Our Own Rodney Thing
Manhattan and Brooklyn, May 1, 1992
“That music is a little sad for this kind of play, don’t you think?” Paul called out from the fourth row of the empty little theater to the cellist on stage in the spot light.
The cellist looked spent and exhausted, leaning over his instrument as though playing the long, somber adagio had been too much for him.
“This isn’t what you had in mind, is it?” Paul whispered to Daryl who was sitting next to him in the dark.
After a few moments, the cellist seemed to recover and gazed into the footlights. He was dressed all in black and on the black stage, in the spot light, his white hands and face seemed to be floating, a disembodied spirit hovering above the dark brown cello.
“It was just an idea,” the cellist said, “I just thought I’d run this by you guys as a possible interlude between act two and act three.”
“I love it,” Daryl said, “it was very beautiful, and I was very moved by it, but it doesn’t fit anywhere in this. By all means keep working on it, maybe for the next show – if there ever is a next show. But what you were playing last time – something more Noel Pointer-ish – that’s what’s going to fit in right here.”
“Yeah, I figured,” the cellist said, packing away the instrument in the black case at his feet, “it’s just something that came to me watching the riots last night. I was fiddling while watching TV last night, and they were playing that clip of the truck driver guy getting bashed in the head with that brick, over and over, and while I was watching, I was fooling around with some minor chords, and, well this just finally came to me – an improvisation, I guess. I guess I just channeled it.”
“Hey, by all means keep working on it. It’s very beautiful,” Paul said.
“Where’s Annie?” Daryl whispered in the dark to Paul, “We can’t do much more today without her.”
“I know, I know,” Paul said. He tried to think up an excuse for Annie, but he only drew blanks.
“I mean, it’s like, her vehicle, you know?” Daryl said.
“I’ll have another talk with her tonight when I get home.”
“You’re not pissed off at me for mentioning it again, are you?”
“Of course not.”
“You know I love her, right?”
“I know that bro’. You don’t have to say that.”
“You know I adore her, right?”
“I know. I know.”
“You know I think she’s the only human being on the planet who can carry this show, right?”
“I know, I know,” Paul said, “I’ll call her. This can’t go on like this. This can’t happen anymore.”
“Give her my love, home-peas. Be gentle, OK? You know I adore her, right? Always have, almost as much as you do, homey. You know that, right?”
“I know, I know.”
Paul went backstage to one of the empty dressing rooms where there was a rare telephone in the theater that wasn’t disconnected or broken and called home.
Right after answering curtly, just who?, Annie said, “You need to come home right now.”