THE END OF THE HOUR

The CLOUD CHAMBER

woman at piano, drawing

Previously: Adolph Meistermann

THE END OF THE HOUR

        Old Miss Brundage lived alone in the neighborhood and sustained herself by giving piano lessons to children.  She had been a concert pianist in her youth, touring to grand receptions, mingling with artists, being conveyed through upper society.  She never married and never wanted the music to stop.  She became a piano teacher when finally she could no longer strive for that evanescent promise which in youth her dreams had made to her.  The music did not stop but it did diminish, sotto voce.  Teaching young children now did provide money, but she was unfulfilled even in teaching because no child yet had lasted for long, certainly not to become her protégé, her legacy.  Miss Brundage spoke with Brahm Meistermann and was so very pleased to learn that a bright, promising young man wanted to be her pupil.  Brahm Meistermann…

View original post 1,246 more words

Advertisements

ADOLPH MEISTERMANN

The CLOUD CHAMBER

old man mask - red

ADOLPH MEISTERMANN

Chapter A

        Adolph Meistermann had not always been a monster.

        Adolph’s father, Brahm, had escaped from Germany in 1944 and had arrived in the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego, New York, the first and only refugee center established in the United States during World War II.  Brahm was eighteen.  He had come to the camp with his half-sister, Sarah.  They could not go home again.  They had nothing.  Brahm and Sarah clung to each other.  When they were finally released two years later into the strange land of Oswego, New York, Brahm married Sarah.

        The next year Brahm named his first born son Adolph “noble wolf” because he had admired the fearless eyes of the black wolves that he had hunted as a boy in the forest surrounding his village.  Brahm’s wife Sara feared that the name could not erase the stigma of…

View original post 2,072 more words

THE END OF THE HOUR

woman at piano, drawing

Previously: Adolph Meistermann

THE END OF THE HOUR

        Old Miss Brundage lived alone in the neighborhood and sustained herself by giving piano lessons to children.  She had been a concert pianist in her youth, touring to grand receptions, mingling with artists, being conveyed through upper society.  She never married and never wanted the music to stop.  She became a piano teacher when finally she could no longer strive for that evanescent promise which in youth her dreams had made to her.  The music did not stop but it did diminish, sotto voce.  Teaching young children now did provide money, but she was unfulfilled even in teaching because no child yet had lasted for long, certainly not to become her protégé, her legacy.  Miss Brundage spoke with Brahm Meistermann and was so very pleased to learn that a bright, promising young man wanted to be her pupil.  Brahm Meistermann had nodded at the word “protégé”, thinking that it meant “student”.  Miss Brundage was so pleased with the opportunity that she offered to lend to the Meistermann household her other piano for young Adolph to practice upon.

         Brahm felt that he had gotten a good price for his son’s lessons even if it weren’t to last.

         Adolph was early for his first hour-long piano lesson.  He climbed the narrow and dim stairway, the walls of which were gowned in decades-old wallpaper, gilded with floral scroll patterns, and now faded and fusty.  He halted in the hallway outside the door to Miss Brundage’s apartment.  Adolph could hear hesitant and uneven piano playing.

        Finally Adolph heard the voice of Miss Brundage say, “Well, not bad for a first sight reading, my dear, but always, always try to play as slowly as it takes to express the most difficult portions correctly.  Tempo, my dear, tempo is so very important.  Consistent tempo.  Better slowly and even in tempo than fast, slow, fast, slow like, like an inch worm.”

        He heard the laughter of a young girl.  He heard Miss Brundage say, “Next week, my dear, I will see – and hear – you then.  Make this new piece your own, make it your own.”

        The door opened and out into the hallway stepped Shifra who was startled to find Adolph standing there, “Oh!”

        Adolph was surprised to encounter Shifra, “Shifra?” and in the small hallway they found themselves embarrassingly intimate.  Shifra’s young girl sweat and perfume filled the narrow volume between them, dispelling the fusty odor of the dim enclosure.

        Adolph stammered, “I did not know, didn’t know you took piano, too.  Flute and piano?  Wow.”

        Shifra shrugged, “Grandma Sasha says that a lady of social standing should know how to play piano, the way she did back in Russia.  What are you doing here?”

        Adolph said quickly, “I’m taking piano lessons, too.”

        Shifra said, “Oh.  I thought you were here to collect old fabrics from Miss Brundage for your parents’ shop.”

        Adolph deflated defensively, “Well, I’m not.”

        Shifra laughed, saying, “I’m only teasing.”

        Adolph then rejoined, “I was thinking about taking down some of this wallpaper, however.”

        Shifra leaned forward, grinned, and touched his arm and she whispered, “Isn’t it awful?” and Adolph drank the scent of her breath.

        Shifra bid Adolph good-bye and Adolph watched her descend the narrow and dim stairway and as she turned at the next floor Shifra cast her incandescent smile up at Adolph.  The expression “to carry a torch” occurred to Adolph and he thought that now he knew what it meant.

        Adolph then turned and knocked upon Miss Brundage’s door with renewed conviction.  Miss Brundage opened the door and welcomed him inside.

        Adolph said shyly, “Miss Brundage, I’m Adolph.”

        Miss Brundage said, “Right on time.  Nothing is more important than time.  The right time, all the time.  Please, have a seat over there on the piano bench and we will begin immediately.”

        Miss Brundage wore a full flowered dress with lace trim.  Her apartment had intensely the same fusty aroma as the hallway.  There was clutter everywhere, sheet music, books, tea cups, and upon the mantle convened stern busts of what Adolph thought must be famous musicians.

        Miss Brundage confirmed Adolph’s unspoken observation, saying, “That’s Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann.  They were composers from a time called Romantic, a hundred years ago, a time when intuition and emotion were prized over rationalism.”

        Adolph could only say, “I like the sound of that,” and Miss Brundage was pleased.

        Miss Brundage gestured to the long piano bench and said, “Please, Master Meistermann, do have a seat and we can begin.”

        Adolph sat down and then slid over as he realized that Miss Brundage was going to sit beside him at the piano.

        Miss Brundage commenced by saying, “We must first limber up the hand and fingers.  Let me see your hand,” and Adolph obediently raised his right hand like a paw.  Miss Brundage gently took his hand and turned it over palm upward.  Her hands were cold to Adolph.

        Miss Brundage observed, tipping his hand side to side, “You have nice large hands, Adolph.  Warm hands.  You will have a magnificent reach.”

        Adolph looked shyly at Miss Brundage’s hands, her fingers lightly and delicately balancing his hand.  They were beautiful hands in their own right but Adolph’s attention was drawn from their suppleness to their translucent champagne hue and then to the umbrage of spots and then to their fine parchment wrinkles.  Miss Brundage was a young girl encased in amber.

        Miss Brundage then dictated, “We start by limbering the individual fingers.  Here is one method which I like,” and she held his index finger extended and laid it flat upon the keyboard and held his four fingers suspended below and pulled downward in a gentle bouncing manner, stretching the ligaments and tissue between Adolph’s index and second finger.

        Adolph said, “That feels good.”

        Miss Brundage said, “Do you know that each finger has a name?” and she stretched each finger in turn as she recited their names, like a nursery rhyme, “From the thumb they are called, Pollux, Index, Medius, Anularus, and Minimus.”

        Adolph could only say, “That feels good.”

        Then Miss Brundage took his right hand and held it in both hands and brought it up to her lips, saying, and he felt her moist breath upon his knuckles, “This is a good hand,” and then she laid her cheek against the back of his hand.  To Adolph her skin was soft and oily smooth and he was suddenly embarrassed.  Miss Brundage had closed her eyes for several breaths.

        Suddenly, Miss Brundage regained her sterner composure and released Adolph’s hand to his lap, saying, “Do you know what a ‘key’ is, Adolph?  The key of a piece of music is the first and last note of a scale which gives a feeling of arrival and rest.  Other notes create relative degrees of tension, resolved when the tonic returns.  Are you following me?  Each note is the beginnings of a different key but subsequent notes all bear the same relationship in every key.  There were composers who thought that each key produced its own feeling or ‘color’.  The series of notes that make up each key is called the ‘scale’ because it climbs up and down.  That is where we begin.”

        Miss Brundage demonstrated the scales of each black and white key.  Adolph was mesmerized by the sound and the sight of her scurrying fingers lightly dancing, pirouetting up and down the keyboard.  Miss Brundage swayed and appeared to caress the piano back and forth, back and forth.  When she played a descending scale she would sway against Adolph and press against his right side, and then she would sway away playing an ascending scale, over and over again.

        At the end of the hour, Adolph could feel the tension but not the release.

.

.

.

Excerpt from Adolph Meistermann…

This is a section of my entry for Carl Reiner’s Writers’ Contest; to read Carl Reiner’s Chapter 1 go to:   [http://carl-reiner.com/contest/?utm_campaign=]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Follow This Link To My AMAZON.com SITE

But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS

ADOLPH MEISTERMANN

old man mask - red

ADOLPH MEISTERMANN

Chapter A

        Adolph Meistermann had not always been a monster.

        Adolph’s father, Brahm, had escaped from Germany in 1944 and had arrived in the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego, New York, the first and only refugee center established in the United States during World War II.  Brahm was eighteen.  He had come to the camp with his half-sister, Sarah.  They could not go home again.  They had nothing.  Brahm and Sarah clung to each other.  When they were finally released two years later into the strange land of Oswego, New York, Brahm married Sarah.

        The next year Brahm named his first born son Adolph “noble wolf” because he had admired the fearless eyes of the black wolves that he had hunted as a boy in the forest surrounding his village.  Brahm’s wife Sara feared that the name could not erase the stigma of Adolph Hitler.  Sarah was thereafter determined to lavish her love and attention upon Adolph.

        Adolph was followed by his brother, Reuben, and his sister, Judith.

        Brahm Meistermann collected old clothing and rags from the neighborhoods.  Sarah would clean the clothing and rags and cut, sew, and stitch clever, colorful “new” quilts, totes, mittens, aprons, pillows, cushions, scarves, rugs, dresses, placemats, napkins, seasonal décor, and her favorite, fabric roses.  Adolph then sold these artful items back to the neighborhoods from a cart.  Brahm and Sarah soon enough had money to rent a shop and to hire helpers who followed Sarah’s designs.  Brahm named the shop Sarah Sews.

        As we all know, that was the beginnings of the famous department store chain Sarah’s Shop.  It was a blessing to Brahm and Sarah’s family, but something happened to Adolph one day at that first shop.

        A woman in the neighborhood told the police that one of the Meistermann boys had stolen a fine old coat and had not scavenged it.  It had been Reuben’s doing, in an effort to draw praise from his mother who was so protective of Adolph.  When Reuben and Sarah heard the policeman talking to their mother in the store, Reuben got Sarah, who also was famished for her mother’s praise, to hide the fine old coat in Adolph’s drop-off pile in the back of the store.  When Adolph arrived at the store he was taken to jail by the policeman, Officer Cohen, who really only wanted to scare him.  Adolph realized what must have happened but he said nothing out of a guilt for “stealing” what he knew was his excessive share of Sarah’s love.

        Brahm thanked Police Officer Cohen and quickly got his son released from the jail and he tried to ease his own disappointment by joking, “Adolph, don’t cry, it was truly a fine old coat!  Someday you will make a good buyer for the store,” but Adolph was crying at his betrayal by his own brother and sister.

Chapter B

        Adolph was mocked at school because of his first name, so synonymous with evil and madness, and because of his surname, so German and Jewish.  Adolph had no real friends at school but in the neighborhood he became allied with a troubled boy named Joshua Foust who actually was a thief.

        Adolph lamented to Joshua, “My family wants to believe that I am a thief.”

        Joshua commiserated, “Well, ‘Dolph, you don’t want to disappoint your family do you?”

        Adolph replied angrily, “Fuck, no,” and he plunged his finger into a nascent tear, saying again, “Fuck, no.

        Joshua gestured magnanimously toward the skyline of the City of Oswego and he said, “Well, then, ‘Dolph, this will all be yours.  Let me take you to the Promised Land.”

        Adolph thus started his proselyte crime spree under the tutelage of his “rabbi” (teacher), young Joshua.  For Adolph’s first test he was sent to a department store where he furtively peeled the price labels off of several record albums and affixed price labels from cheap goods.  The drowsy, distracted checker that was employed at the department store was too old to be alerted at the “bargain prices” of the record albums.

        “Rabbi” Joshua possessed a virtual oral scroll of illegal activities which clever “student” Adolph perceived was compiled by clipping the “not” from “thou shalt not”.

        Meat was expensive, especially meat that was kashér, (kosher, “fit”, conforming to the regulations of kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws of selection and ritual slaughter).  Joshua was inspired to steal meat.  He had selected the Ashkenazi Meat Market.  Adolph listened.

        Joshua rationalized, “Who is going to miss a piece of meat?”

        Adolph punched Joshua’s arm and joked, “You’re a piece of meat.”

        Joshua continued, “It will be easy.  Are you with me?”

        Adolph asked hesitantly, “Won’t someone see us behind the counter?”

        Joshua scoffed, “We’ll do it after the market closes.”

        Adolph clarified for himself, asking, “We are going to break and enter?”

        Joshua shooed away Adolph’s concern with his hand, replying, “I’ve tried the back door.  It will be a cinch.”

        The lock on the back door was all but an honor system, placed in the faith of the neighborhood’s village mentality.  Inside the dark shop Joshua used a flashlight to examine the cold cabinets.  Adolph nervously turned his head like a chicken as he held the sack into which Joshua was dropping cuts of meat.

        Suddenly a light came on in an adjacent office and a voice boomed in bravado, “Who is there?”

        Adolph dropped down to the floor and crawled behind a counter.  Joshua grabbed a mallet and squeezed into a corner.  The massive silhouette of the butcher filled one side of the room.  In the hand of the butcher the large knife shimmered even in the dimness.

        The butcher inched into the room, growling nervously, “I can smell your cigarette breath, you motherfucker,” and as he came beside Joshua he looked down and discerned the sack of spilled meats and as he started to turn his head Joshua struck him with the butcher’s mallet.  It was a sickening crunch and the butcher shuddered and tottered but he did not fall.  He was able to grab Joshua’s coat and Joshua struck him again in violent fear.  The butcher went to his knees like a bull stabbed by a matador but he pulled Joshua off balance and they toppled together crashing.

        Adolph cringed in terror at the primeval animal growling and the thrashing and the vile cursing.  Adolph jumped up at last.  He then instantly witnessed the butcher drawing the enormous knife in a single cut across the throat of Joshua, severing both carotid arteries, both jugular veins, both vagus nerves, the trachea and the esophagus.

        Adolph shrieked, “No!!”

        Joshua collapsed forward and bled out profusely over the now unconscious butcher and onto the floor.

        Adolph fled past the grisly mass, whining in horror.  He still retained a presence of mind to use his shirt sleeve to close back door of the Ashkenazi Meat Market.

        The next morning it was Police Officer Cohen who carried out the limp husk of Joshua to his weeping wailing parents.  Police Officer Cohen also carried out something on his conscience.

        When Police Officer Cohen had seen that the Ashkenazi Meat Market had not opened early as it always did he entered through that same back door and came upon the crime scene.  In the ghastly gore of the gruesome killing Police Officer Cohen had still noticed a single partial footprint in blood and the subsequent bloody smudges leading to the back door.  Police Officer Cohen also had noted days earlier with some misgivings the alliance of Adolph and Joshua.  Police Officer Cohen was given to a vision of what had happened.  So then Police Officer Cohen stepped on top of the partial blood footprint and then he stepped on top of each fugitive smudge that lead out the back door as if he himself had stepped into the blood unknowingly.  He thereby sacrificed himself under a scathing warning by his superiors about competence and care at a crime scene.

        Police Officer Cohen trusted that Adolph had been punished justly enough already.

Chapter C

        Adolph worked now with a chastened dedication to help his father and mother at their shop.  Adolph as the eldest was heir apparent to the business but he now seemed to bear his destiny, in all manner and attitude, with an urgency somewhat mysterious to his parents.  Brahm and Sarah wondered delicately what had inspired their son to such earnest behavior.

        Brahm whispered, “He is a noble boy, growing up fast.”

        Sarah whispered, “I never believed that he was a thief.”

        Brahm confessed, “All boys steal.”

        Police Officer Cohen would pass by the shop window and glance inside, sometimes catching Adolph’s eye and perceiving that prayer for mercy as if he were Adolph’s conscience.

        However, it was Adolph who would be the next victim of thievery in the form of a girl who would steal his eye, his ear, his heart and then his hopes.

        Shifra Cohen was Police Officer Cohen’s daughter.  She was an only child, doted upon by her father.  Shifra’s mother, Ruth, had died of cancer.  Police Officer Bruce Cohen relied upon his own aged mother, Sasha, to keep an eye on Shifra when she was not at school, during his changing shifts of duty.

        Adolph was introduced to Shifra at the Music in the Park event, hosted by the Oswego Community and Human Services Department, the Kiwanis Club, and the Oswego Police.

        Adolph was with his family when Police Officer Bruce Cohen, in uniform, passed by with his daughter, Shifra.

        Brahm called to Officer Cohen, “Bruce, Bruce.  Hello, hello.”

        Officer Cohen nodded to the Meistermann family and halted to shake Brahm’s hand.

        Brahm said, “Thank you, Bruce.  All of us look forward to this evening every year.  And who is this?  Your daughter?  Of course, your daughter.  Hello.”

        Officer Cohen proudly announced, “This lovely young lady,” and Shifra muttered in embarrassment, “Dad-dy,” and Officer Cohen continued amid chuckles from Brahm and Sarah, “This very lovely young lady is Shifra.  She will be playing flute tonight in the band.”

        Shifra corrected him, saying, “Orchestra, Daddy.”

        Officer Cohen rolled his eyes and deferred, “Orchestra.  Excuse me.  The Oswego Middle School Orchestra.”

        Shifra then said brightly, “Hello.”

        Brahm and Sarah said a gracious hello.  Adolph said, “Hel-lo,” a little too loudly and so his brother Rueben and his sister Judith said behind him, “Hoo-Hah,” to tease him.

        Officer Cohen narrowed his eyes and grinned wryly, saying to Brahm, “We really should be going.  Nice to see you all here.”

        Poor Adolph.  That one bright “Hello” had become his very own Music in the Park.  He knew that what he felt now just had to be destiny.  Why else would God make him feel that way?

        After the concert Adolph broke away from his family and forced his way through the crowd around the orchestra members.  He did not see Officer Cohen.  Adolph elbowed his way to the forefront of the people congratulating the wind section.

        Adolph said loudly, “That was really great,” even though he could not have told Shifra what music the orchestra had played.  However, Adolph had been watching Shifra play, intently admiring her seriousness and charmed by her pureness of sound as he strained to isolate her aurally.

        Shifra answered modestly, “Oh, no, I made a couple mistakes.”

        Adolph fervently disagreed, saying, “No, no.  It sounded perfect to me.  You’re perfect,” slurring subtly the “you were perfect” of his ears into the “you are perfect” of his heart.

        Suddenly another boy was asking him loudly and belligerently, “Oh, yeah?  What was the name of the music they were playing?”

        Adolph froze and looked at the boy and pretended to be amused.

        Shifra said to the boy, “Oh, Herman.  Herman, I’m glad that you’re here.  How did you like the music?”

        Herman made a gargoyle face and mocked Adolph, “Oh, my darling, it sounded so perfect I forgot who you are.”

        Shifra frowned, embarrassed for Adolph, and said, “Herman.”

        Herman then pretended to punch his own face and said, “Oh, that’s right!  Now I remember!  You’re my girlfriend!” and he glared at Adolph.

        Adolph shrugged defensively and said, “I was just …”

        Herman interrupted, “Leaving.”

        Shifra said again, trying to rein in Herman, “Please, Herman.  He was just…”

        Herman said with finality, “I know exactly what he was just trying to do.”

        Adolph raised his hand briefly in surrender and farewell but as he turned away he saw Shifra raise her fingers quickly in return.

        The commotion of those lovely fingers made Adolph’s sizzling cowardice evaporate into steamy euphoria.

.

.

To be continued…

.

.

.

This is a section of my entry for Carl Reiner’s Writers’ Contest; to read Carl Reiner’s Chapter 1 go to:   [http://carl-reiner.com/contest/?utm_campaign=]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

 

Follow This Link To My AMAZON.com SITE

But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS