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Breaking the ice with sounds from an old friend

Evangeline had been sitting alone in the dark for far too long, remembering when her nights were filled with sweet music. Wondering if she would ever be released from her prison. Wondering whether anyone still wanted to hear her sing.

The Professor had come to Oregon to meet Red. The two had grown up in the same town and shared many mutual friends. But the pair had never actually crossed paths. Except on the Internet.

Now he was here. On the couch. In her living room. In person.

The attraction was mutual. But each was feeling more than a little shy.

Red had a sudden flash of inspiration. She knew The Professor had skills with the strings. And she, too, remembered those long-ago nights when Evangeline had set ringing notes aloft under dark skies.

With a sideways smile, Red exited her seat on the living room couch and went into the bedroom.

Struggling to pull the now-silent guitar from beneath her big, four-poster, Red finally succeeded. She plopped the dusty case onto the mattress and clicked opened the latches.

There sat Evangeline. Blinking in the golden light.

"Hello, old girl," Red said. "I'm sorry it's been so long. But there's someone here I want you to meet."

Red took Evangeline out into the living room and handed her to The Professor.

He cocked his head to the side and looked at Red.

"What am I supposed to do with this?" he said, leaning forward on the couch and wrapping his fingers carefully around Evangeline's neck.

Red had always known Evangeline was a far better instrument than her three-chord-wonder skills deserved.

She flashed back to day she found Evangeline. The intent had been to purchase a simple guitar so she and her friends could sing together around campfires. But once Red plucked Evangeline's strings at the music store, she simply had to bring her home.

For years Red and Evangeline had stumbled along together. But both knew the guitar belonged in the hands of a skilled musician. And, after there were no more campfires, Red had slowly stopped playing altogether.

The Professor held Evangeline carefully and examined her in the dim light.

"This is a nice guitar," he said.

His steel-blue eyes gave a glint, and the corner of his mouth lifted. He already knew what was coming. He was just deciding what he was going to do about it.

"I was hoping you'd play her," Red said, with a sideways tilt of her own head, and a hopeful grin.

Evangeline was holding her breath, too.

Please. Please play me, she breathed. Two of her strings offered soft notes during the exchange.

The Professor had performed professionally for years. Long ago. One night, while they were talking on the phone, he had shared little snippets of his recordings from years past.

The sounds were intriguing. Original. Creative. And emotive.

Red wanted to hear him play Evangeline. Live and unplugged.

Red smiled again at The Professor, then stepped back across the living room. Knowing he needed time to adjust to her sudden request, she slipped into the kitchen and began to prepare dinner.

The Professor began softly plucking the guitar, tuning one string to the next. Slowly the speed and volume of the notes progressed.

Rain pattered onto the rooftop, adding a soft background accompaniment to Evangeline's warm song.

The Professor relaxed into the music and forgot about everything else.

Red moved about the kitchen, humming quietly to herself. As she set a pot of water on the stove and chopped veggies, she sometimes paused as a particular string of notes rolled through her soul while Evangeline gently wept tears of joy.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or sspecht@mailtribune.com.