Fishing in Beirut

January 26, 2010

Part 2: Aria (scene 2)

Filed under: Character : Johnny, Part 2 : Aria — fishinginbeirut @ 10:09

Johnny sat there at Piazza Beaubourg, rocking back and forth, his voice reverberating off the Pompidou glass. A group of Belgian teenagers were amassed before him, boys and girls alike awed by his singular presence. “Jah!” he shouted wildly. “Jah!” He bashed that guitar with all the fire in his belly, the ancient strings buzzing and falling short of pitch. His beer spilled and trickled down the paving stones, and he didn’t even notice.
He had developed a singing style of broken reggae harshness, of a living booming instrument. The buttons on his coat scratched the pavement as he rocked, and he whistled through his teeth and clicked his tongue between phrases. This was the performance of the believer, of exorcism and total involvement. His head moved, his legs moved, his dreadlocks danced about like a mop in a plug socket. He mixed English, French, and pure soulful scat. He shouted, he spat, he felt his shades press the bridge of his nose. He was doing just what he was doing.
The Belgians watched entranced. The boys and girls sat wide-eyed, and teacher sensed this was not an appropriate moment to herd them onward. He wracked his brain to find an educational aspect to this lunacy, but, finding none whatsoever, decided to simply enjoy the sunshine instead, and leave his charges at it. His charges were in raptures, and were giving this bizarre African gentleman more attention now than he himself had received in over twenty years in the pedagogical profession. He smiled and de-fogged his spectacles.
Johnny finished the song and beamed widely. Glorious sunshine on his face, beads of sweat tickling. Where was this weather coming from in February? He’d abandoned the Pompidou early the last December, as had become his custom during the winter, and hadn’t expected to make a return till mid-March. But this – this was superb. The past two days had seen him leaning out the window on rue Leon, spitting down below and not believing the sun on the streets, until this morning he’d finally taken the plunge, concluded these splendid conditions were no illusion, and leaped over the Metro barrier guitar and all, Beaubourg bound. None of his associates were around when he got there, but, feeling the energy in his bones once again, he just started singing when he found a place, in love and alive to the glory of the voice, lifting.
The Belgians left. A few of the girls tried to give him money, but he didn’t want it or accept. They were only about fifteen, but pretty. He felt the burdening awareness of sex and beautiful women, noticed the spilt beer can, and struck up another tune. Pigeons were around him, portrait artists too, but Johnny was again removing himself, eyes closed behind the impenetrable shades, the lust-heat of the physical ceding to the sound.

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