…was busted up good. I mean I’ve seen him on both sides of a kicking, but damn, he was hurting, man. His mouth was a red fawcettall hot, red, and foamy. Damn.
…never told us exactly where he was jumped. I heard that he got quite the beating, though. He said he was mugged after scoring some dope. Knocked his front teeth out. That’s some bad news, even worse when you play a trumpet for your supper. He kind of disappeared for a little while after thatpainting houses up past San Francisco. Can’t imagine what he was thinking when that was going on. Damn.
…was a junkie. Junkies lie. Show me a junkie with good oral hygiene and I’ll show you a liar. He probably just let his teeth rot. He didn’t give a shit about much, except for scoring and shooting. There was that story Chico used to tell about Chet. See, they were on tour and they had picked up a dog a couple of dates in. They’re feeding it, taking care of it, and then tour ends and you know what happens? He leaves the fucking dog at some hotel. And then there’s how he treated women. He was always laying mitts on girls. He didn’t give a shit about anyone anywhere at anytime. He was a junkie. Period. Hell, he was banned from how many countries in Europe? Damn.
…never really said what happened. We pressed him for the biography, but he just didn’t want to talk about it. It took him years to get dentures made, and a couple of years ‘til he started blowing again. He had to relearn his embouchure. Didn’t start really playing again ‘til Diz got him at the Blue Note in ’73. Even then it was a year or two before he was really back. All that time away, and he came back for his second chance. Kinda like Jack Klugman in that Twilight Zone episode “Passage for Trumpet.” What was that character’s name? Crown? Yeah, Crown—go figure. I really wished he had learned his lesson, but…damn.
…didn’t even come looking for us. It wasn’t like we were a pair of keys or something. You think he’d miss us, but there we were in San Francisco rotting away staring at the stars. Do you know what it feels like to be abandoned? I mean really ditched? The sink is quicksand on Quaaludes. Bottomless. Stillness. It never gets too bright or too dark out—just an ongoing dimness. Sound amplifies. Sirens. Crying babies. But footsteps are what get you. You think they belong to someone, you know, coming back for you. . .but they don’t. You watch shadows groan and bend to the angles of light and city streets. Eventually it just all gets numb. Eventually it just stops matter. Eventually it just freezes until movement, light, and sound, all drone in their own diminishing way. Eventually you just blur into the mix, too. You know, we may have been rotting out of his mouth but we mattered. Damn.
Photo by Russell Mondy