if you can read this, the huge stuffed pokemon i won at the ring toss fell off

“Hey man,” the old timer wheezed. “You guys play any blues?” They saw he wasn’t really an old-timer once he got under the light; he was probably a couple years younger than their dads. They murmured a noncommital response and went back to packing up their equipment. He lit a cigarette, and in lowering his arms to his sides revealed in slow motion the Blues Fest t-shirt they all knew they were gonna see behind the ghastly pale limbs. Tattered and weathered, with a cartoon dog in a fedora above the headliners’ names from that 1998 summer afternoon where a younger, spryer version of this man had danced away a whole summer Sunday afternoon and evening, probably by standing in one place on the grass and kinda moving his arms a little bit so as not to spill his beer. Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Eric Johnson, all in Arnold Böcklin typeface. The residual suds slid down the inside of his empty mug as he set it on top of the stool beside Denis’ water bottle, then wiped his newly free hand on his black jeans before giving a tug to the brim of his Indiana Jones hat with a braided leather belt for a hatband. He looked elongated like a scarecrow, but his arms and legs were the only parts of him that were skinny. The guitar player Colin was the only real fat guy among the five of them. Before any of them could answer, but after several interminable seconds had passed, he began to answer his own question. “What was that one you did second from the end?”
“Menudo Desnudo?” Colin helpfully offered. Why the fuck not, nobody else under the purple and green lights was coming up to the stage. Behind the sparse crowd a banner with NFL team logos hung in front of the tinted black glass of the strip mall windows. The games of the 2009 season had been available for viewing here.
“Yeah, that one,” He kinda halfway stuck his chin in Colin’s direction. “Well, in the bridge of that song where you start out in G, that’s essentially a modified 16 bar blues progression you’re playing there. Every kind of music comes from the blues. There is no music more… soulful, you know? than the blues. The blues themselves, uh, it-self rather, has its roots in Negro spirituals and field songs.” It felt weird, maybe a little transgressive, for them to hear a white guy talking about this stuff, and they were glad he didn’t stay on that point before moving on. “Blues is universal. Country music? Blues. Rock and Roll? Black Sabbath? Blues. Even rap, you know?” The young men got real tense again. “Blues.”
He motioned up at the satellite radio rock station playing from the ceiling speaker. “Blues.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Ninth-century liturgical Gregorian chants? Blues.” He reached behind Damon’s ear and produced a half dollar, then upon inspecting it, croaked “Blues.” He picked his nose and ate it. “Blues.” He jumped behind the bar and started pouring drinks like in that movie Cocktail. “Blues.” People started to back away once they noticed he was getting bigger as he fed off their lifeforce, then they ran once he ripped a pay phone out of a wall. “Blues.” He blocked the exit with his tail. “Blues.” With his enormous insect-like claws he gathered toward his drooling maw his first human victim, who wriggled helplessly as the thing crushed him in its machine-efficient mandible before staring menacingly at the gathered others, who saw no glimmer of humanity in its huge convex silver eyes, only their distorted but terrified reflections staring back at them. They would watch themselves die tonight. Issued in a voice whose frequency was inaudible to human ears, they never heard their final sentencing, a single word.


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September 2012
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