Pleated Memory

accordionSchoolmates teased Marlon for as long as he could remember, and he used to wallow in his misery until feeling blue became his second biggest pastime. Unfortunately, his favorite activity was also the source of his juvenile misery. A music teacher encouraged him early in life, and Marlon was introduced to his muse … the accordion.

The instrument his parents purchased took almost as many beatings as he did. A less-than-melodious noise emerged from it when the bellows was repaired with adhesive tape. Trying to patch it with cardboard and glue made the sound worse. With no money to buy another button box, Marlon’s musical dreams were dashed and his anger turned fatally inward.

Though he never reached his own musical aspirations, he listened to all the greats on his phonograph — Tony Muréna, Guido Deiro, Emile Prud’homme — and dreamed of a career that could have been.

Marlon lived a life of accomplishment, having survived the war and saved his battalion from certain doom in a sniper attack. Those early times of daily accordion practice meant his trigger finger was nimble, and he picked off a sharpshooter from a tower where the villain took shots but ultimately fell to Marlon’s aim.

The melodies of his musical heroes soared through a mental concertina as he tromped through his final days in Italy and France, all the while praising the genius of Cyrill Demian.

The unlikely hero came to an untimely end via other means, his depression getting the best of him. By then, he had nothing of his own left but his dignity, and he swore to never let them take that away from him. Marlon’s ego remained battered, and he longed to play the classics of his past.

His life meant nothing without his squeezebox.

Studio30

*Studio 30+ writing prompt – he had nothing of his own from a previous post by Joe Scott.

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12 Comments

Filed under fiction, writing

12 responses to “Pleated Memory

  1. Kir Piccini

    First, my great grandfather played the accordion (so I immediately thought of him) and then because I’m Polish and it’s part of some of my favorite Polkas, I could hear it.

    I hate that his bliss was something that caused him so much sorrow…

    • I saw that picture and kind of crafted the story around it. Never having had any musical inclination, I can’t imagine that much passion for playing, but it would be awful to love something so much and not be able to do it.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Kir!

  2. It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? How someone can be so accomplished and well regarded yet at the same time be so depressed. You really captured it.

    • Thank for stopping by and commenting! A lack of self-awareness also adds to the conundrum. We brush off the compliments of what we’re really good at doing and long for something else.

  3. “His life meant nothing without his squeezebox.” Such a well-written snapshot. I really enjoyed reading this, Katy.

  4. You’ve drawn a complex character with wonderful imagery. I particularly liked your reference to his “mental concertina.”

  5. This is wonderful, Katy. What a unique story with a well-developed character, and a perfect title.

  6. Joe

    Yes, but could he play “Freebird?” As bittersweet as this tale is, I love the take on the prompt!

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