Don't Explode Into Space

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 39 (v.1) - Thirty Nine

Submitted: May 23, 2020

Reads: 6

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Submitted: May 23, 2020

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39



 

It was not disrespectful, unromantic or indicative of love lost that Anna thought of songs when Arthur was ploughing her. Where the idea came from that sex should be partaken by human lovebirds on a fluffy cloud overlooking a meadow on a summers day is anyone's guess, and Anna and Arthur were intuitively honest enough with each other to enjoy a roll in the hay without hangups. They hardly ever had sex with other people either, in over fifty years of marriage only a few, here and there, mostly her. 

 

She liked the way Arthur did it as well, just enough preamble to get the pool to ripple and then straight at it, no fucking about. Being young, unmarried and in Ireland, at that time, it was dumb to get caught having sex, it needed to be done in secret, although everybody except Anna’s dad knew they were at it. Arthur’s room at the Dame Lane Head pub was out of the question, it would be like doing it in the road, so it had to be at her house, in a bed. They tried it at the rehearsal room but it just didn’t work, too uncomfortable, too many distant doors opening and closing, which, even for a randy young couple, can be distracting, it proved better than nothing but only just. Time, however, was on their side. Making good money in the band meant that Anna didn’t need to work at the shoe shop anymore, which served more than one purpose. Arthur still helped out casually in the pub, it was a good place for information exchange relating to music, and the basic lodging was all he needed. 

 

So if they were careful Anna could sneak Arthur in around the back of the house and they could spend their time shagging, drinking tea, smoking and making plans, while her parents were out and her siblings were all at school. They were never completely relaxed, someone could come home unexpectedly, so their ears were tuned to keys in latches, the creaking of the back kitchen door, or hobnails on cobbles in the street. When they were at it though all thoughts were on other things and Anna’s were on songs. She remembered the instant that Stephen was conceived throughout her life, not just because of the seminal importance that the beginning of a life naturally has, but because she had the capacity to recall specific moments as if they had just happened. Her memory was visual, auditory and tactile, she believed she could identify people she knew just by running her fingers through their hair, and she understood smell like a language. Everything about the morning was in focus. The muffled sound of the pillow between the bedframe and the wall, the heavy rain racketing from the loose drainpipe into a bucket in the yard, Arthurs sideburns, black, and the song - she could never forget the song. 

 

Their sex tended to symbiotic cadence, rhythmically relaxed yet gently thrilling at the same time. They had nothing else they wanted to do - on that morning - but to have sex, so there was no need think about anything else. Anna had a fragment of a song revolving in her head in sequence to the pleasant pushing sensation of the sex. She felt points in nature that she knew as junctions between people and not-people, that was how she understood nature, as people and not-people. The melody was there, harmony too, looping on two lines…

 

“In summer as the moonlight meets the day

Working with the tide to wash away.”

 

Twenty years on, in the music room of her house in Burslem, the young song crafter Raymond Ellison developed those two lines, and the melody it came with, into a decent little song. Anna was not disappointed that it did not become as poignant as she always felt it might, but at least now it was fully formed, after twenty years she thought it deserved that. She made the young man a sandwich with three slices of bread, cheese, tomatoes and cucumber, he was always hungry afterwards.

 

Arthur thought he heard the latch at the same instant their mutual attunement realised it was next door. Not enough to stop them carrying on. Arthur got bigger inside her and she could feel herself becoming hypersensitive to touch. When he leaned down to kiss her nipple she orgasmed. In the seconds after Arthur ejaculated and before withdrawing from her, she understood the potential characters of the son she would give birth to. You choose though, she told him.

 

The ideas were milling around thick and fast when the full ensemble gathered back at Portland Grove. The main engineer, who was also the joint owner of the studio, was not put out by the fracas, he was one of life's arseholes, seeing opportunity wherever it sprang and usually at the point of other peoples imminent downfall. Already he had spoken to a friend of a friend who could sell the story for a few quid to a journalist from one of the popular daily newspapers. The engineer would cash this favour in all in good time, with something else he wanted. He knew the story would probably be held back until the artist was a household name then, with a few embellishments, the full Sunday treatment. And here we all are, the engineer thought, back in the mix ready to go. Hope this lad can actually play bass.

 

Stephen was introduced to the artist - all the band were - and everyone was  polite concerning the affray. The atmosphere became loose in a good way, the flow of alcohol smoothing away any hard edges. As if they were about to play a snooker match, Stephen and the artist shook hands as they walked down to the lower recording studio. The slightly younger man, more thrilled than nervous, looked up to the cockpit and was given a thumbs up from the engineer who then rolled his fingers to get going. The artist played a warm up number which Stephen was unfamiliar with but he picked the key instantly and predicted the chord changes as he was preparing his own equipment. At this stage he was thinking practically, any nerves were transferred into extra concentration, and he was beginning to picture, in colours, the notes he would play that would fit into this piece. He was also thinking that the fee for recording was a big step up from anything else he was expecting, providing they liked the sound he could give them, of course. The amplification was Vox so that was okay.

 

From the cubicle he could only see the artist, side on, and as he played the first notes he was given a nod. This small confirmation held a world of possibility for Stephen, a change. For the first time he was playing personal music with someone other than his father, mother, or his informally adopted brother and it was like flying. Journeyman players are taught their lot early on, and Stephen was a member of that clan, it didn’t jar with his character or ability, so the fit was not ill. But there was always the lingering thought, the idea of the next stage. Left alone he would never produce anything special, he possessed no dust to sprinkle. Now, in this situation, he was unsure what he was, playing and thinking at the same time, no blockages, following a creative artist, being part of the process. Usually he just played, like a job or smoking a cigarette, not thinking about anything, just painting by numbers. This was different, unusual, charged.

 

Park footballers look at their feet, real footballers look up. Desmond told him that one once and he remembered it. This was how he felt about the music he was now playing, he had received the nod from the artist, so it was real. There was no anxiety, wrong notes were out of the question, part of a different possibility as likely to happen as not breathing. His fingers changed pressure on the fretboard as he played, less effort, assured yet gentle, honey glide from position to position creating a sound he had never achieved before, vibrato. He began to wonder if it was the environmental acoustics, the proximity to the piano, the mix of the notes together. Or even the soundproofing of the walls. He remembered from a music magazine about advances in recording techniques, this must be part of it, he thought. He looked at the amplification, same set up as he always used. Bass, straight in, no pedals, same tone setting, same volume. The artist turned his head towards Stephen again, this time he frowned, then he nodded and smiled even more broadly than before. Stephen knew that a good sound was coming from their fingers, two artists were playing in the room and he was one. This music is better than anything I have ever heard, was the thought as he talked to the artist after the warm up. It was agreed that the quality was sufficient to overdub the two remaining tracks. Waiting upstairs Desmond, Raymond and Christopher thought exactly the same.

 


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