The place is called Cave but you say it car-vuh. I walk in off the street and a friendly man with a big face and big wrinkly hands sitting in a booth says it’s five euros tonight because it’s jazz night. Hmm. Yeah could I just have a look inside if my friends are here yet? Of course, I trust you! haha.
Downstairs it’s quite dark so I look around for a few seconds until I see everyone is looking at me. There are people sitting all around on brown rocks at different heights, couples and groups of girls holding cocktails and boys on their own with ponytails, sitting on rocks or standing at the bar, turning over their shoulder, flicking their eyes up from their drink, slowly breathing, leaning against the cave wall as they let their eyes rest on my raincoat and my red cheeks. Like in a saloon in the West, players look up from their cards, the barman lets the glass overflow, the pianist excuses himself and leaves through a side door and the girl on stage tilts her head and lets the microphone droop.
Giveafuck I’m Lucky Luke. I look around some more. Self-contained, give me a good stare, you like what you see? I’m looking for my friends, yeah I have friends, can’t find them though, obviously not here yet, better double stare at that lot in the corner because I sure am not going to come down here and do this again in ten minutes, yep, not here, back up the stairs.
I laugh to the man in the booth that I couldn’t see them, think I might give them a ring. Actually could I just use the toilet? In the toilet I relax a little and look at stickers for things that I don’t understand, like The Inkinection and Hamburger 42ers and while washing my hands I bump my head on a wooden beam above the sink but it wasn’t too bad.
When I come out of the toilet the man in the booth tells me there’s no signal inside in a sad way that makes me burn with shame for owning a phone, for trying to call someone from inside a jazz cave.
So I go back outside, but it’s raining and the street is empty. There are two smokers standing in the doorway, which makes me walk a little half circle around the door. I stop a few steps into the street, where I get my phone out and act like I can’t see it raining on it. I take a few more steps and stand there with my legs apart.
After a while I wonder if I can squeeze into the middle of the doorframe between the others. At that moment I hear the people I know coming down the street so I start moving towards them to show the smokers what I’m doing but they’re coming over too slowly, they’re pushing their bikes and laughing and I’m not going to walk halfway up the street and then come back, so I just stand there. I stand there in the middle of the street a few metres away from the door and wait in the rain.
I pay the man with the big hands now, and a man with a big head introduces himself as Belgian and asks why I’m so on time, I thought you were British! ha ha i’m english with german parents so i have a mixture of being late and being on time! sometimes one, sometimes drastically the other! ha ha.
I return to the cave, surrounded by other people. Motherfuckers, what you saying now? Das right, didn’t think so.
When I buy a beer I get disappointed by the price. Why does it always happen that I see someone get a cheap drink, order the same and pay double?
We sit down. I sit on a tall piece of stone that is too near the cave wall. Everyone saw me sit there and I’m not going to move now. I can’t sit up straight. I crane my neck down, feel the wall and lean against it like this.
When they are playing jazz I tap my bottle with my finger. I wonder if you’re allowed to talk or if you have to listen carefully. I shout something at the boy next to me. He replies in a comedy accent. I stop talking to him. After a while I realise it was his real accent.
I get very uncomfortable. I look at the others sitting on the rocks. They are nodding at the jazz. I laugh at their awkward rhythm. It has nothing on my syncopated tapping. The Belgian starts rolling his head around on his neck. I try to straighten my back but hit a spike in the roof. I sink back down.