Rhythm Man

by Jay Sauls


He spoke of the rhythm of the day, the movements of the clocks and the birds and the trees. It was the way life spun around us, asking us questions, but denying us answers. “It’s the rhythm, man! Don’t you know understand nothin’ at all?”

I blink twice, barely comprehending what the thick-set, wire haired man before me is saying. His cigar drops form his heavy lips. He catches it without thinking, the cherry melting into his palm as if made of ice cream, and his hand a hot stove.

“Listen up, man. If you want to get into the grove the first thing you’ve gotta do is open up your mind to the rhythm.”

I am getting tired of his game. He won’t let me pass, just stands in the middle of the highway beckoning me to follow. He wants to lead me somewhere I don’t want to go, somewhere the sound of the day demands constant attention. Somewhere I don’t understand.

“C’mon jack, feel the groove. Just pay attention and does as I do.”

His wide-brimmed hat swivels around his head in a mesmerizing twilight dance as he starts to shuffle, first from one toe to the other, then from heel to heel. His hips sway as his arms reach up for the clouds; he sings in a language I have never heard before. I am captivated by his movements and follow.

The street is empty, no sign of cars or people. As a two-member mamba-line, we jitterbug down the twin yellow lines that stretch from yesterday to oblivion. The clouds drift behind us as we stagger down the abandoned blacktop. Before long I feel the rhythm, feel the power of the moment surging in my veins. The air around me clears as the white light sweetens. I feel the rhythm working through me. My hands, my feet, my hips all move to a beat I can only sense but not touch.

“Yeah, you got it! Go man, do it! Drag them heels across the dance floor. Touch the sky and kiss the clouds.”

I dance until the moon eclipses the sun and the stars chase the birds from the sky. I dance until the day comes full circle and rises again on the horizon. I dance until he returns.

“So my man, do you feel it? You do, don’t you? I knew that you would.”

I nod that I do and feel the rhythm drain from my soul. My legs suddenly feel as if they are two sodden logs. Gradually, my toes stop tapping. The rhythm fades. I close my eyes and wait for morning.


For two years Jay Sauls wrote a weekly, humorous, slightly sentimental column titled ‘The Home Dad Chronicles’ for the Covington Daily News. He was able to publish several of the articles in national parenting magazines. He has 3 finished novels currently being edited and prepped for publication.

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