Playing Jazz, part one

I hung out in a small spot of night on the fringes of No Smoking and Adults Only.

Thick air, eighty proof attitude, and shadows that kept your seat for you during intermissions.

The stage belonged to a round of changing keys, facile fingers, and moods found in forgotten closets, abandoned buildings, after hour garages, and overlooked streets, brought in by saxes, axes, horns, and skins wearing misery wrapped up in puzzles, suits that only glowed in moonlight, who spoke in tongues unheard by day.

One night they were handing out faces to the smiling, voiceless crowd, laying foundations for towers that never rose, sending messages in forgotten codes, when the Kid walked in, case under his arm, hat cocked, eyes clear behind opaque wisdom no one sought.  He stood at the foot of the stage, straight, respectful, patient, till the set was done and they noticed him.

They asked him who he was and what did he want.  He set his case down on the edge of the platform and he said:

“Who I am is a work in progress, a collection of possible outcomes, an arrow looking for a bow, a bullet for a barrel, a truth for a mouth to put it in.  What I do is whatever it takes to make all this congeal into reason and purpose.”

We heard echoes.  So what, they asked then, do you think you’re gonna do here?

And he answered: “I want to play jazz.”