[WP] A homeless man with a guitar slung over his back stands outside a bar and listens to a band play. What is he thinking?

He had been exceedingly happy that night despite his objective poverty. Jacob had, long since stopped measuring his wealth in material goods but even so, the half bottle of whiskey in his guitar case was not enough to give him the feeling of being rich that he so desired. He would have to save it until very late in the night, and then drink it very quickly so that he could fall asleep engulfed in the agreeable languor of drunkenness. Tomorrow was a new day and he could surely raise the funds for a whole bottle. But regardless he stood there outside the door listening to the slow, droning rhythm indoors. It wasn’t music he would have chosen, the long drawn out hypnotic rhythm of electric blues. But it pleased him nonetheless. A normal man, in his position, might have remembered the days that he too, could play luxuriously above the steady rhythm of a supporting bass and drums. Coming in and out on an electric guitar as he pleased. Back to the days when the sinful vanity of a long, drawn out blues instrumental devoid of vocals was a possibility for the musician in him. But it wasn’t what he was thinking of at all. Jacob actually made for an absurd scene standing there, probably looking quite out of his mind with his eyes closed and an idiot smile on his face. He might have been drawn, with surprising force to the days when he too could soar above the monotony of a steady rhythm stabbing into the landscape of sound however he chose. A loud, screeching, distorted tone amidst a rendition of Have You Ever Loved a Woman? Portraying the emotions of unrequited love in the purest way possible. Without the muddling effect of language either written or spoken (since his playing typically involved long stretches between verses). Or maybe a dull, mellow accompaniment to a love song, emphasizing tragedy or triumph portrayed in the vocals rather than overshadowing it. Or maybe a rousing rocker, with frequent riffs and loud solos, like when he was a kid and they used to turn What’d I say into a nine movement symphony at the end of the night when they were out of material. And the real reason for the smile might have been that he was remembering back when the crowds looked, awestruck at his talent. When his lean but youthful face was admired by the girls in the audience and the dynamic movement of his fingers captivated and impressed the men. Before his hands shook. When there was a lovely sweet spot, one lasting hours and hours between his first drink. The drink that would make him sensitive to the emotions portrayed by the tune and confident that his playing could reflect them. And the last drink that would render him speechless. Remembering before the window had narrowed and narrowed until he couldn’t play anymore. Remembering before he’d been kicked out of one band and then another. But now he stood, fully intent on enjoying the music, until the bouncer or a police officer should shuffle him along. Not worrying about the moment late tonight when the bottle emptied and he thought about selling his guitar. Or the miserable hours tomorrow when his shaky hands shuffled through some basic tunes hoping someone would throw a soft, crunchy dollar into his case rather than change. But in any event, he stood not really thinking of the man he used to be but rather focusing on the landscape the guitarist was painting. He stood feeling somewhat more like the steady-nerved man, devoid of anxiety he was with a pint of liquor under his belt than he otherwise might have if the air had been silent. But because the hot, humid city air crackled alive with the sound of music he felt slightly more at peace with the world.

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