Tally Gunther had been on the road since he was fifteen. He left home one night when he had yet another beating from his alcoholic father who had already put Tally’s mother in a grave. Tally figured he had only two choices left, either fight his father to the death or leave. He took his guitar and left.
The guitar became such a part of Tally it was as if it had sprouted in his heart and attached itself to him. It was the only thing he ever loved. He spent days on street corners of small towns playing that old guitar, sometimes singing along. He always got enough tips in his bucket to get himself a decent meal. He spent his nights alone, where ever he could find dry shelter. He preferred the small towns where people were friendly and there was no other competition for street entertainment. He was quite unique in appearance, being 6’2″ at the age of nineteen, long sandy blonde hair that lightened in the summers till it looked like spun gold. He had one thin braid on the right, which had beads woven in. When his blue jeans became ragged at the hem he made braids of beads and sage brush then sewed them on the hems. His hands were slender with long fingers that brought forth beautiful music from his guitar.
Tally found an old wagon that was large enough to hold his guitar in its case and the few possessions he had. He had a set of tools for car repairs and often earned good money on minor repairs. A large tarp kept his sleeping bag, pillow and toiletry items dry on rainy days and out of the sun when it was hot. The tarp doubled as a tent at night. In some towns he found a job for a few weeks and saved any money he earned to get a truck some day, just a small pickup with a camper shell.
By the time he was nineteen he had become like a folk hero in the small towns across the nation. People at first wondered who the heck he was, where he had come from, and when he left they hoped he would one day come back, they never forgot him. He left behind a lot of broken hearts belonging to girls and young women who fell in love with him. He was often lonely, but had no desire to settle down and no woman had captured his heart.
He had traveled on foot from coast to coast twice and decided he loved the desert areas best, so eventually settled, more or less, in the southwest. There was something about the desert that lifted his spirit. It was beautiful, serene and mysterious. It inspired his music and songs. He felt connected to the stark beauty and the wide open sky. He felt the sands spoke in ancient voices when the winds moved it, the rustling sounds at night lulled him to sleep as he lay gazing at the moon and stars. He never strayed too far from a small town, for he had no desire to cart around enough supplies to cook his own food outdoors. Once in awhile he would buy some bacon and eggs after making good tips and cook it all up for breakfast. He had one fry pan, one spoon and one cup. Other than that, he traveled light. – if it did not fit in his wagon he did not need it.
Whatever goodness, kindness and love Tally had came from his love of music and nature. He lived the best he knew how and accepted his life the way it was. When camping in the desert he found peace. Tally was content with his life. He did not worry about the tomorrows. He knew life would bring changes and he was okay with that. He felt he could deal with whatever came his way. He was writing his song as he lived. Tally’s song would one day become a legacy.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns
See ‘Jessie Snow – Tally’s Song’ for continuation of this story.
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