Mudcat Café message #2431533 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #113933   Message #2431533
Posted By: Lonesome EJ
05-Sep-08 - 12:34 AM
Thread Name: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
Subject: RE: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
In room 313 of the Peery Hotel, Michael lay dreaming.
He was walking down a path by the side of a stream in a mountainous country. He began to hear a steady wet thumping, and as he passed a fragrant orchard, he saw ahead of him a woman dressed in a long blue gown, her beautiful hair long and plaited. She stood beside a stone watermill, whose wheel spun slowly in the passing water. "You're late Michael" she said, and he recognized by her voice that this person was Sheila.
"I was looking for David," he said, and she smiled and told him "David is at the Fair." Then she took his hand and they walked together.
The path became crowded with people dressed in rough cloaks or velvet finery, with men on horses and ladies in elegant carriages. they reached a place where you entered the Fair through a trellised archway, and a jovial, bearded, rotund man was collecting tickets from the fairgoers. The fellow looked at Sheila and said "you know who I am." She said "of course. You are Joe from Colorado." The man laughed, then to Mike he said "tickets please." Michael had left the tickets at his hotel, and told the man so. Joe laughed again and said "what key unlocks the door between life and death, and where can it be hidden?" Sheila said "I know. It is not a key, but the nylon string from a guitar. And one can hide it in one's mouth. And there are you hiding it now!"
Joe looked surprised, then discomfited, then suddenly coughed and produced from between his lips a long nylon guitar string, which he pulled hand over hand, as in the manner of a magician, until he held it before them, saying "you are a very clever girl. You both may enter".
Inside, it was like the Rennaissance Fair they had once attended in Park City. Jugglers performed for a group of children, a man in a devil costume blew plumes of fire, a puppet show featured paint-faced figures whacking each other with paddles.
Suddenly, a man if full armor approached them and said "Hi Mikey. Hi Sheel." And he lifted the visor to disclose Dave's face. "It's hotter than hell in this armor. Can you get me a brew, Mike?" Mike found a woman who sold ornate flagons of beer, but on returning, Dave and Sheila were gone. He began to seek them, and as he did, he became conscious of music playing. He had wandered to a field where three young high-school aged girls whirled in beads and tie-dyed dresses in a clearing before a bandstand. He seemed to recognize the men on stage and a long haired guy near him said "nothing beats the Dead, huh man?"
He saw, to the right of the stage, David holding Sheila, kissing her, then stalking away into the trees. Michael went to her and said
"what are you two up to?" She smiled, and said follow me. He was seething, but he followed to a place where a jousting course had been set up. He saw David vault into the saddle. At the other end of the track, a colossal knight in black armor sat his charger. "I hope he kills David" he said to Sheila. A trumpet sounded, and the riders charged toward each other, coming together in violent collision. And Michael could see that David had been impaled on the dark knight's lance. Michael ran to him as a crowd gathered. They pulled David's helmet off, and blood ran from his mouth and his eyes. "Where's Sheila?" Dave coughed. Mike said "why, David? You were by best friend." Dave gave a weak chuckle and said "because you are a fool, Mike. If it hadn't been me, it would've been somebody else." David gave his final breath, and Michael stared in anger over toward Sheila, just in time to see the black knight extend a bouquet of roses to her.

"Jesus!" Michael shouted into the silence of his room. It was pitch dark. He lay there, still shaken from the dream. The guitar was leaning on the wall by the large window. He had pulled the shade down nearly to the sill, but the small remaining gap allowed light from a street lamp to illuminate the lustrous ebony surface, to pick out the etching in its detail.
The guitar was silent, but in the hall just outside his room he heard low shuffling foot steps that approached, then paused before his room. His pulse was audible to him in the silence that followed, but his heartbeat seemed to stop in the moment when he heard the suppressed, guttural laughter through the door.