Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Violinist Part 2

Damn, I am on a roll here.  Hoping to get this finished up pretty soon, have another idea for another short story rolling around in my brain.  Have to say, writing from a limited third person perspective is fairly invigorating.  Makes me think a little clearer about what's going on, without worrying so much about what is going on in a character's head.  And yes, Kbbuddingwriter, I do rewrite, usually as I go, but I save everything for another look in the future.  Most of the stuff I post gets a read-through before it gets posted.

It was late when Arthur sprung from his chair, screaming with panic.  He threw the book on the floor, and groped behind the dirty mattress in a frenzied panic before pulling a rectangular case out from the nest of blankets.  Inside, the immaculately clean violin greeted Arthur, and his face, frozen in horror only moments before, broke into a childlike semblance of joy.  Carefully, he picked the instrument up and held it in his arm, chin to the chinrest, and plucked the G string intently, listening, while reaching for the horse-hair bow still concealed in the case.  He dragged the bow deliberately across the neck, heavy enough to be off-putting, but delicate enough so that Arthur could clearly hear each note.  He fiddled with the pegs and repeated the delicate process, before sawing the bow back and forth, slowly at first, but growing in a crescendo as the notes became less garbled and more deliberate.  His arm arced high, before driving across the neck with a fury of passion, throwing notes that reverberated across the small room, and began to be heard outside.  In the building next door, Mrs. Washington sat in her living room, with the window open to allow the cool air to circulate through the cramped apartment.  While her grandson slept on the small cot in the corner, she closed her eyes and heard Arthur’s frantic notes reaching their apex, before falling into a soft movement and ending abruptly.

The sun reached its zenith before Arthur woke from the dirty mattress, still clutching the violin case between his hands, the violin still safely tucked inside.  He blinked slowly against the dimly lighted room, the bars of sunlight filtering in through cracks in the boards that covered the windows in his bedroom.  He cautiously walked toward the bathroom, making no notice of the streak of grey that shot up the ruined stairs, as the cat paused and hissed.  Arthur entered the mildew-strewn shower, slipping momentarily on the living film that covered the bottom.  Fiddling with the knobs, he stopped as the rusty water sprayed haphazardly down on him before it cleared slightly, looking pinkish in the light of the bare 60 watt bulb hanging from the poorly painted ceiling.
There was one window in the entire house that had not been boarded up and still held the original panes of glass in it.  Arthur trudged through a room strewn with newspapers, circumventing a pile of broken glass under the hastily boarded window.  A rock lay in the rubble, evidence of juvenile delinquency, but without any retribution or care on the individual living inside the decrepit house.  He paid it no attention, opening a door toward the back and revealing a small staircase leading up into the higher levels.  It creaked heavily as he ascended the steps, but held together.  At the top, Arthur pulled a hatch, and a ladder swung down, leading to a well-concealed attic.  Inside, was a sanctuary; Arthur sat on a stool facing the last intact window, staring at the world below him.  The entire time, he never let go of the violin case.
Arthur looked out the window at the noisy city, clutching his violin case in his arms.  He began whispering in a panicked tone, muttering barely audible above the ambient noise of cars driving along the street and the lonely, desperate people walking down the street.  “Ugly,” he said, his voice rising in his throat, guttural; “too loud.”  He opened the case still cradled in his arms, and withdrew the instrument and drew the bow in a slow, mournful arc across it.  He began playing slow but intense, as the sound emanated out the window and down onto the street.  A little boy stopped and looked toward the house, curious as to what he was hearing.
The dirge finished, and Arthur replaced the violin in its case.  He stood up from the stool, pausing in front of a bookshelf.  Instead of books, it was filled with photo albums.  He stared intently, reading the fading spines that read “Summer” or “Happy Memories.”  He pulled one, it’s cracking, brown leather not bearing any words on it.  He tucked it under his arm, and descended the ladder.  Outside, a bird landed on the windowsill and began to sing quietly, echoing the notes that just ended.  When the hatch slammed shut, it startled and flew off.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Violinist (part 1)

Just a short story I've been working on for the past few days.  Trying my hand at a more limited 3rd person narrative than usual and my first attempt at utilizing the concept of Absurdism after reading me some Albert Camus.  Let me know what you think.

Past the crumbling tenements, against the back corner of the city, the music could be heard drifting through the near deserted streets, echoing across the cracked concrete.  During the day, it cannot be heard, but the residents know it’s there, and every night when the shouting of neighbors dies and the soft cries of infants begin to echo through the buildings, the music can be heard outside.  The dross gathered on the front steps of the tenements pay it no attention for the most part, but occasionally, one looks up into the dark night towards the sky, stars hidden by the lights of a city in despair, and sighs, hearing the violinist’s melancholy song.
            It came from the crumbling redbrick between the dissatisfying government housing, a single three-story dwarfed by the unfeeling concrete monoliths next to it.  It was rotting and in disrepair: once, it may have been enviable, when the neighborhood was still enviable and white.  Following every winter, more shingles fell from the roof, and more vines pulled apart the mortar between the bricks; every spring, more water seeped in through the broken foundation.  The house of Arthur Wade.
            The tall, gaunt man stood at almost military attention, finger flipping across yellowed pages on a music stand, mumbling to himself.  His skin was pale and sickly, and although not an incredibly old man, he looked much older than his actual years.  A lifetime spent indoors, shut away from the horrible world around him.  He mumbled as he paged through the yellow paper, his thinning, raggedly cut hair falling in front of his ancient reading glasses.  Arthur gave a yelp in pain, bringing his thumb to his mouth as a few drops of crimson stained the paper.  He pulled his thumb out, and stared intently at his hand, watching the blood congeal and run down towards his wrist. “Bow hand. Bow hand, Bow hand,” he muttered, over and over again as he pulled a stained handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped his hand up in it.  The violent red began seeping through the light cotton, but Arthur was already staring back down at the papers in front of him, humming now, tracing lines with his left hand, as he precariously held the right close to his face, the white handkerchief now spotted with blood.  He turned the page, and continued humming.
            The blood stopped, and the handkerchief barely had time to fall to the floor before Arthur arched his arm and dragged the bow across the violin’s strings as a howling screech before a single note echoed through the room, reverberating against the yellowed wallpaper and falling back into Arthur’s ears.  His eyes closed, yet eyelid’s fluttering to the music, he began to play the sweet, mournful song.  The music swelled through the house and out the boarded up windows, before falling on the ears of the old black woman walking up from the street.  Past her, no one heard.
            She stood on the ancient front porch, listening to the music, a canvas bag tightly grasped between her hands.  After a few minutes, the notes died, and she reached for the brass knocker, bringing down on the door as strongly as her hands could manage.  She waited a few minutes before knocking again, and almost immediately, a compartment slid open across the door and she was greeted by the cold, blue gaze of Arthur Wade’s eyes: “Mrs. Washington.”
            “Good evening, Mr. Wade.  I have your things from the store for you.” Ms. Washington smiled at him through the door, and was greeted by the rattle of locks and chains.  It slid open enough for a pale hand to stretch out, grasping the canvas bag and pulling it quickly out of the old woman’s grasp.  It retreated into the darkness beyond the door before returning with a crumpled twenty dollar bill.  Mrs. Washington took it gingerly, and then paused to shake the hand, as Arthur attempted to return it to the darkness of the house.  “Mr. Wade, it’s a lovely night out.  Why don’t you come outside?”  The door slammed closed after the hand returned inside, and the click of locks and the rattle of chains could be heard.  Mrs. Washington shook her head and walked down the sidewalk.
            Arthur examined the contents of the canvas bag while sitting in a dusty wooden chair in the ruined kitchen; the cupboards were mostly empty, until he began placing an amount of tin cans into them.  He reached into a poorly varnished drawer, brushing aside a wayward cockroach as he pulled out a can opener.  After opening the can, he reached back into the drawer and procured a single match, striking it against the rough wood under the peeling plastic of the table.  It sparked, as he rushed toward the stove, lighting it before placing the can upon it.  Almost stumbling backwards, Arthur turned and walked down the hall back into the bedroom: a dirty mattress and old blankets sitting in a corner, surrounded by stacks of yellowed and dusty books, all on music.  He carefully selects one titled Schumann and sits on the overstuffed chair in the corner opposite his bed.  Outside, the wind began to pick up, and the house creaked around him, but Arthur paid it no mind.
            After several minutes, he returned to the kitchen and removed the can from the stovetop with an old potholder.  Sitting at the table, book in hand, Arthur began to eat, as he always did.  The soup dribbled down his thin lips, before he wiped the back of his sleeve against them, adding another stain to the faded red fabric.  Above him, as he intently continued to read, a faded photograph looked down at him.  The boy in the picture stood smiling in front of a middle-aged woman, carrying the hawkish nose and the short chin of Arthur.  A violin was clutched in the boy’s hand; a boy with the same hawkish nose and short chin.  Arthur finished his meal, dumping the can into a slot through the wall, as the clank fell into the alley next to the house and directly into an open garbage can.  It fell loudly, amplified by a yowl as a tabby jumped from inside the can and took off further into the alley.  With a gushing of brown water, Arthur clumsily washed the spoon, placing it back into drawer.  The cockroach was nowhere to be seen.
            The house was in complete disrepair.  The stairs leading to the top floors sagged and gradually coalesced into a mass of splintered wood below the top floor.  The light caught a glimmer of a cat’s eye: the feral occupant of the second floor, content to prowl at night for mice and rats through the inhabited mess of the first floor.  The carpeting was worn through in a single track down the hallway, the same path Arthur trudged towards his bedroom.  He sat back down in the over-stuffed chair, and continued reading, mumbling to himself.  He fell asleep quickly, knuckles turning white against the book, the sunlight barely disappearing behind the buildings crowding the horizon.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writer's block defeated

Fuck writer's block.  Seriously you guys.  Fuck it. Sucks so bad.  I tried staring it away, i tried writing it away (terribly) and I tried drinking it away.  Then, a couple of days ago I had a breakthrough while shooting the shit with a friend.  Brainstorm.

Everything I've been working on is shelved until I can get a fresh perspective on it.  Sorry.  I left you in the middle of the story, one that I can't resolve.  I know where I want to go with it, where it'll end, but not how I'm going to write it.

But fret not, for I am consumed by the fire of a new ambition.  Drawing an idea from one of the greatest literary works of the english language.  I'm fairly excited