Monday, June 20, 2011

Short Story: The Magic of Mozart

For optimal experience, play music while reading

The Magic of Mozart

The brownstone in Brooklyn housed four floors with two apartments on each level.  Residents were afforded no elevator, just long flights of empty stairs lined by closed doors.  It was a rarity to see another resident, but it was quite common to hear one.  Noise traveled with ease from floor to floor, flowing through windows and walls and seeping into the sleep and dreams of weary New Yorkers.  Escaping noise was an impossible wish in the city that never sleeps.  Sirens, horns, domestic squabbles, children fussing, moving cars and ice cream trucks created a constant ambient noise.  If you happened to live in a building with a musician then prayers were proffered for one with a classical bent and a taste for calming composition. 

Joan Lazlow lived on the 3rd floor.  She was 35 years old, single, creative, resilient and a tad lonely, much like every other New Yorker.  As a way to survive, she waitressed, but her main passion was writing.  She was working on her first novel and had given herself a six month deadline to finish the first draft.  She worked at an antique desk that had been retrofitted to house her computer and printer.  Her chair swiveled and rocked on its sturdy springs.  The warm oak and leather cushion cradled her as she worked.  Joan had created the perfect writer’s den.  Plants lined shelves below the front windows.  Birdf eeders were suctioned outside of the window panes.  Comfy chairs, plush cushions, wooden tables, quilted wall hangings and braided rugs (all thrift shop purchases) brought warmth to the main room of the house.  

Josh Dumal fell in love with the brownstone on first sight and knew his grand piano could be hoisted through the front windows without any major upheaval to the building or his piano.  It was his first concern when he considered a move.  If the piano was okay he knew that everything else would fall into place.  And so it was that Josh moved into 249 St. James Boulevard, Apartment 2B one sunny Tuesday.  By that evening, his tuner had arrived and declared his grand to be in grand condition once again. At midnight he commenced to play.

Joan awoke to the sounds of Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 21 – Andante.  It was dreamlike, ethereal, full of pain and longing.  She arose from her bed, fixed some tea and sat on her couch absorbing the stirring melody.  Her slight annoyance at being awakened soon shifted to quiet joy.  She found herself moving as if transfixed toward her computer.  She began writing with a fervor and intensity she had not experienced in recent days.  The words flowed like water cascading through rapids.  Ideas emerged without effort.  

At 2:00 a.m. Josh retired and Joan ceased her work.  And so the pattern continued night after night.  As Joan wove her novel’s intricate tale, Josh played notes of intricate beauty.  The symbiosis of their work was magical.

One Sunday morning, 11:00 a.m. to be precise, Joan awoke longing for a steaming latte from Choice, a coffee shop up the street.  She threw on some sweat pants, pulled her hair back from her face and stepped out onto the busy sidewalk.  The wind was swirling and clouds were threatening rain as she bustled down the street. 

The line outside Choice was long, so she picked up the Times and began reading the headlines.  She loved the arts section and was intrigued by the story of a rising young artist who had performed at Lincoln Center the previous night.  The critic wrote that Josh Dumal’s breathtaking performance had left the audience in raptures.  Three standing ovations resonated in the building long after the lights were dimmed.  Someday, Joan thought, I will have enough money to go to the Lincoln Center whenever I want.

Just then, the man in front of her dropped his newspaper and the contents of a manila folder he had been carrying.  Papers flew everywhere and she did her best to help him chase them down.  She snatched a flying page and pulled it close as she looked for more errant papers.  She happened to look down and realized it was sheet music for Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 – Andante.  Could it be?

She handed the music to the man and smiled.  She said, “I live at 249 St. James Boulevard Apt 3 B.  We haven’t met, but I think we might be neighbors.  I’m Joan Lazlow.  Can I buy you a cup of coffee?  I feel like I owe you a great debt.  I may even dedicate my book to you.  Let’s sit down and I’ll explain.”

Josh smiled back and said, “It’s the least I can do after you valiantly saved my sheet music.  I had my first concert in New York last night and that music is meaningful to me.  I live in apartment 2 B.  Let's grab that table in the corner?” 


  1. great story -- and worthy of further development! Maureen

  2. This is fun! I love the serendipity that you weave into the story.

  3. Thanks, Maureen. Further development may come in the future.

  4. Brynn, serendipitous occurrences are my favorite things to write about