Peter stretched his chewing gum and bit off a piece. He secured it to the corner of the sagging music poster and pushed it back onto his dark blue bedroom wall. The teen looked up to make sure the album covers were secure on the ceiling. A soft knock at the door signaled the hazel-eyed geek that it was time to impress. He swung the door open to see Lisa, a music-crazed cheerleader type that was way out of his league.
“Is that it,” Lisa asked as she pointed at the guitar hanging behind Peter’s back.
“Yeah, it is.” Peter swung the guitar around keeping the strap over his shoulder. He noticed a smudge and quickly polished the body of the electric guitar with his sleeve.
“Well, are you gonna play it for me?” asked Lisa.
“Sure, yeah.” Peter walked over to his mini amp, plugged the cord into the input jack and grabbed his pick. He nodded toward his ceiling display. “They’ve inspired this song.”
Lisa glanced up, but wasn’t impressed.
Peter started with a simple riff and then looked into Lisa’s eyes as he sang. “It is you … the reason why I live … it is me … that stays our happi…”
“Your too low,” Lisa interrupted. “You’ve got to take it up a full step.”
Peter stopped playing. He didn’t know what to do. He could only play the song in one key.
“If you can’t translate the chords, use a capo,” Lisa said.
“I don’t have one.”
“I thought you were a musician.” Lisa turned and left the room.
Peter’s heart sank. He glanced around the room and spotted his desk. He yanked the draw open and pulled out a pile of rubber bands. Stretching the bundle over the guitar neck, the bands snapped into position above the second fret. He swung his pick across the strings sounding the music two half steps higher.
Elated, Peter ran after Lisa, but the chord pulled taut. His shoulder felt the burn of the strap stopping his movement. He unplugged the guitar and took it off. Peter pulled the stack of rubber bands from the neck and stuffed them in his pocket.
The colorful leaves crunched beneath Peter’s running shoes as he entered the park. He saw Lisa walk into the underpass where the bicycle paths merged. Closing in, Peter heard violin music echoing from the tunnel. He picked up his pace, hoping Lisa stayed to listen to the soulful music.
Peter stopped to catch his breath at the entrance. After composing himself, he entered the tunnel. His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he was surprised to see a homeless woman playing the fiddle with the skills of a master. The woman started to dance while playing. A couple of children from the small crowd dropped money into her worn cigar box lying on the gravel floor in front of her.
Scanning the crowd, Peter spotted Lisa leaving out the other end of the tunnel. He sprinted after her, but collided with the twirling musician. The fiddle crashed into the cement wall, sending pieces flying to the ground in all directions. Silence fell on the crowd as they watched Peter pick himself up and offer his hand to the musician.
“I’m sorry,” Peter said. “I was chasing after … my dreams.”
The woman watched the crowd dissipate. She bent over and picked up the cigar box that held a couple dollars and a few coins. “Looks like no lunch today.”
“I’ll buy you lunch,” Peter said with enthusiasm. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bundle of rubber bands. His face cringed with sorrow. “I’m sorry, I only have…”
“Listen kid, it was an honest mistake,” said the musician. “Was that cute brunette the dream you were chasing?”
Peter nodded with humility.
“You certainly have no trouble going after the gold.”
“I keep on messing up,” Peter whispered.
“Join the club,” said the musician. “I trusted a manager that was worthless.”
“Everything has value,” said Peter. “But not always the value we seek.”
Peter looked down at his rubber bands, and then glanced at the scattered pieces of the violin. Grabbing the neck and the cigar box, Peter used the rubber bands to form an instrument. After cutting a hole in the box and attaching the strings, Peter handed the homemade fiddle to the musician.
“Nice work!” the musician said. She raised the fiddle to her shoulder and drew her bow across the strings. The rich tones resounded through the tunnel. People gathered as she quickly tuned the instrument.
The crowd smiled and swayed with the newly manufactured sound. The musician had no fear and played more passionately than before. Peter took several remaining pieces of the broken violin and strapped it together with a couple rubber bands. He set it in the place where the musician’s cigar box once collected tips. People immediately dropped various denominations of paper money into the collection box.
Peter noticed Lisa returned to listen. She saw the unique instrument and pointed at Peter with a face contemplating a question. Peter sheepishly pointed to himself and nodded that the instrument was his handiwork. Lisa smiled and moved his direction. Applause erupted after the final draw of the bow, slowing Lisa’s approach.
A man stepped toward the musician with his hand holding a business card. “I’m Steven Kilpatrick from Maverick Records. Word of mouth put me on your scent and you didn’t disappoint. In fact, your creative approach to music is worth millions. I’ll give you a six figure advance to sign you to our label.”
“You’ll have to take it up with my manager,” the musician said, as she glanced at Peter.
“Well son, what’d ya say?” asked the businessman.
Peter looked to the musician who winked her approval. Lisa took his arm and wrapped it around her. With a sense of pride, Peter faced the businessman. “It’s a deal.”
Everyone in the tunnel cheered. Lisa kissed Peter’s cheek. “You might not be a great musician,” said Lisa. “But, you sure can see the value in the simple things, Mr. Rubber Band Man.”
© 2016 by CJ Powers