Short Stories

Harmonica visitors submit fiction or non-fiction short stories based on experiences that involve the harmonica or harmonica playing. If you would like to have a short story included in our collection, please note the procedures for submission in the bullet points on the Short Stories main page.

"I Don't Have the Blues"

I don't have the blues. I've seen the blues, I've heard the blues, but I've never had the blues.

Last time we went to Chicago, my brother and I went downtown to Kingston Mines. . . he's a skinny 16-year-old, but he can really wail with his red Fender guitar, Ella, and he held his own on stage with a crowd of people who really had the blues. That was when I picked up the harp again, the old Hohner that my uncle gave me before he moved to Germany (but that's a different story entirely).

So, feeling like an intruder into the world of blues -- what does this skinny little white girl know? -- I started to show myself the ropes. The major scale, Mary Had a Little Lamb. . . I learned piano on Suzuki before I quit (that's how little blues I have in me! Suzuki piano, that should be indicative at once), so figuring things out on my own was instinctive.

When I found out how to play Taps I kept the neighborhood awake at all hours of the night. It's so simple it's haunting. At one point I was sitting in the tree in my front yard at 11:00 at night, belting it out as soulfully as I could, and the Mysterious Neighboor from down the road came out and sat beneath the tree as I played, and sang the words softly, "Day is gone, gone the sun..." (did you know Taps had lyrics?) He was an old man, grisly like the best ones in stories. He told me how his dad hummed him Taps to lull him to sleep, lacing it with war stories.

Mystery Neighbor and I talked for 20 minutes, he among the roots and me up in the branches. And I played him some other little songs I knew. Then he went inside.

Died the next week, quietly. They played Taps at his funeral, and I stood in the back and whispered the words: "...From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night."


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