joi, 23 august 2012
Story from the city's valley
Morning began to stretch the rusty steel sheets that made up the hobo like hovel. Took time before the sun baked the can of dusty air, until the suffocating waltz of the mid day heat. Yes, it was stile early.
A man rose from the pile of rags that he had been sleeping on and poured some water from an ex soda plastic bottle.
He was beautiful. Recently passed in his thirty's, and his olive skin had just so many wrinkles to give a touch of almost imperceptible distinction. He admired himself with a dash of fake modesty in the misty eyes of his older companion while he was shaving him. They didn't yet managed to buy a mirror so they wold shave each other for a short while. Just 'til they settle round a bit or maybe less.
Their wore rather outdated clean suits, smelling of state storage naphthalene and a dash of cheap tobacco and fixed on top their Hohnerr accordions whit the religiosity of masons aprons. They were good for church.
Today was a great day. That morning Mary was to return. About the other day she told him to wait outside the church and sing a romance1 in his personal style. That mixture of vocal knots, suave nasal tonalities and manliness that made him the best lautar2 in town.
It was Sunday in the East End. Saint Basil, the largest church in the neighborhood was too small for all the parishioners in need of salvation . The fiddlers took the too places that seemed vacant between the loud, running nose gypsy kids ant the elders that knew the secret of begging with the eyes. To the passer by they seemed old customers of that " holy see" untouched by the crisis that was sweeping the East End.
The representation didn't start yet. Running nosed kids were still playing and the old stoic rag-man changed some words in cadence.
The beggars , behaved as they had known them all their lifes. May be it was his old companion. They taunted him with familiarity, and he friendly defiled them before resuming his aquiline figure. With the elegant gesture of a musician that once had abundant hair, the old companion laid his felt hat down. Now they were ready.
It was silence while the nasal voice of the fat priest sang the last verses of liturgy. Then ,from the quiet after the sermon, the accordions began to tell of more wordy stories than the evangelist carved gates could allow in to church.
Without accordion, Maria could not recognize him in that river of people pouring out of church yard. Perhaps without accordion they wouldn't have met the evening past, in the tavern , on the linden fragrant street. He was playing there. Was just about ready, arranging his Hohner over the wide striped jacket and getting ready to sing for one of the towns big shots .
Then he saw her .
If he would have said that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, better yet shouted it out loud, right there. Would not be enough. So he sang. His accordion knew a lot better how to transform words in to bellows , and a patron's soul in to the blacksmith of his own heart .
The big shot was drunk, crying in a fit of nostalgia. Even the most feared paper pushers in the city, assembled with their semiofficial mistresses, sighed as innocently as children at his romances. Only beauty, her, didn't blinked, looking at him for almost an hour.
He did not wait for his applauses or the money that the alcohol soaked patrons stuck to his forehead or generously shoved in his pockets.
He took her hand like a thief strafing between realities, evaporating her from the company of the middle-aged ,drunk, big shot.
They left to listen to a dulcimer musicians in a tavern where the lautari drew in for a drink after a day's singing other peoples longings .
Maybe something was discussed at their table. Didn't matter. Her voice was beautiful.
“You see ... I mean ... I like you....even if I knows you only for about a 3 hour!” Said he after a bit of russian courage. She smiled, then she very ladyshly lit a cigarette.
They danced. The band sang something popular in the Valey, the towns slum, a clumsy translation of Lili Marleene mixed whit some other tango. He slipped his fingers down her spine one vertebra at a time like they were the keys of his Hohner and everything was just a romance that he knew so well She knew how to slip in to a mans heart through all his senses. A drop of perfume, then a drop of touch and the middle-aged fiddler was justs a boy falling in love.
The rounded taxi he hired , stumbled hard through the moon gilded slum . They spent the night together on the low porch, a reality away from the pubs of the city center. It was a night of few stars. The somers dust and the branches of an apple tree left only the shiniest to pass and illuminate the porch.
She left shortly after sunrise. Said that they will meet tomorrow in the church. That church in the slum. The one with carved gates.
He was still dreaming in the yard, under the apple tree when the blackshirts came ,with rifles and all, to pick him up.
"Not me, boss!" Police batons shouting , subduing.
He was hanging by the vans door . He must see her. Then it was the hands. What did the police care about those hands and the many longings that they sang ? When the pain he could not convince him to give in they used the rifle butts. Fingers bleeding, did not want to gather in a fist.
At the Police prefecture they continued to beat him .... in the end beating is a form of communication.
- You killed him, confess and we stop.
Blackshirts war always cruel to those who kill one of their own. The big shot was lying dead somewhere. Someone cut his throat after the young lady left him for some menestrel from the Valley. Perhaps he refused to pay some short fuzed thug who came to recover his bitch
That's what they told him during questioning. Perhaps they realized that he was not guilty and that stopped them from suiciding him with the laces in the prefectures toilet. They had some evidence and decided to hold him one night for investigations.
Its inside he met the old man. A lautar like him, cell mates. He took pity at the old man.
Every one that ever knew him was gone now.
It was only one night, but when he and his comrade took to the gate, everything looked different.
The slum turned in to a stinking ghetto with homes ingrown like toenails from one another.
In the old yard where the apple and the low porch once stood, they found that rusty shak. Shelter is shelter ... What mattered where you sleep an hour or two if he will meet Mary?
Leaves where shaking like empty bones while the accordions where still playing longings . All actors had gone home. In the sky, the stars twinkled like hidden in the branches of some apple tree.
A quaint , old fiddler was walking alone to a shack wearing and Hohner accordion on his back, muttering that Maria is coming tomorrow, but to long a time has gone for someone to listen to him.
1Popular style of music of the 40's and 50's in estern europe
2Lautari- gipsy musicians