Stories, Nouvelles, Kurzgeschichten ...


The Lunatic

K.M. Ross


     It was a game of currents. Striking up, he felt the focus of every line in the hanging and uncertain world towards his arms and fingers; the lines of the technique and the art he knew soothed everything down to the familiar. Outside, the opposite. People half-twisted and caught their breath. A solid, singing, screaming racket punched in and filled the air, there in the Staromestská radnice in the Old Town Square in Prague, clogging the big Gothic anteroom with some blue-black aerial filler. High wires screaming gold at the upper edge. Cracked, derelict old Jimmie paced, trying to get some agreement in his A’s. Y’r bowffin’, man. Mingin’. Then all that harsh bodged carpentry of clashing sound settled down, steadying into a long line, or a match of lines, like the bridges he’d seen ranged one past another into the distance along the Vltava River.
     The slow air, Sine Bhàn, was his own approximate reference to the bride, whose name was Jana (like all but a few of the female Czechs he’d met); naturally after that would have to come Mairi’s Wedding. His chest was heaving. Six Chivas’s and a Drambuie on the plane the day before might not have been the best preparation for this after all… so hold it down steady man. Fingers operating like a row of intricately-cammed mechanical rods; apart from him; nothing to do with his brain. Thank God. And he paced and turned for the march.
     Just as his bleary eyes began to notice what everybody else was doing.
     Backed up behind an invisible dam, inside the ornamental Gothic doors, all the guests or passers-by from the Square outside were standing staring a uniform nine to ten metres away, while he pranced up there alone. The currents jammed. All in some sort of shock, were they, some ultimate cultural disbelief? The kilt. The brogues, flashes, sgian dubh, Argyll jacket, Glengarry; the triple-spiked unwieldiness of the instrument. Can this really be happenin’? News for you, mateys. And suddenly aware, forced up against a world where others’ eyes existed, he did fluff a line of notes. Well, it was only beat-up old, kenspeckled Jimmie. The Czech guy who was Reiss’s best man – Holic, his name? – was hovering nervously in his tails a foot or two away.
     Clean stop. The air seemed to vibrate, fracture into silence, as another shudder ran through the crowd. A wee mite echoey in there. Jimmie started to explain what everybody should be doing, at least the, what you might call, invited guests. He made a sweeping motion with his two arms, indicating the way people ought to file past him to the inner door. And the current, the flow was unleashed at that moment, without the need for translation; and he fluffed the bag to strike in again, and began on his pièce de résistance, learned just for the occasion: the competition two-four ‘Highland Wedding’ by the great Angus Mackay.
     Two cultures brushed, two atmospheric streams, as the touched outrageous entity that had begun to posture strangely in a public place was reduced in their minds to what he should have been: background, a shouting, cacophonous background; and old Slavonic formality glided at a mature pace past howling brigandry in the glens and passes of one more freezing country.




© K.M. Ross, 2012
V-F 03. First uploaded 15/03/2012.
Updated 4/04/2012.
This publication is protected by a Creative Commons License. Contrat Creative Commons
No resemblance to any person or persons living or dead is intended.
First published in Percutio 2012.



Discover K.M. Ross's first novel
Falling Through the Architect
(2005. Paperback, 286pp. £9.99)