Digital Ischemia

13/08/2018

Wratislaw part 2 of 10

A drily hyperbolic, humorous short story – a pianist with a passion for Janáček’s music finds the composer’s unrequited infatuation is part of the bargain

Wratislaw series begins at part 1

BBC Ben laughs as Wratislaw’s smirk melts away to distracted despair. Ben plays the precarious rapport.
“Shall we carry on, then? I mean: this is radio; we could be drifting in outer space for all they know.”
“Oh, I’m already there. Totally defused.”
Ben chuckles. “I like to have guests wait in a windowless void; they get a bit untethered.”

Wratislaw has managed to press the disturbance into just a tiny corner of his mind. He’s almost completely subsumed in describing his experience of Martinu. Almost.
“All that in just one minute forty-five. It’s miniaturism on a colossal scale.” He watches Ben puzzle over the juxtaposition and decide it makes a perfectly oxymoronic exit from the interview.

Ben shuts down the recording and thanks Wratislaw in his straightforward Manchester manner. Wratislaw appreciates the lack of toadying. Still, yet another something else is awry.
“Dress code seems rather formal today?”
Ben laughs coyly. “I didn’t think you’d noticed!”
Wratislaw chuckles politely, leaving a gap for Ben to fill. He learned that from her.
“We have this live section party thing after. A sort of thank-you knees-up for getting through the festival season with nothing more than a slight over-run from a broken string, a couple of screaming kids, and one interval track that went AWOL.”
Wratislaw allows a smirk. “Ah, yes. I’m invited.”
“Great! Well, might be awful actually. Our researcher–I think you just met her—she reckons we won’t last ten minutes.”

Kamila. Obviously. That’s why he is asking. Kamila Tuháčková. Not her real name either, but real names turn out to be meaningless. And researcher-cum-philosopher-cum-sorceresses don’t usually wear frocks like that. Surely. But of course Ben is just exercising their rapport, that diaphanous bit of professional camaraderie that is already dissolving. Because Wratislaw has a performance to come. Come undone. Come dancing. Cum-sorceress.

Wratislaw has made two laborious circuits of the throng, trying to graciously accept compliments, trying not to point out too often that it was, in fact, merely one of his mediocre performances. Gone was the ready confidence, replaced with caution. He avoided the risk of any flourishes, turned out an agricultural recital, and was lucky his damp tension hadn’t caused him to slide out by a half-note on those blasted polished keys. On the plus side, he can easily catch out any obsequious flatterers.

But he doesn’t have to be here. He doesn’t even have to be polite. He came for something else and it eludes him. A loose garden door catches his eye. A welcome respite to reassess and plot the quickest route for his escape. For his disappointment.

The downward slope of the extensive lawn draws him away from the hall. Nobody else seems enticed out here, unappreciative heathens, but the situation suits him. He deliberately brushes by shrubs and tree branches, unperturbed by dew and beetles landing on his jacket. The smell they give off is sublime. But everything is heightened when she’s there. Except not there.

Tuháčková, pronounced too-hatch-kova, not too-hats-, as one of her colleagues had doggedly referred to her, as if it was funny. Why always the British patronisation of other nations? Always inventing their own pronunciation and even names. But isn’t his own another example? Her example. Always an exception… Always exceptional.

…continues at part 3

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1 Comment »

  1. […] …continues at part 2 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 1 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 14/08/2018 @ 08:12


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