Out on the deck, Mitch sat on the wooden picnic table and waited until his heart settled down. Next to him the guitar waited, a patient companion that didn’t judge, and grazing its lacquered surface brought Mitch back to planet Earth. He pulled it onto his lap and fiddled with the tuning, consumed by guilt that he taught Avi with a left handed model. But if Jimi Hendrix learned to play via flipping a right handed guitar, the method was good enough for anyone. Maybe if Mitch survived the next few months without going into cardiac arrest, he’d get Avi the correct model for Christmas.
The sound sounded correct after several test strums, then Mitch paused. So much time passed since he last played for himself that he didn’t quite know where to begin. He had no upcoming gigs, and it’d been ages since he wrote any new material. Why bother at all?
He idly plucked at the strings, slow at first until it vaguely resembled something familiar. Subconsciously, he settled on the chords to Pink Moon, its melancholy tone only made sense given the last few months. The sole audience member for the performance was a lone ash tree in the backyard, its leaves turned russet with the change of the season.
The music spilled forth naturally, as easy as breathing or blinking, as if he hadn’t missed a single beat despite his infidelity to the craft. Taught wire strings scraped against the pads of his fingers, reverting old callouses into raw flesh, and it felt so right. Still without a setlist, he continued to strum practice chords, toying with a few progressions that lived in his head for much too long. A few rusty attempts later, the bare bones of something with potential manifested.
Setting the guitar on top of the table, he jumped down and went a mission to locate a pen and some paper. He rounded the table’s corner to head inside, and spotted Jodie in the kitchen. She looked up at the same time and eagerly waved.
“When’d you get home?” He asked through the screen door, then pulled it open.
“Hm, 10 minutes ago? I was grabbing some lunch before running over to city hall to submit permits.” She tossed a butter knife into the sink, and methodically stacked various cold cuts onto a bulkie roll. “Was gonna try to duck out before you noticed, but I enjoyed the performance too much.”
“Thanks,” Mitch chuckled sheepishly.
“By the way, I actually planned to ask you this later tonight, but I have you here now and it’s related.”
“Yeah, the whole music thing. So I booked a band for Graveyard Smash to open the show, maybe play during intermission as well. But I found out that apparently they broke up like weeks ago, ghosted me and took my deposit, which is just so great!” She grinned in an unsettling manner, which could only be described as outright homicidal. “Anyway, I would have asked you to do it, but the idea was to, y’know, have you wrestle. If not for the heavyweight or the tag titles, at least for the Slutty Costume Battle Royal.”
“Are you really calling it that?” Mitch raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sure it’ll officially be the ‘Sexy Costume Battle Royal’, but I digress. Point is, do you think you could perform instead? I just want a few spooky cover songs, like how the Misfits sing about goblins and skeletons or whatever.”
Mitch picked at his stubble while he considered it. “I mean, I guess? I don’t even have a band anymore, though. Might be a one man act, which wouldn’t be as high energy as you want it to be for this setting,” he attempted to explain.
“Could you contact your old band mates? It was amicable, wasn’t it? The only reason that y’all broke up was because you moved. But I’m pretty sure they’re both still outside of Boston, unless they both moved since I last checked the socials.” Mitch exhaled out his nose, and Jodie’s mouth formed a straight line. “OK, can you just-” She rubbed her temple. “Look, don’t give me an answer right now, but please just think about it?”
“I’ll see what I can do.” He accepted an affectionate pat on the face . “Don’t expect anything, though, alright?”
She scooped up her sandwich in one hand and pointed a finger gun him with the other. “You’re the best!” She shouted while departing, leaving him alone in the kitchen to ruminate.
As far as Mitch knew, they were all still on good terms, or at least leaned towards neutral. The bassist rotated between 5 or 6 different ongoing projects, and the drummer had both a family and his business to tend to. It already did not seem promising, especially on such short notice.
But there was also no harm in asking, even if the details were sparse at best and Jodie failed to provide a dollar amount. As he wandered about the house to locate scrap paper, he scrolled down to the group chat labeled Liner Notes. The last activity was from over 2 years ago, which didn’t inspire confidence. Their numbers may have changed, he reasoned. Was this even worth the effort, or should he try another platform that stood a better chance of getting a response?
He shook his head. Speculation, as per usual, led him nowhere, and he began to type.