Sunday, January 31, 2016

Passion Pit


Passion Pit


Boris von Staadt ... Conductor

Melonie Davis ... Boris von Staadt's Niece

Clancy ... Violinist / Assistant Conductor

Linda ... Violinist / Unfaithful Wife

Genevieve ... Violinist / Linda's Bestie

Doc Stanley ... Himself

Passion Pit

Closing night for the season, time for the final curtain to fall.
My, how time flies, from the time of the initial casting call...
Just for good measure, stage area cleaned by a professional crew;
It would not matter next night, for a movie, but for this adieu,
Stage floor so polished, rolled ice leaves not even a water crawl.

Tonight's proceedings will be afforded an informal added caveat.
Boris von Staadt will conduct for the final time; this sought:
His finest hour to stand at the podium, and wave his magic wand,
In hand. On hand, the finest stationary musicians, set to respond;
That his niece is performing the closing song, adds to the plot.

Members of the press and public dignitaries mingle with the cast.
Backstage in the dressing rooms, pictures taken, questions asked,
Are reserved for the stars to be framed by an overhead spotlight.
While not all the cast would move on to bigger things, tonight,
Each was prepared to render a closing performance unsurpassed.

Meanwhile, down in the orchestral pit, our story set to unfold;
Perhaps, there is a veritable multitude of stories to be told?
Hidden, are those who provide prologue, overture and interlude,
Below the stage, at minimum wage, always present, never viewed;
Casual patrons take them for granted, might they ever be polled.

With it hours before the show, Linda can access the threshold.
Her husband offers enthusiastic well wish. She leaves him cold,
for no apparent reason; would have been better had she conceded.
She nudges the door by the booth. There is no ticket needed.
For Linda, the story is a complicated one that runs twofold.

Linda sees Genevieve, sitting patiently in their string section.
Weaving along, encounters an errant cello bow in her direction.
She was an unintended casualty in a childish mock sword fight;
Cliff and Norton, acting like third graders, neither very bright.
Linda growled disdain, making her way through the intersection.

Requesting a report, Linda passed along a look that implied,
Her fears warranted; according to her doctor, the rabbit died.
"Does your husband know this? How did Clancy take this news?"
Linda replied, "Hubby no, and you won't believe Clancy's views;
He is moving on, and it is a good thing I am already a bride."

Clancy was big in their band, and the most eligible bachelor.
Each season, he was wooed by the women; Linda this year's score.
"When I told the news of the child, he refused to take the blame.
He laughed it off, said I could not prove it was his to claim."
Fact: For Clancy, this was a rite of passage, extending his lore.

Performance impending, each member had an assigned seat to sit.
From strings to horns to percussion, arrangement a perfect fit.
Once each member of the local theatre orchestra's home was found,
Several went into mock practice moves, in silence, no sound...
Such as it is, here in the hidden world of the orchestral pit.

The crowd filtered in, dressed to the nines, veritable potpourri
Of all walks of life, to enjoy acting, singing, and symphony.
Bootleggers, gangsters, constables, lawyers and judges of laws,
Came together in peace for an evening devoted to a common cause.
A homemaker wonders, "Is that the mercantile owner next to me?"

Prologue set to commence, Boris front and center, baton showing,
Those in front take notice, he is overcome, his tears flowing.
From section to section, each musician joins in the music flow,
A subtle beginning, dueling melodies cascade, rousing crescendo;
Finally, rumble of drums ceases, as stage dialogue is commencing.

As Boris von Staadt steps away from the podium, time to dismount,
He falls down to the floor, out like a light, down for the count.
As the entertainment plays on the stage behind, in the music town,
Real drama is underway, a tragic scene of real life is going down.
Finding someone in the medical field takes precedent, tantamount.

Hush whispers begin to permeate, "Is there a doctor in the crowd?"
Old Doc Stanley overheard, and he had his bag, as fate allowed.
He eased out to the aisle and down a ramp, his summon a success.
Seeing Boris, his initial assumption was a matter of his chest.
Doc stood for a moment over Boris, then appropriately bowed.

He had them move the maestro over to a makeshift cot, out of view.
Clancy saw the opportunity before him, knowing well what to do.
Stepping from the keyboard seat, made a bee line to the lectern;
Having studied for years there was nothing left for him to learn.
Getting their attention, "We've music to play before Act Two."

"Do it for Boris," Clancy offered, but really, was for his acclaim.
To the unknowing throng in attendance, it was really all the same,
But to those in the pit, they each played as though possessed.
Of all their performances this season, tonight's would be best;
Caught up in this glorious moment, Clancy unaware of Linda's game.

She had reached into her bag of tricks, and under her shawl,
She extended the open end of an oboe, designed to make him crawl.
She waved a Clancy, eventually getting the rounder's attention.
She pointed what he saw as a gun, at his part we won't mention.
Pointing her free hand as if pulling a trigger, caused a fall.

Clancy crawled in panic, avoiding the shot, to who knows where.
Norton whispered over to Cliff, "Must be something in the air."
Norton must have been a prophet that night, little did he know,
Doc Stanley concluded Boris had an allergy. He was good to go,
With antidote in the form of a shot administered to a derriere.

It seems the stage floor cleaning sweeper had an errant plan.
Rather than scoop debris, he swept to edge then over the span.
The sly old doctor, a bastion of calm, saw grime on a trouser,
Deduced it was dust, and administered what was an arouser.
The entire orchestra was spared, due to a faulty electric fan.

Now picture this: Clancy hiding under a tarp, toward stage right;
Boris' rise from the ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in plain sight.
Clancy was so sure von Staadt was destined to lie under clover,
The same place he was heading, if seen by a scorned former lover.
Even as his moments seemed numbered, he could not feign contrite.

The hall then grew silent as wind on a distant sparrow's wing.
This was the time in the show for the conductor's niece to sing.
Melonie von Staadt, whose stage name was Davis, took spotlight.
She wanted to make it on her own, this was her time for flight.
As violins droned, her voice engaged. Boris' tears now were real.

"Quarter moon lights my path, down this trail I know so well.
Clutching your old love letters, I dare not fear the knell.
I pray your safe return from foreign shores, Dearest Friend,
When, as then, we'll walk hand in hand under Sycamore Wind."
She held last note for half an eternity, followed by a quell.

Granted, it had taken the girl an entire season to get it right.
But, all who witnessed were in unison, a star was born that night.
No adult in that room had been spared the ravages of that war,
Be they good, bad or indifferent, all had a time and place where,
A loved one fought Over There, whose lamplight burned bright,

Not a dry eye in the house, theatre rafters shook like thunder,
As with Beethoven's "Battle of Vitoria," hats flew like plunder.
As an aside, Clancy chose this moment to poke his head curious;
A sailing derby smacked him in the eye, as fate was dubious.
In his warped mind, he'd been shot, and tragically going under.

The stars bowed, the audience countered with a final ovation.
The stars had shone, especially Melonie, overnight sensation.
The lights came up, and the partisans vacated, along their way.
The season was over, and for all intents, what a final day...
Orchestra members gathered their wares from respective station.

Linda made it a point to kick Clancy in the groin, fatal shot,
In a cathartic move, and it worked. She was a little less fraught.
"You're dead to me now. Do you understand, you worthless bastard?"
Never underestimate the power of getting in the final word!
At least she'd not be the only one to deal with a lesson taught.

In time, she would confess to her husband, and he would contend.
By the next season, he would be dating Genevieve, her best friend.
Linda would move back to Des Moine, to her judgemental mother.
Clancy would apply for head conductor and be told, "Don't bother."
Good night for now, from Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1930. The End.

Michael Todd  (2016)