Nagoya Writes

January 31, 2008

Mr. Beads’ Family Tree by Stewart Black

Filed under: Black,Issue: 2000,Prose — usbengoshi @ 5:06 am

…In desperation I blurted out something dangerously close to the truth.

“My friends are rock musicians and can’t read a note of music. I don’t think they would be interested in anything an old fool like you had to say!”

He grimaced and said, “Old fool! I’ll have you know that your father always praised me as the wisest of teachers. No matter, no matter. I’m glad to see you’re diversifying your interests. No, it doesn’t pay to be dry and two dimensional, does it? Diversify, that’s what I say. I don’t mind that your friends are rock musicians. I’ll tag along anyway. I never told you this because being your math teacher and a Christian example it would never have suited the reputation of my station, but I’m third cousin to Mick Jagger and great uncle of Joan Jett. Yes, we Beads, with the exception of myself, swing from a rock’n’roll family tree. And not only do I carry at all times the family photos to prove it” -here he pulled out a wallet of photos- “but I also have a wonderful long story about cousin Mick’s eighth birthday party. The story is this: after we children had eaten the cake and played pin the tail on the donkey Mick tried to show us what would happen if you stuffed a cat into a shoe box, taped it up and left it in the middle of the road. Well, after he’d done that we all sat back on the curb and watched to see what would happen next. Eventually this truck that was driven by a man who proved to be the guitar player Keith Richard’s dad came along and when…”

The old fool talked on and I looked at my watch: it was ten past two and my audition was to be at three. I had to get my guitar and leave now. There could be no telling the whole truth to Mr. Beads because he would tell it to my family. I suddenly realized that whether I became a lead guitarist for Hanoi Rocks or had my father force me into a life carpet wholesaling depended on the decisions I made in the next few seconds…

About the author: Stewart Black was the previous editor for Nagoya Writers’ Group Magazine. He writes stories about things that comfortable people would rather block out. This is an excerpt from his story My Discordant Songs. The central character is about to run away from home to become a rock star. On his way out the door to his audition he is accosted by his old math tutor Mr. Beads. Mr. Beads is the most boring man on earth and won’t stop talking. Among many other things, Mr. Beads talks about his family tree. He wants to accompany the protagonist wherever he is going. Our hero can’t tell Mr. Beads the truth and will do almost anything to get rid of him.

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