Raffinato

The humidity in the night air made the city feel like hell, and by all accounts, that's probably where I was anyway. Even the breeze that periodically came in made me feel like I was about to internally combust or abruptly burst in flame like a regular Tibetan monk. 

It was quiet but not quiet enough; the disgruntled chirping of crickets complaining of the weather while the moonlight in the horizon lit up the street like the bad dénouement of some classic fable. I’d lost joy, misplaced it somewhere long ago, I’d—for lack of a better word—become indifferent. People saw me, conversed with me, held me, and laughed with me, but that wasn’t me, it was the mask I’d cultivated in a semblance of what I thought a person would be like. Even a smooth Cohíba couldn’t shake me out of this indifference; no longer did talking to a pretty lady elevate me out of my apathy. Even the delicate sound of—perhaps I was wrong, I heard a faint noise ahead of me, it sounded like a cool breeze idling on my cheeks, calling me to embrace it. It looked like it was coming from a bar up ahead, how…expected. I stood in front of the door for a moment or two, deafening myself to the tender sound inside, contemplating whether I should go in; the irony was not lost on me, as usual, I decided it was a good idea to enter. The dive was closed, most places are at 4 a.m., there aren’t many hangouts for an insomniac flâneur who walks the dreadful streets when the night is darkest. Perhaps it was time I admitted I was more like Alice than I believed, rolling down the rabbit hole with a fluffy white tail for spiked tea. I had to satiate my curiosity on this particular night, I had to know who would be…partial enough to play a somber Chopin Nocturne long after the bar had closed, waiting for the rising sun sooner rather than later. 

I tried, but I couldn’t keep walking, I couldn’t ignore the fateful sound of each note landing in my eardrum like that elusive phrase we all covet but rarely experience. I pushed open the door, it creaked open, startling the pianist enough to hit one false note before he or she continued playing as if they were in their own little world. I drew nearer to the sound, the piano was on the darkened stage past the counter. It was practically pitch-black in there, I ran into a couple of things but the noise was beautiful, perfect, like a concert pianist playing for a non-sentient audience, and whoever it was, whatever they’d done, they certainly deserved the Platonic Good. I searched for the light switch so I could illuminate this wondrous Chopin. I recognized the piece as I felt around for it on the rough red-bricked walls; it was Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, No. 1. Each note was a raindrop on a secluded lake, something close to the sound of streaming water on a serene river on a warm April morning. 

I flicked the switch in this Labyrinth to the sound of fate’s comedic chuckle. The stage lit up but Ariadne didn’t seem to notice, her sizzling irises were closed as each note sped up my heart beat. Leaning against the wall of the bar, I wondered about beliefs: at what point does coincidence become correlation? At what point, and after how many random encounters of chance must a man abandon his belief of chaos and a seeming randomization of events that only seem connected? At what point must he begin to believe in predestination, fate, or some other quasi-surreal fact in a realm not our own? How many times had I found myself across the angel I’d lost in seemingly random encounters, especially when I seemed to work extra hard at avoiding any place she might coincidentally arrive at.

The Minotaur in me wanted to sit next to her on the piano stool so I could accompany her on this majestic Nocturne, it’d be most fitting, but the logician in me…hoped I wouldn’t listen.


Edvard Munch;  The Lonely Ones ; 1935; Oil on Canvas; 100 x 130 cm; The Munch Museum

Edvard Munch; The Lonely Ones; 1935; Oil on Canvas; 100 x 130 cm; The Munch Museum