Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
Book 002 New York
Chapter 25. Everything was pink
We started to walk away, to look at the other side of the church.
The man stopped us.
“It is a miracle. A real miracle.”
I said, “What‘s a miracle?”
The frantic man said, “God played the organ. I have to tell Father Addison.”
“God didn’t play the organ.”
Still laughing… He pointed to me.
I smiled and nodded positively.
“It couldn’t have been you. You’re just a kid. It was God.”
“Calm down. It wasn’t God. It was I. Watch.”
I went to the organ, turned it on, and played a rousing version of La Marseillaise. I repeated it, raising the key and punched it a little, for effect. In the last eight bars, I doubled the pedals for added punctuation. At the end, I heard applause behind me, pushed the swells, turned the instrument off and spun off the bench to find two priests, that man, who thought it was God playing, Dashiell, and Mis’ess Wilson, clapping.
“My brother and I just moved in next door, and we are out with a tour guide visiting the neighborhood. We, Mis’ess Wilson, my brother, Dashiell, and I walked in the ‘Entrance’ and Dashiell and I walked into the church. I was enjoying the stained glass windows, when Dashiell spotted the organ and called me. That’s how we came here. You can call Tom at Saint Thomas or Father Nick at the Cathedral. Both of them will vouch for us as honorable boys, but not your usual boys.”
The younger priest asked, “What exactly do you mean, ‘not your usual boys?’”
Dashiell said the word, “Prodigies.”
The older priest asked, “Who are you?”
Dashiell and I had learned at one point to make this fun presentation.
Dashiell would say, “I am Dashiell-Aristide.”
He would then swing his hip away from me.
I would say, “I am Jean-Claude,” and I would swing my hip away from him.
Then we bump our hips together, saying, “We are the…” and we would do a double heel click. When we landed we would yell, “Beauvais Boys,” then bow at the waist, and in our deepest voice, say, “Prodigies.”
When the priest asked, “Who are you?” I looked at Dashiell and he looked at me. I said, “Show time”.
Apparently, our performance delighted everyone.
After that display, Mis’ess Wilson, who was embarrassed and reddened, said, “We had to leave. We more to see.”
We said our good-byes and left by way of the “Entrance.”
We turned left and headed South on Fifth Avenue.
Mis’ess Wilson continued, “This is the National Academy of Fine Arts Museum.”
She stopped us and turned us around.
“Here,” pointing the museum, “is the museum, and there,” pointing to the other side of the church, “is the National Academy of Fine Arts.”
“Dashiell. We moved to the right place.”
Mis’ess Wilson stopped us.
“This is how you hail a taxi. Watch me.”
She put her arm out and waved at a taxi. The taxi stopped and waited, while we piled in.
“Was that difficult?”
We agreed. “No.”
She told the driver, “Past the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then we want to go West on 42nd Street, past Grand Central, the Library, and let us out on Broadway.”
After negotiating our journey with the driver, she sat back.
“We are not stopping at these places. I am showing them to you, so you will recognize them. All of these places are very interesting and would take at least a couple days to explore. Look on your right, at the next intersection. That will be the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you have any interest in Art, you’ll be in there for weeks to see what’s in there.”
Dashiell elbowed me.
“Can we move in there?”
“No way. Dead people stay in museums.”
Mis’ess Wilson said, “Now we are going to take a ride to the United Nations and Grand Central Station. There isn’t much to see, besides houses, offices, and the park wall. We will ride from the East end to the middle of 42nd Street. We are going past The United Nations. This is the East end of the street.”
We rode a few blocks and she went on.
“Grand Central Railroad Station, there on your right. It is amazing inside. Now look over here on the left. See the big columns and that massive building. That’s the library. Okay, now boys, we’re getting out in a second. We’ll be in the center of the city.”
The taxi stopped.
Mis’ess Wilson said, “Okay, out we go.”
We slid out of the taxi. She said, “Welcome to New York.”
She handed the driver the fare. I looked up. The street signs indicated we were on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway.
Dashiell asked her, “What are all these people doing here?”
She said, “Most of them work here.”
I said, “This is one busy place. The light changes and the pedestrians pile up; it changes, again, and the traffic piles up.”
We walked a couple blocks through the scurrying crowd. Theaters were everywhere. We picked up a hot dog, smeared with mustard on top, from a street vendor. I bit into it. It was surprisingly good. Maybe it was the air or the traffic fumes… that conditioned the hot dog.
“I didn’t think I’d like the frankfurter,” I said, “but it is really quite good.”
Mis’ess Wilson corrected me.
“Hot Dog. You are eating a Hot Dog, not a frankfurter. You eat frankfurters in Germany.”
“In that case, I like my Hot Dog.”
Dashiell said, “Me, too.”
Dashiell and I laughed.
After our Hot Dogs, we took a cab past Radio City Music Hall, to the Museum of Modern Art.
Dashiell and I recognized the museum.
Dashiell asked if he could go inside for a second and get an address. Mis’ess Wilson was afraid he was going to take a long time.
“I’ll go with him. I’ll make sure he doesn’t start traveling around in there. Otherwise, he won’t be home tonight.”
She said, “Okay, but hurry, the cab is waiting.”
Dashiell and I ran in the side entrance and were promptly stopped by the security guard. Dashiell said we were going to see Mister Harold Rosenberg. The guard let us in. We went to Harold Rosenberg’s office. Dashiell stopped at his secretary desk.
She looked up from her work.
“Dashiell. Dashiell. What a wonderful surprise. Are you living here now?”
“Yes. We just moved in, 1107 Fifth Avenue. I haven’t memorized our telephone number yet.”
“I saw in the paper where you and Jean-Claude were moving to the city.”
“We need Minister Malraux’s address, Monsieur André Malraux’s address, in Paris.”
“I understand you and Jean-Claude collaborated on a colossal work at the Cathedral.”
“We aren’t ready to publish, yet. The Art is finished, but Jean-Claude wants to keep the Art until he is finished writing the music on paper. I’ll send Mister Rosenberg and Monsieur Malraux a complete set of mounted full-sized photos of the originals, when they arrive.”
“We’ll expect you to be here for the opening.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
I added, “Me, too.”
Dashiell explained, “He and I say that all the time, when one of us is asked a question.”
Then, she laughed, too.
She wrote the address and phone number on a piece of light tan paper, that said, Museum of Modern Art, across the top in brown ink.
“I am supposed to say now that it’s time to go, the taxi is waiting.”
The door to the galleries was calling him.
I pulled on Dashiell’s coat a little to get him moving in the right direction.
We thanked her, as we left, and got back in the taxi.
Once in the taxi, we were on our tour, again.
We went past Saint Thomas Church, and I mentioned that I’ve played the organ in that church.
Mis’ess Wilson’s eyes got big, “You did?”
“Yes. Last month.”
We traveled past many stores and offices.
After a couple starts and stops, Mis'ess Wilson said, “This is Herald Square, and that building, over there, is Macy’s, the largest department store in the world. The taxi whirred awhile and Mis'ess Wilson announced, over there is the Empire State Building.”
“Gez… from the street, it looks like all the rest of the buildings.”
Dashiell agreed and nodded. He looked out the window, up in the air.
“Can’t see much.”
Mis’ess Wilson told the driver to go down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square.
“We will be getting out there.”
Dashiell peered out the window as we rode on Fifth Avenue.
“There’s lots of stores on this street.”
Mis’ess Wilson corrected him.
Dashiell reiterated, “On this avenue.”
“That’s much better. The streets run East and West; the avenues run North and South.”
I said, “Wow. Look at that.”
Dashiell turned his head from the window to me.
“Up, there, in front of us.”
Mis’ess Wilson said, “That’s where we are going. That’s Washington Square Park.”
I asked, “What’s there?”
She said, “You’ll see.”
The cab stopped and we got out. We walked with Mis’ess Wilson as she spoke.
“This is where the folk singers go on the weekends. If you come here on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you’ll see and hear the folksingers performing. Let’s go into the park for a few minutes.”
When we turned to go into the park.
“Wow,” Dashiell exclaimed, “what is that?”
“That is the Washington Square Arch,” Mis’ess Wilson said, “in commemoration of George Washington.”
I kept thinking to myself… “I’ve seen that before, but I couldn’t place where.” ‘La Marseillaise’ ran through my head, in step to our walking pace. There was something surrealistic about this. “Marchons. Marchons. Qu'un sang impur Abreuve nos sillons.”
I asked Mis’ess Wilson, “You sure it was George Washington? Not Napoleon?”
“Not Napoleon. Dear Me. That’s the other one.”
“What other one?”
“The one, in Paris. The Arch of Triumph, commemorating Napoleon’s victory in Austria.”
“Oh. That one.”
Dashiell pinched me. I shot him an elbow.
“Now. Now. Boys. Calm down.”
As we walked through the crowd, I heard the folksingers singing, strumming, and thumping. I looked up and there was water shooting overhead, straight in the air.
I looked at Mis’ess Wilson, who said, “The fountain… the gathering point for the folksingers.”
She pointed, “On the end of the side walk that way, there’s game tables for chess and checkers. That over there is the University and that building is a church. That way is jazz clubs. When the uptown theaters close, the musicians come to the clubs to play jazz all night.
I said, “Dashiell and I went to one of those places, one night. I played music with a couple musicians. It was a lot of fun.”
We walked past the checker tables and crossed the street. She pointed to the building on the corner, “This is the NYU Law School.
She hailed a cab; we got in; she told the driver, “Past City Hall and then to Battery Park.
We got out of the cab, walked toward the water
We saw Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty in the distance. As I peered at the Statue of Liberty, I remembered the words I had to memorize, in school. I repeated them aloud: "Donnez-moi votre fatigué, votre pauvres, vos masses qui rêvent de respirer librement, la misérable refuser de votre grouille shore, envoyer ces, les sans-abri, tempest-jeté à moi…"
“What are you talking about?”
“Those are the words on the green statue, over there.”
“You have good eyes for a musician.”
“I had to memorize them in school.”
“Well, boys,” Mis’ess Wilson said. “It’s four-thirty. Time to go home.”
We walked back to the street. We went home, looking out the windows, at places, we had seen, and places, yet to be explored.
Dashiell and I got out of the cab in front of 1107 Fifth Avenue. She left in the taxi.
We went up to 901, opened the door, hung up our hats and coats away, and went in to see what Aunt Gizzie and the Norwegians were doing.
As we turned to go into the dining room, we saw most of the living room furniture was gone, except for a couch, lamp, and the piano. With the drapes gone, the living room looked like a long window.
Dashiell said, “Easy to see the park, now.”
I added, “Yep.”
Around the bend, in the dining room, we found a large arrangement of flowers on the dining room table, Aunt Gizzie and a man, with a German accent, sat, poring over pictures and discussing decorations.
Aunt Gizzie stopped talking, as soon as she saw us.
“There, they are. The tourists are home.”
“Hello,” the man said, extending his hand.
“I’m Harry Shultz, from Richards Interior Design on Lexington Avenue.”
Dashiell shook his hand.
I shook his hand.
Dashiell and I exchanged looks and said, “Show time.”
Aunt Gizzie knew what was coming. We did our performance. We all laughed.
Aunt Gizzie said, “This is Mister Shultz. He’s the decorator. He’s interested in your interests. You and he can talk.”
She got up.
“I will get the Norwegians rousted for dinner.”
Aunt Gizzie left through the kitchen.
“Boys,” Mister Shultz intoned. “What is your favorite color?”
Dashiell and I looked at each other.
Dashiell said, “Lavender and Royal Blue.”
He nodded at me. “He isn’t into color. He’s into sound.”
“What are you interested in?”
Dashiell said, “Art.”
I added, “Music.”
I said, “Hockey.”
Dashiell said, “Track and swimming.”
We looked at each other.
“Okay. I have all the information I want. Thank you.”
He got up and left through the door to the kitchen. We went to the living room to relax after a hard day of touring.
Dashiell dropped a butt bomb on the couch.
“Ooo, I just learned not to do that on this couch.”
His nose went up in the air as he inhaled.
“Mademoiselle Colie is cooking something that smells good.”
I sat at the piano and played something that fell from my hands. I watched as Dashiell spread out on the couch; his head tossed back.
Aunt Gizzie came into the living room and said, “Dashiell. The photographer called from Lake Pennyworth Place, and wanted to know if you were going to be there for your meeting with him, tomorrow. He said you were supposed to pick out the frames you wanted for the photographs. I told him you wouldn’t be there. He wanted to know what to do. I said to do nothing, until he hears from you. Here’s his phone number. He said he would be home except Sunday morning. So you can call him tonight or tomorrow afternoon.”
“Thank you, Aunt Gizzie.”
She handed him a piece of paper.
“Do I have a few minutes to spare, to call him now?”
“We’ll be eating soon. Make it fast.”
He leaped from the couch to the phone. He was connected.
“I need four complete sets. One to go to the Museum of Modern Art, One to go to Monsieur André Malraux, in Paris, one to go to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and one to come to me at 1107 Fifth Avenue, Apartment 901, New York, New York.”
He listened. “Okay. I don’t have them with me at this moment, but when you are ready for the addresses, just call me and I will read them to you.”
“Thank you. Good Bye.”
I heard the click of the phone.
He walked to the window, overlooking the park, and gazed into the evening haze.
“I hope they like them,” he said.
“I’m sure they will. Father Nick was enthralled. There’s no reason to think everyone else won’t be tickled pink.”
Mademoiselle Colie rang the chime for dinner.
We rose and went to the dining room. There was Aunt Gizzie, seated at the head of the table. We sat down together; Dashiell on her right side and I on her left side. At the other end of the table sat the flowers, overlooking the dinner proceedings.
Mademoiselle Colie brought in our dinner, very tasty chicken, potato, and haricots.
“So what did you two see today?”
We went on about what we saw.
I asked, “May we go to Mass tomorrow at the “Church of the Heavenly Rest?”
“Where is that?”
“Either next door or across the street on the end of the next block.”
Dashiell said, “There are museums everywhere, big ones.”
Aunt Gizzie dabbed her napkin a couple times.
“That, my dear Dashiell, is why we are here and not in New Jersey.”
Ice cream arrived for dessert. Mademoiselle Colie knew how to please boys… ice cream.
After dinner, we asked to go out for a little walk up and down Fifth Avenue.
Aunt Gizzie said, “Okay. Take my watch. Be back before Eight.”
We agreed. Dashiell took the watch and said, “Eight o’clock.”
Once on the street, I said, “I feel so liberated.”
Dashiell added, “Me, too.”
“Let’s go look in windows. See what’s around.”
We walked up the street to Madison, Park and then to Lexington. We turned right on Lexington, went a block to 91st Street, turned right again, and went to Fifth Avenue.
Dashiell said, ‘It’s seven. We still have an hour left.”
I said, “Let’s see if the church is open. I could make a little church music.”
Dashiell said, “That’s cool.”
We went to the church. It was still open. We went inside. They were having choir practice. Dashiell and I sat in the middle of the church. He was apparently enjoying the lighting, inside the church, at night. I enjoyed the patience of the man leading the choir. They made the same mistake, repeatedly. He kept at it, patiently correcting them, until they were singing the passage, correctly. He turned around to see us, at one point. The younger priest, whom we had met earlier, was apparently also the choir director. He said nothing, but acknowledged seeing us with a smile and a nod.
Dashiell said, “It’s seven-thirty. We should leave soon.”
I replied, “Okay.”
We stood to leave, rattling the seats as we moved.
As we walked to the door, the choir fell quiet. A voice, the priest’s voice called us, “Dashiell and Jean-Claude.”
We turned and in chorus, said, “Yes, Father,” amusing the snickering choir members.
Father turned toward them, effecting instant quiet.
He turned back and asked, “We you be at Mass tomorrow?”
I said, “Yes, Father. What time is service?”
“8 o’clock in the chapel. 10 o’clock in here, in the church, with smells and bells.”
“We’ll be here at 10 o’clock.” Dashiell added, “Yes, Father.”
“I’m Father Joe Vario. See you tomorrow at Mass.” Having said that, he went back to his choir work and we went out the door. We walked home watching the head lights come toward us in the dark. We saw a bus go by, too.
We arrived home, hung our coats up, and put our berets on the shelf.
Aunt Gizzie, half-asleep in the living room, on the couch, called to us.
“I’m in the living room.”
We joined her. Dashiell on one side and I on the other. We just sat and looked out the window at the skaters in the park, skating ever so slowly, like a giant game board, moving in slow motion.
“I think you guys made a good choice. This is beautiful.”
There was a long silent period.
“Where did you guys go? What did you see?”
Dashiell said, “We walked over 92nd street, across Madison Avenue, past Park Avenue to Lexington Avenue. There we turned and walked to 91st Street, and came back along 91st Street to Park Avenue. We walked a block on Park Avenue, crossed the street, and walked back on the other side. We turned at 91st Street and walked back to Fifth Avenue.”
“It was seven o’clock,” I added, “so we went in the church. They were having choir practice. We sat and listened to the choir.”
Dashiell added, “I looked at the lights. The place is beautiful at night. Father asked us about tomorrow and Mass. We said we’d be at the ten o’clock Mass.”
I added, “Smells and bells.”
Aunt Gizzie asked, “How far is this church from here?”
I said, “About the length of the Grand Dining Room.”
She said, “That ought to make it easy and convenient to get to heaven.”
We all laughed.
Dashiell added, “There’s lots of stores on the avenues. The streets are all houses, apartments, or offices.”
Aunt Gizzie said, “That’s the way it was, years ago, when I went to school, here, in the city.”
Dashiell asked, “Where did you go to school?”
She said, “Hunter College on Park and 68th street. That was a long time ago.”
“Time to go to bed, you sleepy heads. Mister Shultz is going to be here tomorrow morning, decorating. He can’t do his magic, while you two are in bed.”
We hugged her, kissed her, and went to bed.
Almost instantly, we snuggled, kissed, and went to sleep.
Startled, I said, “Come in."
In came Aunt Gizzie.
“Okay, fellows... Time to get up. Mister Shultz is here, to decorate. It’s eight o’clock. You guys have to get up to eat and get to church anyway.”
She turned the light on.
I knew how Dashiell felt when I woke him up and he wasn’t ‘in the mood’ to get up.
Dashiell and I didn’t budge. Dashiell let out a long sigh.
I said, “We’ll be out in a few minutes, Aunt Gizzie.”
She said, “You have to get moving now.”
With that she pulled the blanket and sheet off us, leaving us, cold and huddled together.
Dashiell almost cried. He locked onto me and wouldn’t let go.”
“She means it. Look, she has a pitcher of water. Dashiell opened his eyes in shock.”
I laughed and turned toward him, within his loosened grip.
“We’ll be out soon.”
She closed the door, laughing at us.
We were up, through the shower, and dressed in a spirited manner. Out we came, from our lair, seeking breakfast.
Mademoiselle Colie had sweet rolls waiting for us and poured coffee, when we arrived.
We ate and browsed the papers. Dashiell was busy addressing his almond Danish. I heard noises, but I didn’t give it a second thought… movers moving stuff. Nine-thirty rolled around. We brushed our teeth after breakfast. I went into our room to get a handkerchief. The room was empty. No bed… nothing in the room. Paint cans were on the floor.
Dashiell said, “We had better get going.”
I followed him to the front closet, put on my coat, and adjusted my beret. When Dashiell finished getting wrapped, we were out the door. When we arrived at the first corner, the Sun, streaming across 91st Street, warmly greeted us and made our eyes squint. We walked past the museum. As we approached to 90th Street, we heard the organ playing. We proceeded with the green light, crossing 90th Street, and went up the stairs into the ‘Entrance.’
We were greeted by two sweet old ladies, dressed to the nines.
The lady, with the giant hat, said, “Good morning. Are you new in the area?”
Dashiell said, “Yes. We moved in Friday. We’re still settling in.”
I added, “The decorators are home, right now, decorating.”
The other lady, the one with too much lipstick and whose scent burned my eyes, asked, “Which One?”
I looked at Dashiell and he looked at me. I asked, “Which one?”
Lipstick lady, with an insolent smile, asked, “Which decorator?”
I knew the decorator was Richards Interior Design on Lexington Avenue, but her smirk prevented my giving her a straight answer.
I said, “I don’t know. Maybe Bob’s Design, or something like that.”
She looked away.
“Never heard of them.”
Big hat lady, smiled and nodded. I feared her hat ornaments falling on me.
Both of us, in smiles, passed the pair of door guards. A short, frail-looking, older man handed each of us the weekly flyer, listing the current events of the parish.
We thanked him. An usher led us down the main aisle to seat us. He stopped, turned to us, and asked, “Dashiell and Jean-Claude?”
Dashiell said, “Yes.”
The usher seated us in the third row, the center aisle seats on the left side.
We thanked the usher. Dashiell whispered, “God evidently knows we’re here.”
I grinned and replied with a quiet, “Shush.”
The big bells outside sounded; everyone stood up and turned toward the middle aisle to face the cross, leading the procession. The main choir, the boys’ choir, and the congregants sang “All praise to thee, O Lord,” for the processional. On the last verse and chorus, the boys popped up an octave, just because they could, and soared in a contra melody to the last bar. I noticed the church had a nice reverberation, not a double, like the cathedral, but still, a nice reverberation.
“Sheep may safely graze” was the communion hymn and the recessional was “A Mighty Fortress.”
After the service, we started for the door, but were intercepted by the older priest, who asked us to stay for a few minutes to chat. He pointed to an open door. We went in and sat down. I heard the priest speaking to people as they filed out the door.
After everyone had left, he came in.
Dashiell and I stood. The priest walked around his deck and sat down.
“Sit down, please… Relax.”
He looked at me.
I said, “Jean-Claude Beauvais.”
He turned to Dashiell.
“Are you boys considering joining our parish?”
I said, “Yes.”
“Saint Thomas’ and the Cathedral were the only two churches we had visited, in the city, Friday, when we moved here. We intended joining one or the other, whichever was closer to our apartment.”
Dashiell nodded again.
“Yesterday, we walked around the neighborhood and found ‘Heavenly Rest’ two doors away. We walked in, yesterday. I stood in the middle of the church and listened to the sound. My brother, Dashiell looked at the windows and found the organ console. He called me to see it. It whispered, ‘Serious church music, here.’
The priest said, “I heard you play the organ, yesterday.”
“How many years of lessons have you had?”
“One year. That’s astounding.”
“No. One lesson… on the piano.”
“You wouldn’t tell a fib, would you?”
“My lesson was a few weeks before Christmas a year ago. If you would like to talk to my piano teacher, I am sure my aunt has her telephone number. You could call her and talk to her about my lesson.”
“I really want to believe you, but you know what you tell me is incredible.”
“Yes. I understand. My brother, Dashiell, has a biography which is equally incredible.”
“Let me ask you, Jean-Claude. Do you read music, too?”
“Can you play a piece for me?”
“Come, I’ll get a piece of music for you to work on.”
“Father, ‘I don’t work on it. I play it,’
The priest smiled at me and took us to the organ. The organist had just turned the instrument off and slid off the bench. I slid onto the bench, turned the organ on, and proceeded to close the swells. I tried a pile of the presets for the lower three keyboards.
Father presented me a thick piece of music, on the front in big letters, ‘Widor Opus 42:1’ in smaller italics, ‘Symphony for organ No 5 in F minor’.
The organist stopped to watch.
The priest said, loud enough for the organist to hear, “Had one lesson, a year ago.”
The organist chucked and sat down in the first pew.
I thumbed through the music, page by page until I came to the end.
When I finished, I handed the music to the priest.
I added, “Are you ready?”
“To listen. You may want to sit down and be comfortable.”
“I was going to say, when you can play that, you can play here in the church. Otherwise, you can practice on the smaller organ in the chapel.”
“In that case,” I asserted, “I’ll play this organ.”
I proceeded to play the selected music. It took about a half hour to play.
When I finished, they stood and applauded. I turned, spinning my legs around the bench, stood, and bowed to my applause.
“I could play it backwards, too, if you like.”
The priest said, “Play something backwards?”
“What would you like to hear?” I asked.
The organist handed me the hymnal.
I said, “That’s not very exciting. You show me the page for a few seconds, and I will know the hymn. Then I can improvise and play it for fun.”
The regular organist said, “Okay. I played, ‘A Mighty Fortress’ for a recessional.
He opened the hymnal to the hymn.
“Here it is.”
I looked into his big green eyes.
“Thank you.” I said it with a grin, because I was about to have fun.
Dashiell was bored. He had seen this so many times before. He got up and roamed around the church, looking at the art and architecture.
I put on a display of mental, musical, and physical skill, announcing how I was playing the hymn, as I went on inverting, reversing, raising, lowering, adding endless cascading arpeggios, and glissandos, and other hymn tunes as alternate melody lines. I was thrilled to be having a good time with a good organ. At the end, I swung into the grand finale, trumpets, tooting; I found them on the Solo manual. Full diapason choir filled the last bars and I added an ‘Amen’, with the melody as a contra melody, as a post-toot.
I cleared the stop panels, opened the swells, turned off the instrument, spun on the bench, and said, “We should be going home, soon.”
There was a hush, as the building reflected city sounds into a mush of unseen life, elsewhere.
The organist spoke first, “How did you do that?”
“I don’t know. I am a musical prodigy. I have no idea how I do it, nor does anyone else. I do it, ergo, I do it. That’s all I, or anyone else, can say.”
The priest looked at him.
He turned to me and said, “Well, Jean-Claude Beauvais. When you told me, ‘I don’t work on it. I play it,’ I thought to myself, ‘who is this little twerp, coming in here, acting like that. I’ll fix him. I’ll shut him up, good and proper.’ Well, I apologize, Jean-Claude Beauvais. You shut me up, good and proper.”
“That’s okay, Father. I’m used to it. So is Dashiell. He’s looks kind of lost, but in reality he is reading each dab and dribble on your art and architecture. He is a prodigy, too, and just as or more amazing than I.”
“Father Nick at the Cathedral told me about you, two,” the priest said.
I said, “Father, we have to be getting home. Our Aunt will worry about us.”
Father said, “My phone number is on the flyer. Call me, when you are ready to join us. I live right behind the church.”
“Then you’re a neighbor, too.”
“I guess so.”
Dashiell was on the side of the church about half a block away. I called to him.
“Hey. Dashiell. You ready to go home?”
He yelled back, “Yes.”
“Thank you, Father.” I said, shaking the priest’s hand. “Thank you, Mister …”
The organist, who had a funny sounding voice, said, “Mister Fox, Mister Aristotle Fox. You can call me Aristotle.”
The priest added, “I am Father Preston, Father Franklin Preston.”
I added, “Father Franklin. We’ll join here. For sure. Right Dashiell?”
Dashiell said, “Excuse me?”
“We will be joining this parish, right?”
We were out the door and we ran home. Daniel opened the door and admonished us.
“Don’t run. You might get hurt.”
In chorus, “We won’t.”
We removed our outer ware, and walked into the living room. While we were in church, the decorators installed new wallpaper. The paper had the feeling of Lake Pennyworth Place, a Louis XIV touch.
I turned and pulled Dashiell with me, to our bedroom. It was Lavender, gold and white, with a very thick, cushy, light blue carpet.
“Wow. Lavender,” Dashiell exclaimed, “and light blue, with white and gold thrown in, for pizzazz.”
“Cool,” I said.
Dashiell was literally jumping for joy. I dragged him away to the living room. We opened the doors to the dining room and there were the Norwegians, eating lunch. We sat down with them.
“You’d never guess what we found.”
“You’re right. We’d never guess.”
We all laughed.
Colie brought in lunch for us.
We ate and talked about Heavenly Rest. The Norwegians rose and said they were going to take an after lunch.
Dashiell and I, delighted to be in ‘our’ home, ate cantaloupe, in silence.
The door chime rang. I heard Aunt Gizzie open the door followed by the sound of men grunting and heaving. Something heavy had arrived.
Dashiell and I exchanged looks.
“I think we should stay in here. Let it be a surprise. We’ll see what’s going on, when they’re finished moving whatever they’re moving.”
“Good idea. Good melon, too.”
For a while, the grunts continued with peaks of apparent maximum effort. More grunts ensued, and then a set of sighs, followed by voices, and finally, silence. We ventured from our dining room seclusion into the living room to see what the grunts and groans had brought with them.
Rolls of carpeting sat on the living room floor.
“I had hoped it was Veronica.”
“Not yet. Jean-Claude.”
Aunt Gizzie arrived, right behind us.
“Why don’t you, two, go out and take a walk around the block for an hour or so. The carpet guys are at lunch. When you come back, the living room will be back to normal, with the new carpet installed.”
We walked around the block, the long way, to First Avenue to Eighty-Second Street, back to Fifth Avenue and uptown to 1107.
About two hours later, we arrived home; the living room has its new blue carpet installed, in keeping with the taste of Louis, the Sun King. Some of the grunts moved the piano to the Southern alcove, the opposite from where I planned it.
“You will be drawing over here.” I pointed to the floor, beneath me. Apparently, we will have a studio/living room. “Let me be the first to tell you not to toss paint on the carpet.”
Dashiell looked out the window, at the people in the park. He said, “I wish Aunt Gizzie was here, so we could ask her, if we could go walk in the park.”
“We’ll get that all straightened out in time.”
I played the Widor piece on the piano, but it sounded lame.
Dashiell sat, carefully on the couch and burped.
He looked through the church.
I played something.
He stretched out on the couch and burped again.
Again, we laughed. It was that kind of afternoon.
He was almost asleep, when I heard the door open and saw Dashiell’s eyes pop open.
“Aunt Gizzie is here.”
I played a short fanfare. Dashiell sat upright for the occasion.
She came into the living room. She was dressed in a woman’s suit and a hat. Her hat was one of those big ones. The kind, where I am always afraid the ‘stuff’ on top was going to fall off on me.
I asked, “Did you have a good time, while you were out?”
“Yes. Since you asked, I did. I went for a ride around the neighborhood to see what was nearby. Museums and churches are as numerous as liquor stores or delis. You, guys, picked a good place to live.”
Dashiell admitted, “It was an accident. We liked the furniture, but that’s all gone, now. We still have a good view of the park.”
I nodded, agreeing.
“You’ll like the new furniture, better. It’s all nice and cushy.”
Dashiell expressed his concern about the new carpet. “This is all new carpet. I am going to be drawing and painting in here. This is not a good combination, my painting and a new carpet.”
She said, “Don’t worry about it, sweetie. If it gets too bad, we’ll change it. So what are you, two, up to, this afternoon?”
I said, “We want to go walk in the park.”
“Tomorrow, one of you will buy a watch.”
“For now, take my watch. Be home by five. That will be about when it starts to get dark. Rest yourselves, today, because tomorrow you’re going to be busy.”
We looked at each other.
I asked, “Doing?”
“Getting set up, for life in the city. We’ll talk about it at dinner. Now, get out of here. Go, check out the park. Come back around five and tell me about what you’ve found.”
We didn’t need a second urging. We were up and out the door, wrapped in scarves, overcoats, and berets.
As soon as we were outdoors, I said, “Free to roam, at last.”
Dashiell threw his arms in the air and added an extra, “At last.”
As we walked toward the park entrance, I felt free to turn left or right.
Dashiell said, “This is so awesome.”
He paused again, looked at the people passing before us, and said, “Let’s just follow them. They have a plan. If we get lost, we can take a cab home.”
I bowed and said, “After you sir.”
We walked and talked about everything we saw.
We stopped, sat, and watched sledding. All ages, shapes, nationalities, and sizes were having fun, sliding down a hill which, everyone agreed, was the best hill around for sliding.
As we watched, conversation rolled around to what were we going to do about school.
I posed the problem.
“Everyone else is going back to school tomorrow. What are we going to do?”
Dashiell asked, “What do you think?”
I said, “Like at Lake Pennyworth Place, there were three options, public school, private school, and private tutor. I took the private tutor, when I didn’t know any English, to get my English to the point where I could make it, in class. After that, I went to public school.”
He asked, “Do you think we ought to go to regular school or get a tutor?”
“I think we ought to get two tutors. One for you, to get your French really sounding well, and one for both of us for classwork, so we don’t have to attend regular school. I am afraid regular school, whether it’s public or private, would take too much time away from our art.”
“Maybe we could fine a private school, devoted to the arts, where I could work on my French in schoolwork, and my art in French. With a little luck, the same school will have a music section, for you. Then we could be in class together for our schoolwork; I could get my French, tuned up; I could do my drawing; you could do your music.”
I smiled, “That would be delightful, if it exists; solve all the problems at once.”
Dashiell said, “We’ll look for that as our first option. Okay?”
“Yes. If that goes nowhere, we’ll have tutors. Okay?”
Dashiell nodded, “Sounds fine.”
I said, “We should make a list of the things we like to do, places we like to go, and stuff we miss.”
Dashiell added, “… and stuff we like to eat.”
I added, “… and 1910, Coteaux-Aix-En-Provence.”
I asked him, “What?”
He said, “Jean-Claude, you can’t see it. It is so curvy and cute.”
“Don’t be silly, Dashiell. This is time for serious talk. Our future depends on our selections right now. This is not a time for whimsy or silliness.”
“What about this summer? France with Pierre-Gauthier and Vincent?”
“Yes. Most definitely, yes.”
“That will give Aunt Gizzie a couple months without us being in her way.”
“I wonder what she is going to do. There’s no switchboard or books, here.”
“I think we should ask her so we can help her as much as we can with her plans. We must not just think of ourselves. She doesn’t say anything, but all this change must be rough on her, too.”
“That’s right. I had forgotten.”
I said, “Let walk. We’ll see more, if we move around.”
We stood up, straightened our coats and scarves, and continued our walk. As we approached an exit from the park, we turned, without saying a word, toward the exit.
Back on Fifth Avenue, we walked over to Madison Avenue to go back home. We were in no hurry, so we did some window-shopping.
I noticed Dashiell appeared fascinated by the ornamentation on the buildings. He would stop and study a particular design; others he would pass as if there didn’t exist. This was a total wonder to me. I watched as he gathered materials, lines, and shades, which interested him.
We walked past pharmacies, bakeries, cleaners, restaurants, delis, bookstores, printers, and antique dealers. What a collection.
We arrived at 92nd Street and walked on the sunny side of the street to our building on the 92nd Street entrance.
Dashiell asked Daniel, “If we bought bicycles, where would we keep them?”
He said, “You have a storage room you can use, but it’s not convenient.”
I said, “I think we’ll do without the bicycles.”
Daniel added, “There’s a place on Lexington that rents them by the day. They deliver and pick-up.”
Dashiell said, “Maybe we’ll look them up.”
“Just a second,” he said. He went into his office, returned, and handed Dashiell and me two business cards for “Call-A-Bike.”
We thanked him and went to the elevator.
Inside the apartment, we put away our outer clothes, and went into the living room. As we went along the hall, we saw the living room’s sunny wall had been dressed with white draperies. Louis XIV would have loved it. The piano returned to the correct side of the room, and drapes were hung beside the piano, on the North windows, which delighted me.
“Let’s go look at the bedroom.” Dashiell pulled me to the door, stopped, and opened the door, not looking. He reached to turn on the lights and then swung the door wide.
I said, “Now that’s a really colorful bed.”
A Royal Blue comforter with a thick Lavender trim floated on the bed. The comforter was as thick as a fat, fluffed pillow. The bed had no feet. It appeared to float in the middle of the room, levitated by some magic force. Dashiell melted, upon seeing the Royal Blue and Lavender comforter.
He let out a long contented sigh, “Oooooh.” He fell on the bed and hugged the luxurious fluff on the bed.
“This is so fine. Louis would have loved it. We will have to thank Mister Shultz. This is so cool. Come, Jean-Claude, feel it. Isn’t it wonderful?”
I sat beside him, as he soaked in the comforter. I fell back across the bed, my head landed in the fluff of the comforter.
Seeing my head on the comforter, he turned to me.
“Now tell me, Jean-Claude. Doesn’t that feel wonderful?”
“Yes, it does.”
I closed my eyes and luxuriated in the feel of the comforter.
“Feels like old times… a couple days ago.”
As I moved my head, listening to the sound as my ear moved on the fabric, Dashiell kissed my nose. I popped my eyes open, and kissed him back.
“We’re surviving, Dashiell,” I said, “we’ll be okay.”
“That’s how I feel, Jean-Claude. Everything will be fine.”
I looked in his eyes. I could tell he was happy. The sides of his eyelids turned into little smiles.
We sat up on the bed.
“We have bedroom furniture, all shiny.
I added, “White.”
Dashiell opened a drawer and closed it.
I laughed, “Operational, huh?”
He laughed, “Yep.”
We were getting silly.
Dashiell said, “Come in."
Aunt Gizzie and Mister Shultz came in.
We thanked Mister Shultz for the bedroom.
He said, “I have two boys at home. They’re artists, too. That made this room easy for me to please you.”
The phone rang.
Aunt Gizzie left, headed toward the kitchen to answer it.
Mister Shultz asked, “What are you going to do in your other room?”
I said, “We need to talk to our aunt, about that room. We are not sure at this time. Could you give us a couple days to get that worked out?”
“Did you see your aunt’s bedroom?”
“Come. Let me show it to you.”
He opened the door and turned on the light. Pure pink. Everything was pink.
(continued in next Chapter 26 - Index)