Casting shadows

Casting shadows by DekinaiKa
Casting shadows, a photo by DekinaiKa on Flickr.

Down the alley on that street I always fail to remember the name of, there is a wooden, metal framed door with a ringer on its side and the hint of a flickering red led light unsuccessfully hiding behind a security camera just above. Unlike other alley doors this one has a number, number 37, thin silver-ish plaques carelessly nailed to the brick wall.

I wish this was like most stories where you are about to knock on the door and suddenly it opens before you touch it, this was not quite like that. I stood there for at least 40 minutes knocking constantly on it every minute about to give up; I could hear the soft jazz music coming from inside when the trains leaving Lambrate station stopped making noise just enough time for me to distinguish it. I was intrigued to say the least. Finally the door opened, a middle-aged couple looked at me for a second as I held the door for them, they kept talking about something or another as they walked down the alley. I was left with an open door to the unknown, the music got louder, the door was really thick, I could even hear voices now. I locked the door behind me and followed down a set of wooden stairs that creaked with every step I took.

There were about 20 rounded tables for no more than 4 people each scattered throughout the open space, a bar on the right hand side with a couple stools, all taken, and in the corner a small stage lit by only two small spotlights hanging from the tall ceiling. I made my way to the bar and an eager bar tender approached me. "A new comer, glad to meet you, sir." speaking in a british english accent. "What's your poison?". I looked back at him and behind him at the bar, the amount of bottles was impressive to say the least but what caught my eye was the rarity of the few i could quickly spot. "A sazerac would be great if that absinthe bottle over there is not american." He smiled and got to it. The music stopped suddenly, the laughter, the voices, the noise. Silence. Steps, someone walking towards the stage, a hiss signaled the open mic. I did not know what to expect.

I turned around to find my drink ready and a bill to be payed with a tab under my name. My name? I thought, how in the hell do they know my name? I took a sip by reflex and returned my attention to the stage. The man recited a poem, 12, maybe 13 minutes long and full of emotion. During the whole time nobody said a thing, nobody moved, nobody stood up, nobody did anything but drink and stare and listen. I wish I could remember the words, I wish the man hadn't burn the napkin he read the poem from. He stepped down as people clapped, some yelled and whistled while the music smoothly raised its level merging itself with the newly found roar of voices and laughter. Some congratulations were given just at random as the man made it back to his table and sat down, alone.

"They burn the paper on stage, once the poem is read it is gone forever. That's the rule, no published work, anything you write here, anything they read, anything you hear is only heard once by everybody and then disappears.", he smiled, "They are just words after all." I smiled back and finished my drink. It was not until over an hour later that someone else signaled the band to stop, went up and read a new poem. This time the poem was short, almost a haiku but deep in content and read with the best of intonations. I was downing my third drink when I finally asked myself, What the fuck is this place?

-Fragment of Sazerac-