorry I yelled. It’s been a weird day for me.”
“But it’s only seven?”
“Then it’s going to be a long day.”
“FREEZE!” A rookie cop, one of short stature, about five feet, and hair red as that big dog Clifford; ran, no, loped forward, with an itchy trigger finger on his nine millimeter.
“Bobby put that pea shooter aw-”
“No Rick, I wanna’ make the arrest this time.” Damn TV dramas, I swear cops these days join for all the wrong reasons. Holmes thought as if he was a hard ass veteran.
“Listen to your friend,”
“NO! You drop your weapon or I’ll fire.” Forgot I still had it. He thought. Holmes reluctantly let go of his weapon. Rick only sighed, but Holmes got an idea.
“Now place your hands behind your head!” Bobby yelled.
“How about I give you something shiny?” Holmes said. Bobby tilted his head in confusion.
“You’re bribing me?”
“Bobby put the gun away, this guy’s a-”
“Don’t worry Rick, I got this,” Holmes reached for his badge. “I got it right, HERE.” His badge flew out of hand and smacked the rookie right above his left eye. Bobby checked for blood but there was none. Holmes just walked over to him, twirling his handcuffs with his right index finger.
“You wanted to make the arrest big shot. So go ahead, arrest me.” It’s going to be a long day.