Crystal Dance

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

A community tries to agree on a carnival.


Words 3698


 Attempting to shatter the spell, the barman sporting a grin enriched by twinkling eye impishly questions, “Whit, you upset?”
 Whit rotates his face, displaying a somber hang dog look, to bring the barman’s puss into view, reaches for his glass, drinks it off saying, “No, I just thought I’d come in here tonight to tie one on. I believe a man has a right to tie one on from time to time. This is my time right now, tonight.”
 The barman suppressing a simper while wiping the bar, gleefully retorts, “I’ve known you almost thirty years. In all that time I’ve never known you to tie one on.” Chortling he adds, “Thus demonstrating an abnormality at least to appearance.”
 Whit bangs the glass on the bar then commences to wave his hand several times towards himself indicating all gathered should attend his assertion to follow. His contorted face wobbles as he struggles to form words with a tongue and lips exuding a gelatinous composition.
 The multitude, one and all, follows the exertion with rapt attention only able to speculate whereto the avouchment will lead.
 Lars Onigull, the barman accommodates him with a pour while egging him on by querying, “Just wondering, you intending to pursue this course on a regular basis, I mean can I count on an increase in revenue, shall I buy a new car or a bigger house?”
 “Lars,” Whit to his mind excretes a penetrating gaze; he imagines his eyes contain a hypnotic steely glacial quality in their set.
 In the alternative, to the casual observers which abound, the squinting Whit gives the appearance his shoe may slide off the foot rail and he follow it to the floor, “is there any reason in this world why so many businesses should freeze out each winter, deprived of traffic and thereby profit, rendering hard working, entrepreneurs unable to provide for their saintly wives and darling children?”
 “Does your inquiry consider the ten foot snowbank with which we’re blessed each winter accompanied by the freezing artic blasts that chill us bone through?Or should such considerations be excluded from the reckoning?”
 “Damn right, there ain’t no reason, we’ve just laid down on the job of discovering what’d bring young, virtuous persons with pockets full of holiday cash to Fedor’s Landing in winter’s depth.”  In emphasis he gives a nod with such violence several bystanders leap to stable him on his roost.
 “May I inquire; do you have a resolution in mind?”
 “I do Lars, I do,” the foot now slides off, however; providence provides that he have two hands on the bar, which steadies him.
 “We should have a carnival!”
 The audience to a man (city ordinances forbade ladies’ presence in any establishment selling strong spirits) stood transfixed.  Had this maudlin man actually stumbled on a solution to their penury half the year?
 The congregation as one lean in to glean whatever jewels the Wizard may yet divulge, “We can have a carnival, right at the corner when you know we’ve not quite finished with winter’s frigid breath, but in hopeful anticipation we’ve repositioned towards the glorious spring.  We can have it during Shrove Tuesday week, like the Catholics do.” Surveying the gathering, adorned by a toothy beam, realizing through his-shall we call it a strong buzz-he has proposed a profundity.
 Josephus Brodswurth’s wife, Sylvania, reminds him of a ruffled chicken, sometimes he actually believes he sees feathers flying as she in aggravation bustles about all in a tear.
With dreaded foreshadowing he realizes in due time inevitably the door to his study will open and she will disturb the afternoon’s tranquility including his cigar’s calmative effects.
 “Mr. Brodswurth, I learned this very afternoon there floats about in our fair city a question of establishing a carnival at the corner of when winter drudgery just bends to spring elation. A carnival I say. They’ve one in New Orleans, Mardi Gras they call it, a drunken debauch.  We cannot have it, Mr. Brodswurth. I demand to know how you intend to address this outrage.”
 Among Mr. Brodswurth’s several conceits is an eldership at the Prairie Anglican Church constructed owing to his generosity. The Congregation thereof composed in the main of his Bank’s employees.
 Not to say an overt pressure exists to compel the staff to aspire to membership. The encouragement takes a more ethereal tenor one might say almost spiritual.
The wraithlike miasma resisted only by one Miss Corinth Bleggishson, a personage whose tenure with the bank predates Mr. Brodswurth’s own term. Miss Bleggishson holds the same position under Mr. Brodswurth’s administration as she held under the previous administration; her door plate reads Commercial Transactions Auditor.
From her perch she espies all that transpires within the said financial institution thereby amassing a putrid knowledge cache the possession of which enables her to shun all pressure, otherworldly and otherwise.
Mr. Brodswurth figures angles while he rolls his cigar between thumb and fingers.
First, in consideration the matter of who broached the issue? It will not do to stand on the matter’s wrong side.
Second, what exactly, beyond his wife’s the superfluous sentiments, will compose his objection’s foundation?
Thirdly, and without question of greatest import, whereof did the potential advantage to the Bank and consequently himself lay?
“My dear,” rising from his chair to circle his desk, whispers he with left arm (his right hand continues to be occupied with the cigar) embracing his angelic wife whilst placing a buss on her forehead; “I must first and foremost examine the matter.”
Her clenched hands rise to her waist, the left holding a handkerchief of fragile crochet, “Mr. Brodswurth I’ll countenance no leniency in this matter.”
“Understood my dear,” restricting his response to the residue of an entire unexpressed phrase of marked sarcasm.
To unveil the matter’s essence, Mr. Brodswurth must inquire of Judge Martingstall, Esq. and Mr. Tom Bon Fatherest, Esq. as nothing occurs in the burgeoning town of Fedor’s Landing outside their attention.
In this task’s pursuit Mr. Brodswurth conveys himself to the City Club, where he is confident the two gentlemen he seeks may be found indulging in a potation to settle their lunch.
With a degree of pomposity and forgoing an amiable greeting the Banker begins, “Judge, I approach you with pointed urgency. My dear wife has proffered information to the effect there is a loathsome thought under consideration to the effect of establishing a carnival in the manner of the Mardi Gras of New Orleans, which I am sure would introduce an unsavory element to our fair burgh. Have you knowledge of such talk?” He remains standing during the interrogatory.
His imposing figure uniformed in the banker’s mandatory black, vested suit, white shirt with diamond stick pin piercing his cravat.
The Judge, accustomed to looking down on communicants not up at them, experiences some discomfort the sensation buttressed by the man’s rudeness.  He attempts to alleviate same without insult to the corpulent banker, given Mr. Brodswurth’s status in the community and his imagined intimacy with the Judiciary.
“Please seat yourself my good man, let me call the steward and we’ll talk the matter through,” rising a little in his cushion, swiveling his head to catch the garcon’s eye giving a slight wave indicating a need for service.
Once all are settled the Judge begins, “Josephus we’ve several honest, hardworking businessmen in our community who see a way to improve their annual profit picture.  As community leaders you might say, it is requisite we support such an effort. Can you not see your way to our point of view?”
“Judge, my dear wife says Mardi Gras, is a drunken revelry an abomination. It is beyond my ability to imagine how such goings on can burnish the reputation and stature of the town in whose behalf those self-same community leaders have striven to gain a favorable standing on thecommunal stage writ large,” the argument’s forte causes the Banker to rise up on his cushion and having made his declaration sink back seemingly victorious.
“Knowing your wife and her impeccable record  championing adherence within our society to propriety centered on Christian sanctions, I hold her opinion in reverence, however, it boils down to a matter of providing livelihood for women and children.
Viewed from such a prospective we cannot impede the efforts of their husbands and fathers to seek additional revenue.” The Judge remains relaxed into his pillows, at ease and displaying no agitation.
The Anglican’s intuition sparks. The truth a revelation to him in the instantaneousness of a photon, he has no argument to win here the Carnival a fait accompli. All becomes apparent in a star twinkles’ space.
He owns railroad bonds and stock certificates; he owns farm mortgages, carries loans on grain mills and feed stores, most of the pigs, sheep, and cattle for miles around serve as collateral for outstanding loans.
He commands vast wealth.
What he lacks is influence with the townsmen indebted not to him but to The Meccan Bank and Trust Company, owned and operated by Theodosius Nolthagger, a Lutheran.
The thought staggers him, sweat excretes on his brow, he can feel a drop trickle on his temple, and his armpits moisten.
The influence he enjoys attributable merely to adulation for his wealth. There exists beneath it no underpinning, the foundation illusory.
The Judge, Mr. Nolthagger, the physicians, the lawyers, the Ministers and Prelates all have a role to play in the lives of the townsfolk. Their influence in communal affairs rests upon the pressure they can bring to bear.
In point of fact, he has no leverage, for his influence lies with men who live their lives without the bounds of Fedor’s Landing and have no interests here.
“Why, Josephus you appear pale, are you quite well?” The Judge leans up out of his chair extending a hand to steady the man. Surely he knew the lay of the land previous, could this accomplished banker be naïve?
Momentarily the Anglican does not recognize the Judge nor can he say with exactitude whereat he stands. He staggers-there exists no kinder word for it-towards the door, and proceeding down the stairs he begins a stooped crawl towards home.
The haze compromising his mind’s eye slowly amalgamates upon the simple although devastating notion; he lacks real influence in Fedor’s Landing beyond the scraps with which people humor him.
His mind whirrs with actions, stratagems, tactics and schemes all contrived to demonstrate to the townspeople he does possess a certain sway as well as a capability to bring it to bear in order to have his aspirations prevail.
As a parallel to this thinking, founded as it is on audacity and swagger, he entertains the gnawing fear of his Bank’s precarious future, given the minimal effort necessary to repudiate his will.
The issue, joined in his mind, assumes a position central in import to the continuing success of his Bank, a success foundational to Mr. Brodswurth’s self-esteem and worth.
Mrs. Hodge, his personal assistant opens the office door, “Mr. Brodswurth a Mr. Rammings desires a word, if convenient. He hasn’t an appointment. However, he asks, would you accommodate him.”
“Do you know the nature of his business?”
“Yes, he is a real-estate Broker,” expressed with the merest distaste.
“Please show him in,” the Banker says as he rises from his seat tugging with both hands at the bottom of his vest.
The Phi Beta Kappa key dangles about a foot below the diamond stick pin, the two beacons alluding to his prominence.
Mr. Rammings comes through and speedily crosses over, his hand extended, a smile smeared upon his face.  He is one of those sunny sorts. “Good morning, sir,” says he grasping the Banker’s hand forcefully, but just so, while cranking it enthusiastically but just so.
The real estate Broker leaps-in, “I have a delicate matter under consideration. I seek your sage advice.
It has become known to me a prominent citizen of our fair city anticipates moving to other environs and requires his house be sold. Obviously, the selling of such a house for such a personage must be handled with the greatest discretion therefor I’ve come to you.
There can be no question of yard signs or newspaper advertisements. The word must go out amongst only those with the standing in society that will qualify their purchase.
The dwelling stands on Chestnut Street, a thoroughfare on which I believe you maintain your home; accordingly, I reasoned the matter might tempt your notice.”
Having handily put his case, Mr. Rammings realizes he has failed to allow for an invitation to be seated and for an exchange of pleasantries, possibly the offer of coffee or tea, so now he finds himself awkwardly standing hat in hand somewhat disadvantaged as to baragaining position.
 The palpability of the charge permeating the room astounds the Banker as the permutations of gist, objectives, intent and agenda pile up in his mind.
 There is afoot here an heroic enterprise from which he might profit handsomely or in the alternative be played as a pawn with but paltry gain.
 In conjunction with the flit of these thoughts across his mind’s eye another deeper, baleful notion begins to take shape. It appears as a phantasm gathering substance as it garners delineation.
 The Banker spins his pen upon the desk top  demonstrating deep contemplation, then raising his eyes to the Broker’s face issues his fusillade,  “Ah, Mr. Rammings, is it? Mr. Rammings there is much in what you have to say, although I wonder at you saying it.
 A personage with the stature you describe has no doubt connections within the municipality. I puzzle at the notion he would approach a person such as you, who will, in order to process this matter in the desired manner, be obliged to forge bonds with which the seller is already graced.
 Further, knowing the interests possessed by the other community members why not merely address the question to one or more of them and thereby simply and quietly achieve its disposition?
 No, ah, Mr. Rammings, there is something opaque afoot here, and I believe it is incumbent upon me to suss it out.”  Josephus lowers his gaze to the top of his expansive desk assuming an in-depth survey as to the arrangement of the papers lying upon it.
 “I want to thank you for your time and I bid you good day,” says Mr. Rammings turning from the desk and proceeding towards the door.
 “I say, Mr. Rammings,” the broker’s face door to, exhibits a hidden smile as he awaits his prey’s disclosure as to the depth of his entanglement in the snare, “I will know the identity of the interested party before you reach the corner tavern,” posits the Banker. The smile vanishes from Mr. Ramming’s visage.
 Once Mr. Rammings halts, the Banker mumbles almost to himself, “Here’s what I’ll offer: I’ll purchase the property at a discount. I’ll pay a nominal commission to you for your troubles and for your silence as to these arrangements. I assure you I’ve the means with which to penalize you for breaking that silence.”
 Mr. Rammings spends a quick ten seconds weighing his options, the chances of increasing his remuneration and the wisdom of crossing swords with someone with the Banker’s position and resources.
 Mr. Rammings attributes great power to Mr. Brodswurth in consequence of his wealth.  
 Mr. Rammings turns towards the Master Bargainer, extending his hand once more, “I am sure we can achieve a mutually satisfactory arrangement.”
The Banker withdraws his personal check book from a drawer, ignores the extended hand and muses with a sneer, “I’m confident.”
Within moments of the final signatures, several gofers of the Prairie Commerce Bank and Trust of which Mr. Brodswurth is chief investor, Chairman of the Board and President, are dispatched to make the following arrangements: The recently purchased house on Chestnut Street is to have its windows and doors boarded over, the gardeners are to be dismissed, and the newspaper subscription is to be paid in full for the next two months to assure a pile of newspapers will grow on the porch step. 
 In truth the boarding over of the windows, of itself, is sufficiently dire to stimulate howls of consternation in every house on Chestnut Street.
 Husbands are dispatched forthwith to accomplish immediate change, the present state carrying as it does a stigma of unendurable embarrassment.
 No stone is left unturned, lawyers pore over the entries in the Records Office, but no title of ownership is unearthed.
 The tax assessor’s office carries the name of the owner of record who is known to have removed to the hinterlands.
 Communication with this gentleman reveals the property has been sold but as to whom he has not a clue since the whole affair was handled by a Mr. Rammings, a real-estate Broker.
Mr. Rammings, when contacted, reveals his understanding that the duty of disclosure lay with the new owner, not himself and in fact he is unsure of his legal position should he divulge such information without the purchaser’s express consent.
When Mr. Rammings is disabused of this idea by several enthusiastic attorneys he retorts, “I can’t risk it.”
 With the passage of time the property continues to deteriorate, the flower beds wither from lack of water, the lawn browns from the same cause, patches of green weeds replicate a pox in the flower beds and upon the otherwise dead lawn.
 The neighborhood women’s distress reaches a crescendo.
In no uncertain terms they demand satisfaction of their husbands.
The husbands whose home life has by now been reduced to a living hell are at wits end as to how to terminate this matter.
 The question of passing ordinances to compel the titleholder to maintain his property within certain parameters meets with stern opposition from those who fear such ordinances will require them to maintain their commercial properties in the same manner.
 An ordinance directed at this particular property is deemed to be unable to survive scrutiny by the courts.
 No effective exit from the dilemma presents itself.
 Mr. Brodswurth sends a note to Judge Martingstall, Esq. Judge, care to join me for lunch tomorrow at 1, let’s say at the City Club?
 Following cordial amenities Josephus postulates, “This house on Chestnut Street is causing quite a fuss, I wonder if you’d be open to a suggestion as to how the matter might be quietly put to rest?”
 The Judge, looks into the Anglican’s eyes as deeply as he can, what devilish scheme is bouncing around in that devious mind? Naïve indeed, he thinks but says, “Yes, Josephus, I certainly would.”
 “What if I told you I am in a position to arrange to sell the house, with a mortgage from my Bank, to that young Doctor everyone seems to be so excited about. Whereby he could get a house his income will not afford him for several years hence and the property will be maintained in a suitable manner?”
 “I would say everyone’d owe you a sizeable gratitude.”
 “I’d say they’d owe me considerably more, I’d say they’d owe me the demise of the carnival proposition,” so saying he slowly and deliberately cuts his roast.
 “Josephus, you can’t possibly mean this.
 You’d hold the whole community hostage, and sacrifice your relationship with your neighbors to win this tug of war with a few hardscrabble merchants only trying to increase their annual income?”
 “You’ve my terms.”
 It was arranged Mr. Tom Bon Fatherest, Esq. should bear the bad news to Whitmor Lungererb. At the conclusion of the interview, all the consolatory clichés having been advanced, Whitmor questions Bon, as he is known, “Is there not a person to whom I may appeal?”
 “I am afraid not. Mr. Brodswurth, for reasons at this point known only to him, has decreed these conditions.” So saying he arises, places his hat on his head and departs.
 Whit bobs his indication for a refill, with reservation Lars pours, “You know Whit you ain’t much of a drinker, if’n I had bought a new truck I’d now be in a terrible fix. Why don’t you go home and allow the boozing to the professionals?”
 The empty glass bangs on the bar, with the accompanying indication for a refill. There is a distinct movement of facial muscles presaging speech of some sort however, none is forthcoming.
Whit polishes off the most recent offering and begins, “He killed the idea, there was no violence but it was done in just the same, no regard, none for the townsfolk’s welfare. The bosses wanted it one way, and that’s the way it’ll be, justice be damned.
 Witnesses say it was at this point they perceived a decided transformation in the Wizard’s expression. Some say you could actually see him think, but obviously can’t explain exactly what they mean by the statement.
 The most reliable source provided the following testimony, “Whit, he got a vision, he saw something invisible to the remaining mob, yes he saw it clear.”
 Whit turns, never releasing his left hand’s grip on the bar until he has circled one hundred and eighty degrees. Then with back to the bar and both hands upon it for bracing he proclaims, “What we got to do is make deposits in the Prairie Commerce Bank and Trust!”
 “I have been asked by the Chief Cashier to inform Mr. Brodswurth a substantial number of townsmen, businessmen as it were, are opening accounts,” advises Mrs. Hodge.
 There commences a diminution of clarity in the Banker’s mind, Sylvania loses substance, the repugnant meaning of Mardi Gras fuzzes, while one incongruous alternative thought gains prominence and enormity at a constant acceleration.
 Significant profit may accrue to the Prairie Commerce Bank and Trust from a carnival celebrated at the juncture at which endurance of winter’s drabness is replaced, as the corner’s  rounded, by the sparkle of spring’s expectancy.
 Josephus Brodswurth, in deference to the desires expressed by the dear Sylvania as well as an exhibition as to the Banker’s clout, will proclaim the celebration to be a Crystal Dance and none shall say him nay.

The End

Submitted: September 04, 2015

© Copyright 2022 jeffrey a paolano. All rights reserved.

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