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The Reunion - Chapter 0

 

The Reunion

 

By Jaiguru Devaom

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

ISBN: 9781310279195 (electronic book)

 

Copyright © 2015 Jaiguru Devaom with Reunion Producers

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

 

For permission requests, write to the publisher at the address:

[email protected]

or visit the website:

jaigurudevaom.com/

 

Published in the United States of America

The RƎUИION

By Jaiguru Devaom

To Rena

 

«I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, ‘the Beatles did’.»

Kurt Vonnegut

 

«Oh boy, when you’re dead you don’t take nothing with you but your soul – think!»

The Beatles

 

«They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘mine’ to be united with the Lord. This is the supreme state. Attain to this, and pass from death to immortality.»

Bhagavad-Gita 2:71-72

Chapter 0

dnE ehT

Girl – The Beatles

Is there anybody going to listen to my story

All about the girl who came to stay?

She’s the kind of girl you want so much

It makes you sorry

Still, you don’t regret a single day

Ah girl

Girl

 

“So is this how it happens?”

Feeling terrible, but trying to be brave, Widlovsky thought:

“OK then, let it be.”

Let it be? Usually he’d smile catching himself again and again using a song name or lyrics to pinpoint any imaginable emotion. Well, he learned English listening to these songs, he’d tell his Western friends, who’d give an entirely unconvincing and oftentimes downright condescending nod. He was born well over sixty years ago in that notorious totalitarian country, which no longer even exists, or does it? Ironically, its name will live forever nowhere else but in a widely known Beatles song, of all the places. But he never had to explain his speech and thought impediments to his old friends, half of whom are from that former Soviet bloc countries so have similar accents and vocabulary limitations. Quite a few have their English consisting entirely of words found in the classic rock songs. What are the other words for anyway?

But he couldn’t smile tonight as he looked through the crack in the slightly opened door into his bedroom, where he could make out Abby lying face down on the bed crying. She was fully dressed now back into her stage outfit, but he still had to try hard not to glance if not stare at this amazing young woman. And when he couldn’t help it, he looked at her with very different eyes than just a little while ago. He felt another kick of sharp pain breaking through a permanent dull pressure in the chest and his thoughts run astray in his head, painfully drumming on the insides of his skull. Widlovsky paused his hand over the cellphone but imagined the screaming sirens and circling lights invading his studio from the street below, the nurse and emergency workers rushing in, disturbing Abby, staring at her, then at him. Thinking they understand. Trying to hide that smirk.

 

Was she told when she was young that pain

Would lead to pleasure?

Did she understand it when they said

That a man must break his back to earn

His day of leisure?

Will she still believe it when he’s dead?

Ah girl

Girl

Girl

 

It would be hard enough to explain this as it is, but impossible if nobody even asked.

Having lived years and years in a country where everybody was made to feel guilty one way or another, oftentimes Widlovsky wished he’d be actually asked, just to have an opportunity to explain the details, about how really innocent he was if that was the rare case, or maybe deny everything outright and get away with it, in order to stop that unnerving and more than a bit paranoid guilty feeling.

Like that letter he received in the early seventies from his oldest and not to avoid tautology, best friend. His name was, well, not so fast. Usually it’s very easy to state somebody’s name, but not in this case. His friend’s last name back then was Dragolyubov. In a Slavic language it came from the meaning of “drag” as “dorogoy” or “dear”, and “lyubov” as “love”. So his mawkish sugary name innocently meant “dear beloved”. Yet it was in the late 60-s, when the high school class learned English not so much from an intelligent, earnest and equally clueless teacher, but from the jackets of the smuggled LP’s, Rolling Stone magazines read so many times, that there were holes in the crumpled pages, still nothing compared to hell knows what the Playboy magazines were subjected to. It took no time for the guy’s name to become Drugolyubov, “drug lover”, which eventually proved to be not so much a funny name as a self-fulfilled prophecy. Widlovsky just called him Drug, an extra fun when surrounded by grownups having no idea it’s not just a shortened last name. Yet this was not the end of his name’s evolution. In the 70-s, disappointed by the stagnation, lack of freedom of speech and music, and last but not least, an extremely limited variety of blue jeans, many of their generation started to emigrate to the West. Drug was in the first wave to show up at the US Embassy, stand there overnight in a line substantially longer than the one to the Lenin’s Tomb, and shove his uncut hair and unshaven yet visibly freckled face into a small opening looking at a neatly crew cut American clerk. One of the clerk’s tasks was to transliterate the first and last names into English. It seemed their subtask was to never do it quite right, and leave the immigrants with somewhat incorrectly spelled names. One would be forever curious did it have any reasonable purpose besides making immigrants spell their names extra million times over the phones for the rest of their lives. Alexanders became Aleksandrs, Michaels became Mikhails, Oscars became Oskars, Edwards became Eduards and so on. Well, the last names usually were treated in a more straightforward way. The Drag and Drug spelled the same in Cyrillic, however, the bright redhead afro surrounding a hippie face in the opening and the name Drugolyubov made just way too much harmony for the clerk’s taste. He suggested Dragolyubov, but another connotation didn’t escape both, and after a short brainstorming session they settled on Droogolyubov. “Droog” means “friend” in Slavic, means nothing in English, yet is not entirely meaningless as might remind one some of the characters from the “Clockwork Orange”.

Back from the Embassy, Droog announced that now as he quit drugs, he’ll have to learn doing droogs. And who would like to quit “droogs”, or in other word “friends”? Widlovsky laughed and immediately liked the new name, as it was easy for him to call his friend a Droog. Same difference.

Widlovsky also wasn’t Richard Widlovsky back then but was Konstantin Vetrovsky. But once he raised a roaring laughter of the whole English classroom when he tried to pronounce “with love” by painful contortions of his lips, tongue and his whole face, but couldn’t produce anything better than “weed laugh”. Pronouncing the “th” gave him creeps and came out as “d” much as he tried. Well, wasn’t that good enough for the time when “The Beatles” were often pronounced as Tee-he (bless you!) Bear-t-less? Hence all his friends started calling him Widlovsky, and then he started to like the name himself. A transition from Konstantin (Koka) to Richard (Dick) also made quite a lot of people chuckle over the years.

 

Please Mister Postman – The Beatles

So many days you passed me by

See the tear standing in my eye

You didn’t stop to make me feel better

By leaving me a card or a letter

 

You gotta wait a minute, wait a minute

You gotta check it and see, one more time for me

 

Wait, wait, wait

Deliver the letter, the sooner the better

 

Several weeks after Droog successfully emigrated, Widlovsky also applied for emigration, but not so successfully, as his first application was denied for reasons unexplained and therefore unknown. Preparing for the next attempt, he resorted to enjoy the next best thing to emigration, which was submerging into Droog’s letters about the West. These letters were wider than the standard local letters and even smelled differently, after all they contained some air molecules from the free world outside! Who else but Widlovsky would sense that smell with his enormously large nose, the sense of smell being his third or even second if not the first one. Widlovsky read each letter several times until he almost knew them by heart. He typed his replies on a typewriter so that invisible secret police “proofreaders” wouldn’t have any problem deciphering his scribbles. In one of the letters Droog said hello to the guys at the office and Widlovsky thought nothing of reading it out loud to them. Few days later, about to leave the office he saw an announcement on the wall near the door.

 

“AN AD HOC MEETING OF THE KOMSOMOL WILL BE HELD TODAY AT 18:00 IN THE RED LENIN ROOM. THE MEETING IS VOLUNTARY BUT ATTENDANCE IS STRICTLY MANDATORY.”

 

Realizing that he’s no longer a Komsomol member as he had to gladly denounce his membership to be able to apply for emigration, noticing the word “voluntary” and chuckling at the “mandatory”, Widlovsky didn’t lose a step towards the exit door.

“Where are you going?” he heard a voice from behind.

Turning around, he saw a vaguely familiar face, which was unusual enough to be recognized once you ever saw it. Yet he couldn’t place his finger on where he saw the guy before, if ever. The two halves of his face just didn’t quite match. Not so much in small features as in expression. Not enough to be ugly, but well over creepy. Both sides smiled, but while the right side was an empty polite smile, the left one was a sneering accusatory grimace. A bad cop and a good cop in one? Or rather, a bad cop and a cop the terrible.

“Home. See, I’m not in the Komsomol…”

“Where are you going, Israel or US?” a short laugh sounding like a high pitched cough.

“How is it your business?” Widlovsky stopped smiling having almost recognized the guy.

“Why don’t you attend the meeting and find out? It is mandatory, sorry we didn’t translate it for you. We didn’t know which language you would prefer, Hebrew or English.”

The thought to exit and shut the door in front of the double-faced prick crossed Widlovsky’s mind, but he understood that the guy could probably shut another door in front of him. A much more important door.

So grudgingly he sat through a three-hour meeting dedicated, as he soon found out, personally to him and his friend Jojo, who was in the same exact refusenik [A would be emigrant refused by KGB to emigrate] situation. Widlovsky’s “public” reading of the letter from the West was equaled to an act of treason of his Motherland, fight in the cold war on the enemy’s side, encouraging the people to emigrate, opposing the system, propaganda of the decaying West and many other curiosities bordering on heinous crimes. Jojo’s crime was being a willing and no less sinister accomplice in this International outrage. All Widlovsky figured to do was to blankly deny the actual act of public reading. He hoped they won’t get into tortures, at least not right there and then, so why not? Let’s deny the very instance of crime, and not each and every piece of evidence. There weren’t any videocams all around quite yet. A colleague quoted some words from the letter. Widlovsky knew he wasn’t at the “public” reading as he wasn’t invited as a suspected, and now a confirmed snitch. So Widlovsky said he kept the letter in a drawer, which is not a crime last time he checked, but anybody, especially this well-known office paper thief, could steal it to read during his lunch hour. The double-faced KGB guy put his ugly half out.

“The guys up there”, and he pointed his finger at the shabby ceiling, followed by his evil eye, “wanted you brought in. And it wasn’t about this letter. But where is this letter from? Isn’t it strange that you applied to immigrate to Israel, yet receive letters from the US? How’s that? Isn’t it our business to understand?”

Widlovsky just shook his long curvy hair. The KGB guy switched to a kinder self.

“OK, OK, comrade Vet… strike that, citizen Vetrovsky, we are actually doing you a favor. I have personally volunteered to use the letter as a smaller crime, or rather wrongdoing, to get you gently slapped. After all, we met before, right? Have you forgot to remember to forget?” a twinkle in his kinder eye. “Tell you what, for now just promise in front of this meeting that you won’t repeat this outrageous misdeed and we’ll report that you recognized your evil ways.”

“Yeah, OK. I won’t do what I haven’t done anyway.” And added in English, “I won’t do that.” An inside smile, finally recognizing the jerk. The Beatles quotations from both sides haven’t been lost on Jojo either. Nor on the KGB guy, who smiled openly, but looking at the astonished audience instantly stifled the smile into a frown.

“And tell my Israeli colleagues to find you a phony relative closer than a third cousin of a maternal grandfather’s daughter-in-law from the previous marriage. Get a new invitation and apply again. Ask for Haritonov,” he almost smiled again, but thought better of it, “I probably have closer relatives in Bangladesh!”

“Who’d doubt that with dictatorship, civil wars and famine they have?” thought Widlovsky, noticing Haritonov’s darker side indeed resembled one a Bangladeshi general he saw in a newspaper photo, with the eyebrows Brezhnev would envy. But he kept those thoughts to himself and just nodded.

The whole next week Widlovsky had to spend in bed with a terrible nervous breakdown, sometimes shaking uncontrollably, sometimes falling into a hot deep sweaty nothingness, other times cursing himself for being faint-hearted in front of even a modest evil, and yet again trying to rationalize himself as being responsible for his family’s well-being and its quest to reach the promised land instead of a Gulag outlet. Her Majesty kindly looked after him as if he was a war hero, but he was feeling down. It wasn’t a 1937, it was just a 1973, so he definitely should’ve been braver.

Widlovsky was amazed how a long memory like this crossed his mind in less than a minute, as he found his fingers still hovering over the cellphone almost ready to dial 911 and wondering if this is indeed an example of what they call whole life crossing before the eyes? He shook his head and his still to that day enviably long curly hair, with salt winning the war over the black pepper. What would one expect at his age? But one after 909 is 910, not 911, we’re not quite there yet, and to follow his line, or rather a scribble of a thought, Widlovsky decided to try the Beatles medicine instead.

He looked around his studio of a theatrical designer and a Beatles fan and collector. A huge model of a stage design occupied the middle of the room. It might have looked unfinished to a guest or a visitor, but to a weathered professional like Widlovsky it was perfectly fine to have sudden intricate cut-outs and inside openings, to show to the creative team the inner workings of the design, or those rough unfinished sides which would face behind the scene and so won’t be visible to the spectators. Yet through these distractions it was very clear, that the play was somehow related to those beloved Beatles and that the model depicted a river delta with two very different areas – a multicolored bright one on the right bank of the river and a black and white, or rather a gloomy dark-grey and light-grey one on the left bank.

The walls and shelves of his vast studio were covered with artifacts of his collection. Some things, such as music CD’s and LP’s, books and posters, evidently belonged, but other things had a hidden meaning visible only to Widlovsky. What with a small and clearly cheap artificial leather suitcase with scratched metal corners or a strange looking old-fashion box of chocolates? Yet these were the ones Widlovsky fixed his otherwise random and desperate gaze around the room. Feeling so bad thinking he saw all these for the last time, he realized that in fact whatever we see during our entire life, we not just might be but most probably are seeing for the last time in our lives, therefore why worry? Let’s find that goddamn vinyl player, shall we?

Despite the new fad with the LP players, which he barely noticed as his beaten-up ancient player never got too far away from his reach, and despite being able to do this in a minute on a computer, he preferred the old fashion ways. He put the player on his desk and took out the turntable with a strong sure push, unscrewed the top, overwound the belt and fixed it in reverse around the axis. He plugged the player in, put back the turntable and checked that now it rotated counterclockwise. Not bothering with the top and screws, he looked again around his studio. Glad to see it all again just once more. So if this was the end, let’s try to put it in reverse, shall we? He took the Abbey Road vinyl, the old original one, mind you, and lowered the needle into a wider than usual black space right in front of the last track. He was always curious how The End will sound in reverse?

 

dnE ehT – The Beatles

 

Widlovsky was stunned to hear the flapping of wings and some of the riffs recognizable even in reverse, yet having that ethereal sound of going back in time. This reminded him of being stunned with a piece of classical music, by Rodion Schedrin, back then in the U.S.S.R. Some of his pieces were geometrically symmetrical compositions, which would play almost the same in both directions. Had Jimi Hendrix knew of this, would make his techniques so much easier when he planned to play backwards! Speaking of which, he remembered an old joke, where Rolling Stones were sitting around trying to come up with a new tune. Mick asked Keef if he tried putting some Beatles tunes in reverse for some ideas. Keef said, sure as fuck I did, but it turned out to be Pink Floyd!

Silly old joke making him feel better already, Widlovsky opened a letterbox and lovingly leafed through weird looking old letters, shorter but wider than the usual ones, addressed in a nice female handwriting. From the very bottom he pulled a letter, which looked differently. It felt thicker than the others, its address was printed on a typewriter and unlike on others, his name was preceded with a “Mr.” It was still unopened even though it was dated long time ago. He’d never had the strength to open it and he hadn’t and still didn’t want to believe what this letter was about. The pain came back with a dull yet sharp vigor. In cold sweat he took the last desperate glance through the crack in the bedroom door at Abby quietly sobbing in her half-sleep. Under shrill sounds of the last, or rather first chords of The End, he lowered his head on his hands still clutching the letter and the letterbox, covering them with the salt and pepper mane…

…And found himself flying over the river delta with outlines of the Beatles Heaven and Hell. At the top of the highest of the strange and breathtaking towers Widlovsky was delighted to see John playing a guitar as George was singing and playing solo in Roll Over Beethoven. Seeing this made Widlovsky’s soul so happy for John and George being able to jam together! He noticed Billy at the keyboards and in a little while saw Beethoven and Tchaikovsky joining them at the grand piano, with Brian watching both, but especially Tchaikovsky, play. He saw their other forever live friends around in a scene somewhat reminding the setup of the Sgt. Pepper album cover.

 

Roll Over Beethoven – Chuck Berry (Тhe Beatles)

My hearts beatin’ rhythm

and my soul keeps singing the blues

Roll over Beethoven

and tell Tchaikovsky the news

 

Deep inside Widlovsky understood that this was unreal, and the way it was attracted him at the same time as it scared the hell out of him. He felt an urge to fly towards the roof of the Tower to join the people he adored but he became aware of a large area of surroundings, not all of which looked so perfect and joyful as the central towers. A lot looked more industrial and some areas were not only too far from the center to hear anything at all, but looked gloomy and dark. Intuitively, Widlovsky tried to pump up his willpower and get back to the real world if it was still possible…

 


The Reunion - Chapter 0

The RƎUИION is a fantasy novel about an aging Beatles fan Widlovsky, an immigrant from a totalitarian country, following his adventures in reality and dreams, in life and death. He meets his favorite musicians here, there and everywhere and with the help of his friends reaches a transcendental reunion he was dreaming about. "The pain came back with a dull yet sharp vigor. In cold sweat Widlovsky took the last desperate glance through the crack in the bedroom door at Abby quietly sobbing in her half-sleep. Under shrill sounds of the last, or rather first chords of dnE ehT, he lowered his head on his hands still clutching the letter and the letterbox, covering them with his salt and pepper mane... ...and found himself flying over the river delta with outlines of the Beatles Heaven and Hell. At the top of the highest of the strange and breathtaking towers he was delighted to see John and George singing and playing guitars, joined by a few friends jamming to Roll Over Beethoven. Deep inside he understood that this is unreal which scared and attracted him at the same time. Intuitively, he tried to pump up his willpower and get back to the real world as if it was still possible…"

  • ISBN: 9781310279195
  • Author: Jaiguru Devaom
  • Published: 2015-12-30 16:05:08
  • Words: 3674
The Reunion - Chapter 0 The Reunion - Chapter 0