Flash Fiction of 400 words or less Word Count: 390
|I was alone in town, in a crummy hotel, for a business deal. I needed to get out, but not knowing the city, I just told the cabbie to decide my destination.
“You like jazz, mister?” he asked. Well, as it happens I love jazz and he said he knew “just the spot for Le Jazz Hot.” After passing through a maze of dingy streets, the cab turned onto Hollander and stopped in front of a flickering neon sign. The Cat’s Cradle, it proclaimed. A little bit of a dive, maybe, but I was game. I rewarded the driver with a tip and went inside.
In the darkness, a hazy halo of candlelight and smoke hovered over the tables. Heads bobbed with the music as fingers rapped out their own percussion on the tabletops. I knew why they called it The Cat’s Cradle. On stage, those cats were laying down some hot licks. Fingers flew across piano keys and slid up and down the bass strings with impressive speed and precision. The horn player showcased his chops as he made his instrument both sing and wail. Every musician brought their notes from some place deep in their souls.
And then I saw her - the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. She floated towards me, waving a cigarette for me to light. A few dances later, we were snuggling pretty good, her sultry voice whispering honeyed words in my ear. Things got a bit hazy after that, but somehow I must have got back to my hotel room, for that’s where I woke up. I had to see her again so I cancelled my flight.
When night finally fell, I hailed a cab and announced my destination. The driver said he’d never heard of it, but he did know where Hollander was, so off we went. We went up and down without seeing any sign of the place. I hollered to an old man walking along the street.
“The Cat’s Cradle?” he repeated. “Oh man, that was some solid scene, that was. But you ain’t gonna find it. The Cat’s Cradle burned down 40 years ago. Johnny Moon, the horn player, torched it after killing his girl. Seems she was always coming on to strangers in the place. But man, that was some jazz they played there”.