Bird Band Blue
A Short Story by Edison Estes
The bangs and scrapes of musical equipment being set up mingled with the busy din of the compact market square. Gavin the Headbanger leaned back in his drummer’s seat, staring up into the endless electric blue sky, scratching at his feathered jaw as he pondered. Something was bothering him. Something had in fact been bothering him for quite awhile. Something important, something that had been a solid foundation of his life for many years, suddenly seemed off to him, though it had not actually changed.
“Freeman?” he asked, over the voices of many passersby.
“Hmmm?” answered the band leader, as he screwed a mouthpiece to the end of his saxophone.
“Why’re we called the Band of Crows.”
Freeman Hornblower cocked a tufted eyebrow. “Waddaya mean Gav?”
“Well,” Gav continued, “none of us are crows. Why would we be called the Band of Crows if none of us are crows?”
Freeman turned back to his instrument, adjusting his round spectacles on the bridge of his beak
before answering. “But we are birds, ya see. And we’re musicians. And when we sing, or play instruments we are, as it were, crowing, ya see. So we’re not a band of crows as in the bird, rather, we are a band of crows as in a band, persay, of the music we make.” He leaned around and spread his palm open towards Gav, as if in resolution. “See?”
Gav continued to frown up at the sky, as much as a woodpecker can frown. “Why not a murder?”
“Well,” he said, stroking the red tuft on his head with one hand, “you call a group of crows a murder. Why aren’t we called the Murder of Crows then.”
Freeman frowned back at him. “Why the heck would we be called the Murder of Crows. First of all, none of us, as you noted, are crows.” He took a noble pause, standing up straight, lifting his beak high and popping the collar of his silk button-down, “Secondly, we are musicians. We are artists. We are a band. Even if all of us were crows, being a band would take priority over being a murder.”
“Can’t stand crows in any case.” muttered Casper, who had just taken up stance behind the bass. “Slimy bastards. Too clever for their own good. Con you out of a bargain as soon as look at you.”
“I’ve known some decent crows,” answered Tom, standing up from plugging the amp into his guitar. “Friend’a mine down in Los Muertos is a crow. Fine fella, introduced me to my wife.”
Casper the Beater sneered back, but said nothing.
Tom narrowed his eyes. “I’m just saying,” he continued, “sure there’s some not-so-nice crows out there, but no more than, ya know, ordinary crows.”
Casper continued to tune his bass.
A wild-eyed young man in a bright red leather jacket came barreling around the corner of a side street, shoving people aside and raising many calls of alarm as he sprinted toward an alleyway across the square. Passing the band, he nodded to them in mid-stride. “Freeman, Gav, nice ta see ya,”
“Cinch,” said Freeman, nodding back. “How’s things?” But he had already disappeared down an alley. A moment later a group of men in shining guards armor came chasing after him. As the rest ran past one of them came to a halt before the Band, quickly turning to address them.
“Any of you see a man in a red jacket run past?”
“That way,” the Band said in unison, each member pointing in a different direction.
The guard scowled. “Bird bastards,” he muttered, and ran off after his comrades.
Gavin frowned after him. “What a prick.”
“Think they’ll catch ‘im?” asked Casper.
Freeman grinned. “That’s Cinch we’re talking about. Sure they can catch him, but can they keep him?” He turned around to survey the rest of the band. “We all ready? Hatcher?”
Tom Longfinger smiled and strummed his guitar.
Casper plucked at his bass.
Gav slammed his head into a cymbal.
“And Frigate too.” Freeman turned back to face the square, settling his shoulders and readying his saxophone. “Alright fellas, let’s do this.”
And they played, a soothing but upbeat jazz tune that filled the courtyard and carried up and out into the endless electric blue sky. The music flowed out over rooftops, straw and tile and carbon mesh. It spiraled around the great red walls of the Administrator’s Pagoda, and from there flew out to cover the myriad of people and species that made up the markets and offices and homes of Pinnacle City. It soared away from the massive Capstone, the slab of grey stone on which the city was built, that floated above the meeting point of the Five Porticle’s, the stark, crackling gateways to five different dimensions, all tied together at a single point. It was music that wrapped around Pinnacle City and spread throughout the sky above Tower, the Pyramid World. A world made up of many dimensions brought together, one on top, five between, and an endless number below. A world where for thousand of years countless species and cultures and grown together and lived together as one.