5. The Busker


Where our hero hears how harmony is not always the result 

Burst from that nightmare, he looked down and saw he was gripping a stick of Mango Love in his hand. He cast frantically about for a bin.


Sheets of hard rain were coming in horizontally from the West. He sought shelter back inland, inside the labyrinthine inner town. Calmer now. A multitude of restaurants with steamy windows, streaky lights, dark forms inside eating too many fats. It was either that or expensive-looking boutiques. He passed an American Diner. What on earth was that doing here? Water trickled down his neck and inside his shirt: his hair was no longer keeping him dry.

A busker huddled out of the wind against a 70s shop front, all rough concrete and aluminium window frames. The guitar had seen better days, the wood white with sun and rain damage, grasped in filthy hands. The song was unrecognisable, surely not a personal composition? Oldman looked hard as he approached. A beige man, as faded as his instrument, the wind in his bags making him look like Popeye. A slight frame, straw hair and a week of stubble. He held the guitar against himself, no strap, the wrists of each hand clamping the instrument to his thin ribs leaving the fingers to play.

It was like a student playing, working his way around the frets, finding the harmonies yet failed by the lack of purchase of the left hand, betrayed by a tinny buzz as his unkempt nails prevented the pads of the fingers from sitting properly on the strings. Yet not as excruciating as it seemed; somehow innocent, gauche, the guitar more an Aeolian harp in his grimy hands.