out of the ashes

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In The Garden

I discovered Aram Khachaturian recently! His ballet score of Spartacus. The adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia is magnificent. What an awesome composer. I tune in to Classic FM on iTunes mid-evening when I'm writing. They play a lot of really excellent music. Last night I went back to my lost files and found a chapter I'd written...I don't know...back in September of last year? Chapter 22 of the rewrite. I rewrote it again while listening to Spartacus. I haven't seen the ballet--somehow it seems odd that someone could write a ballet based on a gladiator. But the scene with Spartacus and Phrygia must be very beautiful, nonetheless. I miss concerts and the ballet, really.

Anyway, I like this one. Marvin has settled in at the mansion, Maribeth at his side constantly. Kind of a Spartacus and Phrygia love that will eventually develop.


Ten peaceful days passed after Marvin found himself placed on the permanent guest register at the Governor’s Mansion. In the basement, yes, but compared to his former address, the simple lodging was paradise. He lived quietly, immersed in reading every book Maribeth could get her hands on concerning the subject of genetics. She brought him many—better, she knew, than taking him out so that he could steal them.
Mornings found him scratching formulas and equations on a large blackboard he had asked his young friend to dredge up for him. The quaint paintings on the wall separating the bedroom from the bath had come down, and Robert was enlisted to hang the blackboard in their place. He did so, though not without a great deal of low grumbling and a visibly dour complexion.
The surface of the board quickly filled, top to bottom. The string of chemical notations and numbers was dizzying, and ran slightly downhill from left to right—due to a muscle weakness in his writing arm, and the weight of the chalk, he began to think. Why he wrote with the same irritating downturn on notebook paper mystified him, however, as this seemed to have no connection to muscles or the heaviness of the pencil. Marvin passed both off as mere idiosyncrasies of genius in the end. They had no logical connection in his mind to gene disorders. Over the days he had filled six spiral notebooks with a labyrinth of thoughts, speculations, hypotheses, dead-end equations, brilliant insights, and yards of hen scratching. Through all of this sometimes seeming uselessness, a beautiful, complex, basic instructional pattern was beginning to emerge.
Afternoons he spent in the domed gazebo near the rose garden of the south lawn, reclining on a chaise lounge reviewing his downhill notes, listening to the birds chirping, and the roughhousing of the dogs. Sometimes he could hear the grass growing. These were the hours he most enjoyed, and he had lately begun to visualize himself in a permanent setting just such as this. Someday…
The days were warm, lacking breezes, mostly, but the conifers and elms buffering the westward edge of the estate property cast a blanket of cool shadows across the grass and walkways and calmed the fierce workings of his brain. Maribeth brought him lemonade and chocolate chip cookies, and pleasant companionship. Robert kept a watchful eye on the mistress of the mansion, at a discreet distance, and quietly observed when she placed an arm around Marvin’s shoulder and laid her cheek on top of his head.

And then we go into Robert, the head servant's back story in New Orleans.....

...Eight years later, in 1978, he left Camilla Fornier alone and penniless in their rat infested apartment in Saint Bernard Parish with a final kiss on her brow, a single suitcase containing all his worldly belongings, and he moved west to Denver. There, fate was kinder to him. He met the young business upstart, Richard Harris. Richard hired him to maintain the home in the southeast neighborhood of the city; moved him into the small guesthouse at the rear of the property. One year later, Trish gave birth to the child he would come to love, and as the family climbed the steps to success, Robert devoted himself to them, especially the precocious little girl, more deeply with every season that passed. Until petite Maribeth turned sixteen and blossomed into a young woman and his feelings began to change. Despite himself, he could not help but notice—and wonder. There in her presence.
And alone in his room.

Marvin sat upright on the edge of the chaise, a notebook resting on his knees. He had taken to wearing baggy shorts with black socks and dress shoes, all of which made him look like a half dressed stork from the waist down. His legs were lily white and spindly; his knees, knobs of wrinkled flesh. Maribeth took a seat on a patio chair next to him after having brought his lemonade and cookies.
"You could use a little sun, Marvin. Put a little color in your skin." She chuckled. She wore a halter top, designer shorts--denim, cuffed at the bottom--and sandals. Her arms and stomach and thighs were a smooth field of light brown. Shadows played across her blonde hair and made it seem as though it breathed in the warm air. The difference between them was marked, and his eyes flicked to her the moment she uttered the comment.
Someday...Someday I'll have.....

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I'm moving forward...in fits and starts. The writing isn't fun. It's just work. I wonder if it shows up in the pages? I'll finish the chapter sometime tomorrow...

Chapter Thirty-four

The new office of John D. Delilah, Attorney at Law, was unlike the aged, high-ceilinged space of Sampson and Delilah two blocks to the south. It occupied four hundred square feet on the tenth floor of a modern high rise, packed between the office of an accounting firm—twice as large as his—and another firm of attorneys, five strong. The placard hanging at eye level outside the door on the wall was simple brushed metal, his name etched on it, just like the placards on every other office on the floor. Exactly at the same height off the gray carpet, in the same position as those of his new neighbors.
Amy had gone with him to three different office furniture stores to pick out furnishings and d├ęcor, although his concept of what would function and look best was clear in his mind. He was delighted to have her beside him, and listened closely to her every opinion and suggestion. His one weakness in conceiving the space was greenery. Amy filled that void (and the spaces of the new office) with broad-leafed plants with an unerring eye. John took her to gallery after gallery; asked her what she thought of this original print, that piece of sculpture. Vases splashed with gleaming rivers of color. Together they turned the space he had signed the lease on into a sleek extension of his loft.
Clients began to arrive. Business was good. Neither of them thought much, any longer, of Sampson and the acid-filled atmosphere he had dominated so short a time ago.
The afternoon of Marvin’s great breakthrough, after John had finished meeting with a wealthy new client and the day’s work was drawing to a close, Amy said to him.
“I laughed this morning when I got here. Your sign outside the door. It made me stutter when I read your name. John Duh-duh. Delilah.” She laughed.
“Wuh-well, th-that’s my name. Should I ch-change it?” he mimicked her.
“Not ever. It suits you perfectly. The D. included.
“But, hey! I bought you a gift while I was out to lunch.”
“You did? Oh my. I’m, umm…what is it?”
She rose from her chair, pointing to a large variegated leaf Pothos sitting beneath the lone window three feet behind her.
“It will add a little calm and beauty to your house. See the leaves? They’re like little green hearts, I think. Hundreds of little green hearts. That’s what I see. You can put it on a pedestal beside the windows…or maybe next to your bed. Anywhere you want to. Do you like it?”
John stood, caught up more by her thoughtfulness than by the robust elegance of the plant. He wondered what she meant by her analogy of the shape of the leaves as hearts. He walked across the carpet and took a knee beside her, close to her so that his shoulder touched hers. The plant was fine, yes, and he lifted a sheaf of leaves with his fingers, feeling the waxy smoothness of them, but had it been a cactus filled with needles, it would have been as pleasing to him. The plant was a gift from her.
“Thank you so much,” he said turning his gaze to her. That queasy sensation that confused him began to grow. The uneasiness with words, the way they failed him in close proximity to her. Amy smiled at him and closed her eyes for just a moment.
“It’s gorgeous…but I have no idea…I mean, where it would look best at home,” he said.
That was a lie. He knew exactly where it should sit. On the corner of the black lacquered dresser in his bedroom. There it would be perfect with its pale yellow, and deep green foliage. Something of her, to remind him every evening before he fell asleep that she would be waiting for him, at least in his dreams.
“You’ll find the perfect spot,” she said with a smile.
“You find it. That is, please.” He paused, looking down nervously at the leaves beneath his fingers. “Well?”
“Yes. Okay,” she said. “After dinner. I’m treating.”

Raining Again!

I’ll bet you don’t know why the keys on your keyboard are laid out as they are...QWERTY , and so on. I didn’t, although once in a while I wondered myself.
Thank you Yahoo answers!
Quickly; they were laid out by a gentleman named Scholes in 1870 (or thereabouts), to separate the letters most commonly used in the English language so that the heavy metal bars holding the letters would not jam at high speed typing. Not the most efficient anymore, because of Dvorak (not the incredible composer), but most everyone is comfortable with the layout as it has existed for nearly a century and a half. We are creatures of habit, yes?
In my high school typing class we used very old manual machines. I can’t remember who manufactured them. Probably Underwood or Royal? But they were at least as ancient as the wonderful old nuns who taught in the school. After a semester of instruction by Sister Mary Dolorine…okay, Sister Mary George, lol…my top speed was 35 words/minute with no errors. Not that terrific. But, who cared, really? I had no plans to become a secretary. Now, Eddie Mondragon, “Moondoggie”, played the accordion. He could type upwards of 75 words/minute, error free, which feat raised him enormously in everyone’s eyes, especially in view of the fact that he was the co-captain of out football team, and a fierce hitter. I wonder how proficient at typing someone like Rochmaninov would have been? It is said his fingers moved at lightning speed on the piano keys.
Anyway, I have gotten into the habit of looking, not at a piece of paper with script on it sitting on my desk as I type, but at the screen in front of me. Speed is not that important. Still, I rarely look at the keys, unless I notice “the” coming out as rW…oops! I shifted my left hand one key over!
I’m tired of rain!