The sounds from the street drift in. There are children playing in the warm summer day. This part of the city was old, filled with all kinds of character. There was the young woman who was on the roof of a nearby building. She would sit with her canvas and brush, painting parts of the city that caught her eye at random times of day. From the street below came the sounds of a man on a saxophone. He played so brilliantly. It was soft and soothing. People would walk by, throwing bills in his case. However, it didn’t seem to be the money that brought him there. There was something in this musician that just wanted to play music. A passion got him on that corner, not financial need.
There was the sound of a group of kids. It was a local bunch of misfits. There were six, in all. Children who were enjoying the springtime of their lives. All the potential in front of them. In the world today, they didn’t tell themselves that they were going to be rock stars or the President. But they had dreams, and each of them was talented. Just the other day, they were experimenting on something. It looked amazing. If only one could go back to those days, when life wasn’t a constant battle, and the days looked forward.
There was a woman shouting out the window of her apartment, down to a man below. The usual domestic squabble that had become part of the symphony of the streets that all the neighbors knew so well. Everyone knew that they would have passionate make-up sex later on that night. The two had been married for almost 20 years. This was how they kept it alive.
The wind was another part of the chorus. Perhaps the thing that brought it all together. A constant breeze that never seemed to stop. Indeed, there were few that could remember when a calm day was upon the city. The trees outside swayed in the breeze. Some of the residents of that part of the world could remember when they were planted, ages ago. It was a nigh-perfect day.
From inside the apartment, he sat there. He looked out the window, listening to the chorus from below. Age had finally caught up with him, and he felt less and less urge to do anything. The apartment he sat in was a treasure trove of memories. There were pictures on the wall. Most prominent among them was a young woman. It was in black-and-white, but she was still clear as day. A young radiant face. There was her in a city that appeared to be on the water, with white stonework. They were in a small boat, being steered by a man to the back. There was another of her sitting on a balcony, overlooking a tropical bay. There was a white gardenia in her hair. She looked so beautiful.
Another picture was at an opera house. She was in a beautiful dress, holding an award in her hand. Next to it was a picture with the two of them. Him in a gorgeous tuxedo, her in that dress. They were both holding awards. It appeared to be a high honor. His arm was around her, and she was leaning into him.
There was no pictures of children. Indeed, in the long years they had spent together, neither of them ever wanted to be a parent. They lived the dream, in their own way. However, it had clearly been a full life, as pictures told stories of. There was a tower in a romantic city. Warm beaches with cold drinks. Massive cliffs, like something from a great fantasy story. Vast fields and rolling hills. There was a more recent one where they were with a large and ancient reptile. This was one in color. It was clear that the two of them had traveled long and done much. However, it was only him in the apartment now. On the mantle, by some knick-knacks they had collected on their travels, there was an urn. It held her ashes, since there were none left to claim them. As it would be, when he left the world.
While the apartment had clearly not been fastidiously maintained, there was one thing inside that was an item of respect and love. It sat directly beside the open window. It was a black piano. Polished, shimmering in the light that filtered through the trees, it was something that the man who lived here clearly cherished. Also on the mantle were awards. A few were for a woman, who had been a great singer. The others were for him, for his work as a pianist. The man’s fingers were that of a professional pianist, thick and calloused. He had played with great musicians and had once been a man of great respect. Now, however, age had taken a lot of his drive from him. Still, the piano was maintained.
As he listened to the chorus outside, something inside the man was reawakening. Something that he had forgotten about. An emotion of being a younger man. When him and her would walk the streets, holding hands. The children would run between them and they would laugh at it all. Life was exactly what they wanted it to be. It was a perfect world. The symphony of sounds outside made those days come back, and in the man’s heart, something awakened. He got up from his easy chair and slowly walked over to the piano. He pulled back the cover on the keys. He sat down at the bench and flexed his fingers. Putting them to the keys, he began to play.
For those who lived in this part of the world, they knew about the legend of the man who was the legendary pianist. He played for greats, but had not played for years. So many had lamented the lack of his music, flowing down the street. But they all stopped and many were opening their windows, because they could hear it – the piano from the dark window played again!
The gang of children ditched their alchemic experiments as they heard the music start to play. The man with the saxophone stopped as well. He heard the tune that was coming from the window. He knew it! If he was going to be on this corner, with this music playing, he was going to do right by it. Putting the instrument to his lips, he picked up the tune, playing in time. It became a beautiful melody that everyone was transfixed by. It was as if the entire universe stopped existing while these two musicians played. It could have gone on and on forever, then maybe the problems of the world would vanish.
When the song ended, the saxophonist on the street started to weep. For the rest of his days, he would remember it as when he had played with a legend. A man who had fought for black rights and marched with Dr. King. A man who had been a legend in both music and culture. To get to play with him now, it was an experience that he would treasure forever. Everyone who listened wished that they could have kept going, but for each person who had heard, it filled their heart and made their day the best it could have been.
Back inside the apartment, the old man smiled. He put his fingers back on the keys, and decided to play again. The boy with the sax was pretty good. Perhaps it was time to help someone else rise. After all, good music should never be wasted. Several years later, the final award joined the bunch on the wall. It was for his first and last collaboration album.
Until next time, a quote,
“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” – Pablo Picasso