The Blue Guitar
I've seen the angel of Death. He wears a killer pair of thigh-high boots. Imagine Bowie with a broadsword.
It was one of those nights where every time I'm about to fall asleep I have a hypnic jerk. Except this time I jerk myself right off the bed.
On my bedroom floor, in the dark, everything looks different. The green light of the power strip gives the notebooks and paperbacks an absinthian glow. Dust bunnies merge together in the no man's land beneath my bed preparing their ambush. The acoustic guitar propped up in the corner, the one I never did learn how to play, looks like a tired old man, one solemn chord away from serenading the undertaker. And then I see my face reflected in black latex that goes on forever. Almost. This guy looks like he knows what he's doing and, frankly, I'm curious. So I say, “You aren't going to get no fight from me, Death. To tell the truth, I've been ready for a while. Life is boring.”
“We agree in principle. That's clear.”
“Yes, well, I'm glad someone finally understands where I'm coming from.” I still lay there on the bedroom floor looking stupid. And Death's still standing there looking amazing, his left hand on the glittering pommel of his sword. And I'm wondering when it's going to happen. You know, when he's going to close my eyes with a slow wave, hand me that one-way ticket, do the reaping. He doesn't seem in any hurry. “You want a sandwich? I think I've got some roast beef in the kitchen.”
Death looks over at the corner of my bedroom. “Things as they are are changed upon the blue guitar.”
“Ah, yeah, well, I never learned to play.”
“I play. But this is what I think. We shall forget by day, except the moments when we choose to play.” Death bent his head down and I could see now his hair was white as his sword.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I guess it's too late for me to learn now. I've already got one foot in the grave. I'm, like, half the man I was this morning.”
Death shook his head. “Am I not, myself, only half a figure of a sort, a figure half seen, or seen for a moment, a man of the mind, an apparition appareled in apparels of such lightest look that a turn of my shoulder and quickly, too quickly, I am gone?”
And he was. Gone, that is. And I wish I could say I learned to play that guitar, but I forgot about until this morning when it fell over with a dissonant thud.