Friday, 31 August 2012

The river stops

“The river always stops for the guitar's music. It's all an old saying amongst the gypsy musicians," said Carrie. “They believe there was an elemental power in music, if played at the right time, in the right way. A power. A magic in the spirit. I dunno, I heard that in Spain someplace, maybe in a film or maybe my parents told me.” Joel was quiet, in his own space, thinking odd thoughts staring at the cold dark water running by. He was thinking about his guitar, his music. The music he liked to make here, out here by the river. He fingered up a chord and began to pick and strum forming a tune. The hollow wooden box and metal strings cast out sweet sounds, sweet as nuts up in high trees, too high to ever pick. The tune was long and liquid, it followed familiar progressions and then moved, made odd jumps, changes in key and tempo, odd chords thrown in. Carrie was walking away, somewhere else in her own thoughts.

As he played he watched the river currents and water shapes come and go, swell, change and glisten with the music. Fish swam by, creatures and carrion, trees and sticks, twigs and wreckage on the tiny white horses of the waves and water heads. It was a hypnotic moment that stretched for hours. He played and the river paid attention, the river obeyed, the river gave way to the music and allowed the sound and rhythm to pick up an carry those movements, hold and then release the flow. Joel was in there, in the music, in the guitar and in the river. It was that moment he'd dreamed of, that perfect rapport. It had all come together for Joel. Poor Joel.

Three days later the Sheriff's men found Joel's body, carried ten miles or so downstream, he was laid out on a mudbank face down. At the edge the white prowler's blue flashing lights were visible from the road. Some folks stopped to take a look and then went about their business. It was a big river. Granddad identified the body when they brought it back to town, he needed half a bottle of whisky and time to himself before he could talk afterwards. “Three days in the water don't make a body look pretty.” Carrie cried for a week and then went back to school, it was going to be a long winter and the birds were flying real low. They never did find the guitar either. “It just floated away to some other place.” Said Carrie.

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