We were told to stay inside
. "War is coming home," they said, barring their windows and drawing their blinds. "War is not one you boys want to meet. He'll crush you with his handshake
and chase you off with a smile." I tipped my hat; Doug nodded and smoked; Raine just smiled like one who isn't long for this world
. He wasn't, but then, who is anymore? Doug got the door; Raine grabbed his case; I grabbed mine. We left for the park, the television pleading us to stay in all the way down the hall, all the way to the curb, all the way to the street. I'm sure it was pleading with us when the building collapsed, but we couldn't see it then, and it wouldn't have mattered if we could.
The park was deserted, like the rest of the world outside (the world inside was populated with tears and screams and fear and people and many other things I did not want to spend the rest of my life around; a sick population waiting for its megaton cure). Verdigris covered the statues, and statues the stones; benches lined the paths, and rust the benches; trees with their birds holding tires made to swing. Symbiosis is the name of the game, and fuck the bombs anyway. Raine unpacked his guitar; I brought out my violin. Doug smoked: it's what he's best at. It's not much, but at least it's something.
Raine closed his eyes and began to strum. I followed his chords around, swimming in the rivers we created, drowning in the oceans they led to. Our fluid, foreboding melodies told the people's tale: their fear and dreams and hope, but mostly their fear. The music told more than that, of course--the planes, the bombs, the future; the statues, the benches, the past--all in a song. A bird left the tree; the wind rocked the tire gently: these too I added to my melody. Raine was strumming clouds and I was bowing sky. I think we could have captured the entire city in our song, had we the time. Raine swore we did anyway. Perhaps he is right. Our music was about a lot that day. But mostly fear. This would make me cry, if I was a better person.
The first of the planes flew overhead around six. Doug pointed it out, waving his cigarette idly in its direction before taking another drag. Raine and I hardly noticed: we were lost in our song. No, perhaps that's not right. Lost sounds as if we wanted out, as if we were there against our will. We were hiding. Doug saw this, crushed his cigarette, took a seat on the bench and started drumming awkwardly on the seat. Raine looked up, and his sad smile was back. Now we were three against the coming destruction; three against the apocalypse, three against the bombs and the cries and the fear.
Three is far too few, but I think we knew that anyway.
I don't recall how long we were in the park that night. We played until the world burned down, and then we played for the ghosts. When the ghosts went away we played for ourselves, and then we too disappeared, the fog of war swallowing our trio and spitting out bones years later. We never played a note after that night, either together or on our own. I'm an alcoholic now; Raine jumped last week. Doug? Doug still smokes. It's what he's best at.
It's not much, but at least it's something.