Une Anecdote Noire: a short story


Staff Writer
The bright blue neon sign hummed steadily through the night, beckoning those on the streets to join those inside the house of sin. Of course, as far as houses of sin go, this one was pretty tame.
“The Trebuchet Club” was its name. The club stood on the corner of 4th and 23rd, across the street from the docks. The club was built during the dark days of prohibition, its proximity to the docks making it easy to smuggle in queer elixirs and tonics from the four corners of the globe. Here came the club’s moment of glory. For the better of ten years, the Trebuchet Club was the premiere spot for a respectable gentleman to secretly down bottles of the devil’s water.
But all good things come to an end, and the club began to lose prestige with the unpopular repeal of prohibition. As newer, more exciting clubs began to pop up into existence, the Trebuchet Club was seen as nothing more than a relic of the recent past. As the 30s went on to become the 40s, the club became an increasingly dilapidated establishment. It comes as no surprise that the club began to look into new and exciting gimmicks to draw back patronage.
Henry Kreb was the Trad Jazz King of the whole of the eastern seaboard. Every night, excepting Thursdays and Wednesdays, he was the headlining act at the club. Kreb was a man of no distinguishing characteristics. He stood just over six foot three inches with a greying tuft of hair serving as the period on his being. Of his looks, nothing extraordinary is to be described. His brown eyes and pale, chapped lips were not at all unique. In a line-up of all men fitting his description, it would be a difficult task for one to pick out Mr. Kreb from any of the aging individuals surrounding him.
But it is not in appearance that history remembers men, it is in skill. And no gets a title like “Trad Jazz King” for no good reason. It is in this respect that Kreb’s uniqueness could be found. Kreb was an adept player of every blown jazz instrument, including, but not at all limited to, the clarinet, the trombone, the trumpet, the mouth organ, the sousaphone, and the saxophone. It was said that his sad skit of a life was due to his skill in these instruments.
While others went out and lived their lives, Kreb stayed at home and spent countless hours practicing instruments. The price for artistry was his social normality, and he drifted far into recluse territory. Kreb rarely ventured out of his home for anything other than performances and the occasional dinner alone. He had no children, no relationships, no family to speak of. This made him the perfect target for a small, inconsequential murder.
Kreb was murdered and subsequently gave up his title of Trad Jazz King. Laurence Pendelvas became the new king of Trad Jazz until his natural death two years later. At his funeral, all the members of the Trad Jazz union agreed to disband and pursue new genres of jazz.
Kreb’s murder came as a surprise, as he was so blandly unremarkable and unoffensive that no one would have any real motive for murdering him. The local police department began their criminal investigation with no suspects or probable story to follow. Kreb’s body was sent by the owner of the Trebuchet Club, Sean Corona, to one of his presumed relatives. The body was sent back with the message, “I have never seen this man before in my life. Don’t send any more bodies.” The trail, like his blood, ran cold.
No one was ever implicated with the crime. Kreb was kept on display in the bar and eventually thrown into the Trebuchet Club furnace in the winter when coal supplies ran short. With their headlining act gone, the club limped on for a few more years before shutting down. It was demolished in the early 90s to make way for a Blockbuster Video. It is now home to several families of raccoons.