The latches of his guitar case were brass, but they hadn’t closed properly in years. The case was cracked red leather – an elaborate network of twine kept it shut for travel, and generally he had plenty of time before a show to tease loose the knots.
Running through the midnight streets, breathing hard, with seven ghost-faced dogs on his heels, Max wished he had scraped up the coin to get the latches fixed.
He tumbled over a cart full of purple pears, and watched as the guitar case went skidding across the cobblestone street. He ignored the cries of the cart’s owner, and the blood coming from his scratched hands, and crawled after the case desperately. He laid one hand on it, as the first dog skidded to a stop.
Someone had spent a pretty purse on their construction, brass tubes vented steam, and through its transparent skin Max could see the fierce engine cackling and turning. The dog’s hide was mostly turtle-glass, with strips of steel binding the seams and joints. It opened its crystal jaws, and growled – the sound of breaking crockery.
Max’s face stretched into a smile, and he ran a hand through his hair. It was silver-gold this month, and looked absolutely absurd and didn’t go with the electric blue of his long leather coat. Max had a deep, abiding belief in absurdity. I’ve got to get this damn case open, which means I have to…oh, Sid and Nancy.
He pulled his case close, and barreled his way towards the burning-glass dog, trying to angle his shoulder protectively.
Glass dogs are hard.
Max managed to carom off the construct’s left flank and spin into the street. Just in time to see the other six tear around the corner, and point their glass-snouts at him.
“Aaaaaaaah.” he said, quieter than he would have preferred. He was still sucking in air after hitting the first dog.
Max stumbled forward, and climbed up on the first high point he could find. A jewelry stand, made from a couple of boards stretched across two empty metal drums. The shopkeeper screamed at him, but fled upon seeing the glass dogs. Max quickly dug into the front of his black slacks, and fished out the small knife he kept for emergencies. He sighed as he laid the knife to the first knot. These are going to be a devil to re-tie.
The old guitar case popped open, dirty twine falling on top of his blazing green boots. It had cost a month’s wages to have them actually light up, but Max had never regretted the purchase. Great art, requires great sacrifice.
It was red. Strings and steel, and love and pain. His guitar.
Max pulled the strap over his head, and turned to face the seven glass dogs. He nodded to them, as courtly as a queen — and hung the travel amplifier from his belt. Thumb on the power switch, all the lights turned green.
The bard pulled the pick from behind his ear, and tightened his Gamma string. The lighting on this street was less than optimal, but for an impromptu performance it would have to do.
He could still put on a show.
Max raised his hand to the heavens, then brought the pick down across the strings.
A roar of sound – a beginning. Cracks appeared in the faces of the first two dogs.
A quick arpeggio to loosen up his fingers. One of the dog’s steam engines began to suck in exhaust — condensation and fire forming inside the transparent creature.
A moment of silence, to gather his audience in — the glass dogs howled and leaped forward.
Max momentarily considered his song choice. These were lifeless machines sent to tear out his throat, they didn’t really have a say in the matter. Maybe he should go easy on them.
Then he remembered the cut knots. And he smiled.
Max played ‘Eruption’ and the dogs exploded. A thousand shimmering shards of glass and steel flew backwards from his music. Max played his guitar in the midnight streets, and the glass dogs were no more.
“That’ll teach you to tangle with a rock and roll god.” he said to the rubble, and did his best to correct the tangle of his hair.
“Yeah. A god.” he added, and stepped down off the stage.
[A story on demand for HereThereBeSpiders. I hope you enjoy it!]
[Here’s a link to the Van Halen song I referenced, if you are woefully uneducated. ]