Hey, good to be back in the Midnight Diner. I decided to stick with my theme of violins and violinists experiencing supernatural problems and wound up writing this piece called, Virtuoso. Would you believe I wrote this because of a really nice recording of Ave Maria? Go figure.
But here's a short excerpt from the beginning of the story. Hope you like it!
Hey, here's a link to the author's page so you can check out the whole motley crew...
Benjamin Toll pulled his ball cap down over his eyes and tucked his violin case a little closer. He slouched in a darkened, rear booth in a bar off Paris’ Rue Monge and wrapped himself in its shadowy embrace. Stale Gauloise smoke, decaying leather, and bourbon sat with him.
Ben’s plan to drink until Madame Gissette’s words no longer rattled his head had failed. He lifted his empty glass and planted it, upside down, on the wooden table top.
“Benjamin Toll! You ‘ave done zis to me!”
“You and no one else.”
Benjamin gave a deep sigh and started to slide out of his seat.
Movement caught his eye. A woman dressed in black glided through the bar towards his table and the sight of her felt like icicles.
She approached, a stark figure dressed completely in black from the pumps which she balanced on to the large brimmed hat on her head. Ben couldn’t see her face. Like the rest of the world, he had to view the woman through the heavy, black veil that blocked her visage and he wondered if there was something wrong. Perhaps a disfigurement.
She moved with unearthly grace. But her steps, and the complete focus of her path, conjured a sense of obsession, as if this woman made the knowledge of his private comings and goings her reason for being alive. As far as Ben could tell, her gaze never left him.
She halted a few feet from his table and spoke in French.
Ben couldn’t see her face other than a vague outline of blood red lips. Her eyes were dark hollows.
“No parlez vous francais.” He hoped she would brush him off as an ignorant American and leave him alone.
“That is not a problem. I speak English very well, no?”
“Madame, I would rather not have company at the moment.”
“But you are drinking alone. That cannot be good. Do not worry. I am here for you…” She slid into the booth facing him.
A man’s voice broke in. “Oui, monsieur?”
Benjamin glanced up to see the bartender addressing him from his post.
“Did you call to me?” the bartender said.
“No, I was speaking to…” Ben halted mid-gesture and gaped at the now empty space the woman had occupied.
Ben said. “Just thinking out loud. Sorry.”
The bartender chuckled. “Or, perhaps, our French spirits are a bit much, eh? Eet is alright. But go home, sir. You will be well.”
He rose, violin case clamped under his arm, and carefully walked to the bar to pay his bill. He tugged his wallet from his blue jeans.
Benjamin glanced at the bartender standing against his backdrop of bottles filled with amber liquid and sparkling glasses. “Did a woman in a large black hat come in here?”
The bartender paid him an easy smile. “Do not worry. There are many willing females, no?” Recognition then flitted across the man’s face. “Mon dieu! Are you Benjamin Toll?”
“I must tell you, I am so sorry to hear of what has happened. But you have given so much pleasure with your music. All of Paris is yours!”
“Thank you. You’re very kind. Bon soir.”
Ben paid his bill, stepped out the door and into the night.