Friday, 1 January 2016

A Very Fine Concert

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

 
‘Only snugged then and cosied after one percepted nought while tuffbettle outraged the waywords and meansigns of their hinterhand suppliesdemands.’ James Joyce, Finnegans Wake


‘God!’ exclaimed Sarah Riddley, suddenly seeing her oft-dreamed of true love, ‘he’s such a Sex-God Adonis!’ Funnily enough, the subject of veneration was actually named Adonis, Adonis Homer Templeworth. He was here by himself at a rave in Chippendaille, a shadowed part of perpetually bright inner city Sydney. He was supposed to be here with a friend, Clarissa, one of his housemates, but she had managed to twist her ankle just as they were both leaving the house, and had to retire to bed. Adonis was only here at Clarissa’s urging, not wanting to spoil his fun, and not-so-jokingly asking him to bring her home a nice young man.
     'Well, go up to him,’ said Lydia, who Sarah was partying away the still-fresh weekend with. ‘If you don’t, I will.’ Lydia brought out her pink lipstick and began applying a touch-up coat.
     ‘Why don’t we both go up to him?’
     ‘Sorry, Sarah, if you don’t want him I’ll gladly assume ownership.’
     ‘What if he thinks I’m being too forward? He looks like he has aristocratic manners.’
     ‘We don’t need those parasites, they’re not good for anyone. And if he is an aristocrat I’ll probably give him a good piece of my mind about feudalism.’
     ‘Don’t do that.’
     ‘Well, you go up to him first and let me know.’
     Sarah didn’t wait for a third prompting.
     And indeed Adonis’ manners were not at all aristocratic, easily falling into friendly conversation with Sarah. So much so that she quickly realised she may have found The One.
     ‘Would you like to dance?’ she asked when the time seemed right. ‘I’d prefer it though if we could find somewhere to have a good chat.’
     ‘Certainly. I’m known for being very sociable. Would you like a drink while we find a place to natter?’
     ‘I don’t drink.’
     ‘What about coffee?’
     ‘I drink tea.’
     ‘Well, how about an ice tea if they have any?’
     ‘Ok. Thank you.’
     The bar had ice tea in bottles, and they soon chose a place at the farthest end from the speakers in the club. There were cushions scattered around the floor and other young couples quietly talking, well, as quietly as the club’s loud music would allow.
     Sarah enjoyed their own further quiet conversation even more, convinced that she had indeed found The One. He was just so relaxed, somehow always appearing to sparkle while firmly holding her interest. And he hadn’t sworn yet. When she was half way through her tea she decided to not let him get away. She would ask him out on a date. Soon. Very soon.
     ‘Adonis, you’ve heard of Finnegans Wake, right?’
     ‘Of course. Read it once but couldn’t get much sense from it. Except for its closing pages. Why?’
     ‘Well there’s this Canadian group, Waywords and Meansigns, a Wake fan club, and they’re soon to release their second edition of putting it to music, also called Waywords and Meansigns. One of the chiefs of the group, Derek (I know him,) is holidaying here, and putting on a sneak preview next week of the completed music, with wine and nibblies. Even someone from Iggy and the Stooges has worked on the piece. Would you like to come along with me?’
     ‘Is the book also narrated, or is it just music?’
     ‘It’s both.’
     ‘Okay then, cool, I’d love to go.’ So they exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and talked for a couple of more hours, until one a.m., Adonis having to get up for his furniture sales job. Adonis had vague plans of setting up a company that sells something everyone wants and had dedicated his time up until aged twenty-five (currently aged twenty-two) in doing as many sales jobs as he could, getting to know each one thoroughly, hopefully to come up with an amalgam of sales rules of his own. And Adonis, just before sleep, felt he now had something greater to work for.

 
*

Adonis, the next afternoon at four, called Sarah with sad news. He couldn’t make the concert, but had to head over to Scotland because his elderly mother had had a sudden, nasty turn. Mrs Templeworth was bed-ridden now, conscious, but harbouring her energies.
     ‘I’m leaving tonight, Sarah. But I’ll probably be back in about two weeks. Dad said the doctor is fairly hopeful of a full recovery. If that guy manages to throw another concert in Sydney I’d still like to hear it with you.’
     ‘What if I can get the guy, Derek, to put the concert on this evening?’ Sarah knew she was acting selfishly in asking Adonis to stay, but she really didn’t want to lose him. She had him on her hook and just needed a little more time to reel him in.  ‘If he puts on the show tonight you could head over to the airport two hours later. At the worst you’d be only a couple of hours late. And I’d really hate to say a hasty good-bye. You’re so great to talk with.’
     Adonis was keen too. Sarah was a very comfortable woman around who he could easily reveal his sensitive self.  To his rational mind the benefits of waiting, really for only two or three hours, outweighed the costs. He decided quickly.
     ‘Ok, Sarah, if Derek can somehow give another performance today or early tonight, I’m in. But I’m off to the airport at nine tonight precisely.’
     ‘I’ll ring him now. It might be best if you came over here in case Derek can help right away.’
     ‘What’s your address?’ Receiving that, Adonis headed over, feeling even more full of possibilities, despite his unfortunate news.
     Derek, though easily reached, was in no manner prepared to give an advance concert. The house of his only sibling, his elder sister, with whom he was staying, had completely burned down. They met with the carnage at lunchtime, when they had both agreed to meet at home to cook up a chicken curry together. The fire brigade was just now finishing up their work.
     ‘In fact, Sarah,’ said Derek on the phone, making contingencies, ‘may I please crash with you during my last week here? Otherwise I’ll just have to return to Canada.’
     Naturally Sarah was accommodating, and Derek was over in half an hour, Adonis arriving too soon afterwards, and was introduced to him. When she told Derek that her new friend really wanted to hear his new Waywords in advance, if he could, Derek had to be the bearer of even more bad news. All his stuff, his clothes, books, laptop, discs, notes, USB modem, everything, was char and ashes. Maybe they could listen to the first edition online, suggested Derek. After all, it’s a brilliant recording, capturing the Wake’s allusions to many recurrent indistinct meanings.
     ‘I’ve listened to the first edition,’ said Sarah to Adonis, ‘and if you read along with the text it really makes the Wake readable. It’s a book that provides music, not a book that provides meaning.’
     So, it was agreed, they would listen to the first edition over some wine. But Adonis could only stay for about two hours as he had to rush off if he was to make his flight. Derek went out to get two bottles of pinot noir and all were soon settled down with great expectations.
     Those expectations were fulfilled and Adonis was, quite simply, stunned. The narrations of the book’s strange language hinted at multiple meanings, all simultaneous, reinforced by music that was both chaotic and structured. It was the most mystifying experience he had as yet had, especially with the wine, as well as the clearest his thoughts had ever been: Derek’s work had shown him that everything is interlinked; we are all of us just strange codes intermingling, hoping each to grasp some fundamental meaning, a meaning that continues to slip from our grasp.
     Adonis in fact liked the mini concert so much that he delayed his departure by another hour, to make ready for the flight, just to talk with one of its creators. This naturally excited (perhaps too much) the young Sarah. Adonis would now associate her with the magnificent time that he’s obviously having.
     Eventually, however, Adonis could delay his packing no longer. He returned home to quickly pack and sent Sarah an sms just before boarding the plane to let her know that he had just made his flight. He emailed her a few days later to say that his mother was all right. She’d be right as rain again, once she had someone for regular domestic assistance. Mrs Templeworth was amenable to the aid and could easily afford the reasonable charge of the government funded domestic assistance agency. Thus things were in great shape, and he planned to be at Sydney airport in three days’ time. Could they listen to that Waywords piece again? It had really been haunting him over the recent days. It alludes to so much but says so little.
     Sarah didn’t reply until the evening, saying that she ‘would love’ to have him as a guest. Things were duly arranged, Adonis expected to arrive the following day, and Sarah has taken her annual four weeks holidays to catch this very sexy and very intelligent Adonis. She remained quite hopeful.


~~~

The character of Derek in this story is based upon a real person, Derek Pyle, and this story is inspired by his project of putting James Joyce’s masterpiece, Finnegans Wake, to music. The first edition of this stunning project is available online at www.waywordsandmeansigns.com and the second edition will be available at the same site on February 02, 2016. And if you’re a big fan of Joyce you’ll love Fitzpatrick’s bizarre short story collections, and other books, available at http://amzn.to/1NfodtN


    

    

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