(This guitarron belonged to a friend; it wasn’t Marv’s.)
The latches snap back, click, click. The lid hinges open, and the bouquet of rosewood, mahogany, steel and silk escapes the velvet lined crypt. There she is, sleeping. Not time for music yet, but there are other sounds: a shrill, clattering twang like no other sound on earth, as old wire strings are removed and new ones replace them; the wooden body percusses dully as it slides around the bed, rests on the knees of black trousers, is handled in any way necessary, like something precious but intimate.
In a few minutes, other latches will snap open, and the smell of lard will fill the air as scrub, scrub, scrub soft bristles buff black leather boots to a perfect shine. But now, it is time to tune the guitar and let the strings know who will be in charge of them tonight. UP the pitch slides, and then DOWN, to just the place where it must be, just as it has almost every night of your life, since before you were 14 and “musician” was already your way through.
Slip the tortoise shell pick, translucent and impervious, between the thumb and index finger. And then suddenly bursts out – so much sound.