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Category Archives: The Justin

The Justin knows you been done wrong.

The Justin

“If anybody was going to teach me guitartistry in the afterlife,” grunted the Justin, swinging wildly, “I’d’ve expected–”

“Ol’ RJ’s off in his own hell,” chuckled Stevie, and swatted the blade aside. “Very special. Very private.”

“Whereas you?”

“Understand about floods,” murmured Stevie. He glanced at the Nile for a moment.

“How do you always know what I’m about to do?” said the Justin, finding himself on his back in the mud.

“We’re alike. Get right down to it, we’re white boys. The blues ain’t ours by right.”

The Justin frowned. “I’m nobody’s thief.”

“Done right,” shrugged Stevie, “theft is art.”

The Justin

One thing to remember about any given swampy river: there are crocodiles.

Except in the afterlife there weren’t, which made sense: their chief function (in human perception) was largely abrogated. Denied symbiosis, the white plovers wheeled and dove and annoyed the Justin, who was trying to spar.

“Concentrate,” hissed Stevie, reed low and steady.

“I don’t want bird poopy on my soul!” the Justin protested.

“Just concentrate on your time signature. Soon enough you’ll have to deal with more than birds!”

Not far down the river, ready to prove them right, the crocohippolion lurked; and the plovers went nowhere near her.

The Justin

The log became a crocohippolion and its bone-snacking jaws vanished Stevie’s reed.

“Double trouble!” gasped Stevie. “I hope you’re ready for this, boy!” The Justin sank his toes into river mud, took up gedan and met its eyes.

My name is Amemet, they said, and I was never worshipped. Once I ate the hearts of men and gods, until the river of their fear ran dry.

Do you know how one acquires a taste for souls? Do you see how long I have starved, undying?

Do you see that I am hungry?

The Justin threw down his blade and ran.

The Justin

Muddy, exhausted, scared, hungry and alone: the Justin was perhaps feeling an appropriate amount of self-pity. He didn’t even have his boat anymore. Also, he was technically dead.

He sat on a sandbar a little ways from the shore, and tears ran salty in his mouth.

The Nile rose to lap at his sandals, then the seat of his jeans, his waist. The sandbar submerged itself. The Justin heard a soft sound: the current rippling, dividing around the ankles of a man behind him.

“Well,” said the man wryly, “cry me a river.”


They embraced like water and sand.

The Justin

“What if the allirhinotiger is still there?” whispered the Justin, peeking over a dune.

“Amemet will stay away as long as you’re with me.” Ptah stepped over him and descended to the riverbank. “She and I have had words before. I think you dropped this.”

The Justin ran down eagerly to claim the battered and muddy Martin. “I can’t believe Stevie didn’t take it!” he exclaimed. “All right. I’ve got you, I’ve got my axe–time we blew this afterlife!”

“There’s something I must teach you before you go,” said Ptah, and the Justin was too happy to notice his implication.

The Justin

“Iaiguitsu,” said Ptah patiently.

“Yaygutso,” repeated the Justin.

“To draw, to shred, to sheathe again in a single thought: this is iaiguitsu, the heart of guitaido. Stevie couldn’t teach you this because he doesn’t know it. He’ll be a wandering bluesman until he understands.”

“I don’t understand either,” the Justin admitted.

“You will. Let me see the Martin.” Ptah pulled a hidden bead from the bridge and stretched it down the neck.

“A seventh string?” gasped the Justin. “What’s it made of?”

Ptah fretted out a power fifth with his first and last fingers, then held them aloft. “Metal,” he said.