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Rated: E · Short Story · Music · #2055432
A man buys a new guitar and consequently finds someone to teach him
The yard sale was fairly moderate; I could already see that when I stepped closer to the tables. Only a few items looked like they’d actually be worth anything. I said good day to the old lady standing around who was probably holding the sale, and started browsing, more out of curiosity than an actual desire to buy. Until I found it.

It was an old-looking green Aria electric guitar. At first glance it looked to be in good shape, so good in fact that I wasn’t sure why it’d be on a yard sale like this. I picked it up and looked it over, thinking that there must be some kind of fault in it. I didn’t find any. It even sounded good when I strummed a string. I wanted to learn how to play the guitar for a while now, and this was a perfect opportunity to get one fairly cheaply.

I stepped over to the old lady and asked if the guitar was for sale, and said that I’d like to buy it. In the end we agreed on a cheap price, at least in my opinion. It even came with its own amplifier.

I left the sale and walked over to the other side of the road, then sat down on the curb. I strummed over the strings, keeping to my own thoughts.

“A good one, isn’t it?” I almost winced in fright at the sudden question. A man was standing beside me, looking at the guitar. I didn’t even see him coming, he was just there all of a sudden. He was wearing a long black jacket, a green shirt underneath, blue jeans and some kind of tall hat. His hair was long and brown, his eyes deep blue. He was carrying a guitar case on his back.

“It is.” I answered tentatively. “What’s it to you?”

“Can you play it?” he asked, ignoring my question.

A looked over him. “Not… yet. Why?”

“Want to learn?” he got straight to the point. I glared at him warily.

“Why, can you play it?” I asked back. He just shook his head as if calling me ignorant, then took his case off his back and opened it. He grabbed guitar very similar to mine out of it. It was also a green Aria guitar. It seemed electric, but it didn’t need an amplifier to make those typical electric sounds, and as I listened I had to admit that he was very good. He strummed through the notes with lightning fast fingers, improvising a quick solo before he lowered the guitar. “Want to learn?” he asked again.

“What’s in it for you?” I replied. I still didn’t trust him. “How much would you ask for?”

“Nothing.” he said. “It’s free.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“I just want you to play that well.” he sighed, pointing at my new guitar.

After some consideration, I decided to take him up on his offer. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

He followed me to apartment building where I lived. I didn’t want to just let him in, so he gave me my first lesson outside on the stairs. I was worried that his loud music would annoy the neighbors, but nobody called us out on it, and my guitar was silent enough without the amplifier to not be an issue.

I had to admit, I was terrible at playing the guitar. I suspected that if he’s really doing it out of pure goodwill, he will give up after a short while when he sees just how bad I am, but he persisted. When I looked at my watch I realized we’ve been out here for two hours already. I stood up hastily.

“I should be going.” I said. He just nodded. I realized I haven’t even introduced myself, but he said he doesn’t need my name. I asked for his, but he wouldn’t answer. Instead he told me to meet him here again if I want to learn more. I asked him when, but he just said: “Anytime you feel like it”, and left.

About a week later, I had some time to pick up my guitar again. I forgot most of what I learned by then, I had to find that out when I tried to play. After a bit of thought, I decided to seek the man out again somehow. I grabbed up the instrument and left the building. To my surprise, he was waiting outside, sitting on the stairs with his guitar in hand, playing a silent tune this time. He stopped and looked up from below his hat when I approached.

“Ready for the next lesson?” he asked. I said yes, and sat down by him.

This is how it went for months afterwards. Eventually I decided to take his lessons twice a week when I felt myself getting better and better. I practiced at home, usually silently though sometimes I risked pissing off the neighbors to see how my solo would sound like with the amplifier. After well over a year, at the end of a lesson he stood up.

“This was our last lesson.” he said. I looked up in disbelief.

“What? Why?” I asked.

“You will make do on your own now.” he replied, not really answering my question. He walked down the stairs, and I stood up.

“No way. I’m still not nearly good enough.” I said. “You’re so much better than me.”

“That may be.” he said, peering back at me, then he started walking down the street. “But you’ve learned enough that I know you’ll take good care of my guitar.”

I followed him down the stairs, but by the time I looked up to follow him, he was gone.

For weeks afterwards, I didn’t understand why he left. The only thing I could think of to do was to visit that house again where I bought the guitar. He said it was his guitar, so the old woman could know where I can find him.

The garden was mostly empty, save for a bush and a few flowers along the pavement. I sighed nervously and knocked, guitar in hand. After roughly a minute, the old lady opened the door.

I greeted her politely and asked if she had a few minutes. She said she had more if I needed the time. I nodded and introduced myself, and told her who I was and that I bought a guitar from her over a year ago, at a yard sale. I showed it to her too. She recognized me, so I asked if she knows who this guitar belonged to previously.

She told me that her son used to play the guitar. He even had a band for a few years; he was really good at the whole music thing. I asked her if I could talk to him.

She answered hesitantly, but after a few seconds she told me that her son died well over five years ago, in a car accident. She stumbled over his guitar when she was doing a big spring cleaning, and with the other things she found she thought she could hold a yard sale.

I was speechless for a few second, but then nodded understandingly, and said goodbye to the lady. Walking away from the closing door, I looked at my guitar, and could only wonder about my tutor.

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