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Friday, July 04, 2008

Back to Writing: The state of everything is beyond hopeless to me.

I am writing a fictional invention called The Fallen Bassoonist. Here are a few excerpts.

The Fallen Bassoonist


At 7:30 every weekday morning, he opens the French doors to his small patio overlooking the square and maneuvers his wheelchair to the railing to watch the women. On weekends, his sister picks him up to take him to her house a short distance from Nice. He entertains the children and enjoys his brother-in-law’s dinners, accompanied by the refined regional wines from the cellar. These days, he is teaching 12 year old Pierre how to maneuver his mouth about the delicate though seemingly tough reed of the bassoon without breaking the reed with his teeth. Pierre’s fingers have grown long enough to reach the keys. Little Manon wants to learn, but her lungs are fragile. She is taking piano lessons instead.

He is grateful to his sister for preserving the aesthetic passions of their parents. Fortunately, it seems that she hasn’t inherited the abstract frigidity of their father, who. died several years ago. Since then, their mother’s mind has degenerated into a spool less thread. The man and his sister speak little of her, visit her infrequently at the government-run nursing home. He wishes that he had been able to hire professional caretakers for their mother at home. Perhaps her mind would not have declined as rapidly, detached from the residence of her heart. Instead, his sister had insisted on selling the old house to pay their father’s debts – it couldn’t be helped. At the time, he was touring the world with his quartet.

The uncle and his nephew start with simple exercises. Soon he will bring the boy scores by Mozart, then Schubert. Then perhaps Bartok, when the boy is older and ready to take his first steps into the world of abstract emotions and thoughts, the one the man inherited reluctantly from his father. The boy is still superstitious, with a crucifix above his bed. He is rebelling from his godless heritage.

There is never enough suitable music solely for the bassoon. The violins are the bullies of the classical world, alongside the piano, of course, he thinks. Such a simplistic, melodramatic instrument, the piano. Bang bang Rachmaninoff. Make the girls cry, piano and violin. The piano is not as subtly nuanced or sensuous as the bass, the cello, the bassoon. Not deep and complex, rich . . . primal. How many children opt for bassoons over pianos? Not to mention the guitar, that over-rated pop instrument, easy to learn, vapid as easy listening music, well, unless a master like Segovia is playing..

At 7:30 every weekday morning, the bassoonist looks through his opera glasses into a window on the other side of the street. On this summer morning, in lucid, not overwhelming light, he can see the woman clearly. She opens her shutters, stretches, yawns, combs her long hair with her fingers. As always, she is naked. Perhaps she knows or wishes that someone is watching.

The woman’s arms are substantial, thicker than a bassoon. Her face is broad, Slavic shaped. He shifts his focus to her breasts. Also generous and round, though drooping somewhat. On the verge of middle age, no longer springy but full with surprisingly modest light aureoles. Now she turns. As she walks away from the window, he focuses his opera glasses on the bass-like curve of her thick wide buttocks; adjusts the glasses to close in on the sight. Delicious and profound, and so alluringly imperfect. He loves to look at her and imagine that she is looking at him.

The bassoonist always wants to linger on this woman’s breasts and buttocks with his long fingers, lick and suck on her with his tongue drenched in the finest Bourdeaux mixed with the juices from her cunt. Ha! He chooses the English word for its tone, the deepest, most primal note he can achieve. CUNT. He wants to swallow it, wants to hear the woman’s body applaud, whoever, whatever she is. It hardly matters. She could be nothing, no one. He wants. He wants. That suffices for now. He is not yet strong enough to wheel himself down the street, someday to walk perhaps, loathes the social workers and physiotherapists, preposterously poor actors like his parents’ church friends. Talking to him as though he were a child: everything will be fine.

He will mobilize himself when he is sufficiently motivated, gaining his strength from necessity, the necessity to culminate desire. He is gearing up to garner the urge to ambulate with his hideous faux legs, now that he is resigned to devote himself to a search for something other than glory -- something more basic, essential, less abstract . . . less ephemeral. Maybe something he had understood once, as a child. He lifts his robe to look down on the legs that aren’t his, plastic below the knee. Merde, they are ugly. Dégoutant. That is what is. Rien à faire. I must not fall prey to thinking that I am my legs. But I will never be the subject of documentaries on the famous bassoonist who overcame adversity. After the fall. Merde, that mountain!

The memory of reactions after his fall prompts the bassoonist to spike his espresso with Drambuie. When high on his brilliance, he had rarely imbibed alcohol before dinnertime, and only wine -- infrequently liquor or liqueur. .

We will pray for you, his acquaintances and fans had written. They had sent him flowers and cliché-drenched cards: Our prayers are with you, cher Bernard. Don’t hesitate …. You will be back on stage soon. You have your wonderful hands. You are a genius! .....

He peers through his opera glasses, sees nothing but a vacant, dull room through the window all beiges and browns. The woman has vanished; presumably, he missed her exit. But what would he say when he rang the cow’s bell? Then, which bell? Surely, there are several apartments on the 5th floor of her building. If they were to meet, however, she would see him as a cripple, not an object of desire, despite his eloquent, aesthetic face and slender, strong body – above the prosthetic limbs. He would have to woo her, whoever she is.

The bassoonist shifts direction, prompted by movement below. There is the Moroccan woman from his building, floor below. She is walking with her son, taking him to school. The bassoonist and the Moroccan woman exchanged formal greetings in the lift on occasion, and she’d introduced him to her son, who spoke politely with no trace of a foreign accent. She’d never looked at the bassoonist directly, though she didn’t wear purdah and was dressed in Western clothes. He has never seen her with a man. She seems shy, but her shyness may be cultural.

He wonders what the woman smells like up close, without clothes. It is hard to tell how old she is, as her face is full of shadows from within, lined despite the freshness of her flesh. She is wide below the waist, narrow above, with merely adequate breasts. He prefers them more generous. But the form of the thighs beneath her skirt is enticing and the curve of her buttocks, promising. She flows when she walks. Taking the Arab woman, considering her culture and his disability, would be a challenge he’d relish. Does she taste like lemons and cumin? Salty like olives? Are her aureoles the color of eggplants?

The liqueur is giving him a soporific buzz. He will have toast and another espresso, again adding Drambuie. Eventually, he will listen to Schubert and Brahms, possibly Count Basie or Georges Brassens. If inclined, he will work on his libretto.

He returns to the patio with his espresso and two sweet-buttered toasts lavished with preserves from sweet black plums in his sister’s garden. It is not so bad to be homebound, simply to enjoy the warmth of the sun on his face and watch the women. He has just noticed a new one, lightly plump with youth and happy featured, sitting on a bench with a Jack Russell. She is reading a book. The dog nuzzles her, wanting attention, licks her face. She laughs and pushes him back. The dog sits and watches pigeons. She strokes him idly as she reads.

The bassoonist becomes the dog. He closes his eyes, tilts his head back, and emits a purr-like growl. He pushes his cold nose under the woman’s pink cotton dress, sees that her panties are pink and her pubic curls black. She smells like sweet black plums. He pushes his wet nose beneath her panties, into her wet CUNT. She sighs and shoos him off of her. Then a man arrives to remove her from the bench. They kiss, walk away holding hands, neglecting the dog sagging behind like a forgotten breast.

He returns to himself to himself, listens to Schubert as he sits on the patio. He sees no women that interest him. He daydreams about a plump young woman he met in Italy.

The bassoonist is writing a libretto for an opera about a mezzo-soprano who has fallen into Purgatory from a mountain in the Andes. He has only dreamed of the Andes. The mountain from which he fell is relatively unknown.

He wants to start a draft of the second act today. The opera was solicited with no guarantees by a friend with connections to the most prominent and therefore wealthiest member of the Sydney Opera House Board of Directors. The bassoonist will compose the music once he has finished the libretto. Ass backwards, perhaps, but that’s his preferred method. Unfortunately, the libretto must be in English. He is better at German and Italian. Never mind, the editors will mutilate his finished product, he is certain. Fuck the editors. Long live the editors.

The bassoonist is now under the influence of a confluence of alcoholic delights, having imbibed several espresso’s with Drambuie and a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé with the Croque Madame he ordered from the brasserie next door. He is feeling philosophically giddy as he writes:

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