Mom called for me as if I couldn’t hear the doorbell.
I walked out of my bedroom, leaving behind
walls of Anthrax and Slayer for a guitar lesson
with a guy who made his living writing
jingles for real estate companies, though
his goal was to flourish like his brother,
a co-writer of Mister Belvedere’s theme song.
Mom chatted about her garden
while walking my teacher to our lesson area
then left us alone and made way toward the window.
He sat on the bench facing our piano, an upright
model made of oak with a burgundy finish.
I sat on a kitchen stool with my guitar, a generic
model made of poplar with a black finish
accented by pink lightning bolts.
His albino face bleached in the sunlight
after mom opened the curtains. I could see
only a beard and a set of crooked pupils beneath dark eyebrows.
Instead of continuing our study on speed metal,
he suggested we work on sight-reading and placed
a handwritten sheet of music on the edge of the piano bench.
Once I finished playing the melody, I smelled bourbon
with hints of chewing tobacco. He asked how I felt about the tune.
I must have done something wrong
by keeping quiet. His arthritic fingers played
a diminished chord on the piano as he turned and told me
it was the tone of Satan’s alarm clock.
He stood up and left with his hand scratching his neck.
The front door shut and I watched him walk to his minivan
through the window. I noticed he forgot his sheet music,
so I hurried outside and found him sitting in his van
pouring a tube of powder into an oversized chrome bullet.
When I asked about the bullet, he said, whatever your siblings do
when they get older, make sure you can do it better.
Then he sneezed and his face darkened,
a lattice of red covered the whites of his eyes.
Photo By: Jéssica Passos