Now here’s a story of a guy
That was carryin’ a stick
that poked out his eye
Here’s a little somethin’
That we oughta talk about
— the prophet babb
I’m in line at a book signing. I have no idea who the author is. The wait is long; the crowd is annoying. I wait.
When I finally make it up to the author, she shrugs and says she just gave out her last book. But instead, she offers me a guitar and says she’ll sign it.
I agree to take the guitar but manage to whisk it away before she is able to autograph it. And that is that.
On the way out of the book signing, I see that Dead Hot Workshop, my all-time favorite band on the planet, is preparing to play a one-off reunion concert out front. They have been defunct forever; I haven’t seen them in a billion years. I am elated.
Brent Babb, the guitarist, singer and genius songwriter, doesn’t have a guitar. The band is frantic. They look at me. I look at them. I realize in an instant that sometimes life just works out.
I hand them the guitar, only then realizing that it’s almost a dead ringer for Brent’s trusty black Les Paul. They strap him in. He looks happy. Then he leaves the stage for a moment as the lights go down.
I wait. Dead Hot live. With my guitar. This will be something.
Brent comes back on stage. He has just hacked off the first three fingers on his left hand, leaving him only with a bloody stump except for one extraordinarily gifted pinky.
He’s crying, but not in a painful way. It’s more of an expression of a lost life, a dream unfulfilled. The pain of getting old, of having to do this one more time when the magic is gone. Also the fingers.
He hands me the guitar and walks away, back into the shadows of Mill Avenue.
Sometimes life doesn’t work out at all.
I wake up.