Tuesday, 15 July 2008

15 July 2008

The opera was Fidelio, Beethoven’s, mighty work. “What gloom!” cried the baritone rising out of the dungeon under a groaning stone…I cried for it. That’s how I see life too. I was so interested in the opera that for awhile I forgot the circumstances of my crazy life and got lost in the great mournful sounds of Beethoven and the rich Rembrandt tones of his story. “Well Jack, how did you like our production for this year?” asked Brierly proudly in the street outside. “What gloom, what gloom,” I said, “it’s absolutely great.” “The next thing you’ll have to do is meet the members of the cast” he went on in his official tones but luckily he forgot this in the rush of other things and vanished. It was a matinee performance I’d seen; there was another one in the evening scheduled. I’ll tell you how I came at least, if not to the pleasure of meeting the members of the cast, to using their bathtub and best towels. Incidentally I must explain here why Brierly thought enough of me to make arrangements of all sorts for my benefit. Hal Chase and Ed White were his most highly regarded charges; they’d been to college with me; we’d roamed New York together and talked. Brierly’s first impression of me was none too favorable…I was sleeping on the floor, drunk, when he came to visit Hal one Sunday morning in New York. “Who’s this?” “That’s Jack.” “So that’s the famous Jack. What is he doing sleeping on the floor?” “He does that all the time.” “I thought you said he was a genius of some kind.” “Oh sure he is, can’t you see it?” “I must say it requires some difficulty. I thought he was married, where’s his wife?” I was married at the time. “Oh she just went on going; Jack gave up, she’s in the West End bar with an undertaker who’s got a couple hundred dollars and buys everybody drinks.” After which I rose from the floor and shook Mr. Brierly’s hand. He wondered what Hal saw in me; and still did in Denver that summer and never really thought I’d amount to anything. It was precisely what I wanted him and the whole world to think; then I could sneak in, if that’s what they wanted, and sneak out again, which I did. Bev and I went back to the miner’s shack, I took off my duds and joined the boys in the cleaning. It was an enormous job. Allan Temko sat in the middle of the front room that had already been

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