October 2, 2007

One Hymn or Another

  The same piano Hermione had refused to practice was still in the living room, but it was fifty years since she'd maddened her mother by sitting on the stool, twisting back and forth, screaming "No, I won't" over and over. Hermione lived with the petulant ghost of the Volga Boatman and the veils of Psalms pulled over her eyes by her father. Her mother's powder-dusted room (with pearly beads rolled under gaps in the baseboards) had been closed for thirty years. Her father's room (smelling of crystallized urine and his dry-rotted galoshes) had been shut for nearly twenty years, since the day her father walked down to the river, lay down in the water, and grappled with a fallen tree until it pinned him.
  One thing Hermione loved was to drive--fast and alone. She'd kept her mother's last car--a 1971 mustard Ford Galaxy. Saturdays she drove the hell out of it-- to "blow out the valves."
  The husband of one of her friends was stricken with his own clogged valves while he played billiards. He was going to make a bank shot to put three balls in three pockets, but after chalking his cue, plop! he fell across the table.
  Could Hermione give a few ladies a ride to the funeral in the Galaxy? No, the car wasn't up to going so slow--behind a hearse--plus with the lights on.
  But she drove the piano stool down the hill and cut through a shopping center parking lot, twisting in the seat to turn, and never once had to stop. She pulled up at the funeral parlor, carried the stool in and set it down at the keyboard. Hermione was playing Chopsticks when the hearse arrived.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was based on a dream.