Short Fiction Contest-winning story #34: “Alto Saxophone,” by Joe DiBuduo

November 19th, 2013

New Short Fiction Award

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original,
previously unpublished work.

Joe DiBuduo of Prescott Valley, Arizona is the winner of the 34th Jerry Jazz Musician
New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on November 18, 2013. His story “Night Café” won Short Fiction Contest #31.

 

 

Joe DiBuduo

*

Joe DiBuduo began writing classes after retiring at the age of 66. In the seven years since then he has earned a certificate in creative writing and has had many stories and poems published online. He also has four or more stories published in print anthologies. He has published one nonfiction book, A Penis Manologue, two journals of poetry, and six flash fiction collections. All are available on Amazon.

_____

 

Alto Saxophone

by

Joe DiBuduo

*

In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, one man blew honey-dripping sounds from his saxophone. A woman’s body swayed in time with the sweetness emitting from that horn. She kept time with the beat and moved like melodic notes going up and down the scale. I imagined blowing musical sounds into her ear.

I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like musical notes, one black, one white, we danced all night. I softly sang into her ear, “Imagine how we’d dance in bed.”

She laughed in a low contralto voice, and changed it to a soprano when the high notes flowed.

Later when we were in bed and music played on her expensive speakers we continued our sensuous dance. Things couldn’t have been any better until I got knocked out cold.

When I came around I could hardly open my eyes and my head hurt so bad I thought it would explode. Music played, but it was different now. Chanting came from the speakers in a language that I thought was Creole. I smelled incense burning. My eyes began to focus about the time I realized I was tied spread eagle to her bed wearing nothing at all.

Then I saw the black man from the bar playing his saxophone, filling the room with mellow and foreboding music, as he and six black women danced in a circle around my bed. The women accompanying him chanted to mystifying sounds emanating from the speakers.

Addressing the lady I had danced with, I croaked, “Brown Sugar,” but I couldn’t speak loud enough to be heard over the chanting. God, I’d give anything for a dozen aspirins to relieve the headache from the blow and all the noise. What the hell was going on?

Brown Sugar pulled back a curtain exposing an altar that stood on four black marble pedestals, topped with an oblong piece of the same black marble. A large crucifix with Jesus on it turned upside down sat on top.

I’ve been captured by Satanists. What were they going to do to me? I struggled to free myself, but the ropes holding me were tied tight. I couldn’t move. Maybe they were only going to do a ceremonial ritual, and would set me free when it was over.

The sax player stood to one side of the altar and his instrument emitted a gruesome sound I never imagined a horn could make.

Brown Sugar wore a blood red robe, and stood in front of the altar. She raised her voice and said,

I hereby invoke the Prince of Darkness,

The great Dragon of the bottomless pit

           Who is the Bringer of Light

           And Lord of the Earth.

           Hear me, o mighty God of Hell!

           Come forth from the black Abyss,”

 

The chanting and music drowned out most of her prayer, but I did hear her conclusion,

           “My Lord and Master, come forth from Hell

           And greet me as your servant and friend.

           Join me as I conduct this service in your honor

           Out of love and thankfulness for you.

           Amen!

 

She turned with her arms raised and for the first time I saw the gleaming, jeweled dagger that she held with two hands. Her eyes lit with passion as she walked toward me, followed by the others who continued with their chanting.

I had been taught that goodness always overcomes evil, so I prayed, “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend me, be my protection against these wicked people and the Devil.”

A bright light filled the room. A man dressed in flowing white robes and wielding a shining sword appeared in front of the altar. One swipe of his sword severed the marble base. The altar crumbled to the floor, but not before he grabbed the crucifix, held it in front of him right side up and advanced toward the Satanists. The sax hit the floor as the man playing it ran out the door and all the others followed with screams of fear.

I waited for him to release me, but he set his sword and the crucifix on a table, picked up the saxophone thrown onto the floor, put it to his lips and started to blow. I expected to hear heavenly music from the lips of an angel. Instead, the piercing notes that rolled out made me shrivel up inside.

A brighter light almost blinded me. A man dressed in regal red robes appeared in the center of the room. He too carried a saxophone. He stood in front of Saint Michael and said, “I’ll challenge you to a duel.” He pointed at me. “Whoever plays the best gets to keep his soul.”

The man in red must be the Devil if he wanted to gamble for my soul. “Don’t do it,” I yelled to Saint Michael. “I know you want to save me, but I heard you play.”

“Ye of little faith, don’t you know if God wants your soul, I’ll play better than Satan?”

I didn’t have an answer for that. The Devil strode triumphantly around the room, bowed to Saint Michael and to me before he began to play. The sounds that came from his saxophone warmed my soul. I traveled through the beautiful universe on waves of heavenly music, until from the pleasurable sound, I began to cry. He finished and pointed to Saint Michael and said, “Your turn.”

Saint Michael began to play. I didn’t think that any music could top what Satan had played, but because it would be heaven sent, I expected it to be far superior. I prayed it would be anyway. Saint Michael fidgeted and fussed, put the sax to his lips, took a breath and blew into his instrument. The shrieking sound that came out sounded like it must have come straight from hell.

I knew then whose music I’d be hearing for eternity.

 

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In this Issue

photo courtesy John Bolger Collection
Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, discusses the enigmatic and extraordinary pianist, composer, and band leader, whose most notable achievements came during a time of major societal and cultural change, and often in the face of critics who at times found his music too technical and bombastic.

Spring Poetry Collection

A Collection of Jazz Poetry – Spring, 2020 Edition There are many good and often powerful poems within this collection, one that has the potential for changing the shape of a reader’s universe during an impossibly trying time, particularly if the reader has a love of music. 33 poets from all over the globe contribute 47 poems. Expect to read of love, loss, memoir, worship, freedom, heartbreak and hope – all collected here, in the heart of this unsettling spring. (Featuring the art of Martel Chapman)

Interview

Ornette Coleman 1966/photo courtesy Mosaic Images
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Ornette Coleman: The Territory And The Adventure author Maria Golia discusses her compelling and rewarding book about the artist whose philosophy and the astounding, adventurous music he created served to continually challenge the skeptical status quo, and made him a guiding light of the artistic avant-garde throughout a career spanning seven decades.

Poetry

Mood Indigo by Matthew Hinds
An invitation was extended recently for poets to submit work that reflects this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season. The first volume of this poetry is now published.

Features

Red Meditation by James Brewer
Creative artists and citizens of note respond to the question, "During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?”

Interview

A now timely 2002 interview with Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. My hope when I produced this interview was that it would shed some light on this little-known brutal massacre, and help understand the pain and anger so entrenched in the American story. Eighteen years later, that remains my hope. .

Poetry

"Sister" by Warren Goodson
"Shit's About To Go Down" -- a poem by Aurora M. Lewis

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time – the author Philip Clark writes about the origins of the book, and his interest in shining a light on how Brubeck, “thoughtful and sensitive as he was, had been changed as a musician and as a man by the troubled times through which he lived and during which he produced such optimistic, life-enhancing art.”

Interview

NBC Radio-photo by Ray Lee Jackson / Public domain
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, acclaimed biographer James Kaplan (Frank: The Voice and Sinatra: The Chairman) talks about his book, Irving Berlin: New York Genius, and Berlin's unparalleled musical career and business success, his intense sense of family and patriotism during a complex and evolving time, and the artist's permanent cultural significance.

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Maria Golia’s Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure – excerpted here in its entirety – the author takes the reader through the four phases of the brilliant musician’s career her book focuses on.

Art

Art by Charles Ingham
"Charles Ingham's Jazz Narratives" connect time, place, and subject in a way that ultimately allows the viewer a unique way of experiencing jazz history. This edition's narratives are "Nat King Cole: The Shadow of the Word," "Slain in Cold Blood" and "Local 767: The Black Musicians’ Union"

Interview

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection
Richard Crawford’s Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music is a rich, detailed and rewarding musical biography that describes Gershwin's work throughout every stage of his career. In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Crawford discusses his book and the man he has described as a “fresh voice of the Jazz Age” who “challenged Americans to rethink their assumptions about composition and performance, nationalism, cultural hierarchy, and the racial divide.”

Jazz History Quiz #139

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, Nat “King” Cole (pictured), Dexter Gordon, James Taylor and Rickie Lee Jones, and was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists. He also turned down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?

Interview

photo unattributed/ Public domain
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview with The Letters of Cole Porter co-author Dominic McHugh, he explains that “several of the big biographical tropes that we associate with Porter are either modified or contested by the letters,” and that “when you put together these letters, and add our quite extensive commentary between the letters, it creates a different picture of him.” Mr. McHugh discusses his book, and what the letters reveal about the life – in-and-out of music – of Cole Porter.

Short Fiction

photo Creative Commons CC0
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #53 — “Market & Fifth, San Francisco, 1986,” by Paul Perilli

Photography

photo by Veryl Oakland
In this edition of photographs and stories from Veryl Oakland’s book Jazz in Available Light, Frank Morgan, Michel Petrucciani/Charles Lloyd, and Emily Remler are featured

Interview

photo by Fred Price
Bob Hecht and Grover Sales host a previously unpublished 1985 interview with the late, great jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, who talks about Miles, Kenton, Ornette, Tristano, and the art of improvisation...

Interview

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Con Chapman, author of Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges discusses the great Ellington saxophonist

Humor

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
"Louis Armstrong on the Moon," by Dig Wayne

Pressed for All Time

A&M Records/photo by Carol Friedman
In this edition, producer John Snyder recalls Sun Ra, and his 1990 Purple Night recording session

Interview

photo by Bouna Ndaiye
Interview with Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

Great Encounters

photo of Sidney Bechet by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
In this edition of "Great Encounters," Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges, writes about Hodges’ early musical training, and the first meeting he had with Sidney Bechet, the influential and legendary reed player who Hodges called “tops in my book.”

Poetry

The winter collection of poetry offers readers a look at the culture of jazz music through the imaginative writings of its 32 contributors. Within these 41 poems, writers express their deep connection to the music – and those who play it – in their own inventive and often philosophical language that communicates much, but especially love, sentiment, struggle, loss, and joy.

“What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?”

"What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?"
Dianne Reeves, Nate Chinen, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Eliane Elias and Ashley Kahn are among the 12 writers, musicians, and music executives who list and write about their favorite Blue Note albums

In the Previous Issue

Interviews with three outstanding, acclaimed writers and scholars who discuss their books on Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter, and their subjects’ lives in and out of music. These interviews – which each include photos and several full-length songs – provide readers easy access to an entertaining and enlightening learning experience about these three giants of American popular music.

In an Earlier Issue

photo by Carol Friedman
“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive