The Burglary

The police have been dusting for prints. There are dark smudges on the laundry door around the handle and locks. The forensics officer suggested I wipe it off with a dry cloth. It turns black if gets wet, she said. The powder is surprisingly difficult to remove and seems to have eaten into to glossy white paint of the door. It’s already turned black so I suppose a damp cloth won’t make it any worse.


I want to pick up my guitar — I often do when I’m feeling tense. But the guitar is gone. I got it in San Francisco more than 20 years ago — the same year I saw the Grateful Dead play at Laguna Seca. and watched U2’s Bono spray paint "Rock ‘n’ Roll Stops the Traffic" on the Vaillancourt Fountain.

When I first walked into the guitar store in bare feet and a tie dyed t-shirt, the sales assistant asked me to leave. I might step on something and sue them, he said. So I came back another day with a pair of shoes and a couple of Canadians who I’d met at the youth hostel. The Canadians said they played in a punk band in some small town whose name I didn’t recognise and can’t remember. I tried out the only two left handed guitars in the store — a Korean Fender and a Japanese Yamaha. The Canadians complimented me on my technique. The sales assistant must have heard them because came by to suggest I work on my rhythm before trying any Jimi Hendrix stuff.

Laguna Seca 1987

In the end I got the Yamaha – a basic six string acoustic. The sales assistant and I haggled over the price and he threw in a battered second hand case (I think the case was headed for the dumpster). For several years now the guitar has lived on a stand in my study. I often reach for it while I’m working on the computer — when I’m pausing to think about what to write. As I type this now I keep turning around half expecting it to be there.

It’s sad to lose the old stuff — my Japanese Les Paul copy is gone too. But most of the things the thieves took when they broke into my house are easy to replace. I thought being burgled would be more traumatic than it has turned out to be. But then, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been to two funerals, seen an 89 year old man host a flower show and arranged to spend time with my parents over Easter.

I’ll keep an eye out for the guitar, but I still have the memories. For now.

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Tony Harris
15 years ago

Nice work Don.