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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hondo

***

I awake from a dead sleep to the darkness of night. Under different circumstances, I would take my time doing so, but that is a luxury long since foresaken.

Somebody else is in the room.

My hand grabs the lamp on the nightstand in utilitarian immediacy, poised to hit the switch (to illuminate whoever it is) and poised also to hit whoever it is.

But it's only Mick, the mechanic, who passed away just over a year ago. He is likely unimpressed by my display of nocturnal aggression, as he is fixated on one of my electric guitars, which he holds in his mighty paws.

"Hey, man," I mumble to my friend as I put down the lamp, "Happy Birthday."

Mick runs through the pentatonic scale in A, punctuated with a big power chord crunch, and puts the instrument back on its stand.

Thanks. Nice guitar.

"The Hondo," I tell him. "One of your unfinished projects. I had Guitar Center wire in a new harness, pick guard, jack, the works."

This is the one I put the Faraday cage in, right?

"Yep. You wanna plug in?"

No, I'm supposed to stay away from distortions in the electromagnetic field.

Something tells me that the ghost of my dear friend did not appear before me just to check out the old Hondo with the new guts.

The Big Game is today.

"It is. I think New England will win by turning back the clock 40 years. Atlanta has a middling run defense (in a division with zero quality backs and in a season where they held large leads in most of their games). The Falcons offense can't score if they're standing on the sidelines, watching the Patriots play Five Yards and a Cloud of Dust all night."

You put any money on it?

"Ah, no." I suspect, however, that he isn't here to talk about football, either. He is looking straight at me in the lamplight, his expression winsome, an odd look for Mick.

How is your sister?

"How is she what? Still alive? I don't know... I'm not sure."

How is she doing.

"Better on some days than others." I figure being vague will force him to engage more.

Well, what's going on with the case? It's been a long time. Is it wrapping up or what? You still banging that monkey?

"No. I'm supposed to stay away from distortions in the electromagnetic field."

Mick shakes his head and I notice he's wearing his Galesburg Ford hat.

The lengthy delays are designed to sap your will to continue.

"Noted."

You're sure you guys got this?

"Hope so. Why, do you have some way of impelling this thing from The Other Side?"

Mick the Mechanic turns and looks over his shoulder, as if someone were standing behind him, and that's when I notice his ponytail. He got his hair back... He looks at me again, his expression very serious.

No. And that's what you need to understand.

"Got it. Anything else?"

Yeah. You both need to live more. Not just longer, but more. Know what I mean? Do the things I wish I could do. Let the dead live vicariously through you. Not the other way around.

He looks at the Hondo again. I look at the floor. The wooden floor where I used to play Army Men with Charlie. It's not a comfortable moment, or a short one.

I can't believe you, Heller.

I look up, almost angry now. "What?"

Mick nods at the guitar.

Can't believe you couldn't solder that harness in yourself. I showed you how.

Finally, I laugh. "Oh, man, I'm terrible at it." Finally, Mick laughs too.

***

I awake from a dead sleep to the darkness of night. Under different circumstances, I would take my time doing so, but that is a luxury long since foresaken. 

Nobody else is in the room.

pH o2.o5.17

***


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