Monday, March 26, 2012

The Torn Picture Of A Guitar

That’s a picture of my folder with random clippings and stuff I’ve saved just because I like looking at it. There are copies of paintings by Berthe Morisot. Some ads for guitars and keyboards. A couple of old articles about interesting things happening in the outer solar system. Other stuff.

The folder itself is made from the inside pages of an old Sky & Telescope magazine. The pages from the magazine are dated, so I know I tore them from an April 2010 issue. The folder has been around for two years. I open and close it so much that the middle section almost completely wore through and I had to reinforce it with transparent tape. It’s not exactly a craft project, but it’s something like a craft project.

In monster movies—monster movies, that is, about giant monsters—there’s sometimes a scene where the hero looks at wreckage leftover from a monster rampaging through a town. If a giant monster ever rampaged through the suburbs south of Chicago and a scientist or woman reporter (or both) examined the wreckage, this folder would be somewhere in the debris. The wind would be flipping through the pages and sending everything flying. Color copies of paintings. Advertising. Article tear-sheets. The scientist and the reporter would study everything. They both would look grim.


“Dr. Blake, what could have caused destruction on this scale?”

“I don’t know, Miss Stapleton. The satellite photos
captured the scene before and after the incident
but as luck would have it we missed the attack itself.”

“Didn’t survivors have pictures? Even cell phone pics?”

“Miss Stapleton, there were no survivors. No bodies.
Not even animals. No wildlife. And no one’s pets.
Everything organic has been taken away.”

A gust of wind sent some sheets of paper tumbling past.
One page flattened itself against Miss Stapleton’s leg.
She bent over, grabbed the page and studied the contents.

“What is it, Miss Stapleton? Do you think it’s a clue?”

“It looks like an advertisement from a magazine.
Must have been a music magazine. It’s a guitar.
Somebody who lived here might have been a musician.
Maybe they were playing guitar when the attack struck.
Maybe a man was playing a song for a woman.
I wonder if she looked out a window. Saw something.
Maybe screamed, interrupting the music. But too late.”

“We have science, Miss Stapleton. We’ll understand this.”

She held the torn picture of a guitar in her hand.
She looked around. There was nothing to see but wreckage.
And there was no music, only wind over debris.

“I wonder what it’s like,” she said, “to see something, scream,
and to know there’s nothing to be done, nowhere to run.”

“We have science, Miss Stapleton. We’ll understand this.”

She held the torn picture of a guitar in her hand
and her fingers gripped it so tightly that it ripped more.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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