First Party of Summer

It is evening. It has been dark for a couple of hours and the heat of the day is finally dispersing. There is a breath of a breeze blowing in off the water. The crickets are chirping. There is a murmur of voices from a party across the inlet. Occasionally a fish jumps and makes a splashing sound out from the shore. Everyone has a beer and a pipe is making the rounds.

A small brown dog with shaggy hair lays at his master’s feet, eyes alert, searching the faces for a clue about what comes next. Someone, a big guy called Jim, stands up and crushes his beer can against his forehead. He throws it in the trash can next to the cooler and pops the top on another.

A car pulls into the driveway at the top of the hill. A little later a big man wearing a vest and a cowboy hat and carrying a guitar case comes down the path. He opens the case and pulls out a guitar and slings the strap over his head. There are choruses of greetings as he walks over to the cooler and digs around for a beer.

He pops the top on the beer, takes a deep draught and sets it on top of a post for safe keeping. He strums the strings and adjusts one slightly. Then he begins playing an exquisite Django Reinhardt number with fingers that seem to fly across the fretboard. The crickets stop their chorus to listen. The voices from across the water have subsided as well. The fireflies blink in rhythm to the music.

He finishes the piece with a run of chords that climb the neck all the way to the sounding box. As the last chord rings and fades into silence he takes another drink from his beer. After a moment of stunned silence everyone claps and cheers and implore him to play another. He politely declines.

He puts the guitar back in its case and grabs the pipe as it comes past. The crickets have started singing again and someone has started telling a story. It is an anticlimax after the guitar performance. The guitarist is surrounded by a small group of impressed women all vying for his attention.

Several of the guys are seeing who can spit the farthest. Several couples have faded into the shadows for quiet conversations of their own. The dog comes over to greet the guitarist. He is the first person other than his master that the dog recognizes. The guitarist squats to pet the dog and scratch behind his ears.

The moon has risen over the lake. The water is calm as a mirror. The guitarist has gotten his guitar out and is strumming it quietly leaning back against one of the girls that was talking to him earlier. She is rubbing his shoulders. The fire crackles in the pit. Several people are roasting marshmallows. Deep in the trees an owl adds its voice to the symphony of the evening.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.