An hour along, my monthly acoustic jam had lost its vibe. Two guys were playing their guitars so timidly I could scarcely hear them. The other was a talented newcomer, but curiously nervous and hyper. No one else knew his songs, so as he played them, the rest of us gradually dropped out, leaving him and the bass player to finish his tunes.
We meet in a tiny art gallery that occasionally draws a visitor or two while we play. I was heaving a sigh when two young women entered, pushed in their wheelchairs by their attendants. May we listen, they asked. Of course, we said, as we welcomed them. The attendants parked their charges next to me and pulled up seats.
The women in the wheelchairs were severely disabled. I smiled at them as my heart ached. They couldn't smile back, but I sensed that they understood their surroundings. One extended her arm, reaching for the bass player, trying to touch the source of the music. I turned my chair to face them.
It was my turn to pass out a song. As usual, I was overstocked with ballads. I need something upbeat -- okay, this will do, I thought: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. Let's start a fight, I cheerfully announced, and kicked it off. I nodded to my jam mates and played for the new arrivals.
What they heard or felt, I had no way of knowing, but the song got through. I could tell; don't ask me how. They lingered for another couple of songs, then their escorts said goodbye and wheeled them out.
I fumbled with the music on my stand. For a few brief minutes, these young women, mute and immobile, lit up the room. Or so it seemed, from my chair.