Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Another K-Paxian Arrives


Sits at the piano bench in a ragged tuxedo and begins to play selections from the Bach Concertos on the instrument he drew from memory.

Beth, his nurse in the mornings, stands ten feet away. Any closer and he would again be agitated; he is frightened of people, and places, and things. Beth moves a hand to smooth down some of the wrinkles of the blue patterned scrubs she wears. They were stained by the jelly which was on the toast which Nigel tossed her direction at breakfast, but in the light of the fingered artistry of his playing she is subconsciously concerned about the appearance of her clothes. Her mouth is slightly open; her eyes locked on Nigel.

He plays, and clearly has played before. It is not perfection, but it is too close for this hour, for this place, for this Nigel. The skill makes the circumstance tense, but offering hope.

Dr. Standish sits in a folding chair in the dim corner of the dining room. How is it that there is fresh air here? The usual smells of this house have lifted from this corner. How is it that the sounds - cries and groans and babbling of patients - are overwhelmed by the mathematical quiet of Bach? How is it that, at eight-forty on a Tuesday morning, just before his normal rounds begin, confident and stable Dr. Standish is sheltering his face from the small group of people gathered here? He is touched; he is embarrassed.

Nigel plays. His eyes dance to the fugue. The music pours from inside. The labels have been ripped from his clothes, mirroring the nervous truth of his identity. He is completely lost, forgotten by whoever once cared. He is mute by his heart and head, but his fingers speak. They credential a story.

He is.

He plays.

More are gathered here now. They are listening, attentive. This establishes him, anchors him in time. He plays with intent. He has had a yesterday. He will have a tomorrow. None of it is sure, but all is made actual by the music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Billy Joel's song "Piano Man" has the lyric "son can you play me a memory"...that seems to be what the piano man is doing..playing his memories.