Wednesday, July 04, 2012
The Doomsday Symphony: Chapter 59
In the previous installment of The Doomsday Symphony, Dr. Kerr is captured by Klavdia Klangfarben whose plan is to give him a one-way ticket back to 1980 but ends up forcing him to take the wrong time-device. Instead he ends up in Heiligenstadt, Klangfarben's intended destination and there, runs into Beethoven, her intended victim.
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With no time to lose and few places to hide in, given the size of Heiligenstadt, we hurried around the nearest corner. The village’s only tavern, ‘Die grüssli Bär,’ stood a few doors down the block. The street outside was empty, still early for the Friday night crowd, he said. Once inside, it turned out the tavern was, too.
The man behind the bar greeted us warmly, joking with Beethoven about being early, telling him someone had been looking for him. While Sebastian kept a wary eye on the door, the bartender poured some pints.
“A lady,” he winked, “judging by those clothes – lots of hair, she had, too. One of your old girl-friends from Vienna, eh? Though she was wondering where in town she could buy herself some new shoes...”
Beethoven ignored him, harrumphing in his beer as we sat down at our table. I glanced over at Sebastian, unsure how to begin.
The first question was how to undermine Klangfarben’s plan, not knowing what that was. Since it was October, 1802, it seemed obvious. Anyone who read program notes would know Beethoven had just written his “Heiligenstadt Testament.” Despondent – even depressed – over the symptoms of increasing deafness, he wrote down what amounted to a combination Last Will and possible suicide note.
Back in April, he’d arrived here full of hope, his doctor thinking country life should help the problem, blockages aggravated by city noise. Instead, the summer became traumatic when he no longer heard the songs of birds.
How would Klangfarben “attack” him? What could she do to destroy this man’s creativity? Convince him a deaf composer was an oxymoron? If his art had held him back at first, could it withstand another onslaught? But if not compose, what else could Beethoven do? Even a deaf man couldn’t work as an assistant to his brother, the apothecary!
Watching this man sitting here sullenly before us, my heart ached at his pain, knowing what music he was destined to compose. It would not take much to tip the balance and Klangfarben definitely knew that.
The door opened slowly and Kedaver peered in, smiling. I knew who’d be next.
“There’s no time to explain, but you’re in danger,” I nodded, grabbing his arm and hustling him out through the kitchen’s backdoor.
Leaning against a battered wagon drawn by two old nags, there stood Klavdia Klangfarben, looking as voluptuous as possible, barefoot in the dirt.
Beethoven stood there, transfixed. “Oh joy, thou daughter of Elysium,” he cried. “Such beauty!” Giving her a deep, respectful bow, he sighed.
“Good God, Herr Beethoven,” I whispered in his ear, “no, please, not this tone…!”
I tried to explain she was evil, a murderous spy for the Secret Police, but (just my luck!) he couldn’t – wouldn’t – hear me.
“Au contraire,” she said with breathy firmness, “I’m a double agent, mon beau compositeur. Your sympathy for Bonaparte is well-known in Vienna. I have come to rescue you, take you to Paris, before it’s too late!”
Of course, prey on his political fears! A Republican living amidst the Viennese aristocracy, Beethoven’s admiration for Consul Bonaparte was well known. Despite turning down a suggestion for a Revolutionary Sonata, he contemplated a Bonaparte Symphony.
Was this how she would “neutralize” the great Beethoven, taking him off to Paris? Disillusionment in his future, he’d be unable to return.
I tried to reason with him but he was… well, deaf to my entreaties, my logic, my predictions for his future greatness.
Without a backward glance, he chose at that moment to run away with her.
She tried hiding her awkwardness, clambering onto the wagon, drawing Beethoven up beside her, despite our pulling on his arms to stop him.
When Kedaver tried jumping aboard, she reached into his pocket and grabbed the Time-Device before kicking him into the dirt with her foot.
Grateful she wasn’t wearing her stiletto heels, he realized now he’d be left behind.
It was unlikely they’d make it to Paris in this contraption, with these horses, but apparently that didn’t bother the moon-struck Beethoven. The important thing was he would go far away from here – and with her. A new life awaited him, perhaps a better doctor who’d find some new cure. Think of all the music he could write, then!
The horses, starting up from their rest reluctantly, took off trotting across the field. Suddenly they swerved, heading back right toward us. Kedaver scrambled to his feet, thinking she’d come back to get him after all.
Instead, she swooped past him, knocking him down, as the two old horses, now completely out of control, practically ran us over. It was hard to tell who was enjoying this more, Klangfarben or the horses.
Reaching the gate first, maybe we could stop them before they left the field.
Kedaver desperately ran after them, trying to grab hold.
Difficult as it was for me, Sebastian was having even more trouble keeping up. I knew we couldn’t afford to be separated. What if something happened to the Time-Device’s battery and we suddenly had to return?
I dropped back to stay closer to him just as he tripped and fell. The horses now looked like they’d run over us.
Throwing my arms across Sebastian’s back, I yelled at him to stay down when the wagon appeared to take flight right over us.
The horses, perhaps remembering lost youth, jumped over a ditch as Klangfarben caught air.
Whoops of excitement turned to screams as Beethoven fell headlong off the wagon which crashed and shattered into pieces beyond the ditch. The horses continued running, dragging wagon fragments behind them out the gate, then disappeared.
Landing not far from us, Beethoven’s broken, lifeless form lay limply in the dust as a noisy crowd came rushing from the tavern.
Eager to see what happened, they managed to impede Kedaver from getting any closer.
Klangfarben stumbled to her feet, brushing herself off as she looked back at us. Her device’s alarm beeped: it’s time to go.
“He’s dead,” I shouted. “Beethoven is dead!”
“No, he’s not,” the bartender argued.
Turning to face her, I continued to shout, “Okay, Klangfarben, you killed him – you’ve won, damn you! Your evil plot has succeeded!”
With a shriek of triumph, she raised her arms, then vanished in a flash.
Kedaver, sinking to his knees, screamed out endless curses.
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To be continued…
- Dick Strawser
The novel, "The Doomsday Symphony," a music appreciation thriller written between 2010 and 2011, is the sole supposedly intellectual property of its author, Richard Alan Strawser.