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Official website of Seattle-area actor and writer Nathaniel Jones

The Harmonica

PART 1

A musician was sitting on the side of the road one day, and as he sat, he played the harmonica. He noticed an old man staring at him from across the street, and he waved to him. The elderly man crossed the street, and approached the harmonica player.

"Excuse me," Said the elderly man, and the musician looked up at the man. "My wife is terribly ill, and it would mean so much to her if you would come play for her." The musician saw how sad the old man appeared, and he wished he could help, so he agreed. He followed the man for some blocks, and they came upon and old, run down building. They entered the decaying apartment building, and began ascending the creaking staircase. A small lamp lit the staircase a musty yellow color, and the shadows on the wall made it seem to be eerily empty, almost dead.

They reached a small plateau, on which there was a single doorway. The old man pulled a key out of his pocket, and unlocked the door. As they entered the musty apartment, the musician was bombarded by the smell of dust and mildew that lingered in the air. If he didn't know better, he would have sworn that that place had not been entered in many years. Dust coated the furniture, and cobwebs draped the walls.

They walked through the apartment and soon reached a small bedroom. The old man gently opened the door, and motioned the musician inside. The musician looked around the room, full of relics of the past; old pictures, movie posters, glass figures. And in the middle of the room, an antique 4 post bed stood, dominating the room. The curtains were drawn, and the old man motioned the man forward once more.

The musician peered through the curtain, careful not to awaken the inhabitant of this bed. However, the musician could see no one in the bed. The bed appeared to have been without rest for a long while, as the blankets and pillows were all tucked in, and a thick layer of dust coated the bed spread.

The musician drew his head out of the curtain, and turned toward the old man. "Listen, man," He started. "I don't-" But he then saw that the elderly man was gone. He walked back out of the bedroom, and looked down at the floor. There was a layer of dust coating the floor, and a set of footprints heading into the bedroom. The only thing was, there was only one set of footprints. And none leaving the room.

PART 2

The musician turned around and walked back into the bedroom, where he sat down on the bed, trying to figure out what was going on. He then proceeded to do what he always did when he was trying to figure something out: He played his harmonica.

He started playing slowly, and soon began to speed up. He began to play better than he had ever played before. He stood up, and played his song through to the end. As he finished, he wiped the sweat off his brow, and looked up. He turned around, trying to figure out what that sound he was hearing was. It sounded almost like. . . clapping.

He opened the curtains and there, in the bed, was an old woman, slowly clapping her hands. "Thank you, young man. For many years I have been waiting for someone to come play for me. I cannot thank you enough for the joy you have brought me this day. In return, I would like you to take this." She said as she pulled a tube from her bedside table. In it was a candy stick. "My son used to love candy. He would take a penny down to the candy store, and get a whole handful of these. He gave me this, and now I'd like to give it to you." She handed the musician the candy. He looked at the candy, and stuck it in his pocket. When he looked up again, the woman was gone.

PART 3

The musician left the apartment with his candy stick, still not quite sure what had just happened. He walked for a while, when he reached the spot where, earlier that day, he had met the elderly gentleman. He realized he was hungry, so he pulled out the candy. He was just about to take a bite, when he saw a small child begging on a corner. The musician stared at the child, this child who looked so familiar. . .

He looked at the child, and looked at the candy. His stomach growled. He walked towards the child, and held out the candy. The child smiled at the musician, and took the candy and ran off. But before he did, he pulled out 2 sticks, and stuck them inside the tube where the candy used to be. Then he ran off. It struck the musician why it was that the child looked so familiar to him. He was in a picture in the old apartment. That child was the old woman's son.

Part 4

The musician was feeling good, having just helped the child. But even this good feeling was not enough to cover the fact that he was still very hungry. He continued walking, in hopes that he would find a bite to eat.

Well, he didn't find food, but he DID find a girl with a broken leg. He thought about eating her, but then wisely decided against it. He wished he could somehow help this girl, who could just barely walk. She stumbled along the sidewalk, toward the musician. He then remembered the two sticks. He didn't figure that they'd do much good, but he pulled them out any way. And as he pulled them out, they stretched into a sturdy pair of crutches. He gave the crutches to the girl, and she, like the boy, walked away smiling.

The smile was a beautiful smile, and it pleased the musician that he could help the girl to walk. But even that smile could not cover up the fact that he was extremely hungry now. He looked at the tube, hoping that some food would magically appear inside. It didn't. However, inside there were now three golden rods, with a word carved on the side of each one. The first said "Hope". The second said "Love". And the third, "Freedom." None of the rods said "Food", so the musician continued walking, trying to find some food to eat.

Part 5

As the musician walked, he saw a drunk sitting on the sidewalk.

"Hey! Mister!" Cried out the drunk. "Could you spare a buck?" The musician looked at the drunk, and at the bottle lying next to him.

"Listen," The musician said, "Come walk with me. Talk with me. Then I'll see what I can do." So the drunk stumbled forward, and lurched around until he was standing upright. They walked down the sidewalk, talking about life.

In the conversation, the musician found that the drunk had once been in management at a prominent company nearby. And then, they downsized.

The man was laid off, with no pension plan, no insurance, no money, no nothing. He was not eligible to receive the money he had been putting into a retirement fund because he worked there 1 WEEK less than the required amount. He couldn't find another job, and his wife ran off with his two children, and he was left poor, alone, and depressed. He had to sell his house for food, and he turned to booze for comfort. He spent his food money on alcohol, and soon ran out of money. Now, he just sits on the street, drinking, and waiting for death.

The musician thought for a moment, and then he pulled out a golden bar, on it a word. "Hope." He handed the bar to the man. Tears formed in the drunk's eyes. He hugged the musician.

"Thank you." Said the man. "Thank you so very, very much." The man took his bottle, and poured out the contents. He then threw the empty bottle against a wall, smashing it. Smiling, he walked away.

Part 6

The musician was amazed at the power that hope could have. But even this feeling of awe could not cover up the fact that he was painfully hungry. He kept forward, hoping against hope that he would find something to eat.

He walked for sometime, when he heard a woman crying. He turned around and saw a woman following him with her head in her hands, sobbing.

"Excuse me, ma'am," Said the musician. "May I ask what the matter is?"

"Nothing." Said the woman, and she looked away. "Please, it's just nothing." The musician lifted her head, and wiped away her tears. He showed her his wet hand.

"Does this look like nothing?" Asked the musician. The woman began crying again, and told him her story. She had recently left her husband, because he loved his office more than he loved her. He was fired from his job, and after that just moped about how there was nothing anymore, so she packed up and moved out. She hadn't seen him since.

"It's just that," Said the woman through her tears, "It's just that I was angry. I hated him. I even thought about killing him. Or killing myself. It was getting out of control, and now everything's just falling apart. If I could just say I'm sorry, if I could see him again. It's like the whole world is a dark, loveless place."

This made the musician think. And he thought about the bar. The "Love" bar. He pulled it out, and handed it to the woman. She looked at it, and looked up at the musician. "What's this? What am I- Oh my god." She was no longer even aware of the musician. She was busy looking over his shoulder, at someone behind him.

The woman rushed past the musician, and into the arms of her husband, the drunk from earlier on in the day. "I've missed you so much!" They said, and they kissed each other, and cried, and hugged. The musician smiled, and turned around. He walked away to the sound of the couple's laughter.

Part 7

His heart was full of happiness, but this could not cover the fact that the musician was starving. He collapsed on the sidewalk, a terrible pain in his stomach. He rolled around on the ground, trying to escape this pain. His tube fell out of his pocket, and the last bar rolled into his hand.

The musician looked at the bar, and read the word inscribed on the side. "Freedom." And then the pain was gone. And so was the musician.

Part 8

People passed him that afternoon, assuming that he was just a homeless man, asleep on the street. But not all of them. A tear fell, and landed at the foot of the musician. It was the tear of a man, who had wanted to help his wife. That tear was joined by another, that of an old woman, who had wanted to hear some music. Then another tear, from a boy who wanted some candy. And from a girl, who wanted to walk. And from a man, who wanted something to life for. And a woman, who wanted to love again. They all joined hands, and the old woman took a small gold necklace out of her pocket. She placed it around the musician's neck, and they all touched it. As the last person touched it, a small medal appeared on the necklace, and on that medal, it said one thing:

EVERLASTING LIFE



2009 - Nathaniel Jones