I've owned a variety of guitars. Each one of them was special to me and had its' own special qualities. It was shortly before this story begins when I bought my first Fender Stratocaster. It cost me $500.00, because it had a previous owner and was not of vintage stock. It had also been run over by a 2-ton truck. Luckily, it was in its' hard shell case at the time and no damage was done. However, I loved that guitar. It sounded great and was just right for my hands. I'm not superstitious, but sometimes I have to wonder if luck is more than just coincidence.
It was the last night of a three night gig and things had been weird from the start. When we arrived the first night to do a sound check before the doors opened to the public, the drummer for the band that had previously played the venue came up to the stage and ranted about us messing with his drums. None of us had even seen them let alone touched them, and our roadie insisted that the stage was totally clear when he began setting up our gear. After some heated words from both sides the drummer walked away still ranting about how “uncool” it is to “mess with” a drummer's kit. The crowd was good that night and things went without a hitch.
The next night, I arrived before my band mates and noticed a ring of chairs, all facing away from each other, sitting on the stage. It struck me as being a bit odd but I didn't give it a lot of thought and didn't mention it to anybody else. Later that night, while we were playing our last set, one of our large, heavy, column speakers tipped over, barely missing my head. Apparently, the crowd didn't notice despite the fact that it fell clean off the stage, missing some of the paying patrons by mere inches. Did I mention it was a drinking establishment?
The last night, while in the middle of our first set, I noticed a tall, weird-looking man in a dirty, old trenchcoat, standing offstage to my left. He was obviously much older than the rest of the crowd and he just stood there motionless, with his arms down by his sides and a look on his face that raised the hair on my neck. I caught the eye of our bass player and motioned with my head for him to take a look, but by the time he glanced over my shoulder to see him, the man was gone.
The night ended with, what we believed to be a rousing version, of the Stones “Gimme Shelter”. We bade the crowd goodnight and left the stage to rowdy applause. Did I mention it was a drinking establishment? Our roadie packed our equipment and we helped him carry the heavier and bulkier pieces to the van.
I distinctly remember putting my Strat in its' case and carrying it out to the parking lot while the patrons filed out of the club and milled around talking, smoking, (and likely trying to think of somewhere else they could go for a drink). I finished helping our roadie load the van with the smaller items, and then jumped into the drummer's car for a lift home.
When I stepped through my front door I heard the phone ringing and answered it find it was our roadie calling. I could hear his mouth trying to form words that he obviously did not want to say. He told me the Strat wasn't in the van and that he coudn't remember loading it. I asked him to check the van again and when he returned he said he was riving back to the club to see if he had left it inside. I told him to pick me up so I could search for it too.
We were doing 80mph down dark city streets and luckily there was little traffic and the green lights seemed to go our way. What was normally a half hour trip took 10 minutes and as we pulled into the parking lot I could see the silhouette of the hard shell case standing on its' side there in the middle of the now empty lot. We barely waited for the van to stop as we jumped out, gave a loud “whoop”, and did a silly dance. The roadie and I were overcome with joy as we gave each other huge bear hugs and danced and laughed a bit more. As I stepped back into the van I saw him again. The stranger was leaning against the front door of the club now. He was still wearing the dirty trenchcoat, but now his arms were folded, and he had that same disturbing look on his face. I didn't stop to ask him who he was or what he wanted, if anything. All I do know is that he could obviously see the guitar sitting there before we arrived and he didn't take it. Is that luck, or a coincidence of finding an honest (but weird) man?