Afterlife

 

 

When they found the old man, the Walkman was in his pyjama jacket pocket and the headphones were still clasped to his dead, now deaf, skull. What had he been listening to? The warden was not interested. His daughter might have been, had she been told how they found him. His son-in-law would certainly have been, for the two had a shared interest in music. 

Later, a stranger, a young woman, discovered the old machine, with tangled wire and headset  buried in the box beneath the cast offs in the charity shop next to the empty cold meats and provisions store. The batteries were still alive. Click. No sound. She slid the cassette out of its slot, glanced at the neat male biro hand (it read 'Side A, various'), turned the thing over  and fitted it in place. The headset needed adjusting.  Click.  A hiss.  Then the music.  It was unfamiliar to her, but it had its charm and what was there to lose at 1.50 the lot?

Her uncle, who had played the mouthorgan before arthritis stiffened him, identified the first tune. 

She googled the title and, click, was connected to Youtube. The monochrome then-young old musician played for her, wooed her, prompting in her a smile, a frown, a fluttering in the tummy and a new smile - this time of recognition - as she warmed to his particular voice. The internet links led to more of his music: melancholic solos, a celebratory duo and rousing big band arrangements in which his distinctive sound soared over the harmonies of the instruments around him.

Not one of the numbers was the one he had heard as he died. That was on the other side. That remains unknown. I shall have to be content that the old man and young woman connected at all.

 

 

 

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