Walking past a pawn shop, the reflected sunlight from a shiny trumpet in the window catches my eye. I stop and stare for a minute, and as if summoned by its silence I walk into the musty shop and point to it. The man behind the counter, wrinkled and grey, places it in front of me. Not a word uttered in this exchange. I pick it up and caress the cold gloss of its bell. But not for long; my hands quickly find their place and my fingers take to the rings and valves. As I bring the mouthpiece closer to my lips I already hear music. I play. And without effort I uncover a language I did not know I spoke so fluently and soulfully. The thuds of a hundred jaws dropped set a tempo to this musical discovery. I am the reincarnation of Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Louis Armstrong all at once.
It’s not long after that I awake, before a legacy is left behind and the riches of my success are realized. Still, I rise with a smile. I have had this dream on three separate occasions, but I haven’t once handled a trumpet in my waking state. And so when I discovered that a pawn shop had just opened down the street from my apartment, I was both excited and nervous. Not wanting to force fate or jinx the Dream, I avoided it for some time, taking every possible route but the one that the shop is on. One Sunday morning, however, groggy and unguarded, I walked past the shop. A first encounter. And almost expectedly, not one but two trumpets shone brilliantly in its window. I stopped and stared for a brief moment but scurried away hesitantly. I got as far as five city blocks before I heard the siren’s call. I slowed down—deep breath—and turned back to the shop with big, purposeful strides.
I swung the door open, and with the jingle of a chime I stepped into the dimly lit room. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, a figure emerged from behind the counter. He said something in a thick Québécois accent which I did not understand. I pointed to the trumpets and he placed them both in front of me on cue.
I picked one up. It felt familiar as my hands settled comfortably into position. And with what I can only describe as blind faith, I brought the mouthpiece to my lips. And I blew into it until I was blue in the face. Nothing. The old man made some facial gestures that I later learnt were constructive and not taunting. My second attempt was far more forced and yielded a loud incoherent screech. Now my face was red with embarrassment. I put the trumpet down and walked away, crushed and confused; the dream broken and beaten.
I haven’t as much as seen a trumpet in my sleep since that day, but as moons passed I learned to appreciate the times I could at least dream of being a jazz star. A few nights ago I walked past a violin, but I must still be in mourning because I didn’t stop to consider it. Maybe next time I’ll walk in.