Walter Fiction: Regrets


The scene had played itself out the same way so many times, Walter knew it by heart. As soon as it started, he’d close his eyes and be transported back to that first time, when the twenty-year-old kid had stood there, splay-legged, one hand wrapped around the neck of a bottle of Wild Turkey, swaying.

“You’re gonna regret this, you old fuck!”

“Old?” He would kick himself later for not being able to come up with anything better than that, but at the moment, all he could do was wonder how on Earth someone who was thirty could be accused of being old.

“Yeah, old! Too fucking old to know what I’m worth! Either pay me more or I walk!”

Walter waved his hand in circles in the general direction of the door. “Walk on, brother. We had a good time together. I hope you learned things from me.”

The kid had thrown the bottle of Wild Turkey at the wall. The added defiance of the sound of the breaking glass and the sight of the amber liquid on the wall made him grow three inches. “I’ll show you, you stupid-assed motherfucker!”

“I hope you will,” Walter said placidly, pressing his fingertips together and touching his lips with them.

Lacking anything else to make a show with, the kid lost those new inches and stomped out of the room.

“Walter?” Rich, his bass player had said. His eyes had been big, terrified, his voice low and scared. “What do we do now? We’re on in an hour.”

“Didn’t you tell me that kid was hanging around again? The one we jammed with last week?”

Rich’s eyes widened. “But…”

“Trust in providence,” Walter said. “Or that I knew this was coming.”


Walter smiled. “The dummy left the offer to join a new band someplace where Lila happened to see it.”

“Where was that?”

“His guitar case, in that hidden compartment we all deny having. Go get that kid. We have to go over the setlist with him.”

“Do you go through my shit like that?”

“I don’t go through anyone’s shit,” Walter said. “And you’re not using me as a stepping stone for glory, so there’s no need for Lila to.”

The bass player stopped and considered that. “No,” he said at last. “I’m not. How do we know the new kid won’t be?”

“Oh, he will be. It’s the nature of the guitar player. They want the glory, all of it, and for themselves. You watch. He was only the first. Every single one of my guitarists will follow this path.”

And they had, down to the same scene. Oh, the bottles of liquor changed. Some of them didn’t make that dramatic arc through the air. The guitar players weren’t all blonde and green-eyed like that first kid had been. And Lila hadn’t had to dig up anything; Walter had learned to read the signs, to know when it was time for them to move on.

Through all the transitions, there was always someone immediately there, ready to step in. Ready to be the next apprentice and to help Walter maintain his own glory as the guy who helped develop some of the best guitarists to ever play rock and roll.

No, he thought as the latest new guy was escorted in, there’s nothing here to regret at all.

Ahh, Walter. We don’t see him around here nearly enough, don’t you think? Use the Cast tab up top to see more of him.



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