Fear of Metal Sheds
and never hear from anyone again

Paul Haines Metal Sheds
Paul Haines: Maine, late 1990s
Photo Courtesy of H. Pal Productions©2007

All dressed up but fucked up too, nothing ever done to his person other than violently something one gets to see in him immediately. Alone to have stood throughout the long concert, that he is not as exhausted as most everyone else left in Wigham Hall is not anything likely ever to be attributed to his brand of standing or his having stood.

The overdressed edge to the concert hall is softening some now, as much from the corrupting late hour as those pockets of music played still remaining.

A metal ramp runs out the door of the stage to a borrowed van. (Black ramp, green van.) The musicians themselves are doing the packing. Near the ramp and its skidding shiny black hatboxes of drums stand two women still shaking their heads over the concert’s length. Each woman tugs at her dampened short suit-jacket and rather deliberately slow-steps over to where the man who stood stands.

“You got the smokes?” asks the shorter of the two women.

The man who stood sort of shakes his head.

So, “You got the smokes?” she repeats decorously, her eyes sharing the question with her taller friend (whose hair is newly red).

He has to look past the women. His gaze follows the ramp out into the street. Standing where he had stood still listening, the woman’s voice had smeared the music begun so softly and slowly in an opening quiet enough to cough in. He stares at the hardwood floor (old and orange) and its grains still transmitting the soprano of Evan Parker, as they had earlier, directly and individually, to everyone in Wigham Hall. (1)

For the man who stood, the music remains, its presences speaking such sad distances to him (although gentler now than when it had fought to free itself from his listening): an unencumbered honesty meeting an encumbered one.

In a music at times as shy as glee, Parker’s long-time lactose intolerance to flattery has meant as well no wise baby moments to it, that part of Parker’s purity a retrieval schema of doubt through belief, a sizzle of notes as brief as true as complete, moment by moment. (It is when the moments take their turns.)

A playing free of attempt, thought the man who stood. In other musics, the difference between a tall tale and all told. (Unlike a lensless magnifying glass?) (2)

The woman seeking cigarettes is Irish, and she is velcro-hipped. She walks as though making her way to sit in a chair not yet designed. (The walk is one she herself attributes journalistically to a summer’s close observation of a holiday island’s nightclub singer’s movements in retelling the variety of tears she might summon.)

The man who stood experiences a shy reversal of piety watching her. She nods to him, and then parts of her body line up in a gesture he sees as somehow including him in an extravagantly unrelated way. He hears the last of the music’s undertow to remain in the hall: it’s deeper than before, its departure impelling odd colours into a timeless evenness now.

That driver inexperienced in driving vans misconstrues gears into a lurch. The metal ramp clangs to the floor. Angry voices flow across the hall like a wave of darkness.

“Hand me your hand, not your thumb, numbskull!”

Then male titters.

What, thought the man who stood, would there ever be for him to add to any mob’s sad facade? Conversations often left him nauseous. But to loathe he would love, anything to stir him to say something as piquant as an infected tongue. (That occupant of the front row corner seat he knew to be of those individuals constantly presented with such occasions—he had not had to pay at the door but had been nodded in, and early on in the concert’s low beginning there had been a whisper: “Look! There’s B.O. Morgan!”)

What a choice of loathings the life of a man to be recognized like that must be, it occurred to the man who stood again.

Big Organ Morgan has come in for recent public abuse over certain cloudy associations with ashrams, and this, coupled with that infamous initial source of abuse—as long as he could remember—has soured him some, but none of the evening’s music has been lost on him, for he has big ears too. He sits alone, oblivious to the hall’s emptying, the hatboxes and the boisterous attention being paid the man who stood by the two women in a currency he can feel only contempt for, his mouth a thin line between what he is and what he says, and his eyes on high beam. But he too turns when the van driver (highly-polished black boots, canary yellow bootlaces) comes yelling into Wigham Hall. (3)

The man who stood knew nothing of B.O. Morgan’s tribulations, his wartime service and six months’ captivity in a cave hiding and eating tapioca and rat, or the long recovery, during which any music made of his ears suet loaves to be hung out each morning for another day’s merciless beaks; and even as a civilian, nothing made any easier, surviving a plan of 48 months duration given over to wounding the brain into submission through a series of skillfully-dropped incubuses (any influence of self oppressed, and nothing impounded by limit).

Unlike the man who stood, B.O. Morgan knew nothing of the music that would remain. He must remember what he hears, drawn, he knows, into a parody of the unknown. But that night’s music’s bridgeless bolts have blown the crusted synapses of B.O. Morgan, and no longer is he a foetal hulot.

The joy to Parker’s playing means the music is never poised to strike, what the music did to ears done in a fashion similar to that intriguing catch at the top corner of a screen door, never released until after a tug—its sound just one tug this side of becoming fragrance. (4)

The music has meant so much to the man who stood that for the first time in years he wishes to speak. He feels ironic, too. And turning to the woman he tells her of a bottle of cognac that had been in his family for generations that when opened was filled with living spiders. Immediately following his last word, she abruptly pokes the taller woman, motioning to her to bend down. What she whispers works, and the man who stood hears nothing, but the look the two women share registers sharply across his heart.

“Why don’t you watch it?” says the taller woman, bored stiffly. And how badly the man who stood wanted to leave it at that (the Irish woman having nodded peevishly at him, word-by-word), but he sees that she is going to go on. “Certain things you say to people you could easily afford to watch!”

The ramp has been righted, and two Wigham Hall custodians now join the musicians at the stage door. One of the custodians points across the hall in the direction of B.O. Morgan. He speaks as though reading of what he has heard of the man, the missing years, the refusal to wear underwear and the suet-like thick seam to his cavalry twill trousers’ rubbing the bottom of his scrotum raw, causing him to walk the walk so mistakenly attributed by uninformed smutsters.

The custodian’s recitation reaches the man who stood carrying no meaning other than the goo of certainty (reminding him of the bible clinicians from the anti-abortion clinic protesting at the end of the street he had eaten dinner in on his way that evening to Wigham Hall). He looks away from the effortlessly arrogant instructing of the custodian to the back of B.O. Morgan, and then looks back to the second custodian, with whom the first is now arguing. Aggressively they rake their chins at one another, the tips of their cigarettes almost touching.

“You know,” says the woman with the newly-red hair, “attempt has its innocence too.” Later, having gained and discarded the trust of the man who stood, she would tell B.O. Morgan as they left the hall together of her earlier impressions of music as lawns being hydraulically patted.

Neither B.O. Morgan nor the man who stood ever met. For us, they never will. (Although, should you frequent that restaurant, he is the well-dressed fellow at the window table so obviously enjoying his German Shepherd Pie.) But icy trouble in the air—the driest cleaning known. And the man who stood believes what he has heard. (5) (He believes that.)

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