A Year of you – 12 – The Smooth Tunes of Guston Huxtable Clarke

Gus had always loved music.

It had a way of taking you away. With the right music, it could transport you somewhere and you didn’t even need to be high to enjoy the buzz. The right music thundered through you. It didn’t matter what the music was, it had the power to take you away.

He would miss it, when it was gone.

Gus’s assistant, on the other hand, would give a bull elephant a fucking migrane. Today, she was wearing a scarf wrapped around her head as if she were a fucking princess. She wore lose fitting pants and her shoes, god help him, had bells on them.

“What’s you’re fucking problem?” He said. “Who comes to work dressed like that?”

She laughed and looked at him, her dark eyes flashing brightly. “What, you don’t like my I Dream of Genie outfit?”

“Is that who you’re supposed to be?” Now that he stood back and took her in, he saw that she had the costume down pat. Even her hair had been styled the right way, all curling and bouncing. “Why the fuck would you come to work like that today?”

Valhalla Tardyhardy huffed at Gus. “Don’t you know what today is master?” She asked in a perfect falsetto. “They release the first season on DVD today, it’s the neatest thing. It’s all been digitally restored and remastered.” She sighed. “It’s going to be totally killer.” She jumped up and down a little and bells on her costume jingled. “I’m going to a convention after work.”

Gus sighed. “But what about last week? When you came in dressed up like some kind of what you m’callit?”

“What, I was Kaylee from Firefly. There was this whole fan convention, it was awesome.” She blinked up at him, seventeen years of innocence and brightness that seemed to throb inside the darkness of his shop. “I met this guy who was dressed up like Edward from Twilight? He tried to suck my blood.” She snorted. “I told him to go fuck himself and that I like my men a bit more manly, you know?” She sighed. “It was awesome.”

Gus wondered if it was possible to die from impatience. He could picture his death certificate now: Death From Needless Stupid Chatter. “You say that about everything.” He said.

“That’s cus everything I do is awesome.” She blinked at him. “Duh.”

“I can’t believe you just said that.” Gus stalked away from her.

“You know, for a guy who runs a music store, you’re pretty fucking uptight.”

“What the fuck do you know?” Gus snapped.

“So who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?” Valhalla came out from behind the counter and regarded him. “Cus you’re in a real pisser of a mood this morning. What the fuck is bothering you?”


Valhalla snapped her gum at him. “Gus honey, you’re a terrible liar. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me its raining. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Gus  turned away from her. He walked back behind the counter and through the beaded curtain. The office lay beyond it and Valhalla knew that it was there that Gus kept his treasures. She was normally not allowed in the room, but she didn’t care. Gus sighed when she came traipsing in. “What?”

“You mind tell me why you have sand in your vagina?” Valhalla said. “Cus I don’t have all day for your bullshit.”

“I’m your boss.” Gus said.

“Then act like it? What’s bothering you?”

The silence stretched between them, quiet but full with unspoken words. When Gus spoke, it was as if it was the air pulling them from his lips. “They say I’m losing my hearing.” He said. “That I need hearing aids.”

Val knew immediately what was wrong. To someone like Gus, to someone to whom music was their life, their passion; well, that would be a fate worse than deaf. The same for a person who could not read, who was prevented from painting, who could not write.

She went to him and sat down beside him in the other desk chair he kept there. “It’ll be okay.” She said.

“Why do you say that?” Gus said. “I’m going to go deaf.”

“Then I’ll just have to learn sign language I guess.” Valhalla said.

“What do you mean?” Gus asked “Why would you learn sign language if I’m going deaf? Why would you do something so fucking stupid?”

Valhalla clacked her gum at him. “Duh. So I can sign the lyrics to you when the music is playing.” She said. “That way you’ll know the words, and you’ll still hear the music in here.”

Reaching forward, Valhalla patted his chest where his heart beat in a steady rhythm.  

“Duh.” She said.

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