Fiction from Lynn Brown
Searching for the Jazz
“Well there was my first boyfriend, the only one I had in high school. He was a real sweetie, real SCA that one…born in the wrong time period for sure. It was something we had in common. He was all courtly manners and hand kissing. He used to call me his ‘lady.’ Perhaps that’s where I got my penchant for having my hand kissed. Do you know I’ve never slept with anyone who hasn’t kissed my hand?”
And you broke up with him because…
“Well we didn’t ever actually break up. He just…sort of…moved away…”
Oh? Well why didn’t you—
“…with his wife.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet you do.”
And your other relationships?
“Let’s see…there was the one guy in college. He was fun…wonderful in bed. We used to have awesome drunken philosophy arguments, he was a great drinking buddy. Although, I imagine most alcoholics are.”
Ah…is that why you broke up with that one?
“You know it’s time to end the relationship when the cops are called.”
“Hmm…There was the really wealthy movie producer. The one that left me in Santa Fe”
You lived in Santa Fe?
“I did after he left me there. At least, until I earned plane fare home.”
Jesus! Anyone else?
“Well, my ex-husband of course!”
Of course. Where is he now anyway?
“In a mental institution, most likely. That’s where they usually put people that see invisible worms coming out of their hands.”
That or a rehab center.
“Yes, there is that also.”
OK, enough stalling. Tell me about the guitarist.
“…I really don’t want to talk about it…”
You should, I’m told it’s very therapeutic.
That’s what they tell me. Why don’t you give it a try?
“What is it you want me to say? That I was in love with him?”
I find that a bit hard to believe. You only knew him what…a month?
Two weeks is not enough time to fall in love.
“It was with him. He was the jazz, after all. He was beautiful. He opened doors for me, he kissed my hand, he asked me questions and listened when I answered. He sang for me and played for me and rocked me to sleep…”
Did he kiss you?
“Maybe once or twice.”
But you never slept together.
“Never. He didn’t seem to mind.”
Maybe he didn’t want to.
Did you want to?
Have you seen him since?
Talked to him at all?
You’ve had no contact with him?
“I have some of his music on disc. I can hear him whenever I need him, and if I close my eyes I can still see him. ‘In the groove,’ he called it. Eyes closed, head back, fingers flying across the strings. He was heaven in the groove. A pure and perfect being.”
Do you think it’s possible that you were in love with the jazz, and not the man?
“It’s more than possible. What makes you think I haven’t been searching for the jazz all along…”
Lynn Brown is fiction writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Fabulist, Words & Art, Ebony Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and the JSTOR Daily blog among others. She’s the Co-Curator of the Voices From the Margins reading series and is currently working on two major projects: A novel based on New Orleans culture and mythology, and an anthology of work by contemporary African American expatriate writers in Paris. You can find her at www.literarylynn.com.