By Robert Keal
He walks into the pub behind his friends, who are busy carrying beer-choked crates and popping bubble wrap like it’s playtime. Moving makes everyone a little gaga. In this video game free-for-all, players get way too intense as they explore new surroundings and learn how long-forgotten items can be given fresh purpose. He hangs the poster of Black Sabbath posing solemnly by the front door because he thinks punters will love seeing Ozzy in his graveyard element. Then he checks what spirits Tom’s put on display. He tells him keep things tasteful; Jägermeister should live at the back of the fridge only.
He asks if anyone’s seen the old jukebox. It’s still got vinyl inside. They say they haven’t and that they thought he’d brought it over already. He’s nervous now. Although perhaps the storage unit guys did him a favour. The last song he heard ripping through its speakers was Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell’.” Razor-sharp guitars and chest-thumping drums filled the bedroom… It’s between the wheelie bins. He wonders if people tried to use it. Could they tell from looking at the machine alone the kinds of fuck tunes she enjoyed? Hopefully not. Plus, even if he keeps it, any sound will remind him of Em lying prone across their mattress, some metalhead’s blood eagle tattoo flapping up and down on top of her. So he leans against the brickwork listening to glasses clinking and his boys’ laughter and he smiles because he knows true music. The stuff that heals, is in the heart where no one else can hear.
Robert Keal was born and raised in Kent but is currently living in London, where he works as a copywriter. He has poetry forthcoming from Litmus Magazine and has recently published short stories with Entropy Squared, The Drabble, Star 82 Review and Visual Verse. He is just beginning to find his voice.