Jazz Wars

Vic was the point man, the fifth sax in an all-sax jazz quintet. His riffs were tasty and tasteful. His command of the music and his bandmates deft. Under his point the quintet had performed all over Rochester, at the Eastman Theater, at the Dryden, on the pier at Ontario Beach Park, and the press coverage they got was always adulatory.

But no one at the top in the cutthroat world of jazz sax gets there without making a few enemies.

The quintet was scheduled to play at the ArtAwake festival, and Vic had set his phone for bright and early the day of the concert. He liked to run, sign autographs, call in to NPR, and practice his scales all before breakfasting on avocados and toast. But when Vic awoke, it was not in his comfortable dorm room with the cat clock on the wall and vanilla scented candles burning in cheery defiance of the rules. He woke on a hard metal floor, his cheek pressed to cold metal. And he woke up groggily, as if he had been drugged. He checked his phone. It was well past when the quintet was supposed to play – which was impossible. He also noticed he had no service at all.

He tried to think. It was clear something was terribly wrong. And unbidden, he thought of Vlad, the fourth sax in the band Cozy Soul, roaring that Vic would regret taking their spot at ArtAwake. Vlad – was he behind this? And what was this? Kidnapping? Vic quickly checked his abdomen – no obvious organs had been stolen. He turned the flashlight on on his phone. In the light he could see his prison was small and featureless, except for a paper taped to one wall. It was a one page shipping manifest, for one crate of “nemesis”, shipped on the HMS Hoodwinked, bound for Angola.

Written on 4/8/17 at the University of Rochester’s ArtAwake Festival for a man in a Newsboy cap.