A Walk in the Park with Mozart
December 4, 1791 - 9pm
The famous German composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, bloated and weakened from chronic emphysema and rheumatic fever, is lying on his deathbed surrounded by his wife Constanze, her sister Sophie and their 7 year old son Karl. Lit candles are perched throughout the bedroom located in the apartment at Stadt 970, Rauhensteingasse, Kleines Kaiserhaus in Vienna. Mozart moans; Constanze holds his hand.
"I knew this day would come," the pale musician whispers.
"Don't say that, Wolfie," Constanze admonishes him. "Dr. Closset said you'll be fine in a few days then you can go back to composing again."
"Ach!" Mozart protests. “He's a swindler! Constanze, we're in such debt."
"Things will get better. The publishers will come around. La Clemenza is doing well as is Magic Flute...”
"You needn't worry about providing right now," Sophie chimes in.
Just then a chill floods the room. The drapes and curtains bellow from the huge gust of wind.
"Did someone open a window?" Constanze asks.
"Not me," Karl responds.
Suddenly, a flash of blinding white light and fog appears in the corner of the room next to a window.
Constanze screams. Her sister gasps.
A middle aged man, dressed completely in white, appears in the fog and stretches his right arm out towards Mozart.
He motions to the ailing composer to take his hand even though he's standing about 20 feet away. Mozart raises his right arm out towards the stranger.
A bright blue light suddenly emits from the man's right hand and covers the sickened genius.
"Wolfie!" Constanze screams.
Then, in a flash, both the man and Mozart suddenly vanish.
December 4, 2012 - 9pm
In the middle of a large bedroom, partially decorated in 18th century Viennese, sits a large electronic contraption eerily resembling a huge gray beetle. Roughly the size of a minivan, several knobs, levers and gauges adorn its thick translucent glass door. To one side of metal & glass beetle sits a laptop on a stand. Beneath the stand sits several electronic components. A handful of cables protrude from the base of the machine and are attached to the modules near the computer.
Suddenly, the lights on the machine come to life. Emitting a whirring sound, a flash of light and fog fills the machine. Slowly, its door opens. Fog drips out. From out of the powdery mist the man in white, followed by Mozart, exits.
Mozart rubs his eyes. Opening them, he is so shocked by the new sights that he stumbles backwards. Catching himself in the silvery dome, he hops backwards and stares at it.
"Gott in himmel!" he shrieks.
"Herr Mozart," Bowen speaks. Astonished, Mozart looks up at the stranger than surveys the unfamiliar room
"Constanze!" the confused composed shouts. "Karl!"
"They can't hear you," Bowen explains.
"Sprechen sie English? En Wien?"
"You are not in Vienna, Herr Mozart."
"What do you mean I'm not in Vienna? Where is Dr. Closset? Where is Constanze?"
"I assure you" Bowen admits. "Everyone is okay?"
"What contraption is this?" he asks pointing to the machine. "Where is this place?"
"You're in America, Herr Mozart."
"Well, you know my name, Mr..."
Mozart tumbles on the carpet. Curious, he rubs it quickly then glances over its surface.
"An entire rug throughout the surface of the floor? Is this an asylum?"
"This is my home," Bowen informs him.
"Who paid you to play this trick on me? Was it Schikaneder? Or maybe some buffoonery from Constanze?!"
"I brought you here."
Mozart, his brow furrowed deeply, walks over to a window and throws it open.
"If this was an asylum," Bowen continues, “that window would be locked, yes?"
Mozart stares out into the dark. He sees a few houses and well-trimmed hedges on an otherwise quiet suburban street light posts dot the landscape. A lake, reflecting the soft light of the winter moon, is discernible in the distance
"Was I so ill I was brought somewhere without my knowledge?” Mozart wonders, rubbing his chin. “Nothing seems familiar. I am at a loss to explain this."
"You will soon learn, in time, everything that's transpired."
Mozart turns towards Bowen.
"I've seen you" Mozart admits. "I was deathly ill in bed then...then you arrived, like an angel!"
The composer's sudden realization he may be dead in heaven fills him with awe. His lit appearance betrays this.
"I am not an angel," Bowen explains. "And this is not heaven."
"Then it is a trick, but one in which I will not participate in."
Mozart opens the bedroom door and walks out. Entering the living room, he takes a quick look around at the unfamiliar furnishings then heads to the front door.
"This is clever!" he tells Bowen. "Schikaneder far more creative than I give him credit for!"
Then, Mozart opens the door and walks out to the porch. From there he looks up and down the street. Nothing in his sight is familiar - not the houses nor cars nor the curb nor sidewalk nor lights nor power lines...nothing. He scratches his head.
"It just doesn't make sense!" he whispers to himself. "Metal carriages on the streets!"
"Constanze!" he shouts. "Sophie! Karl! War ist du?! Constanze!"
Slowly realizing he's suddenly alone, he turns and walks back into the house, tears welling in his eyes?
"I don't appreciate this apothecary's trickery!" he shouts at Bowen. "It seems so real!"
Still confused, Mozart walks around the living room studying the accouterments. He touches the lamps, feels the mantle over the fireplace, takes a book off a shelf and leafs through it, then walks over to a piano he hadn't noticed before.
He plays a few notes on a shiny black Steinway baby grand.
"It is loud..." Mozart admits. He then points to the keys. "The colours are backward."
He stops playing, gets up and walks over to the stranger.
"Herr Bowen," he begins. "Tell me the truth. Explain all of this."
"So you believe now that we're not in Vienna?"
"I've looked outside and nothing is familiar. Those metal carriages on the street...?"
"Actually, you're half right," Bowen explains. "At one time all you'd see were carriages with horses, but they found a way to let you move the carriages without them."
"Just tell me where I am, Henry Bowen." Mozart demands. "These apparitions do my constitution ill."
"Today is December 4, 2012."
Bowen gives the musical scribe some time to soak in the date. Mozart emits a slightly devious smile.
"I'll play along, Herr Bowen," Mozart avows. "Humor me if it's 221 years passed as you say."
"Well, Herr Mozart. It's nice to see you're so open-minded."
Mozart, touching his head, looks confused by the statement.
"Oh, I mean," Bowen clarifies, "your willingness to learn new ideas."
Mozart nods in agreement then sits down on a sofa. Out of amazement, he lightly bounces up and down on the sofa and caresses its soft seat, arm and back like a child discovering a new toy. Bowen walks over to a large whiteboard on a wall and picks up a marker from a counter below it.
"Back in your time" he begins, "the lights in your homes, cathedrals and street were lit by candles and, later, gas."
"I noticed those," Mozart agrees, motioning to the various lights in the room. "I saw them outside, also."
"Exactly. Except an invention came along called electricity. It's a form of power."
"Power? Like coal for a locomotive?"
"Actually, yes, but it's not practical to burn coal in the homes because it also creates poisonous gases. So they created machines in the 18th century that made electricity." Bowen creates a sketch of a power generator on the whiteboard. He continues.
"Over the past 200 years or so they've improved on its design..."
"Like the pianoforte," Mozart wonders.
"Man's quest for perfection and improvement knows no end, my friend. You might be surprised to know that the Stradivari and del Gesu violins from your time are still in use today."
"Hmm. They should be perfectly imperfect by now, yes?"
"On the contrary, they're held in high regards. Still the favourite of the best players in the world."
"Fascinated by it, eh?"
Bowen continues drawing on the board.
"Electricity comes through every house and building through the walls."
Bowen walks over to an outlet near the piano.
"You can't touch it because it's dangerous, but this is where the power comes from."
"Yes. Walk with me."
Bowen walks to the front door opens it. Mozart follows behind.
"See those cables there?" he asks pointing to the power lines.
"Strung up overhead."
"Yes, I see them, like clothing lines."
"Right. Those are cables of electricity which brings power from the electrical building to all the homes and street lights here."
"This is the most realistic dream I've ever experienced. Such a poison that wafts through me!"
"All industry has seen many changes, and this is in regards to law, science, invention, design..."
"Did the women change?" Mozart asks, winking more than a hint of licentiousness in his voice.
"They're exactly the same. Would you like some tea?"
"Ja. I'm glad to know they still have it."
Bowen closes the door and they walk into the kitchen. When the scientist puts the light on Mozart gets startled.
"Your world is a scary one."
"In more ways than one."
Bowen starts preparing hot tea in a coffee pot while the composer stares in wonder at the sink, stove and other utensils.
"Herr Bowen, the last thing I seem to remember is I was laying deathly ill in my chambers with my son, wife and her sister in attendance. They were somber, in tears. It was cold but not snowing. I was bloated and pale, so weak I could barely move my body. Then...this! This...fantastic change bestowed upon me! This...asylum!"
"Electricity, as I was explaining before, has had various uses these past 200 years. Not only is it used to power lamps but also all modern machines as it is a clean and reliable source. Behold..."
Bowen opens the refrigerator. Mozart’s eyes light up.
"I still don't understand this wizardry."
"This is a refrigerator. its use is in the preservation of foodstuffs."
Timidly, Mozart sticks his hand in.
"It's cold!" he shudders.
"Behold the power of electricity, Herr Mozart."
The composer studies the fridge's meager contents: tubs of spreadable cheese, cold cuts, milk, orange juice, some fruits, eggs and a few other sundries that befit a bachelor.
"Such wonder!” Mozart smiles. “If Constanze could see this!"
Bowen takes out two apples. He hands one to the studious Mozart, bites into his then closes the refrigerator’s door. Mozart smells his first then, reluctantly, takes a bite.
"It is an apple!"
"Oh yes, my sir. As real as the leaves on the trees."
"This is a very strange event, indeed. I don’t feel like I’m under a spell, yet I remember my life slipping from me. I was weak...shriveling..."
"The machine which brought you here reassembles its occupant through time and space to its basic cellular level."
"I don't understand..."
"It's the basic tiniest structure of all living things. The machine transports, and in so doing, heals."
"Are there many machines like this? Is this how modern transportation is done?"
"No," Bowen answers. "I created it. It's the only one, as far as I know. It's quite a new invention, really. One I'm sure the government would love to own. I am surprised that it actually worked."
“If this be the future,” Mozart surmises, “then I should like to meet my progeny.”
“They wouldn’t believe you are who you say you are.”
“Why not? Show them the machine.”
“It could get in the wrong hands, not to mention it’s still under refinement, and the government can instantly make all my years of research and development null and void because it lacks regulation. That’s what I fear the most.”
He takes the heated pot of water off the stove, pours two cups of tea and offers one to Mozart.
"Danke, Herr Bowen."
"I saw lager in this...machine," Mozart hints, motioning to the fridge.
Bowen removes a bottle of beer, opens it, and gives it to Mozart. The thirsty composer downs it in one gulp.
"It is cold!"
"A lot of surprises, Herr Mozart?"
"Ja. It was good. Tastes quite familiar." He reads its label.
Mozart contemplates that for a moment.
"Belgium?" he asks.
"Oh yes. I know."
"I've toured there with father and Nanerl."
"So you know. Tell me - who is the emperor of Germany now?"
"They don't use emperors anymore."
"There are still kingdoms in the world but Germany is no longer one of them. The leader, a chancellor, is elected by the people."
"Their leader is actually Angela Merkel."
"A woman - yes."
"Is this what time has wrought?"
"Here in America the leader is, well, he’s a Negro."
"Like the pianoforte's keys - reversed! The German leader has been reversed. Your future...up has become down, left become right!"
"Um...you can say that. Yes."
Bowen takes out another, opens it and gives it to Mozart.
"These are the finest beers. It would serve you well to drink it slowly."
"Patience has never coincided with the best of my virtues!"
"There's more where that came from. Help yourself." Mozart nods.
"Were there other travelers?"
"I had tested on animals. They transported well."
"Sir, I'm no animal!" Mozart protested.
"No," Bowen reassures him, "but you are the first soul through it."
"I feel privileged."
Bowen gazes at him not knowing if he's appreciative or being sarcastic. Still, tired from working all day, he stretches and yawns. Mozart finishes his beer and helps himself to a third. He offers one to Bowen but he passes. The two walk back into the living room.
"Are you tired?" the composer wonders.
"A little," the scientist explains. "I've spent many sleepless nights working on this machine. It was actually built by my brother. He's since died so I continued working on his design. You, of all people, would understand the need to stay up night after night working on a score till it was complete."
"So you know about me?"
"The world remembers you still this day, Herr Mozart."
Mozart flops back down into the comfortable couch. Bowen walks over to the TV and turns it on.
"This'll give you taste of how far mankind's progressed," he explains.
As soon as the TV comes roaring to life, Mozart screams and jumps up.
"What's the matter?" Bowen asks.
His question falls on deaf ears as the thoroughly shocked composer drops his near-empty beer bottle and goes screaming and flying out the front door.
Bowen takes off after him.
Mozart, still immensely confused, dashes down the suburban street.
"Constanze!" he screams - but there was reply, no solace from his absent wife. He continues yelling in unintelligible German as Bowen follows behind.
"I'm sorry!" Bowen shouts.
Mozart, panicking and tearful, keeps running haphazardly through the quiet streets. Still barefooted, he accidentally stubs his right big toe on a protruding slab of concrete.
"Ach!" he screams, not stopping to nurse his bleeding toe.
This action finally catches the eyes of a squad car out on patrol.
At an intersection, their lights and a warning siren flashes. The car stops. The first policeman, Officer Kane, exits the vehicle. Mozart continues running.
"Mozart!" the approaching scientist yells.
The second policeman, Officer Hobbes, gets out of the vehicle and motions to Bowen.
"Stay where you are!" he shouts. Bowen complies.
After a short chase, Kane tackles Mozart. They struggle in the hedges. The officer stands Mozart up. Urine has soaked through his nightgown. He walks him towards his vehicle.
"What is your name?" he asks the crying composer.
Mozart, still deeply in shock, is unable to answer.
"He's with me, officer," Bowen explains.
“What’s your friend’s name?”
“Wolfgang. He doesn’t have his ID, I’m afraid.”
"Can I see your ID, sir?" Hobbes asks Bowen.
The scientist produces his wallet, takes out his driver's license and hands it to him.
"Dr. Henry Bowen," Hobbes reads. "Where do you work?"
"U-dub Department of Physics," he answers.
"Does this gentleman work with you?"
"Yes, sir," Bowen lies. "He's my assistant."
"He's had a bit too much to drink tonight," Kane suggests.
"How much have you had tonight, sir?" he asks Mozart. The stricken composer is still too teary eyed to answer.
"What's your last name?" he asks him. Again, the solemn composer gives no answer.
"Maybe a night downtown might loosen your tongue," Hobbes warns him.
"I'm also a trained in medicine," Bowen adds quickly. "He's only just learned of a family tragedy. Obviously it’s been too much to bear."
"Tell your friend to stand right here," Kane tells Bowen.
The scientist walks over to Mozart, consoles him, and bandages his bleeding toe with a handkerchief while the two officers walk a few feet away to talk.
"Why is this happening to me?" Mozart asks the scientist, tears still in his eyes.
"You're in shock," Bowen answers. "It could happen to anyone if they went through what you did."
"I don't understand that...vision in your house. That box...those people!"
Bowen rises and looks directly into Mozart's eyes.
"This is not witchcraft or wizardry, Mozart. It's called television. It's in everyone’s home."
"I have to get back to Vienna," Mozart realizes. "I've surely gone mad."
Just then the two officers re-approached.
"We won't book him tonight, Dr. Bowen," Hobbes explains. "Just get him some coffee and some sleep and keep him off the street.
"Thank you, officer," Bowen states. "It won't happen again."
The two policemen return to their car. Bowen overhears one of the officers say, "another lovers' spat gone wrong" just before they enter their vehicle and take off.
In the house, Bowen gives Mozart a red velvet robe. The much fatigued composer takes off his German nightgown, dons the robe, and lies down on the sofa to sleep. Bowen covers him with a soft blanket then heads to the kitchen. He stops up the sink, runs the hot water, and leaves the nightgown in it to soak. He then gets himself a beer from the fridge, takes a few sips, sits down in the living room recliner, and falls quickly asleep.
The next morning, Mozart awakens by the chill of the frost coming in from the front door. Crows, whippoorwills and robins sing their tunes outside as Bowen enters with some newspapers tucked under his arms. He closes the door behind him, lays the papers on the center table, and heads towards the kitchen.
"Good morning," he greets the former child prodigy. "Is your foot still in pain?"
"Ach, you taunt me," Mozart claims. "It's my head that is swollen. I hear a timpani."
"Do you still think this is a dream?"
"I...I don't know what to think."
"Do you drink coffee, Mozart?"
"Danke," he nods.
Bowen brings out two cups of coffee. Mozart sits up, takes a cup, and drinks from it. Bowen sits down in the recliner. Mozart touches his new unfamiliar robe.
"Your gown was soiled," he explains.
"Why am I here, Bowen?" Mozart asks.
"I thought you'd be an interesting subject to study.
Mozart points to the TV.
"Show me electricity again."
"Television," the scientist corrects him.
Instead of walking over to the television, Bowen turns it on with a nearby remote control. Mozart's eyes light up. Bowen hands him the remote which he studies intensely.
"It's a remote control," he explains, but Mozart seems puzzled.
"Simply speaking," Bowen continues, it also works by electricity.
"In a technical sense, anyway."
Mozart barely listens as he's completely enthralled by the electronic device.
"See here," Bowen says, taking the remote. "You can view different things."
He demonstrates by changing channels via the remote.
"Try it," he smiles, giving the remote back to Mozart.
Mozart flips through a few channels - laughing like a giddy child. He spends roughly two minutes on each station.
"Is this television also in Germany?" he asks.
"Yes," Bowen answers. "It's worldwide. Everything you see here is worldwide. And if you think things are complicated, wait till I introduce you to the internet."
"Once again," Bowen explains, "some of those wires your saw outside transmits information here, and we can also use it to send our own information. I'll show you later."
Mozart flips through a few more channels.
"Such a variety of knowledge," he admits.
He turns to an arts channel. A pianist is playing a sonata. He studies it intently.
"I don't understand this music," he admits. "No timing...complete disregard of the metronome...so loud and violent.”
Bowen recognizes the piece. It is Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' sonata.
"That's of the later sonatas by Beethoven," he informs the composer.
"I've met him briefly," Mozart states. "Very talented young man."
"He single-handedly changed music. He brought it from the classical era to the romantic."
"Romantic? What do you mean? My music has no romance?"
"It's just a...heading, a term. Rigid form and structure went to the wayside...somewhat. You would've been one of its main proponents, I wager."
"You know the date of my death!" Mozart suddenly realizes.
The anxious composer jumps to his feet.
"You must tell me!" he shouts, Bowen shakes his head.
"Don't you wonder why I brought you here?"
Mozart stares intensely at his host then walks over to the front door and opens it. He takes a deep breath of the crisp wintry air, turns around and faces Bowen.
"I don't want to know," he states, suddenly changing his mind. "I may hasten it."
"I thought you'd be an interesting study," Bowen admits.
"There's some debate about if you were autistic."
"What is that?"
"It's a mental condition a few people have."
Bowen gets up, walks over to a shelf and takes a large dictionary from it.
"Not exactly," he explains. "Some autistic people are geniuses, staying up night after night so enrapt in their arts. Some have trouble functioning in society and find it difficult to maintain friendships. Some do have all of their senses but find noise or lights intolerable to bear."
Mozart thinks about this summary for a moment.
"Doesn't seem important," Mozart admits, "to go through all this trouble."
"Yes, I know," Bowen agrees. "Even though you're the first, you're an accident."
"I actually wasn't expecting my time machine to work."
"So I'm your experiment?"
"Yes, well, something like that."
"Then I wish to go back immediately."
"I'll explain a little more about the machine," Bowen states. "True, it is powered by electricity, but there's another component in it called a battery. The battery also generates power. When the machine is used the battery's power gets drained. It takes almost 24 hours to be recharged."
Mozart looks addled.
"To be powerful enough to make the machine work," Bowen explains.
"So I'm here for a day?"
"Yes. May as well make the best of it."
"In that case," Mozart suggests, "I'd like to visit your town."
"Thank you, composer," Bowen nods. "I'm glad you've...accepted what is."
"It is what it is," the composer admits.
Several minutes later, Mozart is singing one of his opera arias, 'Notte e giorno faticar’ from Don Giovanni, in the shower. The sensation of warm water steadily flowing over his body - indoors! - is a feeling unknown to him and a luxury surely to be enjoyed solely by kings.
"Wunderbar!" he shouts. Bowen, however, doesn't hear him as he's busy in the laundry room loading dirty clothes into the washer.
Minutes later Mozart emerges from the bathroom wearing some clothes loaned by Bowen - blue jeans, shirt, and a purple hooded University of Washington sweater.
"Herr Bowen?" he asks, entering the living room. He sees no one. Walking into the kitchen, he opens the fridge, rifle through its contents, and brings out a block of Swiss cheese. Placing in on the kitchen counter he draws a knife and cleaves a piece for himself. Bowen enters from the back room.
"Ready to see the city?" he asks the hungry composer.
"How does this look?" Mozart responds, modeling his new 20th century attire.
"It's a little big but it looks okay. Ready to go?"
The two walk down the quiet suburban streets as cars drive past. Mozart is taken back by their rumbling, humming, wheels grinding on the asphalt sound. Intermittently, he'd look at each car, studying its passengers intensely.
"Is electricity responsible for this?" he wonders aloud.
"Remember the battery I was talking about before? The unit that stores electrical power? All cars have them."
"Cars. I see. Are there no more horses?"
“Of course, but they’re kept mostly on farms. These days they’re used for sport, like racing.”
“Smelly beasts, they are.”
"Would you like to ride in a car?"
"I think I must."
"I have one, but where we're going is walking distance. It won't be necessary."
"I don't mind. I find a good walk in the morning prepares me well for a day of creating."
"You're extraordinary. Your body of work - the operas, symphonies, piano and violin concertos, serenades..."
"Women," he laughs, adding to his exploits.
Mozart suddenly gets an idea.
"When I return, I'd like to go back at an earlier time."
"What do you mean?"
"When you brought me I was ill in bed."
"Was I dying?"
Bowen stops walking. Mozart stops with him.
"You were very ill," Bowen answers.
"So much unfinished business," he admits. "I've not prepared for my family like I should. I need to go back earlier, maybe a year or two, to fix my financial problems."
"You can't," Bowen explains.
Bowen quickly looks through the nearby hedges, breaks off a long thin branch, and shows it to Mozart.
"This branch represents time," he begins, "from beginning to end. In this case, the moment you left Vienna to the moment you return."
He bends the branch into a circle.
"The machine works in a closed loop," he continues. "The beginning and end occurs at the same time and place. I am able to insert myself at that one small dent in time. My place is kept because the machine has stopped due to lack of power. The battery takes 24 hours to recharge, but that dent in time is never lost."
"I don't understand your theories."
"Okay." He looks around and sees a low hanging branch jutting from a tree.
"Walk with me," he beckons to Mozart. He follows.
"Once upon a time we had a famous scientist. His name was Albert Einstein. In the early part of this century, around 1915, he explained that time is flexible."
"Time is flexible? I don't..."
Bowen grabs the branch.
"Time can be bent like this," he demonstrates by bending the branch.
"Time can be bent," Mozart repeats, uncertain of what the scientist means.
"Yes. It can be measured with the new fancy elaborate instruments. Have you ever seen a tornado or whirlpool?"
"No, but I'm aware of their existence. Powerful enough to lift horses in the air."
"Exactly. They spin fiercely. When they spin they pull objects into its core as if trying to reaching its center. Einstein has shown that the sun and earth are a part of a larger universal whirlpool that's spinning towards a center. That very pull, away from a straight line, is what creates a bend in time. The theory is if you can bend time you can move along the timeline, the timeline of earth and life and existence, at will."
"Is that your machine?"
"Yes. I haven't told anyone because the government would just use it for wars."
"They take the most innovative inventions and use it in catastrophic ways to gain the upper hand: the catapult, the firearm, nuclear energy...gets twisted by bureaucracy."
"Mankind, I believe, is inherently good but somehow always finds the time for evil. Why? I don't know."
He bends the branch down without breaking it.
"And the reason you have to return at the same place and time you left is this..." He lets the branch recoil back to its original place.
"Nature is absolute."
Once again, Mozart looks puzzled.
"Aristotle said nature abhors a vacuum," Bowen elucidates. "Nature hates a space which cannot exist. A nothingness. Aristotle was right. Empty spaces go against the laws of physics and science."
"Interesting..." Mozart nods, rubbing his chin.
“All the space we see and feel around us is actually being occupied by something. In my time machine’s loop system, the beginning and end of the journey of travel has to meet.”
“I think I understand.”
"Good. Let's have some lunch," Bowen suggests. "I'm hungry."
The two continue walking towards the center of the village.
It is mid-morning in the cozy hamlet of downtown Magnolia, a suburb of Seattle. The postman merrily drags his cart up the street as nannies pushing strollers with their tiny charges walk past. Joggers run to and fro as dog walkers and businessmen stroll hither and yon.
Bowen and Mozart are sitting at an outside table drinking coffee. For a December, the temperature is a balmy 60 degrees. Clouds fill half the sky. Birds are perched on several lines scattered through the downtown area. Buses and cars pass by while people stop at traffic lights or ride bicycles intermittently. Bowen glances at Mozart. He notices some trepidation and confusion in the composer's eyes.
"Is this too much scenery for you?" he asks him.
"It reminds me of Vienna," he admits, "just...different. The excitement is the same. The noises are, of course, much more varied."
"Would you prefer a quieter place?"
"No. It's good."
While the two go over their menus, a car pulls up near them containing two teenagers. The passenger, a female of about 18, gets out and walks into the cafe as her partner sits in the idling car. His choice of music, modern rock, sounds caustic to Mozart's ears. He cuffs them half shut.
"What kind of music is that?" he asks Bowen.
"Sounds like rock," he answers.
"Rock is short for rock 'n roll. They use instruments unfamiliar to you. Electric guitars. I'll show you later."
"Electric!" Mozart shakes his head. "It's that what music has become?"
"Not all. People actually love it, though. You'll see."
Mozart finally orders from his menu.
“Eggs and orange juice,” he tells the waitress.
“How do you want your eggs?”
“Hen’s eggs,” he bursts out laughing. The waitress, however, isn’t amused.
“We’ll take two Spanish omelettes, wheat toast and orange juice,” Bowen interrupts. The waitress nods, scoops up both menus, and returns inside the cafe.
Mozart starts rubbing his eyes which have begun watering.
“Something disturbing you?” Bowen asks.
“No,” Mozart answers. “I think maybe it’s a little bright.”
Bowen looks up and down the block quickly and sees a gas station convenience store across the street. He gets up.
“I’ll be right back,” he explains before dashing across the street.
A few seconds later he returns with a newspaper and a pair of sunglasses. He hands the shades to Mozart.
“Try these on,” he tells him. Mozart complies. Smiling, he stands up and looks at his reflection in the cafe’s glass wall.
“I’m modern,” he utters.
“Yeah,” Bowen agrees. “You’re 20th century.”
Soon, the waitress brings them both their breakfast. They sit down and enjoy it. Mozart spends good chunk of time perusing the Seattle Times. Bowen is mesmerized just watching the tunesmith absorb modernity at breakneck speed. Minutes later, when the waitress drops the check off on the table, Bowen takes out his wallet and hands Mozart his debit card.
“That’s how we pay for things,” he informs him. “It’s a debit card.”
Mozart bends it a few times. Bowen quickly takes it back before Mozart snaps it in two.
“Be careful, Herr Mozart,” he warns him. “It can break, and then I won’t be able to use it.”
“Do they not use currency anymore?”
Bowen takes out some money from his wallet and hands it to Mozart.
“Yes, they do. I just don’t use it that often. The card is used...I keep my money in a bank. That one down there, as a matter of fact,” he points to a nearby Wells Fargo location.
“There’s a machine in all of these stores that’s connected through those wires to the bank,” he illustrates, pointing to the cables strung up across the light poles. “The machines then can communicate to each other that way.”
The waitress arrives, takes the card and check, and returns to the cafe.
“She’ll just take the money she needs to pay for the food from my bank through her machine. Clever, huh?”
“More like mystifying,” Mozart states. “Never in my dreams can I have imagined this.”
“Let’s go for ride. You’ll see a lot more.”
Several minutes later, Bowen is driving Mozart towards downtown Seattle. The composer is both thrilled and scared at the same time. The structures and developments fascinate him as they whiz past. He is also confounded by the innards of the car, namely the soft seats, the plethora of lights and switches in the vehicle, the glove box which he opens and closes a few times, the speakers in the door and dashboard and the air conditioner which he raises and lowers often.
“This is like your time machine!” he shouts.
“Well, it’s fast, though not quite like that. The time machine has a section that accelerates just past the speed of light.”
“The speed of light?”
“When you see sunlight in the morning, it takes a little while for that light to hit your eyes. It’s actually been measured. It’s the speed of light. Very, very fast. One hundred and eight six thousand miles per second. Very, very fast.”
“I have nothing in which to reference that, sir,” Mozart admits sounding a little dismayed but altogether confused. Bowen points to the speedometer in his car.
“See this gauge?” he asks him. “It says that this car is moving at forty miles per hour. The speed of light would be this same car driving about thirteen million times as fast.”
“The only thing fast approaching is a headache,” Mozart extols, holding his head. Bowen, sensing the composer’s distress, puts on the classical music station. The adagio from Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 is playing.
“How is this possible!?” Mozart asks, listening to the sultry tones of the NY Philharmonic.
“This is actually easy to explain if you’ll grasp the concept.”
“Just tell me.”
“Have you ever stood at the edge of a forest or a deep precipice and shouted your name?”
“And you heard your name being shouted back?”
“Is that an echo?”
“Exactly. A long echo. Mankind found a way to capture that echo. You can play back the sound whenever you wanted. They created machines that could capture that echo - it’s called a recording - refined it over the years, and allow you to play back the captured recording when you felt like it.”
“Like this symphony?” he asks, motioning to the radio.
“Exactly. The recording itself is not in this car. There’s a building that has the recording. We can hear it because of the radio.”
“It’s a way of sending and receiving sound waves through the air.”
“It’s more complex than that. Understand I’m just simplifying it.”
“Is this all too much at once, Mozart?”
“Is there more? Anymore and my head will surely burst.”
“I think that’s enough for now.”
Minutes later they drive towards the heart of the city. Still undergoing construction, there are huge cranes in a few places. The sound of jackhammers can be heard as well as the screech of emergency sirens, unintelligible voices, traffic signals, the random horns, and smoke belching from worn engines.
“So this is your Vienna?” Mozart asks.
“Yes, it is,” Bowen admits. “Noisy, isn’t it?”
“How do the people live here?”
“What do you mean? With the noise?”
He looks up and down the street. People of all colours, flavours, shapes, sizes and accouterments mill about here and there.
“Some of those can’t be human,” Mozart wonders. “Their hair styles are odd.”
“Welcome to America, Herr Mozart. Times have changed considerably. But I’ll show you something.”
They pull into the rooftop parking lot of the city’s giant Guitar Center store.
Walking into the shop, they are greeted by a salesclerk. Out of formality, Mozart nods. The clerk smiles. Bowen enters through the turnstile which gives the composer a little difficulty.
“Why is this here?” he asks, pointing to it.
“To prevent theft, you know," Bowen explains. “Keeps the ruffians at bay.”
When they enter the first room, Mozart is astonished. Never in his life had he ever seen such a huge display of guitars and other instruments. Some were on stands on the floor; the majority was dangling from hooks on the walls. Several amplifiers, keyboards, and music books on stands were scattered throughout the huge front room. He can see people scattered throughout the store either speaking to each other or perched at individual instruments.
“There were a few music stores in Vienna,” Mozart informs him. “They sold instruments created by the Stradivari & Guarneri family, harpsichords by Donat and Romer...illustrious builders all.”
“Today those would be worth a fortune.”
“Yes. Um, excuse me, Mozart,” Bowen tells him. “I have to go to the men's’ room, the toilette. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Mozart watches as the physicist walks towards the back area out of sight. Unbeknownst to Mozart, Bowen didn’t go to the bathroom. Instead, he‘s studying the composer from a distance. Just then, another sales clerk approaches Mozart.
“Can I help you?” he asks him.
“What are these things?”
“These things...there,” he asks, pointing to a stack of amps.
The salesclerk curiously looks at Mozart as if he just came from Mars.
“That’s a guitar amplifier,” he answers.
“What does it do?”
The clerk studies Mozart again.
“You really don’t know, do you?”
“They don’t have those in Vienna...or Salzburg...or Mannheim...”
“I’ll show you.”
The clerk takes an electric guitar off a stand, straps it on, and plugs it into the amp. He plays some notes and a few chords. Mozart cuffs his ears.
“It is too loud!” he shouts. The clerk stops playing.
“Sorry,” he apologizes. He hands the guitar to Mozart. “Wanna try?”
“Nein,” he answers. “Where are your harpsichords?”
The clerk points to the nearby keyboards room.
Mozart walks away from the clerk and enters the keyboard room. Like the other room, it is filled with all sorts of instruments including microphones, speakers and music software. People are standing in front of display instruments, speaking to clerks behind a counter, or playing a few floor models.
Mozart walks over to one of the display instrument, an electronic keyboard. He runs his fingers over the keys but nothing happens. A clerk approaches him.
“Hello,” the clerk opens. “I’m Alex. Can I help you?”
“This instrument produces no sound,” Mozart insists.
The clerk reaches behind the instrument and throws a switch. Several lights on the keyboard spring to life.
“Try it now.”
Mozart plays a few notes. It produces piano sounds.
“Curious...” he admits. “It is like a piano...a little heavier.”
He continues playing.
“Do you wanna see what it’s got?” the clerk asks. Mozart stops playing and looks quizzically at him.
“It’s got different sounds,” the clerk explains. He illustrates by pressing a button on the front of the keyboard.
Mozart plays a few notes. The sound of an organ is produced. It startles him.
“This cannot be!” he emits. “This sounds like the organ at St. Stephen’s Cathedral!”
“You’re not from around here, are you?” the clerk asks dryly, not expecting a response.
“I’ve never seen such...such...I have no words to explain myself!”
“Just go easy,” Alex advises him.
Mozart plays the organ a little bit more. It goes without saying that his playing his impressive. Within a few minutes a relatively small crowd of salespeople and customers had gathered in the keyboard room to watch and hear his impromptu performance. Filled with fancy flourishes, dazzling arpeggios and seemingly impossible scales, he concludes to a rousing hand of applause.
“You’re quite good,” Alex tells him. Other people also congratulate the performer then resumed whatever they were doing.
“What’s your name?” he asks stretching out his hand.
“Mozart,” he replies. “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.”
“Yeah, sure. No...seriously.”
“I’m the son of Leopold and Ana Maria Mozart of Salzburg.”
“Whatever, man. You’re still a good player. If you need anything just ask.”
The clerk abruptly walks away to help another customer. Bowen enters the keyboard room and approaches Mozart.
“Finding everything okay?”
“Your people are rude.”
“They’re not my people.”
“They’re lacking in class and temperament just the same.”
“Do you want to look around a little bit more?”
“When I was in Vienna I used to walk to clear my head. It never actually worked but it was the attempt that satisfied me.”
“Do you want to go for a walk now?”
“I appreciate the invitation.”
Mozart is eating an ice cream and Bowen a popsicle as they walk downtown along busy Eastlake Avenue. Mozart is wearing his sunglasses. Bowen points out the different and varied landmarks along the way. He points out the Space Needle, the various hotels and towers, the plethora of nightclubs, cafes, restaurants and clothing stores, and the convention center in the heart of the city. Eventually, they make their way through Westlake Center and end up at the historic Pike Place Market where Bowen buys them both a pan pizza and sodas. They walk towards an overpass.
“When I was in Vienna,” Mozart begins, “the city was under great development. His Imperial Majesty, King Leopold II, had taken over from his brother, Joseph II. They introduced a sewer system. Palaces were being expanded upon wherein you could fit another city in them.”
“Do you see that airplane flying overhead?” Bowen asks, pointing to one high up above.
“What is it?”
“It’s an airplane. It’s like a car with wings. Popular route of travel these days.”
Mozart takes off his sunglasses and peers at the flying machine.
“I think I can hear it, too. Do you have one?” he asks.
“No,” Bowen laughs. “They’re expensive. They’re only used for traveling far distances, not for a local jaunt into town. I’m afraid all my money went into building the time machine.”
“How long did it take?”
“There were several prototypes...models. I started building them about 30 years ago. It was just a hobby, but as it came closer and closer to reality, I focused all my energy, time and money building it. I think I’ve lost friends and companionship because of it. Such is life.”
“So you’re not married?”
“My friend, I’m married to the machine. Unfortunately, it’s my life. I wish I was like you, so prolific, so steadfast in your discipline. How long did it take you to complete an opera or a mass?”
“They were all different; some a little more complicated than others. Don Giovanni took a few months, I think. La Clemenza de Tito and Die Zauberflote - about the same.”
“It’s unfair that such talent should lay upon the crest of one man. Why was this gift not divided amongst your peers?”
“It was not without sacrifices, Herr Bowen. I have suffered headaches no man should be made to bear. I’ve endured a poverty no beggar would envy.”
“That’s unfortunate because you’ve given the world so much.”
“I am pleased. It pleases me when they show appreciation.”
Bowen looks to his left and sees a photographer sitting next to man-sized standees of the Space Needle, Elvis Presley and a tyrannosaurus rex. He approaches the entrepreneur?
“How much for each photo?” he asks.
“Three dollars,” the man answers.
“We’ll do the Space Needle pix.”
The photographer nods and gets up to prepare for the shoot.
“Herr Mozart!” Bowen calls out to his time traveling partner. “Come!”
Mozart complies and walks over to Bowen. The photographer positions the two on either side of the standee, takes a few snaps and hands the photos to them. Bowen gives him a $10 bill. Mozart studies one of the photos. Like everything he’s seen on his travel, he’s astonished.
“This is me!” he shouts in glee.
“This is photography,” Bowen explains. “It was invented around 1840 by a Frenchman named Louis Daguerre. He was a chemist, I believe.”
“In some areas of the world you could be burned for heresy just for this,” Mozart suggests. “The fat pompous minister would sit on his throne, scoff at you, and throw you in a dungeon to rot for witchcraft. Make a pact with the devil, did you? Off with your head!”
“Ignorance is the enemy of curiosity, Mozart. Mankind would stagnate, remain in the dark ages when pestilence and plagues ruled the land if we didn’t seek out a greater experience and knowledge.”
“This is what I’ve been telling my father!” the composer agrees. “When I made changes to the music, made it more, how should I say, stirring, they rejected it. This was the masons, the Emperor, Schikaneder, even Haydn. I grew so tired or constructing the same passages, the same tempos, the same variations on a theme - not that they were the same - but to the untrained ear they were. Whenever I tried to expand past the sameness they rejected the notion. Ach! Music was being taken to new heights in, of all places, Turkey, but there was a fear the Turks would usurp all that was European in Hungary. It seemed as if I had resorted to simply repeating myself. My life was stripped from me. I was stripped bare.”
“You have quite the imagination.”
“I have the skill of attracting trouble. I’ve often thought the gallows worker saved a noose for me.”
“But you were you well loved in your time, no?”
“All men have enemies. I had a few.”
“Salieri? Your fellow composer?”
“Salieri lacks a certain gift, the gift of melody. But I don’t mean him. I mean the creditors to whom I owe many florins.”
“Did your wife help you?”
“Constanze stays with me. She’s very good, that Weber. Father never approved but she’s a good woman. I’m a difficult man.”
“I think you know what you want and that makes you very strong.”
Some moments of silence pass as both visually soak in the hustle & bustle of the market.
“You’re tired,” Bowen notices. “I‘ll take you to my place of employment. You can rest along the way.”
Bowen pulls into a parking garage near the University of Washington. Mozart is fast asleep in the passenger seat. He awakens him and they both begin walking towards the sprawling compass.
It is now mid-afternoon. There is still a cloudy overcast. Students are walking about, some carrying backpacks, some on skateboards. Half of them are on cellphones and it seems a good portion is also using headphones. Walking past students laying on the various fields, they enter the Physics-Astronomy Building.
“Were you educated here?” Mozart asks Bowen.
“Partially. I received my doctorate in physics from Washington State University." He points eastward.
“It’s about 400 miles that way. I teach it here, though. This is the University of Washington. I’ll show you my office.”
He leads Mozart through the halls, past several symposiums, and into the building’s huge basement laboratory.
“Gott in himmel!” Mozart whispers as they walk side by side throughout the cavernous interior filled with all types of machines, technical artwork and elaborate mobiles dangling from the ceiling.
Bowen introduces him to a few faculty members and students. Intermittently, he’d motion to the composer to not touch anything. Mozart, for the most part, was caught up in his own world for he had found a metallic structure the size of an elevator which played musical notes.
Bowen walks over to him.
“This is the Hildebrandt Generator,” he explains. “It’s a musical instrument whose tones are produced by light.”
He illustrates its fascinating design by producing a small flashlight from his jacket and turning it one. When he flashed its light on one of the Hildebrandt panels, it would chime like a bell. Each panel produced a different tone. Mozart is taken aback by the structure, its glimmering light flashing in his eyes.
“Not only does it respond to light,” Bowen explains, “it also responds to color.”
He illustrates this by turning a dial on his penlight which changed its light beam from a bright white to a fluorescent green. When he shines it on the Generator, a tone like a violin is emitted.
“Now watch this,” he tells Mozart as he flicks a switch on a projector nearby.
As the projector flashes different colours of the spectrum unto the machine, it responds by playing music that sounds like a symphony. Mozart is stunned.
“Are there no musicians involved?”
“No. It’s pretty nice, huh?”
“Impressive. Which music is this?”
“Beethoven’s 6th symphony. Pastoral.”
“What year was this written?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe around 1805.”
“I’d be 51 years old when he wrote this. The styles have changed immensely.”
“Had I not influence at that time?”
“Times and tastes change, Mozart.”
“Did I become the kappelmeister to the emperor? I’m sure my fortunes would have been vastly improved by then. How many children did I have? Twenty?” he laughs.
“I’m sure you must agree that to truly appreciate life one must experience the joy of discovery.”
“Then I agree. Don’t tell me.”
“It’s always for the best.”
After the visit in the lab, Bowen showed the curious pianist several other attractions including a large sundial, a giant pendulum, more research labs, and finally, the stunning planetarium in all its fully illuminated glory.
After eating dinner in an Italian restaurant near University Way, they walk into a record store.
“Here in the 20th century,” Bowen begins, “there are many ways to acquire music.”
He picks up a used album, takes the vinyl out and shows it to Mozart.
“This is an album of rock music, for instance.”
He picks up another album from a different bin.
“This is jazz music. It was invented around 1915, 1920. Still very popular today.”
Something catches the corner of Mozart’s eye and he walks over to it. It is a live album of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” featuring Luciano Pavarotti. The composer is floored.
“I’d like to hear this!” he shouts to Bowen. Embarrassed, the physicist motions for him to keep his voice down. But still excited, Mozart ignores him and runs to a clerk behind the counter.
“Play this!” he commands him. The clerk is naturally taken aback.
“Umm...you have to buy it first.”
“How many florins?” Mozart asks.
“How many what?” the clerk queries.
Bowen walks over.
“Do you have this on CD?” he questions him.
“Aisle 6. All the classical is right there.”
Bowen takes Mozart’s elbow and walks him over to Aisle 6. Looking though the racks they don’t find “Idomeneo”, but several other CD’s capture Mozart’s eyes, including recordings of his operas “Don Giovanni”, “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “Cosi fan Tutte.” They also see some recordings of his concertos, symphonies, masses, string quartets, piano & violin sonatas, and requiems.
“I want them all!” the tunesmith beams, grinning from ear to ear.
“Are you joking?” Bowen objects. “That’s about three or four hundred dollars in your hand right now.”
“I don’t know how much that is - and I don’t care!”
“You don’t even know what they sound like. You might hate them. Just get one for now.”
Disappointed, Mozart looks over the CD’s and finally decides on a recording of “Don Giovanni.” They place the other CD’s back and return to the front counter clerk.
After Bowen pays for it, he opens it and gives the first CD to the clerk who puts it in the store’s stereo. The overture begins. Mozart smiles and closes his eyes. Non-consciously, he starts directing the music. Every so often he’d hum along and make semi-audible comments such as “more tutti here”, “slower...slower...”, “forte!” or “presto adagio!”
“How does it sound?” Bowen asks interrupting his reverie.
“Which orchestra is this?”
Bowen picks up the CD and reads the credits in the back.
“Berlin Philharmonic. Herbert von Karajan conducting. I understand he’s a bit of a Mozart scholar. Or should I say, a bit of a your scholar.”
“The orchestra is much larger,” Mozart notices. “How many violins in each section? Is that sixteen?”
“You can hear that?” Bowen wonders.
“So...dense. It’s like a forest. There must be at least 60 or 70 musicians there. They’ve expanded the brass section. The oboes and woodwinds have also been changed. The instruments sound bigger.”
“Do you like it?”
Bowen, suddenly remembering something, peers at his watch.
“We have to go,” he tells Mozart. “Don’t want to be late.”
Mozart squints at him.
“Late for what?”
Mozart and Bowen are walking towards the entrance of Benaroya Hall, the city’s main symphony space. In the middle of the cascading staircase is a miniature rainforest complete with waterfall. Beset on all sides of the entrance are various statues. The huge posters dangling in the front advertise the hall’s current program, a Mostly Mozart Festival.
“I told you...you weren’t forgotten,” the physicist informs him.
“So I see.”
The two stand in line in the lobby waiting to purchase tickets. Mozart can barely hide his excitement. He twiddles his thumbs, hums a tune and dances lightly in place. His actions are noticed by the couple behind him.
“Seems like you’re excited,” the man tells him.
“I should be conducting,” Mozart explains.
“Oh, are you a conductor?"
“I’ve seen his programs before,” the man interrupts. “He’s one of the best interpreters of Mozart in the world.”
“Better than me?” Mozart asks him.
Just then Bowen taps the overzealous composer on his shoulder.
“Give me your hand. You have to get stamped.”
“Was ist das?” he asks.
The clerk in the booth next to the ticket seller stamps a small picture of a treble clef on Mozart’s right wrist.
“It’s so you can drink,” Bowen tells him.
“Of course I can drink,” the puzzled musician clarifies.
“Come on, Mozart. Let’s go to the beer garden.”
Mozart is standing at the counter of the Wolfgang Puck restaurant in the main lobby of the hall. Bowen is off to one side speaking to two friends.
“Who is Wolfgang Puck?” Mozart asks a clerk.
“He’s the chef. The owner of this place.”
“My name is Wolfgang, too.”
“Wonderful. What’ll you have?”
“Ich verstehe nicht,” Mozart replies, not understanding the clerk.
“Do. You. Want. Some. Thing. To. Drink?” she asks rudely.
“Anything with wine,” he answers.
“Can I see your I. D.?”
Mozart looks puzzled.
“Your driver’s license. A photo I. D. Anything.”
“I don’t drive.” He shows her his wrist.
“I still need your I. D. Sorry. Restaurant rules.”
The composer gnashes his teeth. He can feel his blood pressure rising.
The clerk turns, pours a glass of cold water, and hands it to Mozart.
“On the house.”
He takes a sip.
“It’s not wine!”
“Next customer!” she yells to the patron behind him.
Annoyed, Mozart storms off.
Bowen and Mozart are sitting in the theatre as seats start filling up. Mozart is drinking wine. He raises his glass to scientific host.
“Thanks for this.”
“You’re welcome, Mozart.”
“Herr Bowen, I can tell you with certainty that, even though items may change, machines become more advanced, and cities continually grow, there is no absence of the discourtesy mankind will bestow upon each other.”
“Inherent in us all,” Bowen agrees.
Soon after, the lights dim. The conductor walks out onstage to roaring applause. He greets the first violinist. Then, taking his place at the podium, commences the strains of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.
Some two hours later, the two are driving back towards Bowen’s house.
“Did you enjoy yourself?” he asks Mozart.
“Yes. It was very exhausting. However, I must admit, I’m not ready for your world.”
“I thought you’d be fascinated by all the new technology.”
“I fear it’s too much all at once. My sanity would slip away by several leagues at once.”
Bowen glances at the clock in the dashboard.
“It’s almost time,” he remarks.
“Time for what?” Mozart wonders. “Not another attraction!”
“No,” Bowen explains, “the branch is snapping back into place. The two ends of our time travel will be meeting again. It’ll be time for you to return.”
“And if I stayed?”
“Okay. I’ll try to explain this simply. When I brought you here I created an interruption in the time and space continuum. I interrupted the natural flow of events. The bad thing about that is I created an unpredictable scenario. Can you, for instance, be younger than your own grandson? No, but in essence, that’s what I’ve done. Such a shift could have dire consequences - that’s why they need to be avoided.”
© Copyright 2017 redrobin62. All rights reserved.
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