Jerry, buddy, the sun’s just come up. It’s six in the morning here, so it’s midnight in New England. I’m glad I didn’t wake you, but I did hope to talk. I haven’t been to bed yet, buddy. It’s brilliant here. That’s what they say about everything—brilliant.
It’s come to me though. All of it.
I thought it might come to me in my tutorials, but I stopped going last week. They’ll probably toss me by Thanksgiving, but Oxford isn’t for me anyway. I don’t belong here with the prep school dandies who size up your accent and call you a war-loving American. It’s not worth arguing. They wear their jackets and ties, and not the cool ones you and I wear on stage to look like Coltrane. No, it’s strictly garish.
I met a girl from France. She barely speaks English. She spends her days in a lab and dances all night in the clubs. Jerry, she’s opened me up at the chest. She takes me to the Thames and tells me that if we jump in we can float to the ocean. Tonight we finally jumped in, wearing all our clothes. I had played at a club in Jericho—a hip room with an awful indie scene, but tonight was transcendent. I was wearing my black suit, the one I bought at the Salvation Army in Portland. She was in the crowd listening to my bass notes coming through the house speakers. Her hips told me what notes to play. After I packed away my upright, she led me to the Thames and said, Let’s float through London to the ocean and swim for your shores. I was loose enough from whiskey that I grabbed her hand, and we fell in. Buddy, it was cold, but I couldn’t feel it. I laughed so hard I thought I’d break a rib. I was far from the trailer parks of home. I might as well have been on Neptune.
We climbed out and ran through the streets—her clutching her chest, me heaving my upright. In her apartment we stripped down and showered. Our feet were blue from cold. You can imagine the rest. But that’s not it. That’s not how I figured it all out.
Kind of Blue was playing on her speakers. She fell asleep around five, but I was awake. Listen, when “Blue in Green” came on, it hit me. I put my suit on—I didn’t care that it was wet, that’s how things are with me these days. I left her place without my bass. I didn’t even shiver on my way to the Museum of Natural History—that’s how alive I feel. The entire way I hummed that slow Miles line. People must have thought something of me the way I was dripping and humming. But I’m not even drunk anymore.
I got to the steps of the museum right before I called. I’m waiting to get inside. It opens in an hour. I could go back to my room and change, but I feel good, so I thought I’d call you. Inside here are dinosaur skeletons and a dodo bird. I just need to get inside. I can’t explain it. I need to stand next to each vertebrae of their t-rex and match it with “Blue in Green” and the way the French girl’s hips rise and fall with my bass notes. I’m electric. It’s all coming together. Call me when the sun’s up in New England. Listen to Miles today. For me, buddy. For all of us.
This is tight. I love it. When does NPR decide?
Unfortunately, NPR already chose the winning pieces, so this could have been called ‘Unwinning Submission to NPR’s Three Minute Fiction.’ I’m not sure my style fits this contest well. Check out their website: http://www.npr.org/series/105660765/three-minute-fiction. It was a great assignment, though.
It’d easily do a little shock-and-awe on Garrison Keillor. Thanks for sharing the Web site. The Sunday River piece: great. Again. Gettin’ a little Zen there too. The DRP abides.
Dare I say NPR might have made a mistake? Smells like a winner to me.
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