The old man was unable to remember how many years it had been since he first carried his strange instrument, an unlikely combination of a violin and a grind organ, to his regular spot on the sidewalk just outside of the city park. He’d bring his instrument, his folding chair, his satchel containing his lunch and a hot drink in a thermos with him. And, of course, his little dog to keep him company. He was now on — what? — his fourth dog?
He would place his hat on the sidewalk in front of him, set up his folding chair, sit down, put his instrument across his lap, and start playing. Back then he would attract quite a crowd, with kids dancing to his music, and passersbys tossing quarters — and occasional dollar bills — into his hat.
He actually made a decent living as a street musician. He was able to pay rent for his modest room at the boardinghouse and to buy for food for himself and his dog. He spent his days out in the fresh air, only missing those when the weather made being outside a place for neither man nor beast.
His greatest joy was making people smile, seeing them dance, and watching them enjoying his music. He was once interviewed by a reporter for the city’s newspaper. A photographer for the paper took his picture. He made the front page of the local news section and even more people showed up after that to watch him play.
But times had changed. The noises of the city, with all the hustle bustle, seemed to drown out his beautiful music. Other street performers, from drummers pounding on upside down plastic buckets, teens breakdancing to loud hip hop music, strummers with guitars hooked up to electric amplifiers, and people dressed in Sesame Street, Disney, and superhero costumes, took up residence on the crowded sidewalk outside of the park, competing for the few dollars passerbys were willing to spend.
People wanted to take pictures of him with their smartphones, selfies to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. But few took the time to stop and appreciate his lovely music. And at least once a week hooligans would steal from his hat whatever meager contributions had been tossed into it.
As much as he loved playing his music, he knew it was time to hang it up. His arthritic fingers prevented him from playing the way he had done for so many years and he grew tired of having to compete with so many other street performers.
It had been a great run and a wonderful life, but now it was time retire to the boardinghouse, where he could visit with his lifelong friends and occasionally make his music in front of the warm fire in the house’s common room.
All things considered, the old man had no regrets.
Written for this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt. We are asked to weave a tale that involves a street performer.