When Jasper finds an old basswood guitar at a rummage sale, will he rediscover an old passion in himself?
1. Chapter 1
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 1208 Review this Chapter
“Come on Jazz, hurry up,” Alice pouted.
I tossed a smile her way and slipped on my jacket. Only in Forks could a downpour not cancel the annual rummage sale. Alice went because she loved digging through other people’s junk for treasure, mostly looking for antiques that would mean something to our family. I went because I loved watching her do it. Taking her hand, we ducked out the door and made a dash for the Mercedes, opting not to take the Porsche.
When we got into town, I slowed the car and we started trolling the side streets. At the end of every driveway, ink ran down brightly colored signs, and balloons drooped under the shower. Garages, porches and over-hangs all stood open, racks and tables visible inside.
We cruised by Bella’s; she and Edward sat in lawn chairs inside her garage, a table of Charlie’s stuff spread out in front of them. Alice shook her head minutely when I sent her a questioning look; clearly she wasn’t interested in any old cop merchandise. I pitied Edward. It was bad enough on the buying end, I couldn’t imagine the boredom of sitting there for hours while other people picked through you private life.
As we drove up the streets, Alice would lean forward in her seat and touch my wrist, and I would put on the blinker and maneuver into the driveway of whichever had caught her eye. We visited a few; Alice sorting slowly through clothes, books, and other pieces being discarded, while I stood slightly behind her, marveling at what you could learn about a person from the things they threw away. Alice picked up a lamp whose shade was made of stained glass, and paid with a few crumpled ones. Stashing it in the back seat, we moved on down the road.
I noticed the blank look that came to my wife’s eyes as the vision hit her, but they cleared quickly.
“This one Jasper,” she said, motioning to a yard holding a simple sign; a black markered arrow on a torn side of cardboard.
I knew vaguely whose house it was. An elderly man lived here, alone but for a massive black tom cat. I tended to glance at the front of his clapboard house when we passed. He was a war veteran, someone struggling with the things he had seen and done, someone that I felt a relation with. I’d never moved on that, never approached him or breached the subject with my family. I blinked at the sound of the car door shutting; Alice was already out of the car. Pulling my keys from the ignition, I followed after her.
The man sat solemnly on the cement steps that led up from his attached garage into the house. The cat sat beside him and he was stroking its fur, but as Alice approached it darted through the small cat door set in the wall near the base of the steps. I felt a jolt of surprise come from him as the cat disappeared through the door, a small spike in the monotone of his emotion.
“Doesn’t seem to take to well to you, young lady,” he said gruffly, eyeing Alice.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said sweetly, ready with a lie. “We’ve just been to see some friends, they own a few dogs.”
“Ahh,” the man said, not particularly interested as he looked worriedly at the cat door.
Alice moved off along the edge of the garage, examining the things spread out on the plastic card tables. “Jazz, Come look at this,” she called to me softly.
It was a table full of war memorabilia, no doubt what she’d seen in her vision. There was a photo album of faded snapshots, a small linen bound copy of the Old Testament, a federal army coat complete with its stripes, pins, and medallions. The name Jones was threaded over the pocket. That was his name, I remembered, Hank Jones. I picked up the jacket of a spent round, rolled the soft metal between my fingers, and smelled the powder residue that clung to it like a ghost. I put the round back on the table and Alice touched my arm briefly, wondering why this hadn’t brought me the joy she had expected it to. When I turned away from her, I found Hank staring at me intently.
“Sir, each of these pieces means something to me,” I said suddenly, shocking myself and Alice. “I can’t imagine that they don’t mean anything to you.”
He was quiet a moment, taken aback by my statement. “What’s yer’ name, son?” he asked.
“Jasper Hale, sir,” I replied, waiting.
“One of Dr. Cullen’s boys,” he said.
I nodded but didn’t speak.
“Well, Jasper Hale, I guess you’d be right. But let me tell you somethin’. Some things, a man just don’t want to remember.” His face was somber, but I felt the pain that rolled off him, and I didn’t interfere with it. “Yer’ young, still full of the hope that comes with bein’ young, but I’ve seen things you’ll never see. Things I hope no boy like you will ever see again in this world.”
“Yes, sir,” I murmured, lost in my own memories.
“Jazz? You ready?”
“Yeah,” I said coming out of my thoughts at Alice’s touch.
As I turned away towards the car, I saw it leaning against the end of the table. Crouching down on my heels, I ran my fingers down the strings. It was an acoustic basswood guitar, the clean scent of the wood and strings’ wax bringing back more memories than the gunpowder had. Picking it up off the cement, I pulled the leather sling over my shoulder and fit the guitar under the curve of my arm. Curling my right hand around the neck, I stroked my thumb over the strings at the sound hole. The instrument was beautifully in tune, and I felt the sound waves ripple up through my rib cage.
“Jasper?” The question in Alice’s voice snapped me back one more time.
“This is perfect for Edward,” I said, covering the emotion in my voice.
“Edward?” Jones asked.
“My brother,” I replied. “He’s quite gifted musically. He hasn’t tried going acoustic yet.”
“Seems like maybe he isn’t the only one.”
I looked up at Hank held his gaze, but didn’t answer the question he asked with his eyes.
“How much?” I asked.
“Take it,” he said. “It needs a good home.”
“Thanks,” I said.
Hank nodded, and Alice followed me back to the car. Slipping the guitar onto the seat next to the lamp, I climbed into the driver’s seat and started the car.
“Edward will love it,” she said.
I managed a wry smile. As I was backing down the driveway, I turned back to the garage. Hank Jones was looking over the memories scattered along the table. His cat had returned, curling itself around his ankles. He turned, caught me watching him, and reached out with a hand to press a button on the wall. I nodded and he returned the favor, as the garage door lowered to the ground. This sale, it seemed, was closed.