Charlie tended to
perambulate across the streets with abandon. There would usually be a theme
he liked to walk across the streets of Manhattan but there would
rarely be a fixed route. He liked to meander through the same streets, but
rarely in the same order, as he needed surprises, improvisations and abrupt
changes. Charlie liked to blow his horn at the jazz club on a Friday, visit
book shops on an alternate Friday or simply converse with a world-weary beggar.
Every day was
different and filled with surprises, but they were always underpinned by the
same themes and the same tonal centre. The motivations were always the same,
but they would produce different outcomes. Charlie might play a ballad instead
of an upbeat number, he might encounter a physics book instead of a chemistry
book and the beggar might be vulgar and call him a nigger instead of being
But there was always
one exception. On a Thursday, at nine oclock, he would visit Greenwich
Village. He would command the street every single week, which made him edgier
and apprehensive. Despite his thorough punctuality, this was the equivalent of
a muddled and botched solo.
The drugs, alcohol and
endless profusion of cigarettes did not help. His mind was frazzled and
besieged by a potent headache. His decaying yellow teeth precariously hung from
his rotting gums, which were mangled after practising on the horn. Yet these
inconveniences were his least important problems. Charlie felt extremely
jittery, as Edgard was about to leave the building.
Edgard was the
stratospheric colossus of sound. His scraggly white hair branched out of his
head as he marched out of his apartment block with swagger. He wore an elegant
suit, bow tie and he cradled a gold-rimmed pocket watch. He looked wildly
eccentric, but his madness was mechanical and precise. He would leave his
apartment at the same time and he always dressed in the same way. Indeed, his
poise and his timing resembled a finely tuned clock. Everything was synergetic
and beautiful, but it was an eccentric, odd and discordant synergy.
This made Charlie feel
jittery. He thought that this was finally the day that he should introduce
himself, but he prevaricated. The sinister drugs that he had imbibed circulated
through his body and thwarted him.
What could he say? How
much he admired his music? Wouldnt he be confronted with the catchphrase
that his trumpet player routinely dished out to alarmed fans so what?
But surely Edgard would realise that this was the bird, the very man who had
revolutionised music. Would he be disappointed if he learnt that it was jazz?
Would he be eager to learn about this new music form, or would he merely regard
it as primitive and backward? But surely he would realise that Charlie was
Edgards kindred spirit in the popular music world, pushing the boundaries
of the acceptable and constantly experimenting with new unusual forms.
Would he mention all
this once he met him? Would he be contrived and try to use specialised terms
that he did not fully understand? Would he ingratiate himself with this refined
man by refining his speech? Would he, on the other hand, simply bark:
Man, I try to get my drummer cats playing Ionisation every
Charlie started to pace
closer to Edgard, but he became absorbed within a throng of people that busily
scurried in multiple directions. How could he cope with this barrage of bodies?
Sometimes his drummer would play in an excessively syncopated fashion, which
would jar him, but he would surmount the difficulty with an exquisite solo. Now
this crowded entourage enveloped him and he did not know what to do.
Charlie covered his
brow with his hands, as the whole enterprise had faltered and ended with a
grand pause, a whole measure of rests. Charlie became agitated and started to
drum his feet on the ground, which animated him and propelled him forward.
Charlie was now standing up and he was steady, balanced and he was moving.
He disentangled himself
from the gaggle of metropolitan amblers, stormed ahead and he could see
Edgards tuft of white hair in the remote distance. Now it would finally
be his chance to tell him how much he adored Ionisation, Octandre and
Hyperprism. How he thought that he was the Beethoven of the 20th century,
however portentous and trite that sounded. How he wanted him to introduce his
gigs at his jazz club. How he thought that jazz performers also did not deserve
to die, that their jagged sounds rivalled the totemic pieces of the most
innovative modern composers. Finally, he wanted to tell him that he wanted to
converse with him at length.
Edgard kept walking
with the same insistent swagger whilst Charlie stopped and brooded. Edgard kept
walking further and further away, as the tuft of white hair became an
indiscernible distant object.
Edgard was a rugged
individual combating his demons in his own spiritual desert, but at least he
did it with arrogance, pride and defiance. Charlie, too, was a rugged
individual in his own spiritual desert, but he realised that he felt lonelier,
more depressed and despondent than Edgard ever did. As Edgard disappeared in
the far distance, Charlie despaired. In a life filled with surprises,
improvisations and abrupt syncopations, Charlie felt that this loneliness was
the only consistent