by Jake Christie

a story.

A man sat on a bench near the duck pond with an empty hat in his lap. There was a sign on the bench that said, “ONE-MAN BAND – ALL INSTRUMENTS, ANY REQUESTS. DONATIONS PLEASE.” The sign was written on a piece of cardboard.

Two young men walked along the path until they were in front of him, where they stopped and stared at the sign. They were there for a few moments before one of them said something.

“I don't get it,” he said.

“Read the sign,” said the man. He pointed to the sign, just in case he was unclear.

“Where are your instruments?” said the young man. His friend looked at a tree, bored. He shifted from one foot to the other.

The man tapped a finger on his temple. “In here,” he said. “I've got a wide variety. Woodwinds, brass, percussion, guitars. I've got the Flying Vee that Hendrix played at the Isle of Wight. It was kind of tough to pick up since he was left-handed and I'm not, but...” he trailed off. He had a twinkle in his eye, something that communicated that he was somehow someplace else. A studio, perhaps, or a concert hall.

“Play something, then,” said the young man. His friend looked back at the bench, suddenly more interested in this purported one-man band than the tree.

The man jerked a thumb at the sign. The young man produced a one-dollar bill.

“Any requests?” said the man. The young man shook his head.

The man closed his eyes. He began to nod his head rhythmically. He licked his lips. “I'm really on today,” he murmured. He lifted his hands and played them over some phantom instrument.

“Can you hum it or anything?” asked the friend.

The man shook his head. “Wouldn't do me justice,” he said.

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