Monday, January 5, 2009

Gabriella's Voice (The Serial Novel)

Chapter Two, Part III

Diva on a Ferry

Standing on the top deck, I was pleased to find that Gabriella shared my maritime tendencies. I joined her at the railing, where she stood with her face toward Seattle, her eyes narrowed pleasurably against the stiff Puget breeze.

“You look like the Flying Dutchwoman.”

“Der Fliegende Hollandfrau. I lo-ove this wind. Maestro tells me to ride down below and protect my throat, but how can I when it feels like... this?”

“Well put,” I said with a smile.

Gabriella turned away from the wind to study me, blinking her eyes in some sort of self-generated brain teaser, then just as suddenly reached out to jab a finger into my chest.

“You! It’s you!”

“Me? What?” And tried not to think, “The woman who sang Rosina two nights ago is jabbing her finger into my chest.”

“That thousand-dollar check they found in the fishbowl this weekend. That was you!”

I was determined to steer clear of this particular subject. I fixed her with an even stare and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Gabriella wasn’t buying it. “Oh, Bill Harness, you are a piece of work, aren’t you? The nobleman parades amongst the commoners disguised as a poor student. ‘Bongiorno, signorina. My name is Lindoro. My name is Gualtier Maldè. How’s it hangin’?’ And the question I have to ask now is, are you in fact the good and sweet Count Almaviva, or are you perhaps the evil, two-timing, well-dressed Duke of Mantua?”

I held up my hands, collecting the wind. “Neither. I swear. I’m a baritone, Rosina, maybe I am Figaro, Largo al factotum, and I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you more than that.”

She gave me yet one more well-aimed squint, then turned without a word to the emptiest portion of the horizon, where the sound crooks a northwest finger past Port Townsend toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“It’s so dark out there,” she said, speaking not necessarily to me but to the water. “I want to gather up all that darkness, swallow it down piece by piece, and then sing it.”

I was content to let the moment settle, but Gabriella was not. She gave a linebacker’s slap to my shoulder and said, “Come on, let’s go up front and watch the skyscrapers sprout.”

I followed Gabriella into the wind, and the blossoming aurora over the steering house, but not before I stole a starboard glance at her singable darkness. I was either in heaven or in hell, but I felt remarkably alive.

Next: The Forbidden Singer

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Photo: Opera San Jose’s 2005 production of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman. Photo by Pat Kirk.

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