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[cross posted were_ghost and bq_pace]

(Backdated to June 2012)

Charlie tossed the pen down, not wanting to look at his dwindling accounts... okay, slowly dwindling; it wasn’t like he was in danger of having to close the doors within the next year or anything. Standing, he stretched his arms above his head, leaning back and exposing a bit of belly in the process, and sighed at wonderful burn. Surveying his store, a sense of pride filled him, more than even having had his one-hit wonder. He still had the large alcove to do something with; the only question was what.

Ghost checked the address again. He had found the card for Music Pace when moving some of René’s sheet music into his new music alcove in the loft. The werewolf wasn’t sure if the store would have what he needed, but maybe the owner would at least be able to point Ghost in the right direction.

The address above the door matched the one on the card. Ghost turned the knob and entered the shop. He took in the guitars hanging neatly on the wall and the displays of current music. The were could hear music coming from someplace in the back. Ghost followed the sound to find a blond man standing behind the counter. Ghost cleared his throat. “Excuse me?”

Gladly lifting his eyes from the papers, Charlie smiled, “Hiya... welcome. Can I help you?”

“I hope so. I’m looking for a very old instrument - a harpsichord. Would you have one or know where I could find one? It has to be playable. It’s not just for show.” Ghost let his eyes roam about the parts of the store he could see from the counter. There were keyboards, but of the more modern kind. There were also several areas he couldn’t see into, so he was hopeful.

Pursing his lips, Charlie shook his head slowly, “Can’t say as I have that... it’s more a specialty item and not something I’d usually carry...” Trailing off, bright blue eyes swung to the alcove; antique instruments - in working order - would be a draw... “Though you’ve given me an idea for some empty space. There’s someone... damn, give me a minute - I’ll find his card - this guy specializes in really fine quality antique pieces. Maybe he can help you?”

Ghost was disappointed, but at least he had eliminated one place from the list and had another possible lead. Ghost waited for the young man to locate the indicated card. “So what type of musical items do you carry? Do you have something that says music that would look good in a room devoted to creating music?” He groaned softly. “That sounded like I’m looking for some silly trinket to set on the piano. Maybe I should just look around while you look for the information.”

“Oh sure... there are several side rooms too. Each has a kind of theme, if you will. One is dedicated to posters, another to photographs of musicians... jazz on up.” Grabbing his pile of business cards, Charlie began thumbing through them. “I know it’s here...”

“I’m going to look over there.” Pointing in the direction of a side room, Ghost wove his way between the displays and entered one with photography. The walls were adorned with the famous of the music world. René would probably consider some of these muses to his own music. The were wandered from face to face. Which one might he want to purchase?

Flicking the card with his thumb nail, Charlie walked the center aisle, head swiveling from side to side, peering into the alcoves. Spotting his customer, he entered. “That’s one of my favorites.” Pointing to a large black and white photo of Johnny Coltrane, he paused. “Okay... that one too.” Now he pointed at a photo of Charlie Parker. Both were saxophonists.

“My boyfriend plays the cello, but he’s more into rock.” Ghost figured he could mention it since musicians are a pretty open-minded bunch.

“Wait... is he at the school? Think I’ve met him.” Handing him the card, Charlie nodded. “Yeah, he was in here a while back. Nice guy.” Giving a wink, he shook his head in mock-dismay. “Don’t remember him mentioning a boyfriend - so that’s who you’re buying the harpsichord for?”

“Yes, he was at Loyola. Played the cello in the orchestra.” Ghost wasn’t bothered by René not mentioning him. It had probably been before they decided to live together. “Didn’t mention me, huh. Must have slipped his mind and yes, I am buying the instrument for him. I’m putting together a music room for him in my - our - loft. I found your card with some sheet music and thought this might be the place to start looking.”

“Well, I can definitely offer you more sheet music... some even for the harpsichord. Came in a package deal; wasn’t sure what I’d do with it...” Waving in the general direction of the main room back wall, Charlie continued, “He’d invited Spencer and me down to hear him play, but I couldn’t make it.”

“You may have missed your chance to hear him on his cello, but I’m sure he will turn up in the clubs from time to time. He is graduating this year. The harpsichord is sort of a graduation/housewarming gift, but the sheet music would be a great touch. I’ll take some if you show me where it is. I don’t think I could tell harpsichord sheet music from the regular stuff.”

Chuckling in understanding, Charlie waved the other man to follow. “Just realized I never introduced myself. Charlie Pace.” Turning left, he pointed at an antique display stand. “Got that - the display case - from ‘Time Passages’ - the card I gave you.” Riffling through several sheets, the blond discarded some. “Too dark.”

“Stefan, my friends call me Ghost.” He followed the short blond through the store, noting some of the merchandise on display. He gave the display case the once-over. It looked well made. The were glanced at the small card. This shop would definitely be his next stop. He halted when the shop owner paused at a shelf of sheet music. He peeked over the young man’s shoulder to see which items Charlie was picking. It might be useful information in the future. Not wanting to interrupt the owner’s sorting, Ghost hesitated to ask about the shop whose card he held. “Do you know this other shop owner?”

“Only met him once.” Muttering, Charlie put a few more scores aside to give Ghost a selection to choose from. “He’s only open in the evenings, for a few hours... closes sometime around 10, I think. Ahhh, nice.” Flourishing the paper, he smiled up at the taller man. “Bach - great keyboardist.”

Ghost looked at the card again. He could make time to go there today too. “Yes, Bach was excellent. I’ll take those.” He indicated the stack of paper that Charlie had sorted out. “And thank you for the card. I think I’ll head there as soon as I’ve paid for those.”

“No problem - sort through - pick the ones you want.” Handing over the pile, Charlie tapped the top one. “This is my favorite.”

Ghost took the offered stack and flipped through them. He wasn’t very knowledgeable about harpsichord music, so he just picked a broad selection, including the one that the owner suggested. He put the others back, figuring that he and René could always return and buy others if the young man wanted more.

The papers in hand, Ghost made his way back to the counter. “I think I’ll take these. I must admit that I don’t know much about harpsichord music, but hopefully I got a good selection. I did get the one you suggested. What do you think?” He fanned the stack out on the counter.

“Do you want me to view them as if I were to play, or more for complexity?” Fingering a corner of the papers, Charlie tipped his head to the side.

“I really don’t know. René is talented on a couple of instruments. He mentioned that he would like to try a harpsichord, so I suppose he wanted to experiment with it. Try a new sound. Does that help at all?” Ghost was a bit worried now. Was the next store owner going to have as many questions as this one?

“Well, if he’s new to it, he’d want the simpler ones to start.” Pulling out a few, Charlie put them in the bin to be replaced. “There are about seven here - should be a good start.

Ghost looked over the select pieces that Charlie had singled out for his purchase. “Yes, I think these will do for now. I appreciate your greater knowledge in this. Now if only finding the instrument itself is so easy.” Ghost looked at his watch. It was still early. He had time to visit the other shop. “Since you never got to hear René play, we will invite you to the loft when he is ready to perform on the harpsichord. I will be in touch if my boyfriend requires anything more. Thank you again.” Ghost pulled his credit card from his pocket and slid it across the counter.

Working the machines to complete the purchase, Charlie pulled out a heavy bag, one side cardboard. “To protect the sheet music - nothing more frustrating than trying to play a new piece and having to work around a wrinkle.” Sliding them in, he then ripped off the paper for Ghost to sign. “I’d like that... would it be okay if I brought Spencer? Oh... Time Passages, I’ve heard that if you are looking for a specific piece, the owner... Andy...Andrew... something like that - he’ll find it for you.”

Ghost signed the slip and slid it back across the counter. He removed the shop card from his pocket and added the additional name to the back of the card. “We would love to have both of you. I’ll give you a call.” He waved the card before tucking it back away.

A sudden thought struck Charlie. “I have an empty alcove... not sure what to do with it. What do you think of setting up a little studio kind of thing? Coffee machine, and people come in to play? Audiences sit around listening - kind of like... the late ’60s coffee houses.” He’d thought about offering space to the school too, but there would still be room to do that as well.

“I think you may be asking the wrong person. René is the real musician in our partnership, but it seems like a natural for a music store. I’d call him now, but this is supposed to be a surprise. You understand.” He shrugged apologetically. “Maybe I can casually bring it up in the conversation some time soon.”

“That’d be great - thanks.” Package and receipt completed, Charlie slipped in a business card. “Thank you.”

“I’ll be in touch, Charlie, and thank you for this,” Ghost replied, waving the package. “It’s going to make the gift special. Good-bye, Charlie.” Ghost waved again and left the store.




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