Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
Book 001 Prologue Born in New Jersey
Chapter 10. I would like Paris, too.
As we passed the carriage house, I turned to Dashiell.
“Are you ready for that swimming you were talking about, at breakfast?”
“Always ready for swimming.”
“How about you, Pierre-Gauthier?”
I yelled up to the driver, “Canter, please, to the porte-cochère.”
I announed the plan.
“Up to 401, change and into the water, before they get back. A few minutes in the water… we get out and back to 401… shower and clean up… and back downstairs to the music room, for more fun.”
I looked at Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier.
We cruised quickly to the front door. Daniel was watching. He knew something was going on as we rushed past him, into the elevator. In passing, I said, “Going for a quick swim.”
We changed, and were in the water, almost instantly. I saw an RCA-NBC truck drive into the woods. I pointed, so Dashiell would see it. He nodded and continued splashing with Pierre-Gauthier.
I yelled had we better get out of here. None of us wanted to leave, but we knew we had to work the plan. We went up to 401, showered and dressed. We left the elevator as the men were coming in from the carriages.
I casually asked them to join us in the back room.
They came along, followed by the photographers, who had definitely found the wine.
Dashiell went to the desk, Pierre-Gauthier went out on the balcony, and I sat on the piano bench. I played a nocturne for Dashiell, to soothe him.
I heard his voice, softly, behind me, “Thanks.”
He knew I heard him. He understood my nod.
All of our guests settled into the seats in the room. I finished. There was an obvious silence.
“Why the silence?” I asked. “Has everything been said?”
I played a melody that wandered through my mind… quietly and gently, Veronica whispered. I spoke as I played, slowly and deliberately.
“Dashiell and I have questions. Our questions are the same. In fact, we have only one question.”
Dashiell rose and walked over behind me. I felt his hand on my shoulder. Reassured, I continued, again slowly and deliberately.
“You have seen us. You have seen and heard our work. You have seen us create our work. Our singular question is, ‘What do you suggest?’”
Irving stood. “Frankly, I have never seen nor heard anything like this in a lifetime of looking and listening.” Irving sat down.
Harold stood and simply said, “Ditto,” and sat. I had no idea what that meant but was sure, Dashiell would tell me.
Billy stood, “You are the musician, I would like to be.” He sat.
Stony stood, “Phenomenal,” and sat down.
John Russell, “Never saw anything like this,” and sat.
Clement Greenberg, “Incredible new art genre from a child,” and sat.
Harold Rosenberg, “I looked at the drawing and listened to the music last week. It was not believable then. I cannot believe it now. You, two, defy comparison.”
I sharped a fifth… and held it trailing alone, into the air…
I stood, released the fifth, and pleaded our case.
“Dashiell and I know we are very much alike and we are also very much different. He is very quiet. I am not quiet at all.”
“Dashiell has said to me, ‘I’m not good with music, like you are, but I can draw what I feel.’”
I felt Dashiell’s hand on my shoulder quiver.
“I have told him, ‘I can’t draw a line, but I can play what I feel.’ Where do we go from here in our education?”
Irving looked at John. “Do you want to take this one?”
“No.” Looking away, he cleared his throat and continued, “You’re doing well, Irving. Please continue.”
Irving looked first at Dashiell and then at me.
“Dashiell... Jean-Claude. Dashiell and you have one question. All of us have one answer.”
Dashiell looked terrified, as Irving spoke.
“We intend to go home and elicit a Master of Music and a Master of Fine Arts to visit you weekly. Not the same Master, every week, but a different Master, each week, for each of you. You and they can discuss your art and both grow from the experience. Does that answer your question?”
I immediately thought of Grandpapa asking me that very same question, ‘Does that answer your question?’
I looked at Dashiell. I knew he would not say anything, but a look was all I needed.
“Dashiell and I agree that would be a wonderful plan. We must talk to our parents and grandparents...”
I looked at Dashiell for a sign He looked less frantic. I continued.
“but we don’t expect that to be a problem.”
The singular discussion quickly and thankfully descended into groups of chatter, from which Dashiell and I removed ourselves. Dashiell returned to the desk and I went with him. Disappearing with Dashiell, while everyone talked, hit the top of my ‘to do’ list, but I couldn’t leave Pierre-Gauthier alone.
“Dashiell, let’s go out on the balcony.
Pierre-Gauthier stretched a little in a padded chaise.
Dashiell asked, “How are you doing, Pierre-Gauthier?”
“I was almost asleep. It’s that kind of weather.”
“We’re going to watch the end of the band auditions. You want to come with us?”
“I want to look at a couple more songs for tonight and check out the churchiest sounds I can get out of the organ.”
The three of us wandered through the group to the hall door.
I opened the door, turned, and raising my voice.
“The restroom is across the hall.”
I pointed to the door.
“We are going to the band auditions.”
I left the door open and we went down the hall to the Grand Ballroom. One of the bands was packing their instruments. The three of us sat with Grandpapa and Grandmamma. There were groups of guests gathered around the room, enjoying the music, afternoon air, tea, biscuits, and housewine.
After the band left, I went back to my room to grab the Hammond organ music. Everyone had gone. I grabbed the two books, closed the door, and went to the office.
“Aunt Gizzie, “Where is Father Winifred?”
“I think he’s in town. Ask Daniel.”
I went to the Grand Foyer.
“Daniel. Do you know where Father Winifred is?”
“No. He is inside somewhere. Ask Sidney, the elevator operator.”
I waited for the elevator to return to the ground floor.
“Sidney. Do you know where Father Winifred is?”
“Yes. He on the Fourth Floor… went there about an hour ago. Excellent. Would you take me up, please?”
“Hello Father. I hate to bother you, but I was wondering if you had a hymn list for tomorrow morning, yet?”
“Yes, I do. Let me make a copy for you. Are you playing tomorrow?”
“Yes. I tried to interest a certain party, but he refused to talk about it. I didn’t want to start an argument… in the past, this has been a source of unpleasantness.”
“That’s Okay. Jean-Claude. Here’s the list, 5 hymns and you can pick out the processional, communion interlude, and recessional.”
“I know the communion part is soft and gentle and the recessional is a march. What would you like as a processional?”
“You can play hymn 117. That’ll do.”
“Okay. What time should I start?”
“Could you come in about 8 in the morning and check the processional, communion interlude, and recessional? I would appreciate any comments… any feedback.”
“Certainly. But I may bring a cup of coffee.”
“Coffee’s on me.”
I went down the rear elevator to the Grand Ballroom, with my hymn list.
The Grand Ballroom was empty. I sat at the piano and played the hymns on the list. I put the keyboard cover down and went to the organ. I played the hymns on the organ, repeating the verses and choruses. I looked in the organ books for a recessional. I found a book titled, “Processionals and Recessionals.” I picked one of each for tomorrow. They came with the settings for the drawbars.
I played with the presets and the drawbars, altering the sound and messing with the Leslies. I needed a piece of paper to record these settings.
I left the organ to retrieve a few pieces of paper and a pencil from my desk. Back at the Hammond in the Grand Ballroom, I recorded the drawbar settings.
I thumbed through Book One and Book Two, looking for anything related to church. I found a whole section on what to do and what not to do. I played the processional and recessional a couple times. I felt I could pull off tomorrow without a hitch.
I returned the music to my desk, until tomorrow morning. I picked up the phone.
“Aunt Gizzie. Any idea where Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier are?”
“They’re out front in the rocking chairs.”
“Thank you. I love you.”
“I love you, too. Jean-Claude.”
I was out the door and headed to the front to spend some time with my buds.
On the way, I was stopped by one of the art men.
“Jean-Claude. May I have a word with you?”
“Your friend, Dashiell. Is he always so quiet?”
“When he’s nervous, he’s quiet. When he gets excited, he does get boisterous.”
I didn’t add Dashiell, Pierre-Gauthier, and I would be visiting the radio station they are building on the hill in the woods.
I picked up the phone and requested the carriage. I went in the office to see Aunt Gizzie.
“Aunt Gizzie. Dashiell, Pierre-Gauthier, and I are going in the carriage to see the radio station. We will be back in a little while.
“Okay. Sweetie. Don’t get in the way over there.”
“We won’t get out of the carriage. We see the trucks going into the woods, and we wonder what they are doing.”
“Okay. Sweetie. Be careful.”
I went outside and found Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier discussing cuss words, in French and English.
“I am going to the radio station. Wanna see what’s happening?”
Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier launched off the rocking chairs.
The big white carriage and four rolled up the hill with an outrider ahead of the team.
I was so eager, I did a heel click.
Dashiell asked, “How do you do that?”
“You start by doing this, and as you get more confident, you go higher and higher. That’s all there is to it.”
Dashiell tried, but was rather clumsy.
“I’ll show you, later.”
“Will you show me, too, Jean-Claude?”
“Of course. Dance 101 will be later this afternoon.”
Daniel opened the door. We walked in and sat down.
I called up to the carriage master, “We want to go to where they are building radio station.”
“Radio station?” he responded.
“Go around the back of the lake and follow the road to the ‘RCA-NBC’ truck.”
“Oh. I know where you want to go. Where they are building…”
We sat back and enjoyed the afternoon.
The path took a couple turns and there, before us, were construction people working away, constructing.
The carriage approached the operation.
One man, irritated by our presence, came to the carriage.
“Sorry. This area is closed to guests.”
I stood, pointed over the carriage door, at my name, and said, in quietly, “I am not a guest.”
We sat there for a while and watched until we had our fill of construction watching.
I asked the driver to return to the porte-cochère.
The driver called to the outride to turn the team, as he released the brake. We returned along the big loop, past the train station, and carriage house, on our way back to the hotel. This ‘city boy’ liked leaving the woods.
We left of the carriage and went to 401.
We sat down in the sitting room.
I asked Dashiell, “You have any plans for the afternoon?”
He said, “No. If we’re gonna stay here, I’ll watch television or listen to the radio. Otherwise, I’ll go wherever you guys are going.”
Dashiell reached forward and turned on the radio.
I said, “I’m happy to stop for a while and catch my breath.”
I looked at Pierre-Gauthier, “You have any plans?”
“No. I have no idea what is going on with my parents and my brother. It’s quiet here. 211, where my family is, may be a battleground. I am happy to be here. Quiet is nice. I’m not afraid of quiet.”
Dashiell turned off the radio.
Pierre-Gauthier turned to Dashiell.
“I didn’t like that. The radio doesn’t bother me.”
Dashiell said, “That’s Okay. I’m tired, anyway.”
Dashiell moved a little closer to me on the couch and leaned on me.
“Pierre-Gauthier, “what is school like in France? Sometimes, my Grandpapa talks about sending me to France, to go to school. I’m not sure what that means, so I wonder about it.”
Pierre-Gauthier said, “I never went to school here in America, but I suspect it is the same with some differences. I heard the school day is shorter here.”
I looked at him, smiled, and said, “I’ll remember that.”
He smiled. I wondered if he was kidding me.
I felt Dashiell’s head on my shoulder.
I just put my head back on the couch, closed my eyes, and spoke to the ceiling.
“You know, Dashiell, it’s gonna be clean up time for dinner soon. Don’t go falling asleep now.”
He didn’t move.
“Can you hear me?”
Pierre-Gauthier sat on the other side of me and was getting cozy… a late afternoon nap.
In popped Aunt Odie’s head.
“I thought I heard you guys come in here. Make sure you look proper at dinner. The photographers from the paper will be taking pictures.”
I asked, “How proper?”
She replied, “Very proper,” and closed the door.
I just saw Dashiell’s eyelashes flapping, in the side of my vision. As I gazed at the ceiling, I visualized a bevy of flashbulbs going off in the Grand Dining Room and film holders slapping in and out of cameras.
I enjoyed the scent of Dashiell on one side, mixing with the scent of Pierre-Gauthier on the other side.
I broke loose from my daydream, sat up, distressing my Dashiell, and Pierre-Gauthier.
“Gentlemen. I propose we get off our lazy bottoms, run the loop a couple times, take a shower, dress very ‘properly,’ proceed to the Grand Dining Room, and allow the world to gaze at us”
My nefarious sounding plot inspired us.
We stripped to our running shorts and ran the loop a couple times.
Daniel swung the door wide for us.
On the way to the fourth floor, Sidney, the elevator operator, commented, “You opened your pores very well.”
Pierre-Gauthier and I had no idea what he said.
In 401, Pierre-Gauthier was the first in the shower. Dashiell and I sat on the balcony and talked.
“What did Sidney mean about open your poor people?”
Dashiell laughed again.
“He said, ‘open your pores.’
In English, pores are the little holes in your skin where your sweat comes out.” It sounds like ‘poors’, like P-O-O-R people, but it’s spelled, P-O-R-E.
“The same word is the same, in French.” I added.
Pierre-Gauthier emerged from the shower, bright and cheery, drying his hair with a towel, and otherwise, naked, on the balcony.
He said, “Next.”
Dashiell rose. Pierre-Gauthier went to the open chaise, carefully spread his towel, sat down, and stretched his frame across the towel in the late afternoon Sun to soak up some vitamin D.
A while later, Dashiell appeared at the door and said, “Your turn.”
I rose, showered quickly, checked my nails, dried, and wrapped a towel around me. I went out on the balcony and checked nails. Pierre-Gauthier needed some nail work. Dashiell was Okay. I handed Pierre-Gauthier the nail cleaner and a white pencil. He looked at me.
“Do you want to do it, or do you want me to do it?”
“I’ll do it. You’re as bad as my father.”
I looked at him.
“He does it, because he loves you. I do it because I want to spare your father any embarrassment. Don’t you want to look your best?”
“So clean those nails.”
I went inside and started dressing. Suddenly a fun project came to me.
I went inside and opened the door to the bathroom. “Dashiell. Is this a good night for 3 lawn cravats?”
The reply, “Yes, most certainly, yes,” was immediate.
I pulled three lawn cravats from the cabinet.
Pierre-Gauthier, still naked, asked, “What are those?”
“Lawn cravats, in English We’re wearing them to dinner, this evening. They’re super dressy. You’ll get a lot of attention.”
He touched the silk.
“Wow. That is special.”
“I’ll tie it for you.”
Put on clean underwear, dark blue trousers, and your shoes.
I donned clean underwear, white trousers, and my shoes.
I put out clean underwear and white trousers for Dashiell.
I turned to Pierre-Gauthier and said, “Put on this white shirt. I dropped a shirt on the dressing stand for Dashiell and put one on, myself.
I handed Pierre-Gauthier, cuffs and links.
“Loosen your trousers and flatten your shirt. You look like you are trying to smuggle something past customs, in your trousers.”
He almost fell over laughing.
I tucked my shirt in my trousers and slapped on the cuffs and my ‘B’ cufflinks.
A naked Dashiell arrived exuberant, hopped into his underwear, and busied himself getting dressed.
I adjusted Pierre-Gauthier’s light blue lawn cravat. I handed him a white dinner jacket.
He put it on. I smoothed the shoulders and the tails. I stepped back.
He was ‘proper’… quite ‘proper.’
I tied Dashiell’s cravat. I smoothed his light blue dinner jacket. He forgot his cuffs. He tried to stuff them up his jacket sleeves.
“That doesn’t work. They’ll fall out. Take the jacket off, put the cuffs on, and then slide into the jacket.”
We need to touch-up our hair and then check ourselves in the cheval, before we let the world gawk at us.
Before we left 401, I said, “The game is to keep Pierre-Gauthier between us to balance the pictures. Dashiell and I are white on the bottom and blue on top. Pierre-Gauthier is blue on the bottom and white on top. If the photographer’s get pushy, we will dummy up in French. Dashiell, you can just smile. Pierre-Gauthier and I will make plenty of French distractions, and amuse the regular guests, too.”
I looked at both of them, “Any questions?”
Pierre-Gauthier asked, “What about my parents?”
“If your parents get involved, obey your parents. If they let you be, and if Dashiell’s parents let him be, we’ll have a good time with the photographers.”
Before opening the door, I added this thought for them to ponder, “Tomorrow, a lot of people will be asking, ‘who is the young man in the middle of the picture.’”
They nodded affirmatively.
Out of 401 and down the elevator. Sidney, the elevator man, looked pleased with our transformation.
We floated three abreast, through the Grand Hallway into the Grand Dining Room. Pat’s eyes met mine. He rolled his eyes. I grinned back. I went to my place at table, Pierre-Gauthier, beside me, and Dashiell, beside him. A Red came over to pour the housewine. He looked at me and said, “You three look like a bouquet of blue and white carnations.”
I replied, “Don’t I wish!”
He smiled. I returned the smile.
I asked Pierre-Gauthier, “Do you get any artistic urges?”
His brow furrowed, as he said, “None of which I know.”
I went on to explain, “Dashiell and I are strange and spend almost all our time together. I want to talk to people who are not prodigies, to find out what is life like in the normal world.”
He turned to me, looked me in the eye.
“You don’t think anything here or around here is normal, do you? I am just as odd and strange as you and Dashiell are, but in an entirely different kind of way.”
“How do you mean?”
“You and Dashiell are in an artificial haven, away from the real world. I am stuck in a world of politics and publicity, which is equally unreal. You and Dashiell can escape through your art. I can’t escape except to slide out of sight, when I can.”
“When you look at it that way, Dashiell and I have it pretty nice, compared to you.”
“I think we get used to what we get used to.”
“No one will disagree with you.”
Grandpapa came in and sat down, as Pierre-Gauthier and I were speaking. The Red poured his housewine. Grandmamma arrived. The Red stayed busy.
Grandpapa leaned over.
“Are you currently performing?”
I whispered back, “Possibly.”
“Such an illusion.”
I ate a little, picked a little, sipped a little, and waited for dessert.
Dessert arrived, compote on a crunchy baked item. They went together well.
The men from the city and the photographers were eating, as was the Malraux family.
Pierre-Gauthier not eating at the family table did not appear to concern the Malrauxs, nor did Pierre-Gauthier show any urge to visit their table.
With dessert finished, I stood followed by Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier.
I turned to them and asked, “Shall we go outside for a little ride, in the fresh New Jersey evening air?”
Grandpapa stood, too.
The four of us paraded out of the Grand Dining Room. I stopped at a phone in the Grand Hallway and asked for the carriage.
We removed our jackets and sat in the rockers on the front of the hotel, waiting for our carriage.
Grandpapa asked, “So what have you guys been up to today?”
“I worked on a recessional and processional for tomorrow’s church service.”
Dashiell added, “We went to see the radio station.”
Pierre-Gauthier, in turn, added, “Then, we ran around the loop a couple times, and cleaned up for dinner.”
I asked, “Did you find any good bands?”
Grandpapa said, “No. I did find two not terribly awful bands.”
“When are they starting?”
“We didn’t talk about that. I really didn’t think they were that good.”
“I have some work to catch up.”
Grandpapa headed into the Grand Foyer, saying over his shoulder, “You, guys, have a good time.”
Four white horses pulled the carriage to the porte-cochère and stopped.
We walked into the carriage, carefully putting our jackets on the empty seat.
The ride was quiet and gentle.
We stopped at the porte-cochère.
The photographers were there en masse. We stood, donned our jackets, I patted and checked the jackets. Dashiell, Pierre-Gauthier, and I stood, side by side, grinning for the photographers.
The photographers started making requests. Pierre-Gauthier and I tossed the names of vegetables at them, in French. Daniel, our stoic doorman, laughed so hard.
After the photographers left, we went inside to the empty Grand Ballroom, staked out three chairs at my table. I opened the keyboard cover and put down the music desk. Likewise, I opened the organ, turned it and the Leslies on, and put down the music desk.
I sat with Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier for a few minutes, until a few couples came in and sat down.
The Sun was just about down.
The Reds were floating around the room, lighting the candles on the tables.
I sipped the bottom of my housewine, rose, and went to the piano.
After a few runs across the keys, I pulled the microphone to me.
“Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. I have the distinct honor of playing for your entertainment. I’ll play a set of five tunes on the piano, then five on the organ.”
I dropped a few chords.
“After a few minutes for a break, I’ll play another five tunes on the piano and five more on the organ, and take another break.”
I played a chord progression.
“I will continue until 11:00, my bedtime.”
I started playing and a few couples danced. Encouraged by my work on the organ, I started adding little flourishes to my piano pop music, which certainly put the fun back in playing the same music as I played last night. Tonight I played on the organ, what I played on the piano, last night. I found, as long as I didn’t disturb the rhythm, I could change songs, make up new songs, add goodies from classical pieces, and no one seemed to object.
The men from New York came in. They danced and everyone seemed to have a good time. The end of my piano set came and I went to the organ. I started the five tunes, added icing as I went through the second choruses. At the end of the organ set, I rose to applause and took a slight bow.
I went and sat with Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier. Grandpapa and Aunt Gizzie arrived while I had been playing.
A Red filled my glass. I added a couple chips of ice from the ice bucket.
Pierre-Gauthier asked, “How do you know all that music?”
I said, “The same way, Dashiell knows how to draw a line.”
Pierre-Gauthier appeared pleased, with my reply.
I looked over to Dashiell. He seemed pleased, too.
I nodded to some of the guests, around the room. I rose and walked from table to table, greeting as I went.
I returned to my table. I added a few more chips of ice. The bottom of my glass appeared, too quickly.
I sat at the piano and pulled the microphone to me.
“We can chat, later. Now’s time for music.”
I played a little progression and leaned into the microphone.
“This is such a lovely evening. Perry Como says this is ‘Some Enchanted Evening.’”
I finished playing the piano set and moved to the organ. I pulled the microphone nearer.
“The Sun has set, a wisp of the Moon is looking over the trees, and the stars look down on lovers down the lane. Now is the time, for ‘The Old Lamp Lighter.’”
After the organ set, I rose and took a slight bow to applause. I went to the table to relax for a few minutes.
Pierre-Gauthier said, “You are astonishing.”
I turned to him.
“Why do you say that?”
“I never saw anyone play piano so much as you.”
“I must confess, my dear friend. I like doing exactly what I am doing tonight. I really like entertaining people. Making people happy makes me happy. You could say that’s what I live to do. I will play what they like: Chopin, Chop Sticks, or Count Basie.”
“You are very unusual.”
“Aren’t we all?”
I put my arm around him and gave him a little hug.
“I’ll walk around a little and wrap it up for the evening. Keep the ice cool.”
When he looked at the ice bucket, I rose from my chair.
I walked around the tables for a few minutes and returned to the piano. A few arpeggios and I pulled the microphone closer.
“You all know what Teresa likes, ‘Music, Music, Music.’”
After the set on the organ, I returned to the piano and played the final tunes of the evening.
The clock read 10:45.
“For any Birthday people, here’s the Birthday song.”
I played it, repeating it with a key change.
“Here’s The Anniversary Waltz for anyone with an anniversary.”
“And now time to say, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You.’”
“Before we part, I’ll ask you a little favor, please. ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me.’”
I blew a kiss to the guests. I put the keyboard cover down, rose, took a bow, and returned to talking to the guests. Some of the ladies, casually reached to touch the my cravat, just to feel if the silk was the real thing.
I sat with Pierre-Gauthier and Dashiell for a few minutes. A Red poured some wine in my glass. I stopped him and added ice chips.
I looked over to Dashiell, “Tomorrow’s the big day.”
He looked past Pierre-Gauthier to me and said, “I can tell you’re ready.”
“Sure. Look at how you played tonight. All the confidence in the world.”
Pierre-Gauthier was getting uncomfortable, sitting between us.
“Am I in the way?”
“No. Not at all.”
I looked Dashiell in the eye.
“You are confident when you draw. What’s the difference?”
I looked at Pierre-Gauthier, “Didn’t I just have about the same conversation with you?”
Some of the candles were going out. I pushed my chair back, to get up. Pierre-Gauthier and Dashiell did the same.
We rose and went to 401.
I asked Pierre-Gauthier, “Are you going to sleep in 401 with Dashiell and me?”
He said, “I will check with my papa.” He picked up the phone and called his room. “A new war has broken out. May I stay in here with you, tonight?”
“Certainly. As long as it is okay with your parents.”
“My father suggested it.”
“Then, it’s okay.”
Dashiell was already on the balcony, in the chaise. I went to brush my teeth. I returned and Pierre-Gauthier was in the Freddie chair on the balcony. I decided not to say anything. It was about time I got over my fetish about Freddie… and that chair. God Bless Freddie.
We gossiped until we ran out of words.
Dashiell was the first in bed. He likes to sleep looking out the window.
Pierre-Gauthier was in second.
I turned out the light and got in bed last. I was settling down, all warm and cozy when the clock struck, midnight.
I pulled the comforter back. Motivated by the night air, in the bedroom, I quickly went to the sitting room, turned off the chime, and returned to the warm bed.
Sleeping with Pierre-Gauthier turned out to be entirely different from sleeping with Dashiell. Dashiell would not move all night. Pierre-Gauthier would not stop moving all night. He doesn’t wake up and turn; he just turns. I heard the 6:20’s whistle as it left the station. Dashiell heard it, too. He pulled the comforter over his head and moaned. Pierre-Gauthier had curled up in the middle of the bed.
“Into the shower,” I said, apparently to myself.
I dried and dressed.
Pierre-Gauthier and Dashiell were still asleep.
“I want some breakfast,” I announced. “I’m going to play the Sunday services.”
I went to Dashiell’s side of the bed, sat down, pulled the comforter a little from his face and urged him to open his eyes. I sat and talked to a blonde fluffy mop protruding from under the comforter. The fluffy mass moved, moaned and fell silent and still, again.
“Open your eyes, Dashiell.”
I poked him.
He pulled the comforter down just a little, squinted at me, and curtly said, “What?”
“If you two are going to breakfast, you’re going to have to get up, run through the shower, and get to the Grand Dining Room before 9 o’clock. Got the message?”
“Yeah. I’ll be there in a little while.”
I gently poked the lump in the middle of the bed and said, “That goes for you, too.”
No response. I said it in French.
I heard a muffled “Oui” escape through the comforter.
I checked the cheval, turned the clock chimes on, and quietly closed the door as I left 401. I went down the back stairs to the bakery.
Mister Allison was cutting pastries.
I yelled to him, “Great desserts lately, especially that compote with the crunchy bottom… Excellent.”
“Thank you, Jean-Claude.”
He looked up from the floor mixer.
“Big day, today. 150 extra for sweet rolls and coffee at 11:30.”
“I’m playing the music for church in the Grand Ballroom. Thanks again for the goodies.”
I took a plate and sweet roll and headed for the door to the Grand Dining Room.
Across the room, Grandpapa worked his way through the paper. As I approached, he dropped the fold of the paper and said, “Good morning Jean-Claude.”
“Good morning Grandpapa.”
I filled Grandpapa’s coffee cup, then mine. I sat next to my hero, who emanated that soothing scent of cigars. Just a whiff of that aroma and I would feel invincible. I looked at La Presse. The New York Times is fat on Sunday. Two Reds wandered in and checked their tables. One came to our table and checked Grandpapa’s cup and mine.
I looked up and said, “Thank you.” He went about his pre-breakfast chores.
I noted, “He is quite happy this morning.”
Grandpapa engrossed in the paper, said, “A morning person.”
“A morning person?”
Grandpapa eyes glued to an article in the paper, “There are morning people, day people, and night people. He’s a morning person.”
I laughed, amused at the thought of Dashiell most definitely not being a ‘morning person’.
I wondered if Pierre-Gauthier was a night person, too.
Grandpapa asked, “What are you laughing about?”
I told him about the two masses under the comforter, in 401.
“Sleeping their lives away.”
He shifted the paper to a different position.
“I thought you found some interesting story about some stupid thing someone did. I like those stories in the paper. Helps me make a list of things not to do.”
He laughed a little at his joke.
“Are you playing services this morning?”
“We’re meeting with those men from the city this afternoon, right?”
“Is Dashiell all set with that?”
“He says he is.”
Grandpapa shifter the paper again.
“I hope he is.”
He turned the last few pages of his section of the paper, scanning as he turned. He refolded the paper, set it down, next to me, and pushed away from the table. A Red was behind him, porting a tray with his cup, saucer, and a fresh carafe.
I sat there and looked in the Sports section. I was anxious to see Rangers’ hockey on television.
Pat came in the Grand Dining Room.
We made small talk. I knew he wanted to say something.
Out of the blue, he said, “You know, those bands your Grandpapa was auditioning were horrific.”
Still looking at the paper, I replied, “The three or four I heard were, on their best day, awful.”
“Some of the ladies asked me to tell you, they like when you play, much better.”
I dropped the paper.
“I am flattered they like my playing so much. My problem is simply I will be off to school in September, and will have schoolwork to do when I am home. I am not a viable alternative to a band right now. Perhaps, after school, which seems like a lifetime away, now.”
“They say when they see you they see everything that’s right in the world. For that short time, they can put away the real world and enjoy the fantasy they see in you.”
“Thank you. I suspect they will understand. If anyone doesn’t understand, ask them to stop me in the hall, or visit me in my music room, and we can talk.”
“I had better get to work and push some tunes.”
He went off to work.
I finished my coffee, went to the music room, opened the outside doors for fresh air, and performed my exercise routine.
The phone interrupted with a single, very short ring, then nothing… apparently a mistake.
A slight breeze of fresh cut grass grabbed my attention. From Veronica, I walked to the balcony door… a flock of birds flew by and noisily landed on the croquet court. As they poked in the grass for a snack, Alone, I thought about my situation.
I picked up the phone and called for a carriage.
I closed the keyboard cover and went to the Grand Foyer. Daniel wasn’t there yet. I was on my own. I stood under the porte-cochère, sucking in the fresh North New Jersey air.
As I stood there, looking around, I saw Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier leave the elevator and head toward the Grand Dining Room.
My carriage arrived. I hopped in and thanked the driver. I took a leisurely ride around the loop.
I had to sort out, in my mind, what I was doing, not this morning, but with my future. Grandpapa has the door open to whatever I want to do. Maurice said I am prepared to progress in school in English. I have no ties to Montréal. Paris would be full of nice opportunities and it has a certain charm, I am sure. New York has its charm and possibilities.
I wondered if Dashiell had thought about the options? I wondered if he had unspoken ideas… what his decisions were, away from everyone else.
He and I will have to talk, this morning. I closed my eyes. One of his nocturnes played in my head… there was something different… the nocturne came from a Hammond.
I could do that.
For the remainder of my sojourn, I busied myself with a mental reworking of the nocturne from piano to Hammond organ.
The carriage stopped. I opened my eyes again under the porte-cochère. Daniel opened the door.
“Thank you, Daniel.”
“You’re welcome, Jean-Claude.”
I thanked the driver and went into the Grand Dining Room to sit with Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier.
“Good Morning sleepyheads.”
They were eating. I received replies, among bites and sips.
“Dashiell, have you considered your options… what you’re going to do?”
Without skipping a bite, he shook his head and said, “No.”
He looked up from his work.
“I thought that was all set. Aren’t they deciding what we’re going to do, this afternoon?”
“No. They will tell us what they, as professionals, see as our best options. They will add another option to our other options. I’m wondering what you think is the best course for us.”
“Let’s wait until they’re done… my father and you Grandpapa are done. Then we can talk about it.”
I turned to Pierre-Gauthier.
“Pierre-Gauthier. You’re a little bed bug.”
“I’m a big bed bug. Vincent is the little bed bug.”
“I’m going in the music room until time for services.”
I sat at Veronica. My hands moved on the keys.
My mind wandered, again… growing up is a wild ride.
Someone asked me to play "In A Little Spanish Town" by Carson Robison. I promised I would try to get the music. I went to my desk, made a note, and slid it under the corner of the blotter.
Playing the Hammond came to my mind again. I left and went to the Grand Ballroom… now, the Grand Chapel.
Rows of chairs spread from a center aisle. There were a few hymnals in each row. I opened the Hammond and slid the music desk down. I opened the piano keyboard cover, too. I returned to the Hammond and sat on the bench.
The nocturne came to me, again. I set the drawbars and played a few bars of Chopin, but the drawbar settings were wrong. They didn’t sound right.
I reset the drawbars to the setting for hymns. I looked through the organ music and found fifteen interlude pieces with the drawbar settings. I set the drawbars and played one of the astonishingly boring interludes. I put the organ music away, reset the drawbars to the hymn song settings, and played variations on the hymns of the day. Far more interesting.
I saw Father Winifred and his entourage assembling in the back of the Grand Ballroom. I watched carefully for some sign from Father Winifred. He raised his hand, signaling me. I stopped playing.
Father Winifred said to the congregants, “Please rise and sung Hymn number 296, ‘All Through the Night.’”
I turned up the volume and played the first verse and the chorus, then started, leading the crowd. Rhythm is not this crowd’s forte. They kept trying to slow down… perhaps they were still drowsy.
The service music proceeded well. I looked at the clock as Father Winifred was delivering the Benediction. 11:25.
I thought to myself, “Right on time!”
I fired up the volume and played “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again,” and a handful of variations.
The altar boys snuffed out the candles. The church ladies removed the candles and stuff.
I stopped playing, turned off the organ, and closed the top. I closed the keyboard cover on the piano and put the organ music in my room.
I went out on the balcony and sat there for a few minutes. I knew this would be the last time I could think about my future. I wished so much for Dashiell to be with me.
Everything outside became a distraction. I went inside to sit at the piano. I played ‘Clair de lune.’ I opened my eyes. Distractions still surrounded me. Perhaps I was my own distraction… or I was trying too hard… I went to the Grand Dining Room.
I went in and sat at my table. Father Winifred, Mis’ess Winifred and Dashiell were at their table. I was alone. A Red came to pour coffee for me. I raised my hand to ward off the service. I rose and went to sit with Father Winifred and his family.
“May I sit here with you? It’s lonely over there by myself.”
“Certainly Jean-Claude.” Mis’ess Winifred said, pulling the chair out for me. I sat down and a passing Blue pushed my chair.
While the church people wandered out, the regular guests entered the Grand Dining Room for lunch.
A lady, who requested ‘In A Little Spanish Town’, stopped by the table to remind me of her request.
I flashed a big smile.
“That was ‘In A Little Spanish Town’ by Carson Robison, right?”
“Yes, dearie. I would so much love to hear it.”
“I promise… you will, and quite soon.”
I kissed her hand.
The Blues and Reds were working the tables. The churchgoers had left tips for the service on the tables.
The Maitre d’hôtel came to Father Winifred’s table and put three breadbaskets on the table.
He pointed to the baskets, “Tips your people left on the tables. We want your church to have them.”
Father Winifred rose, almost in tears, “Thank you ever so much. Thank you.”
Father took the baskets to Harriet Stowes, the church treasurer.
Mis’ess Winifred joined Father Winifred at Mis’ess Stowes’ table.
I looked at Dashiell and asked, “Have you thought about this afternoon at all?”
“No. Let’s talk about it afterwards.”
“Are your parents coming back to the table?”
“No. They’re going to Saint Cecilia’s this afternoon.”
“Then we are on our own, with Grandpapa, aren’t we?”
Dashiell leaned forward. His elbows on the table; arms crossed.
“I think they’ve decided what they’re going to do with us.”
I looked at him.
“It’s not like that. ‘They’ are not deciding what ‘they’ are going to do with us. ‘We’ are deciding what ‘we’ are doing.”
He turned to me.
“You really believe that, don’t you?”
“That’s the deal we made. We all shook hands on it. It can’t be any other way.”
Dashiell let out a long sigh.
“Part of me would really like to go to Paris…”
Another sigh… adding, “the heart of art.”
I added, “I would like Paris, too, but I’m just getting used to living here.”
(continued in next Chapter 11 - Index)