The Story of Willie Nelson's Guitar
by Robert Lopez
Pity Jimmy wants to hear the one about Willie Nelson's guitar. Time was Pity Jimmy didn't say anything except how and when people were born but now he talks like a regular person. Me I was born in the middle of monkey in the middle and Blind Betty was born an agent orange of evil but Pity Jimmy never says what any of that means. People around here say pity Jimmy was born the way he was and now I say it too. He rocks back and forth like he's in a rocking chair standing up and he snaps his fingers without making any snapping sounds. He also shakes his head like there's a gnat flying in his face. This is why people say what they say about Pity Jimmy. Then something happened and Pity Jimmy started talking like a regular person but everyone still calls him Pity Jimmy regardless. Today Pity Jimmy wants Blind Betty to tell the story of Willie Nelson's guitar because he heard me talking about it with one of them other blindsters in the cafeteria. It's my job to walk these blindsters over to the cafeteria so they don't trip on something and crack their heads open. This is what they said they'll pay me for though they haven't paid me even once yet. I said one time to Pity Jimmy that what it is I do here I think I do for free and what he said back was I can buy and sell you naked as the day a jaybird was born. Sometimes I don't know what Pity Jimm y means when he talks and sometimes I like him better the other way. Blind Betty says to Pity Jimmy that the story of Willie Nelson's guitar is inappropriate for one such as yourself and when she finishes Pity Jimmy starts shaking his head back and forth so much I think it might come clean off his shoulders. This is when I tell Blind Betty she should tell the story to Pity Jimmy anyway and that it might not be inappropriate though I don't know what she means when she says that. Blind Betty says she's read all the Braille books on what's appropriate and what isn't and that I should keep quiet about these things until I do likewise. By this time Pity Jimmy is beating himself up and I have to put him in a headlock to stop him. Part of my job is to keep Pity Jimmy from hurting himself and getting me in trouble for it. Out of all these blindsters Pity Jimmy is the blindest one of all which is why I have to keep an eye out special for him. Blind Betty says under no circumstances will I regale Pity Jimmy with the story of Willie Nelson's guitar regardless of how impossible he might become. She says it will upset him and she'll get in trouble for it. Almost everyone here worries about Pity Jimmy getting them in trouble. This is why most of the people here don't like Pity Jimmy. I decide to tell Blind Betty that I will turn her in for illegal drinking if she doesn't tell Pity Jimmy the story of Willie Nelson's guitar. What she says back to me is curse words. Thing about Blind Betty is she drinks white wine between panic attacks and scotch during them but she curses all the time so I'm used to it by now. Pity Jimmy is the one who brings her the scotch and wine. Pity Jimmy won't say where he gets the scotch and wine from and I don't ask neither. Why Blind Betty drinks like this is because sometimes she wakes up crying and shaking and hyperventilating. First time she did this I thought it might be normal for blindsters to wake up crying and shaking and hyperventilating sometimes. I figured if I was a blindster I might wake up like this every morning. I ain't never seen a regular person d o this so that's what I thought. I thought maybe she went to sleep and by the time she woke up she forgot she was blind. Then I hear tell one of them blindsters call it a panic attack and it happens to you when you're out of your mind crazy. The blindsters say you should suffocate her with a paper bag when it happens but I don't think that's right neither. That's not what they pay me for when they do finally pay me. I tell her once and for all not to make me turn her in and she starts with the story of Willie Nelson's guitar. I release Pity Jimmy from the headlock when she begins and we both sit down to listen. The story goes on for five minutes and Blind Betty uses lots of curse words and turns out it's true what Blind Betty said before. The story does upset Pity Jimmy and it takes twenty minutes and a tight headlock for me to calm him down again.
About the author:
Robert Lopez has had fiction in dozens of print and online journals, including; BOMB, New Orleans Review, New England Review, Indiana Review, The Barcelona Review, 5_Trope, Failbetter, Nerve, etc. Other "Blindster" stories have appeared or will appear in Denver Quarterly, Unsaid, Elimae, DIAGRAM, Small Spiral Notebook, Eclectica, Smokelong Quarterly, and Frigg. He teaches an experimental fiction workshop at The New School and is co-editor of Sleepingfish.