Friday, February 17, 2012

Serious Thoughts With The Lights Off And On

One night under a bright full Moon people enjoying an evening out were eating dinner in a club. Three musicians were on a bandstand getting ready for their set. Suddenly the front window shattered and a werewolf leaped into the club. The werewolf snarled and howled and slashed at the air with its claws. Everyone in the club ran to the back where the owner was trying to find the key to open the alley door.

On the bandstand, the piano player said, “Don’t worry. Music has charms that sooth the savage breast. I will save us.” The piano player began playing beautiful classical music, the opening bars of the ‘Nocturne in E flat major’ by Chopin. The werewolf howled and leaped onto the bandstand. Grabbing a leg of the piano, the werewolf hurled the piano off the bandstand and the instrument crashed against the floor smashing to pieces. The piano player ran from the stage and huddled in the crowd at the back of the club.

On the bandstand, the guitar player said, “Don’t worry. I’ll play a modern piece that is loved all over the world.” The guitar player began playing the guitar intro to ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ The werewolf snarled and grabbed the neck of the guitar, wrenching the instrument away from the musician and smashing the guitar against the bandstand. The guitar player ran and huddled in the back with everyone else.

On the bandstand, the third musician, a woman with a flute, said nothing but just began playing. The werewolf snarled, howled and slashed at the air in front of him, then turned and leaped off the bandstand and ran out of the club through the shattered front window.

The club owner walked onto the bandstand. “That was amazing,” the club owner said to the woman with the flute. “That was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The woman with the flute shrugged. “It was nothing, really,” she said. “I just started playing that Paul Desmond-Dave Brubeck thing, ‘Take Five.’ Everyone always runs away when they hear a flute playing jazz.”

“If you were going to film that
or animate that,” she asked me,
“what kind of werewolf would you use?
The classic Lon Chaney, Jr.,
kind of wolfman, or the modern
freaky animal kind of thing?”

“I would go with the classic look,
like Lon Chaney, Jr.,” I said.
“I like the human man-beast look,
where the creature still has torn bits
of clothing on him here and there.
The werewolf that scared me the most
was the Oliver Reed creature
in the film, ‘Curse of the Werewolf.’
Even though he was practically
well-dressed as a werewolf he still
seemed the most savage and vicious.
I think modern versions that use
a freaky animal werewolf
undercut the terror because
animals act like animals
so there’s nothing really shocking
about a big wolf-like creature
eating people. But a human,
that is, the classic man-beast look,
a werewolf where you’re reminded
that the creature is part human,
that is shocking, that is scary,
grabbing people and eating them.”

She said, “You’ve really thought this through.
You’ve given this serious thought.”

For a moment I said nothing.
I looked at her and then looked down.
“Maybe,” I said, “I have been forced
to think it through. Maybe the Moon—”
I lowered my voice and whispered
“—changes me. I become a beast.
Maybe this monster stuff is real.
There are things that can’t be controlled.”

I stopped talking, still looking down.
Then I looked up, quickly, growling,
and pretended to snap at her.

She screamed, all wide-eyed and shrieking
and tumbled sideways off her chair.

I caught her and, laughing, hugged her
and got her steady on her chair.

She made two fists but didn’t swing,
just sat shaking, red in the face.
She said, almost growling herself,
“I cannot believe you got me.
I’ve looked at the full Moon with you.
I know you aren’t a werewolf.
Am I a little girl, a child,
getting scared by bedtime stories?
I cannot believe you got me.”

“Bedtime stories?” I asked. “Are you
thinking it’s time to go to bed?”

“No, I’m not” she said. “In fact now
I’m thinking I want some Red Bull.”
She stood and walked to the kitchen.
“I’m taking a whole can,” she said.
“Do you want a can for yourself?”

I said, “The caffeine might change me.”

On the way back from the kitchen
she switched on all the ceiling lights.

“What’s this?” I asked. “Are you never
going to go to bed again?”

“I’m thinking about it,” she yelled.
“I’m giving it serious thought.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


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