Trapped inside a guitar like a genie in a bottle, Luke Tanner waited for the young man to pick up the guitar and play it. Four previous owners had failed to produce the perfect music that would release him. This kid had several other guitars, but they were all electric—would he have the skill and emotion in him to make this acoustic one sing?
When the kid finally picked it up and played, he tried to thrash Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ like he would on his Stratocaster, which produced a jangly mess. He’d come into the shop in dress clothes, maybe visiting after church, and it had fooled Luke into believing in him. Hoping he might be a concert guitarist, Luke had reached out to his mind, attracting him to the guitar. Now Luke had to frighten him into selling it back in hopes that someone else could release him.
This one would be difficult to haunt because the kid played loud and wild. Luke wailed through the sound hole, piercing the clamor. The kid stopped. Luke howled again and the kid laughed so Luke went silent. He jangled the strings. Luke found himself in denial that the kid wasn’t afraid and howled again.
He opened his bedroom door and called out, “Matthew. Come here.”
A slightly younger kid came in.
“Check this out,” the kid said. He jangled the strings again. In hopes that he could strike fear into the younger one and force the kid to sell, Luke howled again.
Through the strings Luke saw Matthew back away. The kid laughed. “Awesome, isn’t it?”
“How are you doing that?” asked Matthew.
“The guitar’s doing it all by itself.” He thrashed some more, but Luke fell silent, realizing his failure.
After Matthew left, the kid played through Slayer’s “Repentless.” Luke reached his invisible hand through the sound hole and touched the kid’s hand, cramping it up and stopping his play. In the silence he whispered, “The more you play, the more you die.” With the horrible sounds this kid was producing, he almost believed it. The kid thrashed again and Luke made him cramp up again, whispering, “I’ll eat your soul.”
It was a lie, but it had the desired effect. The kid dropped the guitar and ran from the room shrieking.
The next day the kid brought the guitar back to the shop. Luke peeked out of the sound hole, looking at the patrons. There was a girl playing a ukulele, a whimsical tune, but nicely played. Luke plucked a perfect G major chord to get her attention, but she focused on her playing.
The storekeeper hung the guitar on the wall, Luke peeping out, hoping for someone to choose it, to play that perfect melody and mix it with perfect chords, hitting just the right notes to release him from the curse. To his sudden joy, he heard it. The tune coursed through his heart. If only they would play it on his guitar.
He searched the room for the music, and rested his eyes upon the girl, watching with rapt attention the kid who had taken her ukulele and now played her the heavenly song.