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A pot of tea helps to pass the evening


by Henry E. Powderly II


Charlie Parker never had a gig like this.

I imagined he did, once, like me, steep mushrooms and make a potion, though I doubt he plodded through thick snow, soaking his sneakers and savoring the cold licking his toes, and making a contract with the full moon, to never give back what he saw, to never give back his hope, or his hands and the glow around them that he read like a crystal ball to mean joy and the journey, the footsteps in the snow that were also on the moon, so bright, like a promise sung in the green-tinged night, alive and cold under his soul, in his grip, in the case where his brass horn twitched in eager wait for the gig, or when he walked into the club and the cold carpet of green night moon air disappeared in smoky heat, the red lights and clamor like drums, trembling like a rocket ship to the moon, and I doubt he grinned and felt the shake of the zipper sliding down his horn case, or the almost hiss, or coo or maybe a bell wrapped in a towel when he saw the sax shine like a sun and come alive on his neck, or the tap of its keys under his fingers louder than the crowd's blend of murmur and wait, of talk, and when the drummer clacked on the snare the shock straightened his hair and his breath came like a cloud, and song came to town on the bass and the drum and chords, and the promise, what he'd read on his glowing hands, tumbled like water from his bell, to the crowd, to him, to the air, and  maybe he screamed the joy and journey to claps and hollers like fireworks as his song rolled and rolled without and end and with what already seemed like an imaginary beginning, but he surely didn't fizzle when the town savant, a meek but happy clown who knew no better, and only wanted to dance and smile through yellow nubby teeth and point his bent fingers — the slow kid dressed in a seersucker suit and a bow tie — danced on the horn player's song, and yelled out the horn player's name, crying watch me watch me as the drummer kept time and the bassist walked, the dancer spinning and spinning as the horn's song faded into jazz music, or when the dancer spun so hard he knocked over another girl, a large girl, who yelled hey, watch it, as the retard rolled on the floor, having lost a wingtip, and the horn player lost the music in a squeak squawk and laugh, laughter like no other laughter he'd ever had before, seeing the slow boy on the floor having knocked over the large girl who had spilled her drink on the cool guy who shook it off like it was nothing but had a huge wet stain down to his knees that made it look he'd pissed himself, as then the horn player thought the moon was a farce, that all was a farce, a comedy, and he was always the audience, in the snow, at the door, at the tea kettle, and he laughed and laughed and laughed and forgot the song.

No, Charlie Parker never had a gig like that. Not the Bird.

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