after the last song

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 26, 2018

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Submitted: October 26, 2018







After the Last Song


In 1999, a legend was born in Montreal. A guitarist who went by the name of Ziggy started playing regularly in the famous Lafontaine Park. No one knew where he came from or his real name. The genuinely good-looking guitar player had shoulder length blue hair and a thunderbolt-shaped red birthmark on his left cheek. His guitar, named Anne, was an old run-down piece from the 50s’, but always sounded great. Ziggy didn’t have the best voice in town, but people were always attracted and moved by his pretty songs. There was an authentic simplicity in them that was long gone in that era’s music. It didn’t take long for his “shows” to become crowded with hundreds of fascinated passerby admirers. Inevitably, Ziggy started getting more and more attention in town. Record companies and other musicians tried relentlessly to contact him for contracts or cooperation, but he never stayed after his performances and always vanished as mysteriously as he came. Also, he never played anywhere other than Lafontaine.


Ms. M was the daughter of a rich Westmount businessman. She studied medicine at McGill University to meet her parentand worked part time at La Banquise, a well known restaurant West of Lafontaine Park. She was a fairly beautiful and elegant woman who stood out amid the other children of Montreal’s finest. Ms. M did not enjoy the usual luxury brand scavenger hunts or the meaningless weekend drug fests that her friends often indulged in. Opulent make up, revealing clothes and phony sultriness were not necessary; her beauty was natural and far more refreshing. Evidently, Ms. M did not feel very inspired by the people who surrounded her, but strove to keep a daily appearance of satisfaction.


It was a Saturday. At 6PM, the sky above Montreal was already getting dark because winter was near. Ms M, having just finished her shift, walked out of La Banquise with a take-out box full of unsold pizza slices and sandwiches. The day was still young, so she went to the park to relax a bit and enjoy a well-deserved meal. The iconic wooden bridge seemed like an ideal location. There were picnic tables around it and the park’s reservoir offered a breath-taking scenery that countless novels and movies have immortalized. As Ms. M approached the place, she noticed a crowd nearby that was clapping in a unified rhythm. The vague melody of a song could be heard from the distance. Oh! You pretty things... Oh! You pretty things... Drawn by an innate curiosity, she walked towards the crowd.


Ziggy was going to sing the last song of the day before scurrying away without thanking or acknowledging anyone. Ms. M made it to the inner circle of the crowd surrounding the singer. Her eyes were immediately captured by the man in front of her. The song that was played was unknown, but there was something simple and beautiful that moved her. She started to tap her feet in the rhythm of the music and to sing along during the chorus. At the middle of the song, the musician raised his head and look towards Ms. Ms general direction. He seemed quietly startled and almost forgot a line. When it ended, everybody clapped and moved forward to give the mystery man a tip. Amid the commotion, Ziggy simply packed his guitar and walked away. Ms. M tried to keep an eye on him, but there was simply no way. This man was different than the self-centered wrecks who called Westmount their realm. Whoever he was, she liked him. Perhaps love can be at first sight after all.


In the days that followed, Ms. M went to the park every day. Ziggy played less often then before because it was getting colder day by day. Exhaustion was visible on his face when he did play and his usual clothes became insufficient for the weather. Nonetheless, his songs still kept Montrealers dreaming and the attention on him was far from fading away. Ms. M grew fonder of Ziggy after each performance and was determined to acquaint him even though the guitar man always vanished in the crowd after the last song.


One day, Ms. M had nothing to do and decided to go for a stroll on Sainte-Catherine Boulevard. It was Christmas break, the city was desolate and frozen. She was going to cross a street when a hobo lying near a bus stop caught her attention. He was holding a battered guitar which bore the large inscription ANNE. The man was Ziggy. His blue hair and thunderbolt-shaped birthmark couldnt lie. Montreal was ruthlessly cold that day and Ziggy was shivering from head to toe.


Ms. M was never the muscular type, but at that moment she had enough strength to carry Ziggy. Inside a random bistro on Sainte-Catherine, Ms. M laid the freezing man on a sofa and ordered some warm food. As his face slowly lost the pallid white of cold, Ziggy regained his consciousness. There was an obvious discomfort in the way he looked, but he still thanked Ms. M for what she had done. Needless to say, the lady was happy that she could be with the one she admired for so long. They started to talk.

It turned out, Ziggy was from a little town outside of Montreal. His former musical partner was a girl named Anne. The two were well known singer-songwriters in the suburbs, but they never tried to catch more attention than what was deserved for their effort. At the end, they drifted apart because Anne loved him. He only focused on the music and considered her as a good friend. Not long ago, he learned that Anne died in a car accident outside of the country. As Lafontaine Park was the place where they met in the city for the first time, Ziggy decided to play there ever since. He didnt want fame or recognition anymore. The songs he wrote and sang became all that mattered. That was why he vanished as quickly as possible after every performance. Ms. M wanted to support Ziggy financially, but the man was stubborn. They talked for a long time. She tried to convince him with all sorts of arguments about the change he could make in the industry of that era. At the end, Ziggy accepted to attend some studio sessions. He still wasnt convinced about the benefits of popularizing what he did to more important masses, but hunger and homelessness were getting too harsh to handle.


As days went by, Ziggy went to more studio sessions. He had albums out and people were starting to notice him in the streets. The instruments he used were high end and hand crafted by the best in the industry. There was still a profound stubbornness in him that loathed the famous and phony big star he would probably become. Even so, he desperately needed some money to keep himself warm and fed. Ms. M was the only one that could satisfy those needs; in exchange for music. To tell the truth, Ziggy liked this woman; she reminded him of Anne. The way she talked and looked at him was just electrifying. He knew that she was trying to do what she felt was right, but it was making him miserable. Kids were asking for his autograph, girls wanted to kiss him or just tear him apart. Lafontaine Park, once a calm refuge for musical appreciation, was more crowded than ever. Some people like to sing for others, but prefer a moment of loneliness when its necessary. That was no longer possible.


Events, shows, interviews, TV appearances were terrifying new creatures roaming in Ziggys new life. The more he knew Ms. M, the more he loved her. It was impossible for him to say no. He liked everything about her, except the activities that marketed his music as a product for sale. Every time he wrote a new song, Ms. M was crazy about it and always had good things to say. The old Westmount merchant, her dad, also invested an impressive amount of money into Ziggys career because he saw a real gold mine in the young mans talent. At that time, things were at an impasse. Giving up on everything was tempting, but difficult to attempt. The old guitar, Anne, rested in her dusty corner and taunted Ziggys mind every day. The man was tormented and torn apart between two worlds.


One day, Ziggy had enough. He grabbed his old guitar and threw it out. The garbage truck happened to come that day and took the memories away. Ziggy thought he would feel better, but he didnt. An important decision was yet to be made.


Mysteriously, from that day on, he began to lose it. On stage, Ziggy became prone to sudden mistakes and often forgot lyrics. In the studio, he would get incredibly mad and impatient after being incapable of playing a single track correctly. His new songs, if they could be even considered as music, were pure garbage. After a while, his inspirations and ideas went dry. Ms. M still wanted to support him, but her dads objections were intensifying every day. They were losing money, a lot of it. With money went away thousands of disheartened fans and secret admirers. Ziggy started spending less time in practices and gradually fell into the vices of alcohol to ease his confusion and fear. His blue hair turned to black and his thunderbolt-shaped birthmark slowly faded away.


One moonless night, Ziggy walked alone on the Saint-Laurent Boulevard for some peace of mind. He turned aimlessly at every street he could meet without any particular reason. From some windows, people watched this silhouette that moved around furtively as though it was looking for something. Suddenly, it stopped. Ziggy saw something. Near a dumpster, below the dim light of a streetlamp, an old guitar rested haggardly against a stone-cold brick wall. On the wooden surface, the inscription Anne shone brighter than ever in the darkness. Its hard to describe in words how the guitar man felt at the moment. The known fact is that he slowly walked towards the guitar and picked it up. He contemplated the cracked body of the instrument for a while before strumming the first chord. An entire show was played below that street lamp. After the last song, the guitar shattered to pieces. It was rumored that Ziggy became insane afterwards and moved away from the city. As for Ms. M, she went on to become a famous doctor, but was never happy with her life. She never married or loved anyone else.


Beijing, China

October 2018

© Copyright 2019 Patrick Devon. All rights reserved.

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