Monday, February 21, 2011

Operatic Irony - 10thDoM RoM Threepenny Bet

At some point during the evening, the conversation dissipated into a lovely silence. Not an awkward one but a comforting one where it felt like they could communicate without words, feel their thoughts traversing the air, and know the depths of each other's soul. It was a little over-the-top, Elle thought to herself, but it was the feeling of the moment, and she loved that feeling and would fight tooth and nail to have it now and to have the possibility of experiencing it again.

Slowly, John and Elle realized that their surroundings grew quieter and quieter until it was only the random passerby who infiltrated their imaginary autonomy. They found a wooden bench near an illuminated fountain and sat facing each other, dreamy-eyed and surface nervous despite their comfort level with each other.

A man caught the corner of Elle's eye, and she turned her head to face him. She was taken in by his disheveled state and began imagining how he had gotten to this haggard state, wandering alone, quietly stopping beneath a street lamp to catch his breath. She could see that he might have been handsome once and imagined that he might have sat on this very bench with a woman once upon a time before life had played its sad game with him.

As he moved, awkwardly ambling toward a grouping of large stones near the fountain, John followed Elle's gaze and then turned back to her, seeing that she was in some sort of imagination trance that he didn't dare interrupt. Elle's mind began creating this man's life from a promising childhood as his neighborhood's best street baseball player to his rebellious, long-hair-growing teenage years to his stint in the military, to his dishonorable discharge for something that wasn't even his fault.

She saw his life flash before her eyes as she read the sadness in his. "Mack the Knife" began oozing out of the outdoor sound system, and Elle saw some spark of recognition in the man as he heard the tune. She wondered just how much he could relate to the lyrics wafting through the air. For a moment, Elle recalled seeing the Threepenny Opera with her dad, and she bet that the disheveled man had seen it at some point in his life as well.

His life, as imagined by Elle, began slowing down as her mind brought him to this point in his life, dragging himself around as though he wished he were invisible or nonexistent. Finally, John interrupted her thoughts with his mere presence, and Elle finally broke their lovely long silence, "I think that's Mack The Knife over there." If he was confused or didn't understand, it didn't show on his face, and that made Elle smile.

That man standin over there
He don’t know where
He’s gonna rest his head tonight

He’s been rambling all over town
With his head hung down
Keepin out of their sights

He thinks he’s all alone
With a heart made of stone
And he’ll be all alone
For the rest of his life
He thinks he’s all alone
Thinks his heart’s made of stone
And he’s ready to die

That man walkin down the street
Lookin down at his feet
Wondering where he’ll hide

He’s runnin from his sins
Making plans for his ends
Time is not on his side


He threw her to the winds
Drove out around the bends
Hid her body neath the trees
Neath those rusty autumn leaves
Now he’s runnin in the wild
He’s feeling like a child
Beaten down to his knees
Beggin please, no daddy, please


That man crawling on his knees
Beggin please mister please
Could you spare some change now

He’s crying all the while
Knowing he’ll never smile
Now that she’s in the ground


  1. Elle is very trancy, eh?

    Song is kinda Fiona Apple. But, then, that's to be expected.

    The narrative... eh... seems out of character and out of place. You jumped out of your two protagonists. In a longer piece, fine... but I'm reading this because of Elle and John, not Mack the Knife. It's a picky line of argument, I'm aware, but in a short story... guess what?

  2. I struggled with the Threepenny Bet. Threepenny bit was all that kept popping up in the Google, and that is urban slang for shit or tits, and that fit even less.

    I had actually read this and kind of thought of the possibility of expounding upon it a la you and felt this would be a good side-story possibility with a little more development. It'd still be a short story, not a novel, maybe a novella? Hmmm...

  3. hmm. is that a barisax or a tuba? they both look alike to me...but they don't sound alike

  4. Euphonium! :) But I think you're thinking of a baritone instead of a barisax. Euphoniums look like small tubas.

  5. Is this a bad sign for her future?