Many a night the lonely shop and the desperate silence of a blank score had troubled him. But he met this morning with his first composition in five years. It came to him after he had been struggling to compose a cantata, a choral composition with full orchestra. The results were always the same. A cacophony of uninspired notes splattered across the page: it was no good.
After hours of grasping for musical motives, clawing his way with desperate determination and numbing the pain with ample shots of whiskey, the frustration became more than he could bear. Gathering the scores in his ink-stained hands, he began ripping them apart, his anger spilling out like a virulent plague for which there was no cure.
Throwing back a handful of pain-killers, he raised a glass of whiskey to his lips. With a quick toss, he gulped down his regular cocktail, lowering the empty glass beside a photo of a stunning Latina and a small boy. His soiled hands grazed the picture frame, imparting a tender caress.
For a moment, he allowed himself to surrender to its memories. Then, as he looked closer, a grim figure blighted the idyllic image. Wrenching back his hand, bitter reality arrested his thoughts: he was staring into the reflection of his own haggard face.
Next to the unkempt desk sat an oversized chest. Prying open each rusted hinge with the sharp end of an ancient Roman dagger, he raised the heavy lid, revealing a layer of carefully placed books and maps. One by one he meticulously peeled away each item, like an archeologist sorting through the remains of a life gone by.
Reaching in to exhume a bottle of ink from the disheartening mementos he had buried there, his hand paused as it passed over a photo of himself standing beside the Pope.
It lingered once again over an old copy of a magazine entitled the Catholic Standard, where his photo was emblazoned with the headline HERO OR HERETIC? Finally, settling upon a bottle of calligraphy ink, his fingers grasped the decanter, retrieving it from the burial chamber.
After the rage had drained from his body, he picked up the calligraphy pen again. His hand started to move, guided as if by the same mysterious force that moves the planchette of an Ouija board. Then all at once, the music poured out of him as lyric and melody began to appear on the page.
He could hear the chorus—a great choir singing a haunting melody, the orchestra gloomy and ominous. The cantata had become a requiem, a mass for the dead.
Have mercy on me
The music overcame him, possessing him with fits of anguish—the page became his priest, his pen the confessor, his sins and angers heaped upon the strident melody. Then with the impending threat of a rising breaker, a wave of angst built higher and higher until it collapsed under the weight of his despair, crashing into a sad refrain.