He Plays Guitar
The aging yellow Nimmo stood against the wall of a shop in the marketplace, with a small, slightly worn down, but still very nicely taken care of acoustic guitar. He stood, tuning it, as the sun began to rise, granting Neopia the passage from night into daylight. The shop he was standing against wasn’t open yet, but he usually got there early anyway.
People wouldn’t be arriving at the marketplace still for a little while, except for the eager shoppers who were willing to rush off to the expensive stores and buy their flashy paint brushes and doubloons and codestones, stuff they didn’t really need, instead of helping an old performing fellow out. And because of that, the Nimmo didn’t really try to sway them to give him some of their spending money, because he knew that the majority of them would never change their minds anyway.
Over the hill that was next to the shop, the Nimmo saw the owner of the shop coming slowly along. Just like the Nimmo, the owner, a green Aisha, had been much younger when they had met. The Nimmo put his guitar down gently, and ran to meet up with him and escort him down the hill, like he always did, ever since the two old-timers realized they were never getting younger.
“Morning, Jeremy,” the Nimmo called to the Aisha, almost catching up with him.
“Aah, great to see you again, Shaun!” the Aisha called back. “How are you this morning?”
“Doing great, as always,” said Shaun, standing right beside his old friend, who didn’t stop walking down the hill for a moment. “And yourself?”
“Still alive and kickin’, you know how it is. Oh, and before I forget!” The stumpy little Aisha reached into the pocket of his vest and pulled a bag of three-hundred neopoints out.
“What’s this for?” Shaun asked, not touching the bag.
“You know our deal, Shaun,” the Aisha said, seeming to be explaining something that he had explained millions upon millions of times already. “Your playing draws more people toward my shop, so it’s only fair that I share the profit with you.”
“Aw... come on, you don’t have to do that.”
“No, please, take it. It’s my honor, to share my success with a great friend like you.”
Every time Shaun heard Jeremy refer to him in such a way as he just had, it made Shaun an extremely happy Nimmo, because Jeremy was the only person who had ever called him that. And it had been an odd way that they had met too... All it basically had been was one day, many, many years ago, Shaun had walked into Jeremy’s shop on a slow day (which, incidentally, was every day back then) with his guitar on his back, asking if it would be all right if he played out there. It was as simple as that, and a friendship gradually was born.
“Well, then, at least let me play a song for you,” Shaun insisted, as they reached the bottom of the hill, and Jeremy took out the keys to the shop.
“Trust me,” Jeremy said, in a stern, yet still kind tone, “you’ve played me more than enough songs than three-hundred neopoints worth over the years.”
Shaun couldn’t help but smile at that. He took the three-hundred neopoints from Jeremy and put it inside the bucket in front of him, which served as a money collector.
“Come on in for some coffee, I’m making a fresh pot.”
“Nah, I need to tune this.”
“Hmm... I’ll see you later, then.”
T’was high noon, and the little blue Usul was bouncing through the marketplace like a little kid in a candy shop. That could very well be because the little blue Usul was about to literally be a little kid in a candy shop, as he was heading toward his favorite shop in the entire marketplace, the Candy Store. His mother had given him five thousand neopoints in spending money so he’d “shoo and leave Mommy alone for a few.”
But, as he approached the door to the Candy Store, a heavenly sound floated through the air and reached the little guy’s ears. He stopped dead in his tracks, perking his ears up, and following the sound wherever he heard it.
It took him across two pathways and down a bit, until he reached the top of a hill, where there was some tiny shop with a Nimmo outside of it, standing up playing with some object in his hand.
The Usul didn’t know what that object was, but he figured it was what was making that wonderful sound. The youngin’ decided to go closer to the sound to see if it sounded better up close... and it did.
Sure, it was a bit louder, but he got used to it awful fast, and was soon giggling up a storm because he enjoyed it so much, and suddenly, the Nimmo stopped and looked down at him.
“Well, hey there, little guy,” the Nimmo said. He was a very tall Nimmo, and old too, but the Usul liked what he was doing a lot.
“Hey mister, what’s that thing you’re holding called?” the Usul asked, pointing his stubby little finger to the object.
“Oh, this thing?” The Nimmo took the object off his back and held it in front of the Usul to see up close. “It’s called a guitar, and it’s an amazing instrument.”
“Wow... Can you play it again?”
“Sure can, little fellow, that’s why I’m here.”
The Nimmo began to play again and a big smile filled the Usul’s face, and he even began to dance. When the Nimmo finished what he was playing, the Usul started jumping up and down, clapping.
“What’s your name, little guy?” the Nimmo asked, resting his guitar on the ground again.
“My name’s Ryan,” he said, with one of those cute little lisps that all little kids seem to have. “What’s yours, mister?”
“Name’s Shaun,” and he held his hand out. “Pleasure to meet you, Sir Ryan.”
With the last sentence, Shaun seemed to try to imitate Ryan’s lisp, and didn’t do very well, which ended up making Ryan laugh uncontrollably. The only thing that made him stop was when Shaun started to play again.
“This song, I’m going to play it for you, Sir Ryan,” Shaun said in an announcer style voice. “It’s a little one I made up a long time ago called ‘Delivery’ and it’s quite the catchy tune if I say so myself.”
Shaun began to play a melodic, up-tempo tune, and the little Usul he was entertaining was enjoying it immensely. He danced, and laughed, and applauded until his feet, vocal chords, and hands hurt from the excessive workout. When Shaun was done playing the song, Ryan jumped up and said;
“That was great! But I’d better be going, though. My mom told me not to wander off too far! But there was one more question I wanted to ask you...”
“Ask away, my young friend,” Shaun said, tuning his guitar into a lower pitch.
“What’s that bucket for?” Ryan pointed towards the bucket and looked up at Shaun. Shaun stopped tuning and answered;
“Well, that’s for you to put some money in if you like my music. You don’t have to, of course; it’s all voluntary.”
“Well,” the little one said, “I’m not sure what voluntary means, so I’m going to put all the money I’ve got in there!”
“Really? Thank you so much, Ryan, how very kind of you,” Shaun said, stifling a giggle. He sure felt like a fool expecting a pocketful of coins, totaling up to about five or six neopoints, and instead getting five thousand. When he saw how much the little kid put in, he stood wide-eyed.
“Anyway, thanks for the show, mister!” Ryan called, running back up the hill. “I think I’m going to go ask my mom to buy me a guitar! I want to learn how to play and be as good as you! Bye!”
Shaun chuckled as he watched the little Usul disappear off in the distance, and then finished tuning his guitar.
About an hour or two past noon, Shaun came out from the shop, after getting a well-deserved lunch break, with his guitar by his side, as always. The marketplace was still alive with plenty of customers, and he had already played for many of them, collecting nearly nine thousand neopoints so far.
This was a good sum, and usually, the Nimmo would stop at this point, but he wasn’t going to pack it up just because he made more than he usually did... There were still hours of daylight to spend earning his keep... he intended on doing that.
Another slight tuning adjustment, and he began to play again.
An adolescent female Gelert was wandering through the marketplace, not going to any store in particular; just browsing. She ran a paw through the red fur on the back of her neck, as she window-shopped at a jewelry store. Not being able to decide between a necklace or a bracelet was starting to frustrate her, so, in the end, she just threw her hands up in dismay and walked away from the store window.
She was told to meet her mother by the Shop Wizard’s hut, so that’s where she was heading, because it seemed like the shopping day was coming to a close soon; at least for her anyway.
On her way over there, however, she heard something in the distance, and couldn’t tell what it was at first. She tried to ignore it, because she didn’t want to get in trouble, but the noise was so intriguing she couldn’t help but wander off to find it.
It took her halfway across the entire marketplace, but finally, she found the source; an elderly Nimmo who was playing the guitar outside of a rundown shop.
After finding him, she stood, at a slight distance, tapping her paw in beat, while the Nimmo entertained three Scorchio babies and their mother.
The way this old guy played the guitar was incredible! He was able to go straight from string to string, fret to fret, even if they were on completely opposite sides of the guitar from each other, faster than you could even blink your eye. And the song he played was amazingly catchy as well!
The Gelert found herself enchanted, and in a sort of trance by the time the Nimmo was done playing for the Scorchio family. The little ones laughed and clapped, while the mother took two hundred fifty neopoints out of her purse and put it in the Nimmo’s near over-flowing bucket, and began to walk away with her little ones.
“Good day to you, ma’am!” the Nimmo called after them, while he paused for a second and took a sip from a cup of water that was on a window ledge behind him. When he turned around from drinking, he saw the young Gelert standing, looking at him, and suddenly her trance was broken. After it was broken, she realized that she had walked up really close to the Nimmo’s playing area. He gave a friendly wave. “Good afternoon, missie.”
“Wow...” The Gelert paused for a few seconds. “That was amazing!” Her face exploded into a huge smile and the Nimmo laughed and held his hand out. They shook hands.
“My name’s Shaun, what’s yours?”
“I’m Claire,” she said, studying the guitar that Shaun had in his hands. “How did you ever learn how to play like that? You’re the best guitarist I’ve ever seen!”
“Well, I can sum it up in one simple sentence...” Shaun began. “When someone gets as old as I am, they’ve had plenty of time to learn how to play the guitar.”
This made Claire laugh a little bit, and then ask, “Can you play another song?”
“Of course I can play another song,” Shaun answered almost immediately. “You liked the last one I played, so, this one should blow you right away. It doesn’t have a title... feel free to give me an idea.”
Shaun started off just playing a slow, four-note pattern, and repeated it a couple times, but after that, he started playing something really fast and complicated. This went on for another two minutes, the Nimmo playing passionately, and with great skill and precision... never once did he hit a sour note. At the end of the song, Shaun began to play the same four-note pattern once again, and then he struck all six strings of the instrument gently.
Claire applauded Shaun and smiled.
“Wow, you really are great!” Claire praised. “How long did it take you to make that song up?”
Shaun shrugged. “I don’t know. Were you timing me while I was playing it just now?”
“Whoa, wait a minute!” Claire couldn’t believe it. “You just made that entire thing up just now?!”
He shrugged again and answered in a nonchalant tone. “I guess I did.”
Claire was beyond impressed. She was impressed enough to throw the neopoints she was going to buy her necklace or bracelet or whatever with into the bucket. Shaun watched, amazed, as six thousand neopoints fell into his bucket.
Immediately, he smiled up at her, and began to play another song out of gratitude.
Sunset, and closing time. It had been a good day for Shaun, and he was getting ready to pack up at this time. Jeremy was outside of the shop, locking it up, when he looked over and saw the old Nimmo had no money in his bucket.
“Hey, where’d all your money go? I thought you made a really good amount today.”
“I did,” Shaun said, opening up his guitar case, and placing the guitar inside of it. “Over twenty thousand Neopoints.”
“But, what’d you do with it?” Jeremy was very confused, and Shaun could tell. He smiled and patted his friend on the back.
“What I do with it every day...” Shaun pointed toward the giant black cauldron in the distance. “Ran it on over to the Soup Faerie, right before the Soup Kitchen closed its doors for the evening.”
Jeremy couldn’t help but smile. That was Shaun for you, always giving, regardless of the fact that he didn’t have all that much to give.
“I’m going home now. Night, Jeremy.”
“But wait,” Jeremy said, suddenly, stopping Shaun abruptly. “Where is home for you? I’ve known you all these years and I don’t think I’ve ever actually found that out.”
Shaun paused for a second, at the top of the hill, his body nothing more than a silhouette cast against the setting sun. He simply shrugged and called back as he walked away.
“Same time tomorrow, Jeremy. See you.”