Flash fiction: Bassoon in the corner

Author’s note: In preparation for NaNoWriMo 2009, someone put up daily prompts on one of the forums. I did them in the spirit of warm-ups, but some of them turned into stories. Here is one such.

Prompt: The bassoon lay tattered in the lonely corner.

It was long since time to begin rehearsal, and they were still straggling in.  The dancers were already there, and looking disdainful as they stretched.  Dancers never sit still; they stretch, if there’s more than a minute or two to wait, or they do strength exercises, sitting on the floor and lifting themselves on their flattened palms.  They’re constantly aware that they’re in their bodies, which is why they’re so compelling to watch: their thinking doesn’t stop at the neck.

It was the bloody musicians who were the problem.  They’d taken lunch, the lot of them, and left the instruments behind.  There was the guitar, in its open case on the chair; the flute, sitting on the table on a sprawl of sheet music, like a detail in a Caravaggio still life; the set of hand drums sat opposite, holding down the corners, as if it and the flute were deliberating, in the absence of their players, as to how they’d manage this rather tricky passage.  The bassoon lay tattered in the lonely corner, its wood and metal still wrapped in fronds of leather and cloth.  A thoroughly makeshift case, I thought, and bloody typical of the fellow who’d brought it in: bearded, slovenly, a little fat, the sort of man who thinks that his genius overrides all considerations of precision or craft.

Yes, I’m judgmental.  It must come from hanging out with the dancers.

The actors are standing in their little klatch, finishing their coffee.  They have their own little rituals, and you can tell the ones who trained as dancers because they’re looking over there to the country from which they’ve been exiled, and remembering its rites.  Some of the actors are stretching; some are looking at their cell phones to see if they’ve got a text message, and others are looking at the script, already marking time, already in rehearsal.

That bassoon case—if you could call it that—really bothered me.  Rags and tatters, and that reminded me.  Rags and Tatters, the bar around the corner, our local outpost of La Vie Boheme, that’s where he’d be, among the trust-fund slackers and the drinkers with a writing problem.  Poseur central, and meanwhile I had a rehearsal to get underway.

Dmitri, the stage manager, looked at his cell phone, looked at me.

“Long since time,” he said.

“Rags and Tatters,” I said.

He rolled his eyes and sighed.  “Musicians,” he said.  “Dori!”

The assistant stage manager looked up from her notebook.

“They’re not back.”

She narrowed her eyes and then abruptly pursed her lips as if cutting off a curse word.  “I’ll go get them.”  Stupid bastards, I could hear.  Because I already knew what Dori thought of the lot of them, and I appreciated her grace in not saying aloud that she told us so about the rather conspicuous (to her) bad vibe of Hamisch the bassoonist.

She closed the notebook, pulled on her peacoat, and turned up the collar as she strode out.

(Process information: 10/17/2009 12:34 PM to 12:48 PM, 497 words)


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One Response to Flash fiction: Bassoon in the corner

  1. Sue says:

    I just love these – and that wasn’t an easy prompt. However, I would still blame it all on the drummer (spouse is a drummer and loves drummer jokes). am reading a book of short stories – forget the guy’s name – he’s Canadian. The word that came to mind after half way through the first one was “clean”. Not a wasted word adjective or bit of dialogue. they flow uniquely

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