Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
Book 001 Prologue Born in New Jersey
Chapter 9. A Little Jealous
Grandpapa said, “Me, too.”
He put his hand in the air. He picked up the phone. “Gizzie, tell that sign man you know, I need a nameplate for the door of the studio, ‘Mister Dashiell Winifred. In white and gold.” He listened to whatever she was saying. “Yes, it’s now called Le Studio. You can publish that in the Gizzie Gazette. By the way, when you have a chance, I need another key for the studio, in here.” He listened. Okay.” He put the phone down in the cradle.
Father Winifred grinned.
“Look at them, Beau. You can see those wheels turning in their heads. They think we’re up to something.”
Grandpapa added, “We’re not changing anything. We are making things better. We are calling in the pro’s to help us do what will be most fruitful for you guys.” Knock. Knock.
Aunt Gizzie came in, gave Grandpapa a key, and left.
Grandpapa rose, leaned across the desk to Dashiell, and handed him the key.
“All we ask is that you both be honest.”
He looked at Father Winifred.
“One hundred per cent.”
“Okay. Any questions?”
I said, “Just one.”
Dashiell shook his head negatively.
“Will Doctor Shultz be here to play the organ Sunday morning?”
Father Edmund said, “No. He moved in with his in-laws in Black Rock Falls.”
I pursued him, “Do you have another organist for Sunday?”
“I was hoping that Dashiell and you could work that out.”
Dashiell pointed to me.
“Jean-Claude can play anything and play it beautifully. I labor at it and it still isn’t right. Jean-Claude and I have a pact. He doesn’t draw and I don’t play music.”
Father Winifred sat back and listened, very focused on Dashiell’s input. Dashiell went on.
“We have agreed we have no idea why we are so good at what we do, but have decided that there is no point to talking further about it. We have repeatedly talked to the point, where words are inadequate. We don’t go there anymore.”
Father Winifred turned to Grandpapa.
“My! My! Beau, when you and I were adolescents, I don’t think we could have delved into Philosophy and the Arts with their enthusiasm.”
Grandpapa looked at Dashiell and me.
“Edmund and I were more interested in less ethereal pursuits.”
“Dashiell,” Father Winifred said, “that is the most I have ever heard out of you, in your entire life. You’re growing up, boy. Good for you.”
Grandpapa pointed to the door.
“Okay. You guys get out of here, so I can smoke my cigar and tell Edmund some new jokes, I heard.”
Dashiell and I stood to leave. I grabbed his hand, to stop him, before opening the door.
I looked at Grandpapa and then Father Winifred.
“Dashiell and I want to thank both of you.”
Dashiell nodded in agreement.
We turned and left.
“Leave the door open” followed us out the doorway. The top of the cigar box fell.
By the time we went out the door into the Grand Hallway, I heard Grandpapa and Father Winifred roaring in laughter. Dashiell and I looked at each other.
He said, “Why don’t they tell us those jokes?”
We walked, side by side, to the Grand Ballroom. I liked the feeling of his being next to me. I remembered what Father Winifred said about he was growing up. I felt like I was growing up, too.
Candles burned in the middle of each table. There were a few love birds, already sitting and cooing. Dashiell and I would entertain them until 10 or 10:30. We still had a few minutes before anyone expected music.
Dashiell and I sat down at a table adjacent the piano and organ.
I said, “We will be busy out of our minds until Sunday at dinner time. We need a signal to indicate one of us needs to take a break. If we need help, we’ll call for a carriage and take a ride around the loop to get away from everyone.”
Dashiell added, “If things are too scary, we’ll take the carriage to town and come back a couple hours later.”
“Try to figure out a good sign or signal.”
“Okay,” he said. “I hope this weekend with these people works out.”
“I do, too.”
I rose to turn the organ on and returned to the table.
“I’ll play a set on the organ, then play a set on the piano, and then take a break. I don’t have a brother, but if I did, I would want him to be exactly like you, except…”
I paused, until Dashiell looked too worried.
“… except I wouldn’t want him to have hair like yours.”
I pushed my fingers into his hair and ruffled it, just as he liked.
“I’m so envious.”
People playing with his hair gave him enjoyment.
He never said anything, but I knew he liked it.
He grinned. “How about ‘Giddy Up?’”
I played a set of five tunes, repeating the chorus a few times with variations. I found some of the organ variations worked on the piano and some just got lost in the sound.
I came to the end of the first set on the piano and rose to go to the organ. People were making their way to their seats, Reds were busy pouring and running for refills.
I started the organ set with “Tico tico” and followed by a slow song, “How Are Things In Glocca Morra.” The music was on the music desk at the organ store. I really didn’t mean to steal a copy in my head. I played three or four more tunes. It was break time. I rose from the organ, to applause, I turned, smiled, and nodded in appreciation.
I sat with Grandpapa and Grandmamma and sipped some house wine.
“Grandpapa, the house wine tasted especially nice, tonight.”
He looked across the room, “Somebody once said, ‘Sometimes, the plainest of things turn unexpectedly good.’”
That sounded so profound to me.
I asked, “Who said that, Grandpapa?”
Grandpapa said, “I did,” with a touch or a laugh.
I laughed, too. Aunt Odie and Maurice came to the table.
Maurice said, “How you doing, Jean-Claude?”
“I think I am doing fine. Someone once said, ‘You never know about today’s seeds, until you count your sprouts, tomorrow.’”
Grandmamma started laughing again. Grandpapa joined in. I kept a straight face. Aunt Odie knew something was afoot. Maurice walked into the trap.
“Who said that, Jean-Claude?”
I was laughing before I tossed the punchline, “I did.”
Grandpapa, Grandmamma, and I howled.
Maurice laughed, “I owe you for that one.”
One more sip of wine and I was back to the piano. I introduced, “Les Brown’s I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “Teresa Brewer’s Music! Music! Music!,” “The Mills Brothers’ Someday,” “Ames Brothers’ Rag Mop,” and “Sammy Kaye’s Harbor Lights.” Finishing at the piano, I rose from the bench, to applause. I walked around the piano and sat on the organ bench. I spoke in to the microphone, “I’ll start off with the favorite of half the fathers in the world, “the Mills Brothers’ Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Frankie Laine’s Dream A Little Dream of Me,” “Russ Morgan’s Crusin’ Down the River,” “Beer Barrel Polka,” and “Dinah Shore’s Dear Hearts and Gentle People.”
I rose from the organ to applause, nodded to the guests in appreciation, and sat with Grandpapa, Grandmamma, and Aunt Odie. Grandpapa raised his hand. A Red poured a fresh glass of wine.
As the Red poured, I said “Thank you. I do work up a thirst, after a while.”
I was happy to sit with Grandpapa and Grandmamma. We didn’t need to speak. Nearness was pleasant, itself.
With my glass emptied and my dryness quenched, I rose and went to the piano.
I tapped the microphone.
“My next set will start with ‘Vaughn Monroe’s Ballerina,’ and then ‘Ken Griffin’s You Can't Be True, Dear,’ and ‘Art Mooney’s Baby Face,’ and ‘Vaughn Monroe & The Sons of The Pioneers’ Cool Water,’ and last, ‘Ted Weems’ Heartaches’.”
“The clock on the wall reads 10:15. For any Birthday people, here’s the Birthday song. I played it again with a key change. Here’s The Anniversary Waltz for anyone with an anniversary. And now, it’s time to say ‘Goodnight, Irene’, and ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’.”
I rose and bowed to the guests, who applauded. I was tired. I didn’t see Dashiell. I gathered the music, and checked the organ bench and piano bench for miscellaneous papers. Everything loaded on the service cart. I pushed the cart to the music room. I went inside and Dashiell was asleep, with one of his art books on his belly. I wished I had a camera.
I woke him. He was all warm, soft, and cuddly.
“Let’s get to bed. Tomorrow is another day and we have to be on our toes, tomorrow.”
I dragged him, up the back elevator and into 401. I took his clothes off, and opened the bed for him to slide in. I covered him. He was instantly asleep. I put our shoes in the hall.
I took my clothes off, put on my pajamas, and climbed into bed, as gently as I could, to not disturb my sleeping best friend.
The clock rang 11 o’clock.
I eased out of bed, turned the clock off, and slid back into bed.
Morning came early. I heard the 6:20 train, two hours to show time. I laid there wondering if I should let Dashiell sleep for a little more or wake him up.
“Dashiell,” I whispered.
I put my hand on his shoulder to stir him. He reached up and pulled my hand. He wanted me to stay in bed.
“We have to get up. Two hours to show time. They’ll be here in two hours. You don’t want Aunt Odie to let them in here and we’re still in bed. That’s not proper.”
“Geez! You’re right. I am just so comfortable. I don’t want to move. When I move, the bed is cold.”
“You don’t have your pajamas on.”
“Come on, Dashiell. Try and wake up… get ready for the shower. I’ll go clean up, first.”
I went through my morning ablutions. When I came out, Dashiell was sitting on the side of the bed, with the comforter wrapped around him and over his head.
“I wish I had a camera. What a picture!”
“Good Morning, Pierre-Gauthier.”
“Here’s your shoes,” he said, putting the shoes on the chair, by the door.
Dashiell popped his head out of the mass of bedding, “Good Morning, Pierre-Gauthier.”
I asked, “What brings you to our little world, this morning?”
“Vincent is giving mama and papa a hard time, so I came up here to get away from all the noise.”
“Welcome. Sit down and make yourself at home. Did you have breakfast yet?”
“No. I can’t eat in the middle of the war in 211.”
“Dashiell and I would be pleased, if you came to breakfast with us.”
I looked at Dashiell, who had slid back to laying across the bed, wrapped in the comforter.
“Isn’t that right, Dashiell?”
Nothing. I grabbed the edge of the comforter with both hands and yanked, revealing a startled Dashiell, in his birthday suit.
He screamed in shock. I pointed to the shower.
“Off to the shower, Tarzan.”
Pierre-Gauthier and I laughed. Dashiell laughed a little, too.
I dressed and went out on the balcony to sit with Pierre-Gauthier.
“What are you doing today?”
“I have no idea. Mama and papa are going to have friends over today, so I guess Vincent and I will be on our own. At some point, papa might tell us, ‘Hang out, but don’t get in any trouble.’”
I was unprepared for what he asked.
“What is Montréal like?”
“I guess like any other old city.”
“What do you miss the most?”
“When my mother died in Montréal, I came here. I miss her so. I miss my French friends. My whole Montréal world is gone. Now, my world is here.”
“How do you manage?”
I said, “My family here at Lake Pennyworth Place…”
Dashiell walked in, in his birthday suit, drying his hair.
I immediately raised my voice.
“Dashiell, you’re naked. We have a guest.”
Beet red, he backed into the bathroom.
A few minutes later, he emerged, wrapped in his bathrobe and slippers.
“Sorry, Pierre-Gauthier. I forgot you were here.”
He closed the door to the dressing room. He came out of the bedroom, ready for the day.
I opened all the doors, went into the dressing room, and looked in the cheval, “Both sides, anterior, posterior, nails. Need a trim. How’s your nails, Dashiell?”
I trimmed my problem.
I returned to the sitting room and put on my shoes.
“Turn around Dashiell.”
I figured I had better take a look, rather than be embarrassed.
I picked a long thread from his trousers.
“How could you miss that?”
He shook his bottom. He thought I was being cute, pinching his bottom. I showed him the long white string, I removed from his dark green trousers.
“It was on your bottom, not mine. You want to look as cool as you really are.”
Pierre-Gauthier looked up at Dashiell.
“You really are cool, you know?”
Dashiell asked, “That’s what they say.”
Pierre-Gauthier said, “You should hear my father talk about you and… those guys from New York… they just rave about you.”
Dashiell needed to hear this repeated a thousand times, until he believed it, too. Dashiell knew he was good. He struggled to realize he was as fantastic as people claimed he was.
I looked to Pierre-Gauthier.
“He doesn’t believe you, me, or anyone else.”
We started out the door.
Dashiell said, “Wait a minute.”
Pierre-Gauthier and I turned to see Dashiell putting on his shoes.
“We had better wait.”
Pat played the piano. Pierre-Gauthier sat with Dashiell and me, at my table. The Red poured coffee for Dashiell and me and Orange Juice for Pierre-Gauthier. I opened the paper to look at what was in the art section. I passed the paper to Pierre-Gauthier, pointing the picture on the page. He couldn’t read the article, but he recognized the picture and the name, Dashiell Winifred. I sat the paper in front to Dashiell, who was working on ham, eggs, potatoes, toast and jam.
Without looking, he said, “I’ll look at it after I eat.”
“I’ll read this to Pierre-Gauthier.”
I turned to Pierre-Gauthier and started translating the article, quietly.
I put the paper next to Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier and I waited for him to open the folded Art Section. The Saturday Arts Section was usually small compared to the Friday Weekend Arts Section.
He enjoyed his breakfast, to the last bite of toast and jam. He pushed the plate from him, sat back in his chair, and reached for the newspaper.
From a table by the doorway to the Grand Hallway, Grandpapa, Father Winifred, and Mis’ess Winifred sat quietly, waiting for his reaction.
He sipped his coffee. The Red, knowing what was afoot, refilled his cup.
He looked at me.
“Do you think we might get a chance to go swimming today?”
I returned a ‘Dashiell answer.
“I guess so.”
He reached to take a tiny bite of toast, still on his plate.
I grabbed his hand, as he was about to raise the morsel to his mouth.
He looked at me, questioningly.
I said the four words, everyone was waiting for.
“Look at the paper.”
With his mouth half open, to receive the toast, he rolled his eyes up to the newspaper and saw the article, “Malraux Finds Prodigy - Art Critics Stunned.”
“Hey. Did you see this?”
Pierre-Gauthier and I smiled.
“Read that. I’m sure that will make your toast and coffee taste better.”
“Hey, Jean-Claude, my name is in here, in the New York Times. Wow. Did you see this?”
The toast never made the final journey.
A flashbulb went off in the doorway to the Grand Hallway. Aunt Odie took a picture. After the picture, everyone came in to congratulate Dashiell on his newfound notoriety.
I sat back and enjoyed watching my best friend being flattered. Pierre-Gauthier stood, clapped for Dashiell, and said, “Superbe.”
I was so happy for Dashiell. I stood and clapped, with Pierre-Gauthier.
In came Bjorn, with the article framed, in gold and white.
Grandpapa handed the frame to Dashiell.
“I will be able to tell people I knew you before you became famous.”
There was some commotion in the Grand Hallway. The first band arrived and were taking their stuff into the Grand Ballroom.
Grandpapa picked up the phone.
“Gizzie. Tell Daniel, the bands coming to audition today should bring their instruments in the delivery entrance and up the elevator. I will be in the Grand Ballroom if anyone needs me. Father Winifred, Mis’ess Winifred, Dashiell, Pierre-Gauthier, Jean-Claude, Bjorn, a bellhop, and me… we’ll, all, be in the Grand Ballroom. By the way, when those guests from the city arrive, send them in here, after they settle in.”
He put the phone down and led the parade into the Grand Ballroom.
Everyone, under Grandpapa direction pushed the tables together to make a long table across the dance floor. We sat down. I sat there for a little while. The first band, a quintet, set up and started to play.
I looked at Grandpapa.
“The two horns are flat. They hurt my ears.”
I excused myself and went to the music room. Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier came along with me. I stopped as I went to unlock the door.
The new plate was on the door. I pointed to it.
“Mister Dashiell Winifred.”
We went inside. Dashiell opened the doors.
I heard the band playing another song.
I went back to the Grand Ballroom. Grandpapa has is rather tone deaf. I went directly across the floor.
“Grandpapa. The band is out of tune. They’re terrible. The horns are flat. Don’t hire them.”
I returned from the torture chamber and left the door open to hear the next band.
Pierre-Gauthier sat on the balcony, watching the croquet ladies. Dashiell was in the fluffy couch, again, with an art book, probably the same one he fell asleep, cuddling, last night. I opened the keyboard cover, started my exercises, and ran my scales, until I felt well warmed up. I picked the top book from the classical music pile, ‘Schubert's Last Sonatas D958 – D959 – D960’.
I put it on the music desk and opened it.
“Wow. Dashiell. I found some of the good stuff.”
I was about to read the second page, when the phone rang. I was closest. I picked up the phone.
Aunt Gizzie said, “There are a bunch of people from New York City, here to see Dashiell and you. Dashiell and you ought to come to the front door and greet them.”
“Okay. We’ll be there in a minute. Bye. Bye.”
Down went to phone.
“Dashiell. Show Time. They’re here. We’re on buddy.”
“The New York people.”
I was so excited.
“Let’s go knock’em dead!”
“I don’t know.”
“Then forget it. Let’s go.”
I grabbed his hand and pulled him off the couch. Pierre-Gauthier, we’re closing up the room now. We’re leaving. Let’s go.
Out the three of us went. Pierre-Gauthier and I were out to have a good time. Dashiell looked like he was about to pee his pants, again.
As we headed into the Grand Hallway, I asked Dashiell, “Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
“I’ll be Okay.”
Pierre-Gauthier was quite amused by our banter.
Two smiling faces arrived at the Grand Foyer. As we entered, the flashbulbs started. They kept popping for a while. I went to one of the principals, one of the expensive suits, in the group, and introduced myself.
“Welcome to Lake Pennyworth Place. I am Jean-Claude Beauvais.”
“Thank you. I am Stonewall Wilson from Washington.”
We shook hands.
“This is a nice place you have here.”
“This is my grandpapa’s hotel.”
“Do you draw?”
“No. Sir. I swore off drawing and my best friend swore off music.”
“You play music?”
“We ought to sit down and talk some music, so time.”
“I would like that, Sir.”
“I think I’ll like it, too.” He turned to another man, black, like him.
“This young man plays music.”
“What a coincidence. I do too.”
“Stony, did I hear you say you play music, too?”
“Yeah. We ought to get together, the three of us and have some fun.”
I was ready to play right then. I had no idea who these two guys were, except they had nice suits. I recognized a few of the men who were here last week to see Dashiell. They and he were talking. Pierre-Gauthier was standing in the middle of the group, looking kind of lost. I grabbed his hand and pulled him to me. He looked a lot happier. I introduced him to Mister Stonewall Wilson and Mister Billy Simpson.
Mister Billy added, “Billy Simpson of New Orleans.”
“I am Pierre-Gauthier Malraux of Paris.”
Mister Billy said, “I’ve been there. I played music, there, as a matter of fact.”
“I’ve seen to you on stage. You are wonderful.”
“I am certain you’ll be wonderful, when you grow up.”
I asked Mister Wilson and Mister Simpson, if they would like to meet my Grandfather. Suddenly, an understanding came over me, when one of them said, “We came here to hear some music,” and the other added, “and to make some music.”
I said, “I have a room in the back where we can have some fun. I share it with my best friend, an artist.”
We went through the Grand Hallway, into the Grand Ballroom. Some band was playing, not too well, but at least on key. I walked up behind Grandpapa and told him so, too. I introduced him to Mister Armstrong and Mister Wilson.
We left the torture chamber and went into my music room.
I closed the door, I turned to Mister Wilson and said, “The noise out there is awful. My Grandpapa is looking for a band. He is having auditions today. The band earlier this morning… the horns were flat. They made my head hurt.” Pierre-Gauthier went out on the balcony.
“Billy and I know about horns, don’t we Billy?”
“You bet, we do.” They smiled at each other.
A bellhop popped in and announced, Messieurs Harold Schoenvogel and Irving Toledin of New York.
Billy and Stony rose and went to them, “Hello’ing” as they went. They exchanged comments about the train and the hotel, both of which seemed to please all four of them. I felt not part of the group. I sat, closed my eyes, and spoke “Clair de lune” with my beloved, Veronica.
Veronica’s last tone diminished. I released the pedal.
The four applauded. I smiled.
I decided at that moment to follow Grandpapa’s Illusion Theorem.”
I stood, and shook hands with each of them, en français. Perfect. They were all taken back. I will lay on the French accent and let them enjoy the illusion. Go Grandpapa!
“Welcome. What brings you to my little corner of the world?”
“Hello. I’m Irving. Madame Malraux spoke to me about your piano work.”
“I composed a little tune in honor of Madame Malraux. Would you like to hear it?”
A combined and euphoric “Yes” echoed in reply.
I closed my eyes and I played Madame Malraux’s tune.
Irving asked, “Did Madame Malraux hear this?”
“She was standing where Billy is, I believe, yesterday, when she asked me if I ever composed any music. I told her the idea had not crossed my mind, but I would be happy to compose a tune to her. I told her I would call it ‘Madame Malraux’s Tune.’ Then I played it. She cried. I think I made her happy.”
Pierre-Gauthier appeared at the outside door, hearing the Malraux name repeated. In French, he said, “Did you call me, Jean-Claude?”
He and I knew, I wasn’t calling him. I appreciated his announcing himself, though.
I replied in French, “No, Pierre-Gauthier. These are men from the city who are our guests for a while.”
“I’ll go back out on the balcony. Call if you want me.”
I turned to the four men. “Where do we go from here?”
Irving asked, “Could you play something else for us?”
“Certainly. What did you have in mind?”
“Perhaps a little Chopin and another something different, after that.”
I decided to hit them with the same thing that blew Doctor Shultz’s mind. I closed my eyes and played Chopin. I bridged at the end into another key and replayed the piece, bridged down to a third key and played it backwards, bridged to a four key and play it forward, reversing the hands, bridged to the original key and replayed it as it is written.
I opened my eyes. I knew then I either blew them away or blew this opportunity at a career. Illusion time!
Irving said, “I recognized the first piece. That indeed was Chopin and played, wonderfully, I might add, but the rest is totally unknown. What are the other pieces?”
I looked at him, “But… they are all Chopin.”
Harold said, “I have heard all of Chopin, but never those pieces. Where did you get them?”
“Chopin wrote them. Let me show you.”
I replayed and explained as I went.
TOTALLY blown away. Thank you, Grandpapa.
Louis asked, “Could you compose a piece now?”
I thought for a second. “Yes.”
I rose and went through the door to the balcony. I turned to asked Pierre-Gauthier a question. Four heads popped out the other door to the balcony to watch and listen.
“Pierre-Gauthier, what are you doing out here?”
“Watching the ladies on the lawn. I love their funny hats and how they get so excited, hitting the little balls.”
“Okay. I like their funny hats, too.”
“Am I doing anything wrong?”
“Not at all. Enjoy. Thank you.”
I returned to Veronica, sat, closed my eyes, waited a moment, and said in a soft voice, “Song for Pierre-Gauthier.”
I closed my eyes and played.
Finished, I opened my eyes.
They broke out in applause and “Bravo’s.”
Irving spoke, “We certainly could hear Pierre on the balcony, watching the croquet ladies, in your music. A beautiful symphonic poem.”
Stony asked, “Do you play popular music?”
“Yes. Lately, since the band had a bus accident, I’ve been playing nightly in the Grand Ballroom. I do a set, of five or so, on the piano, a set, of five or so, on the organ and take a break. Another set on the piano, then another set on the organ, then on the piano, the “Anniversary Waltz,” the “Birthday Song,” “Good Night Ladies,” and last, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
The Stony asked, “Could you play a few pop tunes for us, like your first set?”
“Sure. I add any song requests, too, so if you want to hear any of the top 20, from the past year or so, I will play whatever you choose.”
Stony questioned, “Any of the Top 20?”
I sat back on the bench, stretched, closed my eyes and announced and played, “Gordon Jenkins’ and the Weavers’ Goodnight Irene,” “Nat King Cole’s Mona Lisa,” “Mills Brothers’ Daddy's Little Girl,” “Teresa Brewer’s Music, Music, Music,” “Sammy Kaye’s Harbor Lights,” “Red Foley’s Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy.’
The phone rang. “Excuse me, please.”
“Jean-Claude. How’s it going?” Dashiell asked.
“Fine. Where are you?”
“Yes,” he said. “Really fine.”
“I’m fine, too. I’ll see you at lunch.”
I put the phone in the cradle, turned, and said, “Apologies, gentlemen. Where were we?”
“We were talking about popular music. Do you play any jazz?”
“I don’t know. The only pieces, I know, are on the bottom of the service cart. Those pieces I’ve seen. I found them in the old piano bench in the Grand Dining Room and the old piano bench in the Grand Ballroom. There is a handful of music, on the bottom, I bought in Black Rock Falls at the music store. There’s also music, the organ store sent, the other day, when we bought the new organ. The stuff on the top, I’ve never played.”
“Would you play a new piece for us, so we can see how you learn?”
“Certainly. Pick out something you would like to hear from the top piles.”
My mind went Balooey. This always gets’em excited.
Irving was next to the stack and making the selection. As he thumbed through the pile, he casually asked, “how about two pieces?”
I beamed with confidence.
“One, two, ten… you pick’em and I’ll play them. That’s what my friend, Dashiell, and I did the first night. He picked them out and I played them for two and half hours.”
“How about these two?”
“Grab a couple more and I’ll play a set, like I did the other night. It’s more fun when I get the music handed to me one at a time. Okay. Here’s how Dashiell did his part. I would start a tune and he would take the music away and give me a new piece of music, and when I started playing it, he took that away and put up a new piece of music, and on and on…”
“You’ll catch on. It’s pretty simple. O.K?”
Irving nodded affirmatively.
“Toss the first piece of music up on the music desk. I tell you when to replace it.”
He planted the music, “Dream A Little Dream Of Me.” I read the music, back to the first page and reread the music. I closed my eyes and played the song, near the end, I asked Irving the replace the music. He removed the current tune and placed “To Each His Own” on the music desk. I bridged into another key to rerun the chorus on the first tune, and started reading the second tune. A page turn. Another page turn. The first tune’s second chorus was finished. I reread the second tune. I closed my eyes and played the second tune. Near the end, I asked for the next tune. I bridged, and on and on, until we finished the set.
“That’s how I learned popular music that first night.”
“Look at the covers of the music you just played.”
“I rarely see the covers. My friend Dashiell, the artist, sees them.”
I thumbed through the sheet music, looking at the art work on the covers.
“I guess it is nice art work. I’m not really into art. Dashiell could tell you a lot about it but it all looks nice to me.”
Irving said, “Look specifically at the names of the composers.”
“Oh. Yeah. The names. Wow! Is that you?”
Stony nodded a yes.
“That’s a nice tune. Thanks.”
Stony said, “Thank you for playing it.”
I stood and shook his hand, saying, “I never met a famous musician before. Very nice to meet you, Sir.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, too, Jean-Claude.”
Irving said, “Look some more.”
I saw Hoagy Carmichael, Kay Kyser and Billy Simpson. My eyes rolled up to Billy.
“It’s so nice to meet you, sir.” I shook his hand and then I hugged him. Billy was such a super pleasant person.
I looked at Irving and then Howard. “Do you write music, too?”
Irving said, “No. Among other things, I write about music.”
Howard said, “I am in the ‘among other things’ group so I’ll say ‘Me, too.’”
Howard asked, “Would you treat us to playing some piece of classical music for the first time, too?”
“Sure. Pick a couple out.”
He handed me a piece titled, “Pomp & Circumstance March No.1 for Pianoforte.”
I tossed it on the music desk opened it and exclaimed, “This looks like a fun piece!”
I read the music, reread it and played it, changed the key up a tone, and replayed it.
“Whoopee! I love that one!”
They evidently did, too. They clapped and yelled “Bravo’s” at the end. Outside, the croquet ladies, my fan club, applauded and carried on, too.
“Now that is fun music!” I said.
The men looked a little tired. Pierre-Gauthier came in.
“Is it time for lunch, yet?” en français.
I picked up the phone and asked Aunt Gizzie in French, “How long before lunch?”
“Thank you. Aunt Gizzie.”
Pierre-Gauthier was still standing in the doorway to the outside. “Come sit with me and I will play something for you.”
I sat on the piano bench. He sat beside me. What is the name of the song you are going to play, Jean-Claude?”
I looked into his sparkling green eyes and said, “Song for Pierre-Gauthier.”
The men clapped. Pierre-Gauthier, seeing them clap, clapped, too.
I put my hand on his knee to calm him. “Shhhh, we must get calm to start.”
He calmed quickly.
“Okay. Here it is.” I closed my eyes and played “Song for Pierre-Gauthier.”
Half way through the piece, I felt his shoulder against mine. He heard Veronica speak about him.
I finished. The men and Pierre-Gauthier applauded and offered their “Bravoes.” I rose and nodded. I turned, put the keyboard cover down, and whispered in Pierre-Gauthier’s ear, “Time for lunch.” I inhaled deeply of Pierre-Gauthier’s essence, his curious scent. He headed to the door and waited.
“Time for lunch, gentlemen.” I said.
Pierre-Gauthier led the parade. He opened the door to the Grand Ballroom. A band was playing something bouncy and in tune. I heard an accordion. I turned to see it. I remembered hearing accordions in Montréal. I felt a touch of nostalgia.
We trooped into the Grand Dining Room in cadence. I told Pierre-Gauthier, if his people didn’t show up for lunch, he could sit at my table. He went to his table and waited. I saw the Red pour his wine. Dashiell and his family came in and sat at their table. Grandpapa arrived and sat next to me. The men from New York, all, sat together. There were four other men, sitting next to them.
“How did the auditions go?”
“I picked out three bands. Asked them to play again this afternoon after lunch at one.”
“How was your morning?”
“I had a lot of fun. I composed ’A Song for Pierre-Gauthier.’ They especially liked it. I played a piece called ‘Pomp and Circumstance No.1 for Pianoforte,’ a real foot stomper of a march.”
“Good for you. I have to go to the office for a little while… back to work.”
Grandpapa sipped the last of his housewine.
“Mister Allison keeps making these luscious sweets for dessert for lunch. I was going to thank him, yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance. I’ll go thank him, right now. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Don’t get too busy talking back there. They’ll put you to work, cutting rolls.”
“I can cut rolls and cookies, too,” I said. “They’ve put me to work, before.”
We laughed, as Grandpapa pushed away from the table.
I went by Pierre-Gauthier, sitting by himself. I stopped. Leaned over, inhaled that scent again, to fix it in my mind, and said, “Go sit next to my chair. Tell the Blue you haven’t eaten yet. He’ll have your lunch in front of you, in a jiffy.”
I went to the bakery to thank Mister Allison. He was busy cleaned a mixer. Mister Allison, I want to come back and thank you for the lovely sweets you have been making. They really brighten my day. Thank you, Sir.”
“You’re very welcome, Jean-Claude. How’s the music going with the people from New York?”
“As far as I can tell, it’s going wonderfully.”
I shot him the ‘three ring sign’.
“We’ll know tomorrow afternoon, what they have to say officially.”
“Gotta run. Thanks again for the great pastries.”
“You’re welcome. Bye.”
I returned to the Grand Dining Room and to my table. Pierre-Gauthier was eating his lunch. He, like Dashiell, has a good appetite. I pick at lunch. I finished my wine. A Red poured another glass. I ate about half of my pastry.
Dashiell came over and sat next to me.
“How’s it going?”
“Fine. They found this great piece of music in the stack this morning, called ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ and it is really a foot stomper. I can’t wait to play it for you.”
Pierre-Gauthier pushed his plate forward. He was done. I was still messing with my sweet. I thought to myself, how unusual they are finished and I am still eating.
“You spent the entire morning in 401?”
“Yes. Talking about art and how I see stuff and how I draw what I see.”
“I do believe it’s time for you, me, and Pierre-Gauthier to get a little fresh air.”
“How’s that sound?”
I picked up the phone behind Grandpapa’s chair.
“Aunt Gizzie, could you please call the carriage for Dashiell, Pierre-Gauthier, and me? We’re going to go outside for a few minutes and get away from all this serious talk.”
We rose and the men in suits rose. Apparently, they intended to resume, where they left off.
They approached as we left the room.
I turned and said, “Gentlemen. We are going for a little fresh air. If you would like to join us, I can make arrangements.”
They took me up on the invitation.
I picked up one of the phones in the Grand Hallway and said in French, “Could we please have a few carriages for the men from the city?”
“Ask for it as soon as Dashiell, Pierre-Gauthier, and I leave in our carriage.”
Aunt Gizzie knew what was going on.
“I got it, sweetie. After you leave.”
“Bye. Bye, sweetie.”
I put the phone down and led the men to the Grand Foyer, where the white carriage and four sat with the door open. Dashiell and Pierre-Gauthier were already inside.
I turned around to the city men, “Your carriage is already on its way. I believe it is the one that just came out of the carriage house.”
I turned to Daniel, who was enjoying my floor show.
“Daniel, please order a carriage for the photographers, too. The New Jersey fresh air is too lovely to miss… all cooped up inside taking pictures.”
I turned got in the carriage, stopped while I was standing, and turned to Daniel.
“Please inform the photographers there is wine in the chest and glasses for the wine are in the cabinet.”
Daniel, never the one to miss an opportunity to be as hoity-toity as possible, nodded.
“Yes sir. I will tend to it, as the gentlemen arrive.”
I hopped into the carriage and we were on our way around the loop, in peace.
We had talked ourselves out of words; the ride was rather quiet. The horses fascinated Pierre-Gauthier. Being away from the excitement and being together delighted Dashiell and me.
I realized I missed him, this morning… I realized I was a little jealous.
(continued in next Chapter 10 - Index)