Fishing in Beirut

May 18, 2010

Part 8: Te Quiero (scene 21)

Filed under: Character : Johnny, Part 8 : Te Quiero — fishinginbeirut @ 10:36

He stared up at the clock. A gentle sun was hitting the face, the white gleaming beneath the numerals. The rising grandness of the building was pompous, but amusingly so.
Pigeons rested on the roof tiles, gliding towards the ground to scavenge for food. Whenever one found some, an enormous fight would start. The flapping of the wings and the pecking was upsetting, but he didn’t know why. It was an ugly spectacle to witness, to be so close to.
Johnny tuned his guitar and gently touched the strings. He had placed the case out before him on the tile. The place de l’Hotel de Ville was busy but peaceful, less frenetic and fast than the piazza Beaubourg. Today, for the first time in his life, he wanted to sing to them.
He started quietly, feeling into things, never having played here before. Rising confidence raised the volume, and it began to feel natural. Soon coins were dancing in the guitar case, fifties, ones, even a five euro note. It seemed to him he was singing clearer than ever before.
His fingers pushed down the strings, new strings he had bought a week before. They were settled now, no longer slipping out of tune. He felt so centred, making chords, changing, the notes he was producing from his body and his guitar tangled up together. He glided one finger down the fret board to harmonise.
A few business types stopped before him. Three men, two women, smart suits and briefcases. The interest of two of the men was the reason they had stopped. The others fidgeted, hoping by a collective leaning motion to move the party on. After a moment it worked, the interested two showing disappointment.
Johnny moved his legs, keeping time and dispersing energy. His head rolled, and his shoulders kept tightening and releasing. The sun grew stronger, bathing the square in beautiful light. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose.
He felt the buzz of a text message in his pocket. Then another one, or maybe the sender had sent it twice. He looked up at the sky, a plane flying high overhead.
But Johnny wasn’t going anywhere. He let himself imagine what it might be like to be on that plane, travelling somewhere, excited. The tingling anticipation of coffee in another land. What was the use? He was where he was, a guitarist on a Parisian tile square.
He stood up and stretched in the sunlight. He massaged his neck, then pushed his shoulders towards his ears. He could hear the clicking of muscles bunched up, feel the strain of freeing what was used to being caught. His body was so hunched, so constantly bent and folded.
He thought he’d stay playing for perhaps another hour. He’d recently been toying with the idea of getting a job. Nothing too big or stressful, nothing intolerable, but dealing drugs was no longer where he wanted to be. It was depressing, all those fuckers with their jittery eyes and limbs.
He started another song. A slow one. His hand changed chords without him needing to think. He strummed and picked, singing loud, but gracefully, not barking it. The birds and pedestrians were sought out by his voice in the air.

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