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Border Song

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His fingers were idly tapping on the side of the glass as he sat by the saloon’s bar listening to the people’s chitchat. Later in his room he would write down what he saw and heard, turning them into stories, rhymes – something he had brought with himself from the Earth. Surrounding himself with poems eased the loneliness of spaceflights.

A smile touched his lips as a new idea began forming in his head. If that couple knew someone had heard them, they wouldn’t talk this loudly, he thought, but no-one noticed him, the quiet observer sitting at the bar. If it weren’t for his silver star badge, he might as well be invisible. However, he didn't mind that.

Being lost in his own world, the space sheriff wasn’t listening to the saloon’s pianist, who, after his last song, cleared his throat and started to speak. It was something he rarely did – he only sang and played as he was still too shy to speak in front of others, but tonight he stepped out of his comfort zone.

“The next song,” he began, “is a special one. “There was a poem I stumbled upon in the old studio down the street. I had no idea who wrote it, but when I first read it, I had the melody in my head. I never felt like that before,” he admitted. He wasn’t planning to say that, it just slipped out of his mouth, even though he hardly spoke about his feelings. He couldn’t. He wasn’t allowed to.

He looked down for a moment and placed his stumpy fingers on the keys – not exactly the hands of a typical piano player, he thought -, then cleared his throat. “Anonymous writer, I hope you can hear this once,” he said and started to play.

The space sheriff was still sitting at the bar, now slowly sipping on his fourth pint, with his thoughts still around that forming story. Then he heard something that pulled him back to reality. Something he had never heard before. Something strange yet oddly familiar.

It took him a while to realize why. What the piano player sang were his words. This man took his poem and added some music to it. He just sat there and listened, not taking his eyes off the pianist, forgetting that there were other people in the saloon. No-one had asked him if he agreed with anyone using his poems; he didn’t even know that someone had read them; however, he didn’t mind it, because with the melody his words sounded better than ever.

His legs were shaking when he slowly walked to the saloon’s small stage after the concert. The pianist stopped packing and for a moment they were both looking at each other, cannot find the words to say.

“What can I do for you?” the musician finally asked, being a little confused facing the sheriff who stood there as if he was struck by a lightning.

“You… wrote music to my poem,” he said after a short silence.

The pianist’s eyes widened with surprise, then a wide smile appeared on his face. He couldn’t believe this was really happening.

“Were you the one who wrote that?” he burst out and he felt his heart swell. The space sheriff gave him a shy smile and nodded his head. “Do you have more?”

“Yes,” he answered, and his smile turned into a grin. Then he held out his hand. “I’m Bernie, by the way.”