The slow, quiet tinkle of the ivories caught his attention. There is something about the piano that caused him to stop. Certain instruments have that effect on people. The piano is one of those that people feel, rather than hear. The notes he heard were both strange and unfamiliar. But he was also sensing some familiarity, not knowing why.
The bar was one of many in the neighbourhood. Small, smoky, open to the street, patio with half a dozen tables. A decent crowd milled about. Most were sitting, talking, listening in between sparse conversation. Others were totally engrossed in their party and had little idea what was happening on the stage.
As the speed of the piano ever so slowly accelerated, the barely visible drummer started adding beats, quiet, soft. The brush on the snare, cymbal accenting and supporting the keys creating a swirl of sorts. Brush strokes creating brush strokes. The elements of a portrait slowly defining and emerging.
The man stayed outside. Letting himself over the short fence onto the empty patio. The waitress saw him and asked if he’d be more comfortable inside. He waved his hand to decline. A single malt arrived within minutes and the generous tip ensured his full support for the evening.
He was supposed to be somewhere, he knew. Whatever that was, it was lost on the chill and the mist of the fall night. He closed his eyes, mostly, a trickle of light bled through the lids creating a dull kaleidoscope in his vision. The first sip of whisky poured back over his tongue creating its own sensations and the warm trail made its way down the pipe.
As an acoustic guitar blended itself into the mix, the music took on a slow, insistent restraint. He felt it in his soul as the players and instruments struggled to maintain the pace, wanting nothing more than to release itself in a fury of exuberance. Knowing full well the onslaught would be considered a loss, they maintained, added, braced and grew in grace and symphony.
He felt a rush but not from the alcohol. As the instruments created a picture of sound, connecting, finding the pathway forward, gripping his nerves and challenging his senses, he grew transfixed. An urgent plea from the microphone drove him over the edge. Her voice matched the room, smoky and dark. Too, quiet. Breathless and breathing, the colours grew and the picture sharpened in focus as the story became the picture; the picture was the music; the music told the story. Her voice was the bass where no bass was given.
As the music peaked without release, her voice grew darker, weary yet defiant. The mix was an elixir that drove him hard inside. As the silk of her voice climaxed with the sinew of the tones, his tears poured. Reality once again enveloped him as he remembered his destination through the watery haze of his gaze.
As suddenly came, soon gone.