Backstage Writers – Think Hope Do


Postmodern Challenges – Defining Impact

The Man I Dread

No, please, not that bench. Damn!

The man I dread always waits until the last minute. If the controllers turn up, he stays on the platform and plays for the pigeons. He’s easy to spot, dressed in brown with a broad-brimmed hat, pride trumping shyness with a smirk. I’d hate to hear him speak.

Come on, my ticket-sniffing friends! Where are you today? Maybe I can switch cars. Nope. The engines just went “clunk,” and here he is. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Screecher!

He starts off with Somewhere My Love. I usually like that song – if it’s played in tune with a dose of passion. It is difficult to explain what happens when the Screecher puts bow to strings.

He may be slightly off-key. That would explain the anxiety that courses through me by the time he reaches the “my love” of the first four notes. I can hear it now. Somewhere my love. Ayah! Maybe it’s the quality of the sound. Searing comes to mind. His bow hits a nerve that starts in my ear and ends in my coccyx. I get these full body twitches, and the worst is yet to come. As the train approaches La Defense, his sawing and gyrating reach an unbearable climax. He balances the violin on his chin and swipes the bow across the strings. The violin shrieks. It’s the shower scene in Psycho. It’s death – of today’s performance, at least, thank God. Soon he’ll be walking the aisle. I’ll hear his coin purse jiggling. I always shut my eyes. He must know me as “the Sleeper.” I wonder if I can force my heart to relax.

I tell Julian the Screecher is like a bad bottle of wine. Julian calls me a snob. I list all the modest wines I’m happy to drink- even without food – and explain that I usually love metro musicians. Julian says the Screecher is only trying to express himself. I explain that wine can go bad if not stored properly. It turns into vinegar not even fit for a salad. Julian asks me if I’ve ever tried playing the violin. He’s right about one thing, Julian. The Screecher loves playing. He looks proud as he prances around and strikes off his own renditions of time-worn tunes. Julian says I should think about where that violin has been. OK, I agree, the Screecher needs to play for us, but do I need to listen?

I hate it when Julian tries to set me straight.

Category: On the metro

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6 Responses

  1. I cringed right along with you. Personally, I’m overly conscious of subjecting others to my supposed talents. Some people are massively oblivious.

  2. Marie says:

    We have a guitar player at our Framer’s Market. He needs music, tries to sing, everything is done haltingly. It hurts the ears–you must hear him. then you will learn to appreciate the Screecher.

  3. Robert says:

    I got a good laugh out of that one. I can just imagine some foolish performer, high on confidence and low on talent prancing down the isle.

    Why pretend to be asleep- this is a job for an MP3 player.

  4. Carolina girl says:

    Talent is subjective,yes. Opinion is personal. What each of us enjoys does not always agree with our head. Live with your heart! This 2 will pass.

  5. tom weathers says:

    Nice. Yesterday riding back on Charlotte’s modest metro I got squeezed in beside this rough looking guy who told me about fixing the fuel pump in his pickup and the motorcycle crash that left him brain damaged – finally I just gave up and listened.

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If you want to mess up someone’s life, steal his post-its

Nothing is set in stone – Changes as they happen on Center Stage

-I’m not sitting here, Fran!

-Oh Tod.

-Don’t start that, Fran.

-He did say, “Center Stage.”

-Why us?

-We’re props, Tod.

-Why’d he choose us, Fran? We’re not the only Americans. We weren’t first in line. Is it my weight? Is it your-

-He looked so pleased to put us here.

-And so we’re just going to sit here ‘cause “Monsieur” looked pleased? Are you nuts, Fran?

-Oh, Tod. You wanted something contemporary… You like being on stage.

-I can’t even talk to you.

-Don’t touch them!

-There’s got to be a back door. Don’t want to step over your “Monsieur”. Why’s he standing guard like that?

-Tod, you never touch the curtains in a theatre.

-Why the hell not? Let me guess, because theatre is like life? Is that it, Fran? You don’t turn your back on anybody, and you don’t touch his curtains? You’re pathetic, Fran!

-Sit down, Tod.

-I don’t like that tone, Fran.

-What tone?

-That sweet little voice of yours! I hate it when you get all nice. I know what you’re thinking.

-If you don’t want to-

-Stop whispering, Fran!

-If you don’t want to be part of the spectacle, sit down and try to act-

-Act how?

-Now is not the time.

-Come on, Fran, how should I act?

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