The other day, here in my work room, I met six Characters in search of an author. When one of them, the Father, asked me if I was an author, I said, “Yes, but not the one you are looking for. The author you want is Luigi Pirandello. He writes in Italian. I write in English.”
“It doesn’t matter which language you write in,” the Father said. “What matters is that you are an author. Anyway, that crazy man Pirandello has abandoned us.”
“Abandoned you?” I said. “That doesn’t sound like Mr. Pirandello. I have read his work. He has great love for his characters, and, to my knowledge, he has never abandoned any of them.”
“I will not contradict you,” the Father said mellifluously. “Under normal circumstances, you might even be right.”
Just then, another of the characters, the Mother, burst into tears. “He knows the effect this has on me,” she wailed. “That’s why he says the things he does.”
“If you please, madam,” I said. “I am not without sympathy for your plight, whatever it may be. But this is my work room, and I do have work to do. So if you will excuse me, I — ”
Here the character known as the Step-daughter interrupted me with a shriek of laughter. Several feet behind her, the Son sulked and said nothing. The other two characters, a wretched Boy of fourteen, and a little girl, a four-year-old Child whom the Step-daughter obviously adored, looked at me with combined expressions of hope and disdain.
“It wasn’t like that at all,” the Step-daughter said. Nodding in the direction of the Father, she continued, “He came up to me, like this, and removed the hat from my head.” And though she was dressed in mourning, she put on one of my straw hats to demonstrate, pulled it down coquettishly over her eyes, and then removed it with a dramatic flourish.
“That was well done,” I confessed with emotion. She was a dashing, almost impudently beautiful girl, and by the way she had removed my hat, I knew the Father had done her a terrible wrong. I also sensed that she couldn’t be trusted, but felt powerless because I have always had a weakness for hats. “I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said.
The Son suddenly moved toward the door, at Left. “I’m leaving,” he said. “I’ve heard this all before and want no part of it. None. Do you hear me?”
The Mother looked on, crushed and terrified as if by an intolerable weight of shame and abasement — or so Luigi Pirandello might have put it, had he been in my situation. “In the name of these two little children, I beg you,” she said. “Oh, God!” And then she looked as if she might faint, so I jumped up and steadied her.
“Quick, a chair, a chair for this poor widow!” the Father cried, knocking me against my book shelf. I crashed to the floor and was partially smothered by a stack of old journals, some of which contain examples of my finest published work. “Look at her! Look at her!” the Father noted with passion.
“No, no; stop it please,” the Mother reverberated in anguish.
I scrambled to my feet. “All right,” I said. “That’s it! Everybody, out!” Just then, a revolver shot rang out down the hall. I rushed to the fountain, and there was . . . blood. The Child had been drowned. It was terribly improbable, but also very dramatic, so I decided to leave it in.
A short while later, my wife found me passed out on the floor. After she’d revived me and helped me onto the bed, she stopped and looked at my computer screen. She shook her head, then left the room.
Also by William Michaelian
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
80 pages. Paper.
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