The unsteady movement of his slender wrist enables me to hear the remote sounds of a piano. I am usually in another part of the very large house, but at this moment he is just across the hall, writing in the study, describing the piano music.
Occasionally he looks up from the faded, pale notebook paper, gazing through the specially constructed, huge circular window, as if there might be something, an item of scenery perhaps, which might strike his fancy and provide inspiration for his writing. But he knows as well as I that (despite the enormity of the aperture) there is nothing, no landscape, no scenic detail of any kind.
Awkwardly holding the pencil between the thumb and index finger of his right hand, he continues with the work. His hand shakes involuntarily, sometimes to the point where his grasp of the pencil is quite precarious. It may be that this feeling of uncertainty in the act of writing provokes him to go so far as to pretend that the void framed by the window’s pane of spotless glass can be filled with a vision of things that are not there.
He is filling the pages with black, crooked letters, slowly writing his description. A thin silver arm (connected to a turntable flanked by two sizable speakers) lightly rests upon a revolving disc. Last night, he stumbled in front of the window, but my guess is that this occurred mainly because he had to pass through many small rooms in order to get to the window, the rooms in which he keeps his paintings of sunsets, seascapes, sprawling mountains, valleys, and the like. And finding this particular record gave him pleasure.
He is comforted also as he makes a comparison between the sides of the pencil and the rooms in the house, realizing that if every side of the pencil corresponded to a room, the number of rooms would far exceed the number of sides, so that (although he may not always be physically in control of the pencil) the rooms are always at this disposal. However, within the darkness of last evening, as he held the record (which I am now playing), he didn’t know that I would prefer not to lower the volume of the music. In fact, I vaguely recall that we discussed this record yesterday afternoon, in the bright, peaceful study with the unusually shaped window. During this conversation, he might have assumed that I would not lower the volume, especially when his hand began twitching against his jasmine shirt.
In my obstinance, I must confess that I have been playing this record so loudly that the sound waves emitted from the speakers, creating such a severe impact, have actually produced deep, somewhat oblique cracks in the plastered walls of my distant room. He just completed another paragraph. Here, he refers to the obscure, almost ethereal character of the music. Soon he will grow tired of writing, maybe make a last attempt to trick his mind by looking through the window, relinquish even this distraction, and release the pencil from the tenuous grip of his palsied hand.
The mechanical arm (imperceptibly moving towards the center of the record) remains atop the perpetually turning disc. I have maintained the volume of the music at such a high level for so long a period of time that my senses have become slightly altered or distorted. Perhaps this is too much of an exaggeration. Yet, for one thing, the speakers no longer appear like distinct objects. I cannot truthfully describe their appearance, in fact every aspect of their real dimensions eludes me entirely. For example, their outline (which formerly was quite sharp) has dissolve into a blurry mass, a mass with no periphery. Without any real sense of boundary, I am now unsure of his exact whereabouts, but at least I can move through the house even more freely than before.
He stops writing in the middle of a sentence: now he is trying to conjure an image of the piano on which the piece is being played. The score (which contains the devious black notes of the composition) is placed on a small stand above the keyboard. The pianist strikes the keys quite violently, fully in control of the passage being played, but if this brutal hammering continues, the tumult of vibrations spreading throughout the piano will certainly make the score fall from the stand.
In spite of the rooms filled with paintings through which he passed last night, when he reached the murky study he still couldn’t see the window. For that matter, he could barely see his own feet, and he stepped with trepidation, crossing the thick rug which completely muffled his footsteps. Earlier, when we discussed the record, I could see that he was not well: it was easy to observe his pallid complexion, and I realized that the deterioration of his condition was inevitable.
He has just finished writing and he nervously places the pages in the drawer of his desk, anxious as always because of his superstition that the completion of something is a bad omen. There is no solace in having many rooms at his disposal because for the moment the pencil remains inside his breast pocket, and so he is without the original basis for his reassuring comparison. Pieces of cracked paint and plaster may fall onto the desk where these pages have been placed, but it is unlikely that the pages will ever be seen again. Night has fallen, and I can move about with virtually unlimited freedom, although being clumsy I do sometimes falter.