“Your B string is flat,” began the rehearsal. The words ricocheted off the clever convecting walls and sound panels of the concert hall. In this room, on this raised platform, Louis was who he was meant to be. When the orchestra played, he was where he belonged. Regal. Poised. Ready for a war of culture, waged against the uncultured masses.
The conductor swept across the stage in a dizzying mass of repugnance, for some, and elation for others. Louis fit into the latter category.
It was the stage where Louis was broken, reborn, tossed aside, built back up, and made stronger, tempered by the searing flames of the audience. Would they laugh when he tripped? Would they cry when he sang the complicated melodies of the arias he wrote with his own hands?
“Your B string is still flat,” cried Louis, frustrated.Why won’t they just tune their fucking instruments?
The audience filed into the concert hall, beginning the opening night of Louis’s newest arrangement. The conductor strode across the stage, heralded by applause, and the blacks and whites of the musicians’ garbs raised their mahogany instruments, bidden by a single gesture from the man they knew as their leader on this battlefield. Louis was another tactician, not a general, and he had no power here.
When the B strings were still flat, Louis sang the notes flat, hoping to God the audience, the enemy, couldn’t hear. This was Bay of Pigs. This was supposed to be a cultural A-Bomb, but it went horribly, horribly wrong.
The instruments lowered and the audience clapped. Left. The stage was empty.
Louis cried, “Your B strings are still flat,” to no one and left the stage.