Thursday, December 06, 2007

And the Band Played On

The way we enter now, is, he said, and he began to climb pegs up the wall.

The villa was lemon stucco and it was vast. Niki J was looking for something I thought utterly worthless and so naturally she pursued and I watched in some dismay as she stepped on up the wall after him.

He was a subaltern, and he presented us with a closure of a conflict with the owner, who was an eccentric but presumably harmless crackpot. The lieutenant said, we'll close the claim on the cable. Okay, that sounds good. The crackpot had engaged us in a dispute over a cable for which we were not even responsible.

"But then there is the water damage, and we must be compensated ..." I blew up. You say we are to drop all claims and then be held liable for damages. He tried to assert himself, but I say, "You cannot even sign on this matter, can you?" No, he admitted. It was a waste.

Next picture, a cop of the sort you find in quaint dusty Mexican villages is confronting me. He makes to apply handcuffs. The crackpot has told him I am a bank robber, he informs me. I am again exasperated. I make the usual threats of the consequences of false arrest.

It goes away. There is on a screen on the wall a video clip of the antics of the balmy baron. He is in a theatrical disguise; wig and three-corner hat and droopy mustache, and he is dancing a sort of loping nursing home ramble. His wealth is such that nobody ever seems to tell him he isn't really getting over.

A wan maid, young, like an au pair, is mooning about. She is losing her job. She seems despondent. We talk to her some, and she doesn't mind talking. She is losing her job on some impulse of the crackpot.

Now here he is in the flesh. He has a picture. He says, it's you. I have you, right there.

What is this? I ask. It's a series of shots of old guys.

"The band of the Titanic," said the kook. I groan.

"The Titanic went down in 1912," I say.

"1920," he corrects incorrectly.

"Besides, none of them survived."

He doesn't say anything, but he doesn't seem to think my comment has any bearing at all on the subject. I stare at the photos.

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