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Columns > Jesse Jarnow - Brain Tuba

Published: 2008/06/23
by Jesse Jarnow

Morgan the Lion, no. 3

BRAIN TUBA: Morgan the Lion, no. 3
The salsa was bland, the cheese dull, and Ian wouldn’t shut up about brother Ziggy. Morgan glared at him. "Oh, c’mon, man, nobody’s gonna know what we’re talking about," Ian said, dipping a chip. The end broke off in the salsa. Ian fished it out and popped it in his mouth.
Morgan was embarrassed. He’d held close to the secret since his mother died, and talking about it so openly, in the middle of Senor Sancho’s, was a violation. Most of his thinking, he’d done in the dark. Sometimes, he’d even burned a candle while doing it, though never while listening to the music itself. There were many violations, a cult Morgan was still untangling.
"Why don’t you just take the name?"
"I dunno, man," Morgan said, looking away. "I don’t really look much like him." Sometimes, though, there were nights he really did feel like Him, a prophet of the lost tribe of Israel, filled with the power of the voice to call down from the mountain, or from the island. He wasn’t clear whom he would be able to call. Once, he’d walked from Ian’s house to his, late at night, and comforted himself with the thought that he must be His only heir within 100 miles, maybe 500. He wasn’t sure what was 500 miles away. Kentucky, maybe?
"But people would at least ask you about it and you could explain."
"Man, can we not talk about this?"
"Well whaddya wanna talk about?"
"I dunno. How’s Janey?"
"Who gives a shit about Janey?"
Morgan contemplated the cheese in the veggie quesadilla he’d ordered. It was probably processed. He’d read a good deal about the religion, sincerely pondered its precepts. He’d have to eat ital, he thought, which — at first — he kept confusing with Italian. But no processed foods. Beyond smoking pot, he tried to bring the tenets of Jah into his life, quietly, in Ohio, without drawing attention to himself. If it was to be part of Morgan, it would have to be with the Puritan reserve that his grandmother — maternal, of course — bundled about her like a sweater.
"When’s the next gig, man?" Ian had never cared about Morgan’s music until he knew about Him. Morgan wasn’t sure if he cared about his own music anymore either, though. But there was a moment — nothing to do with Him whatsoever — that Morgan had felt it. It wasn’t long after Denise and he had painted the ceiling. She was out, and he was sitting on the couch, playing, and he couldn’t feel his feet. They were undifferentiated from the carpet, from the hallway, from the parking lot, highway, and lake. He could feel it coming off the guitar as he strummed, the strings’ vibrations making the hair on his arms stand in sympathetic awe. He could feel the chords decaying inside of him, cutting in half each time, never disappearing, but shrinking themselves into tiny specks, smaller than atoms. When he stopped, he could still feel them, tingling.
"I think I’m gonna play Borders again next month," Morgan said, scratching at the dull blonde hair above his wrist.

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