• Dzama

Guitar Joey

Black gantry cranes rose up above the miles of containers stacked by the docks. Joey sat on an old broken chair under a corrugated awning. He strummed his guitar and watched the big ships, a one-eyed dog at his heel. He sipped coffee out of a tin cup and the dog gnawed an old bone. The sun took forever to rise, finally floating brightly over the grey world and leaving an orange trail in the water. At 10:25 Cammer came walking down, stepping over the old ropes in her army boots. She sat beside him on a stack of tires. When they comin’ in? she asked. Today, he said, strumming and picking an intricate tune he had just come up with.

What do you have? she asked. I got this, he said and showed her some silver knives wrapped in canvas and a tall jar of rusty liquid. This is supposed to work on them, he said. You dip the knives in this stuff. Cammer knodded. They heard some seagulls call. Barges rumbled by. The guitar notes carried over the water.

You’re good at that, she told him, indicating his guitar. Why don’t you just play music and make people happy?

Joey grinned. Then looked out at the water. I think I hear one, he said. He set the guitar down and reached back for one of the knives. Keeping his eye on the water, he unscrewed one of the jar lids and dipped the knife in. When the creature hurled itself up out of the water he was ready. He leapt forward and stabbed and stabbed the green flesh, its nine-inch claws scraping his shoulders. The one-eyed dog alternately barked and whimpered from a safe distance. Finally the monster’s fanged mouth ceased snapping and the claws tightened in rigor mortis. It dropped back down and sunk deep into the dark water.


Cammer had first seen her brother kill a supernatural creature when they were kids. It started with pounding stakes. She’d followed him into an insane asylum one day, walking down between the bunk beds to where an old man lay under a thin, lime green blanket, eyes closed. Without hesitation Joey had held a stake over the approximate location of the man’s heart and pounded with two powerful, swift blows until the demon hissed, showing impossibly long canines, and dissolved into dust. It always disgusted Cammer to see him kill, even if it was the evil undead or a disgusting sea-monster.


Sooner or later they’re gonna get you, Cammer told him as she watched him wrap the holy dagger back in the canvas. Some day you won’t have your poison, or your stakes, or your silver bullets. They’ll get their retribution. And you’ll never have played a club, or looked down from a stage at a million cheering fans.

Joey smiled again, staring straight ahead. But when she left he gazed out after her for a long time. Her walk had the same rhythm as when they were kids in the Bywater. The one-eyed dog trailed just behind her, leaving Joey alone at the docks. When the next sea creature rose up out of the water Joey just stared at it, strumming his guitar quietly in the shade. It let out a wretched shriek and flailed around, finally clawing its way down the dock and up the road towards civilization. Then another came, and then another. Joey just watched and strummed. When the sun had burned off the morning haze and was high and powerful in the sky, Joey rose and took his guitar with him. He walked slowly along the dock, picking and humming, leaving the canvas-wrapped knives and poison behind, set under the old broken chair.



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