Area Man (Rivertown 2)

My dreams caused me to toss and turn all night. I awoke in a shiver. My sheets were uncomfortably moist and in telling disorder. I was conscious of no particular discomfort, yet a vague unease disturbed me. I pushed my unresponsive body off the bed and attended to the many small aches and twitches by stretching and flexing. There was a sink in the room where I rinsed my face and mouth. A dirty towel from my backpack, an old toothbrush from my travels, hard soap from perhaps the last occupant of the room.

The proprietor was downstairs at a table with two other men of his same indeterminate age. I asked about a shower and food. He excused himself and was bright and efficient in showing me the facilities. “I may not have introduced myself last evening, my name is Garfield von H.”

“Pleased to meet you Mr. von H., my name is Vinay.” This is not my true name, although this is the first and last time that fact will be mentioned in these notes. It works well, for it fits my looks and demeanor while diverting attention from any particulars about myself.

In the shower I rid myself of all ideas and emotions. The water was like static for my senses, stimulating but not informative, pleasing but not interesting. I sought to restore my self to complete neutrality in preparation for the day ahead, even as my face assumed a pained grimace in the onslaught of hot water. I dressed myself plainly and comfortably in a light blue button-down of Indian cotton and tan slacks tailor-made in New York, with brown leather shoes I had acquired in an invitation-only traveling casino a few hours north.

I sat on the edge of the bed and listened to Wilbert Hazelzet’s recording of the Bach Partita for solo flute in A minor. This is a very sensitive recording of an under-appreciated gem among Bach’s works. Bach displays as always an acute understanding of the instrument, both its sound and mechanics. The phrasing and articulation are felt viscerally in ones mouth, throat and lungs. The naked sound of the instrument allows Bach to derive a complex fugal development from his main melodic themes; the idea is broadly similar to his work in the Cello Suites, but the tighter constraints on a composition for flute, together with (what is in my opinion) a far larger and more subtle palette of note qualities and articulation, make the solo flute Partita an exemplar of this most Bach-like of compositional forms.

I was now ready for the day. Before coming into town I had called Mrs. Amanda Wright, the 36-year-old daughter of my advisor in journalism school. We were to meet at her home on the other side of town. This being a location nearly 2 miles distant, I decided to walk. Besides, it was prudent to acquaint myself with my surroundings. I stepped outside into a soft cushion of warm air, perfectly still. The street was empty of people.  The unease rose in my throat but I fought it down. Slowly I got my bearings and began to walk to my destination.

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