Every afternoon he pulled on a pair of snakeskin boots. He swung his guitar over his shoulder, and left his small apartment for the streetlamp below. He set out a cup and began to strum. At the beginning he would get glances from passersby and some would stop and smile and nod along to the music. His fingers grew callused and the soles of his boots wore down with the way that he tapped his feet in time to the beat. A hundred thousand strangers walked by. He winked at the children and pretty women. He thanked the people who stopped and paid him. He turned his face to the sun when it was out and turned up his coat collar and hunched over his guitar when the weather was bad. Mostly he enjoyed the feeling of the sound traveling up his fingers as he plucked and strummed.
Two decades on, with the same two decade old songs, hardly anyone noticed him. He was just part of the sidewalk and the street. He was forgotten ambience but it didn't bother him.
And then one day there was a powerful earthquake. Buildings crumbled, people screamed and ran on wobbly legs, and groundwater leached up to the surface. When it was over the wounded walked despondently down the middle of the street. They wailed and dug through the rubble. Their faces were hollowed out of emotion, drained of their strength.
He came back as always, with his snakeskin boots, and stood next to the streetlamp, now on it's side and dead, and he sang his songs. The other people on the street stopped and listened. He voice was happy and clear, carrying well, no longer filtered by human chatter or the noise of cars or the sounds of clicking glasses and forks that came from the nearby restaurants. Trouble faded away, pushed out by notes and words, the busker's smile, and his old snakeskin boots tapping in the dust.