Can’t Finish

By Antho Zueck

“Yeah I was kinda gettin’ off on it to be honest. He’s really… well he’s so honest and telling you all these things people don’t normally tell you. He wants to be vulnerable. He tells me everything.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Like you know when you ask someone ‘how are you?’ Well he paused and looks at me, and goes… ‘Well last night was good and today was miserable, but right now, now that you’re here, I’m really happy.’”

“That’s kind of weird.”

“No it’s not! You’re missing the point. He’s just really different. And honest.”

“Yeah yeah, go on.”

“Well you know me, I grab his guitar by the neck and I start singing a song just about the moment I get there, and he runs around plugging in lights and turning off other ones until he’s got that mood lighting just how he wants it. And then he curls up right next to me and just listens. Just listens and taps his foot a little and listens some more.”

“That’s awesome.”

“So he just smiles and tells me he loves it. That’s all he said. He keeps things pretty simple. Then his roommate peeks in the door and tells us it’s dinner time, and he gets up and tells me that there’s a time and place for everything he guesses, and we go downstairs.”

“What do you mean it’s dinner time?”

“Oh he lives in one of those coops. They’re like dormitories for hippies. They cook for each other and all that.”

“Groovy.”

“I go off to wash a dish because there aren’t any clean ones, and as I’m doing that he’s poking me in the back trying to give me this huge storage container lid to use. As a plate? It was really cute and all.”

“Like he’s actually all concerned you won’t take it from him right?”

“I’m just going to use the plate I was washing so he turns to the guy next to me who was waiting to wash a dish and smiles and hands it to him. And his smiles, girl, they last for seconds. Like, four seconds. The guy gives him a good long smile back and walks off. Everyone’s downstairs but he asks if I want to eat upstairs, and I do, so we eat with his roommate in his room.”

“What’d you talk about?”

“Mostly about what we’ve been up to. Pasta parties and work and, did you know I can get up on my roof now?”

“Really?”

“Yeah. He was really interested to hear that. He likes nice views. He talked a lot about how even though you’re looking out at the same stuff every time, how different all the views are in the East Bay. Things like that mean a lot to him.”

“What else?”

“Well I was eating with my hands and he was eating with these two butter knives like they were chopsticks. And we both thought that was really funny because they’re habits we picked up abroad.”

“And this whole time the roommate’s in there cock-blocking you guys?”

“I didn’t mind I guess. That’s not what I went over for.”

“Uhhh, then why’d you go?”

“I wanted to hear him play me a song. He’s like a total music beginner but I wanted to hear him play me a song. I wanted to see if he could do it yet.”

“I’m going to vomit all over you right now.”

“You ever had a song played for you?”

“Uhhh….”

“You should try it sometime.”

“Well what happened?”

“I was enjoying myself but getting a little impatient, and I couldn’t stick around too long so I asked him to play me one, and he… I wouldn’t call it nervous. It’s tough to describe. Definitely hesitant. Definitely unsure of himself. And he asks me how he’s supposed to warm-up his voice.”

“Excuses!”

“Yeah it was a pretty obvious stall. But he meant it. I think that’s how he breaks through challenges, he wants to figure it all out. He’s got this attitude that he can do anything, he just needs to know how.”

“So…”

“So I start singing some scales, and he jumps right in and does them all with me. And when I stopped he stopped, and when I got louder he got louder. Kind of like follow the leader. I think it covered him up. He was all smiles by the end of it.”

“That’s cute and all but I want to hear him play.”

“Yeah yeah, me too, so I tell him to play whatever song he played at the open mic the night I missed him there. I figure if he can play it for a hundred strangers… He’s got a friend who he plays with, and they go crazy together I guess. But alone, well when he plays by himself… he doesn’t like playing by himself. He said…‘Nobody likes playing alone.’

“Awww…”

“Ya we got real quiet then. He lit a candle. And I told you he was honest right? He told me how much he appreciated me being there right then, because he can’t ever find people to play with and it makes him kinda sad to practice alone.”

“That’s real talk girl.”

“Ya he just didn’t want to play alone. So I grabbed his tambourine and offered to do it with him. And he starts to change his mind about it all.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning he doesn’t play the song right away, but he’s getting there. He started talking about how he hates to perform, but loves to express. And I get that. Performances are judged, they’re good or they’re bad, you’re happy to listen or you’re wasting your time. But hearing someone express themselves is completely different. I’ve never been sorry to hear someone express themselves.”

“And what song expresses him then?”

“Well he asked me if I was a dog person.”

“And you said yes.”

“Of course. He tunes down his guitar until all the strings are just rattling against the neck with a buzz, and he says…”

‘This song’s for you and everyone else who ever loved their dog.’

“Pretty corny.”

“Trust me, he meant it. He means things like that. Usually he apologizes for being corny, but this time he just up and said it. And that I liked. It’s way less sexy when he apologizes.”

“Was it everything you dreamed?”

“Ya, it was pretty awesome. It was this folk song with this whole long extended solo intro and I was getting into it with the tambourine. I mean, I stood up and I wanted to dance. We were really going somewhere with that one. But then he’s hanging on this one chord, and his mouth is open, and then he stops and says…”

‘Sorry I forgot the words.’

“No he didn’t.”

“Yeah, he did.”

“Couldn’t deliver huh?”

“Story of my life.”

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