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It's 4:00 again, and you know what that means. Story-time with Mr. Washer, your creepy ole neighbor! Gather round kiddies, and pretend to enjoy this little gem.

The concert ended well, as usual. The crowd stood up like a thousand meerkats, and sent their applause forth in a deafening roar. Flowers flashed out over the audience as roses and tulips flew like salmon over their heads. Everyone was smiling. And if you weren't, your mouth was agape with awe. Michael Stuoros was a tour de force.

He bowed once at the end of the show, smiled widely with a boyish grin unsuited to his dark, craggy countenance, and then walked hurriedly out of the theater.

A boy had worked at the Regal once. A nice-looking man paid him $10 to find out how Michael left the show. Michael no longer played the Regal. The boy was now a heavy smoker.

Michael left the theater every bit as hurriedly as he had exited the stage. His tuxedo flaps hung ridiculously in his wake. Michael cracked his knuckles as he walked, then sat for the bus. He pulled his collar up. His flaps still showed.

When Michael arrived home, he took off his tuxedo, and slumped into a couch. He didn't move for ten minutes, then rolled over, falling to the floor with an intentional lack of grace. He brushed his teeth, and looked into the mirror. A con. That's who he was. Nothing more than a confidence man with a lucky talent. He wasn't Greek; he made the name up. He wasn't tan. He didn't have curly salt-and-pepper hair. He had short brown hair, and his skin was burnt brown, not born brown. Make-up and deception.

Michael wandered back to the couch, and fell promptly into it. The violin was the only truthteller. Which was good. Because Michael was tired of listening to silvered lies. His agent, his friends, his fans, all of them talked to him as though he were a courier, a conduit between the violin and them. He was going to show them all.

Michael awoke the next day, aching from his performance, but much lighter in spirit than the previous night. He glanced down, and saw the violin, and understood. Eventually, his feelings of inadequacy would return, and he would find out whom the people really loved that very night.

Michael took a shower, and climbed out. After a short debate, he decided to actually cook a lunch, and had a rice and chicken combination. He watched a television show in which everyone swore a lot, and turned it off after finding the excitement had been caused by a dog. He checked his watch. Only an hour and a half.

"Dom, do you have my limo?"

"'Course I do. Where do you want it?"

"Loch and Main, in a half-hour please." Michael was glad that he didn't have a phony Greek accent. They're difficult to pull off.

"That's cutting it close, Mike. Are you sure?"

"I wear a tuxedo, Dom. I'm a man of danger." Mike hung up. His last line reminded him to dress, never priority in his secluded bachelor apartment. He tugged on the same tuxedo as the night before. He then wandered to the bathroom, and Greekified himself with the skin makeup, the wig, and the fake eyebrows. He stood up, looked at himself in the mirror, and adjusted a crooked eyebrow. What's with the eyebrows? he asked himself. They're too much trouble. Michael put on an overcoat, which he used to hide his wig later.

He walked to the recon spot. The car was on time, as always. Michael added the finishing touch, a very small piece of putty on his nose. Now he was different, and tonight was the night.

Michael went onstage. This was the moment, the zero-hour. He took out his bow, and rosined it. He took out his violin, and tuned it. He raised it to his chin. Then, with a burst of violence, he scraped the bow across the strings, his hands arched in a grotesque rictus, striving to create the worst sound ever heard. But the violin was a truthteller, and it knew Michael was good. So it was. The note rang out clear, and Michael moaned, though only a few claimed to have heard it. He gave up any pretense; his piece wouldn't be played tonight. He sawed the bow across the strings hard enough to start a fire; he moved his fingers without violence or control. But always he found the right spot, and the notes sang out sweetly.

The whole night he stood there, or he bent over. At one point he leaped. But he never left the stage. His sounds leapt forth in a syncopated riot one second, and the next a cascade of notes mourned the passing of the ones before. Try as he might, the violin was a truthteller. Michael thought of something. He stopped.

He waited, and a few people started clapping. One coughed. The others were expectantly poised. Michael played again, for two seconds, then stopped. He did this three times, each time the stops becoming shorter as his fury grew. He finished twenty minutes later, his wig sopping and shaken, his face running, and his nose out of joint. He looked more muppet than man. Michael stopped, for good, as his energy withered.

The crowd roared, and they threw trinkets, and the women and men shouted to Michael as though he were some messiah upon his dais. Michael straightened himself, bowed, then walked off the stage. He crumpled in a corner, and re-Greekified himself. As a young woman walked past, Michael stood up and got her attention.

"I've been playing the violin for about fifteen years now. I've replaced the strings at least twenty or thirty times, I've had it examined by countless experts for damage or wear, and I have broken more pegs than bones. All things considered, though, it is a good violin. If you like, you can come here when the theater is almost empty, and I will teach you." Michael was glad she had not interrupted him. It was always embarrassing to have a speech interrupted.

The girl parted her lips, and said, "No thank you, Mr. Stuoros. I can see what it's done to you."

"Hardly. I did this to myself. The violin's always been good to me. How about just one lesson?"

"Sure, Mr. Stuoros."

P.S.: My new version of MS Word has the Flesch-Kincaid reading level meter. This one is at a 4th grade level apparently. Damn Flesches.

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The following comments are for "Greekification"
by Washer

This left unanswered questions for me, Washer, although your writing's still very good. So, did this man take the original Michael Stuoros's identity? Seemed that way from the second paragraph, but I'm not sure. Was he going to reveal himself at the last performance, but the violin, or his subconscious, wouldn't let him? And was he going to transform the girl into another Stuoros (that sounds silly, but it popped into my head)?

The only thing that read "off" was the pronoun usage in the first paragraph. Otherwise, like I said, good writing.

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: January 1, 2004 )

Oh, you'll find it's all in there, if you just read it over...

No, I'm just fooling. I wrote this at five in the morning, admittedly only after being conscious for fifteen hours, but it makes for a good excuse. Anyway, I'll reveal all my mistakes once a few readers have swung by with their own opinions, or a few days have gone by. Don't want to spoil anything.

About the first paragraph. The flowers sailing over "their" heads were the heads of the audience. And the "yous", well, you know. You. I just thought that the second person is the third leg in storytelling, and needed to get its nod. Or something.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: January 2, 2004 )

The 'theirs' read fine, it was the 'you' and 'your's that tripped me up. Go ahead and let it get its nod. Nearly everyone does it. :)

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: January 2, 2004 )

Here We Go! (Use A Mario Voice)

Elphaba, this was another attempt at symbolism. What can I say, I'm pretentious.

Firstly; Nope, Michael Stuoros wasn't a stolen identity. When he was gaining popularity (and this isn't mentioned in the story), Michael adopted the Greek personality with his skills in order to avoid notice. His fans were more rabid than normal, and he wished to avoid trouble for himself.

Next: I can't officially remember the deeper meaning to the story. I think it was mostly just to show how Michael was tricking the crowd, and at the same time trying to trick himself.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: January 5, 2004 )

I think a big part of why I tripped up understanding this story was the third paragraph. I took it to mean that the nice looking man had stolen Michael Stuoros's identity; not that Stuoros had stopped playing the Regal because he didn't want to be found out (his disguise). Now that it's not six a.m., and I'm wide awake, more falls into place.

Thanks, though, for explaining. :)

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: January 5, 2004 )

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