Mudcat Café message #2427041 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #113933   Message #2427041
Posted By: Lonesome EJ
31-Aug-08 - 05:05 PM
Thread Name: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
Subject: RE: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
Dave Ruben held the menu in front of him, but he wasn't reading it. He was staring at his friend as Michael turned up his vodka and grapefruit and drained it.
"Whoah Big fella! Slow down there Mikey. It's quarter after twelve."
Mike licked his lips and said "wow. Thirsty!"
Dave inventoried the devastation in his friend's face. Baggy eyes, haggard hollow cheeks, a paleness that even made his lips a wrong shade of beige. "You alright? You look a little sick or something."
Michael ordered another drink and said "I'm not sleeping."
"You tried taking something?"
The waitress interrupted, putting Michael's drink on the table, and taking their orders. When she was out of earshot, Dave said "and what does Sheila say."
"She hasn't said anything. She sleeps like a rock. I just get up and waste time until she gets up, or it's time to head for the airport."
Dave grinned. "Just can't get away from those computer porn sites, huh?"
Michael drained his drink and stared at the ice cubes. "No. I play guitar. Or it plays me. Waitress! Could I get another the same."
"What do you mean it plays you?"
Michael laughed, a laugh that sounded like the sharp intake of breath from a knifed man. "I just mean I feel driven to play. And late at night I feel totally adrift. You know what I mean?"
Dave sipped his Heinekens and said "I guess I don't."
Michael said "it's funny. I don't even like the sound of this guitar. Never thought I'd play it. But...well, you know I'm on the road a lot. Four days in Phoenix, three days in Omaha, Holiday Inn, Texas Road House, Starbucks. Most of my life I'm really alone. Most of the time I can't even talk to my wife except to leave a fucking voice mail. Funny thing about this guitar. I don't feel alone when I play it." He stared at the turkey ciabatta sandwich on the plate in front of him. "When I play it, its as if someone was there, right at my elbow. Hell, I even take it on the road now."
Dave's phone rang. It was Sheila. She had apparently forgotten he was lunching with Mike, and Dave sent it to voice mail. Dave said "damn Kilpatrick anyway. He can't even leave me alone at lunch."
Michael was slowly cutting the sandwich into thin slices. He said "this is going to sound crazy. If I don't get up to play the guitar...it doesn't matter."
Dave looked at him, at the twisted smile and the feverish eyes. "It doesn't matter?"
Michael laughed and said "it plays anyway. I know. It's absurd. Hell...I shouldn't have told you."
David felt a strange flutter in his chest, and when he reached to take a forkful of his pasta he was surprised to see his hand shaking. "Well, Mike, I'm glad you came to me to talk about this. But I think maybe you should see somebody more..qualified in this kind of thing."
"That isn't what I wanted to talk about, Dave. But I've learned some things sitting awake in the dark at 3 am playing the guitar. I don't know where the things come from, but it's as if I hear them in a whisper. You think I'm nuts."
Dave said "no" as if Michael was relating to him some commonplace undeniable fact. Michael slowly and surgically removed another slice of turkey breast and said "it's Sheila, Dave. She's having an affair."