“Excuse me, sir. Do you know anything about where you are?” I collide with some stumbly, spirited women on the towpath. I point them toward downtown.
These hills get spooky. The mansion on the hill’s not the one that I remember from before. It’s the only thing I can see other than the waves illuminated by that big full moon. You could play “Long Black Veil” tonight – and I do – but it’s redundant.
“Please turn up all the way. We like the way you make us dream.” It was only a few years earlier, in the very same town, that I got thrown out of a private party at a supposedly haunted house for playing too loud.
While I sing, I wonder what might be buried under the hotel.
The proprietor is nice. He wants me to play my bamboo harmonica. I tell him I’ve got one in G.
Someone places a note on my music stand, midsong. “We are concerned you might play folk music” and then shuffles away, laughing. I finish my song “Gather Ghosts” and play a Lead Belly song called “Out On The Western Plains.” They place a hundred dollar bill next to my pint glass, winking at me.
Now we’ve moved to the fourth floor. It is some sort of private party. It’s all a little dull for a while, but then a couple shows up with a big box of percussion instruments. They pass them out to nearly everyone at the bar, including a guy who looks like a musician who has pivoted into high finance. A group of student athletes joins in. I am impressed with their rhythm.
Later, I see the box of percussion instruments next to the valet station, but the couple is gone. I tell myself that these are the kinds of people you only see once in your life. Just learn to live with the mystery of who they were and why they were carrying around a box of percussion instruments.
Going upstairs to get my guitar, I run into them in the elevator. I want to know everything about them. Do they live in town or have they never been there before? Did they decide, after the last kid went off to college, to spend the rest of their lives living for three weeks at a time in different luxury hotels around the world?
It’s late, though, and they’re visibly tired. There’s been a lot of drinking, a lot of singing, a lot of dancing. So I just share a smile with them. We all thank each other for making it a great night of music.
I learn no new information about them. But I like the way they make me dream.