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Strummin' On The Mount -- Flash Fiction for 8/7/2020

This week's 300-word flash fiction piece is inspired by this prompt:

Strummin' On The Mount

His guitar playing wasn’t great. He could finger-pick a bit, but he struggled with sevenths and minor chords. Likewise, his voice wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. It was better than your typical karaoke singer, but wasn’t going to win him any Grammys. But, people didn’t come to hear his guitar picking or his singing.

“It’s the message,” is what he always told the teachers in school and during the years of private lessons his parents forced on him. To him, lyrics were king. The words conveyed the message, they told the stories. In his mind, setting them to music did nothing to enhance them, but rather somehow diminished their impact. But no one wanted to hear a poetry reading anymore, so a minimum amount music was essential.

What amazed him the most, though, was that the words weren’t really his own. In fact, they were as old as time. Love your neighbor. Be a peacemaker. Value your worth by your heart, not your wealth. Suffer in silence, for your day will come. Be kind to those you have authority over and forgive those who’ve done you wrong. This was a message long since forgotten by most—still held dear by only a few. If he could reach one person a day, a week, a year, or throughout his travels, he would count himself a success.

The crowds continued to grow and the establishment took notice. Daily, he was barraged by offers to record and tour, but always with the condition that he be “more pop” or “more country.” When he refused all offers, the lawsuits began. Copyright infringement, slander, unlawful assembly, inciting riots, though his concerts were never anything but peaceful. When the Federal SWAT showed up, he knew what was in store.

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