From Zero to One

It’s gone eleven and the winter has started to bite. You walk the unfamiliar streets unable to sleep through jet lag, but there doesn’t seem to be much to entertain you here. Not all cities are London, even those with an airport attached to them. A bar closes up just as you arrive at the door, restaurants are either shuttered or unlit, and of course there is no such thing as a late night café. There’s nothing for it but to head back to the hotel and the complimentary tea bags. Perhaps a packet of nuts from the vending machine in the lobby. If only you’d booked somewhere with a room service, or at very least a mini bar. The age of hotels being a luxury are well and truly over, you muse.

You retrace your steps and trudge back through the night into the winter wind, already ill disposed towards the city, thankful you’re only here for a few nights before heading back to civilisation. As you turn a corner lit only by the moon and the single working street lamp you notice a pink glow at ground level reflecting off the damp pavement from the constant drizzle. Maybe this could be something? A neon sign of a saxophone. Promising. You try the door. Closed of course. You curse business trips to post industrial towns and start to turn. As you do a head height shutter opens and two eyes peer out at you, stopping you mid torso-twist. Too shocked to say anything, the door opens for you anyway, and the figure doing the opening nods.
“You open?” you ask
He sweeps his arms from left to right in ascent, guiding you inside. They are open, yes, but not busy. A bar in the corner, dimly lit and the man from the door scuttles past and puts a drink from the fridge on a table, ushering you to sit down facing a small stage. You are the only patron. A thick red curtain lifts and you are faced by two men, side by side. Drums and Sax.

From silence to full volume, a kick a high hat hit as a split second signal before an explosion. There are notes everywhere, snares snapping, cymbals hitting walls, wailing, screaming reeds. No warm up, just energy. You are pinned to your chair as the barman cleans a glass casually and the drums and the sax tear up and down the small room tossing everything in their wake to one side as if their lives depend on getting as much out in as short a space as possible. This is full crescendo music, and you realise that your own life now does depend on it. You try to hold on. You are in a wind tunnel fit to be blown out of the back. The beer remains untouched, your shirt is drenched and the debris of a sonic attack litters the room. You survey the damage as silence is allowed back in and the barman calls time. The curtain sashays back to the boards and you stumble back onto the street, ears ringing, brain dazzled by possibilities. The early winter Wednesday stands in front of you, life itself as drums and sax. Rashied and Frank.


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