Monday, September 14, 2009

Daily Story 152: Lugubrious Jackson Sings the Blues

The club was bathed in blue, a shade so dark and smooth that it seemed to float over the tables like fog. Cocktail waitresses moved silently from table to table with drinks and packs of cigarettes, suffering the lewd stares of patrons with quiet dignity. There was a murmuring of conversation that drifted in and out of the audible range, flashes of laughter or swearing punctuating the jumbled words.

The stage lights clicked on, and silence fell. The waitresses sped up ever so slightly, hurrying to unload their trays before sliding into the shadowed corners of the club. A thin man with dark skin strode out into the light holding a microphone and whispered into it, his amplified voice barely loud enough to hear even in the sudden calm.
"Ladies and gentleman, the king of soul and lord of the blues. Lugubrious Jackson."

Lugubrious Jackson takes the stage slowly in a blue tuxedo. He is old - older than anyone in the club - and lowers himself into a simple chair that the announcer has provided. The microphone is taken away, and a screen lowers into place. In the nervous moment before the screen comes to life all eyes are either trained on Jackson's forehead or carefully avoiding it. His head is a mass of lumps and bulges covered in thick veins that appear almost black in the dim light.

But now the screen is filled with warm yellows and greens, the sight of the world above the underground club. The manicured lawns and perfect picture-postcard streets of Mars stretch on endlessly, red brick houses lined up in military ranks. The people watching the screen are uncomfortable at the sight of their homes, uncomfortable but happy. Always happy. Stimulants in the water and mood stabilizing glands grown behind their throats make sure of that. There is never a shortage of happy thoughts on Mars.

Lugubrious Jackson begins to hum, a nearly formless tune, and deep inside that lumpy forehead some mutated brain cells begin to pulse. Waves of sadness like the blue lights wash over the crowd, lapping against them, flowing, seeping into every pore and drowning them. One by one the audience members shudder and writhe as their mood compensators try futilely to keep up with the onslaught. Tears flow from every eye as they watch the scrolling images of their homes and workplaces, a release of thoughts and feelings they're forbidden to have.

After what seems like a lifetime Lugubrious stand and walks off of the stage. There is no applause other than the echoes of sniffling and clearing of throats. Soon the pendulum will swing the other way as the mood stabilizers find themselves unopposed and over-correct until the sounds of giddy laughter fill every space - every space but the mounds in the head of Lugubrious Jackson.