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On Knowing What I’m Doing by Benjamin Roesch | Word Riot
Flash Fiction

November 15, 2011      

On Knowing What I’m Doing by Benjamin Roesch

Listen to a reading of “On Knowing What I’m Doing” by Benjamin Roesch.

Someone had modified a Stratocaster to look like Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Lenny”—the guitar he named after his wife. Maple neck. Rosewood fingerboard. Mandolin inlay behind the bridge. Mahogany over sunburst finish. I had to have it.
     Though cheaper than an authentic replica, I still maxed out the Visa. But I know what I’m doing—sometimes the world just cries out for something big and uncompromising.
     I called Chrissie on the way to the bus. She was unimpressed.
     Home, I rubbed Lenny shiny with a diaper, plugged in, and strummed a big fat G. It shimmied the whole apartment. I’d never known love like that before; everything was going to be okay.

     Seems like every time I walk out the door to a gig or practice, the baby’s crying. I can tell Chrissie wishes I’d just give it up. I think what remained of her belief in my music career died with our Visa. I pretend like everything is exactly the way it should be. That I know what I’m doing. That normal people live like this. A lot of the time I’m thinking that when the band starts making money, I’m never eating chicken noodle soup again.
     Chrissie wants a bigger place, wants the baby to have her own room, which is code for she wants me to go back to giving lessons at the music store. But I can’t. Time mocks me there; on stage, time is a shallow pool of rainwater being slurped up by the sun.

     Sometimes after gigs I can’t sleep. My body hums and stomps, a bandstand in my chest. I think about the future and my mind races. To settle down, I go out to the living room and pick up Lenny. I sit there in the dark, playing lines so sweet they’d break your heart.

Benjamin Roesch

About the author:

Benjamin Roesch: I am a novelist and short story writer living in Burlington, Vermont. My story “People Done Crazier Things for Love Ain’t They?” was featured in the summer, 2011 issue of Brilliant Corners and I am a recent attendee of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference where I read for thirty seconds in the prestigious Little Theater to a very small, but enthusiastic crowd. I blog at

    4 comments to On Knowing What I’m Doing by Benjamin Roesch

    • Sharon Weltman

      Hey Benjamin!
      You rock! What a treat to be read to!

    • J. Thomas Meador

      Though I’m not a musically inclined person, I completely understood the Narrator’s love for something so “unimpressive” as a guitar. I have several hard-to-find books on my shelf that give me the same sense of completion.

      Great story. Truly.

    • John Gardner

      Short and sweet, Ben. Nice work.

    • Holly Amell

      I can relate to that feeling of excitement. I had a business of my own one time where I created big decorations. When I purchased an expensive piece of steel for the framing and was thrilled at the outcome of the project when I had finished, no one else felt as excited as I did. And that’s okay, because they still support me in whatever I do. I am now on a different adventure and that’s what life is all about! You are right about time, we only have so much of it to accomplish things. Thanks,I enjoyed reading your story!

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