Harmonica by Chris Green

I am going to write a story that ends with the word harmonica,’ she says. ‘And I am not going to mention harmonica until that point.’

We are in Chance Encounter Café. We are the only two customers. She is sitting at the next table. She is drinking one of those coffees with chocolate sprinkled on the top and I have a cup of Horniman’s tea. I have not met her before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met anyone with purple hair before.’

Interesting,’ I say, while I try to assess where she wants the conversation to go.

The story is not even going to be about music,’ she says, turning her chair a little to face me.

I remember a creative writing class years ago where I had to start a story with the word, moose’, I say.

That’s a difficult one,’ she says. ‘How did that go?’

Not too well,’ I say. ‘I also had to include the words, melon and murder. And bring it in at under twenty words.’

You couldn’t really use a melon as a murder weapon, could you?’ she says.

That’s the thing,’ I say. ‘I did. Moose Malone murdered the Mayor of Milwaukee with a melon.’

I wouldn’t have done it that way,’ she says. ‘How about: Moose are moving to Manhattan? The murder rate might be high but they go crazy for the cantaloupe melon in the restaurants.’

That’s twenty-two words,’ I say.

Is it?’ she says.

There is a lull in the conversation while we regroup. Shafts of sunlight stream through the window. I can see now that her hair is not just purple, there are pink and violet highlights in it, along with touches of cornflower blue and flecks of gold. It is very pretty, like a rainbow.

Anyway, I gave up creative writing after that,’ I say.

That’s a pity,’ she says. ‘What do you do now?’

She has moved her chair in closer. She is an attractive woman. I wonder if she means to be showing me this much cleavage. Do I tell her that I am a prisoner on parole, or do I make up something?

As it happens,’ I say. ‘I sell musical instruments. Perhaps I could help you with your story.’

It’s not going to be about music,’ she says.

But I know a lot about harmonicas. There are chromatic harmonicas and diatonic harmonicas. There are orchestral harmonicas and chord harmonicas,’ I say.

That’s good to know,’ she says. ‘But I am not going to mention harmonica until the final word.’

Stories are getting shorter,’ I say. ‘Some of them now are just six words long.’

My name is Monica, by the way,’ she says. ‘I expect you guessed that.’

I am worried about this feeling rising up in me. I hope I can control it this time. I don’t want to harm Monica.

Copyright © Chris Green, 2021: All rights reserved


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