by Raji Singh
Horrified by deathly choices she believes Blackjack Fiction is making, Shelva writes of her pre-teen epiphany that gives her courage to confront him.
* * *
It is only an impromptu three-minute piece that Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky plays on the piano in the music room in Mama and Papa’s house, but my world feels a blissful eternity as the sweet chords engulf me. Have the heavens yawned open to release all their angels to surround me in their most beautiful harp strains?
Captain Polly, whom Blackjack Fiction has told me so much about, arrived Moscow a few days ago. (“She’ll fly hither and thither, but she’ll always find me when she wants to, Miss Shelva,” Blackjack said when she landed lightly on my shoulder in our garden courtyard and reached out her claw to introduce herself.)
Now, perching outside the window as Maestro Tchaikovsky plays, she unfurls her sleek wings of blue, gold, and lavender and conducts the birds of the neighborhood who are just briefly a chorus to his playing. Then Captain Polly tucks in her wings and they stop – admiring the music they surely must believe is equal or grander than theirs.
I feel and hear my heart, beating in rhythm to the gentle, swaying sounds. It is as if the music tugs at, melds with the essence of my being, and I become one with it midst the crescendo, and then a final flourish, and then an end. Tears flood my cheeks. I look over to the only other audience, Blackjack Fiction. Never before have I seen this in him. Maybe, never again will I. He weeps at the haunting notes of the Maestro.
“Concerto Petite for Miss Shelva, I shall call it,” Tchaikovsky says as he rises from the piano bench to take his leave. His touch is hot, electric, as he strokes my hair. (Will I ever wash it again?) No matter the thousands of more times I hear the piece performed throughout my life, I will remember it as he plays it this warm summer day.
Blackjack wipes his sopping face with a handkerchief and returns to the business of the day. “Maestro, I believe you will find our publishing arrangements quite satisfactory. The world wants to know your life story, and there is no publishing house in the world better equipped to tell it than Fiction House Publishing.”
I follow them to the front door, wanting to be near Mother Russia’s renowned composer for the ages. His long, straight hair is jet, facial features sharp, eyes intense, showing his complete immersion in his artistry. His matching black suit jacket and pants, and his slightly scuffed shoes, reflect the unassuming nature of his demeanor. Seeing him walking down the streets of Moscow, you would not know this was Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, the Great, unless you’d seen him at some time in a grand concert hall.
The full and complete commitment to the artistry that resides in his soul affects me nearly as much as his music. Even though I am still a little girl, his song makes me realize I must do what the music of my heart, the most beautiful music there is in this world, tells me. Now, so powerfully it says, “Have the courage, Shelva, to confront Blackjack with your suspicions. Confront him, and maybe save his life.”
When Blackjack comes back in from seeing Maestro Tchaikovsky off, I nervously but courageously ask. “Are you planning to kill the Czar, Blackjack?”
NEXT WEEK: A Confession?
(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)
©2013 Raji Singh