One note

Alas, this is a jazz dream.

I have to pee, which is the norm around here. I seem to be at some church retreat, camping in the great Northwest somewhere. When I return to my cabin door, I pause instinctively, sensing the approach of a pastor friend. In about four beats, he arrives, lumbering over as if sleepwalking. Come to think of it, I’m half-awake myself.

I recognize him as Chuck, a pastor and an R&B saxophonist. He seems to want something from me. He says, “Carol,” as if the very mention of my name will conjure up recognition, hope, faith, and love.

Without getting too close, I let him inside, waiting for him to open up.

He speaks in starts and stops, threatening to drop into a rabbit hole of self-consciousness at any minute. So I remember I’m a reporter and bring up his recent jazz performance, knowing he suffers from a crippling lack of confidence. You know, to break the ice. I’m good that way. 

He seems to be in torment about it.

“I thought that one note you delivered was powerful,” I start, reaching for the right words like a girl would stretch her hands out for lightning bugs at sunset.

Suddenly, a picture of a swath of trees in the dead of night appears in my mind, followed by a bolt of light and sound on a note so mesmerizing, scary, and profound that it conjures up the seven trumpets sounded by the angels of the Apocalypse John wrote about in the Book of Revelation.

“Your note [both] set and altered my mood, giving voice to lightning.”

It was all I had. It was not enough.

He left my room in the same disheveled condition he came in, sad and lost, and hungry. My carefully worded review went over his head.

I sat in the empty room, taking two bites of the most delicious ice cream sandwich ever, made of hazelnut, dark chocolate, buttermilk waffles, and magic.


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