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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
JenEllen Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar (67* d) RE: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar 14 Sep 08

sorry it took so long, just got your message to come play

In room 315 of the Peery Hotel, Mark Arthur woke with a raging headache. He was saying headache these days, as he was getting a little too old to be claiming hang-overs. It was getting worse. He felt for the satchel at the bedside and sighed relief when he felt the worn leather under his hand. That damned guitar was taking up his daylight hours, but last night he swore he heard it playing in his sleep.

He showered and dressed before checking his messages, and at the sound of the first chirpy "Hiiiiiii, Mister Arthur." from his assistant, hit the delete button. She was probably calling with the directions and itinerary for the trip to Park City, but he didn't need the added help or aggravation today.

The drive east was uneventful, the scenery had changed little since he had driven it last. Sure, it had been nearly 20 years since he shot footage for "Zombie Mountain" in the Jordanelles State Park, but for the addition of the houses and strip malls, the area looked the same.

His mind drifted as he drove and he remembered shooting that film. By the time they finished the last scene fall had most certainly fallen, and he had a terribly time negotiating the weather. His zombies were breathing fog in the cold air, not too believable for the undead, and the only time warm enough to shoot was near noon. Zombies in daylight were just comical. He grinned at the thought, more of an homage to his youth and energy than anything else. These days it was all CGI and Skywalker Ranch rather than bugging the butcher for calf brains and mixing gallons of fake blood in your mom's best blender.   

The celebration at Park City was just as he expected. Indie film rejects and nobodies lined up for hours to see the retrospectives and "Arthur Zombie Movie Marathons". He sat on a panel and thought to himself how many members of the audience would have made perfect characters for his films. It was a favorite game of his, Name-That-Zombie, in which he nodded politely to the bozo talking to him and in his head thought: "Geritol Zombie", or "Botox Barbie Zombie". Hey, it kept him from thinking about other things, namely the battered leather messenger bag that he kept within arms reach at all times. That was what was important to him now. He graciously accepted the key to the city and the "Zombie King of the Wasatch" plaque from the mayor, and also a quick blowjob from a film groupie (The Pierced Undead would make a great title for a movie, he thought) before hitting the highway back to the city to spend a night before heading home to Phoenix. When he woke the next morning, the envelope was waiting for him at the hotel desk, addressed to him by name in a curious script.

No one in Park City had any idea about his next movie, no one had even asked. He wouldn't have told them if they had. It was going to be a documentary and it was going to cement his place in film history. The zombie movies had been great, they gave him the financial security to pursue the guitar now, but the thrill had definitely gone. He had a new passion, and silently he slid his hand across the seat to rest on the leather strap of his messenger bag.

He had gotten close once, just once, when he heard that Ms. Picoletti had sold the guitar to a pawn shop near Denver. College towns have no dearth of pawn shops, and he'd never even made it to the P's in the phone book before the guitar had left Podgor's. It was trying to outrun him, he knew it.

When he got home to Phoenix, he immediately went to his study and closed the door. Taking a deep breath he undid the clasp of the messenger bag and drew out the thick envelope. His hand rested a minute, willing the papers inside to be true. When he pulled them from the envelope he saw the drawing flutter to the floor and his heart flipped in his chest. It was the guitar.

He felt in his pockets for his reading glasses and sat down at the table to go through the papers. It fit. It all fit.

He had heard of the Picoletti murders, and the Jameson killings before that, and the warehouse murders at Heavy Industries before that. He shoved those newspaper clippings aside. The only common factor was this guitar. As he read further through the pages, going back in time to where it all began his breath came in slow rasping surges….. The little village in Haiti where the demon guitar was born….. A Voudu gift sent to France in the hands of a musician…..a treat for Napoleon as payment for imprisoning Toussaint and signing the treaties to keep the slavers alive in Haiti…..The French polish of the wood most likely a shellac of the tetrodotoxin and datura needed to induce the trance…..and after the Conspiration des poignards was destroyed the guitar was lost to history.

As Mark Arthur read on into the night, he knew the guitar was lost no longer. The only question that remained was how to stop it.

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