One of these days
One of these nights
That's what she told me
And I don't know what I should have done
But it must have not been this
If it had
There'd be a ring
The street was cold.
He closed his eyes and sank back against the concrete wall, shifting the blanket around him again; he might not get any warmer, but he wanted to stay as warm as he was.
Long, straw colored strands of hair fell down into his face. He felt them tickling and didn't have the energy or motivation to brush them away from his cheeks. It was impossible to stay clean on the sidewalk.
Lately he'd been so much more tired. What caused the circles under his eyes and the relentless introspection making him feel emptier every day was that he didn't know what was wrong with him. He didn't...have a spell. He didn't know where any temples were to ask for a cleric to examine him. He didn't know how to pray and have an answer. He didn't have anything.
At that thought, his gray eyes slowly opened, drifting down to his side. In spite of himself, he turned his body and stroked the polished wood of his guitar and traced his fingers along its curves. "I have my guitar," he mumbled to himself, "I have music." An aching pain traveled between his heart and his stomach, but he didn't know if it was physical or emotional. Perhaps it was a bit of both.
A shadow fell across him. Two things came to him before he was spoken to. One was that the sun was shining, something he often forgot. The second was that a man was standing next to him. His head turned and the man spoke at the same time. "Hello, Daniel," he said. Rather cheerfully, Dan thought. His hands were in his pockets and his head was inclined downwards in a friendly manner.
"Hello," Dan replied.
"I know you don't want to go to the old folk's home and I know you don't want help," the portly man continued cheerfully, "but I do want to see you taken care of, man."
Dan smiled, crinkling the lines on his face by his eyes and mouth, but it was the smile of an actor. "So you know I don't want help and you're here to help about that," he quipped.
The man laughed. "I suppose. You do have a way with words," he admitted ruefully.
Gerald Plum was one of the first people he had met that he had talked with for any length of time. He'd been slightly thinner and his mustache smaller, but essentially he looked the same as ever. He was one of the few people that he knew who hadn't changed in twenty-three years. His personality was nothing to brag about, but even if he made Dan slightly uncomfortable, he would socialize. Usually he wore a gray-blue business suit and tie and worked in a medical facility, although his position in it always seemed to be changing. He came around usually to give Dan money and words of encouragement about finding a job. The homeless man would only smile; he had neither the knowledge or the money for schooling to set up an interview, meet qualifications, and successfully secure a job. A strange world it was that required menial workers to have more qualifications than knowing how to follow instructions, but such a world it was that he had dropped into.
Now, with all the time in the world, Dan performed when the fancy took him. His manner always made Plum curious, and it was now with fascination he watched Dan pick up his guitar into his lap and begin to gently play, his fingers running over the strings. And when his deep, pleasant voice began, what he sang was thus:
"You can't tell a man how to walk
Or which direction to take
His past is his own business
And his future his own to make
And when love comes shining down
It's his decision to smile or frown
Once he knew just what he wanted
Once his thoughts were clear
Happiness was in his grasp
And all his dreams seemed near..."
This was where Dan trailed off, letting the vibrations of the guitar strings hum themselves out and dropping his hands to his sides. There was never a time as long as he'd sat when he'd finished a song all the way through. It was a curious fact that Plum kept turning over and over in his head, which was part of the overall mystery of this musically talented man. Dan confided that at about this time, his head always went blank. No more lyrics.
"How do you make all those up?" Mr. Plum asked admiringly. Dan had dozens of unfinished ideas, and it flabbergasted him that none of them were written down on paper.
The musician smiled at him sadly. "I don't make it up."
With a sigh of letting his bulk plop down on the sidewalk next to Dan, he asked, a smile teasing the corners of his mouth and lifting them up, "May I hear another one of your songs about the woman in blue? They're amazing."
Dan could always tell when he had a good audience. He smiled and shook his head slowly at the simple pleasure Plum got out of listening to him. A moment or two passed in thought. "She wears many disguises, my woman in blue..." His fingers began to haltingly pluck out an uncertain tune. "...But they never disguise who she is, every one of them I love and know, because all of them are her..."
Plum watched his face with curiosity and a little bit of wisdom; whenever he sang about this woman in blue, Dan's face let on that it was a deeply personal subject. He suspected, but would never bring up, that she was probably a girlfriend of his at one time or another.
"Sometimes she's elven with sparkling eyes and words like liquid sun. Then she'll be a human for me, all dark hair and worst fears." This song was slow and contemplative in an almost folksy country music kind of way. "Sharp as a needle and full of a hidden joke – sweet as she slept and fierce when she awoke..." Repetition of the chords he was striking on the guitar signaled that he was about to close. "She is my woman in blue..." His voice lingered on the last word.
It always astounded Plum, that skill of his friend's for imagining up mystic elements like that. Why, he ought to be writing books, not singing on some sidewalk. He was a treasure. "My friend," he said fervently, "you have real talent. You could easily get recorded with a talent like yours. People would listen to you!"
Dan smiled at him, bemused.
"You've heard of Willie Nelson, haven't you?" The medical technician pressed. "He may be getting on in the years, but if anything, he's more popular now than ever before!"
The homeless man pulled a grimacing face. "Please, let me be," he groaned comically.
"But..." Plum stalled.
"It's just not my way," Dan said gently. "I would prefer to be out here than put up on some stage, or worse, to never see who's hearing my songs."
His brow wrinkled. "You come from a strange place, my friend."
"Someplace very far away," Danilo Thann said softly. He looked beyond the sidewalk and the noisy street flooded with cars, and the square, unappealing buildings raising flat heads to the sky, and beyond the clouds and the airplanes and the satellites moving in orbit around the atmosphere higher up than daylight revealed. Back to a land with dirt roads and forests as far as the eye could see. A woman he knew would be waiting for him if he ever found his way back.