Monday, December 7, 2009

The boogieman

Flew back from Austin last night--a lovely pre-Christmas visit with my daughter and granddaughters. It's cold and gray back here at home. Just a writing exercise evoked by the cold.

December 7, 2009----Nasdijj, The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams, p. 110.

“I am the boogieman and might eat them.”

Those kids don’t know that I once had a life. Yes, I once had a life worthy of envy. But now I’m just the creepy old man who walks the streets, day and night, humming Haydn and Mozart, speaking French. I wrap myself in layers of moth-eaten woolens, scarves wrapped about my head to keep away the cold, leaning on my cane. I walk, even when the sidewalks are covered in snow and ice. I walk when the winds blow so cold that the steam from my breath freezes on my scraggly gray beard. I walk even though my hardened bones ache. I walk because I can’t stay in the sullen sadness of my apartment all day and all night without seeing another living soul. It seems a lifetime ago that I played Carnegie Hall, that people wept when I played. My violin and I were one then. But now the violin has been in its case for years. Once a year I take it out and play Vivaldi for Rosalina on our anniversary. Rosalina loved Vivaldi. She said that I was playing Vivaldi when she fell in love with me. I rosin the bow and play for her, though she has been gone for 20 years now. My mind knows every note but my hands can barely find them. And I recite over and over again in French the poetry that she loved. If I forget the music and I forget the poetry, then I have lost what is left of her. So I walk the streets so I can breathe the frigid air and know that I am still alive. Yesterday I heard that little ragamuffin from the floor below me. He shouted to his friend, “Quick! Run! It’s that old man who hums and talks crazy to himself. He’ll eat you up!” They don’t know who I am. They don’t think there’s still a man inside these rags. They don’t know that I’m humming the most beautiful music ever composed. They don’t know I am reciting words of love. They think I am the boogieman and might eat them.

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