Disclaimer: I do not own the movie Once or the musical Once or any of the songs written by The Script, clearly. This is purely for entertainment purposes, based on an idea that my friend and I riffed out while cutting through the crowd in Times Square after seeing Once the musical.
Read Part One here
“So are how things then?” The guy asked into the phone.
“Oh, they’re grand,” Da replied. “Shop’s doing well.”
“Well, grand,” the guy said. They fell silent for a few beats. “I’ve been playing gigs here and there. Open mics and such.”
“Ah. And how is herself then?”
“She’s well. Working long hours, you know. Holiday season. Comes home cross.”
“Getting on, you two?”
“We are,” the guy said. “Wrote some new songs. Sent copies of the demo out to record labels. We’ll see what comes of it.”
“Aye. Oh! I saw your girl the other day.”
“And how is she doing?”
“Strong as ever. Showed me her new piano. Lovely. The baby’s getting big, too.”
“I’m sure. She can’t be selling flowers on Grafton Street in this season.”
“Ah, no. Billy gave her a job in his shop.”
“Oh! Well, that’s grand!”
He and Da hung up not long after. The guy returned to his guitar and his girlfriend’s computer. He opened up a webpage and smiled a little.
Falling Slowly—256 listens
When Your Mind’s Made Up—200 listens
Say It To Me Now—175 listens
Least someone was listening. When the weather was still nice, he set up with his guitar case on street corners and in parks. Made a decent amount, more than he had in Grafton Street. The tourists threw money in his case because they thought they had to. Women gave him their change from Starbucks because they heard his accent. Americans thought the accent was “cute,” so he used it to his advantage whenever he could.
He shut the computer down and shuffled through some papers, scraps of chords and notes and lyrics scrawled across each of them. There was one that had some promise when he worked on it yesterday…
Once, once/ Knew how to talk to you/ Once, once/ But not anymore
He heard the door unlock then swing open.
“Hi, love,” he said.
The door closed. He looked up from the paper and saw his girlfriend pull off her puffy winter coat and throw it on the chair. She toed her shoes off, grimacing.
She shook her head. “You don’t even know. I had this bitch of a customer. Jesus! It’s not my bloody fault that she forgot her store credit card, is it? She just went off. Fuckin’ eejit.”
“Did you eat? There’s Chinese takeaway left over.”
She shrugged, sinking onto the couch. “I’m more tired than hungry. I thought you were working tonight.”
“Oh.” She let out a yawn.
“Talked to Da. He says everything is grand.”
“I haven’t talked to my Mam in a bit,” she said. “I miss Ireland. It’s all hard graft here.”
“It’s hard in Dublin, too.”
“I know. But it’s home. Came here to get some adventure, to be independent.”
“Away from me.”
“Away from what I’d done,” she corrected him. “I ought to get to bed. My shift starts at nine forty-five tomorrow morning.”
* * *
“It has a beautiful sound when played,” the girl said to a choosy customer. “It’s not a Fender, I know, but it’s better than that! Less expensive! Same sound! Good for you, no?”
The customer eventually agreed with her and bought the guitar. Billy, standing in the corner, shook his head at her, smiling.
“You’re a beast, my dear.”
The bell above the door chimed again. She turned to greet the customer and her vague smile turned into a real one because it was Eamon from the studio.
“Hi Billy!” Eamon said. “Oh! Hello!”
“Hello! How are you?”
“I’m well. I’ve got a session musician who needs guitar strings. Have you got any?”
Billy went to the wall and pulled off packages of guitar strings. Eamon took three packets. “Grand. Thanks. Hey,” he said to the girl. “I might need a piano player for a session. Would you like to do something like that?”
She hesitated. She was quite good on the piano now, even better now that she had the piano at home. The recording session had been fun, but it was fun because she had engineered it. It was fun because she had picked up this busker, ready to throw his guitar and his life away, and they had made beautiful music together.
“It pays pretty well per hour per session,” Eamon was saying. “Can you read music?”
“Good! Would you like to try it? Just every so often.”
She had chided the guy, months ago now, for giving up on his music so easily. She practiced every day, in the shop and at home, but who heard her, besides her mother and child and flatmates?