Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
Book 001 Prologue Born in New Jersey
Chapter 8. Reasonable Suggestions
Monsieur Malraux extended his arm to his wife and said, “You know, my love, I have a tin ear.”
He kissed her.
She dismissed his comment... “I’ll take your word for it.”
I looked around the room for Dashiell. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t in trouble.
“Excuse me. Madame Malraux. I need to help my friend, Dashiell.”
Monsieur Malraux stopped me as I tried to slide past him.
“I understand you didn’t see anything other than yourself in the drawing. Is that correct?”
“Yes. Mister Rosenberg asked me about what I saw.”
“Then you don’t know how much he adores you.”
Monsieur Malraux explained.
“In the drawing, Dashiell idolizes you. He wants so much to help you with some loss, some void, but feels ineffectual, crushed, because of his inability to comfort you.”
“I missed all of that. I just see me.”
“And he is equally lost in your music.”
I added, “I’ve heard that in here, today.”
Grandpapa put down the phone.
“Time for lunch everyone. Let’s be off to the Grand Dining Room. The wine is cold and the air is balmy. Bon Appétit.”
Two bellhops took the drawing and easel back to the Grand Dining Room.
An accident rescued the morning and with a little luck, the afternoon would be wonderful.
Lunch was the usual busy affair, dashing Reds and Blues and a constant conversational buzz. Dashiell sat with his mother… no Father Winifred. City business, no doubt!
The Malraux family ate at their table. Across the room, the men from New York were engaged in a lively conversation. All the regulars were there. Everything was normal, but something was different.
I ate my cheese and bread with a sip or two of house wine. Dashiell ate his usual full lunch.
I asked Aunt Odie, “I feel like something in different in here, this afternoon, but I don’t see any differences. You see a difference?”
“No, sweetie. Wednesday afternoon. Plain Wednesday afternoon.”
I looked around again. I saw two new couples down in the 300 line of tables on the other side of the piano. I had seen them here, before, in the winter.
I had a fruit compote for dessert. I smelled it.
I tasted it.
“Pretty good.” I ate most of it.
Aunt Odie excused herself and left. I sat there alone. I fidgeted, waiting for Dashiell to finish appeasing his appetite.
He finished and looked over at me. I nodded toward the music room.
I went to the music room and started my exercises.
Dashiell came in, sat on the fluffy couch, and eventually said, “Quite a time in here, this morning. I thought the world was coming to an end.”
“Don’t be silly.”
“I was really scared.”
“I don’t know.”
“Exactly,” I said. “All in your mind, Doctor Watson. They were here to talk about you and me and make suggestions about what would be best for us.”
“Sure, but not ‘end of the world’ scary.”
I stopped my exercises and turned to Dashiell.
“When do you think we should talk about what we should do? Those professional people from Paris and New York have ideas about you and me. Your parents and my Grandparents have ideas, too. You and I have ideas. I think we should get together with all of them, and talk it out. What do you think?”
“Does that mean you don’t want to think about it or you haven’t thought about it yet?”
“I’m afraid we are going to have to talk it out sooner or later.”
I slid to the end of the piano bench and looked straight in his eyes.
“I would watch the paper, to see if someone writes about Dashiell Winifred from Pennyworth, New Jersey, in the ‘Art Section’ of the paper.”
“There’s an ‘Art Section’ in the paper?”
“Wow. I didn’t know that.”
“All those people are not going to forget coming out here to see your work, today. You may forget them, but they’re not going to forget you… nor your drawing.”
“I guess so.”
“This all boils down to: One, we take charge and plan our future; or two, we sit back and let fate run our future.”
Dashiell didn’t say anything, while I looked for a reaction.
He muttered, “I don’t know…”
“You mean you don’t want to think about it?”
“Okay. I have to tell you I am anxious to learn about music and musicians. Perhaps, learning, about art and artists, doesn’t interest you. I respect your disinterest. I do want to learn about music, where my talent is. I want to create music to take people where I go, when I play.”
“I really do want to learn about art and artists.”
“Then you had better speak up. You don’t want to paint white ceilings in Pennyworth, for the rest of your life… do you?”
“Then you had better stand up and say, ‘I want to know more about art.’”
I hit the nerve… He looked up into my eyes, “Yeah. You’re right. I want to know more about art.”
“Then, we’re together?”
“You mean it. For sure?”
“Yes. For sure.”
“Keep your positive attitude. We will probably run into a lot of ‘I don’t know’ attitude. To succeed, we need to steer a steady course for our futures. Right now, we want to learn. How’s that sound?”
“Let’s see if we can get together with Grandpapa and your papa to discuss our futures.”
I picked up the phone, “My dearest aunt Gizzie.”
She replied, “I know I am going to have to pay to hear the rest of this phone call.”
“Not at all. Listen to my calls any time… all the time. Is Father Winifred and Grandpapa available for consultation?”
“Let me see…”
I heard her chair squeak as she looked.
“They’re both in the office. The door is open and they are laughing. I would say they are available. You want to talk to them or do a walk-in?”
“My dear aunt Gizzie. I’ll take you up on the invitation to do a walk-in. Thank you.”
“Okay. Sweetie. Bye. Bye. For now.”
I dropped the phone in its cradle and turned to Dashiell.
“They are laughing in the office. A good time to interest them in our futures. Remember, you’re Tarzan.”
We went into the outer office and tapped the casing of Grandpapa’s office door.
Grandpapa looked up. With eyebrows arched and a twinkle in his eye, he asked, “Yes?”
I looked at Dashiell.
“Keep a positive attitude,” and louder, “Let’s go.”
“Dashiell and I want to discuss our futures with you. Do you have time?”
Grandpapa looked at Father Winifred, put his cigar in his mouth, and said, ”Come in and sit down.”
I had a feeling as if I was a puppet in a bizarre comedy.
Father Winifred said, “Please, yes. We were expecting to hear from you both about this.”
He looked at Grandpapa… they smiled and nodded in unison. Evidently, they had talked about this, earlier.
I looked at Dashiell.
“You want to start Dashiell?”
“That’s okay, Jean-Claude. You can start.”
I looked back to Grandpapa and Father Winifred.
“Dashiell and I have decided we need to learn about our arts. We’re here to ask for your help in finding Art education for Dashiell and Music education for me.”
Dashiell leaned forward and expelled a long sigh toward the carpet.
Grandpapa dropped his old cigar in the ashtray.
He cleared his throat, saying, “We want to help you.”
Grandpapa asked, “What do you want to learn?”
I said, “We want to learn, what we don’t know.” I nudged Dashiell’s foot. “Isn’t that right. Dashiell?”
Father Winifred asked, “You are both so young.”
He looked at me, “You’re eleven…”
He turned to Dashiell, “You’re twelve.”
I said, “Mozart composed when he was five. I am already eleven.”
I looked at
Dashiell, who was wilting quickly,
“Benjamin West painted portraits at eight. Dashiell is already twelve.”
“We don’t want to wander along, picking up a little knowledge here and there. We want to go in the correct directions. Right, Dashiell?”
Grandpapa smiled, reached to the cigar box, popped the lid, extracted a cigar, and looked at Father Winifred.
Father Winifred took the queue from Grandpapa.
“This is not a problem for Beau or for me. It wasn’t a problem for Mozart. His father was a musician. It wasn’t a problem for West, he was self-taught.”
I jumped in, “and West could hardly spell as an adult... Great dumb artist. We don’t want to end up dumb.”
Grandpapa’s cigar preparations always preoccupied Dashiell. Grandpapa aimed the cutter for the chop. Grandpapa looked over the desk to me, and then to Dashiell.
He stopped, opened the cigar box, and offered Dashiell a cigar.
“No, Sir,” Dashiell said. “No thank you.”
“You’re welcome to have a cigar. They’re really good cigars.”
“No, thank you.”
Grandpapa looked at me.
“Any music academy will accept you.”
He looked down to the cutter, performed the chop, dropped the cutter into the drawer, and closed the middle drawer.
He looked over to Dashiell.
“Any art academy will accept you.”
Father Winifred added, “There is one tiny, little catch.”
Dashiell springs to life, “What’s that?”
“There are no art or music academies, this side of New York City.”
I looked at Dashiell. He looked crushed.
I said, “We could go on Saturdays.”
Grandpapa struck the match, drew in the smoke, puffed a few times and said, “I’d call Saturday classes a good option, under the circumstances.”
He put the retired match in the cigar tray and added, “There are other options. Had you thought of any of those?”
“Edmund and I made a list of four options. One, you could go to boarding school in the city and come home on weekends. Two, you could have your arts training here. We would import teachers for you. Three, Monsieur Malraux said he would take you to Paris where you could learn. Madame Malraux said she would do the same with Jean-Claude.”
Father Winifred said, “Four, you would learn as much as you can in the next year or so, teaching yourselves. You could go to the city on the weekends, eat, and sleep, music and art and return Sunday night. We could make changes at any time.”
Grandpapa added, “and you two would have time to reconsider, to change your methods, without a lot of pain and agony.”
Grandpapa looked at Dashiell.
“At some time, you may change your mind about being a professional artist or painter…”
He looked at me.
“… or a professional musician or composer.”
I looked at Dashiell for a clue. He stared back at me… owl-like… a blank signal.
I asked him, “What do you think of combining two and four: Between Friday night and Sunday afternoon, one, we would be in the city to attend the best instruction we can find, and two, to see and hear as much as we could of our arts.”
“What do you think, Dashiell?”
Dashiell said, matter-of-factly, “Living at home and going to the city for the weekends sounds better than living in the city and coming home on the weekends.”
“Importing teachers,” I said, “will not import the good teachers. So I’m not keen on that option.” I pushed my leg against Dashiell’s leg, to urge a response.
“As for number three,” I went on, “I would love to study music at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. On the other hand, I would never knowingly put my dearest friend through the upheaval of moving from the English speaking world to the French speaking world.”
Dashiell said, with reluctance, “Right.”
I asked, “Why do you say it, that way?”
“I would like to go to Paris. I have read about the school in the encyclopedia in the school library, but it is French and I am English, only.”
I offered, “If we don’t move to Paris or New York, then we have to do a variation like what we talked about. Do you have any alternative?”
Dashiell said, quite resigned, “I guess not.”
I looked at Grandpapa and Father Winifred, “Are we together on this, now?”
Grandpapa sat back, made several small puffs, managed a big puff and looked over to Father Winifred, who looked uncomfortable.
Grandpapa said, “Okay. Boys. Father Winifred and I will talk about it and get back to you at dinner.”
I added, “We will be around, if you want to talk, before dinner.”
I rose. Dashiell floated upward to his feet. We turned and left.
I heard, “Leave the door open,” behind me.
We went to my music room. The doors were already open, from this morning’s festivities. I did a butt toss into the fluffy couch. Dashiell went to the balcony door, looked across the croquet lawn, for a while, did not speak.
The stillness got to me.
“Dashiell. Is what they said about your drawing true? You know, about how you feel about me and how I miss Montréal and my mama?”
“How do they know about that?”
“The drawing shows it all.”
“I just see me.”
“I just hear the tune, when you play music. Other people wander in a musical heaven. You don’t see my art, and I don’t hear your art. Simple as that.”
Dashiell stopped talking and continued looking out on the croquet the lawn.
He left the doorway and sat on the fluffy couch beside me.
“I look in your face, and I see what you rarely talk about, missing your mama and Montréal. I see it in your hands, when you play Veronica.”
“You’ll probably think this is funny, but I saw your feet yesterday, as you walked in the sitting room, and I saw the pain even in your feet. I can’t help it. I look and there it is.”
He looked down, into his lap.
“You talk about how I feel about you… You are the image of me, I am afraid to be. I wish ever so much you lived a couple houses away from me and we were best buds from kindergarten. I wish I had a simple family, mom, dad, a brother, and a sister; and you had a simple family, too, a mom, dad, a brother, and a sister.”
I slapped him on his knee. “That’s the most you’ve said in a week, at one time.”
He looked in a questioning way, “You’re not mad at me?”
“What in the world for?
“Talking about those personal things with you?”
“Of course not. ‘Those things,’ as you say, make me who I am. I can’t change them… All I can do is accept ‘those personal things’ are part of me.”
He asked, “Do you ever… when you look in the mirror… do you ever see ‘those personal things’?”
“No. I just see me.”
“I don’t know why you just see you, when you look at my drawing. Other people see you differently in the drawing.”
“It all gets confusing after a while,” I said.
“Let’s go up to 401 and sit on the balcony. There we will be away from the rest of the world.”
We arrived at 401, undetected, or so we thought. We sat down on the balcony. The golfers wandered, in slow motion, in the grass.
After a few minutes, I said, “They look like the croquet ladies, all dolled up in their outlandish hats and outfits.”
Dashiell added, “Same crowd, different gender.”
Something came to mind…
“What we said before, I think we were trying to describe the indescribable. Your art is clear to you and art people ‘get it.’ My art is clear to me and music people ‘get it.’ To speak further, may not be meaningful.”
“You may have something there, Jean-Claude.”
He looked over, “Let’s stop agonizing over this.”
“Let’s do something.”
He thought for a moment. “Let’s change, run the loop, shower, go to dinner, and listen to our fate in the office.”
Down the elevator and down the hill we went. We stopped at the station drinking fountain. Back up the hill and to 401, into the shower.
“and you’re a rose.”
We laughed. I came out of the shower and into the dressing room. Dashiell rose as I opened the door.
As I passed at him, I said, “Ooooh! You stink!”
“Ha… often mistaken for a new perfume.”
He came out and dressed.
Wolfgang Amadeus in a lawn cravat came to mind.
“You want to excite them out of their wits, just for the fun of it?”
Dashiell loved having fun.
He said, “Sure.”
“Quick! Take off the jacket, shirt, and tie.”
“What in the world are you doing?”
“We’re going to ‘dress up’ a little more formal than our usual formal.”
I handed him a plain shirt, cuffs, cuff links, and a silk lawn cravat.
“Put these on, with the blue dinner jacket.”
“What is this?”
“It’s a cravat. Do you know how to tie it?”
I tied it for him. The dinner bell sounded.
I put on his cuffs and links. He slipped into his blue jacket.
“You will be the envy of the Grand Dining Room, Dashiell. You are awesome in that, especially with the white trousers. You now look like an artiste. You can strut a little and swagger. Shake your hair a little now and then. Try to look a little loose. The women will be in adoration, at your feet.”
I slid into my attire, identical to Dashiell.
We floated into the Grand Dining Room. Grandpapa saw us and instantly tossed a grand smile at us. He smiled for the rest of dinner. We certainly were the fashion stars of the evening. Upon seeing us, three of the croquet ladies stood and clapped. Dashiell survived his notoriety and swagger.
As he went to his table, he had to pass the Malraux table. Monsieur Malraux stood up, stopped him, and shook his hand and said something.
He did a slight bow. Perfect. The women loved him. They’d buy his jacket at any price, if he autographed it. Magnificent.
Grandpapa saw satisfaction on my face. He knew Dashiell would never on his own, wear cravat and cuffs. I didn’t care if I was kidding no one. Dashiell was enjoying himself and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him happy.
He sat at his table. The Bleu pushed his chair as he sat. Excellent.
With his back to me, I couldn’t see his face, but his mama and papa were full of smiles and pleasant gestures.
Grandpapa leaned to me and whispered, “What possessed you to dress him up?”
I leaned to him and whispered back, “Madame Malraux said it would be like talking to Mozart, if I were dressed in a lawn cravat and a wig. I gave him a cravat and told him he now looks like an artiste. I’m trying to build his self-esteem.”
“Are you afraid of losing your self-confidence?”
“No. If I go to the piano and play a few tunes, I gain the focus of any crowd. Dashiell needs to accept he is very special, too.”
Grandpapa said, “I’m proud of you, Jean-Claude. You’re a fine young Beauvais.”
“Thank you, Grandpapa.”
Grandpapa answered the phone behind his chair.
This went through my mind as Pat played the piano and I watched the Winifreds at their table, ‘if Grandpapa is proud of me, I hope my papa and mama would be proud of me, too’.
After the call, he turned and sipped his wine. I still kept an eye on Dashiell, looking for some kind of signal, as to how the weather was at his table. At this point, any feedback would have been welcome.
Grandpapa leaned toward me and asked, “Are you ready for this evening?”
“Good.” He smiled.
Seeing his smile gave me reassurance.
He finished his dinner and rose to go to the office.
“Let’s have a soiree.”
I laughed, “I’ll bring a couple ladies.”
Father Edmund rose, and brought Dashiell with him. We met in the doorway to the Grand Hallway. The four of us walked in silence to the office.
We sat down; Dashiell and I on the couch; Father Winifred on the left chair, in front of the desk. Grandpapa sat at his desk and reached toward the cigar box.
“Edmund and I have kept Gizzie busy most of the afternoon connecting us to people who know something about art and music education… what you two are looking for. They have advised us and we are ready to discuss this with you and work a deal.”
“Are we clear, boys?”
I nudged Dashiell, “Yes, Mister Beauvais.”
Grandpapa spoke as he worked on his cigar du jour.
“For Dashiell, we spoke to art educators. For Jean-Claude, we talked to music educators. All the pro’s said you have too much planned for your weekends.”
Father Winifred said, “They all agree at your age, there are two paths, one, boarding school, and two, see, hear, and do as much as you reasonably can. When you are older, there are different options.”
Grandpapa struck a match. His eyes followed the match as it neared his cigar.
He puffed, drawing the flame to the cigar.
“Wrapping this up.”
“Do you want to move”
Puff. His eyes rolled over to me, then to Dashiell.
“or New York,”
Puff. He shook the match out.
“or do you want to see, hear, and do?”
Puff. His eyes didn’t budge from Dashiell and me.
We were nailed. No wiggle room, now.
I said, “I don’t want to move and neither does Dashiell.”
Dashiell popped a quick, “No.”
I concluded, “We want to see, hear, and do.”
Grandpapa and Father Winifred stood, indicating the end of our tête á tête.
Grandpapa added, “We will hear from the New York critics in a few days. We can ask their opinions, too.”
We shook hands, left Grandpapa’s office, and stopped outside in the main office at a vacant desk.
I said, “What’s the matter? You look pale.”
“That was scary?”
“What was scary?”
“All those decisions.”
“Sometimes, you have to make a decision. We had a set of four choices. We liked one of them.”
“Still, it’s scary.”
“Just like ordering a sandwich. You can have it four ways, with tomato, tomato and mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise. No more complicated than that.”
Dashiell wasn’t convinced. We moved from the desk toward the door to the Grand Hallway.
I asked Aunt Gizzie, “Will the band be here tonight?”
She said, “Three of the guys were hurt when the bus slid off the road into a ditch yesterday afternoon.”
Dashiell and I exchanged glances.
She continued, “Grandpapa is trying to get another band.”
“Then I will continue in the tradition of wandering minstrels and play tonight.”
I started to walk away, when I stopped, turned and asked, “How do you like our cravats?”
“They’re lovely, honey.”
We went into the Grand Ballroom. The room was still empty.
“I want to get the music from the band’s piano bench, on the stage and look through it for some good stuff.”
I hopped up on the bandstand and took the music from the piano bench.
“Ah. Ha. My music now.”
I jumped down and added to the pile of pop music on the service cart.
I asked Dashiell, “Could you please pick the ones you like and stash them here?”
Dashiell named the tunes as he came across them in the stack. I opened the keyboard cover, sat down, and started playing the tunes from yesterday and the day before. People heard the music and came in to dance.
Dashiell opened the newly found music and put some on the music desk. One of the regular guests came over and asked me to play, ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”
“I’ll play it, next.”
Dashiell finished. He sat next to me.
As soon as he was settled, I asked him, “Saturday we can go to town and check out some art and music.”
I looked at him.
“You ready for the excitement?”
“How can you do that?”
“Talk and play at the same time?”
“I don’t know. It just happens.”
I looked again.
“You are quite the dashing young artiste in the cravat.”
“We have to plan to get the most from our see, hear and do strategy.”
We talked and played until 10:30. I put the keyboard cover down. Dashiell and I retreated to the music room.
“We must get your art studio built ‘Pronto!’ Your studio is vital for your future. You need a place where you can do your work.”
Dashiell looked better when I spoke of his art. I wondered if he was happy being stuck in here with me.
“Will you be okay, being in here with me? I just said about your studio this morning, because I wanted to make sure the idea was included in the ‘Things-To-Do’ list. If you would prefer a place away from me, that’s okay, too.”
“I don’t want to be anyplace else, except here with you.”
“Get serious.” I looked seriously at him. “The cravat has affected your mind. Is having your art studio here, O.K?
Dashiell spoke gently, “Sure.”
“Do you know what art supplies you want?”
“Then it’s time to go to an art supply store. What do you say?”
“I would be happy just to use your desk and some paper and ink.”
“As you like. Building your art studio can always be done later, when you feel the need.”
I sat and started his beloved nocturnes. He visually relaxed, hearing the familiar strains.
“I want to play pop music on the organ, but don’t know where to start. Tomorrow, would you show me stuff on the organ?”
“Sure,” he said. “Whatever I know, I’ll show you.”
“After this one, let’s go to bed. It’s been a long day.”
“Good. I’m tired, too. Please finish this one, first.”
I opened my eyes and saw a smiling Dashiell, trying to dance to the nocturne, at the other end of the piano.
I closed my eyes and finished the nocturne, feeling as if I had added some pleasure to his day.
After the nocturne, he closed the outside doors. I closed the keyboard cover. We both slept well that night.
The 6:20 train was on time. I heard the clock ‘not strike’ the quarter hour. I sat up. The Sun was shining across the front lawn. I went to the bathroom. When I came out, Dashiell was awake and ready for his shower.
Properly dressed, we went to breakfast. Pat was playing. We nodded to each other, as Dashiell and I sat for breakfast.
I said, “Some mornings, the coffee tastes better than other mornings.”
Dashiell made a definitive reply, “It’s all in your mind.”
“Perhaps. What difference does it make?”
“I guess none.”
I wanted one of those free Hammond lessons.
“Do you want to go to Black Rock Falls this afternoon? Get some art goodies? I could get one of those free Hammond organ lessons. I will need all the help I can get for Sunday’s church service.”
Dashiell reservedly added, “I will help you, too.”
“I’d appreciate your help, most.”
After breakfast, we went to the music room and I set up the afternoon Hammond lesson in Black Rock Falls and Gregors would take us in the car. Aunt Gizzie found two art supply places in the phone book in Black Rock Falls. I wondered if there was a falls or a black rock near a falls in Black Rock Falls. With the afternoon all set up,
I picked up the phone, “Aunt Gizzie. Could you please send a bellhop in with a short stack of white paper?”
“Thank you, Aunt Gizzie.”
The doors were open. The croquet ladies were swarming outside the window. We went to the window and waved. They fluffed their feathers and returned the wave.
Opening the keyboard cover, I pounded out a rousing version of La Marseillaise, invoking applause, from below the balcony.
The bellhop arrived with the paper. Dashiell took the paper, thanked the bellhop, who left, and put the paper on the desk.
“Shall we do a little Hammond rag?”
“I would be delighted to do the Hammond rag!”
We in light spirits left the music room and cranked up the Hammond. Dashiell pushed the service cart from the piano to the organ.
Pointing to the smallest stack, Dashiell said, “This is the music the organ people sent with the organ.” He held up one book, “This book comes with the organ.”
“I guess we should start with the book from Hammond.”
Dashiell injected, “I can help you a lot, going through this book. It shows the features of the organ, mostly. There’re a couple tunes in the back to play. You’ll see what I mean, as we go through it.”
Dashiell sat next to me and put the Hammond book on the organ desk.
“Before we start, I need to know, if you want to know everything in the book or just the stuff that you are apt to use? I would suggest you go for everything.”
I was not used to Dashiell being so definitive.
Smiling, I said, “Everything, please.”
I liked his precision.
We turned pages in the Hammond book, and tried this and that on the organ. I was certain I knew what the control did. I now knew about setting the drawbars and manipulating the Leslie controls.
Dashiell turned the page and there was the organ music. ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ stared at me. I set the organ, and played it.
I asked Dashiell, “How was that?”
I had no problem playing the tune.
Dashiell replied, “You pressed all the right notes. The problem and it isn’t a problem from the music page, but the problem in playing is when you change from one sound on the keyboard, you do it with your hand off the keyboard. Slide over and let me show you what I mean.”
I slid over and Dashiell pointed to a place in the tune.
“There’s a change in the sound. I’ll play it like you played it and then the way it is actually played.”
I got it, immediately. “Wow. That makes a big difference.”
Dashiell added, “Be sure to let the music breath. Be sure to rest on the rests. The notes will sing as long as you hold them down. If you don’t give the music, time to breath, your listeners will be holding their breath as you play and when you finish, they’ll be out of breathe. At the end of lines and verses, give it air. Go ahead and try it, again.”
I played it again, this time, giving it air, as he said.
He turned the page. ‘Away in a Manger’ looked at me.
I set the drawbars and played the music, giving it time to breath.
Dashiell said, “Excellent.”
I was gaining confidence. I said, “Let play something from one of the other books.”
Dashiell held up, ‘Fun Songs on the Hammond Organ’.
I nodded. He opened the book and put the music to the first song on the music desk. The book kept trying to close. He took two other books and put one on each side of the music, to hold the music open.
I read the music and the changes. I played it. “How was that?”
“Excellent.” Dashiell replied.
“That was four-four time. Is there any three-four or six-eight time in there?”
We enjoyed ourselves until it was lunchtime.
We ate lunch and were ready for Gregors, when he arrived at the front door, with the top down.
We arrived at Edward’s Music, I hopped out. Gregors and Dashiell went to the art supply stores.
The next two hours were revolutionary. I went to sit at a Hammond Organ. Casey stopped me. “
Not yet. Before you play one of those, you should understand how a Hammond became what it is today. Go to that organ, the big one with the colored things on it. I’ll be there in a second.”
I sat down at this monster organ.
She sat beside me.
“Don’t be intimidated by the size. The bigger they are, the easier they are to play.”
She pointed as she continued.
“There are two keyboards and one pedal board. The top keyboard called the solo… the bottom one is the accompaniment.
She pointed to a little plate, ‘Solo’.
“These tablets control the sound to the solo keyboard. The numbers refer to the longest pipe. The longer the pipe, the lower the sound. All the 8 foot sounds are the normal sounds of the pipe. The 4 foot sounds are an octave higher. The 16 foot sounds, an octave lower. 2 is an octave above 4 foot and 1 is an octave above 2 foot. So far so good?”
I reiterated, “The numbers refer to the pipe size and octave location on the keyboard. Got it. What is the 2 2/3 and 1 3/5?”
“At this point it is more meaningful to demonstrate them then to talk about them, technically. Press middle C and hold it. Now I’ll flip the 2 2/3 on and off a few times.”
“Now I flip the 1 3/5.”
“Slide over and you flip them as I play.”
She played a hymn tune, raised her hands at the end of the chorus, and said, “Okay. Now flip them.”
I added the 2 2/3.
“The 2 2/3 adds so much to the sound.” I said.
“But you have to listen to them to make sure they’re doing what you want them to do.”
“Are you okay with that?”
We went on for a while more, then I got to graduate to the Hammond organ.
“This organ is identical to yours, except this wood is rosewood. Sit down and you’ll see the Hammond in the context of the other organ.”
I sat and I did now have a familiarity with some of the markings on the organ. I knew what 16, 8, 5 1/3, 4, 2, 2 2/3, 1, 1 3/5, 1 1/3 was all about. I recognized flutes, diapasons, reeds, strings, and brass.
She said, “You now know what all the settings do. Now we do the fun part, How to alter the settings to make a tune more musical.” She looked at me.
“I’m ready, let’s go!”
“Okay. Let take a typical Sunday morning hymn, you can use as a recessional.”
“What’s a recessional?”
“Usually a march to get the crowd moving out of church. It starts out gentle and gets cooking as it comes to an end, and you can rerun the end as many times as you like. Watch what I mean.”
She started to play a hymn I recognized, “A Mighty Fortress.” She played it first as a plain hymn, then again with the pedals pumping a little, to set the rhythm, then added more on the keyboards, and then the more to the pedals and more still to the keyboards, with the pedal very aggressively pumping out the rhythm.
“You see it is a matter of adding, as you like. You’ll find this is a lot of fun to do and you’ll catch yourself doing little extras. You’ll also learn soon enough, you have to keep your ear tuned to what you are doing.”
“Here’s an example.”
She played a tune. “Now here’s the variation.”
She added so much to the tune. The tune became very interesting, whereas the original was rather plain.
“The original is the music they sell you. The second is what an organ player adds, to make it sound more interesting.”
I heard the front door open and a bell tingle.
“Hello?” A beautiful Norwegian accent announced ‘Gregors is here to get me’.
Casey said, “Here are Book One and Book Two, to get you started creating your own style. Listen to the radio and listen to everyone play and you’ll pick up a wealth of fills and progressions. Enjoy your new instrument. When you feel you need more help, look for a course in music theory. There’s also a book for you to read, by a French fellow, Berlioz’s Orchestration. I believe you can read it in French.”
“Thank you Mis’ess Edwards.”
I took the two books and headed to the front door,
Gregors took the two books and we headed out to the car.
“Gregors. Can I run across the street and get any new songs on the hit parade?”
We crossed the street and there were four new songs. I grabbed them, Gregors paid for them and we returned to the car.
Dashiell was sitting in the back seat, looking at some art books he found at the art stores.
“I have a couple books, too.”
Dashiell looked at me and said, “Mine are better.”
“Yours have more pictures.”
Dashiell asked, quite seriously, “How did it go?”
“Terrific! Better than I had expected. When I got in the car…”
I pointed to the front seat.
“I saw a box of stuff on the floor of the front seat. You found some goodies. How did it go?”
“Awesome. I found this man, Henry Gigôt, in the second store. We talked and talked. He’s an artist. He goes to the city on the weekend to visit with other artists. I met his wife.”
He patted my shoulder, as the car pulled into traffic.
“She’s into music. We might run into them in the city, some weekend.”
I sat back and enjoyed watching Dashiell look at his art books. He was in his element now. He was seeing and not missing anything on the pages.
He looked up, “Yeah.”
”I sit here watching you with that art book, and I thought of you seeing me read the music. I see the material on the page leaving the paper and going into your head effortlessly. Watching you and the art book is like witnessing a miracle. All of a sudden and I know it sounds dumb, I can understand and not understand at the same time.”
“Don’t try to put words to it, Jean-Claude. Let it be… we understand, but don’t understand and that’s okay.”
“How do we get to this same conversation every few hours?”
We both laughed as a few rain drops fell.
Gregors stopped the car and put the top up.
Gregors said, “Just a few minutes more and we’ll be home, fellas.”
As we neared the front door, I became concerned, thinking if Grandpapa had found a band.
“I hope Grandpapa finds a band, soon. I feel responsible in a way, for playing in the Grand Ballroom, when there’s no band.”
Dashiell offered this idea, “I’m sure he can find a piano player in Pennyworth to play a couple hours for a price.”
“I’ll ask him about it… better yet, I’ll ask Gizzie. She knows everything about what’s happening.”
The car pulled to a stop, under the porte-cochère. I gave Dashiell my keys, so he could enter the music room with the two bellhops, carrying his treasures.
I headed into the office, to Aunt Gizzie’s desk and performed a magnificent butt-toss into the chair beside her desk, causing it to squeak and smack into the side of her desk. She clenched her free hand in a fist and shook it at me.
Aunt Gizzie is always on the phone. I never know if she is just listening or is actually switching calls. I have noted I can get more and better information from her, if I patiently wait, until she is ready to address my problem. So, I waited.
“Did Grandpapa find a band?”
“Yes, he did in a way. Instead of one big band, he is looking to hire two small bands. They’ll be here tomorrow morning at nine. By the way, Bjorn said he has something to show you tonight. He was explaining it, but I had no idea what he was talking about.” The switchboard buzzed. “Lake Pennyworth Place Operator…”
I waved as I rose to leave. She grabbed my hand.
“Just a moment and I will connect you.”
Looking at me, she spoke into the phone.
“John Russell, from the New York Times… calling Monsieur Malraux.”
She put her finger to her lips, her visual ‘Shhhh’ and listened.
I was definitely interested.
Dashiell would pee his pants, if he were here, now.
She pulled the plug from the room, as the switchboard buzzer sounded, and a room number lit.
“Thank you. Just a moment, please.”
She made a connection, pulled the plug, and turned to me.
“Jean-Claude. John Russell is coming here Friday with some friends for the weekend to meet with you, Dashiell, Grandpapa, and Father Winifred. It seems you two have made quite a splash in the art world in the city. Mister Russell wrote an article in the paper about Dashiell. He is bringing Irving and a few friends.”
She looked at me.
“Anything else, sweetie?”
I said, “I hope the new bands are not an embarrassment to Grandpapa.”
“Everything will work out. Don’t you worry about a thing. Grandpapa will take care it all.”
“I am off to see what Dashiell is up to in the music room. Bye. Bye. Aunt Gizzie.”
“Bye. Bye. Sweetie.”
I walked into the Grand Ballroom and found Dashiell putting the music books Casey gave me, on top of the music, on the service cart.
He asked, handing me my keys, “How’s the band search going?”
“Aunt Gizzie said Grandpapa is looking into hiring two small bands, tomorrow, and letting them play together.”
“I have some other news you may be interested in. You remember the art guy from the paper, John Russell.”
“He is coming back this weekend with some friends, and Irving. This is from the Gizzie Gazette, so we can’t say anything.”
“I won’t tell.”
We went into the music room. I sat at Veronica and Dashiell sat in the fluffy couch with his art books.
“I have something else to tell you, but I have to wait.”
He looked up.
“Wait for what?”
“Wait until you go to the toilet. I don’t want to be responsible for your peeing, in your pants.”
“It’s okay. You can tell me.” He hopped among the cushions.
“You want to look in the paper in the next couple days. Mister Russell wrote an article about you, in the New York Times.”
“Direct from the Gizzie Gazette, after she heard it on the phone.”
“I want to do my exercises and then try the new organ material I have.”
He looked up from the book, as it opened in his lap. “Are you going to practice in here or the Grand Ballroom?”
“We’re here. In here. O.K with you?”
“Sure. I just wanted to know if we were going to be moving or if I could settle into the cushions.”
“Settle in and enjoy!”
I worked my exercises and scales. A thought came to me.
“Dashiell. Who is playing the Sunday morning service on the organ?”
“Doctor Shultz moved to Black Rock Falls. I don’t know if he is still going to be our music director. I’ll ask my dad, this evening.”
While Dashiell ingested his art book, I exercised with a double set of scales. I started to play one of his nocturnes. He looked up and smiled.
“Dashiell. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
I finished the nocturne.
“I’m going to go work on the organ. You coming?”
“Yeah,” he said, extending his hand, so I could drag him from the clutches of the fluffy couch.
“Once I get comfy in the fluffy couch, I hate to get up.”
I added, “I know what you mean.”
In good spirits, we walked into the Grand Ballroom. There sat the black beauty, waiting.
I nodded to the organ.
“I will tame the beast.”
Dashiell added, “I will watch as you do.”
He paused and added…
I sat at the organ, turned it on, and opened the hymnal. I played a hymn and bridged at the end of the chorus to a repeat of the chorus in a different key. I bridged again and added the mixtures. I was getting itchy to do something interesting on the pedals. The music pedal line in the book was boring. It cried out for help but I didn’t know what to add. I tried playing just the bass line and it popped out at me. I could add fifths. I tried it… much better.
I played a different hymn, as plain and a rerun with the added fifths on the pedals. Worked fine.
A third hymn and a fourth. Each time the added fifth on the pedals worked.
I discovered other ‘tools’ as I played the hymns. The hymnal, which, up until this point, was a pile of boring tunes, turned out to be fun music. The written music was boring, but what I could do with it… that was very exciting.
I pushed the hymnal to the side. Dashiell opened Book One to page 1. I did the simple exercise and played the tune, accompanying the exercise. “That’s cool.”
I went through about half of the book.
Dashiell asked, “Is this working?”
“Is what working?”
“The stuff in the book.”
“Sure. On the organ. Maybe on the piano, too. I might have to improvise a little to make these alterations work on piano, but I’m sure I’ve heard them on the piano. The style might be different.”
“Let me play a handful of popular tunes and add some of these toys to them. I’ll play plain, first, and then with some extras. You tell me how they sound. I’ll add in what Casey showed me, this morning, too. A kind of wrap up of Thursday on the Hammond.”
I played five tunes. By the end of this exercise, I was quite into playing popular music on the Hammond.
“Judge Dashiell Winifred, your Honor. How was that?”
“Sounded great to me. What you added, sounded fine.”
“Oh Dashiell. Be honest. Was it really that good?”
“In that case, I might even play some tunes, tonight, on the Hammond.”
“Let’s go play those four new songs on the piano.”
I played them and again to make sure I had them nailed.
I tried them on the organ… it was easy and fun.
I looked at Dashiell, “You won’t be upset if I have a good time playing the organ, will you?”
He gave me his warm and loving smile.
“As long as you don’t have too much fun painting.”
I think we both felt as ease with our art and music situation from that moment on. We never questioned each other again and, thankfully, we stopped having our repeated your-art-my-art conversation.
I did a couple more exercises in the organ book and heard the dinner bell.
“Let’s run upstairs and get ready for dinner.”
Off went the organ and Leslies. Down went the keyboard cover and up to 401 went Dashiell and I.
Quick wash-ups and redress. Both sides, anterior, posterior, nails, hair, and shoes.
Looking in the mirror again, I said, “My hair is a mess. I have to redo it.”
Dashiell said, “I scuffed my shoes.”
In a silly mood, I said, “Take’m off.”
With my hair fixed, and Dashiell’s shoes changed, we went to dinner.
As we went in, I said, “Ask your dad about Doctor Shultz and Sunday’s music.”
Dashiell returned, “Okay.”
I nodded to Pat. He nodded in return.
I sat next to Grandpapa who was talking on the phone.
He turned around and tasted his soup. “Broccoli soup. Good for you. Makes you healthy.”
I ventured to meet him halfway, “Do you mean I should try it? It looks funny. All green and icky.”
“Tastes quite fine. It’s green, the color of the vegetable.”
I could see Dashiell working away on a bowl of green, so I caved in. “I’ll try some.”
Grandpapa raised his hand. A Blue arrived and returned with a cup of green soup. I tried it. It wasn’t awful, but not exciting either.
I said, “It is very green.”
“They say green is healthy for you.”
“‘They’ say all kinds of rubbish.”
“What have you heard, lately?”
I cleared my throat of greenery with a sip of housewine.
“Don’t say anything, but the Gizzie Gazette said there will be an article in the New York Times, soon, about Dashiell and his art.”
Grandpapa looked around and put his forefinger to his mouth.
“I understand that you are looking into getting a band. I would like to have a key to the music room for Dashiell?”
“I will take care of that, after dinner.”
Grandpapa asked, “Did the Gizzie Gazette say anything else?”
“Yes. Now that you mention it. She said some of the art critic’s friends are coming back this weekend.”
I started shaking my head, negatively.
“I don’t remember who they are, though she told me their names.”
“I heard that, too.”
He bit into a piece of bread and chewed.
I noticed Pat playing one of Dashiell’s nocturnes. Dashiell didn’t seem to hear it.
I said, “Dashiell and I are supposed to go to the city on the weekends to soak up our art.”
Grandpapa asked, “Do you think it would it be rude to leave and abandon these people who are traveling here to see you guys?”
“Yes, What do you suggest Grandpapa?”
“Perhaps, Dashiell and you can go Monday, or Tuesday, instead of Saturday.”
I said, “Fine by me,” and added, “I’ll talk to Dashiell.”
Grandpapa surprised me.
“I’ll find out right now.”
He went across the Grand Dining Room to Father Winifred’s table. They conversed, returned to our table, sat, and said, “Dashiell said, ‘Monday or Tuesday would be fine.’”
“Ainsi soit-il. Tuesday.”
Dessert had arrived. One of Mister Allison’s cake creations.
“I must make a point of thanking Mister Allison, tomorrow morning, for such a lovely sweet.”
With my dessert finished, I sat back in my chair.
“I went for the free organ lesson this morning and played the organ, this afternoon.”
Grandpapa arched his eyebrows.
“How did it go?”
“Much better than I had expected. The lady explained the organ controls and suddenly it all makes sense.”
“Good for you,” he said. “Too many buttons and things to fiddle with, for me. I am still working on mastering the two knobs on the radio.”
After dinner, Grandpapa stood. I stood. Father Winifred stood. Dashiell stood. We headed for the door. Grandpapa and Father Winifred led to parade. Dashiell and I were in the rear and trying to compare notes.
Nothing new at his table. Nothing new at my table.
We both knew something was happening, but neither of us had a clue.
Grandpapa sat down at his desk. Father Winifred sat in the chair by the window, and Dashiell and I sat in the soft chairs, in front of the desk, with a plant between us.
We were too big to both sit in the same chair. I felt so distant from him. I got up, moved the plant out of the way, and pushed the chairs, closer.
Grandpapa asked, “What is that all about?”
I responded, matter-of-factly, “Dashiell and I respond to each other, by sight as well as sound. I understand how he feels about something by how he looks and he does the same with me.”
“When you’re done responding, put the chairs and the plant back where they were.”
Grandpapa looked at Father Winifred.
“They are drinking too much city water.”
Grandpapa and Father Winifred laughed. The joke was lost on Dashiell.
Grandpapa continued, still laughing.
“It’s affecting your minds.”
He looked back to Dashiell and me.
“A little city joke between the mayor and me.”
Father Winifred said, “This is a strategy meeting, boys. There will be a lot of excitement tomorrow. Beau and I want to prepare you for what is going to happen tomorrow.”
I looked at Grandpapa. No laughing now.
I looked at Dashiell, who looked back at me, owl-like.
Father Winifred went on, “Tomorrow, pro’s from the music world and art world will be here. They will be here to further your artistic skills. They will talk with you. They’ll watch and listen to you. They’ll ask you questions. You can ask them questions. Anything you want to talk about is okay.”
“Whatever you say, is between you and them. Beau and I won’t know what you talk about.
Early Sunday afternoon, we’ll gather in the Grand Ballroom and close the doors. They’ll make suggestions for you to Beau and me.”
Grandpapa looked at me.
I immediately asked, “How do Dashiell and I fit into this?”
Father Winifred start to say something.
“Look. Edmund and I know we don’t know what is best for you, so we are calling in the experts.”
Grandpapa looked at the three of us, in order, Father Winifred, to Dashiell, and to me, reached for a cigar, and said,
“They have assured us…
“Grandpapa. If you do a cigar, that will put Dashiell out of the conversation. Please, could you hold off until we are done talking?”
Grandpapa looked at me, surprised. He looked at Dashiell.
“It that true?”
“Your future is far more important than my cigar right now.”
He lowered the top of the cigar box and continued.
“They have assured us that Edmund and I will find their proposals reasonable and in your best interests.”
Grandpapa looked at me, then Dashiell.
“They assured Father Winifred and me, that you and Jean-Claude will find their proposals better than you can dream.”
“I looked at Dashiell and said, “Sounds like they already have their minds made up.”
Dashiell agreed without saying so.
Dashiell said, “I am willing to go along, as long as don’t have to move. I don’t want to move to the city, and Jean-Claude has already had his share of moving.”
With his hand in the air, Father Winifred said, “I promise neither of you will have to move.”
(continued in next Chapter 9 - Index)