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Clouds

By Hugh Foxy

Clouds walked in through the cloudy door wondering what was coming next when suddenly there was his old college buddy, Sam Gazzolo, waiting for him.

“You’re looking more like twenty than...how old are you?”

“This is your first day here, you’re going to have to learn how to cope.”

“With what?”

“Everything.”

“But you look twenty, what’s the story?”

“Come on in and sit down.”

“And your lisp is gone.”

“Don’t get me mad!”

“I never minded the lisp. But how did you get rid of it.”

“It just went away. Like a head cold. Everything bad went away. Dominus Vobiscum, et cum spiritu tuo...”

The richest guy Claude had ever known, never had had to work because his father had owned a drug-company chain in Chicago. Sam’s Superdrugs. His son was Sam Jr.

But after his father had died, Sam Jr. had gotten enough

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money so that he didn’t have to not only not work but could go wherever he wanted whenever he wanted, and the money doubled after his mother died. So all he did was go to church, church, church, hated Vatican II, found a Russian Uniate Church that was Russian, OK, but not orthodox, had never broken its ties with Rome.

So he was like back in the 17th century permanently, a masterpiece house in Oak Park, an English manor that he turned into French, and he never finished college, just married, travelled to wherever there were great restaurants and nice museums, Florence, Paris, Prague, five kids....

“So how are your kids?”

“Oh, you know, all that travelling, one studied art and is in Milan, none are in the car business, that’s great, isn’t it?”

“Unless they become Chinese...”

Frank laughs, his old-time silly-boy laugh.

“What a coincidence you should mention China, one is in Taiwan married to a Taiwanese Catholic. Ten kids. Total sanity. What about yours?”

“Six kids, three wives, I’ve been busy....”

“But divorce isn’t allowed in the Church!”

“I’ve become a buddhist...”

3.

“A buddhist, but how did you....?”

(A beautiful young Italian-looking woman walks in, Debussy suddenly in the air, Petite Suite # V).

“I can’t believe it!” croaks Claude, “Bella, bella, it’s not you is it?! Dolores!”

She embraces him quickly, pulls away when he starts enjoying it a bit too much.

“Still piano-ing?”

He can barely get the words out.

“What else?”

“I thought you had gone into....”

She suddenly gets serious, full of mocking nastiness, “’By the power vested in me...’ What about the power of the hands on the keyboard?”

She starts to play an invisible keyboard and we hear Wagner’s The Sigfried Idyll adapted for piano.

“What’s that?”

Frank all interested.

“Wagner. Sure, the recitatifs are just talk, but when he comes to melodies, no one can beat him...”

4.

“Except Howard Hansen,” adds Sam, “his romantic symphony is my all-time favorite....”

“My all-time favorite is Vaughan Wllliams’ Greensleeves,” says Claude a little guiltily.

“Mine is what I’m playing,” Dolores angry, wanting just one thing, to play.

“It’s your life, isn’t it!” Claude smircks.

“My soul, my spiritual food. I never wanted to be a lawyer, but a musician...in my family it was being a kangaroo, a mafioso, terrorist...nazi...that was more like it back then, a nazi...”

“The world’s always been crazy, hasn’t it?” Frank getting very serious, “the Romans and Jesus-Messiah, the Arabs and the Spanish, the Cid, Martin Luther, the Albigensians...”

“Albi...?” asks Dolores, stopping playing a moment.

“The Catholics used to cut up heretics....”

And then she suddenly turned herself off from the rest of the world, shushes everyone, starts playing Debussy’s “Maid With the Flaxen Hair.”

Claude loved it, her style, her herness, and started wondering about WHO NEXT? Phyllis Miller, one of his friends in pre-med who got killed in a car wreck, and when he went to the funeral and saw

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her all sewed up in her coffin it was an experience he never got over, voices in him from then on whispering “You’re next, no matter how long you have you’re still next,” suddenly the faces, the music all starting to jiggle and twist and turn around in front of him and in his ears, like he was a potato getting mashed...a voice from Hell stabbing into his world.

“OK, Claude, c’est temps, it’s time.”

His wife’s voice. It really alwys was like a medieval fencing sword stuck into the guts of his existentilism.

Eyes opened. There she was, aggressively Brazilian, only he still wasn’t quite 100% there.

“I’m supposed to be retired, I can sleep all day if I want.”

“More nightmares?”

Ms. Big Psychiatrist. He wanted to tell her to keep her knowhow on the job, not using it in the house, especially not on him.

‘Keep this up and you’ll spend all day in the mental hospital. What were you nightmaring about?”

“Inevitability, I guess,” he said, but that sounded too sweet-wine-ish, or Irish Creme mixed with soy milk, “Call it wishful thinking.”

“Wishing what? Some other woman?”

6.

He got up, walked into the kitchen next to his bedroom, ate an oatmeal cookie, like he ate every morning to cut down on bad cholesterol, thinking now how silly that was, as if he could put off death with oatmeal cookies.

“It would all be so great, death and resurrection, an eternity anywhere, even in Hell, anything but just turn off reality forever....”

“So you were dreaming about?”

“On the contrary, I was dreaming about when I had it great, the old days, les beaux années....before I met you....”

There’s a fireplace in the bedroom, some fire-irons in a metal container next to the fireplace itself. She lightnings over to them and pulls out a long brass rod, antique-ish, very deadly-looking.

“You won’t have to worry about your gold-plated past much longer,” she hisses out.

“Very good!”

Then samurai-quick he grabs the rod out of her hand and tosses it on the floor, grabs her, a caress almost strong enough to break her ribs, and suddenly both of them soften, merge into each other, no words, no words needed.

(C)opyright 2007 Hugh Fox All Rights Reserved

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