Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.
Yvonne McBride of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the winner of the thirty-sixth Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on July 12, 2014.
Royal had studied her from the bandstand each and every night since their first gig. Such a little thing she was. Nicely curved, tightly packaged — but such a small little thing he had a notion she would break if even his fingertips glazed her. And he had tried. To touch her. Had been trying to get close to her for the past two and all night long. […] Continue reading »
I’m lonely most nights. It’s part of my job. You can’t be happy if you want to play the blues. But there were some nights that made my misery worth it, where I felt light for once and everything fit together. I’m sure it was the absence of thought that did it. When I think about things, I realize how awful they are. But when I float out of my chains, having known what they were like, the freedom is all the sweeter.
January 8th was such a night. […] Continue reading »
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. […] Continue reading »
“Fine,” she says. “Give me your hand.”
Empty spaces, open and promising for my skin to slip into, lie between the pale fingers that wag impatiently in my direction. I want to either kiss those milky tips or break the digits one by one. But my hand has no conflict and longs for nothing more than to fill those gaps left by her fingers. It knows where it belongs, and I watch as it begins to reach out, a thin layer of cold sweat over the palm.
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She didn’t dance to the music; she danced with it. The melody wrapped his arms around her and the chords ran ivory fingers through her curls. Harmony whispered in her ear and she laughed at all his jokes. She twirled up and down scales with him, the hem of her skirt swirling a single syncopated beat behind her. Her form in her red dress was as curvaceous as the treble clef, and her quick smile flashed staccato at the other dancers and drinkers, lingering largo in the hearts of those who were gifted with the lively beats.
[…] Continue reading »
When my doctor released me from the asylum in Saint-Remy, he warned me to stay away from absinthe or my hallucinations would worsen. I didn’t tell him I had no need for absinthe to hallucinate. I often had company, even when there wasn’t anyone with me.
I’d spent some of my time in the asylum playing billiards. Everyone assured me that I was a natural, the best player they’d ever seen. Maybe, instead of painting, I’d play billiards for a living. As soon as I walked past the gates of the asylum, […] Continue reading »
Whenever I’m pissed off, I escape to the pit. Out the kitchen door, fists deep in the pockets of my tight ass jeans, I head towards the woods back of the house.
I cross the backyard, past Moreno, the poor chained up son-of-a-bitch boxer. Rosa clinches his leash, pulling him close like a kid. The poor son-of-a-bitch tenses as I go by, his spindly legs and stubby tail shivering at my wrath, ears perked, head cocked – Was up girl, grounded again?
[…] Continue reading »
The garden by the sea is just beginning to grow into itself. Its green has started to spill out over the fence and tumble onto the walk that lines the side of the shore house. The weather is warming, and combined with the rich soil of the ground, the plants reap the favor of the earth, led to grow lush and vibrant across the expanse. The tendrils of the cucumbers have travelled far up their trellises, continuing to curl out into the air, while the bushes of basil nearby explode into a happy, bright leafed green. […] Continue reading »
It’s a shame that, in the 21st century, there are still men of my age who do not know who fathered them. Setting aside the moral issues, I need to know about my family medical history and bloodlines. What if, through twisted fate, my one true love were revealed to be my half sister? Or find out, while facing an ill-informed press, that I am the progeny of some great hero, or desperate criminal, and under the presumption of similar habits. At forty-eight, I still don’t know if I should be honoring the birth of a savior, celebrating the miracle of lights or dancing naked in the woods on the dark of the moon. […] Continue reading »
ten minutes into sound and I have begun to lean, to lean forward in these shared chairs towards glissando, towards pluck and sizzle and crash. Ellen is a grace note, a cello curve beside me in this dark, lovely, smitten club of jazz.
that I know it’s Ellen’s thigh and hip accompanying mine is a testament to the radii of our ring fingers, the shiny bands there that play so seriously at patience and time. […] Continue reading »