If All Be True
Snippets from the novel by Dorothy J. Hickson
Currently seeking agent/publisher -- contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
* * *
"They brought the piano again," Olive said. "I mean..."
"Obviously not the same piano," Misha replied.
* * *
"I got up about 4 a.m. to use the fence," said the fiddle player. "And I could hear someone on the other side of the fence, just walking up and down in the dark there, and whistling. He was whistling all the parts of 'Aqualung.' He was good. I thought maybe it was a radio at first. But then I saw him. He had this huge wide-brimmed hat like a sombrero, and he wasn't walking with a light or anything; he was just walking in the dark, in among the trees. Whistling."
"Like a volunteer, looking for fence-jumpers?" Chris asked.
"No, like a ghost."
"Oh yes," Bill W. said. "He was one of the original volunteers and he always whistled as he walked. They say he died in his camper van in the seventeenth day of a banjo marathon."
"But the whistle remains," Gracie intoned.
"Someone sees him every single year, since the very first fest in 1962."
"Wait, so -- he was a volunteer in '62 or he was already a ghost?" Misha asked around a mouthful of potatoes. His impatience with supernatural topics was exceeded only by his enthusiasm for Bill W.'s breakfast hash.
"The tragic banjothon was in '86. Eighty-seven? By then, he was so settled into that fence jumper shift, his inexhaustible fragment took over when the corporeal bits tapped out."
"Has there ever been a non-tragic banjothon, that's what I'm wondering," said Eddy Rand.
* * *
The piper was solemn and gloriously loud. He had just ascended the stage when the rain began. Annie left the tarp on her bit of hill and went up to the VFW stand with her quilt rolled up under her arm. It was crowded under the roof, though a great many concertgoers had stayed out on the hillside with umbrellas and ponchos. She bought another styro-cup of sluggish coffee, then took her time looking around all the fixings tables in case there might be a packet of artificial sweetener somewhere among the plastic utensils and smeary jars of relish.
The rain pelted louder, and a whoop rippled through the crowd on the hill.
Now a Celtic funk band was playing a tune she recognized. "You see that line that's moving through the station," she sang out loud to herself, "I told you, I told you... I was one of those..."
She felt emboldened to duck out in the rain to use the big tin shaker of cinnamon-sugar from the fried dough booth. The sweet sandlike grains hung in the air for a long moment, glittering. A trick of the wind, but there was no wind, there was no rain falling; nothing but a lone wailing instrument holding one note while everything else held its breath. Not motionless -- the cinnamon-sugar grains turned and tumbled in the air between the shaker and her coffee; they spiraled and danced and sparkled but they did not fall. The wail of the fiddle wavered. It climbed up and down the scale without losing intensity. The low-hanging sun, pink with exertion, forced its way below the edge of the rain and began painting everyone's hands and wet foreheads and white foam coffee cups with a glimmer of sunset peach. The crystals landed soundlessly in Annie's brew.
The full band launched back in. Audience members shook themselves slightly. The rain was ending.
* * *
Copyright ©2015 Dorothy J. Hickson; All Rights Reserved