Microfic: Puppet Strings

For Sarah Coldheart, who wanted to read it.


If you put him in a room with a guitar, anywhere, you’d find it in his hands eventually. I like to think that they find their way there on their own, as though he were some guitar magnet, a center of gravity for six-stringed instruments. I imagine them coming to him with their tails wagging, and him picking them up and petting them like a fond owner, putting them in his lap. And that’s how I’d find him when I came into the room: seated cross-legged on the floor, bent over the fretboard, a look of pure concentration on his face.

Sometimes I think that he isn’t really complete unless he has that guitar there; alone, unaccompanied, it seems like there’s a blankness in his manner, a void in his arms where an instrument should be. His hands held open, subtly and unconsciously, just the right way to insert a waiting axe, to complete the circuit and bring him to life. I toy with the idea of the guitar in its various forms just being an extension of his body and find it somehow appropriate, him and the guitar being one, a symbiotic cybernetic organism, Johnny Mnemonic.

And then in moments of sudden clarity during the heat of performances when the world is nothing but sound and our hearts are tied to the drumbeat the truth suddenly opens up on me like a floodlight and I see how the relationship between man and guitar goes past parasitism and into an arena where the instrument lives through him and draws the breath in his body and the pulse in his veins to drive the music that is not his, but from some source we cannot comprehend and are only the vessel for. In that moment I can glimpse the will of demons flowing through him and bursting out like detonations, each screaming note a verse and stanza, pouring doctrine into the souls of the listening.



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