Brandt is a down-and-out guitarist and vocalist who believes his life has hit rock bottom. He can barely make the rent on his apartment, he drinks so much he can barely make it to the crappy gig that keeps his band afloat, let alone play when he gets there. When he leaves the bar one dark night with a bottle of Jose Cuervo in one hand and his guitar case in the other, he finds he’s locked out of his apartment with no where to go. As he stands alone in the dark and feeling sorry for himself, he hears a lone harmonica being played in the distance. The sound is deep and powerful, and something in the music draws him away from his doorway and into an old alley where the homeless gather around garbage-can fires.
In that alley, Brandt meets the harmonica player, Wally, an old black man who can play the music that Brandt dreams of – the blues. Not the blues as you hear them on the modern radio, but they way they were once played – filled with an extra “something” that can’t be taught. Despite Wally’s warning, Brandt begs the old man to teach him the songs he is playing, and in the ensuing encounter, Brandt is gifted – or cursed – with new abilities. He feels the pain building up around him and inside him. Not his own pain, but the pain of others, the pain of those who have passed away, the pain of those who died with no one to hear their stories. Wally explains it. The music will release the pain, and it is the only thing that will release the pain. Brandt must play, or the pain will build up inside until he destroys his own mind from the weight of it. He becomes a conduit for the pain of the world, and then he is left alone. Brandt plays one last concert with his band, and his performance draws them all, audience and musicians alike, into another world….
©2010 David Niall Wilson (P)2010 CrossRoad Press
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