Saturday, 27 July 2013

Ned's Move

He stared at the board all set up ready for the next move by the window on the table.  

Richard missed his Grandpa. 

He had taught him so many things and now he was gone.  But he knew Grandpa Ned wasn’t well, and every moment – every day – was a precious moment well-spent with him. 

It was after school and this was the time they’d spend an hour on playing chess.  Now, Richard could only just look at the pieces where they were last played three days before.  It was Grandpa Ned’s move, he wished they could do something to move the right chess piece; but he couldn’t.

Outside, a delivery van pulled up to the curb.  The guy climbed out, checked his order and opened the back of it.  Richard didn’t take much notice as he went back to looking at the game wishing he knew which piece Grandpa would move.

The squeak of the gate sounded and he rose from the table as he looked outside again.  The delivery guy had his two-wheel trolley out with a large, rectangular box on it.  The teenager pulled opened the door and watched him as he pulled it up the three steps to the front verandah and into the house, leaning it against the kitchen counter, “Richard Anderson?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“Listen, we’ve had this at the depot for years.” A smile pulled up one side of his mouth, “And it’s been sitting at the back of the place with a letter attached to it and a date on the front of the envelope.” He pointed to the unopened envelope with today’s date on it, “Now, it’s delivered… there’s one more thing I have to ask you.”

Richard frowned, “What’s that?”

The guy shook his head as he muttered, “I can’t believe I’m asking you this… is there a rocking chair your Grandpa sits in?”

“What? Grandpa Ned died.” He snapped, “How dare you ask me about his chair.”

“Hey, kid, I’ve got specific orders here.” He gave him a letter, “Ya gotta take the chess set outside and sit with the chair opposite.”

Richard read the letter not knowing whether he was being given the bum’s steer or not, then he saw his Grandpa’s signature at the bottom, “Don’t worry, I’ll do as I’m told.” He whispered, “Thank you.”

By this time, the sun had set and it was too late to do what he had to do for Grandpa Ned.  Richard opened the box and found a guitar case inside it with a note attached.  He read the note without removing it from the handle:  ‘Richard:  Jimi gave me this himself.  He wanted me to have it, but I think you’d do better with it.  Love Grandpa N.’ he stood back with wide eyes, “Holy crap, I’ve got Hendrix’s guitar… well, one of them.” He knew what he had to do – hide the friggin’ thing!  And he did just that!

The next day, he rushed home from school and set up the rocking chair, chess set and opened the guitar case and carefully pulled out the guitar. The damned thing was in mint condition.  At first, Richard didn’t want to do anything but stare at it.

But it seemed to sing to him, whisper to him, to play him.  Bending down, he picked it up, attached the strap to it and tuned it, smiling as the strings sounded just right.  Then, something moving in the case caught his eye.  He looked and found it was a piece of music. 

Normally, Richard didn’t read music – he just didn’t the gift of picking it up like the rest of his family – but somehow, today, it suddenly made complete sense.  Sliding it under the edge of the chess board, he pulled the pick from between the strings at the top of the neck of the guitar and started to tentatively play the music. 

At first it didn’t sound like anything much, but as he went over it again and again, it sounded like a favourite Grandpa Ned hummed all the time.  Richard started to play it in time with how the piece – ‘All Along The Watchtower’ – actually went and he spotted out of the corner of his eye that his Grandpa’s rocking chair had begun to rock slowly.  He watched it as it began to pick up momentum, with tears filling his eyes.  Then, as he was about to stop playing, he watched the board as Grandpa Ned’s turn was taken on the board and their game continued on.