Sunday, April 30, 2006

A "Mythos" story from Chrispy

[OK, this is an exclusive. Placed here rather than my usual story home at HLnet. This may not be evryone's cup of tea, and I took a little historical literary license, but .. it .. is ... for free, lol.]


The musician puffed a drag on his fag, the red ember glowing in the darkened lighting of the backstage.

"Put yer hands together for the hottest trumpeter this side of Harry James! Mis-ter Bill Jones!"

The dark-skinned man bounded on stage, his trumpet shining mirror-gold in the blistering spotlight. Jonesey's white shirt unbuttoned a third of the way down made a woman in the first row swoon. His orange coat loosely flowed long and loose in zoot-suit fashion, but he'd tailored his pants to emphasize his manhood provocatively.

Hot, hot as the summer heat outside, the crowd raged in the smoke-filled, jam-packed room. The jazz blew hot; women's blouses stained with perspiration. Men dripped sweat but refused to take their jackets off. Hoots and a few whistles spurred on the heated jam session, the drummers and other musicians following the lead of the center-attraction.

In the corner, Armstrong nodded, his head bobbed with each note's anticipation.

The white man next to Louie patted his foot to the same rhythm as his hand on the large man's shoulder. He leaned in, "Satchmo, the kids good."

"The thick lipped musician turned, said, "Told ya, Bing. Ya oughta put that boy in yer next pitcher."

"Yeah, daddy. Go, slick, go, play that cat! Make it wail!" der Bingle crooned to the stage.

The man, barely past his teens, was unaware of those celebrities. Instead, he had his eye on a pale Italian in the back with his moll. The girl, dressed in red sequins, showed her ample cleavage to any who dared, and the teen dared much.

Sweat poured down the face of the musician as the last notes exploded in a flourish. The break in the action finally began - it was time to 'take five'.

It was past a hundred degrees in the place and some people had already passed out. Despite prohibition the ice cold booze flowed like water from a 101-st street fire hydrant just jimmied by a street gang.

The set over for a while, the black trumpeter moved out to work the crowd, slipping skin to well-wishers, and as a subterfuge to meet the hot girl. The Italian man stood in a darkened corner pocketing some graft from a politician. When he turned, he was in no mood to see the dark man flirt with his girl.

The gangster tapped a broken-nose man. The mobster's muscle leaned hard on the kid, but becuse he was a kid, it was only a light warning to the kid. "And keep yer johnson in yer pants, boy, or them trumpet lips will be sliced off. Don't ferget what happened to Joe. E. Brown! Last – only - warning."

Hyper-apologetic the musician retreated, thankful that the mobster was a low-totem, low-key booze runner, and not someone high up. However, youth, being youth, the warning faded as the club smoked on into the night.

Past two, a gaunt man and his friend slipped into the club. His buddy thought the poet might like to see another side of New York, but the smoke filled, liquor-swilling scene disgusted the writer.

Over the cacophonous noise, the lantern-jawed visitor croaked to his writing buddy, "Out! Let us leave this domdaniel abyss, the abominations of the place are more horrific than that noxious lobster you had for supper."

Outside, bumping past a line of people of all shades of color and smell, the man brushed their grime from his ancient turn-of-the-century suit.

"Howard, you've got to get with it, daddy-o. This ain't Providence, and it's a new century."

"You are indeed perceptive, but if this is the world of today, I'll have none of it. Civility, even if only a few of us hold to its tenants, is all that shall keep this nation from slipping beneath the waves of immigrants. Heed the warning of long ago R'lyeh."

"Howie-baby, you need a dish of ice cream." The companion looked over the poet as they stood under a yellow-lit street light. Good God, man, it's a roasting hell out here, and you're barely sweating. Stay right over there, by the alley; stay out of trouble, and I'll bring us back some ice cream."

The poet stood, his Aryan blood disgusted at the groping, kissing and worse that he beheld up and down the shadowed street. Above, the haze of Manhattan pollution obliterated his beloved stars. Still, there was a gibbous moon. It shone a sick yellow, squint-eye over a cyclopean skyscraper.

His ears perked.

"Goddamn it! First you take a make on Big Al's girl, then ya want to try and screw my moll? Ya ain't wo'th bloodying my boys' knives! Horn blowing two-bits like youse but a dime-a-dozen. Still, I'll break a leg, you'll get some humility. Heal up, come crawling back, and we'll see how it goes. Take him, Chuckle Charlie."

The poet strolled casually to the fight scene in the dank alley.

"Gentlemen, please. This is no way to act in a civilized world. Though this musician is young, and foolish, it appears that his nature is not to be able to control his passions. You russians are no better. You have difficulty controlling your swarthy temper, being descended of those from the south of Etrusca. Still, violent outbursts are such atrocities. I appeal to your intellect – albeit you have little to appeal to considering the shape of your apish skulls."

Stunned by the erudite diction of the skinny, gawky man, Chuckle Charlie and his boss blinked. But not for long.

"Chuckle, slit that talking pompous ass's throat, then let's get back to business."

The glint of switchblade steel in weak moonlight made the Rhode Island native raise an eyebrow. He followed that with the barest rise of a hand, and a slight whisper of some archaic phrase.

Charging like a bull, the towering punk - Chuckle Charlie - took several fast steps to the poet, but tripped half-way there over a ropy thing in the alley. The tendril, tough as an oak tree root, gripped the ankle of the man snapping it; provoking a scream.

Another thick cord slithered from a sewer grate, followed by others. Soon the Hercules of crime was but a bloody pulp of a thing, organs oozing from his ripped-up body. The mobster-boss trembled at the horror when he should have fled. Too late, he realized his mistake as a thing with leather wings sunk talons deep into the man's shoulders. Like a great monstrous eagle, the thing swooped toward the building tops with the mobster's cries of terror becoming fainter as the demon took him to a devil's Hell.

"Young man, you are quite lucky I came along when I did. I cannot approve of your perversions, but I pray you learn from this experience. I detected some modicum of talent, well hidden in your harlequin grotesquerie you call music, so perhaps you will seek a different patron than some swarthy don. If so, you may yet become useful to society. Now leave, lest some subterranean ooze take you away, also."

The dark man staggered, stopped long enough to hurl his stomach contents, then stumbled back into the back door of the club.

His subsequent life is unknown, but he never premiered on the silver screen, nor did he play the trumpet in a club afterwards. Some thought they saw a glimpse of him packing crates in Jersey, but it was only a rumor.

The return of Howard's friend with two bowls of ice cream brought a smile to the odd-jawed poet.

"I was worried about you." Lovecraft's pal said, "I probably should'nt have left you alone here. Did anything happen?"

"No, my young friend, it was but a typical night for me." He then slurped the frigid concoction.

(c) Chris Perridas, 2006

Best Regards, Chrispy

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