March 11, 1984
Sam sipped his coffee and looked out the window. It was raining quite hard. Sam sighed.
Of all the days for me not to wear a jacket, he thought. Just wonderful.
Thankfully, his parents didn’t really care how late he stayed out, so he could wait as long as possible for the rain to stop. Unfortunately, he had just spent the last of his money, so he couldn’t buy anymore coffee.
Better make this cup last as long as possible, he thought.
At that moment, a man walked to him. The man was tall, had long, shaggy brown hair, and wore a Bob Marley t-shirt.
“Hey, do you have about fifty cents that I can borrow?” the man asked Sam. “I need to make a phone call.”
“Sorry man,” Sam said. “I just used up the last of my money.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks though.”
As the man turned to walk away, Sam noticed a guitar case strapped around his shoulder. Without even thinking, Sam asked: “You play guitar?”
The man turned back around.
“I sure do,” he said, grinning. “What gave that away?”
“I can read minds,” Sam said, grinning as well.
The man chuckled. “Why do you ask?”
Sam shrugged. “Just curious.”
“Yeah, I’ve been playing the guitar ever since I was five. It’s definitely a passion for me. Wouldn’t call myself a professional or anything, but it’s something I really love to do.”
“Since you were five? Wow, that’s interesting.”
“Yeah, you can thank my grandpa. He’s the one who pretty much introduced me to guitars in the first place.”
“You bet.” The man took a seat in Sam’s booth. “When I was a kid, my grandpa would always play songs on his guitar. I still remember how me and my brothers would sit on the couch while my grandpa sang songs for us. Boy do I miss those days.”
“I tried playing the guitar when I was like ten or eleven, but I could never get the hang of it. I’ve always preferred piano and keyboard.”
“You play piano and keyboard? That’s pretty cool.”
“Yeah, I’ve been playing piano since I was three and keyboard since I was eight. It’s pretty awesome.”
“That does sound awesome. I used to play the piano when I was a kid, but I stopped. I barely remember any of it.”
“I’m Robbie by the way. Robbie Larson.”
“Pleased to meet you, Sam.”
Sam and Robbie shook hands.
“Were you reading?” Robbie asked, pointing at Sam’s book pile.
“Yeah,” Sam replied. “I’ve actually been here all day just reading and drinking coffee. But I’ve finished all of the books and now it’s raining. I don’t really feel like walking in the rain. So I’m pretty much stuck here.”
“What books are those?”
“They’re a couple of H.P. Lovecraft books. The Call Of Cthulhu, The Whisperer In Darkness, and The Cats Of Ulthar. I’ve actually read all of these books like ten times, but I just felt like reading them again today. Never gets old.”
“H.P. Lovecraft. He’s a horror author. Or, he was a horror author. He’s been dead for like fifty years. Anyway, I’ve been reading his stuff since I was like twelve. It’s amazing. Like really amazing. I don’t know if you’re into horror, but I highly recommend his stuff.”
“I’m actually not much of a book guy. Sorry.”
“Oh, that’s okay. Just saying. Anyway, yeah, huge H.P. Lovecraft fan. I have nearly all of his books. I think the only one I don’t have is The Colour Out Of Space. I’m having a hard time finding that one for some reason.”
“What other things do you like to read?”
“Well, I’m also a fan of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve been reading their stuff ever since I was a kid. I also like Robert Louis Stevenson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe. I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King, but I do like some of his novels. But yeah, H.P. Lovecraft is definitely my favorite.”
“Interesting. So I guess you’re kind of a book worm?”
Sam chuckled. “Yeah, I guess you can say that. Well, I don’t crawl through apples, but the book part is accurate.”
Robbie snickered. “Yeah, I guess so,”
“Ugh, sorry about that. My jokes are pretty bad. I really need to stop trying to be funny.”
“It’s fine. I can’t do much better. I tried telling jokes on a date once and my girlfriend just stared at me awkwardly the entire time. I felt like an idiot.”
“So are you still in high school or are you graduated?” Robbie asked.
“I’m about to graduate,” Sam said. “Just two more months.”
“Oh really? Same here. Man, I can’t wait to finally be done.”
“You’re still in high school? Wow, I thought you were like in your early twenties.”
Robbie chuckled. “Yeah, I get that a lot. I guess I have really strong genes or something.”
Sam laughed. “So what do you plan on doing after high school?”
“Not entirely sure. Maybe I’ll major in music or something. For now, I think I’m just gonna’ focus on my band.”
“You’re in a band?!”
“Yep, been in one for two years.”
“Wow, that’s awesome!”
“It sure is. My friends and I put it together for a talent show during our sophomore year. We ended up getting third place because the judges were morons. Anyway, the band was only supposed to be for the talent show, but we just said ‘what the hell?’ and kept on going afterwards. I play the guitar, Jason plays the bass, and Alex is on the drums. It’s pretty sweet.”
“Wow, what’s y’all’s name?”
“We’re The White Knights. Awesome name, huh? Alex came up with it. He keeps wanting to change it, but I don’t really see why. I think it’s a pretty sweet name.”
“Who’s the lead singer?”
“You’re looking at him.”
“Oh, you sing too?!”
“Yup, didn’t mention it. But I do. Ever since I was four. Once again, thank my grandpa.”
“That’s awesome! I…I wasn’t gonna mention it before, but I also sing.”
“Yeah, I’ve been singing ever since I was three. I never really tell people, but I love to sing. I really, really do.”
“Why don’t you tell people? That’s not something to be ashamed of.”
“Well, because…I…uh…personal reasons.”
“Oh, okay. Let me tell you though, there’s nothing wrong with you loving to sing. It’s actually quite amazing. I don’t often meet a lot of people who are into music this much. Especially not guys still in high school.”
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.”
“What kind of music do you like?”
“Mostly rock. I listen to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and a bunch of other stuff. But my absolute favorite is Alan Stanford. I freaking love Alan Stanford.”
“Same here! Alan Stanford is amazing. Red Ocean and I’m Home are two of my favorite songs of all time.”
“Yeah! My favorite is I’m Just A Man. I listen to that song like three times a day. It’s freaking sweet.”
“I know, right? Man, I really wish I could get some tickets to see an Alan Stanford concert. I heard he’s awesome on stage.”
“Yeah, same here.”
“So...what are you planning on doing after you graduate?”
Sam frowned and sighed.
“I really, really, don’t know,” he said. “There’s nothing I’m really interested in.”
“What are you talking about?” Robbie asked. “You play the piano and keyboard. And you sing. Why don’t you go for something music related?”
“Well...I could. But...my parents want me to get an actual job.”
“An actual job? What on earth is that?”
“My dad always says that I’m not gonna’ get anywhere just playing music. He says it’s fine for a hobby, but not an actual job.”
“What? Seriously? How does your dad know where you’re gonna’ get in the future? Is he a psychic or something? For all he knows, you could become one the most famous singers or pianists of all time! Who is he to say what an ‘actual job’ is?”
“Sorry, got off on a tangent there,” Robbie said. “I just can’t stand it when parents tell their children ‘you aren’t getting anywhere in life with blah blah blah.’ It drives me crazy.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“You want my advice? It’s your life. Not your dad’s. Do what you want, not what he wants. It’s that simple.”
I wish, Sam thought.
“I really wish I could keep talking to you, man,” Robbie said. “But I actually need to find a way to get ahold of my girlfriend right now. I promised I would give her a call by seven. But I used up all my money on new strings. She’s so gonna’ bite my head off by the time I get ahold of her. Looks like I’m gonna’ have to start learning how to play without a head.”
“Well, I’ll be seeing you around, man,” Robbie said, getting up.
Sam sighed and drank some more coffee. How long would it be before he was able to actually talk to someone again? Perhaps another eighteen years.
Robbie walked about a foot away from the table, but then suddenly turned around and walked back. Sam looked up in surprise.
“Hey, do you wanna’ come to our practice this Friday?” Robbie asked.
“What?” Sam asked.
“We practice at Jason’s house every Friday night. You wanna’ come watch us? Just to check us out?”
“Umm...really? You’re actually inviting me?”
Robbie nodded. “You bet.”
“Wow! I mean...yeah! Of course I’ll go! I’ve...I’ve never been invited anywhere before.”
“Well, you are now.”
“Awesome! I’m definitely checking it out!”
Robbie smiled. “Jason’s address is 214 Andrews St. We start practicing at six. I’ll write all that down for you.”
Robbie then wrote the address down on a napkin and handed it to Sam. Sam stared at the napkin until the address was permanently etched in his brain. A mixture of happiness, surprise, and disbelief began to engulf his body.
“Oh man, I can’t wait!” Sam shouted.
“Neither can I,” Robbie said. “I’ll see you later, man.”
After that, Robbie was gone.
Sam was feeling so excited, that he didn’t even care that the rain had started to pour down much harder than earlier. He began to slurp up his coffee so fast that it was gone within a minute. Fantasies of what would happen that Friday night began to inflate his mind.
“Thank you,” Sam said very quietly, closing his eyes. “Thank you.”