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A Chromatic Tale
Music. It can fill a quiet, barren room and create beauty. It can fill a quiet, barren heart and create happiness. Unfortunately for one man, music cannot bartend. “More! More! More!” Hundreds of voices bounced through his ears and caused him to wish the voices were music. He poured the beer. The sour smell of alcohol protruded his senses. He wrinkled his nose. Alcohol was not what he wanted to smell. He craved a sweeter sensation. He closed his eyes and imagined the attic.
Cold air blowing through the low window and pounding on the back of his neck. The wooden chair letting out its signature moan. The musty dampness in the air resting on his taste buds. But, there would be a small smile on his lips. He wouldn’t be cold. Or even uncomfortable. There would be… should be an old cello in his arms. The music from the cell should be heating up every crevice of the room and filling the emptiness of the attic. It should taste sweet on his tongue and despite the darkness, there should be light.
“Hey bartender!” A voice pulled him from his daydream. “More!” It shouted. The young man looked at him as if to say, “You could say please!” As he poured the beer his eyes began to wander. They acquired a glassy appearance and he seemed to be… Somewhere else. Beer was beginning to overflow onto the table. The voice tried to snap him out of it, but he was gone.
Another man came in. His eyes were identical to the younger man’s but… older somehow. The years in the older man’s eyes were greater and the experience was far more. His knowledge was superior too. But his knowledge was far from optimistic.
He knew from experience that money was the center of the world. He had watched his father lose his business, money, hopes, and dreams. He didn’t want that to happen to his son… he wouldn’t.
He could see his son with no family. Living in the streets, alone with no family. Dreaming as he always does, but this time, none of his dreams could come true.
The man shivered. “Hey you! Watch what you’re doing!” The voice broke through his innermost thoughts.
He looked up to see beer spilling all over the table while his son held it. There was a dreamy look on his face. A click went off in the father’s head as he switched to manager mode.
He grabbed a cloth and rushed over, slapping his son out of the way.
“I’m sorry sir.” He said amiably as he cleaned the mess. “This one’s on the house.”
When he finished cleaning, he took a deep breath. In and out. Relax. He look over to his son and the anger boiled up again.
The stupid child was sitting on a stool, his eyes just as far away as they were before. His face was relaxed, vacant, like a white sheet of paper before it was blessed with writing.
The picture of his son, cold and lonely, flew through the head of the father. It was vivid as day. He shuddered.
The father marched over and grabbed his son by the noose of the neck and pulled him from the tavern, to the living quarters upstairs.
“What did you think you were doing!” He yelled angrily. Steam almost emanating from the top of his head.
“I was bartending dad… That is what I was supposed to be doing. Right?” There was a touch of sarcasm in his voice. “So I spilled. Doesn’t everybody?” A smug smile rested on his face as he looked at his father. Nothing he had said was wrong. His father couldn’t possible blame him for a little spill!
“Everyone spills. Yes; I suppose that’s true. But they spill because someone runs into them, or scares them, or surprised them at least! Not because they’re taking a little vacation to dreamland! Sometimes I just don’t know what to do with you!”
The boy’s smile faded and honest curiosity replaced the sarcasm in his voice, “What’s wrong with dreaming dad?”
The vivid daydream of his son, cold and alone, flashed through his head year again, “Do you want to end up like your grandfather? Not able to support your wife and only son. Are you a fool?”
The boy looked at his father, “Will you just let me make my own mistakes?”
“You are far too stupid to do that.” His father said, “Now go to bed.”
“What about dinner?”
The father looked at him, his eyes glowing with the afterglow of anger, “I said go to bed.”
The boy went to his room and laid down. The turmoil of their fight boiled in mine and riveted through his heart.
He couldn’t fall asleep. He imagined his cello in his arms. The music flowing through the world around him and played his private lullaby. Quietly he listened to the silent music. His eyelids felt heavy and began to close. And then he fell asleep.
When the sun rose, the young man awoke. The young man shivered in bed as he reluctantly rose from his deep sleep. The thought that he was in his most despised place riveted through his mind. It pounded behind his eyes with unbelievable strength. This thought gave him the painful craving to runaway. The craving pulled at his arms and legs, but he pulled back with just enough strength to stay put. Lucky for him.
As he walked downstairs, he could hear the loud, obnoxious voices of the morning crowd. Their voices were rough and loud, as if they couldn’t hear their own voices. They didn’t seem to be talking about anything. Just babbling on and on in order to hear their own voices. A feeling of dread boiled in the boy’s stomach. The thought of opening that door and being hit with that torrent of sound made him want to run.
The more he neared the dreaded door, the stronger the desire became. He could smell the alcohol, wet on the tongues of these men. The sweat gave off the bitter stench of body odor and every step it grew stronger. The sound of his own footsteps nearing the door riveted through his eardrums. The question of why he was nearing the hellhole drummed though his brain. He couldn’t answer it.
He could feel the comforting breeze that flew from the attic. It cooled the back of his neck, causing him to smile. Then the stuffy heat from the room in from of him attacked his face. He turned around so the cool breeze would gather in his pores and save him discomfort.
The fresh air washed away the stench, allowing him to take a deep breath. It blew the loud, obnoxious, voices back into the room. His tongue lolled with the fresh taste of cool air. It invited him forward with a pull so much stronger than he.
He began walking up away from the dreaded hellhole. He neared the attic, where his cello awaited him.
The young man burst through the door to the attic. Relief flooded through his system. Relief that he was far away from his own hell and feet away from his own heaven. He picked up his cello and allowed the music to flow through his system and out his fingertips.
The music flowed through the room. It beautified the barren walls and the empty floor. It took all dead flowers and created life. Music was life.
The music flowed down each step, one by one. It poured over each flight like a rapids in the middle of the wilderness, creating an image of nature to all how heard it.
It flowed in the tavern, and all activity stopped to listen. The music flowed through his father’s ears and he knew it was his son.
An image of the city attacked his imagination. His son was sitting in the middle of it, all alone. An out of tune cello in his hands.
It was that cello. He knew that stupid cello was no good the moment he saw it. The cello was why that stupid, idiotic boy was so dreamy. All he thought about was that stupid cello and couldn’t concentrate on the important things. The father imagined the cello braking in half or disappearing in the night. His son would be upset for a little while but then he’d forget about it. A new image popped into the fathers mind. This time his son was working in the tavern that was bustling with activity. His wife and son by his side.
He had to get rid of the cello.
Should he do it at night while his son wasn’t looking? Or should he do it in broad daylight while his son was watching.
He looked at the beer stain from yesterdays spill. He decided that the sooner the better and began to walk towards the attic.
As he neared the door, the music grew louder. The music wasn’t bad but it was destroying the life of his son.
The cello had to go.
He opened the door and the music stopped.
“What do you want dad?” The boy asked his father, frustration obviously painting his voice.
The father didn’t answer. He just walked over and took the cello.
“What are you doing?” The son whispered, fear entering his voice.
Again the father didn’t answer. He took the cello down the stairs and out the door. When he walked back, the cello was gone.
For the rest of the day, the son worked like a zombie. He seemed to be on autopilot. He would pour the beer and hand it out without showing any emotion on his face.
The father looked on with a face that was both sad and smug. Smug because their wasn’t a single spill all day. Sad because his sun was miserable.
He had only been trying to protect his son and it seemed to backfiring. It didn’t seem fair.
There was only a few people left as the sun went down in the west. His son hadn’t changed,
“What’s wrong with you boy?” His father asked out of pure frustration.
His son didn’t answer. He just stared at his father. His eyes miserable and lonely.
“Oh come on!” His father shouted, “It’s just a stupid cello!” He was yelling now. He was so loud that people on the other side of the world could hear it.
“Why don’t you shut up?” A gruff voice came from behind the father and son. They turned around slowly, afraid.
There was a man standing there. A regular who drank himself silly every night. He always walked out tipsy and dizzy. He was the man who experienced the brunt of the spill only the day before.
“Are you planning on soaking me with beer again?” He asked. The sour smell of alcohol what obvious on his breath.
The father looked at him, trying to remain calm. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave sir.” He said, attempting to keep the situation under control.
“And if I don’t want to?” He asked ominously.
A sigh flowed through the father’s lips, “Sir, you have to leave, now.” He put his hand on the shoulder of the aggressive man in an attempt to calm him down. Unfortunately, it seemed to have the opposite effect.
A fist flew across his face causing blood to flow from his nose down into his mouth.
The father could feel his temper fall from his grasp and grabbed the man’s arm, “What do you think you’re doing in my bar!” He shouted. He pulled his fist back to return the punch but stopped in mid-swing. Warm blood flowed down his legs and onto the floor while the son watched in horror.
The handle of a knife was gripped in the hands of the drunken man while the blade protruded from his chest. Slowly, he fell to the ground, gone.
The son just stared in a trance. He watched the other men in the bar drag him from the tavern. The man disappeared as the son just stood there, doing nothing. The bar emptied, one by. And the dead man just lay there… unmoved.
The son wanted to sell the tavern. He wanted to, but he couldn’t. Not because of his conscience, but because he was too busy. He had to organize the funeral, buy a coffin, and find a plot for his father. In order to pay for all of the funeral rights, he had to keep the bar open. For the next few weeks he continued to run the bar. But that wasn’t what he wanted to do. He now had a new fantasy, one that no longer consisted of a cramped attic.
He was on a stage in the middle of everyone. There was a booming applause surrounding him and he was grinning. For once, he was truly happy.
The son reached in to the wine cabinet for more, but it was gone. That night, he quietly walked to the wine cellar to pick up some more wine to restock. He walked across the floor, listening to his steps, one by one. They made a strange sound on the wooden floor.
Click, clack, click, clack, And CLUNK.
The floor was hollow. He reached down and banged his fist on the ground.
CLUNK, CLUNK, CLUNK!
A trap door. He opened it and smiled.
His cello sat on the bottom. It wasn’t destroyed.
Excitement flew through his body and electrified his cells. He grabbed the cello and ran up the stairs, happiness his only emotion.
He sat in the empty bar, holding the cello in his arms. Music flowed through the room. It circled the floor and beautified the plain, empty, bar.
The son sat there smiling. Watching the music work its magic.
Two weeks later, a man was walking through the tiny town, looking for a tavern to eat at. There was a new one he saw, right in the middle of town. He walked in and couldn’t help but smile at the atmosphere. Everyone was smiling, drinking, and listening to the music filling the room. The beautiful deep music filled the atmosphere and made everyone in the room happy.
The music stopped. Everyone clapped.
A fantasy come true.