(Workin’ on my prose, still. The fact that I had to say “In a Cafe” to let people know the last one was in a cafe kinda annoyed me, so I’m trying to set the scene a bit more this time, though if I continued or redid this I’d love to expound on the protagonist more. Also, this one’s not quite so pessimistic! Sorta. That’s always good. )

Even for a bar, The Long Leaf wasn’t exactly alluring. Sure, it had a certain… charm, I suppose. The dusty collection of fedoras lining the west wall next to the stage, the black metal chairs that deserved to be on a lawn (and probably were at some point, knowing Dustin, the owner), the fact that the bartender would always keep all of the TVs around the bar locked on an old western movie channel–Yeah, the place had charm, at least on paper. But even so, it was the sort of uniqueness that only lasted the first few times you spent a weary night at the place. To travelers, maybe some random family on a roadtrip to nowhere, it’d be “quaint.” But if you spent any more nights there–like me–you’d soon realize that this was all anyone living in this town had to escape the dust and weeds outside. Anyone who worked in Deskern came here at night, every night. And after five, ten, hundreds of weeks, no one gave any sort of a damn how many of the ash trays looked like cowboy hats.

Granted, at the point in my life when I walked into The Long Leaf that night, I didn’t really think about the bar itself much anymore. The bar had practically become an involuntary habit, like walking home from the gas station after work or hanging my keys on the hook as I walked into my house. Something that I just took as an inevitability.

But, that night, as I walked in, I heard–we all heard–a saxophone. A… tenor, I think. The saxist–“That’s what you call them, right?”, I asked myself in my head–was a gruff-looking guy in his fifties. His head was balding a bit, though you could see tufts of hair here and there. He seemed to have more hair under his chin, though, and more well-colored than the rest, too.

This was about all the detail I could manage to get into my head, though. After the initial shock of hearing someone playing music here, my first thought was, “No one has ever even used that stage before.” I asked Dustin later to make sure, and he said that sometimes his son Luke would come and play guitar, but only after hours in the early morning, well after everyone else had left. After this thought, though, I immediately sat down. Hearing such soft, sweet bellows growling from that instrument was a contract: Within ten seconds you were clearly informed that it would be necessary for you to sit down, required that you release your emotions into the air for the musician’s use, absolutely mandatory that you stay until the music ended, and even longer still after that. And the entirety of this contract felt like it was being spoken freshly off the silver tongue of the slickest con artist in town. Like anyone needed to convince me.

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