Ever since he’d set the barn up as a recording studio, he’d wanted a window so he could see his farm while he played. Windows not being inherently sound-deadening, it was a complication, but over time he’d hit upon a solution involving multiple layers of glass embedded in spongy soft stuff that helped reduce sound transmission.
So when the old man in the battered brown hat headed up his gravel driveway, he didn’t have to wait for the surprise of someone banging on the big barn door and messing up the track he was recording. He’d stopped playing his old Telecaster to watch as the stranger trudged up the drive, never raising his head enough to reveal his face.
But there was no banging on the door. With no windows anywhere else in the barn, he didn’t know if the old guy had gone around, or was just standing there.
Easy enough to find out.
He hung the guitar on the wall and crossed to the door, sliding the crossbar and pushing outward.
Mr. Brown Hat stepped back, blinking, obviously surprised.
“Um, hey, I’m sorry, uh, I was just . . . ” His hands wiggled around as he talked.
“Did you need something? Like, I mean, are you lost? Long way from anywhere, sir.”
The elderly gent chuckled. “I’ve been lost a long, long time, but not how you mean.” He shuffled his feet, glanced toward the road, shoved his hands in his pockets.
“I was passing, y’know, just walking down the road, and I heard the music, and, well, it drew me. I wasn’t trying to trespass, just getting closer to hear it better.”
That brought a chuckle. “You do realize that’s the shortest route to a musician’s heart, right?”
He pushed the door open wider. “If you want to listen, you might as well come in and get comfortable.”
The traveler pulled his hat off and held out his hand. “Morris. Morris Michael Miller. For which I apologize on behalf of my long-departed parents.”
“No apology necessary, Morris Michael Miller. I’m Reed. Reed Smith, most common last name in the English-speaking world, I guess.”
“There’s a reason for that, but instead of boring you with that, what if I sit down and shut up and you can play some more of that hopeful-sounding stuff you were playing.”
Reed smiled. “Hopeful? I guess the words made the music lean that way. Come on in.”
Morris found his way to one of the battered old kitchen chairs near the biggest speakers, and Reed grabbed the Tele and sat down to play.
He had no idea he’d just begun the greatest friendship of his life, nor that the stranger he’d taken in would live out the rest of his long life on the farm he’d been passing for no reason except that was where the road took him.