• The melodic rumble crept under doors before it wafted threw vents and slowly seeped past paper thin walls unhindered. The sound so smooth, so silky upon the ear a newcomer to the building would have believed it to be an apparition playing from beyond the grave, but a veteran to that dingy vermin infested residence were no longer entranced by it. As often true in life, the people who had heard its beauty many times before no longer awoke to praise its fluidity, instead they slept on during the lonely late night jam sessions. In fact, on this night Boone Greene was the only soul awake, for the majority of the flat’s residents were over sixty and not known to stay up till three AM on a school night. It was only Boone’s determination that had him up this late playing the baritone saxophone after working the six hour night shift at the local grocery store. His determination pushed him to practice, but fear of failure stopped him from taking the leap of faith that would allow him to follow his dream the wish that in the Great Jazz Age he could be one of the greatest. Boone’s landlord kindly shoved him into taking that fateful leap one early Friday in June.
    “Greene! I need to have a word with you,” Mr. Morganstien, the landlord, puffed at Boone as he stood waiting for the building’s laundry machine to relinquish his hostage underwear. Morganstien’s tubby pale body panted from the walk down the stairs forming a sharp contrast with Boone’s own slim dark build.
    Boone knew what this conversation would be about, and had he spent the last month composing plausible excuses for his startling lack of rent money. Well, startling if you’d neglected to notice that he’d lapsed in paying his last three months before this one. Yet now that the time to weave his story was upon him his silver tongue failed, acting not like the strongest muscle in the human body, but like a reject from the butcher shop, limp and useless.
    Having regained his lost breath, Mr. Morganstien spoke up in a voice surprisingly high for a man of his age, “Greene, I’m gonna need my money.”
    “And I’ll get you your money, Sir,” Boone replied, feeling all the while like a debtor who owed the mob money and couldn’t make the payments.
    “No, Boone I don’t think you get it. I need that money now, or at least by Sunday noon.” the falsetto voice continued, “Put that infernal racket of yours to use and play over by the Chicago Lawn. Those rich executive always feel guilty when they see a failing musician and toss them some change.”
    Boone could only nod, partly because he realized his best chance for earning even a fraction of the money he owed would be by doing exactly what his landlord said, yet he was also wondering how he had never thought of this when even the more civilized meandering hippies had figured out how to do it.
    That afternoon Boone packed up a bari-sax that was older than him into a case that was only help together by the array of belts haphazardly strapped around it. Having not moved it in quite sometime, he was surprised by the weight of it, and he nearly tipped over, quickly realizing that the trip downtown via public bus would be an adventurous one.
    After being mistaken for the Green Archer, hearing the same story eight times from a young woman with bubble gum pink hair as well as short term memory loss, and being asked twice if the suspiciously large case he was lugging contained a human body, Boone arrived at his destination feeling tense and frustrate. All that changed when he took a good look around were the Hell with wheels had dropped him off. Whether by fate or cosmic luck he was standing on the corner down the street from the Blue Light Jazz Shack. The crooked building housed his idols, his gods, the men he would do anything to meet, but he couldn’t move. The need be realistic about his bleak looking future tethered him to the ground, forcing him to keep the simple goal of getting the rent and not being kick out onto the street at the forefront of his mind. Boone set up his case to collect tips and began to groove. Soon nothing was at the forefront of his thoughts. All he could hear was the rhythm he was making. Distantly there was the sound of feet tapping and coins clinking as they collected in his case. That didn’t bother him now. The rent didn’t matter, his landlord didn’t matter, and the laundry the washing machine never returned didn’t matter. There was just jazz, and jazz just was.
    When he returned to the world non-musicians, he recognized how dark it was getting. Glancing mournfully down the street to the famed shack he’d never play in, Boone chose his last song of the evening. Softly, on an eerie note, he played in dark slow way a ballad form of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In”. The without old man sitting on an abused city head felt a lone tear role down his near transparent cheek, thinking of days long past and friends long gone. The tune was full of such passion, such sadness, such need to strive on that the sky itself began to cry as the building around him began to moan. When the last masterful note resonated through the street, a deep knowing voice, almost omnipotent in the way it seemed to ring from everywhere, called out from behind him.
    “You know son, I hear the groove’s much better inside,” Boone slowly turned to the voice.
    He nearly dropped to his knees after seeing who had spoken. He’d recognize that man anywhere. He could be blindfolded, and surrounded by wild wildebeest, but still know that voice. After all, jazz legends like Duke Ellington can’t sound like just anyone. They seem to have that old man sheekness that gives them a completely unique presence.
    He stood like royalty on that lonely dark street, King of the groove, lord of the swing, monarch of all things cool. Duke Ellington was the royalty of America. For a moment Boone wondered if he should kneel in front of him. After all, the next word out of his mouth could either knight him or behead him.
    “Why don’t you come inside it’s gettin’ rather dark, and I’m sure you could use better light to play by,” The Duke spoke on.
    “O-oh, sure. T-that is if you don’t mind,” Being over come by one of his great hero’s, Boone could hardly stumble out a coherent sentence.
    “Course not son I invited you didn’ I?” Ellington patted him on his back as he staggered star-struck towards the Jazz Shack.
    He played a tune for the Duke. Then he played another. The two men began to talk and Ellington said he’d pay Boone in advance if he’d come in and play the next day with his orchestra. Nothing would ever be the same for either of them. The Duke had found his heir, and Boone had been given a gift he’d spend the rest of his life trying to repay, no matter how often he was told he owed nothing.