#160 Alto Saxophone
 
#160 Alto Saxophone In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, I heard one man blowing his horn with honey-dripping sounds and watched a woman called Brown Sugar dance to the high alto saxophone notes. Her moves were like music itself, the way her body swayed in time with the beat. I imagined blowing notes into her ear. I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like two notes, one black, one white, we danced all night, and I did get to blow into her ear. I whispered, “Imagine how we’d move in a bed.” Flash Fiction 121 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, and 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 the bed. The women accompanying him were chanting to electronic sounds emanating from the speakers. Flash Fiction 122 “Brown Sugar,” I croaked. 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 aggravating my headache to a point where it was almost unbearable. What the hell was going on, I wondered, when I saw Brown Sugar pull back a curtain exposing what looked like some sort of altar. I had only heard about the things I saw before my eyes. The altar stood on four black marble pedestals and was topped with an oblong piece of the same black marble. There was a large crucifix with Jesus on it turned upside down. I’ve been captured by Satanists, I thought. What were they going to do to me? I struggled to free myself, but I was tied tight and couldn’t move. Maybe they were only going to do a ceremonial ritual, and would set me free when it was over. Flash Fiction 123 The sax player stood to one side of the altar and his instrument emitted a gruesome sound that 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 she held with two hands. Her eyes lit with passion as she walked toward me, followed by the others who continued with their chanting, causing my head to ache worse. Flash Fiction 124 I started praying. Goodness always overcame 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. They dropped everything and ran. I waited for him to release me, but he set his sword and the crucifix on a table and picked up the saxophone thrown aside as the owner ran for the door. He put it to his lips and started to blow into the horn. I expected to hear heavenly music from a horn played by an angel. Instead, the grating notes that rolled out almost pierced my eardrums. Flash Fiction 125 A brighter light filled the room and before me stood Satan himself, dressed in regal red robes. He too carried a saxophone. He stood in front of Saint Michael and said, “I’ll challenge you to a duel. Whoever plays the best gets his soul.” He pointed at me. “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 began to play, and the music warmed my soul until I began to cry. He finished and pointed to Saint Michael and said, “Let’s see you do better than that.” Flash Fiction 126 Michael began to play, ni and I prayed the sound would be better than before. He fidgeted and fussed, put the sax to his lips, took a breath and blew. The music that came out must have been made in hell, and right then I knew the music I’d be hearing for eternity would sound better than his. Flash Fiction 1