73-year-old Boris knew how to trust his instincts. A lifetime of dealing with rockstar hopefuls helped him temper those instincts. As time passed he was able to see which of his clients succeeded and which didn’t. He narrowed down the ‘vibe’ of successful people even if he could not put it into words.
He stood at the counter of his music shop on a Friday morning waiting for his first customers of the day. The shop was small by choice. Boris’ Instruments had been open for almost 50 years in the same location. He had offers to expand, move, and franchise but he turned them all down. He didn’t run the shop for money; his joy was found standing behind the counter every morning.
A jingling bell informed Boris of a customer. He looked over and saw what he guessed was a teenager walk in. The customer wore a black hoodie with the hood up; it made it difficult to see his or her face; but, the person was definitely short. Their height reminded Boris of one of his granddaughters; she was in high school.
Boris grinned to himself as the customer walked straight to the wall of guitars. Boris had seen that determined stride before. It wasn’t the only hint of success, but all Boris’ success stories started the same way. A customer that knows exactly what they want, almost as if the instrument chose them. Customers that came in and looked around for something almost never succeeded. They needed to have that drive before they walked into the store. The first customer of the day stared at a single guitar on the wall. It hung high and slightly out of their reach.
“I’ll take that one,” the teenage boy faced Boris and pointed at the guitar out of his reach. His voice gave him away before Boris saw the boy’s face; but, he was still surprised to catch a glimpse of golden stars in his eyes. They faded so fast Boris wondered if he was imagining things in his old age. He distracted himself by nodding at the boy, then walking to the wall of guitars.
“This one?” Boris asked with a chuckle as he reached toward the old wooden guitar. It was so old, Boris almost didn’t remember stocking it. Its yellow paint was slightly faded but it still looked brand new. It had a number ’17’ painted on the front in a blocky font in red. It wasn’t ugly, but it hardly compared with the newer guitars made from better and prettier materials. Boris honestly thought it’d never sell, but he still felt like he should keep it.
Boris also realized that the boy’s instrument choice also hinted at success. Newbies wanted the best gear money could buy thinking their equipment made them successful. Passionate folks didn’t care where or how they started; they just needed to start. The guitar was the cheapest one available and Boris assumed it was all the boy could afford. Boris saw an opportunity to help the boy along. He always got a kick when famous artists thanked ‘Ol’ Boris’; it was part of the reason he was still in business in the era of bigbox music stores.
“You know, this thing has just been sitting around here for years. No one even looks at it,” Boris said as he made his way back to the cash register.
“Wow, I’m lucky I saw it!” the teenager replied. “How much?”
“Do you know how to play?” Boris asked. He was unsurprised when the boy shook his head; they usually didn’t when the music first called them.
“I see potential in you kid,” Boris grinned. “How bout a deal? You come to a few free lessons so I can show you the ropes, then I’ll just give you the guitar. Everything free of charge.”
“Uh,..” the boy narrowed his eyes at Boris. “..thanks but no. How much to just buy it right now?”
“Already got lessons lined up somewhere else?” Boris asked. He hoped he didn’t sound clingy; he was genuinely curious given the boy’s potential.
“No.. I’m not going to play it; it’s a gift for someone else,” he said.
“Oh! Well okay,” Boris was surprised. Instruments were such a personal thing it never occurred to him that someone would buy one as a gift for someone else. “In that case it’s…,” Boris entered some numbers into the cash register. “…$650… wait, that isn’t right.” Boris was sure that the price should have been lower. However, the hooded teenager didn’t seem to care. By the time Boris finished saying ‘right’, there were seven $100 bills on the counter.
“Keep the change, Boris,” the teenager said.
“I couldn’t do,…” Boris started to protest. He looked up from the bills to the teenager and found him standing next to a black hole holding the guitar in one hand and a phone up to his ear with the other. As the teenager walked into the black hole Boris heard part of his conversation.
“Tell Ms. Sharp I got #17, El bandolón,” he said, then disappeared.