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ADELAIDE Independent Bimonthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Bimensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A GUITARIST
By C.G. Fewston

 

 

 

 

Riodago knew nothing on the nature of dreams, except that he had one: to be the greatest guitarist the world had ever known.

By the time he was three years old, his mother had passed to breast cancer. As he wept onto his mother’s hands, Riodago knew nothing of guitar strings; the boy knew only of the invisible strings that pulled at his breaking heart to bring forth tears in childish hopes to stir his mother awake once more. Maria never woke, not even to the screams of her only son.

Riodago with his father, a British banker, buried Maria a day so windy Riodago believed his mother’s voice came with it to calm him and to tell him “to go and play.”

Instead of uprooting Riodago from the only home he had known in the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela, his father remained at his lowly-but-stable position with the international banking firm and married his mistress by the time Riodago had started daily guitar lessons to counsel his grief by the age of five.

By the age of seven, Riodago had reached his fourth guitar, having smashed the first three over frustrated tantrums caused by the constant bruising of his fingertips and his inability to play from beginning to end “El Porompompero” without making a single mistake. As a clinical response to educate his son in the more formal manners of obedience and perseverance, Riodago’s father doubled the daily guitar lessons.

By age ten, Riodago could pick up a beggar’s guitar, close his eyes, tune the instrument in accordance to the same invisible strings he had known since he was three years old, and play “Flor de Luna” so enchantingly widows-in-black would openly weep, young maidens would descend upon him wild, passionate kisses while the men stood in ovation. Riodago would open his eyes to find the street around him full of people, return the humble guitar to the beggar—who was allowed to keep all the coins and bills dropped into the coffee tin—and Riodago would walk away from the crowds each time wishing he would one day be good enough to bring back the dead.

At six in the evening, Riodago woke from his dreams of childhood feeling an old man at the age of thirty-eight, having been forced to follow his father to London twenty-two years ago.

For the first five years, into his early twenties, Riodago had loved the frenetic pace of London—where things seemed to be happening at lightning speeds—but this false amour faded when Riodago realized the real world outside of Spain had no place nor desire for a guitarist.

His father forced him to study a more classical form of training at the Royal Academy of Music, and that resulted in Riodago being stripped for a time of his passion. The fluidity in his fingers dried up and Riodago learned alternative ways to move along the strings of guitars, which for him had become little more than an instrument to allow the rest of the world to hear the music coming from the invisible strings pulling at his heart from within.

By seven that same evening, Riodago had showered and drank a double espresso. Outside the sun had started to set and leave a low, soft light over Riodago, now a man, sitting nude on the edge of a sofa where he played a few melodies from “Nocturnal after John Dowland.”

By eight, Riodago dressed, packed his guitar and headed for the underground. He had played the guitar his whole life, but he had not once come close to the perfection he had sought for so very long. In the world around him there was a nature Riodago didn’t understand, and though he wanted to be great the world forced him—time and time again over the years—down and down and down until he wished simply to be paid.

Even so, Riodago knew the music that came from within could never be packaged, labeled and sold. Not really. No amount of money could ever settle the debts of his heart. The price he had paid to become the artist the world rejected, like his father, every day, could not be given a number.

Riodago exited the underground and walked the London streets as normal men and women hurried home or rushed to catch happy hour. Strangely enough, Riodago grew more alive as the night stirred into its own.

At the back exit, Riodago entered the Falconer’s Club, a hotspot mixing and mingling the separated, the divorced, the naïve, and the hopeless; in other words, the dead.

Riodago did not drink alcohol but mineral water instead, and by nine he had settled onto stage atop a three-legged stool. He plucked his guitar into tune amidst the clanking of glasses and the ceaseless convo of the upper middle-class.

With eyes closed, Riodago ignored the bartenders, the waitresses, the shuffling of feet and purses, and the occasional drunk shouting at him to “play or be gone.”

Even in all that noise Riodago could sense the ticking of the clocks and watches in the room, and at 9:15 he would briefly open his eyes, see his mother’s form—imaginary or real, he didn’t care which—sitting alone at the small table for two in the corner to his left, a little in the dark and a little in the light, and at 9:20, on the dot, Riodago would close his eyes, lean into the microphone and say,

“This is for you.”

Crowds hushed at the precise moment Riodago began to play his guitar. The sensation of his music calmed the tensions of the day and pacified the restlessness found in lives lived for the wrong reasons.

As Riodago played, the separated would be reunited, the divorced would seek out marriage, the naïve would see the truth and hypocrisy overlooked in the world around them, and the hopeless would be filled with hope; in other words, they would start to live again.

For two hours not a single person thought it strange or unusual that Riodago would play his guitar without interruption to break. He’d simply sit on his stool with eyes closed and play.

By midnight, Riodago was back on the streets close to his home. When the spirit struck, Riodago might open his guitar case and begin playing “El Porompompero” from his childhood right there on the street corner. Passersby would drop coins and bills into the open guitar case as Riodago played and played into the early morning hours.

Sometimes the Bobbies would stop to hear Riodago play before forgetting why they had wished to cease from this cruel world such beautiful music, especially with what had happened in Manchester and on London Bridge. The police officers would walk away without a word and Riodago would play on.

By the time the sun was coming up, Riodago could be found on his living room floor in the nude still playing his guitar. The music poured effortlessly outward and he could sense it not wishing to be bottled up and silenced. The music wished to be played on and on and on into eternity, but that, Riodago knew, he could not do.

By ten in the morning, Riodago would settle into bed having forgotten to eat again, but dreams awaited him. He’d close his eyes and fall to sleep listening to the invisible strings playing from within, and against the music of his soul Riodago could hear his mother sing.

 

 

About the Author:

cg fewston

CG Fewston was born in Texas in 1979 and now lives in Hong Kong. He is the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son, The New America: A Collection, Vanity of Vanities, A Time to Love in Tehran, and (forthcoming) Conquergood& the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being, and (also forthcoming) Little Hometown, America: A Look Back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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