starry nights

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
a story of a man living for nothing.

Submitted: May 01, 2017

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Submitted: May 01, 2017

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The crowd is cheering again. I’m drenched in sweat, my saxophone is gleaming in the spotlight. I don’t really care about their cries of joy. I know one of us in the band made a mistake, and I know they are just being nice, so I simply nod and leave the auditorium.

The outside air is cool. The metal of my saxophone chilled very quickly, and as a result so did my hands. It is much better than being inside and filled with false praise though. I want to go back inside and put away my instrument, but the stars look interesting tonight, so I stay and think about how unfair the world can be. Somebody makes a mistake and gets all the credit, while the people that play correctly look foolish. I don’t really care though. Everybody is stupid.

I finally go back inside when I decide that I’ve had enough of the cool night air, and my hands are freezing at this point.

I go back inside and get hit with the blinding light of the room. Another group is on stage, of course playing horribly but I expect they get false praise too. One of the audience members tells me how much she enjoyed my improvised solo. I look at her, she’s young, probably around twenty-ish. I smile and say thanks, even though I don’t mean it. She asks for my autograph and I sign it saying; “Sonny Branford. Thanks for coming!” I just want to go home. I move past her and go back stage and finally put my instrument away. I wish my musical adventure is over for the day. I feel obligated to stay and watch the other groups, but then again I realize there’s no point because they’re trash. I put my suit jacket back on, pick-up my case, and leave. The familiar chill of the night feels even better this time, but I don’t have very much time to enjoy it. I need to go back home to sleep. I always get tired dealing with the fake masks people put on.

I take the bus home, I don’t have a car, and I never really liked driving, I end up falling asleep on the ride. I wake up to some people looking at me and knowing that I’m Sonny Branford, they are all extremely excited, but I don’t care. I just want some sleep. So I acknowledge them and drift to sleep. I wake up just before my stop, nobody else is on the bus, it must be extremely late. The bus driver finally stops, I pick up my instrument and leave. My house is only a block away, I walk the block and finally get home. I open the door, don’t change my clothes and fall asleep on the bed.

The next morning I wake up with the same line I always say to myself. “Today, I’m going to be confronted with the ignorance of humanity, the cruelty of people, and thus, I should expect it.” I finally change out of my suit into loose sweats and a wife-beater. I open a new box of cigars and smoke one while I watch from my window the kids going to school. All so happy. I finally finish my cigar after what feels like half an hour and make myself some eggs. As I’m making the eggs I get a call. I let it ring, after all I don’t want my eggs to be ruined because of some irrelevant call. After I finish making my eggs I call the person back, I hear a familiar voice, sounds like my so called girlfriend, Mary. She sounds excited.

“Babe! I haven’t seen you in weeks, where have you been!”

“Around. Busy. What’s up?”

“I want to see you again, it’s been lonely without you.”

“I guess so. What do you want to do?”

“Well, my parents want to meet you!”

“I see no reason not to, fine. We’ll discuss it tonight, my house, over dinner.”

I hang up the phone. I get annoyed with people easily, especially when I need to adjust my day to theirs.

I look at my saxophone case, but I don’t feel the urge to play, so I don’t. I’ve learned that art only works in spurts of genius, forcing yourself to do anything diminishes your skill. After realizing that I don’t want to play, I decide to get into some jeans and a polo shirt and go outside. I’m sure I’ll find something worth doing outside.

I walk outside and immediately regret it, it’s burning hot, but I figure I’m alright out here, might as well take advantage of it. New York is a bustling place. People are always doing something, it’s so loud. I decide I want to take a taxi instead of a bus today, a taxi is quicker anyway. I call a taxi and  he comes rather quickly. I get inside and I get asked the common question. “Where do you want to go?” I say “Take me to the Village Vanguard” even though it’s early, I want to see what’s going on with all the cats, see if they’re playing anything worth while.

He takes me over to the Vanguard, I pay my fare, and I walk in. I see somebody I know from high school. Lucy Brown. She’s a hot singer, and I mean physically and singing wise. She gets done with her set and notices me. Even though she’s hot, I hate her. She was a whore back in the high school days.

“Sonny! It’s been years!”

“Yeah. I clearly don’t want to talk to you if I haven’t contacted you all of these years.”

“Oh don’t be like that babe, I’m glad to see your honest personality hasn’t changed.”

“I’m glad to see you’re still dressed like a slut. Have more pride.”

“Jesus. You clearly don’t have a filter, do you?”

“I have a filter, it’s just not for people that are sluts and use their sex appeal to sell. It shows me how weak you are.” I go outside and wonder where to go next. I don’t care if Lucy was offended or not, honesty is always the best policy. The only reason the world is so chaotic is due to the lies of humanity, all the fear of truth.

I don’t really know where to go, so I just walk. I aimlessly walk the streets seeing nothing but the foolishness of humanity. The sentimental attachments, the women giving themselves away for nothing but status, the men and women holding each other,  unaware of how quickly relationships fall apart. I personally don’t  know why I’m in one, I guess so she would finally shut up about trying to get me to date her.  I look up at the sky, it’s starting to get around dinner time. I decide to take the bus home and I get there just as my girlfriend pulls up in her car.

“Sonny! It’s so good to see you!” She gives me a hug, and I feel her nice breasts on my chest, they feel great. Nice and firm. I take her inside, and the discussion begins. She goes on and on about how long we’ve been together and how important it is to meet her parents. I’m not really listening though, I just want her to stop talking so I can take her to bed. As she keeps talking about her parents and how her day is going, I begin to daydream. I daydream about what would happen if people just acted honest for a change. How simple and open everything would be, how life would be if people just speak their minds. I realize my girlfriend asked me a question. I ask her to repeat it.

“Do you want to meet them tomorrow evening?”

“Depends, are they judgemental? If not, I’m not interested.”

“Baby they’re not that bad.”

“That doesn’t answer my question, Mary.”

“They already know you’re a musician.”
“No they don’t. You told me a few weeks ago you told them I was an engineer.”

She’s silent. She looks at me with eyes of sadness, she knows I hate it when people lie to me, and she knows that I get merciless.

“Well, um, I’m sorry. I’m sure they won’t mind.”

“Well I sure do. I’m not seeing them until you tell them the truth. The only reason I’m making a big deal out of this is that there are so many stereotypes plugged into being a musician or an artist, and it’s disgusting. If your parents don’t like me for who I am, you can either continue dating me, or dump me. I really don’t care either way.”

She rises from the table and starts walking towards the door, before she leaves she says
“Don’t you care about anything, Sonny?”

“I care about a lot of things. You simply aren’t one of them.”

“Ugh!” She said as she slammed the door.

I sigh while I sit at the table. I’m not really upset that she left, I’m upset that she didn’t make love to me before hand. Unsatisfied, I look at the clock. It’s half past ten, I get another cigar and smoke it while I look out the window. I don’t see any stars, too much light pollution. So I just smoke my cigar while daydreaming again. I don’t remember what I daydreamed about, so it’s not important. I finish my cigar I want to go to bed until I look at my saxophone. I haven’t played all day, and now I feel the urge to play.

I catch a bus to a club called “The Panther” and I like jazz I hear coming from inside the club so I walk in. There must be over one hundred people, all listening to this singer. I don’t know her name, but she sounds good, and looks good too. I feel the urge to make her acquaintance. It shouldn’t be that hard, it seems like she already knows me.

“Sonny Branford, is that you!”

“Yeah, and who’re you?”

“Acacia, pleasure to meet you!”

Acacia is a beautiful woman, amazing curly hair, and her body was an hourglass figure shape. She is also extremely nice, always smiling. I wish I could smile as much as her, she is perfect.

“So, Acacia, I have my saxophone here, and I intend to use it, wanna jam?”

“Oh, with um me? I don’t think I’m that good, but I’ll try!”

I hate when people do that. Act all humble when they’re quite skilled. I kneel and start taking out my saxophone, then I see Mary walk in.

“Oh would you look at this, Sonny found a new bitch to mess with huh?”

I sigh and apologize to Acacia, and tell her to go backstage and warm up while I take care of my ex. She nods with reluctance and goes backstage.

“Mary. Get out. I’m not afraid to hit a girl, especially those who lie and then stalk me.”

“Stalk? I just wanted a drink! Besides, who would want to follow you?”

I sigh and continue to assemble my instrument. I don’t really care that she’s insulting me, if anything I expect it. I always expect the worst from humanity, so when it does happen I’m not affected and I maintain self control.

“Come on, I thought you were going to hit me?”

“I want to, but I won’t. It would only land me in jail, and it was quite rash to say. Sorry. Now, please be quiet. I have a set to play.”

She left the club, I think she got insulted or something.

I go backstage to tell Acacia that I’m ready, and that my ex is gone. I open the door to the dressing room and I see she has a needle in her arm.

“Oh hey baby… just getting ready for that set.”

I’m not surprised. Nobody is perfect, and even if you think somebody is great, they aren’t.  

“Yeah. Well, I’m disgusted with what I see. So I’m gonna leave, go back home or something. It was nice meeting you.”

I put my saxophone back in its case and end up walking home. Seeing things like that makes me think and requires me to be alone.

 

This is why I expect the worst from humanity, so I’m always in control.



 

I open the door to my house. I look at the clock and it’s one in the morning. So I change out of my clothes and put on sweatpants, no shirt this time, it’s too hot. I sit on the edge of my bed and just think. I think about Acacia, and how in all of her beauty she still has a problem. I thought she was so perfect until I saw that needle in her arm. It’s a lesson I keep coming to terms with; people are weak and nobody is perfect. Right as I’m about to lay down, I realize I still need to brush my teeth. So I get up, but then I look at myself in the bathroom mirror. I brush my teeth while I look at myself, I look into my eyes and see hopelessness. The cruel reality of life has sunk it’s fangs into my soul. I finish up in the bathroom and lay in bed, I can’t sleep. I’m too stuck on why I keep struggling with the same lesson. Even though I expected it, I still can’t help but think about it. I finally drift away into a deep sleep.  

 

I wake up with a jolt, the sun is  bright coming through my window and I’m extremely hot, drenched in sweat. I look at the clock, it’s ten in the morning. I say the usual phrase, “Today, I’m going to be confronted with the ignorance of humanity, the cruelty of people, and thus, I should expect it.” I get up from the bed and look in the fridge. Looks like I’m out of eggs. I look at the calendar and see it’s Sunday, which is normally the day I go shopping anyway. So I get dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt and walk over to the bus stop. I sit on the bench, waiting for the bus, and an old man sits next to me, he looks to be about eighty. He takes one look at me and asks me why my eyes are so hardened. I tell him that I’ve been though a lot. He smiles a huge and bright smile, I’m surprised he still has most of his teeth. “Child. I’m 80 years old and I’ve seen all of my friends die, all of my family die, and I’ve been to war, and I still smile everyday, I’m happy to be alive. As should you.”

“Old man, I’ve heard that speech too many times for me to care. At least you’re something special. You’re a hero. I’m just a man who had nowhere else to go and turned to music.”

“Don’t you love what you do?”

“No. Not really. It’s all I can do.”

“With that attitude, it’s all you’re meant to do.”

“My attitude is what got me famous old man, don’t you know who I am?” His hope talk is starting to get to me.

“I don’t know who you are. But I know what you are, you’re misguided.”

“Yeah. Sure. I’m misguided.” I say, just to get him to shut up.

“I remember I was just like you, and then I realized the importance of-”

He gasped, and everything else seems like slow motion.

He begins to fall over, and he looks at me as he falls. His body hits the ground with a thud. I remain calm and feel his neck. No pulse. He’s dead. Just as he dies the bus arrives, he opens the door and I say that this man just died. The bus driver rushes out of bus to see if it was really true. It was. He begins to dial his phone while I look over and see the passengers of the bus look at the old man, and some begin to cry. I can’t imagine why, I doubt they know this old man. I simply get on the bus like nothing happened. After all, death is common. The people in the bus crowd around me and ask me all types of questions like what happened, how did he die, questions of that nature. I say I don’t know, and I then tell the bus driver to hurry up because I have somewhere to be. He looks at me with these eyes of hatred as he’s on the ground still on the phone to try to help this old man. I hear the ambulance finally come and the driver finally gets on the bus. As soon as he gets on the bus everybody is silent, which I enjoy, finally people leave me alone. It normally takes the bus a half hour to get to the store, so I have time to think. I think about what the old man was going to say before he died. What did he realize that was so important? After all he’s been through, I’m sure it must have been very important. I don’t really care anyway, it’s too late now, he’s gone. The bus gets to the stop closest to the store. I get off and start walking, it’s times like this I wish I had a car, the instant that I stepped off the bus I was greeted with heat. I walk to the store and pick up my eggs. While standing in line, I see a little boy crying, I don’t really mind, boys cry all the time. I leave the store and this time I catch a taxi. I want to get home quick so I can eat my breakfast. When I finally make it home I notice that there’s a police car in my driveway. I pay the taxi driver and walk up to the car. The cop rolls down his window, he looks rather young.

“Is there a problem, officer?”

“You Sonny branford?”

“Yeah, you a fan?”

“No, but I have a few questions to ask you, where were you when Pierre died?”

I put two and two together and realize that the old man must be Pierre.

“I was right next to him.”

“So the report was right, you saw it happen. You have any idea how he died?”

“He looked old. And it’s quite hot out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he died due to a heat stroke.”

“That’s exactly the cause of death. It seems like you’re a smart boy. I’ll tell you about Pierre, he served our country bravely and he was a hero to us all. He gave us all life changing advice…” The cop went on for a little while about how important this guy was. I stopped listening when the cop said life changing advice. I wondered what he knew that was so impactful. I finally cut the cop off and ask him why he’s here. He said he wants to know his last words. I tell him what I remember, and before he leaves he tells me that Pierre was his father. I ask him what he was going to tell me before he died.

“Dad was probably going to tell you about how meaningless life is, but how we should find freedom in that meaninglessness. Just because life is meaningless doesn’t mean we should all suffer, it’s quite the contrary. He tells that to everybody. Anyway, I just wanted to see what you know. I was on break, thanks for telling me man, it means a lot.” He rolls up his window and drives off. I stand in my driveway for a little. Thinking about what he said, it all makes logical sense. Since life is meaningless, and we truly are free, doesn’t that mean that I can choose to be happy?  If it was that easy, I would have been happy a long time ago. I sigh and realize that it was just more nonsense. I go inside and put my eggs in the fridge. I don’t feel hungry anymore. I look at the clock, it’s one in the afternoon. Those three hours went by remarkably quickly. I grab a cigar and smoke while I look out the window again. I’m greeted with couples rushing to the movies, hand in hand, all so happy. It seems like whenever I look out the window I see happiness, but when I go outside I end up seeing nothing but sadness around me. Is it me that’s the problem? Am I too logical? Too rational? Am I jaded? I don’t know, but all the smiles seem so appealing. So desirable. I want to be able to smile. I clear these hopeful thoughts out of my head, I realize that even if I’m happy, the temporary high will always end. There’s no point, it’ll only make the drop down to sadness even more painful. I come to the realization that it’s useless to think about all of this, and I should simply live. I’m wasting all of this time thinking, and I’m not doing. I find it interesting, that Pierre had been through so much and still smile, still operate like it didn’t happen. If he didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t have known that he had experienced so much pain.  I find myself caught up in thinking even though I just said to myself I wouldn’t. I hate it when that happens. My cigar is finally done, I throw it away and decide I want to go play my instrument. I pick it up and catch a taxi, I decide I want to see Acacia again, and all of her twisted beauty. So I head over to the Panther and see if she’s there.

 

It’s still the afternoon, I don’t expect her to be there, and I was right. I didn’t hear any noise coming from the inside, but I went in anyway. It’s never too early for a drink. I sit down and the bartender comes over, I tell him I want some scotch, I also ask him if Acacia will be performing tonight, he says he thinks so and he goes to get my drink. I really want to see Acacia, so I decide that I’m going to wait for her, but that didn’t last long. The bartender sees my instrument and asks me if I want to put on a show for the people that are here. I was so deep in thought, I didn’t realize that there were at least 20 people in the bar. I agree to the offer, and begin setting up my instrument.

The people seem to realize who I am with my instrument out; they were surprised to be graced by the presence of Sonny Branford. I never understood why people care so much about my music, when I don’t care about it myself. I get on stage and ask if anybody in the room can play bass or drums, it’s quite hard for a saxophonist to play alone, and it’s not uncommon for other musicians to be in clubs. Only one person raises their hand, a young man that looks like he’s too young to even be in the club. I ask him what he plays, he says bass.

“Where’s your axe, kid?”

“It’s backstage, I’m playing for Acacia later.”

“Heh. So she will be here. Alright kid, go grab it.”

He runs backstage and I introduce myself, all I do is say my name and people cheer. How disgusting. The kid finally gets his axe, and we play. He’s very nervous, but I don’t care, I’ll just drown him out if he begins to falter.

We play a few sets, and we stop, because I see Acacia walk in. It’s ironic, I could have sworn the club had twenty people, and now it’s packed. I can’t tell if they’re here for me or for her, but it doesn’t matter. I put my sax in it’s case quickly and begin talking to Acacia. She asks why I’m here, I tell her that I wanted to see her. She pulls me into the dressing room and pushes me onto the couch.

“Why me? You said you were disgusted, why have you come back?”

“Why not? I felt the urge to talk to you.” She sits next to me and I see her eyes begin to water.

“Even though I’m so disgusting? Why do you care so much?”

“I really don’t know. I only said I was disgusted because I had high expectations, you seemed so perfect, that when I saw that needle in your arm I felt disheartened. Even though I lied to myself and said that to myself that I expected it. I guess I love you.”  I don’t know why I told her all of that, I guess it was just a sudden burst of emotions. She looks at me with confusion.

“I don’t know what to say.” She got up and left me in the dressing room. This is why I stay hardened. I open up my emotions and get more confused. I don’t really care, I expected it. I guess. I don’t know. Am I lying to myself? I regret coming here. I regret playing. I regret meeting Acacia. I’m confused. I want to die, I don’t want to die. I regret hurting Mary. I’m confused. My head hurts. I want to drink more scotch, but my head hurts so much. I run out of the dressing room and grab my saxophone. I leave the club, I walk a few blocks. Of course I need time to think. Out of the corner of my eye, I see somebody getting mugged.

“Sonny! Help!” I look over. It’s Mary.

“Shut up bitch, give me your purse!”

“Sonny, please, he-” the mugger put his hand over her mouth.

Now. I have a choice. I can either walk away like nothing happened, or try to help her. I was about to turn away. Until I think about Pierre. About how his son told me that he was such a great hero. Maybe, just maybe, I can do something. Maybe through all of my struggles, I can be a hero like Pierre. Maybe if I save Mary, I won’t regret hurting her.  I run up to the mugger with the intent of hitting him with my saxophone case. I didn’t see he had a gun.










 


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