The swamp was no place for a cat like Jules. All the hep cats stayed in town, but Jules had little choice. The cabin near the swamp was his legacy, and in the eyes of his family, his responsibility. So on occasion he’d drag his ‘bone to the hall to sit in on a few sets, but mostly he kept to himself in the swamp. On those rare occasions when he did stir his bones and carry his ‘bone, it was to high praise and offers of a standing gig.
And yet, the swamp drew him back.
He was the last of his line, after all, and few knew what he did to keep the hep cats safe. None of the cats in town ever ventured into the swamp, and it never occurred to them to wonder why that might be.
His cabin was nothing to look at from the outside. It almost looked like it had returned to its origins, the way the moss and creepers played over its walls, roof, and porch. But the roof was sound, the walls were sturdy, and all the windows were glazed. And the interior was covered in beads, carpets, artwork, and the occasional instrument that no one in town would have expected that Jules could play.
The birdcage in the corner held the skull of an old family friend.
It’s eyeless sockets followed Jules closely as he moved around the room. Ever watching. The lack of eyelids (or skin anywhere else) meant that it had little choice but to watch what was in front of it. And usually that was Jules.
On special occasions, the spirit of the old family friend would reach past the bars of the cage, and take control of Jules. Always with his willing consent, of course. These were the days when Jules would come to himself at down, sweaty, and holding his trombone as a set wound down around him. He knew at those times that it was his cue to take himself home to his swamp.
Even if the swamp was no place for a hep cat like him.