He was listening to Prokofiev play the piano and cleaning his nails at the same time. He did not just clean his nails he hammered them with kindness and care, driving a deep gloss into their surfaces, their shiny, too shiny surfaces--too shiny so he sanded them down with steel wool. Tough MF. Prokofiev played the piano like he liked to hear the piano played. Ach! He suddenly had heartburn. That god-damn bacon, he thought; he loved bacon, either raw or fried to a black crispness; he loved pork. Prokofiev, pork, Porky Pig; he could imagine Porky Pig playing Prokofiev. He liked to listen to Peter and the Wolf late at night when he was a bit bashed from drinking port, any port in a storm, he'd say, but then he only drank the best port in sunshine or storm, port and pork and wearing a pork-pie hat, his style, his look, and late at night he'd listen to this really old RCA Victor recording of Sergei Kousevitsky and the Boston Symphony doing it with Richard Crooks doing the narration--"My dear chilll-dren," Richard Crooks started it off; and he remembered always forever Peter's theme and the little bird's flute line and the cat's bass clarinet and Gran-pa-pa's bassoon--the Duck the oboe, the Wolf's theme, the Hunters's hunting horns, and always Peter prancing about to his Prokofiev theme and he'd fall asleep listening to Peter and the Wolf, wearing his pork pie hat, with port leaked all over his shirt front, port, pork juice, bacon stains, tomato stains, a mural of what he'd eaten that night--all washed out with port.
Tawney Port. A female character in a novel about "murder in a vineyard"--oh holy nights, he thought, I can't write crap; I just can't; like Mickey Spillane said, "I can only write crap so why try and write anything else"--but then was that the real Mickey Spillane saying that or the Mickey Spillane of his memory--and Sergei Prokofiev is playing his Piano Concerto #3 with the London Philharmonic in 1932; wonderful stuff, and Sergei could have bolted from the Soviet Union and the ignorant tyranny of Stalin and his musical goon squads but he chose to go back and suffer it out in Mother Russia, Stalin or not--and Sergei makes his piano concerto sparkle like sunlight off frozen grass on an early winter's morn, a blasting out of rays, sparkle plenty, rays and sunrays and some Rays and Ray-Ban sunglasses with glasses of port while sucking on a center cut pork chop bone, the good meat that's against the bone--eatin' meat, eatin' the flesh of the pig, that raunchy flesh--though eating chicken and fish is worse 'cause chickens eat worms and bugs and their own shit and fish eat bugs, too, and their own shit, too, and other fish, though Kurt Cobain said it was alright to eat fish 'cause they have no feelings--but he didn't like to eat fish, fuck fish, and fish do fuck in water, like W.C. Fields said when asked if he drank water--and oh god water is so filthy, and he was thinking fast, Prokofiev made him think fast, and he needed a port quick, any port he could find in the storm of his kitchen.
His phone ring a glaring ring across at him from where it hang on the wall by his bed; yes, it did indicate that he lived in a hotel, the Saint on the Cross Hotel, an old rectory restored and turned into a Bank of America hotel, and he was camping in room 909 of the Saint on the Cross, or was it the Sadly the Cross-eyed Bear Hotel--he was portly drunk by then and answered the phone with a swaggering voice, "Yes, Heel here, and Heel hath no fury like any old port in a storm, which I'm endeavoring...." "Shut up, you snob sot, and listen to me. You're needed in Cambodia or South Philadelphia or Montauk, Long Island, I have it here on a piece of paper if I can just find the god-damn piece of paper, what the hell did I do with it...." "Meet me at the Stairway to Heaven when you find it." And he hung up his phone and tore off his clothes and ran with a tumbler of port in his hand and an unwrapped Cuban cigar in his other hand, his essentials swinging to beat sixty as he shuttled into his bathroom's tiny shower.
I have never been much of a mystery fan, except, as I've admitted many times, I was a great fan of John Dickson Carr, an American-British mixture-writer whose Dr. Fell character I fell intellectually in love with--man love--the greatest appreciation a man can have for a man--different than being sexually in love, don't you think? Wev. I did try to write a mystery in French one time when I was about 16 years old; I'd just read Raymond Radiquet or maybe Jim Corbett's Maneaters of the Kumoa, something collectively colonizing like that or Raymond Radiquet and radish salads and Ray Ban sunglasses and glasses of port and hanging with a lanky chick who's drinking Remy Martin and Coca Cola--"Class, gal, much class." "Thank you, baby." "Class ass, too." "Why thank you again, baby; my name's Alice, what's yours."
But, I don't know what it is; I just can't get deductive enough--hell, I'm not a good chess player--thinking ahead is not my game--thinking rapidly within this continuing present is the way I think and that's too rapid for me to settle into keeping track of all my characters and suspicions and tallying up clues and shit--no, naw, nope, not me, I'd rather write an opera in action a musicless opera than to try and write a mystery that really is a mystery.
Mysterious in itself. Why can't I write a mystery? Is it because I'm an atheist; an "uninterested disbeliever"? And god-almighty, this Allegro ma non troppo of old Prokofiev's Piano Concerto #3 is a titanic moment--Jesus, the power--and old Prokofiev is pounding it out, broadcasting it out of the piano--1932, 21 years until he would be dead, 1953; a cold day in Moscow.
Prokofiev has always been mysterious to me, especially when I was a little kid and used to listen to my recording of Peter and the Wolf, and yes it was the same one my mastermind in the above lead-in attempt at writing a continually presenting mystery, a la Georges Simenon, an interesting character who wrote tons of books and the one I read I can't remember the title but it was about finding a girl's naked body in a canal outside Paris or Brussels or somewhere and I guess I read Simenon in a dreamstate, like I never read Agatha Christie, though I did watch the PBS-Brit versions of her various dicks and janes--and Agatha Christie was one of those kind of Brit babes who was sexually promiscuously fun to be with and bang and then leave and then let her run off to some unknown corner of the world, a hotel, sometimes with another woman, and oh god their Lesbian love must have been softly diminuendo at first then to crescendo up like a Prokofiev piano concerto's Allegro ma non troppo--a moaning whale of a singing moaning whale of a coda and a singing, wailing, whale of a moaning, morning moaning, mooning the moon of moonglow and moonglare and moonshine and any moonshine port in a problem port that has no port where only a little moonlight will do--and if I were writing a children's book my character would be Young Will Do, the Do who does!
Prokofiev the composer of pianistic volcanic eruptions done in a "Mellow Tone."
The crime in a mystery most always has to have a murder as its runway, from whence all its airborne ideas go running off looking for intrigue and intriguing coincidences and intriguing locked-room dramas, a dead woman's mutilated body perhaps, no CSI shit for book detectives, hardnosed dicks who go craftily about solving the murders they've been handed on a 300-page paper platter full of poison words--"stealthfully she chose her weapon, the bloodthirsty blinking butcher knife just sharpened to a heart-penetrating point ready now to fulfill her revengeful wish, to see Lord Peter Grabber DEAD, DEAD, do you hear me!" Ah, the Shakespearean approach to Sherlock Holmes--and Jesus Christ, I forgot how much I loved Sherlock Holmes even the last time I'd read him for the fortieth time, The Hound of the Baskervilles! I loved those shenanigans on the Moors. Or John Dickson Carr's Dr. Fell solving the mystery of The Blind Barber.
And suddenly it's after midnight, the bewitching hour, and the full moon sails mysteriously behind its veil of clouds, dark blotting-out clouds, blackfacing the moon into dark oblivion, that time when the stranglers, the throatcutters, the blind barbers, the wolfmen, the little hopping boy and the strange lady he hopped along by come out to prowl and howl--and Edgar Allen Poe's Murders in the Rogue Morgue--animal instinct in man taking the human form of an ape and going into Paris apartments to kill. Brilliant. But not me. I'm not brilliant with that stuff; not at all. "NO, don't touch that girl's body. Please, I see a flicked ash on her half-opened blouse lapel that intrigues me the way Mr. Sherlock Holmes was intrigued by tobacco ash--not the Basil Rathbone Holmes, oh, no, the real Holmes who lives on those paper Baker Streets mapped out and dialoged by old Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself--elementary hell, just elementary to those who have decided minds--the undecided mind wanders mysteriously over the trails of his mysterious mysteries. DEATH remains the biggest mystery in life. Why who would do such a thing?
Millions upon millions of people have died from murder, rape, being hacked to death by machetes, maimings of all types, waterboardings (reminds me of Octave Mirabeau's Chinese Torture Garden--2 million have died in the Congo since 1998; 1 million Iraqis since the US Occupation; 1 million in Darfur: DEAD; stacks of bodies just left to rot in the suns of the deserts or left to be eaten by crocodiles in some lost lagoon with the bodies of the hacked floating like bait above the hungry crocs's hungry snorting snouts as they lunge their aged-armored bodies up from the water's depths to take huge chunks of meat out of those floating already blood-gravied bodies--and with a giant snap and whirl one croc may get a granny, or one croc a baby, a tasty appetizer, or one croc a teenage girl--ah, a croc's delight....
Ah sweet mystery of life.
for The Daily Growler