“What did Charlie Parker eat?”
“Eat? Everything. As far as I know.”
“Did he eat a lot?”
“I don’t know. Never seen him eat.”
“You never saw Charlie Parker eat? How come?”
“Never had dinner together.”
“You never did?” I say quite loud, combining real and feigned surprises.
“Lunch or breakfast.”
“I’m surprised to hear that. Do you think anybody ever did?” I stick with it, wagging my hands. “No one ever talks about it, you know. It’s not part of the legend.”
I am looking at Mingus from the corner of my eye. His head is bent down on his chest. His eyes are focused on his buttons, listening.
“If he was mystical and had so many things that he did,” I conclude, “he would probably have things that he ate.”
His head comes up. “I never even saw him eat a sandwich.” He takes a deep breath. “Max said he saw him eat out of a bag one time.”
“Max Roach said he saw him eatin’ out of a bag one time. I don’t know what it was. Somethin’ in a bag.”
— Janet Coleman, Mingus / Mingus