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The Right Tonic

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Editors Pick

As his band stepped onto the stage, Tyrone stole a moment to sip his dirty martini. He ran his tongue along his upper lip as he admired the glass, savoring the lingering taste of the alcohol. With a contented sigh, he got up and walked onto the stage.

During his break, the din of the bar had swelled to a jumbled murmur. The restless audience had taken to chattering over clinking glasses filled with liquor to lighten moods or numb senses. Whatever it took to escape the mundane day, leave it in the rearview mirror.

Settled on a stool, Tyrone strummed his faithful Gibson Les Paul guitar, warming the strings. Even before the lights came on, his simple sounds noticeably settled the people. He chuckled. He always had the right tonic.

The stage lights ignited, the audience vanishing for a few seconds before his eyes adjusted.

“Thanks again for joining us tonight. I’m Tyrone Wilkes.”

Applause greeted him. The drummer tapped his sticks and the band started, Tyrone again stealing another moment before joining in.

He strummed his guitar like it was the delicate flesh of a lover. Swaying to the rhythm, he leaned once again toward the mic. As the first lines of the song --a languid R&B rendition of "They Can't Take That Away From Me"-- growled past his lips, the audience applauded again before falling silent, enthralled.

Tyrone crooned like a summer breeze through the leaves in the trees, the lyrics dripping with soothing warmth like honey. He loved this. Men admiring his talent. Women admiring that and everything else about him. Whether it was 4, 20, or 420, whenever he performed, he had them all.

As he played, the lights above him suddenly grew brighter, engulfing the audience. A buzz filled his ears, suffocating the sounds of his backing band. Tyrone frowned. The light continued to brighten to a blinding intensity. The buzzing grew louder and louder...

Tyrone swatted his ear. The bee buzzing by his head flew off and bumped against a window.

He blinked. The bar was gone. His band, his audience was gone. In his hands was the handle of a ragged mop, frozen on the dull grey floor of endless hallways still left uncleaned.  

He took a deep breath and regarded the bee bouncing off the window. Smiling, he walked over to the window, opened it and watched the bee fly away.

With that, Tyron resumed washing the floor with his faithful mop, resiliently singing a song for an audience of one.


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