keithrichardsKeith Richards is Dead

by Jordan Fennell

She liked to fuck to Abbey Road, but only on vinyl. By the time “Octopus’ Garden” hit she’d be bowed and squealing like a stigmatic. She liked to hear the hiss and pop, run her fingers down the grooves. 

Other than that she never listened to them. She dug the Stones more, and we agreed on that, mostly because Keith Richards is a hero of mine. She said she liked how primal they were, how they weren’t pretentious, how they reminded her of me, especially Keith.

She bought a poster of him in an old record shop, one of those places where all the clerks are younger than the music but they know it all and laugh at you if you don’t.

They laughed at me.                      

We got the record in that shop. She’d just found an old turntable in her grandma’s attic, and she wanted to start a record collection. She said it was her favorite Beatles album, much better than Sgt. Pepper’s. I thought so, too.

I bought it for her.

The slit in the plastic along the side was ragged as a shark bite. 

There’s nothing like it. You slide a big flat disc onto a steel peg, drop a needle into a groove and music comes out. The tactile sensation is what makes it. You just can’t get it with anything else.

When she’d pull the arm over, it dipped down like an oar into black water. I’d run my fingers up her thigh and we’d go by the rhythm of the music. 

Her needle stayed fucked up. I offered to buy her some more, but she was going to the record store one or two times a week, so she said she’d get them herself. The clerks at the store were always recommending new records, and she had a stack of them before long. But Road was always on top of the stack. It was in good shape when she got it, but we handled it so much it started getting scratches. She said they added character.

She listened to the Stones less, said they played like animals instead of musicians, said they didn’t have any sophistication.

I never asked where her poster went. 

Sgt. Pepper’s was always on. When we’d fuck she’d take it off and set it to the side, but it was around. She said she’d been listening to it a lot lately, that she’d found a new appreciation for it. “It’s pop,” she’d say, “but it manages to do so much more.”

When she gave back Abbey Road I tucked it under my arm. I didn’t have anything to play it on, but I kept it, feeling where her fingers had felt, seeing the scratches, running my fingers down the grooves as if the music would run into me through my fingertips.

It doesn’t work like that. 

I took it back to the shop. The guy at the counter wore thick-framed glasses, had rat’s eyes and a patchy beard like my grandma would grow—not really a man’s beard at all.

He grinned at me.

He had another pair of teeth pushing through his gums just above his eye-teeth, sharp as fangs, like he had another row of teeth starting. He said he approved of my record.

Like I gave a shit.

He slid two fingers into the slit of the record sleeve, drug them along real slow.

Then he told me Sgt. Pepper’s was far superior. “It’s possibly the greatest album ever made,” he said. “It’s pop, but it manages to do so much more.”


Jordan Fennell will rebuild your late ’60s V8, melt your face with a Gibson Les Paul, and call your mom the day after his first date with her. He is not clever, has never been cool, and cannot reach things on the top shelf without the assistance of a friendly Walmart associate.
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