“blind pierre usta play down the gypsy cafe on reggio street,” says carl. “i seen him ever saturday night we usta go in there, have a spaghetti dinner with garlic bread and red wine, blind pierre was playing. some fiddle player, blind pierre. them strings, they’d practically light up like stars the way he played, sometimes to make you cry like a babe in your mama’s arms, sometimes fast as a bordello handshake, like the cops was after him and he had to finish before they bust in and drug him off to the slam.”

“their sauce wasn’t so hot,” big tony says, “watery, ya know? but the garlic bread? make yer mouth water, make yer hips do a jig.”

“what about blind pierre?” i says. “i remember him. I seen him play downtown once–”

“nah,” big tony says, “wasn’t him. he never went downtown.”

“nah,” carl agrees. “never. not blind pierre. strictly a morgan streeter, blind pierre. musta been somebody else.”

“i’m telling you, i saw him. he was playing jazz with a combo down the old blue moon club. amazing stuff, i wouldn’t have believed it if i hadn’t heard him myself. what about him?”

“oh, he’s dead,” carl says around the walnut he’s cracking between his teeth.

“dead? when?”

“yesterday, yesterday night, whenever.”

seems carl was passing by blind pierre’s place on jimson drive just off morgan when he sees all these crowds of people milling around on the sidewalk and they all had these black armbands on, so he goes over to see what’s up, he don’t think right at first it’s got anything to do with blind pierre, he’s just curious. you know. but it’s got to do with blind pierre alright. it’s his funeral.