When Mark Dinning’s voice warbled during the chorus of “Teen Angel,” Clyde dropped the dish he was washing in the sink and bolted to the record player. A long scratch marked his precious record, marring Dining’s sad lament for a wasted life.
“Nothing can be done,” his pal Darryl said. “Records ruined, and your needle’s gotta problem. Doesn’t look like the fixing kind, my friend.”
“Then how am I going to listen to my songs while I wash my dishes and do my puzzles?” Clyde asked.
Clyde was a man of precise routine. Mark Dinning sang in his kitchen every night at 7:03. Not a minute before or after. Clyde was already peeved that he had to find a new song to take the “Teen Angel” spot. Looking for a new needle to fix his record player was about to send him in a full tailspin.
“Well, I can’t fix this,” Darryl said, “so I don’t know what to tell ya.”
Clyde left the repair shop with smoke spewing from his ears. He was not one to try change. And hell would freeze over ten times before he set foot in one of those big electronic stores and bought one of those shiny silver discs that the friends like to play in their cars. Their music was crap, he thought. All the good songs died fifty years ago.
That night, for the first time in his life, Clyde washed his dishes in silence. Well, he imagined there would have been silence if the neighborhood kids weren’t playing tag in the field behind his house. And if crickets weren’t chirping up a small orchestra outside his kitchen window. And if his porcelain dishes didn’t clang against each other as he stacked them beside the sink.
Clyde stopped mid-dry and thought about the noises around him. He’d never paid attention to them before.
Blended together, they weren’t half-bad. There was something refreshing and new about hearing those different sounds together. He felt a strange feeling, which connected him to the present world happening around him. Was this living, he wondered. Being aware of the small things breathing and playing and singing outdoors and inside. His record player couldn’t capture that nuance and replay it in the crystal clear layers he heard now.
When the needle broke, Clyde heard his world for the very first time.