• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 09

Duelling Banjos – The Lover’s Edition

Pt I

He said he’s going to leave if it happens one more time. It most likely will happen again, but I don’t know how to stop it. The 4am crying has become somewhat of a habit. It doesn’t stop at 4, either, it goes on until neither one of us can pretend like we can’t hear it. Around 7am I can hear his heartbeat in his mouth. I can feel his perpetual irritation. The livestock can sense it, too. The town thinks our milk tastes bitter!

That’s why I’ve gone to all this trouble. For reconciliation. I’ve prepared a nice meal and bought us some wine. We’ll dine alfresco this evening. We’ll relax and play music and feel the heat against our necks as our rhythms fall in and out of time with our plucking patterns. We’ll feel like we did at the start of Spring. We’ve been going through this thing, you see, we— Oh shit, he’s home early.


Duelling Banjos – The Lover’s Edition


I tell him that she can’t help the crying. That it isn’t her fault because it’s in her nature. I told them I’d look after the poor girl while they were away, so I can’t help it if she misses them and neither can she. He looks at me like I’ve gone mad and before he can verbalise the thoughts behind his eyes the crying starts again. He goes for her. All his weight thrown northward like a freight train. In a moment of complete desperation, I pick up the guitar.

I’m torn between swinging for his head or playing. Like I said, he’s quicker than me, so I try to find some melody that can soothe her crying. Complement it somehow. I pick at the strings until something palatable fills the air between us. His hand inches from the chicken’s neck.

‘But Bryan, I can’t take one more of her cries! Her clucks are damn painful since they’ve been gone!’

I continue to play the chords that have stilted Bryan’s path of destruction. I nod gently toward the accordion.

‘Come on, love. They’re back next Wednesday.’

He glares at her beady black eyes and she clucks a cry back at him.

He picks up the accordion and plays it for me.

Wordlessly, a declaration of his love.