Leon blew cool and slow. Phoebe hot and fast. Or growling low when the wind changed and clouds rolled in and everything turned dark. Leon and Phoebe together—dynamite.

Their three-week run created quite a buzz, but now it was over. They waited backstage for Charles. He was playing downtown with Mitch Stringer. Mitch could open doors they’d been trying to bust through.

Charles rocked in at three. Mitch followed, a slinking tall neon weasel. One look said he was up about ten miles in the stratosphere.

He started playing. The Last Post, like a lone bugler. And things got wild—a session made in heaven and in hell. Mitch’s horn, as sharp as a buzz-saw. Charles’s brushes working the skins like lovers’ fingertips. Leon on trombone, sliding through the edges of uncharted notes. Bill Majors, who ran the place, jumped onto piano.

Phoebe downed a straight gin and began scatting behind Mitch’s slick lead. Pretty soon they’d made a world between them. Everyone backed off so the sparks could fly. Though it was the best of nights for Leon he could see the wind changing and knew he was losing Phoebe to the Count.

At six Bill said he’d have to close up. Outside, another world was starting up. Leon walked into it alone, blinking at the sun.

Advertisements