Fidelity of Vintage Music

It smells like rotten tuna down here, Trevor thought, pushing his sweaty black hair out of his eyes.  The light bulb floating overhead on a thin wire dimly illuminated the basement.  Though the faint light was giving Trevor a headache, he stayed on his knees in the far corner of the basement, rummaging through several damp boxes.

Beside him, he already had two picture albums, five assorted hats, and a dusty keyboard.  Delving through his mother’s cardboard boxes was like a treasure hunt for Trevor; he always found something interesting, entertaining, or useful.

Whenever there was a need for something, Trevor knew it was most likely hidden somewhere in the basement.  Trevor was the official “finder” of the family; he would go down to the basement, searching for a new light bulb, toilet paper, or his father’s tool set, and would end up emerging hours later.  All of the knick-knacks scattered throughout the basement entranced him.  And there were plenty of boxes; Trevor was constantly discovering new ones.

“Trevor,” his mother abruptly shouted down the steps, “come on up, honey.  We’re all going out for lunch.”

After a few moments of silence, Trevor pulled out a mouse without a ball and placed it next to the keyboard.  “But, Mom—,” he protested.

Irritated, his mother demanded, “Come up here now, or else we’re leaving you and you’ll have to find your own food.”

Trevor was just about to get up and brush himself off, when something orange caught his eyes.  He dragged the box with the orange object closer and moved everything else in the box away.  Tugging on the orange item, Trevor realized it was heavier than he had thought.  Trying again, he managed to lift the object up and out of the box, and he carefully set it down on the floor.

“It’s an old speaker,” Trevor whispered in awe, staring at the ridiculously colored two-foot amplifier.  He instantly began to shift through the box, checking if anything else went with the speaker.

Ten minutes and four bruises later, Trevor sat down next to an antique speaker and an outmoded record player, all in one.

“Trevor!” screamed his mother, “If you don’t get your butt up here right now, I’m going to—”

“Mom,” Trevor cut her off, darting up the stairs, “guess what I found.”

His mother ran a hand through her full dark brown hair and jingled the car keys.  “What this time?” she sighed, annoyed, and pouted a little.  She was fed up with all of the trash Trevor cluttered the rest of the house with.  Whenever he found something he thought cool or handy, he would bring it up from the basement and junk up the house.

“No, Mom, this is really awesome.  You or Dad probably forgot you still had it down there.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Guess!”

His mother groaned, “Guess?  Come on, sweetie, your father’s waiting for us at the restaurant.  He only has an hour before he has to go back to the office.”

Trevor could not contain his excitement.  “Just guess,” he pleaded.

“The screwdriver your father was looking for?”

“No, even better,” Trevor giggled, unable to keep it a secret any longer.  “It’s a vintage speaker and a record player!”

“Oh, that? I was sure I trashed that years ago.  It doesn’t work, Trevor,” his mother clarified, walking out the front door.

Trevor’s face fell and he glanced down the basement steps.  Maybe it does, he considered, following her out the door.

*          *          *

“It’s almost tomorrow, but what can I do,

Your kisses all tell me that your love is untrue.

I’ll love you forever till stars cease to shine,

And hope someday darling you’ll always be mine…”

The record was popping and crackling, the metal tip of the portable player slowly tracing the grooves and skipping words every here and there.

“This song is so corny,” Trevor laughed, studying the sleeve of the record.

His mother smiled slightly.  “It was very famous.  We used to listen to The Dream Weavers all the time.”

“Your mother loved this song,” Trevor’s Dad called out from the kitchen.  It was a rainy day, and Trevor’s father had decided to make them some hot chocolate.  “It’s Almost Tomorrow is the song I owe my marriage to.  I swept your mother off her feet with this song.”

“Oh, please,” she snorted, “you know you can’t sing.”

“I’ll love you forever,” he sang forcefully, his voice cracking.  Sitting down next to his wife, he squeezed her shoulder.

She took a sip of her drink and said, “Honey, that hurts.”

“It’s just a love squeeze,” Trevor’s Dad maintained, hugging her close.  He started singing again.

Trevor raised his eyebrows and shook his head.  “Dad, please,” he sighed, taking a cup of hot chocolate from his father, “spare us.”

His father smirked at him, a hot chocolate moustache decorating his upper lip.

*          *          *

“Trevor!  Trevor, come up here and turn off that darn thing,” Trevor’s mother screamed down the basement steps.

“Okay,” Trevor said, crawling backwards out of the tunnel of boxes, clothing, and pillows he had encountered while searching for more records.  After bumping his head on what looked like a laundry basket and getting his shoelaces tangled up in a coat hanger, Trevor surfaced from the wreckage.

The record player was having a skipping holiday, and odds and ends of some song were enveloping the entire house.  Trevor rushed up the stairs, leapt to the floor, and stretched his fingers to move the needle off of the record.

Silence finally sounded.

“Thank you.  At last, some peace and quiet,” his mother muttered to herself.

Trevor whined, “Why is it skipping?”

Trevor’s Mom began wiping a dish with a drenched towel.  She placed the plate in the dishwasher.  “I told you it didn’t work.”

“Oh, Mom,” Trevor retorted.  “It did work.”

“It worked for a few days and then it broke.  I told you it wouldn’t last.  It’s an old machine, honey; it was bound to go out sooner or later.”  The dishes clattered together as she placed another into the dishwasher.

Trevor grumbled, “But it was working so well.”

A thought dawned on Trevor’s mother.  “Now, what are we going to do with it?” she accusingly asked Trevor, her questions gaining speed and force.  “It’s a piece of junk, and I do not want it sitting in our living room, collecting dust.”

“It’s an antique, Mom, we have to keep it,” Trevor complained.

“You’re going to get rid of it,” his mother shot back, “by next week!”

Trevor kicked the wall and crossed his arms.  “And how am I supposed to do that?  Just ask the magic fairy to poof it away?”

“Don’t be smart with me, mister,” his mother ordered.  “You’ll find a way, and you’ll find it quickly.”

“Fine!  I’ll just go to the magic fairy,” Trevor screamed, darting up the stairs and slamming his bedroom door.

*          *          *

“Hello, is Trevor there?” a middle-aged sounding man asked on the other end of the line.

Trevor questioned cautiously, “Who is calling?”

“I was responding to his ad in Thursday’s Classified, is he there?” the muffled voice inquired.

“This is Trevor,” Trevor replied, now that the caller was identified.

“Oh,” the caller said, “I’m Jared.  Hello Trevor.”

“Hi.”

Jared continued, “So, I am interested in the vintage speaker and record player that you have.  Would you mind telling me about it?”

Trevor sighed, “Sure, but, you should really forget about it, it’s—”

“Did someone else get it first?  I knew I should have called yesterday,” Jared argued with himself.

“No, that’s not it.  It’s junk.  It doesn’t even work.  I’m sorry for wasting your time, Jared, but I just had to get rid of it somehow.  My Mom was threatening to kill me…” Trevor explained.

Jared let this sink in.  He had come across the ad three days ago, while he was eating dinner at home, a table set for one.  Being an audiophile, Jared was looking for new stereos when he had glanced at Trevor’s large vintage speaker/record player ad.  Jared knew he should not be getting a record player, as he did not own any records and was not planning on buying them anytime soon.  But something compelled him still, to call Trevor up.

“…so, don’t worry about it, man.”

“Trevor, that doesn’t matter.  I’d still like to purchase it, please,” Jared found himself saying into the phone.

Is this man insane? Trevor wondered.  Who would want a broken speaker and record player?  “Sure.  If you really want—”

“Yes,” Jared whispered, gripping the phone tightly so that his shaking hands would not drop it, “I want it.”

*          *          *

Jared got down on his hands and knees and began fiddling with the record player.  He moved the needle every which way, adjusted the volume, unplugged and re-plugged the wires, and even coaxed the player, but nothing was working.

He eventually gave up, grabbing his coat from the hall closet and walking towards the front door.  He unlocked the door and started stepping outside, when he heard a slight noise.  Jared turned around and went back to the record player, bent down, and put his ear close to the speaker.

“It’s almost tomorrow, but what can I do,

Your kisses all tell me that your love is untrue.

I’ll love you forever till stars cease to shine,

And hope someday darling you’ll always be mine…”

Jared shook his head and murmured, “Well what do you know, it really does work.”

He instinctively glimpsed at the picture on top of his stack of CDs and tapes.  Jared felt his heart skip a beat and take a sharp plunge.  He gripped his chest and tugged on his shirt, all at once feeling clammy.

“Oh, Susanne,” he mumbled, looking away from the photograph.

I have to thank him, Jared thought suddenly.  He grabbed the receiver and dialed the number by heart.  There were five beeps and nobody picked up, but the answering machine came on:

“Hello,” Trevor’s Mom said, “We’re on vacation, but leave us a message and we will call you back when we return.  Bye bye!”

“Please leave your message after the beep…beep,” the automated voice instructed.

Jared dropped right into it, “Hi, Trevor.  Thank you so much.  Oh, I guess you don’t know who is calling.  It’s Jared.  Remember, the one you sold the speaker and record player to?  Well, I wanted to thank you, because it actually works.  So, thank you, and I hope you have a good vacation.”  He hung up, eager for Trevor to hear the message.

He walked back to the record player, snatching the picture on the pile of music on the way, and sat down beside the speaker.

The needle ran over the record’s grooves, the record popping and crackling periodically.

“You heart was so warm dear

It now has turned cold

You no longer love me,

For your memories grow old…”

Jared became unsettled, and he covered the photo with his hand.  “Oh, Susanne, why did you leave me behind?” he whispered, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“It’s almost tomorrow, for here comes the sun,

But still I am hoping that tomorrow won’t come.”

As the music faded, the needle slowly came to a stop, and the quiet surrounded Jared.  He removed his hand from the picture and stared at it behind a veil of tears.  There was his wife, Susanne, all dressed up for a night on the town.  He recalled it flawlessly: she was wearing her blue dress and perfume that smelled like lilac, he in a deep purple T-shirt and pants; they were going to a local club to see a band and were very excited.  He had watched her come down the stairs, and decided it was a perfect photo-op, so he clicked the camera and she was flashed into the memory.

That was a year ago.  Before she had left him for another man.  Presently, a year later, he sat all alone, listening to what Susanne had taught him to love.

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