Mike’s Piano

I’m walking down the street, following vague directions towards a piano I’ve never played. The birds are chattering in the trees, lending a surround sound symphony to the settling sun. On spring evenings, the sunlight wandering through the trees is resplindant, the amber color filtering down amongst the branches to dapple the late March flowers. All the village is bathed in rippling rays of light and shadow.

Along the path, an eighth of a mile distant, I hear a bird different from the rest, straight ahead, and look up, startled by the sound of Wagner. I’ve never before heard this music played so brilliantly, so perfectly eloquent on a simple piano. The house before me resonates in the evening wind, and something between elation and utter disbelief settles in. I can’t quite comprehend the magesty of this. Looking around, turning my head side to side, I try to find if the notes are reflec ting from somewhere, but there’s no doppler effect; they are directly in front of me. I peer intently at the bamboo forest which forms the yard of 1600 Tollgate Road.

There’s a tear in my eye, then another. The emotion and sorrow and searching of these last 4 years overwhelm me through every cell. I keep walking, compelled, concious only of the pull of these musical notes dragging me forward. “Oh, G-d,” I think, “this is too much, just a little more than I can comprehend. You have got to be kidding. . . of course you are, but what a punchline!”

I wander across the pebble driveway, dragging my feet and consuming the old familiar sound of this little roadway. It leads up to the brick stairs wandering to the various doorways into this magnificent house. I can’t go through the door yet, but Seth is playing the piano magnificently, and I sit on the stairs, smoking a Newport and crying out the tears of all these broken years since the last time this old lady, this beautiful hidden house, sang out. It is a complete circle, a rebirthing, and the forests surrounding tremble and dance with the sound of these aweful and brilliant messages, a story of perserverance woven in the ancient 12 note scale, all civilization’s struggles realized in this instant of grandeur.
“Oh, Michael, we have missed your voice so much!” I say, wiping the tears from my face and trying to look more composed than my heart can possibly feel. I walk along the old pathway towards the back, where Kali’s front porch was. There are little marbles set in the concrete, leading away to that place where he lay, looking up at the night sky and at our shocked faces. We were surrounding him, White Mike pushing us back so we didn’t crowd all the air away from the injured, but nothing could halt this, a burbling spring of the blood, the wine of our family leaking away, down the backside of Tollgate, finding it’s way to the cemetary ahead of Black Mike, and us.

He radiated then, as his strength dissipated into the humus below, becoming soil for new life as he left us, slowly. No sound could come from his lips, but he told us then, not to worry; all was fine. Then he was gone, cooling in the night air. His warmth was beyond us, and the wind rose and carried the evening off to make way for our cold despair.

I shake these memories back a bit, and finally walk into Mike’s apartment, Seth’s apartment now, and look around. Of course she doesn’t look the same. She was marked with the signs and symbology of dreadlocked prophets then. Now, the decorations are more austere, clean white walls and polished floors, canonical texts neatly arrayed on shelves, but it is every inch the same rooms, I remember the old furniture and the stories attached to them.

I’m overwhelmed again, and have to sit down, attempting to maintain some composure; the tears keep coming anyways, and I don’t want to hold them, they need thier escape. We’ve held our faces against the sorrow of this emptiness, this hole in our family so long, and have been numb and slowly dying through it all, receding from our dreams, unable to continue our ambitions in the face of this.

Oh this death, a cruel ripping away the fine patriarch of our ad hoc family of wandering rabbis, has left us torn and confused, unable to converse with G-d, or hear him. We have unable or unwilling to believe that the same G-d we knew at the park could do this, would cast plague upon our house which would decimate our ranks and dim our community with the falling ashes of our charred spirit. How could Mike deserve this, so young, so brilliant, so perfect and powerful? We, who had given all of ourselves to each other and the world in the pursuit of nature’s perfect beauty, how could we deserve this? What had happened that our archangel had been taken from us?

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