The Music of Orpheus


Note: There is passionate sex towards the end of this story, but it worth the wait.


While sweeping the hallway or emptying the trash cans, or making sure the bathrooms had paper towels and toilet paper, Orrin thought about Jessica. “So what if I’m the janitor and she’s a lawyer’s assistant, I’m just as good as anyone who works at Ainsworth and Thelin.”

Orin was extremely shy but determined to ask her out and believed that if she got to know him, she would see that he was a lot more than a janitor. He wished she could hear him play his guitar and knew if she heard his music she would see the depth of his spirit and hear what he felt. “If only she could hear me play, she would know who I am,” he thought, but he had no way to make that happen.

He always did an especially good job around her desk, dusting the filing cabinets and shelves, removing things, taking care with how he lifted objects, spraying the cleaning solution, finding things to do in order to have more time to be around her, hoping she would notice him. Often he would just stop by and ask if she needed anything. He’d take her coffee mug and rinse it out and ask if she wanted more coffee. He liked when she looked up from her computer, smile and said, “Thanks, Orrin,” then got back to work.

One day Orrin surprised her with flowers he bought from the Save-way Supermarket. He had a vase in the storage closet and filled it with water and put the small bouquet of daisies and zinnias in the middle of her desk and, wanting to be mysterious, did not leave a note. When she saw them, she looked surprised. She smiled and asked her assistant, Gloria, if she knew where the flowers came from. Later, Orrin walked up to her putting down the mop and bucket and asked, “How’d you like the flowers, Jessica?”

She had moved the vase to the side so she could work but then looked at them then up at Orrin. “I love them. What a nice surprise, but I have no idea who gave them to me.” She then looked at Orrin and smiled, “Did you give them to me?”

“Sort of,” Orrin said.

“What do you mean sort of, Orrin? Either you gave them or you didn’t.”

“Yes, I gave them to you. I thought it would make your desk pretty.”

He wanted to ask her to go to the movies or at least have a cup of coffee at the café down the street, but just stood there like an idiot, afraid she’d say no so he asked if she wanted a piece of gum.

“Gum,” Jessica said.

“Yes, it’s spearmint.” He pulled out a stick of gum from his pocket. “Do you want some?”

Just then the telephone rang and she put up her finger indicating he should wait for one minute. Orrin watched her talking and writing down a number, thinking how beautiful she looked with long dark hair that fell below her shoulders, her blue green eyes, her radiant face with a little make up, her lips made him think of kissing her. He loved the way she dressed, usually in blouses or colorful sweaters that made it difficult for him to not look at her breasts. She wore short tight skirts or slacks and always had long dangling earrings. She was petite, probably just over five feet and Orrin thought she was not only pretty but sexy and had fantasies about her where after a movie she’d hold his hand and they’d go someplace for coffee and she’d look into his eyes and invite him to her apartment and push him up against the door and they would be kissing and going crazy making wild passionate love on the floor.

While she was on the phone, Orrin stood in front of her desk, looking at her, holding the piece of gum in his hand waiting for her to hang up and when she did, he asked her again, “So, do you want some gum?”

“No, thanks,” Jessica said, turning back to her computer. “I’ve got to get to work now, Orrin.”

“Me, too,” he said, picking up his mop and bucket. “Enjoy the flowers.”

“I will,” she smiled, leaning over to sniff them. “That was sweet of you.”

Orrin really wanted to ask her out and kept walking past her office trying to get up the nerve to ask her. “How about dinner and a movie, Jessica?” he practiced, repeating that question, over and over, trying to sound confident and suave. He practiced it while mopping the men’s room. He looked at himself in the mirror, “How about dinner and a movie, Jessica,” he asked a few times, saying it in different ways, putting his hands in his jeans pocket, slanting his head slightly, smiling, then asking in a deep voice, looking at himself in the eye, “How about dinner and a movie, Jessica?” At the same time, he also felt stupid and hated his shyness.

He noticed dirt on the faded blue t-shirt and brushed it off while looking at himself in the mirror. He was determined now to walk into Jessica’s office and ask her out. He combed his longish dark curly hair before leaving the men’s room. Orrin had let his hair grow long after he got back from Iraq.

The army had cut it short when he signed up but after four years when he was discharged, he let it grow long–not real long. Sometimes he wore in it a pony tail, but usually it just curled down to just above his shoulders. He liked how thick, curly and wild looking it was. He had high cheek bones, a sharp nose and wondered if he looked like the father he hadn’t seen since he was three. His mom said he was half Native American and he could see a little of that in the mirror. He güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri moved his face closer and looked into his blue eyes, “Orrin, you can do this. You can win her heart. You’re a good looking guy, smart, talented. She will fall in love with you once she knows who you are.” Again, he thought if only she could hear his music.

Orrin stood outside her office, and repeated the question once more. Finally, he took a deep breath and walked into the office. Jessica was working on the computer with her back to the door. He walked up to the desk, took a deep breath and just as he opened his mouth and said “Do….” the telephone rang. She looked up at him, lifting her finger again then answered the phone. “Oh, hello dear,” he heard her say. “I’m so glad to hear your voice.”

Orrin stood there, pretending he wasn’t listening to Jessica’s happy voice, “Of course, I’d love to have dinner with you and go to the movie. I heard that Julia Roberts is great in it.” She paused. “See you at six. I love you, too.”

When she hung up and turned to Orrin, with that smile that made his heart leap, “Were you getting ready to ask me something?”

“No. I was just wanted to see if the flowers were okay,” he said.

“Well, I think they’re fine, Orrin,” she said and went back to her computer.

Orrin stood there at the edge of her desk and looked at the yellow daisies and the red zinnias then at Jessica. He stood there with his hands in my pocket. After a minute, she turned to face him, “What’s wrong, Orrin?”

“Nothing, Jessica. Nothing’s wrong.”

He glanced over at Gloria who was standing at the filing cabinet. She turned and looked at Orrin and then at Jessica. Orrin took a deep breath and stood there wishing he could think of something to say but couldn’t. Jessica turned back to her computer and continued what she was doing.

Orrin hated how shy and awkward he was around her. He knew it was stupid to ask her if she wanted gum, but he never knew what to say. “It’s through my guitar that I express what I feel,” he said to himself. “If only I could get her to hear my music she would know who I am.” He knew that sounded crazy but knew that his music was special. He didn’t know why or how he came to love playing the guitar but it changed his life. “Something comes over me when I play and I say through my music what I can’t say in words,” he thought, remembering the day his life changed.

It’s funny how things happen that impact your life in ways you can’t explain. When Orrin was twelve he was walking down Ridge Avenue in Roxboro, the small town where he lived at the time. He and his mom moved around a lot. His mom and dad split when he was three and Orrin barely remembered him. They were never married and she had him when she was nineteen, so it was just Orrin and her.

They had just moved to this Roxboro the week before because a man she met on the internet lived there and they got to be on line lovers and so they ended up there. He didn’t know any of the kids at school since they all had cliques and he was so shy. It was a Saturday and Orrin decided to explore the town and was walking down the street past the different stores when he walked by a store that sold musical instruments. He was surprised when he saw the sign over the front door, “Music for the Ages,” but something made him stop and look in the window. There was a drum set, a trumpet, a keyboard piano, a banjo, a violin but what caught his eye was a blue guitar in the corner of the window. Orrin was drawn to that guitar. It’s hard to explain but something about the color and the shape sent a tingle through him and he knew he had to have that guitar. He must have stood there ten minutes just staring at it and then he went inside, heard the bell jingle over the door and saw an old man with shaggy white hair behind the counter. The man looked up at Orrin then went back to putting strings on a violin.

It was a small store, kind of dingy that sold CDs, but also had several tables with old record albums. You know the big kind with vinyl records and a sign over the table that said Vintage Records–Used. A few pianos, an organ, several different size keyboard pianos were on one side of the store. On the rear wall sat a row of guitars both acoustic and electric and in the glass case where the man was working was a shiny trumpet, a few violins and a row of harmonicas.

Orrin asked him how much the blue guitar was. The man looked at him and said a thousand dollars then walked over to the window and brought it over to him. Orrin knew nothing about guitars. The man told him it was acoustic with nylons string instead of wire. It was a classical guitar and that he knew the man who made it. He handed it to Orrin, “Hold it. See how it feels,” and added, “It was originally twenty-five hundred dollars but no wants a blue guitar, so now it’s a thousand.”

Orrin had never held a guitar before but when he cradled it in his arm then plucked one of the strings, he felt that tingle again and a strange feeling came over him. He strummed it and loved the sound it made and felt the vibration ripple though his body. He put his finger on the lowest string at one end and plucked then moved his finger up the string a little more and plucked again, then one more time and told the man, “I love the sound of this guitar. güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri It’s beautiful but there’s no way I could afford a thousand dollars.”

The man nodded and said he was selling it for the person who made the guitar, an old friend of his since childhood. He thought for a minute, “Maybe I could sell it cheaper but I have to ask my friend.”

He told Orrin his friend had been making guitars his whole life but this was the last one he would ever make then added, “I don’t why he painted it blue. I told him it was nuts, no one would buy a blue classical guitar.” He then paused and nodded, looking at Orrin “I like the way you look holding that guitar,” he said, his eyes narrowing. “For some reason I think you should have that guitar, maybe my friend would sell it for a lot less than a thousand dollars. I could ask him.”

Orrin looked at the guitar then back at the man. “Thank you but I doubt I could afford anything. We just moved to town and we don’t have much money.” He strummed the guitar again, closed his eyes, feeling the strange sensation again.

“What’s your name,” he asked.

“Orrin,” he answered, plucking the string again.

“I’m Hermes,” he said.

“Hermes, like the Greek god,” Orrin said, surprised. “I love mythology. It’s one of my favorite things to read. Hermes was the messenger.”

“Well my family is Greek. My parents named all of their children after Greek gods but I tell most people my name is Herman because if I tell them my real name, I get strange looks. No one in this country is called Hermes.”

“So why did you tell me your name was Hermes and not Herman,” Orrin asked.

“I’m not sure, but when I saw you holding the guitar that my friend made I wanted to tell you my real name. It just felt right. Some things you can’t explain. By the way my friend’s real name is Apollo, but he calls him self Paul for the same reason I don’t call myself Hermes. We grew up together in Greece. Both of our families came to America when we were fifteen.”

“Apollo,” Orrin said, surprised, thinking that was strange. “Wasn’t Apollo the god of music and poetry?”

“Yes,” Herman answered, nodding and laughed. “I see you know your mythology.”

For a moment Orin looked at Herman, thinking what he heard was strange but then looked down at the guitar he was holding and plucked the strings a few more times, loving the sound, feeling the vibrations. He closed his eyes and strummed a few times then handed the guitar back to Herman and said he had to go.

“Listen, Orrin, come back tomorrow. I will talk to my friend, maybe we can work something out. I’m usually closed on Sundays but I will be here. Come at noon.”

When Orrin left, Herman put the guitar back in the window and Orrin walked back to their house, actually his mom’s boyfriend’s house. His name was Jeffrey and he was ten years older than his mother. He was a building contractor and a pretty decent guy with several men working for him. Not many guys would take in a woman with a twelve year old son but he invited Orrin’s mom to come visit and then a few weeks later they were there living in Roxboro.

The next day was Sunday and Orrin went back to the music store at noon, saw the closed sign on the door and thought it was strange that Herman told him to come back, but stood in front of the window staring at the blue guitar wondering what could possibly be worked out since he knew his mom had no money for a guitar. Just then, the front door opened and Herman invited him in. When Orrin entered he saw another old man with a white beard, wire rimmed glasses and a black Greek fisherman’s cap on his head. He was sitting on a piano bench and when he saw Orrin, he smiled, nodding his head looking into Orrin’s eyes.

“So you are interested in my blue guitar,” he asked. Those were his first words. No hello, no introduction.

“Yes, I don’t know anything about guitars but I liked holding it,” Orrin said, glancing up at Herman standing next to him.

Paul looked up at his friend, “Bring us the guitar, please,” he said, looking back at Orrin.

When Herman handed it to him, Orrin cradled it in his arms and plucked a string and immediately felt that tingle again. He looked up and noticed the strange way Paul was looking at him. Orrin looked away and plucked the string, holding his finger there then moved it up a little and felt the sound vibrate through his whole body, feeling again the strange sensation he felt the day before.

Paul and Herman didn’t say anything but just listened to Orrin plucking and strumming the strings. After a few moments, Paul put up his hand for him to stop and looked at Orrin before speaking. “Listen, I will give you my guitar and I will teach you to play it.”

Orrin could not believe his ears and felt like he was going to cry, “Why?”

“I don’t know for sure. I love that guitar and I will not be making another one, but when my old friend, Herman told me about you, I had a feeling. I can’t explain it and for some reason I wanted to meet you and now I know I want you to have my guitar. I have played the guitar all of my life and I have a feeling I can teach you to play like no one else. What do you think about that?”

Orrin didn’t know what to say and couldn’t believe this was happening to him, but that’s how he got the güvenilir bahis şirketleri blue guitar and learned how to play. Still, he was curious why he was given the guitar and the first day he went to his house for a lesson, he asked, “Why did you give me the guitar?”

Paul looked into Orrin’s eyes before speaking. “The reason I painted the guitar blue is because I knew who ever wanted to buy it was meant to have it. There are no other guitars in the world like it, but when I met you and saw how you loved it, I knew you were the one to have it. It’s a simple as that. Does that answer your question?”

“I guess so,” Orrin answered, still wondering why Paul thought he was meant to have it but just accepted his answer.

He began going to Paul’s house, first one day a week, then two then almost every day and Paul taught him to play. He said Orrin was a natural and gifted musician. He said he must let the nails of his right hand grow long in order to play properly and though his mother objected, when she knew why, she left him alone about it. Paul taught him to read music and said he wanted Orrin to eventually be able to compose his own music but he must first learn the music of the masters. Orrin was learning to play classical guitar and Paul introduced him to the music of Bach, Scarlatti, Vivaldi and many others. He also taught him to play Flamingo, the music of the gypsies as well as the folk music he knew as a child in Greece. They listened to Paul’s records of Andre Segovia, Jose Thomas, Narciso Yepes and many other guitarists, but Orrin especially loved listening to Paul play. He loved how he seemed to be looking out into space when he played, hardly looking at his fingers and Orrin studied the way Paul played and knew he wanted to be able to play like that. He thought that Paul’s playing was better than any of the great players he listened too and marveled at what a master he was, not just as a musician but as a craftsman who made beautiful guitars. He often thought about Paul’s real name Apollo, the god of music and poetry and when he watched and listened to his playing he knew he was experiencing something special but could not articulate what it was he felt.

One day, Orrin asked him why he didn’t become famous. “You’re better than any one I have ever heard. You’re a master and you’re living in a small town making guitars.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Being famous is not important. Making beautiful music is all that matters and I love making guitars so that others can make beautiful music. I’m very happy. I have made a lot of money selling my guitars. Musicians come to me from all over. A few of my guitars have been played on concert stages all over the world, but I wanted to be left alone. Believe me I am content with my simple life in this little town.

Orrin took lessons from Paul for two years but then his mom and her boyfriend broke up and they moved away. Orrin didn’t want to move and wished he could stay in Roxboro and live with Paul, who was more like a father to him than anyone in his life, but Paul was old and Orrin’s mom really needed him to get a job and help support them. He was almost fifteen when they moved away. He wasn’t doing well in school and hated the place and he never made friends. All he wanted to do was play the guitar and he practiced all the time and never did his homework. He remembered Paul telling him something Mark Twain said. “Never let school get in the way of your education.” They both laughed and Paul told Orrin he never finished elementary school but became an apprentice to a guitar maker in Greece and after that, music and making guitars was all he ever wanted to do.

After their lessons, Paul would make tea and they would eat goat cheese on crackers and Orrin loved listening to the stories Paul told him of his life in Greece and how he learned to play the guitar. He told him how his wife, Elena died when she was young, how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. “She was the love of my life and all the music I have ever written was inspired by her.”

One day after a lesson, Paul asked if he knew the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orrin remembered reading it but didn’t recall much but Paul told him the story about how Orpheus played the lyre and his music was so beautiful and enchanting that everyone loved his music and how he fell in love with Eurydice, how she was drawn to his music. They married but one day she was bitten by a snake while she was out walking and she died. Orpheus’ heart was broken and his music became very sad. He was inspired to go to the underworld and beg Persephone and Hades for his wife. He played his lyre for them and it was a love song to her that was so beautiful and haunting it made the gods of the underworld cry and they decided they would allow Eurydice to return with him on the condition that he must not look back to see her until they were no longer in the underworld. Orpheus agreed and was overjoyed that he now had the love of his life back; however, just as he was one step away from being back on earth, a moment of uncertainty came over him, a horrible feeling he would lose her and suddenly glanced back to make sure she was still there and that was his fatal mistake. She disappeared and returned to the underworld. He lost her again. She was gone and his broken heart returned. From that day on his music was filled with longing and the pain of his loss. He would sit under a tree with his lyre, looking up at the sky with his eyes closed and play the sad music that filled him. He would pluck the strings and the sound of his mournful music made everyone who heard it cry and feel sorrow for the tragic loss.

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