Damon ignored the knocking on his door. He was too caught up looking over his current classical piece and trying to work out the various progressional chords to hear it, anyway. His carefully polished instrument lay in his lap as he read the lines of music that would be part of his next performance later that day. His bottle green eyes lit up with relieved joy as he finally worked out the last of the difficult chords in the piece. He couldn't wait to play it in its entirety now, couldn't wait to see what it sounded like without the pauses in the music that used to be there before he learned to remove them with long hours of intense, yet enjoyable, practice.
"Damon," His brother Dylan's voice was the only thing that could effectively break through his intense concentration, "Damon, dinner's ready, and mother says that if you don't come out here in the next five minutes she will start without you. Are you awake in there?" Dylan had failed to listen hard enough, or long enough to catch the faint strains of Damon’s guitar.
"Yes, I'm awake, Dylan," said Damon, "Give me those five, and I will be right there." Damon placed his guitar lovingly on its stand, caressing the body of the instrument much as one would caress the body of an intimate lover. Then he carefully closed the score he had been working on, placing it in its proper place on the shelves that held many such treasures. He reflected on how he had first started learning the guitar as he walked from his room out to join his mother and his nineteen year old brother at the dinner table. It had been when he was small-very small in fact. He had been at a concert with his school where one of the compositions had been a classical guitar piece that had caught and held his attention like nothing else had. After that he had wanted, no needed, to learn the guitar. He had started out on a ukulele that his parents had bought him out of indulgence. They had thought it was a phase that Damon was going through: that it would pass with time.
They had been mistaken. When his father realized that it wasn't just a passing phase, he had, albeit reluctantly, paid for guitar lessons for Damon. By this time he was six, he had been playing the ukulele since he was four. Damon would sit in his room for hours deaf to nearly anything else, except for his father and one-year-younger brother and play. He would play until his fingers hurt, then he would stop. As he grew older, his hours, and his stamina grew as well. By the time he was ten, he could play things that people twice his age could only dare to dream of playing. He always made time for his father, though-at least one to two hours out of every day were for him.
One day when he was still ten years old, he came home to find his father gone. Just-just gone! No good bye, no word from his mother as to where he had gone, or why. It was if his father had never existed. Damon, who had been close to his father, was nearly devastated. He began to draw more and more into his music then. Using it as his escape, and more importantly, his solace. The one to two hours of the day that Damon had shared with his father were now devoted to the guitar, and his composing. His classes in high school prepared him for that: now that he was out of high school, he was looking for auditions, and perhaps a scholarship to Julliard or perhaps Florida State University. He had heard it said that they were two of the finest music schools in the country, and he was hoping to get in to either one or the other of them. He was finding it difficult, however, to find auditions. One reason he was performing in bars such as the Slippery Noodle and others.
He had hoped his father would return, but after two whole months without seeing him, Damon realized he would probably never see his father again, ever. This saddened him, for some of his happiest childhood memories had been when his father had come to watch him play, and listen to him, as well. When he had asked his mother about where his daddy was, she would often tear up, and go very very quiet. After a while, Damon stopped asking her because he realized it was making her feel bad, and he didn’t like it when she was upset.
He was now at the end of his reflections, and, at the dinner table, which was set rather fancily, especially for just the three of them. Damon pulled out the chair, his six-one frame lean and graceful, yet oddly falcon-like as he seemed to perch rather than sit in the chair which had a red velvet cushion in its seat. If one looked at the back of the chair they would see the ties that held the cushion in place.
Dylan who had just returned to the dinner table, bassed damon a bowl of peas. He had often wondered if he was the only one who could truly keep Damon from withdrawing into his music to an unhealthy degree. He also wondered if Damon knew how incredibly wrapped up he was in his guitar and his music. He didn’t think Damon did, but he couldn’t be sure of that either.
“Do you know what you will do for your performance, eldest son of mine?” His mother, Mariah asked him as he reached for the china bowl that held various pieces of fruit, after having placed som of the peas Dylan passed to him on his plate.
Damon nodded, “Segovia, I think. He’s one of the most fascinating classical composers, mother,” he said, “Then maybe some of the more recent Salsa styles. And perhaps a jazz piece or two.”
“I wish you would break down, elder brother,” said Dylan quietly, “Do some Leonard Skinnard, or Led Zeppelin, or something. You’re performing in bars for the gods’ sakes!”
“I need electric for those, Dylan,” Damon replied, “And-well, I just don’t feel those types of music. I can’t seem to put as much energy into them as I can Segovia or some of the others. I’m not going to do things that I don’t feel in my heart or soul. It shows, brother. It really does.”
Dylan frowned a little, but didn’t say anything else. He was beginning to realize that his brother could be stubborn, sometimes too stubborn. One of these days he was going to be too stubborn for his own good. He didn’t like feeling that way, but nor could he help it either. He also knew that you didn’t need electric for some of Led Zeppelin, but he did not say this, either. Both, he knew, were considered Rock an’ Roll, albeit classic Rock, and that was something, no matter how hard Dylan prodded, he knew Damon would never do.
“I wish you would look harder for auditions, Damon,” said his mother as she passed the mashed potatoes to Dylan, “You are wasted in the Slippery Noodle. You’re just too good to be there. It isn’t like you can’t call around again and find out what is taking them so long.”
“And it isn’t like I didn’t just call three days ago. I need to give them time, mother. I’m just as frustrated with the lack of audition spots as you are. As much as I enjoy performing there, that place can get a little rowdy at times. I’ve even wanted to leave a couple of times because of the near fights people have had while drinking. It frightens me, mother, it really does.”
Dylan shuddered, he could certainly understand that. Bar fights were never pleasant, and always volatile. It never ceased to amaze Dylan how incredibly stupid people could get when they were intoxicated. He wondered, though, why they would let his brother in. He wasn’t twenty-one, after all, and he had thought you had to be twenty-one to even get into places like that. Unless the Slippery Noodle was different somehow.
His mother nodded, she knew all too well the fear brawls in bars could cause. She had nearly been caught up in one as a younger lady, and would never forget that experience, “So how long do you think it will take you to be ready then?” she asked softly, “Your performance is when again?”
“eight-thirty,” said Damon, “and it’s five-thirty now,” he had glanced up at the clock on the stove, his move almost falcon-like, “I have time, mother. It won’t take me that long to be ready for tonight.”
His mother was satisfied with that response. She knew her son, knew him to be a responsible young man. One who took care of his possessions with an almost compulsive fervor. She knew one possession he took care of like that, and it worried her. Ever since Martin had left, Damon had been almost obsessed with the guitar of the same brand name. She wasn’t sure this was healthy this, all pervasive love for the guitar and its music, but she wasn’t sure how to approach Damon with her concerns either. She was too frightened that he might deny it, might just say that he needed to practice to keep his skill up. She sighed inwardly. Raising too sons such as Damon and Dylan had not been easy to do alone and she had often wished Martin would return, though she knew that would probably never happen in her, or their, lifetime.
By then, Damon had finished eating and leaned back in his chair to stretch. He always enjoyed being near his brother like this, even though he had a hard time admitting it to himself and others, just as much as he enjoyed being in his room with his guitar and his music. Soon, though, he knew, soon he would have to move and start getting ready to leave for his performance at the Slippery noodle.
Two hours later, Damon was sitting on a barstool, both legs down one side, much like a bird perched on a stump of a tree. His guitar lay in his lap, and he was doing a mic check to make sure everything was running smoothly. He hoped, not for the first time, that there would be other music people here who might be looking for people like him. People with talent and skill who were stuck in places like this. More importantly, he was hoping to get out of here alive, and in one piece. The barkeep had said it was one of the rowdier nights, but Damon hadn’t realized just how rowdy it had actually been until he had stepped inside, and was blasted by predominantly male voices, smoke, and the smell! The smell of alcohol that nearly made him nauseous until he had gotten used to it. The smell of too many unwashed bodies crammed into too small a space: The Slippery noodle was one of the cheaper bars in Chicago, despite its claim to be otherwise.
He had managed to commandeer a stool and the microphone for his performance, and now sat waiting for them to turn the music down so he could start. It would be a good thing, he thought, that this would be the last performance he would do in this place for the next three or four days. He knew that was typically how long it truly took him to recover from such a trip as it was.
Finally, finally it was time for him to begin. The piped music in the Slippery Noodle came down...
And the first run of the classical piece Damon had been working on that day filled the room, silencing more than half of those seated closest to him, though the ones that were more inebriated didn’t seem to notice the music at first. They were still caught up in their drinks and their loud conversations- and in some cases their verbal spats. Damon had long since found away to tune them out and concentrate on his music. Tonight was no exception. He paid no heed to the requests, for now, for other pieces. He would come back to some of those later.
As he played he thought about his father again. How he had seemed to get more and more up set at the littlest things as Damon got older, until finally he had left. Martin, his father, the same model as his guitar. To Damon the guitar was a reminder of the love they had shared, the absolute openness he had had with his father. The caring Martin had had for Damon before he started getting mean and introverted. The things they would do together during the two hours a day they spent in each other’s company.. He closed his eyes as he played, losing himself in the music, as he so often did here. Playing his best because he could do nothing less.
After he had finished the classical piece, he moved to a Salsa one. A faster dance piece that got a least some couples on the floor to dance. There was a small dance floor in the middle of the bar, but it wasn’t very good: drinks spilled from the tables that surrounded it making the floor very sticky, and some times treacherous, at times. He segued from the fast paced Salsa one into a slower one, thinking that it would be about time to head back around to the main piece of the night, which was the one by Segovia he had told his mother he was going to do.
Damon frowned. He wasn’t a kid. He was a young man. He didn’t answer the older man, just turned his head in the direction of the voice. When he did, he met two bloodshot eyes in a face framed by hair that was going silver at the temples, but raven black otherwise.
“Play me some of the good shit! Play me some Death Leopard, or Leonard skinnard!”
Damon grimaced. He had always been afraid of getting requests like this because he knew he would have to turn them down. Since he didn’t, and had never planned to, play rock an’ roll, he never learned it. Not even one song in the genre was his to master. Unlike the other Genres like Salsa, Jazz and blues, and the classical which were as natural to him as breathing, or even flying.
“I’m sorry mister,” he said as politely as he possibly could, “I don’t know any Death Leopard, or Leonard Skinnard. I don’t play rock an’ roll.”
“You-you what? The Play some Led Zeppelin! That’s classic rock, not rock an’ roll!” The man wasn’t quite red in the face, but he was close.
Damon realized that he was making the man angry, and started to get a little worried, but he wasn’t frightened yet. His fingers twitched on the neck of the guitar as he moved restlessly on the stool.
“You’re going to play some of the good shit for me or I’ll make you!” Buy this time the man was red and the face, and his speech was very slurred. Slurred enough that it was hard to catch what he had said.
“Mister,” said Damon, “I told you I don’t play rock an’ roll. Now please stay in your seat and enjoy the rest of the performance. You’re disrupting it right now.” Damon’s eyes were still on the man’s bloodshot ones, but they were rapidly becoming hot. The man was trying Damon’s patience.
“I said I would make you!” The man lurched to his feet much though the astonishment of those in the bar, “You’re too young to be here anyway. You should have left as soon as you came!”
Damon tried to keep the man away from himself by pushing him away, but the man was quite a bit bigger than the young falcon-man. Damon did manage, once, to thrust the man away, but he came at him again.
Now the man was like a mad bull having been denied its chance at something it wanted. He screamed and raged, “I’ll get you to play rock an’ roll, if you won’t do it, then I’ll do it myself!”
Damon found the man had somehow gotten past his defenses, and had gotten hold of the neck of the guitar, just below the tuning head. Damon’s eyes went wide, and his breathe sped up a little. His heart didn’t quite race, but it did quicken just a little.
“Sir,” he said, using the word he used for men who were now making him anxious, “Sir, let go of my guitar, and go sit down.”
“Not until you promise to play rock an’ roll!” the man was creaming at Damon. Screaming his loudest.
By then, the whole of the bar knew what was going on over by the stage and was watching in eager anticipation. There was nothing like a good fight to stop all activity, the barkeep knew. He felt sorry for the young man, though, it wasn’t his fault that he had to play here. The nice young man, who, in the barkeep’s opinion was much too good for places like this.
“I told you man!” Damon’s eyes had gone cold and hard now, and his mouth was set in a thin line, “I don’t know how to play rock an’ roll!”
“Then I’ll play it!” The man tightened his hand around the neck of the tuitar.
Damon tightened his hands convulsively around the body of the instrument. Which probably wasn’t the wisest move, but Damon was beyond rational thought now, his breath came in pants, his heart raced, and his eyes were wild with panic.
Crack! The man had backed up, twisting the neck of the guitar to rench it out of Damon’s death grip. In doingso, he had broken the neck of the instrument clean off the body so that he was now holding it.
Damon, at the sound, slumped forward in shocked disbelief. His eyes wer hollow now. Empty and devoid of emotion. His guitar! Someone had dared to break his beautiful, lovely Lady Rain! He finally started to collect himself, though his eyes remained haunted, with a far away look in them.
“The performance,” he said into the mic, his voice surprisingly steady for what had just occurred, “Is obviously at an end. Thank you for your time, it is appreciated.”
The man meanwhile had thrown down the neck of the guitar and had gone back to his seat, apparently having lost interest in the thing since it was now useless to anyone. Though his eyes did gleam with a certain satisfaction.
Damon reached down for the neck of the instrument and nearly wept at the splintered cracked state of the long hollow piece of wood. There was no way he would be able to repare it. It just wasn’t possible now. He picked up the two pieces of his Lady Rain, and more or less drifted in a daze from the bar. He was angriest at the barkeep. He should have been able to stop this—and the bouncers, too!
When Damon was home again, he went straight to his room where he lay on his bed and wept. Wept so hard that the sobs shook his body. Wept so long that Dylan began to wonder if he would ever stop crying. It was a full hour and a half of off and on tears. A full hour and a half, none of which Dylan left his brother’s side for. He, too, had been angry at the barkeep, but from his mind he could sort of understand why the barkeep didn’t do much. Damon was under age, after all, and the barkeep had been doing a special favor by letting him in. That didn’t mean Dylan didn’t have to like the way the barkeep was watching just as hungrily as the others were. If he was like that with Damon, what did it say for him when other younger ones got in fights like that? It wasn’t fair, but Dylan knew, even at nineteen, that life wasn’t always fair. It was just the way things were.
“Damon?” Dylan’s soft voice made Damon look up into his brother’s intense killer blue eyes, “Dylan-Dylan? Have you been here this whole time?”
Dylan nodded, flinching at the sight of his brothers empty, hollow eyes. Eyes that seemed to have no life in them anymore. Eyes that seemed to have lost all spirit, all the will to do anything at all. Dylan promised himself then and there, that Damon would have another guitar. His brother would have his music, even if it took him years to give it back to him.
“I-dear gods, Dylan,” said Damon softly, “I can’t believe this-I just can’t!”
Dylan nodded, “I’m in just as much shock as you, elder brother,” he said quietly. He refrained from saying I told you so, though it did flit in the back of his mind for a moment. He didn’t think Damon was in the mood to have that sort of thing thrown in his face, and he loved him too much to hurt him anymore than he already seemed to be. He hadn’t realized how truly wrapped up in the guitar Damon had become- almost to the exclusion of all else. Even his own family. Dylan reached to catch one of Damon’s hands in his, :I love you brother,” he said softly, “I’ll get your music back for you- I promise!”
Damon smiled, though it was half-hearted at best. Lady Rain would e hard to replace, all of the older Martins were, Damon knew.
Dylan sat out on the porch. It had been a full week since Damon’s last performance, and it had been one of the hardest weeks in his life. It was difficult to watch as Damon slowly withdrew into himself. It was hard to watch as his voice became more and more monotone. It was hard not to hear the music that he would usually put on in the mornings while he dressed. Dylan blinked. Damon not playing music?
This had to be a first? He listened for several long moments as he watched the sun rise. No! Damon wasn’t playing music! Something was wrong here, Dylan thought. Very very wrong. Damon not playing music was like a bird losing its song- it just didn’t happen!
Dylan had been trying to find a guitar for his brother throughout the entire week, calling every place he could find that sold guitars, but he had yet to have any luck in finding one. Damon had been right when he had said that his guitar was a rare one. Every time he said the name- and the year- the people at the places he had gone too shook their heads and wished him luck in profusion. Dylan had sighed after the fourth such wish, but was very determined to find his brother a guitar almost, if not exactly, like the one he had possessed before. Even if it took him several long months to do so, he would find one! It was a Saturday, one of those perfect spring mornings where everything is fresh and alive. It was odd, he thought, to contrast this morning’s freshness with his brother’s seemingly deadpan spirits. It was strange to realize, thought Dylan now, that Damon had not had music on for the past two days, and yet it had taken Dylan this long to realize that his brother’s greatest love had been silenced.
Meanwhile, Damon was sitting in his room, staring at the wall. He had begun to reflect a bit. Reflect on how totally wrapped up he had been in his music. So wrapped up, he now realized, that he had forgotten, or nearly so, his family and how much his own dear brother and mother had meant to him. He realized then, that he couldn’t stay like this forever. Guitars, he realized, were replaceable things. Family, and the lives there, were not. He blinked, and nearly wept. It had taken him a week. One week to realize this. Far too long, he thought. Though it probably wasn’t all that oong in the grand scheme of things, it seemed incredibly long to the twenty year old man who sat in his room in comtemplative silence.
With that Realization came a new strength of spirit, a new love of self- and a reawakening of the love he had for his brother. With an effort, he pulled himself together. He vowed never again to become so wrapped up in his music. He promised that if his brother did find him a guitar, he would hang the old one up in his room as a reminder to himself as to how close to the edge the obsession of music had truly brought him. He would never forget how incredibly close he came to losing his family ever again.
He stepped outside his room, and met Dylan’s eyes. Then he through his arms about his younger brother in a fierce joyful embrace. Damon didn’t say anything, just held his brother to him. Something he had not done in a little over two years.
Dylan had all he could do not to weep with relief. Even though Dylan had yet to find his brother a guitar, he knew, knew without a doubt that his brother was alive inside again. Dylan had never thought he would burst with joy, but he did that Saturday afternoon, as the sun shown around them like a lovely golden thing, and Dylan enjoyed the most attention he had had from his brother. Attentions he had not had from him in far, far too long.
Is the latest story I'm doing for my fiction class. I've gotten criticisms already, but more are welcome. If anyone's still here that is. :p