Jazz And The Little Green Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An alien crash lands in prohibition era Louisiana.

Submitted: August 24, 2015

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Submitted: August 24, 2015

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Jazz And The Little Green Man

 

The stars twinkled like drops of sweat over the fields of rural Louisiana. Crickets seemed to chirp in the night to the rhythm of Louie Armstrong and George Gershwin. Over the din of the evening noises—over the bugs and the frogs and the bubbling of pete bogs—a dull roar began to sound from the sky overhead.

In that the purple-black stretch of nothing, the stars were moving; but one of them more so than the others. A single point of pearl colored light was hurtling towards the ground at a million miles an hour, and making a ruckus to wake the band.

And now that spell was broken, and the night comes alive.

The star crashed into the atmosphere like a gong, and suddenly the star was not a star at all, but a silver spaceship zipping through the sky in a ring of fire. The air melted as the ship gained speed.

In a moment, the dirt erupted in a flurry of grass and worms as the ship became suddenly acquainted with the hulk of planet Earth. For a moment, everything was silent—just as nature intended—and then there came a hiss of air, and the ship’s hatch opened wide.

A little green head poked up through the hatch like the telescope on a wrecked submarine. He looked around at the trees. Several minutes passed as he peaked into the darkness.

And then, shattering the new-born silence like a thin pane of glass, came the giggles and cooings of a happy couple. As they ran through the field their formal clothes ruffled in the dark breeze—a slick suit and a purple flapper dress—and they grew closer to the fallen ship with every laugh. They stoped some way off—the girl’s auburn hair bouncing in happy ringlets about her oval face—and they collapsed drunkenly to the earth.

From somewhere close by, the fat sounds of music float in on the breeze.

The little green man watched all this from the open hatch of his ship, his amber eyes burned like old candles in the darkness. He trembled in fear as the lovers dozed before him—but before long his curiosity took control, and he crept from his sanctuary, one green foot at a time.

And now he stood, hovering above them, with all the curiosity of a child. His eyes grew wide with wonder, and he began to change shape—taking on the strong jaw and bohemian nature of the man lying peacefully in the grass. He reached down—a man now—and stoked the girl’s cheek. “Hello Bella,” he said, for that is her name—Bella—and he knew it, and it was his to know.

And then the music returned, rolling in like an old friend. Jerome looked up— for that is his name now—and felt the jangle of saxophones and the pummel of trumpets hit his ears like electric feathers. His eyes now pointed in the direction of the lovely sound, he follows the music like a hound.

After twenty minutes of tromping through the tall grass—which was tones of pale green in the desaturating light of the moon—he found himself sanding before a great barn that stretched up over his head like a gothic castle.

He gazed about these castle grounds and marveled at the illegitimate richness of the scene—both knowing and not knowing the things that he saw. Dangerous looking men smiled beneath black hats and puffed their chests in clean white shirts. Women flirted like twirling ballerinas—hyper-sensitive butterflies landing here and there but nowhere for long. Cars dark as the void blared cream-colored headlights over it all, pulling shadows from the bodies that writhed like spirits.

And then, in a moment short as the zip of a high-hat, the doors opened and Jerome was swept inside the barn into a furnace of music.

And all was madness.

A million droplets of sweat bounced on a million foreheads like they were dancing on the surface of a bass drum. Jazz shot through the air in bullets of warm sound, melting inhibitions and fostering a special kind of rhythm. All around him bodies churned in orbit, and through he’d lived for two-hundred years, Jerome had never felt more alive.

Jerome danced and danced, and out through the haze of motion, he saw a baby, wearing only a diaper and a black brimmed hat, fast asleep and slumped over in a chair with a golden saxophone propped against his tiny-body. It didn’t seem one inch out of place.

A cool breeze licked his cheek, and Jerome looked over to find the front door had been opened, allowing the night to leak in like a mist. Bella stood panting in the doorway. Her damp hair dripped down in curls, framing her face like it was a beautiful, pearled mirror.

With every breath, her chest rose and fell like the sea.

She locked eyes with him, and then tore through the crowd like the prow of a great ship, slinging herself into his arms. Her lips met his, and the kiss lasted forever.

She pulls away from him and looked woefully into his eyes—her irises, emerald green, look like lily pads after a thunderstorm.

“Where did you go,” she asked.

Jerome blinked, and through they didn’t, he thought he felt his eyes go amber. “I came here.”

Bella shook her head and the smell of her—damp flowers and a spray of the ocean—wafted up at him and into his memories. “You writers are so—so odd Jerome! In one moment and out the next; back and forth, back and forth.” She layed her hands on his chest and looks up at him like a tiger. “I love it.”

She bit his ear and they twirled over to the stage like a couple of lovely tops. They danced in front of the band, and Bella cast smokey glances up at them until they played their song.

So it was to the sound track of Elise Carlisle’s I Love my Baby that the guns begin their ratta-tat-tat.

Bullets exploded in torrents of red splinters as they crashed into the rafters. Warning shots. Everyone was screaming, and out of stolen instinct, Jerome pulled Bella to the ground. The tommy guns cry once more, and then there wer voices saying that everyone should “stay on the fucking ground.”

Jerome peaked through his fingers and saw a short man with a chubby face towering over him. He wore a sour expression and was twirling a bottle of clear alcohol sarcastically in his hand. All of the sudden, he was screaming “What the fuck is this,” he shouted. “Nate! Somebody bring Nate the fuck over here now!”

His face was cherry-tomato red, and his button nose quivered with rage. Jerome felt Bella tremble like a poodle beside him.

A tall man was brought through the crowd with some effort—in the absence of jazz the people had turned hard as tombstones—and his arms flailed about him in protest. Someone kicked the back of his knees and he colappsed on the ground before Tomato-Face.

“Well, well, well.” Tomato-Face uncorked the bottle and took a sniff of the clear liquid. “This smells pretty familiar, don’t cha think Nate?” He put his foot on the fallen man’s head, and placed the barrel of his tommy gun over two of his fingers.”

“It’s legit Mick,” said the man on the ground.

Tomato-Face scoffed. “I know it’s legit you two-penny bootlegger. You lifted it off me.” He pushed the gun-metal into his skin. “Ain’t that right?”

No one said anything.

Suddenly the air was wet with the smell of blood.

The man on the ground screamed and began to writhe on the ground like a worm, clutching at the bloody stumps where his fingers used to be. Jerome scratched at his ears, trying to claw way the awful sound—the air was so sweet before. In the space where the music used to hang above their heads, now there was only fear.

Tomatoes-Face paced back and forth like a cat in a cage, and the anger seeping from his pores was almost visible. “Now what I want to know, is wether you stole it, or one of my guys is running a back door tap.” He looked down at him and several strands of straight hair—it was fair and poorly cut, like a child’s would be—and said, “skinny lil fuck like you Nate, I’d be shocked if you had the balls to steal it.” He was raging into the air now, shouting like a bull. “Which leaves me with one very important question for you to answer Nate! Who the fuck gave you my booze?”

Nate cowered on the ground; the upturned collar of his cream colored shirt rattled as he shook like a pile of autumn leaves. He was scared, but he wasn’t going to talk, and Tomato-Face could see it in the hard set of Nate’s poorly stubbled jaw.

And now, strangely, Tomato-Face was speaking softly. “I see,” he said. “I understand where you’re coming from.” He turned where he was standing, the expensive white soles of his shoes squeaking against the wood floor. “I understand completely.”

“What do you guys think,” he said to the crowd. “Do any of you understand the situation I’m in? Any of you see Nate do anything funny?” His voice was low and threatening like the rumble of a volcano—his pale Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.

And suddenly his eyes snapped to Bella—they smiled, but his mouth did not. “What about you miss, see anything?” He grip tightened around Jerome’s hand and her face was a cool sheet of ice concealing a churning ocean of fear. She looked like a mouse, a beautiful, green-eyed mouse.

Then she was taken from him and yanked before the crowd to stand like a slave at an auction. Her fair shoulders drooped like flower petals, and it was clear to everyone who saw her that she felt she was going to die. Tomato-Face laid a tiny hand on her shoulder, one that carried with it all the weight of a ship’s anchor, and leaned in close to her ear. “Sorry about this miss. You are very pretty.”

And then he was shouting again and his words were like tiny claps of red thunder. “I see how it is! I see you people—it’s all jazz and pretty women like this one here. With all that, who cares what this apple-lookin fuck with the goons has to say about it? Let him rage and bitch and before long he’ll be gone, and we can just get back to the broads and the stolen booze. Well—“

And then he smiled, and his red cheeks and his thin lips seemed to freeze—plastic hardened by a pain that had burned in him before Jerome had even known about this planet. Time seemed to jump ahead then, and suddenly there it was—the metallic glint of a hand gun pressed up against Bella’s head; a silver arrow buried in the brown fur of a wild animal.

Now Jerome was on his feet, propelled by a human fire that was not of his nature. Tomato-face’s nose crumpled like a tin can beneath his fist, and Jerome felt the hot spurt of adrenaline surge for the first time into his mortal veins.

And all was madness.

The crowd was on their feet and Tomato-Face’s goons were firing indiscriminately into the wave of sharply dressed bodies. Jerome was in the middle of it all—biting and punching and fighting for his right to live. His fists cracked skulls and his muscles tore with the effort. And the violence of those few moment felt so like the jazz that had come before, that Jerome couldn’t help but smile—white teeth flashing through the red mist of blood.

In a moment Jerome was up on fallen cabinet and firing a stollen tommy gun into the crowd of hired goons. He delighted in the power and felt human—his hair dripping in a sheen of sweat that was holy and well-deserved. And then a stray bullet caught his shoulder and drug him to the ground. The canned lights that hung from the ceiling on fragile strings blurred and mixed like water colors as his vision swam before his eyes. The room surged in and out with the beating of his heart.

And then Bella was kneeling beside him. Her dress was torn and her hair was falling loosely to her shoulders like a million strands of ragged electricity; she had a tommy gun of her own now, and a wild, joyous look in the green depths of her eyes. Jerome thought to himself—his chest rising and falling unevenly—that she’d never look so beautiful.

She kissed him passionately on the lips and Jerome felt as if their souls were touching. She leaned in close to his ear and said,

“I’ll be back baby. I love you.”

And she was off in a furry of purple fabric and green-eyed determination. Jerome watched her go.

He clutched his shoulder and found that he was leaking—rivers of pale-yellow blood were seaping from the bullet wound in his shoulder. Jerome pulled himself up against a wood beam, not minding the splinters that pulled at his slacks like fingers, and surveyed the scene.

A fire had started in one corner, and all through the barn people were wrestling in a great pool of like that covered the ordinary world like a net. The air smelled like sweat and moonshine, and the orange light from above poked through the tangle of limbs and made long shadows.

Jerome was dying. He began to change. His white flesh flickered green and his limbs threatened to shrink.

As the transformation took hold of him, the barn door opened and he thought he saw himself in the opening, silhouetted against against the stars that felt so little like his home. Jerome turned in his head and saw the baby sitting, awake now, in a corner and smiling over at him—four teeth and a set of brown eyes that told him that everything would be ok.

It may have been his imagination, but in those final moments, Jerome thought he head the music start up again—chiming in through the mess of sound that was its brother. And now Jerome was Jerome no longer, but a little green mad bleeding out alone on the wood floor. He was now himself, but also he was not—some piece of him died off a second before the rest.

In his last moment, the only sounds that graced his ears were the screams, and the sweet sound of jazz. 


© Copyright 2019 Michael Austin Elliott. All rights reserved.

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