It took several hard shoves to pry the swollen door open. The years had not been kind to ‘Doctor Emmett’s Instruments & lessons’ shop. The layers of heavy paint that had be slathered onto the oak door had blistered back to reveal wood that must have been a hundred years old. That century old door and the much older home behind it were not going to last through the winter Morris thought. The air was thick with the smell of decay and rot. Now that the door was open he could see floorboards that had warped up with enough force to pop a few nails to reveal the joists and the water filled basement beneath it. Covering his mouth with a handkerchief Morris took the first few tentative steps inside.
Emmett’s had been like a second home to Morris beginning in kindergarten all the way through sophomore year of high school. Over eleven years he had come here to the second floor office of Doctor Emmett to play the accordion. To listen to the sage direction. To endure the mild admonishment for not playing each evening for an hour like he promised he would. Most of all Morris came simply to feel like someone cared about him. Cared enough to focus exclusively on him and to receive praise simply for making the attempt. Playing well or poorly wasn’t important to Doctor Emmett. Playing with enthusiasm, for the sheer enjoyment was enough. “Well done Mr. Jackson, Well done” he could hear the old man say. Morris could see it on the Doctors face every time he picked up an instrument to demonstrate how an accordion should be played. Morris could still remember the first time he saw the Doctor play. He was unprepared for the sight of the trance-like Doctor Emmett as he began to play Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto. Morris did everything he could to stifle the giggle that wanted to burst out. Finally he could hold it back no longer and a high pitched yet barely audible squeak broke the solemnity of the Brandenburg. The only recognition from Emmett was the eyebrow that he raised in acknowledgement.
Whenever Morris fibbed about how often or how long he had been practicing Emmett knew and would only raise that one eyebrow as if to say ‘Ah yes, Mr. Jackson, but we both know the truth if it, don’t we”?
Doctor Emmett had passed away some 20 years ago but it was only know that Morris was back home and learned of it, though in his heart of hearts he know the old man must be gone. He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to know the truth before as he still needed Emmett’s understanding and acceptance over the long years. Here he now stood in the empty rooms of the shop. The vandals had stripped the place of all fixtures, cabinets and shelving where the music and instruments once stood proudly for sale. Morris took a slow, thoughtful walk through the empty rooms thick with layers of emptiness and neglect. He would never return again as the sign out front signified that a back would soon proudly stand in its place. It didn’t matter. Morris would always find Doctor Emmett whenever he needed him. His raised eyebrow to admonish him when he fell short, and his acceptance and praise whenever his simply tried his best.
This time it was Morris who whispered to the ghosts “Well done, Dr. Emmett. Well done.”