Still Standing.


Compliments to the redhaired tenor in the office, her comp seat was a good one. Angled, just right, a direct sight line to the soloist and the cello section. Close, too, enough to see hands and noses and pursed lips and set chins and reflecting glasses. And good, too, that she’d rendered the contac in her right eye tacet; now, the tortoise shell framed lenses could do their work, in concert. Yes; the symphony, from that vantage point, would be truly philharmonic. Best to see in stereo, as well!

But, something about the Warner stage lighting drew her gaze to the left, toward that back corner less populated by the absorbing uniformed black of flanking string players. Bedecked with geometric chrome, and cured skins of graduating size, and assorted varnishes of exotic woods: the percussion section.

He stood apart.

Six feet, two, in full tails. Slender hands clasping long, red baubled mallets, crossing at the thigh. A metal xylophone and rosewood marimba tabling his foreground. Eyes, on the illuminated music. Ears, on the woodwind cues. Body, in the rhythm. Mind, on the beat.

She looked at him, setting the angle of her head. The orchestra had long since begun its overture, some tribute to a Bernstein fantasy, and she was conscious of the preponderance of audience fixating on the conductor’s choreography. The music lept, and swooped, and peppered across the stage. And, he stood.

Though built for size, he was not muscle bound. His cranium was large, the flesh beneath his chin testing its starched white collar. She watched his face.

This was more than a face, she’d decided over a decade ago, and only one who really knew could recognize its allure. Less a face, more the countenance of a mind so rich in its convolutions so as to play upon its surface and shapes in an endless array of instantaneous, simultaneous thought.

That grand head, atop the smoothe, broad, black tailcoat’s shoulders, and the rest of him, outfitted like some turn of the 20th century British notion of an English gentleman, she decided. Taken individually, the French facial features were unmistakeable; yet, unavoidably paired with that oversized skull, liberally fleshed out body and long, solid legs, they lost the battle. He was Benjamin Franklin, reincarnated, minus only the wavy locks and wired spectacles.

She had become his spotlight, body heat intensifying with the orb of her gaze. Her mind returned. They’d made it all the way through October of the second of those two solid years, a record in her dismal history of attempts at sustaining anything. His company had been deeply rich, he unbelievably tender and strong. And, as he stood, she realized that, out of all other men, this man had remained entirely above reproach, never having done a single thing to hurt or offend. Always supportive, ever positive. No fault to be had; no judgment passed. No infraction in the war of love. Only the truest of unconditional acceptance. This was a man who could stand anywhere.

With increasing flavor and sensation, the performance rollicked on. The music was spectacular; the soloist, dazzling; the composer, meeting later in the theater lobby, gracious and forthcoming; people, on all sides, enraptured and exultant to be together.

She knew he’d be leaving alone, probably the last to pack. Regal attire meticulously hung, comfort clothing now draping his soft, voluptuous belly home. Then, he’d be on his back on the small bed, old phonograph filling that equally small room with strains of the most obscure treasure, a one of a kind recording, his own acquisition, his singular, solitary satisfaction.

Her star struck euphoria would be momentary. Her gratitude at nearly missing the newest of musical offerings, and that of superior quality all around, would last for weeks.

But, in her mind and heart, head and shoulders above all the rest, he was still standing.





© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

10/11/15   All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing, in whole or part, strictly prohibited. Thank you.


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