This is not my normal sort of story. It’s not horror, it’s not sci-fi. Hell, it’s not even satirical.
No, instead this is a story about something deep, and sacred.
A story presented in two parts, entitled:
There was once a musician who played in a local bar. A haggard man, aged around thirty, a fan of cigarettes, and of a certain amber liquid. He was not a cruel man, not by any stretch of the imagination. He had simply been left alone for too long. No wife, no kids.
Every day at the same time, he would come and sit on a stool and play his songs. Some were original, dreamt up the night before, scribbled down in half-formed symbols. Despite this, when he did play them, they were beautiful. Like symphonies, they needed no words. He delighted in every strum of his guitar, and every pluck of a chord. While others heard songs, he only heard notes, a dancing chorus line of individual sounds. He could tell when a single one was off. He could feel whenever his fingers rang untrue.
There was one curious thing about him, however. A point of intrigue for anyone who bothered to talk to him. This was a rare thing of course. Not many people had the courage to go and speak with him. Perhaps it was his eyes, the way he looked at people. Regardless, when someone did talk to him, they would always bring up the case at his side. It was locked, and sealed with several rounds of tape and chains. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was too small to hold a body, people would probably think the worst of that case. And indeed, the occasional joke would come up.
Their questions were always the same, and he found himself rehearsing them in the mirror. People were so unoriginal that way. It would always boil down to this:
“Whatcha got in there?” They would always phrase it like that, like they thought they were funny for asking about a person’s business.
He always responded with, “A cherry red guitar.”
They would, of course, seem surprised by this answer. Perhaps it was simply the bluntness of how he would say it, or just the needlessly specific reply. In any case, it would always take them a minute to respond.
“Why is it all chained up?” They usually pointed, acting like he didn’t know it was right there.
“I got it that way.” Again they would have to pause at that.
“Then, how do you know what’s inside it?” They would ask, some even going so far as to tap on it lightly, or run their hand on the side of it. A spot on its surface was worn from people like that, but at least they had the courtesy to use the same spot every time.
“Someone told me.” He would respond curtly, usually staring at them till they stopped touching the case. They always seemed embarrassed.
The awkwardness would grow at this point, and they would think through several lines of questioning before choosing: “Aren’t you curious?”
“No.” That was always the end of the conversation. What more could they say?
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