Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are karma, obey and wither.

Obey
On the corner near my building, there’s a street musician playing a mournful tune on a battered violin. The case is open at his feet, a catch-basin for a little change and a whole lot of folding cash.
A cardboard sign hangs around his neck with rough twine. On it, written in a child’s hand, is “wither.”
Tears stream down the man’s weathered face as he plays.
It’s a busy corner, near a subway entrance and the neighborhood market. People uncomfortable with the man’s tears obey the music, the sign, and drop their crumpled money without making eye contact and hurry on.
Many stop and are moved by the haunting tune he plays. They too, feel the swell in their hearts, find their eyes going wet. Absently, they take out $5s, $10, $20s and place the cash in the red-velvet-lined case with a quiet devotion.
The man stops and the spell is broken.
People return to their busy ways in the evening rush, bumping shoulders, avoiding eye contact, stare at the uneven concrete.
The man scoops up the cash, smoothes out the crumpled bills on the bow, places neat stacks into a zippered bank bag that’s fat with donations.
I go to him, curious how one street musician who wasn’t particularly good, could make that kind of scratch.
He feels my presence, and anticipates the question.
“It’s a matter of karma,” he says. “Some people feel obligated to contribute out of a sense of forgiveness. Others, out of a sense of guilt.
“But in the end people give to cleanse their withered souls. The sign’s just good marketing.”
He smiles as I hand him a crisp $20 from my wallet.

22 comments:

anthonynorth said...

Yep, it's all in the marketing today. Great point.

gautami tripathy said...

The street musician was dead right. We have too many of those here and they somewhat echo this sentiment.

flames of karma

mark said...

I like that you mention it didn't go where you expected. It's interesting to see where ideas end up going when we give them leave to do so.

And your final point was well made.

(Thanks for the good wishes about NaNo and I completely understand about your reasons...)

illyriataylor said...

Oh Tom, this brought a tear to my eye. I met a man like this in New Orleans and spent hours sitting in the middle of the street, crying, listening to his voice, and giving him more than I spent on airfare. He is the reason I am going back again in Feb.

MichaelO said...

While no one can know what choices the musician made in life, it's not hard to see a starving artist and imagine they sacrifice for something that defines our own humanity. Karma, compassion, or guilt? Do you have change for a fifty?

Leo said...

a lovely read! :)
the tale of the musician, it was intriguing Thom..Karma indeed! well said!

Zouxzoux said...

I have to admit you made this little ole somewhat jaded lady feel a bit tearful for the man..... until the end when it's obvious he's not plying his trade for the love of the art.

I live in a city full of street musicians and know who's legit and who's a poser. The posers piss me off with their manipulation. Grrrr....

Good story!

mardeen said...

Your story hooked me with the cryptic message on the cardboard sign. Was that good marketing, also?

Your words made me feel the story. Great job.

mardeen said...

Your story hooked me with the cryptic message on the cardboard sign. Was that good marketing, also?

Your words made me feel the story. Great job.

Kristy Worden said...

ah, if only it was that easy, I could use a few bucks...

Tumblewords: said...

Amazing. This piece pretty much covers humanity from get to go. Great!

quin browne said...

a great piece of character work, thom...

a complete joy to read.

Jeeves said...

Marketing at all levels and words well said

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I didn't see it as entirely cynical, like some folks did. Yes, the guy was a clever marketer, but you can't be that good without a deep understanding of other people's needs. He gave them what they wanted and reaped the rewards.

Good job!

lissa said...

interesting tale, that guy really know how to get into people's head and heart, suppose if I have pass by I probably would give him money as well

swapnap said...

Well, the line that people give to cleanse their withered souls had a point. Got to agree with that.Nice write ThomG.


A BIG Thanks for the 3WW prompt, i enjoy doing it.

swapnap said...

Well, the line that people give to cleanse their withered souls had a point. Got to agree with that.Nice write ThomG.


A BIG Thanks for the 3WW prompt, i enjoy doing it.

swapnap said...

Well, the line that people give to cleanse their withered souls had a point. Got to agree with that.Nice write ThomG.


A BIG Thanks for the 3WW prompt, i enjoy doing it.

PS : De-abbreviate as you like ;) said...

u hit it right !!

rebecca said...

Different. Interesting. Engaging. Smart! Your haunting words echoed the sentiment of the story. Very well done. Liked this a lot.

pia said...

Beautiful. I loved every word. Pure poetry

missalister said...

This guy’s like the Universe’s medium, like the god connection priests and pastors act as, as in people see something in him and know he’s the man through whom they can get it done: absolution.

And like Mark, pinging off your comment regarding the unexpected drift, you know when I got to our guy scooping up the day’s profits, that I was readying myself to go to one of those delish, dark ThomG places.

Surprise! Pleasantly so. As always.

Never a disappointment here :-D