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Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II

Peter T. 11 Mar 01 - 12:29 PM
Amos 11 Mar 01 - 03:13 PM
katlaughing 11 Mar 01 - 03:20 PM
arch 12 Mar 01 - 02:16 PM
JenEllen 12 Mar 01 - 05:30 PM
Peter T. 12 Mar 01 - 05:50 PM
katlaughing 12 Mar 01 - 06:25 PM
Amos 12 Mar 01 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,Midchuck upstairs (wearing clothes) 12 Mar 01 - 08:04 PM
wysiwyg 12 Mar 01 - 08:07 PM
JenEllen 13 Mar 01 - 01:45 PM
JenEllen 13 Mar 01 - 06:12 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Mar 01 - 08:18 PM
JenEllen 13 Mar 01 - 08:23 PM
Amos 13 Mar 01 - 08:55 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Mar 01 - 09:00 PM
Amos 14 Mar 01 - 01:58 AM
Amos 14 Mar 01 - 11:18 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 Mar 01 - 12:06 AM
katlaughing 04 Jul 02 - 12:00 PM
wysiwyg 12 Feb 05 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,wysiwyg minus cookie 07 Feb 16 - 01:17 PM
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Subject: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 12:29 PM

So the cod really start disappearing, just as my owner said they would, one of the boys inshore, and he spends more time playing me than he does out on the water, and then he goes quarters with three other fellows and gets a bigger boat, and they go out where the big bastards are, and the fish are there for another year or two, and then nothing, and then finally the DFO and uncle John Crosbie and all say, Jeez there ain't any fish out there, and there ain't any jobs, and you are going to have to play guitar for the rest of your damn life, and what does Tommie know but salt water, I ask you?
So Tommie has to decide if he is going to Toronto or not to join his brother who pissed off there some while back. He asks the others, and they say, go for it Tommie. So he goes down to the dock. He figures this is going to be his last trip out, and so he stocks up, and throttles her up, and just heads out. The weather is good, and he says, well, maybe I'll just go on till I die, what the hell is the point?
I am rattling around in the cabin by the entangled paraphernalia, and he pulls me out, and starts drinking and playing me and bawling and heading out to see the sea.
"I tell you what, I tell you, I think we are going down all the way to the international line, and then we are going to sink a Japanese or Portuguese dragger, and then ---" and he played a shanty. "Sorry to drown you guitar, old friend, but that's what comes from making friends with bad company."
Night comes , and the cold comes, and the fog comes. And in the morning he looks at his instruments, and he howls -- "43/50 or fight!!! And he looks out at the fog, and he keeps going. He strums me, and looks out at the nothingness, now palpable before him.
And then, out of the fog, suddenly bobbing towards us, there comes this white boat, like it is formed out of fog. It is a lifeboat.
Tommie stands up. "Holy Christ!! It's a lifeboat." And it slides by back into the fog.
He trips over everything, rushes back, guns the motor, and turns the boat. In a few moments, he catches up to the apparition. He grapples it, and as he grapples, he shrieks to no one in particular, "Christ, there's someone in it!", and there in the bottom of the boat, alone, crumpled like some kind of Edwardian rose, lies a dead young woman.
He flings himself into the lifeboat, and clambers over to her, and he sees that, Christ, she isn't dead, she is breathing, and he picks her up in one move, and clambers back again; and in his hurry he kicks the lifeboat, and it bobs away into the fog again. He puts her down on the deck, and picks up the Scotch bottle and puts it to her lips. He rubs her hands, her face, and she comes to slowly like someone rising up from the bottom of the sea, her rich brown hair cascading over her face.
Panic rushes over her -- "Where am I? What? Where are we?" and she jerks her head around. "The ship!!!" She tries to rise, but cannot.
"Jesus, ma'am. Lie quiet. You're O.K. You're saved! "
She buries her face into his chest and starts crying, unconsoleably. "They're all dead!! They died all night, all day, all night, all day!! It was so cold. " She looks up, and tries to get up again. "You have to help them!!! We saw the fireworks, but no one came. Why did no one come? Why did no one come???" And she becomes hysterical for a few seconds.
Then she goes quiet, and a look of horror washes over her. "They're all dead. They all died. I am sure he is dead too. That is what he would do."
"Who, ma'am?"
"My brother." And she wipes her hand across her face.
"Look, ma'am, what is name of your ship? I'll get on the radio, and we'll see what happened. Get them out here if they ain't here now."
"They did that. And no one came."
"Well, there aren't as many rescuers as there were, but I'll bet there's bells going off somewhere."
"Bells. There were bells, too. Did I say there were fireworks?" She begins to fade.
"If you can lean on me, you need to get out of that -- costume -- and into a warm bed, and get some food --. " And somewhere between the beginning of the sentence and the end of it, his whole body freezes. He looks down at her, in her strange antiquated evening gown, and her bedraggled wrap, and he knows. He knows it before he asks, and he is frightened. He had risen slightly, and now he sits back down. In his disbelief he grabs her, and, almost roughly, shakes her.
"The ship!!! What was the ship!!" And she looks at him, the light fading in her eyes, and says, as he knew she would, "The Titanic, of course." And she is gone into the depths of sleep.

She sleeps for many hours. He sits by the bed, and he gets up and walks around, and then he sits down again and then he gets up and walks around again, hitting things just to hit things. He curses himself for losing the lifeboat -- an officer would have left notes in it, if there had been one. But maybe not, maybe it was too panicky, even for that.
He looks at the corset, and at the sleeping young woman, and goes out and gets me, and sits down, and starts to play anything, to keep going. Time passes, the boat heads for land.
"What is that?" she says sleepily.
"Just a shanty," Tommie replies.
"It is fine." she says.
"Do you have a name?" Tommie says.
"Margaret," she says. "Is this your boat?"
"Me and some friends. I was coming out here to sink it. Ironic, eh?"
She shudders. She turns in the bed, realizes that she is wearing some of his rough clothes, and blushes deeply. He looks at her and shrugs. She takes it in good part.
"Well," he says, playing me slowly, "I am not sure how to bring this up, but --"
"What is cooking?" she says, "I am starving from being in that perishing boat all those days."
"Christ, I have no manners," he says, and gets up. "Soup, back in a flash".
He puts me down, and goes out. After a few seconds, she reaches out, and with a practiced hand, proceeds to retune me. She then begins to play an exotic little tune, simple, but evocative. As she plays, the tears come into her eyes.
He comes back, with a bowl in his hand, and stands in the doorway. "You play that well."
"We are all musical in my family," she smiles. "My brother" -- and she halts her playing briefly -- and then plunges on -- "was a member of the ship's orchestra. He plays the violin, and --" and she keeps playing -- "and this is a favourite of his, 'Spanish Fandango'. He always loved hearing it."
He sits down, and listens. After a few moments, he puts his hand on her shoulder. "I have some bad news for you. He is dead. They are all dead."
She looks up at him, and says -- "I knew that, I knew he was, they stayed behind, and the music swept by us over the waters, until it all went out. " And tears come into her eyes again. "But all dead? No one survived? None of all those boats?"
He looks at her, and a funny look comes over his face.
"Here, eat this. We'll talk about it after you've eaten."
She puts me down, and takes the bowl. And they talk about it after she eats.

It is some time later, a year or more, and once again she plays the "Spanish Fandango". We are in a cemetery in Halifax, beside a grave. Tommie sits there, his arm around her, and a different look in his face. It is a hot day, they have a picnic lunch, and she is dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. Her Edwardian hair still cascades around her face. She plays "Spanish Fandango" for a few moments, and then she leans against him and kisses him. And then, after awhile, she plays me some more.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Amos
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 03:13 PM

Awwww Jeeezis. Peter meboy, ya got me all shivereen!!! What a tale. What a teller, you! Goldern, lad, it's like sitting by the race at Sutter's Mill, watching them pure nuggets drift by in the flume, and no-one to notice or cry out, "Eureka!!! Eureka!!!!". Do another. won't you? And another?


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 03:20 PM

Me, too...what A moss said:-)

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: arch
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 02:16 PM

just as i thought
story time is on again
and in full bloom
beautiful stuff for a fur face

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: JenEllen
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 05:30 PM

Mable Grace could hardly control herself. She sat at her spot at the heavy table with her hands folded in her lap. Well out of view of her parents, her fingers traced the letters P-L- E-A-S-E into her palms over and over again.

The gummint came today and told Mabel Grace's parents that she should be in school.

School, the thought of it sent shivers up her spine. To take the walk down the mountain every day and go to school. Lunch in a metal pail, eaten at school. She could read the bible and spell some, but she'd learn more in school. As soon as the gummint lady with her neat bun of hair mentioned it to her Nanny, Mabel Grace knew there was going to be trouble. Nanny didn't like the gummint one bit. It was the gummint that told her boy Paulie to go to war and he never came home. Now the gummint was going to take her grand-daughter, and she wouldn't come home neither. The bun lady with her shiny shoes smiled at Nanny, then she left and brought back re-inforcements. A man in a suit like the ones in the Sears catalogs, and this man had a piece of paper that he showed to Mabel Grace's daddy.

The gummint wasn't a novel topic at the supper table, not by any means. But tonight, Mabel Grace got an earful. She spelled and spelled until her palms were raw, and her eyes filled with tears.
"Gawdammit girl, you ain't gonna sit here and cry, an you shore as hell ain't goin' to no gummint school."
"If we don't let her go Pa, she's gonna be took away, and them gummint people is just the ones to do it too."
Mabel Grace knew if her Nanny didn't excuse her from this table real quick, she was gonna wail. By the grace of god her Nanny told her to get to bed. Mabel Grace climbed the ladder to her bed, and hung her face over to look through the slats in the floor. The talk went on for hours, with Nanny and Pa still saying no, and her Ma quickly running out of ideas. Mabel Grace was never going to get to go to school.

When Pa finally blew out the lantern and crawled into bed, Mabel Grace let out a sigh. She dried her eyes and softly blew her nose on the corner of her sheets. Mabel Grace slowly slid out of bed, and doing the stilted walk of someone who knows where all the creaky floorboards are from experience, grabbed me and headed for the ladder. Only two sets of fingers have ever touched my strings, Mabel Grace's and Paulie's. Paulie made me the very same winter that Mabel Grace was born. He taught her how to play with me well before her fingers could reach around my neck. The three of us used to sit by the creek, playing and talking, and that was where we were going tonight, I knew it. We slid to the moonlit rocks, and Mabel Grace talked to the memory of her uncle Paulie while her tears fell on my shoulders. We played Rolling On The Rye Grass and Boys On The Hill, and as the first light of dawn was making it's way over the mountain, Mabel Grace took me home singing her uncle Paulie's favorite song
In the chutes I graduated instead of going to school
Remember friends, my parents they were poor
When a boy left the cradle it was always made a rule
To try and keep starvation from the door
At eight years of age to the breaker I first went
To learn the occupation of a slave
I was certainly delighted and on picking slate was bent
My ambition it was noble strong and brave

Mabel Grace leaned me against the porch and took the rusty pail of water out to feed the chickens.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 05:50 PM

more P-L-E-A-S-E. yours, Peter T.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 06:25 PM

BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL, Jen! More, indeed!

A slight variation on an earlier one:

My death was less than swift. I knew I was to die, but had no idea of the blow after blow of the axe and how much it would hurt. My lifeblood drained from a thousand wounds; pieces of my flesh flew in high arcs to land unbidden on the forest floor; my roots shriveled in horror; my leaves trembled with each blow. Soon, my lifelines of swallowed sunlight slowed to nothing...with a final blow, I heard a loud "Timber!" and went crashing to the ground.

I thought that would be the end of it; I'd be left to whither away...until I felt the axe, again...hacking, hacking my very limbs, ripping them off in a methodical action of amoral mayhem. Finally, I lost consciousness.

When next I woke, I hear a loud buzzing and felt a quick ripping of my very trunk...I was being split, rent asunder, or so it felt. Reduced to so many flat, long parts...I still wept small tears until they placed me in the Big Heat...smoking my lifeblood out, no roots to reach hungrily for the earthblood deep down, no leaves to catch the rain...I was drained, dried. With no hope of life, I gave myself up and died.

Soft hands tickled me with a smooth caress...they nicked, gently, then rubbed with a roughish feel of soft sand. "What's this," I thought? "I am still alive! Oh, that feels so good! Why, it is my heart, my very core! It's been found! I am me, yet not me?"

I glowed, in a different way, under the carresses of the Mistress, as she shaped and sanded my heart til it took form with wires upon my belly and neck, running up to my head, wires which she also stroked until I found I could sing! I could sing and tell the world of my sacrifice and the joy at the end of all the pain.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Amos
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 07:56 PM

Ah, what sweet sorrow, and what fine minstrels sing it!! You are all SO damn GOOD!!!


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: GUEST,Midchuck upstairs (wearing clothes)
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 08:04 PM

Just to be different, here's a real letter from a real guitar.

I bought Jack Lawrence - you know, Doc Watson's partner/touring sideman - his Collings D2H. He posted it for sale on the flatpick list and I jumped for it. He wasn't playing it because he bought a Henderson and a Merrill, and he wanted to raise cash to buy the "...butt-ugly '43 D-18 from Dawg and Dexter that I've been lusting after for the last couple of months." Jack knew me because some of us on the list had gotten together with him for beer after his last couple of gigs with Doc at the Flynn in Burlington, and once in Troy, so he chose me out of the list members who jumped when he made the offer. The guitar was used by Jack on "About Time" (his solo recording) and with Doc on "Docabilly" and "Mac, Doc, and Del." He says it appears on the Doc and Grisman concert video, so I'll have to buy that. The guitar was received Friday afternoon, after it disappeared in the clutches of UPS during the blizzard we had in the northeast, and a good part of the flatpick list was sweating it out with me. The guitar is lovely - looks just like a classic Martin 'bone - but louder. A couple of finish dings on the top where, Jack says, he was guiding Doc around backstage while carrying it and Doc ran him into things. Recent refret. I'd rather have it than a new one, played in as nicely as it is, and with the bragging rights.

Anyway, on Sunday it dictated a letter to me, which we sent off to Jack:

Pittsford, VT March 11, 2001

Mr. Jack Lawrence Harrisburg, NC

Dear Daddy Jack,

Well, I'm just beginning to get settled in my new home. I was really scared when New Daddy unpacked me. He was twitching and had this wild look in his eyes. But he was very gentle with me, and he patted me all over and let me warm up, and then tuned me carefully, and he didn't twitch any more so I wasn't as scared. But then he played his first chord on me and he started to mumble and drool came out of the corner of his mouth, so I was scared all over again. But he's been very nice to me and paid me lots of attention, and been very gentle with me except when he wanted me to be Loud. I don't mind that, because I'm good at Loud, as you know.

It's kinda hard to get used to making music with New Daddy. He doesn't do much of the pretty music that we used to do before That Other Guitar came along. He mostly goes boom-whunka-boom-whunka boom on me while he Howls. Or he and New Mommy howl together. Or New Mommy plays on the noisy little cousin that gets played with a stick with a horse tail tied onto it, instead of a proper pick. New Daddy does do the pretty music, but he only does it in his kitchen when he's alone, or only New Mommy is there. And he plays it really slow. And he usually plays a tune halfway through, and then he plays a note that isn't in the tune at all, and then he says Damn, or something worse than that, and then he starts the tune over. He promised me that he'd work really hard to play the pretty music better, so I'd feel more at home; but New Mommy says he's been promising that for years and years, just like he's been promising to get thin, so I don't know.

I already got to play Out. Last night, New Daddy and New Mommy and The Big Funny Looking One took me and some cousins to a place called Black River Pub and Brewery, where they Howled for the people. It was a funny place. It wasn't anything like the Flynn Theatre or the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, or all those other places we used to go with the old guy. It was littler. A lot littler. And the people didn't sit in rows of seats and listen and clap. They sat around tables and drank smelly stuff out of big glasses and sucked on those little burny things that make us smell bad when you take us out of our cases (yucko!) and they talked. Sometimes they yelled. But they did clap, even though they didn't seem like they were listening. The people were funny looking, too. Some of them had great big baggy coveralls and big helmets like motorcycle helmets, and drank lots and lots of the smelly stuff. I thought they might be outlaw motorcyclists from California or Florida, who had trouble with the cold here, but New Daddy says they were Snowmobilers. And the rest were wearing expensive clothes and eating expensive food, but a lot of them had casts or knee braces on, and I thought maybe this place was an orthopedic hospital for rich people, but New Daddy said they were Skiers. New Mommy had the noisy little cousin, and TBFLO had a very nice little-cousin-with-too-many-strings, and a cousin from Japan or someplace who was loud. He seemed nice enough, but New Daddy said he was a Tacky Meanie, so maybe he is. We got along OK, though.

The accommodations here are pretty good. I get to live in the "guitar tidy" that New Daddy built a few years back. He put the OM-21 out so there'd be a space for me. The OM-21 didn't get anything to say about it, 'cause it was the littlest. I have to be especially nice to it, so it won't be mad at me. My roommates are Number Five and She Who Must Be Played. Number Five was built here in Vermont by a man named Craig Anderson. She's strange looking but really sounds sweet. She doesn't get to go out much. There's a picture of her, hanging on the wall in the background, on the cover of the CD New Daddy sent you. She Who Must Be Played is a D-18VMS. I guess she was New Daddy's special darling, and she said she was louder and prettier sounding than any 14-fret dreadnought anyone ever made, so she's been really grouchy ever since I got here. I think she hates me. New Daddy promised her he'd always keep her, and he'd take her to all the festivals where he might trip over a tent peg in the dark, and the bar gigs that might get rough, but that just made her madder. I hope she'll be nicer when she gets used to me. I can tell her stories about playing with the old guy, and maybe she'll be impressed if she believes me.

I have a new case for the rest of the winter. (I know, it's spring now, down there, but this is Vermont.) It's a Collings case, but black, and built like the Martin "Geib" style cases. New Daddy had bought it from a nice man on the flatpick list, for Number Five, but he thought I should live in it for the cold weather. When he took me out last night, he had a nice warm overcoat that zipped on over my case, but it made me mad because it had a label that said "Small Dog." I'm not a small dog, am I? He says he'll put me back in my tweed case when the weather gets warm and the black case would be too hot in the sun. When I got here, he saw that the Elixrs I had on had been played so much that they looked fuzzy where the coating was wearing out, and he put John Pearse PB Bluegrass strings on right away. TBFLO gave New Daddy a set of D'Addario EXP17s for a welcome present, and he says he'll try them as soon as these strings get tired.

I think I'm going to like it here. I have to lower my expectations a lot, as far as the quality of music I'll be doing, but I think I'll be played a lot, and loved, and I'll get to keep going out and making music for people - even if not anywhere near as MANY people. And that's what matters. And New Daddy says you can always play me again if you're anywhere near here. The Paramount theatre in Rutland has been completely rebuilt, and they're having concerts in it. That Skaggs guy that whats-his-name used to work for is going to be there in May. You and the old guy should see if you can get a booking there. The old guy used to come to Rutland every so often, but he hasn't been for a while. This is the first they've had a decent concert hall.

All my love, and give my best to the old guy.

Your baby,

Lawrence D. Collings, Esq.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: wysiwyg
Date: 12 Mar 01 - 08:07 PM

Welcome to the Mudcat arch. There are several Mehitabels here as well.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: JenEllen
Date: 13 Mar 01 - 01:45 PM

Lovely, Midchuck!! Thank you ever so for sharing your letter!

Jen(who's cooking up another one, promise...)

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: JenEllen
Date: 13 Mar 01 - 06:12 PM

Louie always said that he'd never met a woman that daylight was kind to. From my vantage point in the corner of the room, this woman didn't look to be any different. The humans slept, but I waited like I did every day. Louie would bring me home from the club just as morning was breaking, and prop me in my stand in the corner so he could attend to that night's conquest. I would wait for dusk.

Over the space of an hour, the humans grew increasingly restless. Muffled snores gave way to stretches and yawns, then a hand with it's laquered nails fell over Louie's chest. It was always the same, they never learned.
"Hi baby, how about some breakfast."
Louie's bloodshot eyes open and he stares blankly at the long-limbed creature inhabiting his bed. In slow motion, Louie rolls to sit on the edge of the bed, his elbows on his knees, and the heel of his hands grinding mercilessly into his eye sockets. The woman curls her knees up behind him, modestly tucking the sheet up under her arms. The small amount of daylight that filtered in behind the curtains gave this scene a sad air.

The first clouds roll over the woman's face. Now, I'm only a guitar, I don't know the workings of humans and their attractions, but it always amazes me how they know change is inevitable, yet they shink from it like it was raw liver. Doris, I think her name was Doris, was a cigarette girl at the club. All polish and shine until now. Her fingernails still clung to ruby red, but the coiffed and sprayed hair of last night stuck out now in uneven spikes. Her brilliant blue eyeshadow stained the pillowcases, and as she struggled to extract a cigarette from the pack on the headboard, her hands shook.

Louie took the cigarette from her, drew a long breath, and passed it back to her. A faint smile of something shared creased the womans face, but then Louie flatly told her to leave. He turned the taps on in the shower, and left the bathroom door open. The steam was so thick I could feel my pegs tighten. Doris stared at her knees for a second, and I could see her shoulders fall. I could feel her staring at me from across the room well before I felt her approach. She sat crosslegged on the floor before me. One laquered nail reached out to pluck a string, but she paused as if she'd thought better of it. I could almost see her thoughts, like one of theose news reels at the picture show. Everyone moving jerkily in black and white. All her imaginings of every woman who had fallen prey to Louie. Blonds, brunettes, redheads.. he bent their heart stings just like she was about to do to mine.

Louie's tenor came through the steam. The great booming voice that belied his delicacy. No one could sway the girls like Louie. Doris cringed at the first sound of his voice, then a faint smile danced across her face. She stood up, letting the sheet drop from around her, and she walked naked to Louie's desk. She began rummaging through the drawers until she found what she was looking for. She turned to me with a pair of scissors that could cut a Studebaker in half, and slowly walked my way. Louie sang in the shower while Doris did me in.
I ask her come her baby and she says no no (plang)
I ask her drive me here, she says drive your own (twang)
She likes to race my motor then slam my hood (thwing)
She makes me feel good, she makes me feel good (thonk-planck- twing)

That woman was smiling as she gathered her things. My strings curled around my frets like Medusa's hair. Doris calmly placed the scissors back where she found him, and locked the door on her way out.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Mar 01 - 08:18 PM

She boarded the Air France flight, a backpack slung over one shoulder, a black cordura guitar case over the other. She had long blond hair, and a round, open face. About her was the faint aroma of patchouli. She found her seat, and a stewardess helped her to place her backpack in the overhead. But when the flight attendant said "I will place this in the forward compartment," the girl's face revealed a sudden panic, and her grip tightened on the case. "No!" she blurted,"I mean, it's very valuable...and I would like to play it on the flight. If that's alright." The stewardess indicated the oversize rear compartments and said "Put it in there until we are airborne, and then, if your seatmate is tolerant..." and the attendant strummed an invisible guitar," may."

She took her seat, removed her shoes, and stretched her legs across the seats. It looked as if the flight would be only partially full. Her eyes closed and she was back in Marrakesh, in the Casbah, the bleating of the vendors mingling with the strains of exotic music and the odor of roast lamb. She felt a hand upon her shoulder..."please to fasten your seatbelt miss". In minutes the 747 was air bourne, nose up into the setting sun. As the plane levelled out, she unsnapped her belt and went aft to take her guitar case from the storage . In her seat, she unzipped the case and revealed a fine old 6 string flat top. She strummed it softly, and then her fingers crept gently into the sound hole, probing. Yes, the three heavy lumps of hashish were still there.

"Hi there!" The woman glanced up in momentary terror to see a graying, uniformed man smiling at her. "I'm in a middle seat in the back of the plane, and was wondering if you'd be so kind as to give up your aisle seat here? Say! That's a nice old guitar you've got there!" He sat down, extending his hand "Captain Miles Morrisey, US Air force." She took his hand. "Tamara," she said."You know," he continued,"I'm a bit of a picker myself. Do you mind.." and before she could answer he was holding the guitar, cradling it in his lap. He strummed a G chord, then several others, and his smile turned to a quizzical look. "It's got kind of a muffled sound," he said, then tapped the top lightly."You should have this set up by a luthier when you get home. It has a kind of dead spot...HERE" and he thumped the wood just above the illicit stash. Suddenly, he loped off into a bluegrass riff that made several nearby passengers turn to look in surprise.

This heart of mine is made of silver
This heart of mine is made of gold
It will shine like a diamond
When your world is dark and cold

The plane landed at Kennedy in the early morning, and the woman disembarked, gathered her luggage and loaded it onto a cart. Her heart raced when she saw the customs official, revolver at his side, and the small mongrel-looking dog which was busily sniffing the suitcases and packs. As she passed them, her face was burning crimson and she felt faint. The dog suddenly leaapt up, planting his nose against her guitar case. "What have we got here, Max?" said the official, then sternly "open the case, ma'am." With trembling fingers she opened it, and the man stood gazing at the guitar."Well, miss. I guess you know better than I do what we have here!" She felt the tears gather in her eyes, as a succession of weak alibis were quickly examined and discarded unspoken. "This", he said, "is a Gibson Hummingbird circa 1936 without the pickguard!" He strummed it and smiled. "Slightly the worse for wear, but what a tone! Or is it a Gibson? This might be a custom guitar. I'd love to take her apart and see what makes her tick." The woman snatched the guitar back quickly at this comment. "You ought to have it looked at though. Kind of muffled!," he shouted as she exited the gate.

He patted Max a second, saying "Pretty girl, huh Max? Nice guitar." He leaned close as Max cocked an ear. "As for the rest...that'll be our secret, hey Maximillian?" He turned to watch her pass into the bustle of the concourse.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: JenEllen
Date: 13 Mar 01 - 08:23 PM

Damn fine, Leej, DAMN fine!

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Amos
Date: 13 Mar 01 - 08:55 PM

Hoooooeeee LEEJ!!! You got the golden tongue still, me boyo! Love ya!


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Mar 01 - 09:00 PM

That'll be enough complements outta you Amos. I know you've got another story up your sleeve, so load that keyboard and fire at will.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 01 - 01:58 AM

When Time is, old pal. Right now Time is being sucked up like the last inch of an icecream soda in August by an unrelenting and inconsiderate black hole called Woik. Grump grump.

Thank you for keeping that flame up there -- you, Peter, My Jen Heart, and the rest. Mighty fine indeed.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 01 - 11:18 PM

The coast of Maine, where we first met, was warm day and night, with bands of cool fog starting the morning and the endless rhythms of Atlantic waves stepping down from the far reaches full of force and danger to the safe sand shores.  I think, as bipeds go, he was young - less than a quarter grown, gangly and feeling half the time like he was there, half the time not like the ebb of a summer moon thinking about autumn.

His hands were softer then.  It was before they sent him off to the Vermont mountains to work off his rebellious notions milking dairy herds and splitting logs and boiling maple sap after school.  His hands grew rough in Vermont, and he lost his fancy for the airy pretty-kitties of the summer colony in Maine and learned to look for tougher stuff in   his companions.  And his barring got much better and I liked that part a lot.  I don't know how to explain that.  A clean fullo mouthful of sounds, rich and waving out across a floor or maybe a campground -- and later, across the open waters of the Med -- has always made my throb with delight.  I hate squawking, when I mean to be singing, so I was glad as he reached his strength. I never cared what we played.  He could sing in French or grumble like a broken soldier, or, back then, do a Mule Skinner falsetto that would reach all the way home.  Or tickle me like a lute and do something coy, like the Nightingale Song, or get some buddy to blow in a jug and sing about Stealing Pretty Mama...I never cared, except if he got drunk and played me bad.  But I always forgave him.  I knew he loved me, and I know, I guess, I loved him, as much as our kind do sometimes love theirs.

His first ship -- he hauled me up the gangplank in a cloth case lashed to his big old duffle -- it was a Mediterranean freighter, I guess it was Setubal we found her.  It ran crates and stuff down to Lisboa, over to the Azores, down around the Strait into Valencia or maybe Marseilles.  He was real happy in those days, and his hands got browner and stronger still, but he never got so stiff he couldn't remember what we could do together.  We'd get some time, during long hauls, where we would climb up onto that foc'sle head, curl up against the base of the windlass just out of the wind, just there in the sun, and we would play together for hours, sending threads of that warm human sound and warm Me sound wrapped together out over the foam caps, trickling under the gulls' wings, just casting it on the winds running down from the Gulf of Lyons toward the endless unknowns of Algeria to the south.  We were so happy.

I don't know what happened; I had to stay inside for a long time, I remember, and everyhing rocked and plunged up and down for hours and days and nights -- I felt sometimes like I had been trapped inside a bad song, it was so rough.  We had left Marseilles and the Straits, and the last time he put me away he was talking to the bosun about the long haul to the Skaggerak.  So I guess that was where we were going.

The temperatures got lower, and I sat in the dark.  The ride calmed down, but he didn't come for me.  I didn't mind.  I just did my mind-chords on and on, playing them through in my heart even when my body was still in the cold dark locker behind the messhall.  And of course, one day he did come for me, as I always knew he would, and he carried me out onto the deck again.  It was a strange place.  We were tied up against a concrete dock, and fancy little buildings of different colors, all with steep roofs and funny looking windows, ran down the streets and funny boats with rounded ends and different colored sides bobbed along the quai with us.  I didn't mind, I was so glad to be out, and for the boat to be more or less at rest, and be able to see light again and hear the gulls whistle and the waves beat time even in the little harbor, which he called Helsingor.

We played a lot that afternoon, and people would stop on the quaiside and say things in strange words.  They would call out "Tak fer die!" or something, and "Mange tak!" and he would just smile and play a little riff, like that Song of the Portuguese Sailor, or the exciting one about the shores of High Barbary -- I guess people really like that because of his deep chested noises and the running chords up and down the neck -- I always tried to make them sound like ocean winds wrapped around a rigging.  And five or six girl bipeds gathered alongside the quai and watched him, smiling and making chirpy sounds.  One of them even spoke his language, and they chatted.  He said something about shore leave, and he said something and she said something, and I felt his barring fingers go a little slack on the high A minor he was doing just about then, which annoyed me.  But you know, I always forgive him.

So that night he comes and gets me again, and he smells like one of the French brothels he likes to sing about when he gets tight, you know.  And we get a cab and he manages to get to a fancy building she is staying in and she gets in with us and we are driving for miles and miles, all the way to Kobenhavn, she says to him laughing.  He plays her tunes from all kinds of places, and she loves our music, and she says so, so I try even harder to sound sweet for him, because I know it means something important to him.  She has nice eyes and a soft voice with funny corners in it.

We get out and go into this funny building with lights flashing out its windows, and he puts me in a corner where it is a little quiet but not very and he takes her with one hand and steers off into a cloud of shadowy chatter full of tinkles and giggles.  I sit there for hours.  Sometimes that room explodes with big ugly vibrations, and the lights flash and colors fly around; then sometimes some of my kind get to make some music from across the room which I like, not my kind, though, and kind of... I dunno...coarse or pushy.  It's smoky and all the bipeds jump around.  I turn inward and practice my heart's own chords when I can concentrate.

He comes and gets me then, and I can tell he's been drinking cuz he puts all his fingers in the wrong places and makes me whine and I hate that.  But at least he's got me, and I've got him.  And I feel happy, even with the buzz-notes, even if it is for the last time ever.

We go out into the night, and it has gotten cold, and he flags down another taxi cab, a small one, and they get the biped to open the turnk to lie me down in, cus there's no room for the three of us in the seat and he seems to want to play other chords on her, different ones.  I say, so what. let him practice if he wants.  So what.  I sound better than she does, by a long shot, and her voice is all full of corners.  I close my eyes and do my heart's sounds again for miles, and miles.

I can hear the lap of the harbor and the doors of the car opening and closing, and they are laughing in their funny screechy way they do when drinking noises are made.  I rest in the dark.  The laughing walks off and the car is moving again, and I am never happy again.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Mar 01 - 12:06 AM

Beautifully done, my friend.

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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 12:00 PM


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: wysiwyg
Date: 12 Feb 05 - 12:23 PM


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Stories: The Moving Guitar II
From: GUEST,wysiwyg minus cookie
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 01:17 PM

These fine stories by some of Old Mudcat's Best will live again tonight in Ohio's Celebration Circle of Song, Story, and Solidarity. What a great tribute to the Passed and intro to Mudcat Future, for folks here too young or busy to have found Mudcat before.


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