“Time moves slower at night.”
Nearby, a saxophone hummed joylessly. That night, a scantily aggregated band played languid songs that seemed to have no end or beginning, or much distinction about them at all except for their invariable gloom. Apart from the despairing moans and drones of the horn, the building was empty and silent. The little movements musicians made—the sliding of a bass player’s hand along a fretboard, the pianist’s delicate fingers across his keys, and, with every note, the soft taps of cork against saxophone’s brass—made up most of the movement in the bar. The night was still and melancholy. It may very well have been this that influenced his sudden observation.
He continued, “When there’s no one around to rush it or set things this way and that. Time is its most natural when there is no one around to even call it time. You have to be careful not to get lost in it. Are you listening to me?”
Here the water radiated a soft green glow with the passing creatures. As they swam by, dozens of shining white eyes peered into the glass, then turned away, uninterested, and continued on their obscure journeys. The bar creaked with its incredible age as one fish, perhaps three times the length of the room itself, glided by and cast its enormous shadow over them all. The girl gazed at the teeth, which appeared first, followed at length by a colossal, unblinking eye. Its light was dull—a pale blue iris and graying pupil. The eye scanned the room as the creature passed, staring at no-one and nothing in particular until, at last, it vanished as well. As the rest of the massive fish followed, the room was again dim save for the weak light of a few string bulbs. The darkness would not lift for a long while.
The brief spectacle over, his attention refocused to her, “Are you listening to me?”
“I’m listening to you.”
The barkeep spoke as he took their empty glasses, “‘M listenin’.”
At the stage a woman appeared. The band continued to play; no song ended and no song began, yet still she sang anew. She sung softly, with an almost conversational tone, in such a way that she appeared to be speaking to one person alone. Yet her eyes, like the fish from before, focused on no one and nothing. Her voice was low and languishing, on par with her accompanying saxophonist.
There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting.
The music of stillness holy and low.
I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me
Stars I shall find.