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Stack of Magazines

Something from Major to Minor

By: Kelvin Telon

HE asked me to wait for a moment. That’s when he got his Electrolarynx. I was afraid he’d try to taze me with it if I moved, so I listened:

Vienna wanted me out because I smoked.

And he kept on.

She asked one time, “Do you always leave without saying goodbye?” I told her no. Not this time. She didn’t follow up with anything else. Why did she ask? I knew Vienna didn’t care whether she left without saying a word or not. So why was she trying to get me to say something? Vienna just sang instead.

My love will not chill, And the longer my absence,

More loving she’ll feel.

Lyrics that struggled to find their way out of a wheezy lightning bolt.

So she said to me, “You’re breaking my heart. But I know you mean well.” Singing and crying. Crying and singing on the bed. With her back turned towards me. I took a pen, and wrote on the back of a twenty bill, which was a lot back then:

I grew up with either two

options: shoot or smoke

I left that bill on her dresser. Left wondering if she had wanted a smackhead instead.

Before the door closed she said, “For a while we must part.” I guess it’s been a long while.

I met Bakester. Things were going fine with her. She played the keys and sang. I worked security for the joint. I knew she had a habit. Saw the cause and effect every time we met at the club on High Street. Now she could sing. They called me over one night. There was trouble. . . .

The train that passed by on the other side was not the one I was waiting for. Gone. He continued:

Someone was telling me how she couldn’t sing. I came over to her. She was chiefed and stoned, or maybe screwed and loose. She wanted to sing, but hummed instead. Everyone knew Bakester meant well. She didn’t know how else to put herself into words but she still tried. She didn’t function; it was hard seeing her on this.

Every time we say goodbye, I die a little.

Every time we say goodbye, I wonder why a little.

She tried. She really did. I asked what she was on. When I saw the needle and spoon they brought over I understood. We laid her down on top of the bar. I sat on the counter, and got her to sit up a little bit. Someone called the cops. They must have thought she still had a chance. But no, she took one too many. She held my hand, and I stayed for her.

I knew Bakester was dying, and she knew it too. She had me feeling hopeless, but I knew she meant well. The music quit playing, so everyone was looking at her. Let me tell you man, nobody said a word. There we were, attending death. She was losing her strength. The ceiling-bulb reflecting in her eyes. I could see those eye-bulbs looking towards the crowd.

Everyone was so goddamn quiet. I even began to hope the band would start playing again. Just to hear her try to sing. That’s when the ride-along came in looking like heroes. Before they carried her off she looked at peace. That memory always fucks me up. You think I could get something? I felt I was losing something. Maybe my mind? It’s a sick feeling that stuck with me forever and always. All she wanted was to fade out peacefully around some good company. I never got to say goodbye; I think that’s how Vienna must have always felt.

Do you think it would have helped if you stopped smoking? I inquired of him, socratically.

It was obvious he wasn’t hearing me. He was still listening to the change from major to minor. It felt strange. But I got the vibe this man’s vice was a different tempo. His march towards annihilation was a bit slower.

I didn’t have the heart to remind him about the spoon and the needle. But something told me he was already on it. I caught him scratching his golden arm.

I know there’s quicker ways. I’m just going about it with my own grace, he said, following my gaze. He took a sip out his beer can. From the chaser for the chaser.

Honesty was not something I had expected from him.

Have you ever met a man who took his time? He’s the one singing, “Major to minor. Major to minor.” I would have given him twenty dollars but the one I had in my wallet didn’t have those words he was looking for. I tucked the twenty aside since I didn’t think he saw it, but I gave him a dollar instead.

If you ever get Vienna’s twenty dollar bill you can find him roaming the tunnels of Downtown Crossing. If you’re his Vienna, he wanted to tell you he quit smoking. If you’re a pretty girl missing an arm, he might confuse you with Bakester.

Just listen out for the electrical murmuring coming from the guy holding a tazer to his neck. Six feet tall, Caucasian, former security guard. Never forgets to say goodbye. No way to communicate you either see him or you don’t. You can try the Blue Line, too. The man liked to ride in the same color as his vein.

Major to Minor was always on the move because that was part of the job. Any train track suited him. As long as he went about it with his own grace.

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