Grosses Festspielhaus, Act II:
House lights out again
Von Karajan returns
Hazy golden light in the orchestra lit just the faces of the musicians and their instruments glowing behind their desk lamps blackness all around them
Karajan's arms flash Music Curtain

A street a house a balcony
Don Giovanni and his servant Leporello singing in Italian
Should really understand plot by this time
How often
Here with Paola Boston with Caroline
Not here Was a movie theatre Jennifer Jones Duel in the Sun
Must have been Landestheater
Feel better now Ham sandwich at buffet
Glass of champagne
Funny thing Freddie with Fleischer couldn't stand each other at first sight
Had to work together dealing with me
Big joke
Kindly uncles
Naughty boy
Graham and Don Giovanni much in common says Freddie
Rich Germans in evening clothes parading up and down Swish of silk and brocade Women holding men's arms
Oh Ha Ha says Fleischer
Yesterday I am Jedermann today you are Giovanni
Ha Ha
But I know this part She explained it Leporello says Can't you leave women alone
He answers Are you crazy
I need them more than the bread I eat the air I breathe
He says he wants a shot at Donna Elvira's maid and Leporello, must help him
Donna Elvira on the balcony singing
Don Giovanni my ass
More like Leporello, or Masetto
A clown
Boats turn over
Friends break chairs over my head
Ha Ha
How do you tell when you are going crazy
Burlesque blackouts
He dresses Leporello in his cloak puts him out in front sings to Donna Elvira until she is ready to forgive him all his betrayals and run off with him again
Only it will be Leporello disguised in his place
And even Leporello is shocked
You have a soul of bronze
Forget it
Lean back and listen
Most beautiful music in the world
A genius
Dead at thirty-five
Two years
No whiskey either
Beer and wine though
Not fat
Do you do sports she said
Forget it
Don't think about it
Friday afternoon
Must cut whole day
Hundred miles
Three hours
Cross border twice
Weekend traffic though
Will she really
What's this now
Donna Elvira with Leporello but she still thinks it's Don Giovanni
Dramma giocoso he called it
Funny ha ha.
But music so beautiful the whole thing isn't funny
Never seduced a woman in my life
How do you seduce somebody
Come and get into bed with you
Is that seducing
Come and sit around in your office at six o'clock
Overdoses he said
Too much stock market
Too much booze
Too much tail
Good friend still
Chair almost too much though
Crack my skull
Could have
Got a kick out of it
Still sore about St Wolfgang
What are you supposed to do
Feeling much better
Stupid ass thing to do
Out of control
Strait jacket
Slipped his trolley
Flipped his wig
Off the deep end
Off his rocker
Bats in the belfry
Poor fella had to bop him
Poor fella had to tie him in a stretcher shoot him full of Pentothal fly him home. . .
Stick him into Institute
Brilliant lawyer unstable father was a poet mother was a doll
Knew her well but a little kooky too
Thought the change would be good for him
Got stewed all the time
Saw spies behind every door
Under the beds
Yes spies
Iselin Bros & Devereaux
Are they a reliable firm

Oh very reliable
Beyond reproach
Easy does it
Kaltes Blut
What do they want with him
Make him defect
What a life
Germany Sweden Spain Mexico Russia Germany
Why should he now
Why shouldn't he
And what do I care
What do I care
Peter is dead
Look at it that way
He's dead
Pay attention to the opera
What the hell is going on now
Everybody singing hard
Don't understand all this
Never could
When the cemetery scene begins I'll know
Freddie asleep
Maybe not just appreciating the music
Lucky not snoring
Germans turn around if you blow your nose
German intelligence
Devereaux's idea or Schaumburg's
Done it before probably
Why not
My wife's place
I am a graduate of the first class
Plenty of reasons for me to appear there

Now here they are in the cemetery
And the statue of the Commendatore Don Giovanni and Leporello
Hollow booming voice
The statue
Don Giovanni makes Leporello read the inscription
Something about revenge awaits the one who killed rne
He went among the German soldiers
Must have been a slip
Could have said he knew him in Berlin
Leporello, invites the statue to Don Giovanni's palace for dinner
Thälmann Battalion
Maybe you can lose your mind thinking too many things at the same time
What's that a sign of when you can't think anything through when your mind jumps from one thing to another like a shorted switchboard
What does a breakdown feel like
Can't ask anybody
George Hope had a breakdown
Account of Betty
And me
Soul of bronze
He was a nice boy but thought about too many things at the same time
Had to bop him
What ever happened to bop
What exactly is a nervous breakdown
Here we are in Don Giovanni's
My God it looks like the Venetian Room
Table set
Don Giovanni already sitting down musicians Leporello waiting on him

Table music
Non piu andrai from Figaro
You throw any more bottles into those mirrors they'll ship you to the funny farm
But Aschauer was on my side
Could he know something
Burn the whole goddamn place down
The princes applaud with a furious joy
Let Devereaux's spooks take it over
And the King seiz'd a flambeau with zeal to destroy
Kaltes Blut
Explain to Aschauer
Pay for glazier
Not so easy to fix them
Donna Elvira on her knees
Rather cruel humor
Looks like Rosanna
Why not
Not tonight
She liked it though
She wants him to change his ways
Well we have that in common anyway
Everybody wants us to fly right
She goes to leave she screams she runs out the other way
Leporello goes to look comes back shouting about the stone man there is pounding at the door
Leporello, hides
Don Giovanni opens the door himself
Commendatore comes in ten feet tall stone crescendo of music
Karajan's arms are flying hair is flying they are singing singing
Pentiti thunders the statue
Almost like Jedermann but Don Giovanni won't repent
Why should he
Go down on his knees please God forgive me for what
He didn't mean to kill the old man
For all the women he screwed
They liked it didn't they
Donna Elvira wants more Pentiti Pentiti
Fire and smoke Bang
Knew that was coming but I jumped like a bunny rabbit
Freddie awake now
Don Giovanni has disappeared into the flames and they are all singing what a bastard he was
Curtain calls
Waves of applause
Jedermann to heaven
Don Giovanni to hell
Minks and tuxedos filling the aisles and Fleischer wants to buy us dinner up at Winkler's
Soul of bronze

Fleischer excused himself to find the bathroom and also, presumably, to pay the check. Freddie waited for him to disappear, rolling another slug of Cognac around in his mouth and regarding me with a baleful expression.

Then he swallowed noisily and asked, "You undergoing a change of life or something?"

"Not that I know of."

"Used to be able to hold your liquor."

"All right, I've apologized for that, I said I'd pay for the mirror--"

"Don't mean that. Mean this." He gestured with his hand. "All this babbling in front of our new friend. Armistead Devereaux. What possessed you to mention Armistead Devereaux in front of this character?"

"Why, has he been canonized? Warrior Saint of the Cold War, mentioned in whispers, only to people with Top Secret clearance? Boris is an American citizen, he's got just as much right--"

"An American citizen? Well, bully for Boris! This the same citizen who's trying to take over Boatwright? This the same citizen whose naturalization proceedings are under investigation?" Freddie's face was shading to purple again, and his voice slurred. Cognac was laming his tongue. "That's why I'm beginning to wonder about you. What would Ellsworth Boyle say if he could see you? This is Boris Fleischerl"

It was past midnight. We had eaten and drunk a lot, but I was sober now. The big dining room at Winkler's was nearly empty, a sea of white tablecloths. Against the wall, waiters in black jackets, busboys in white ones. From another room came the sound of a dance band. Beyond the huge plate-glass windows, beyond the few sightseers who still sat at tables on the terrace, the panorama of the city: Kapuzinerberg, bridges across the river, domes and spires of the churches, and on the cliffs directly opposite, illuminated by floodlights, the Festung Hohensalzburg.

Freddie was contemplatively picking his teeth with a match.

"You don't seem to mind accepting his hospitality," I said.

"Why should I mind? He ain't moving in on my client, on my wife's company .... Can't you see he's just trying to worm his way into your confidence--?"

"So you came along to keep me from being seduced?"

"I'm not sure who's seducing whom here, and I don't really give a shit, but when you start babbling about national security--"

"What national security?"

"Devereaux. You must be out of your mind--"

"Mr. Devereaux's extracurricular activities are common knowledge, Freddie."

"They are?"

"Well, you know about them."

"And that makes them common knowledge, hey?"

I hated this. I wanted to say, "I'm sorry this trip is turning sour on us." I wanted to say, "You're my oldest friend." But you can't say things like that.

At the Stieglbräu we sat at long wooden tables and drank beer. The hall was as big as an airplane hangar, dark, filled with voices and smoke and thumping loud music from the bandstand. While Fleischer watched, Freddie and I danced with sweating eager secretaries from Hamburg and Diüsseldorf.

"The hell with it," announced Freddie after the second stein was consumed. "They've got b.o. What I want now is gypsy violins. Find me some gypsy violins."

At the fountain beside the Cathedral we boarded the last Fiaker and rolled slowly through the empty streets, across the river, through the Makartplatz, past Schloss Mirabell, toward the district around the railroad station. Freddie sang:

"Oh the E-ri-ee was a-rising,
And the gin was getting low,
And I scarcely think
We'll get a drink
Till we get to Buffalo-o-ol -
Till we get to Buffalo."

A policeman looked at us and smiled.

Blue neon lights: Zigeunerbaron. Steps down into a side-street cellar. Tile floor, a few empty tables, a bar, a large dark painting of Budapest, a middle-aged woman at the piano, a haggard old man with a violin. When they saw us they began to play. "Wien, Wien nur Du allein." We ordered Cognac. The old man came over and stood behind Freddie's chair.

"Tell him, gypsy music."

I told him. The violin wailed. We sipped our Cognac. Freddie's face glistened. His bow tie was askew. I ached to feel the alcohol in my blood, but I couldn't feel it. Fleischer watched us. The old man sat down in the corner to rest, wiping his face with his handkerchief. We drank another round. Fleischer went to the bathroom again.

Freddie said, "What are you looking so superior about?" "I'm not looking superior."

"Coulda had that Kraut blond back there." "Oh, I know you could."

"Had b.o. Didn't want her." "Correct decision."

"Don't take enough showers ... What'sa matter with you?"

"Nothing's the matter."

"All this Devereaux shit. Not like you."

"How do you mean?"

"Cool cookie. Do the right thing, know what I mean? Right thing for Anders. Good food, good booze, good screwing, might be dead tomorrow, right? Un-en-eum-bered by sen-ti-men-tality. Right? Friend of mine, right? Now what's all this Devereaux shit all of a sudden? Speeches about the Academy. What's the Academy to G. Anders, Esquire?"

It was no use talking to him, but I tried. "Look, this thing has always been nonpolitical. No government connection. They gather people from all over Europe, they come here and meet each other, get to know each other, compare how they do their professions in their own countries, see how we do it at home -it's a personal thing, a relationship between individual people. Trust. They get to know and trust each other. Now you start sneaking in government agents--"

"What government agents?"

"Oh, Freddie, I've told you over and over again--"

He was looking up with a scowl, and I turned to see that Fleischer was standing behind my chair.

"I think they want to close," he said.

The street was cold and bleak and silent, the empty silence between darkness and dawn. The Fiaker driver and his horse were both asleep.

"I want a woman," said Freddie.

"Don't seem to be any around," I said.

"Whorehouse," said Freddie.

"Little late, old boy."

"No, not late. Not very late, not for whores. Keep different working hours, know what I mean? The graveyard shift. Let's go, mein Herr! Hey wake up, my good and trusty steed." He grabbed the handles and swung himself up into the creaking Fiaker. "All aboard for the riding academy. Die Reitschule, bitte!"

The driver, shaken awake, looked at us dubiously. "Die Felsenreitschule?"

"Nein!" said Fleischer and I emphatically and in unison. The Felsenreitschule is a theatre, carved into the cliffs of the Mönclisberg. There was nothing for it; we had to climb in beside Freddie, who leaned back in the seat. "Tell the man where to go, and no excuses." He turned to Fleischer, patting me on the shoulder. "Our boy was an MP here, didya know that? Always know. Always know where knocking shops are. Ask the MPs I always say."

Well. I didn't know, but of course the driver did. We soon arrived in front of a small shabby hotel in one of the alleys at the foot of the Kapuzinerberg. The shutters were closed and the place was dark, but our driver grunted and wheezed from his perch and disappeared in the doorway. A moment later he was back, gesturing. "Nix zu machen." They were closed.

"Come on, Freddie, they're all asleep. Let's have him take us down to the Cafe Bazar. They'll be open pretty soon and we'll have some eggs and coffee--"

"I want a woman," bellowed Freddie, and his voice rang down the narrow street. "I WANT A WOMAN AND A SOFT-B0ILED EGG!"

Above us, shutters opened. A dog began to bark. "For God's sake, Freddiel"

Boris Fleischer climbed out of the Fiaker and walked into the hotel, followed by the driver. We heard a night bell, voices, a light went on. Freddie clapped me on the knee: "Money talks."

"You're going to let him pay for this too?"

Whispering: "Hell yes, can't you see he loves to pick up checks? Put us under obligation? Why deny him that pleasure?" Freddie's breath reeked of Cognac and cigars.

The driver returned again, nodding and smiling, and folding a bill into his wallet. 'May, chentlemen, ist alles okay now." So we climbed out and walked through a dank stone passage that smelled faintly of stale beer and urine. A tiny lobby. White tiles, a wooden counter, a board full of keys. Under the bare light bulb Fleischer was talking with a thin-faced young woman who wore a bathrobe and hair curlers. Hard eyes looked us over carefully. She took a couple of keys from the board and led the way up a flight of dark narrow stairs. Freddie followed. Fleischer turned to me. "I told them only one girl. Is that right?"

"Yes . . . I mean I'm certainly not--"

"All right. I'm not either."

We were shown into a sitting room, full of terrible modern fumiture -overstuffed club chairs, a sofa, a glass coffee table, two watercolors of Salzburg scenes. The woman turned on a lamp and disappeared.

Freddie asked, "Is she--"

"No," said Fleischer. "She is the manager."

We stood around awkwardly until she returned with a tray. Glasses and a bottle of Yugoslavian champagne. "I promised we would drink something," said Fleischer apologetically.

Another girl appeared, a plain plump girl, maybe twenty-five. Dark curly hair and heavy arms emerging from what looked like a real kimono. Gold inlays showed as she yawned. "Good morning," she said cheerfully. "My name is Anna. Who will give me a cigarette?"

I gave her one and provided the light while the woman in curlers wrenched off the cork with a single muscular twist and fizzed the champagne into the glasses. Freddie examined Anna, then rather tentatively put his arm around her waist. She simpered professionally and leaned forward to put her cigarette into the ashtray, letting her breasts fall over his arm. Then she led him out of the room. The woman in curlers followed, carrying a key and a white towel.

Fleischer and I sat down. I sipped some champagne. It wasn't good but it wasn't bad either. "Prosit," I said. "Champagne for breakfast. You're being very generous, Boris."

He raised a glass too. "My pleasure." We both drank. "For me, a very interesting night. But for you--" he paused. "More pain than pleasure, I think."

No comment from me.

He persisted. 'Your friend is angry with you. He wants to enjoy his pleasure, you bring up problems. You mention problems in the presence of an outsider. You commit faux pas."

"I don't know what's the matter with him. He's changing."

Fleischer looked down into his glass. He thinks that you are changing. He sees that you care for something serious, for something more important than eating and drinking and listening to music -and making love to the girls.

"I'm not so sure I do care."

"I think you care a great deal. You remember what you said, before you threw the bottle? You said, 'They are pissing on his grave.'"

"I was drunk then."

"In vino veritas," said Fleischer.

"Well, it doesn't make any difference because there's nothing I can do about it anyway."

"Why not?"

"What do you mean 'why not?" I was suddenly very angry with him.

"If you dislike something that is going on, perhaps you can --what do you say 'take arms against the sea of troubles?" Is that Shakespeare? But I tell you something, Anders." He leaned forward and tapped my knee with his finger. "All your life you have been, you know, an insider. If you do something about this, this business in the Schloss, you will be suddenly on the outside. An outsider, like me. And I'm not sure you will like that, my friend."

I looked up to see the woman in curlers.

"Verzeihung die Herren." She pursed her lips, frowning. She seemed embarrassed. Fleischer got up quickly and stepped into the hall with her. Why was I letting Fleischer run this show? ". . . besondere Wüinsche," I heard her tell him. "Bei uns tun das sehr Wenige." Then she went away again. Fleischer returned, shutting his wallet and putting it back into his coat pocket, took off his glasses, began to polish them with his handkerchief, squinting at me with tiny eyes. "Your friend has special tastes."

"As special as all that?"

Fleischer rendered an eloquent shrug, replacing his spectacles.

"What does he want?" I asked, still irritated.

"Two girls. At the same time."

We waited a while, sipping champagne, too tired to pursue our conversation. Doors opened and closed. Steps in the hall. Women's voices, in argument. Silence. I opened the frosted casement window and looked down into an empty courtyard, dreary in the gray light of the dawn. We heard the sound of retching.

"I'd better go help him," I said.

"Better not," said Fleischer. "Better leave him alone."

Five or ten minutes passed. I worried, remembering things I had read about heart attacks. He didn't have heart problems, though. Strong as an ox. Own damn fault. Certainly not my fault. The woman in curlers came back, obviously angry. Der Herr had fallen asleep. They could not rouse him. I demanded to see him. "Better not," warned Fleischer, but he followed me down the dark creaking musty corridor, into the tiny bedroom. Freddie lay on his stomach in the tumbled bed, wearing only his T-shirt and socks, snoring heavily. The bed and the carpet were splattered with vomit. The room reeked. "Eine Schweinerei," muttered the woman. I was afraid he might choke. I rolled him over and put a pillow under his head but I could not wake him.

"Leave him," said Fleischer. "He will be all right here. And take my advice, don't get him tomorrow. Let him come home in a taxi."

So we left him there.

The sun was peeping over the trees at the eastern end of the lake. I parked the car and walked across the dew-soaked grass, listening to the birds. The Schloss was locked up tight, asleep in the morning mist. I strolled down to the lake and followed the graveled path to the end, beyond the stone goddess, beyond the edge of the park, into the trees and out to the point. I sat down on an iron bench, watched the sun come up, and tried to think about my life in an organized lawyerlike fashion, but my mind was numb. I stripped off my clothes and waded out through the curtain of reeds. The bottom was slimy and the water was cold, but I steeled myself to an energetic surface dive and swam underwater as far as I could. Then I swam all the way across the lake, all the way to the lawn of Paola's old cottage, then back again, watching the sun touching the battlements of the Festung Hohensalzburg and glistening in the windows of the Schloss. Back among the reeds, I heard church bells. Sunday morning: the Aschauers would be going to Mass. Still wet, I struggled into my rumpled clothes and walked quickly back to the Schloss, arriving at the porte cochere just in time to see them, dressed in their best clothes, wheeling bicycles out the door. Frau Aschauer said, "Grüss Gott, Herr Doktor," adjusted her hat and pedaled firmly down the driveway. They both knew what I wanted, and it wasn't her affair. Aschauer was embarrassed too: ja, ja, geht schon in Ordnung, Herr Doktor. He pocketed the money without making a fuss about it. He had already talked to the glazier. Monday afternoon, ganz bestimmt. That wasn't what I wanted. I could see the whole congregation filing into the Venetian Room for the Monday morning lecture, staring for an hour at that empty eye socket on one wall. Aschauer looked doubtful. On Sunday? Suppose I fetched the man in my car, and paid double? Aschauer pondered, stroking his moustache. The man might not have such glass in stock. . . . I would be grateful, I told him. He nodded solemnly and climbed upon his bicycle. "Wiederschauen, Herr Doktor." I knew it was as good as done.

A few early risers were eating breakfast in the dining hall. Coffee and fresh rolls. I realized that I was ravenously hungry. Sunshine poured through the open french doors.

"Come sit with us." called Onderdonk. Liss was absorbed in his newspaper. "Come speak to this terrible pessimistic Swede. He says there will be a war this summer. It's the long winter nights, you know, makes them so depressing."

Liss looked up from his paper. "You are a Roman Catholic, Anders?"

"He thinks you have been to Mass already!" Onderdonk roared with laughter. "My God, just look at him! A Mass! Perhaps a Black Mass, hey, Anders?"

I couldn't help myself. I had to laugh too.

previous chapter, next chapter



1961 - A Point of View
[1] The annual meeting of the stockholders of the Boatwright Corporation
[2] What are you going to do about Boatwright and what are you going to do about yourself?
[3] Have we learned anything this evening, Doctor?
[4] Producing results?
[5] Alexander's Feast
[6] How'd you like to go over to Salzburg for a month with me?

1947 - An Island
[7] You're not going to Berlin. You're staying here.
[8] All right, we're the Military Government.
[9] The Americans are teaching us to be democratic instead of fascistic.
[10] Well, this is Fasching.
[11] Letters after Ash Wednesday
[12] Say Boris is at Schloss Fyrmian.
[13] THE AMERICAN ACADEMY IN EUROPE - Prospectus for the First Session
[14] Learn to think of people as individuals.
[15] Parlez-moi d'amour, redites-moi des choses tendres.
[16] Not one thing left to show that you've ever been on earth? - "Sources of Soviet Conduct"
[17] A Countess, a Prussian Officer and a Ländler
[18] Now this part of your life is over and I'm sending you home.
[19] A father who's too busy to watch his son die. - The Spring of 1961
[20] I cannot sell Schloss Fyrmian to the Academy.

1961 - A Change of Air
[21] The first thing I saw was the Festung Hohensalzburg far in the distance, silhouetted against the shadowy curtain of the high mountains.
[22] Next day at the Academy we got to work - Graham, you know what Fleischer did?
[23] Im weißen Rößl am Wolfgangsee
[24] Brockaw writing a thesis on Austrian baroque architecture? - Boatwright Corporation and Boris Fleischer, plaintiffs
[25] You know there a Mr. Devereaux? Mr. Armistead Devereaux?
[26] I think always of Peter Devereaux.
[27] It sounds like an act of desperation, and it won't hold up in court.
[28] In those Oklahoma Hills WHERE AH WAS BOW-AHHHN!
[29] ... that we should meet again like this . . . I think perhaps there is a reason.
[30] "Is there here an American by name of Brockaw?"
>[31] This is Boris Fleischer!
[32] "Does Hans work for Gehlen?" Paola shook her head. "More the other way around."
[33] Won't you please come home? Everybody needs you, I most of all.
[34] With this Waffenstillstand you have time now.
[35] You're going to regret this for the rest of your life!
[36] We Europeans would not do it. None of us. - People think you need medical attention.
[37] Will they trust you?
[38] Some things about the U.S.A. are perhaps rather important, and to us impressive.
[39] You're going to need a good lawyer.

version: March 2, 2004
Address of this Page
Arthur R.G. Solmssen, Joachim Gruber