…but there was that cash drawer. So many times the totals didn’t balance. Not that unusual---except there was always too much in the drawer. Joe would arrive late morning to get ready for the day’s business and start to notice…hmmm…the kitchen door doesn’t catch any more…and the kitchen..well, the kitchen is cleaner than I left it. And the brass on the bar is polished!.
…so when Joe heard the clatter in the darkness of the bar he was startled…but part of him wasn’t surprised.
“WAIT! Please don’t leave!” Joe is shouting as he’s trying desperately to extract himself from his guitar strap and the circle of stools surrounding him on stage. He bounds down from the stage, dumping his stool of picks, capo, empty coffee mug and all, and tries to catch up to the shadow that is making a rapid retreat toward the door, shoes clattering across the tile.
Joe sees as the intruder reaches the door, shoulders in silhouette drop as they realize they’ve just made the tactical error—they ran to a LOCKED door.
“Didn’t figure you could make the window in such a hurry huh?” Joe says as the figure assumes a posture of resignation by the door.
“How long have you been staying here? Don’t you have a home? Come on back in here…who are you?” Joe asks as non-threateningly as he can.
Slowly the stranger walks toward Joe and as he emerges from the deeper shadows Joe sees a lean, rather good-looking young man—not the vagrant image he’d played in his mind when he began to piece together the fact that he likely had someone living in the bar.
“Is that how you do it? The storage room window I mean…is that how you get in?”
“Yeah.” The stranger answers with eyes still averted downward.
“About two months now. But I didn’t mean to freeload! Really! I just needed a place to stay”
“And…and the cleaning?”
“It’s what I do. I mean, I work for my dad and we clean commercial and office buildings.” Now the obvious gregarious nature of the kid trumps his embarrassment at getting caught and he’s now looking Joe in the eye as he relates his story. “I have the cleaning supplies and I know how to do the stuff. I didn’t expect something for nothing so I tried to help out with some work around here.”
Just then a sound draws their attention
toward the stage and they both watch in frozen horror as the hastily left
and leaned guitar is starting that awful slow-motion slide from its
insufficient moorings, the slide that ends in that awful…
“Well, it can’t fall any farther than down. I’ll get it in a minute. Do you want something to eat?” Joe asks, already more or less deducing the last of the mystery. The kid left money in the till if he raided the kitchen for food when he stayed. Joe just hadn’t made the connection because the kid was so complete about cleaning up after himself and it was too hard to detect if one person’s worth of food was missing.
“Well…yeah, I haven’t eaten anything”
“So…..you want to fix it yourself?” Joe says grinning at the kid who obviously knew his way to and around the kitchen.
The kid returns in a few minutes and they sit at one of the tables. Joe’s taken a couple of the chairs off of it and set a place for them to sit. As the kid eats the sandwich he fixed, Joe inspects his beloved guitar for new dents from the header it just took.
“So, what’s your name?” Joe asks with eyes still fine-tooth-combing the fallen guitar.
“Isaac…but I go by “Ike”.”
“I like Ike” Joe says, smiling.
“Gee, I never heard that one before.” There’s good humor in the kid’s voice—not a smart-aleky retort.
John Bauman is a very talented Potter from Warsaw, Indiana. He sells his pottery at some of the best known art shows around the country. But his creative talent runs deep and John also writes songs and stories such as this one to channel his creative energy.
John is a frequent and well loved contributor to Acoustic Guitar Magazine's "Guitar Talk" Forum, and this story was created and posted by John piecemeal over a period of months on that forum. It has been reproduced here in its entirety for all to enjoy.
Hopefully, he will be so inclined to share other stories with us in the future.