By Eric San Juan
In the room where the water-logged carpet lay strewn with the rubble of yesterday’s bombing, he poked at the keys of his grandmother’s piano. Ting, tung, ting.
“I … I can play this whole song. All of it, without … god, my eyes. My goddamn eyes.”
He wasn’t sure why he could no longer see. Maybe it was the flash of the bombs outside, ten thousand cameras that turned the world into death instead of capturing its image. Maybe it was the stress of their incessant thump. Maybe so many things. He could no longer see.
“I can play the whole song.”
His captive didn’t care. Strung up there, tied tight, mounted to the ceiling, sitting on the piano with hood over his head and gag in his mouth and, the piano player remembered with a shudder, a plug to stop up his captive’s bowels. If his captive did care, he’d never know. He’d only hear the song, muffled pleading he had been listening to since last night when he first dragged him inside.
“Did you know that if you close your eyes during the bombings and breathe, just breathe real slow like you’re going to sleep in the summer sun, that the sound becomes almost like a symphony? I think if Mozart had been here he would have … he would have conducted them, I guess. The bombs, I mean. I – I bet one of the generals is a musician. That must be how he made it so beautiful and terrible. He … he conducted those bombs. Like a symphony.”
He poked at the keys, ting, ting. His feet were wet. They stank. A chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling. And then a low hum began to rise outside like the swarming of a million bees, coming from some great distance at first but soon growing louder. The planes were returning. With them would come the bombs. Ting, ting, tung.
“The conductor is going to play us another song. I wish I could see it. But I can’t see anything anymore. I can only hear the music.”
Ting, tung, ting.