By Matthew Banash
Gimme a second to get my boots back under me…
Sometimes, what you think is so cool just turns out to be micro-aggressive. You know, a laugh, a giggle, a chortle or guffaw is all you’re looking for and try to pay it forward, to shake off the dusty cloak of marginalia to stand in the spotlight of the crowd’s gaze and get a response, just one laugh even if it’s only between your ears, something other than the first throwing of stones. But, boy oh boy, do you get pelted, sounds like when you used to sleep out in the shed during the summer and a deft, quick thunderstorm would burst through and pop, bang and tinkle that frail, rusty roof over your head until you couldn’t tell if you enjoyed the percussion itself or the silence between the beats. Except this time didn’t smell as sweet as those pleasant evenings long, long ago, redolent of gasoline and grass clippings. Atonement was on my mind. It lurked behind every corner like an anxiety or a bill collector.
I needed to fashion a mea culpa, but words aren’t obviously my strong suit. Why you could say words aren’t even my business casual. So, I got a used guitar from the pawn shop where the Sears outlet used to be, down at the corner of 1st and Jesperson and planned on learning the immigrant experience vis a vis the Scotch-Irish folk songs of someone else’s childhood. Mine got warped after my mom stored it the attic after I enlisted. My childhood experience that is. I’ve never had a guitar before. No, you’re thinking of that ukulele my Uncle Billy sent me from Hawaii right before he got killed. Yes, slack-key is something entirely different. But that’s my story. Narrative, excuse me.
Well, I’ll let you be. I’m just glad I found someone home. Seems everyone else is out writing postcards or learning a foreign language through those apps you download to your phone then sit at the bus stop all hours of the day conjugating verbs in Spanish or Urdu. I miss landlines. I know I know, “Nostalgia is the next to last refuge of the dispossessed,” and sure, you can’t strangle someone with a cordless phone or a cell phone, but they just seem, so much, well, colder than landlines. Less intimate. That’s why I didn’t call. Just showed up. Hope it didn’t surprise you too much.
Like I said, let me be on my way. I’ll keep pressure on it, my mom left some Bactine and Hydrocodone at her place, no worries, just between me and you. (Wink. Wink.) Might put a crimp in my guitar picking but soon as I re-learn “This Land is Your Land” you’ll be the first to hear it. I’ll make sure to call ahead.
Matthew Banash was born and raised in Pennsylvania and has lived in the Carolinas for the past 25 years. He writes poetry and short fiction. His work has appeared in Poetry Quarterly, SurVision, The Blue Nib, Micro Fiction Monday, Crack the Spine, and The Cobalt Review.