The lone guitarist

Lissajous raises a fist, but it opens out into a palm before it reaches the door, and he finally just lays his hand on the cool wood as gently as the first fall of snow in the woods.  He rests his forehead against it, everything's been so different this time.  Normally he leaves a Psychic Go match with a headache and the victor's spoils.  Sometimes he loses, but that's been happening less and less lately, compensated he realises by the worsening of the headaches.  There's probably a connection, but it's not something he feels like he's got time to think about.  Something, someone, some -- what the hell should he call it?  What would Asian Steve accept, what is sufficiently irrespectful?  Some creature, this Oni, whatever it might be, is disrupting his easy life.  He's pretty sure he doesn't like it.

He pulls himself away from the door, and turns around back to Wesson Street.  The street's getting busier, people are eddying around in tight little knots as they try to hold steady on the street, staking out their territory like battery hens: there's no room, and no hope of a positive outcome, but it's all they have and they'll fight beak and claw to keep what little they've got.  Hah, tooth and nail, he thinks, not beak and claw.

Suddenly he's lost his grip and he's being jostled down the street, he stepped aside minutely to allow a man to move round another man, and before he knew it he was part of the flow of the street again.  He turns his head, peering over his shoulder for the doorway, but it's already invisible, occluded by men, women, children and the occasional stray dog.  He knows it's probably futile, but he fights his way to a contraflow and tries to go back.  There's a sudden charge of cinnamon in his face and he sneezes, and when he opens his eyes again he can't even tell if he's passed the door once more.  Accepting that Wesson Street doesn't want him to learn all its secrets, he lets the crowd push him down the street and finally out to the side, to a miniscule beach-head where the paving stones are cracked and weedy and a wizened woman crouches by an oil-stove attempting to boil an egg in her own spit.  The oil smells rancid.

Behind the woman, perched on a doorstep that's single piece of stone, possibly granite as there's what looks like thin veins of quartz running through it, is a young man, maybe even just a boy, who's clutching a polished guitar to his chest and plucking notes from it.  He doesn't look up, he's focused on the music, though Lissajous is sure that one eye must be also on the guitar case at the foot of the step, in the bottom of which are scattered many coins and a few notes.  To Lissa's surprise, there's also a silver-braceleted watch lying in there, but he catches himself staring at it and turns away.  This is Wesson Street, and as he has to keep reminding himself, stranger things happen.

The notes from the guitar finally penetrate his attention and he looks back at the guitar-player.

"Lady Antebellum!" he says.  "That's a classic, but it's ancient."

The guitar player stops playing and looks up at him, bright yellow eyes set deep in a tanned face.  "Well, what would you play on Wesson Street?" he asks, and his voice is soft and almost inaudible over the noise of the life of the street.  "Eleanor Rigby?"

Lissa laughs reflexively at the absurdity of the suggestion; no-one would stop for an instant for such a cliché.  "Elevator music?" he asks, wondering if the guitar-player is jaundiced, but he's got an itching memory that jaundice turns the whites of your eyes yellow, not the irises.  "No, I'd not play that.  Is Lady Antebellum working then?"

The guitarist indicates the case with a lazy sweep of his wrist.  "It enough for doing something I enjoy," he says.  "But it might not be enough for today yet."  He starts to pluck the strings again, building up harmonies and resonances.

"Did you happen to see where I came from?"  Lissa hadn't meant to ask, it sounds like he's simple to not know where's he's been, but he's reluctant to leave the conversation.

"The street?"  The guitarist shrugs.

"I've lost a door--" Lissa's interrupted by the other boy's laughter.

"Kind of a hard thing to lose!  It's not like you can prop it up against a building and have people start using it!"

"Yeah," Lissa smiles and tries to carry on.  "I came through this one, and I wanted to remember where it was."

"It won't have moved."

"But I did."

The guitar player looks at him steadily, his yellow eyes wide and sparkling with merriment.  Then he sticks a hand out, an offer of temporary friendship.  "I'm Zim.  Buy me a coffee and I'll listen to your troubles."

"A coffee-shop on Wesson Street?"

"Doesn't matter to me where it is."

The End

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