02019-11-27 | Writing | 3 comments

(short story around the word saffron)

After walking around and marveling at the Alhambra for the entire morning they had moved on. He really wanted to stay and just sit and experience the building, but his friends had seen all they wanted to see and urged him to leave. He decided he would come back by himself the next morning, very early, before they had to move on, because he knew that a building like this required time to be truly experienced and wouldn’t show itself right away… a special building that contains intention needs the sun to arc in the sky, which allows the light to reveal the details, and lets the shadows move around to give it life. And this building had a lot of depth and intention. He would come back and see, tomorrow.

From the Alhambra they had aimlessly walked through backstreets of Granada until he noticed a small guitar shop at the end of a cobblestone road. His friends were hungry and didn’t want to stop, so he urged them to find a restaurant nearby and to wait for him there.

After they had left and gone around a corner he opened the door, which triggered a little bell that rang. After entering the little shop he looked around and saw a few guitars hanging against the wall. Nobody came out to greet him, so after a while he gently took a guitar from the wall, sat down on a wooden chair and tuned it. He began to play, enjoying the strings in his hands, the scent of wood, the familiarity of holding a guitar. He hadn’t played in a couple of weeks, since starting this journey, but the music seemed to come out of his hands anyway… as if it had been waiting patiently for this moment.

He took a look at the label inside the guitar. It wasn’t a great guitar by any means, but it was a guitar and he was glad he had the chance to play a little.

A man came through the door that probably lead to the workshop. The man looked a little unkempt, in a distracted professor manner, and wore a grey lab coat. He said something in rapid Spanish. When it became obvious that he wasn’t understood, he nodded, then said: “Those guitars are for tourists, not for someone like you. Let me show you one of my real guitars.”

The man turned around and was gone for a couple of minutes. When he returned he brought a guitar he held with obvious pride. The top was a saffron color, with simple black inlays around the sound hole.

He nodded and smiled and gently took the instrument from the hands of its maker. Then he sat down with it.


  1. martin

    I like the familiarity of holding a guitar. I know what that means

  2. janeparhamkatz

    Ottmar, I was hungry to know what happens next in this story. So I made up this:

    Quickly tuning this beautiful guitar so honored by the old man, he warmed up with a few scales and chords. The guitar felt so comfortable in his hands. Its sound resonated clearly and gently, a sound that seemed to surround and caress him. He began to play. He noticed the old man listening intently, eyes closed. He played and played for hours, at first songs from his well-polished repertoire. Then he started to improvise, creating melodies, harmonies and rhythms he had never heard before, as if in a trance.

    At last, he stopped playing and looked at the old man, who was sobbing. The man said, “I made this guitar for my son. He was a gifted prodigy but was killed travelling in Portugal some years ago. While you were playing, I felt my son had returned to me.” He said, “You take this guitar, it should belong to you.” The two embraced, both weeping.

    The visitor said, “I can’t just take this from you. What price do you ask?” After a long silence, the old man said, “I ask you to take the guitar to Sintra, Portugal, climb to the top of the Castle of the Moors and play for a few moments with tenderness and great reverence. Look out over the vast expanse and say, ‘For you, Alfredo.’” “Alright,” said the visitor, “I am deeply grateful and proud to do as you ask.” To seal the deal, they sat down and with a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine, toasting to Alfredo.

  3. Michelangelo Croce

    Most moving memoire. Ottmar’s music is spiritual and mystical. Flamenco is deep and soulful. Ottmar lives and breathes the music. No words are needed as his music speaks directly to the soul. A fellow aquarian and a lifelong fan.


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