The music was still there, the bright jazz issuing forth from Cecil’s coronet.

But he found himself remembering less and less of each performance, though the raw spots on his hands were a testament that they’d happened. Between the dressing room–and all the pills, poweders, syringes, and smokes it contained–and the curtain, everything was, well, a blur.

Not only that, though. The music itself seemed to be different. Cecil had spoken with the audience, and they assured him that his playing was the same or better than ever. But what little he could remember of the performances wasn’t dizzying or joyful. No, something harsh and dissonant, straight out of Leo Ornstein, had crept into Cecil’s music.

And he was the only one who could hear it.