“The Gift of the Bards,” by Tomo Lazovich

Apr 20th, 2020 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Derek’s heart pulsed with anticipation as his simple three bedroom ranch house came into view at the far end of the cul-de-sac. “She’s going to be so surprised,” he thought to himself, giggling heartily at the spontaneity of his plan. He had decided yesterday to cut his trip short, booking a flight that would allow him to arrive at home before his wife Katie returned from work. However, as he passed the final row of large hedges and his driveway revealed itself, Derek’s spirits dropped, like a needle onto a record, and his joy slowly deflated. Sitting there in the driveway, at a time when she was definitely supposed to be at the office, was Katie’s green Subaru. His mind raced with possibilities, and once his car was parked he moved quickly to resolve the uncertainty that surrounded him. Rushing to his trunk, he heaved his suitcase out, leaving another box still in the car with the intention of getting it later, after Katie had gone to bed.

When Derek finally came through the door, after what seemed like hours of fumbling clumsily with his keys, he was hit immediately with a sound he never expected to hear in his home. He stood there, motionless, as if he had just walked into a brick wall. The sound was unmistakable. It teased him, taunted him, and simultaneously heartened him and broke his heart. In the few moments that it took the electrical stimuli in his brain to fully propagate and process the information he had just received, his entire marriage flashed before his eyes. He lamented all the wasted years (eleven, as they had just celebrated last month). He wished he had communicated more openly with the love of his life. Above all else, though, he was excited.

Bursting into the living room, with all intention of confronting his wife immediately, Derek instead decided to play coy. “Hi, sweetheart,” he said with saccharine intent. “I came home early to surprise you! Oh, hey, what’s that?”

Katie stammered. She hesitated. Finally, she blurted it out.

“It’s a… it’s a… a… record player.”

“Oh… huh! That’s interesting. I remember when we first started dating you said you thought those were kinda silly and hipster-y.”

“Yeah, um… I lied.”

“Haha what do you mean?”

‘”Listen, please don’t get angry, ok? Just hear me out. On our first date, you made an offhand comment about how you couldn’t believe record players were coming back into style. And I agreed with you because, well, I thought you were cute and it was our first date. The truth is, though, I’m a huge audiophile. You simply cannot beat the amazing integrity that comes from a vinyl album playing on a state of the art turntable with a good sound system. It’s like you’re in the studio!”

“Mmhm.”

“So then, the first time you came over to my place, I hid my AudioTechnica LP60X and my collection of over 300 vinyl albums. At that point, I was in too deep. I bought a storage locker and hid it all away, waiting for the right time to tell you the truth. After we got married, I couldn’t take it anymore. So I would leave work early every Friday, go to the locker, and listen to an album. Every time you’ve taken a work trip for the past eleven years, I have picked up a couple vinyls and brought them home to listen. I’m… I’m so sorry.”

Tears streamed down both Katie and Derek’s faces as the gravity of the situation materialized for them. They had gone eleven years deceiving each other.

“Katie, wait here. I need a minute.”

“Please, Derek. Let’s talk about this!”

Derek hustled back to his car. Rather than getting in and driving away, as Katie expected, he instead opened the trunk and grabbed a box from it. He brought it inside, smiling ear to ear.

“Katie, honey. I have a confession too. My trip wasn’t a business trip.”

“It wasn’t?”

Derek opened up the box and dropped a program in front of her. It read “2020 National Analog Audio Convention.”

“What is that???”

“Honey, I didn’t know how to tell you. I’m a huge audiophile too. I wasn’t on a work trip, I was at the country’s largest annual vinyl convention.”

“Derek, but… but how? How have we gone all these years both secretly loving vinyl?”

“Well, here’s the thing. Remember how you said that I made an offhand comment about thinking it was silly that vinyl was coming back on our first date? Well, the only reason I did that is because earlier that day I had seen that you liked a Facebook post where one of your friends was saying something similar, and I wanted to get you to like me.”

Katie burst out into laughter.

“No freaking way! My friend group in college was all audiophiles, and we would ironically post about how stupid vinyl was as an inside joke with each other! I can’t believe you saw that!”

Finally realizing what they had done, they both laughed incessantly and embraced each other closely.

“Let’s never keep something like that from each other again, ok?”

“Absolutely, sweetheart. I can’t believe it took us this long to find out.”

“So, I guess I should ask. What’s your favorite album?”

“Oh… hands down, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. No question. How about you?”

“Dave Matthews Band’s Under the Table and Dreaming! I’m a huge DMB fan.”

Suddenly, an awkward silence came between them.

“Derek… I want a divorce.”

Katie rigidly stood up, grabbed the albums that were strewn about the floor, and walked out. Derek watched through their bay windows as her green Subaru receded into the distance. He screamed into the void.

“Fine with me, Katie. FINE WITH ME! Fleetwood Mac sucks! You’re just a poser!”

Derek broke down in tears and slumped against the wall. As he rocked back and forth, he muttered, under his breath “Take these chaaanceeeesss!”

————

Tomo Lazovich is a research scientist by day and comedy writer and performer by night. His work has appeared online at McSweeney’s, Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Weekly Humorist, and Robot Butt. He also writes a monthly satirical column for Funny-ish called Our Dystopian Future. He regularly performs improv and sketch comedy in the Boston area and has studied satire with The Second City.┬áTomo also has a PhD in Physics, which helps him realize that gravity is just nature’s way of bringing him down.

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