John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Drug-haunted violin virtuoso dies at 60. A short story

Drug-haunted violin virtuoso dies at 60

A short story 
John W. Tuohy

     The rain soaked him to the bone and the gloom overcast drained all of the humor from him. How many days had it rained? Three? No, four. And the cold, that raw winter cold.
     He had not expected to see them at the burial, especially not on a miserable day like this. He had to stand with them at the burial since standing apart from them would have seemed, confrontational, so he stood with them.  In that frame of things it surprised him when Wolfe leaned in front of Schuler and whispered “Mary, join us for drinks afterwards. We’ll lift a pint to our friends passing” he mentioned a place, the Harp and something.
     He said yes but he resented it. He felt he should have said no.
     “Pint indeed” he mused “where does he think he is? England?  We don’t lift pints in America, we drink a beer and beer is cold and it’s not the right weather drinking beer or anything else”
     He left well before they did and decided to take the coward’s way out and go home. He would never see them again anyway. Pink indeed. 
    On the solitary and silent drive back to Georgetown the roads were covered in a thick grey fog that seemed to take on a life of its own as it floated from the Potomac and melted across the roadway.
     He parked on 35th street, bounded down the sidewalk, shielding his head from the rain when he spotted the warm, soft glow of coffee shop’s lights on O Street, beckoning his weary bones. Coffee. Warmth. He’d take it. His boney fingers are cold and white. The thick smell of freshly brewed beans relaxed him and removing his wet raincoat and tweed country walking hat he order a cup from a tall and lean  young man behind the counter.
     “Black, no sugar”
     He took a seat with small round wooden table that looked out into the cold and dreary Georgetown streets and folded his cold hands around the cup and relaxed to the rhythmic sounds of the rain falling on the tin roof above him. The bright lights gave the café a sense of protective coziness and that was what he needed at that moment.
    Guilt got the best of him. It always did.  He called Wolfe and said “Ernest here. Look, I’m in Georgetown at a coffee place on 35th and O, there’s plenty of parking. It is far too early for drinks. Come by here. I’ll flip for the coffee.”
     Wolfe agreed, reluctantly and grumbling, but he agreed. Mary would come with him of course because Mary had absolutely no backbone around Wolfe. It was why they made such a successful partnership later on.
     He put down the phone and returned to the events of the day. So he was dead. He was so young. Only 60. And then looking around the café filled with the fresh young faces of Georgetown students he though “My God, sixty, am I really so old that I hail six decades as young?”
    So, maybe he wasn’t young. It was more that he always seemed young because he was so vibrant even at the end when Cirrhosis killed him.
     He took a deep breath and sighed louder than he had intended causing one of the students at a table full of student to turn and give him a scornful look.  He sneered back at him and the boy looked away. “Scorn” he thought “It’s what youth does best. Well that, and travel in packs.”  He was solitary man and always had been.
     Returning to his gaze out the window he watched them park at the far end of the street and start to job towards the café, covering their heads from the rain drops. He turned and ordered two teas, Earl Grey, and a coffee for Wolfe and returned to the view on the street. He studied them carefully. Glee, the departed soul’s wife, although lovely, tall and graceful as ever, looked old and tired. The lines in her stately face were deep and shouted out her weariness. 
     Mary, once the protégé from the departed, walked slightly behind her of course. Beautiful but timid. Younger than all of them. She had been their secretary, of sorts, and now she was another friend who remembered things past.  And then there was Wolfe. God help us all. Look at how large he’s gotten.   By the time they were close to the door, the teas and coffee were ready and he collected them and placed them at the table, just as they entered.
     He stood and greeted them all, embracing Glee, kissing Mary’s hand and offering a curt nod to Wolfe and then remained standing through the traditional shuffling of positions and then he sat.    
     Mary unbuttoned her heavy coat to reveal her still slim and curvaceous figure and turned to him and said “It’s all like a bad dream isn’t it?”
     “Let’s not discuss it” Susan said as she removed her coat and hat and then pulled him closer and gently kissed his forehead and said  “Let’s just talk about the old time, shall we? The good times.”  
     “I don’t like this chair” Wolfe said “Terrible view”
     “Would you like my seat” Mary asked with a smile.

    Wolfe looked over the offering and said “No. That seems only worse. I’ll take yours Earnest”
    “Screw you” he replied. It was the only way to handle Wolfe.
    Wolfe looked around the shop with disdain. He did disdain well. His eyes looked over the faded black and white tiles on the walls and ceilings and asked   “What is this place?” It has the feel of morgue” 
   “It’s a coffee shop” Earnest answered “It’s a place where nice people go to drink coffee. I bought you one” and pointed to the cup in front of him. Wolfe took the cup, placed it close to his nose and smelled the coffee.  A flask appeared from his rain coat. He poured a bit into the cup.
    The young man behind the counter pointed an accusing finger at Wolfe and said   “There is no liquor here, sir”
     “I know dear boy” he answered pouring a pinch more “That’s why I brought my own”
Susan sat to my left and clasped my hand in hers “How are you Earnest?”
     Mary leaned forward in her chair to hear his answer. He felt nervous and played with the rim coffee cup.
    “I’ve been better” he answered as he inspected the cup.
    “You’re depressed over what happened recently” Susan said.
   “Why” Wolfe asked “What happened recently?”
    “She means” Mary answered “His death. Depressed over the death”
     “I am not depressed over his death” He said and added as an afterthought “All right maybe a little depressed.” He paused again and said “I’m very depressed over it”
     “People die” Mary said as she aimlessly stirred her coffee. “If only I had……”
     Silence fell over them.
     “If only you had what?” Wolfe asked.
     She shrugged. “I don’t know”
     “I gave up on him.” Earnest answered sadly.
     “We all did” Mary replied with a tilt of her head.
    “Well I certainly didn’t” Susan said. And she was right in that. She had stayed with him through it all, even after he divorced her, she was there for him
    “I feel numb” she said to no one in particular. “It all seems so meaningless. It took me five hours to get ready this morning and I can’t recall a single moment”
   “Have you asked yourself the question” Wolfe said “Is this something worth being depressed about?”
    He leaned forward when he spoke. He always did that, leaned forward into person’s space and I hated it when he did it and I was thankful for the table between them.
    “What sort of an asinine proposition is that?” Earnest asked “You want me to be happy over this?”
    “I want you to see it for what it is.” He answered with a shrug “And what it is, what it’s all about, is that it’s about time. It’s about time he died”
    “Oh that’s lovely” Earnest said “I’m so glad you came along to the funeral. You’re a delight, really”
     “Oh Wolfe” Susan cried “What in heaven’s name is wrong with you?” She pushed her tea to the side, crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. 
    “Wolfe. Really” Mary added.
    “He was confined to his bed for the past eight months.” He said and then added loudly, “He wore a diaper because he had no control of his bowels” and at that a very young student, a girl, turned and crinkled her nose at him causing Wolfe to return the look to her and add “Oh grow up kid, we all have bowels and every now and then they do whatever the hell they want to us”
     Returning his attention to them he said “He hallucinated. He cried.”
   “That’s enough” Susan said
    “He howled. He demanded. He begged.”
   “Wolfe” Mary said “Enough”
   “He vomited. He was on a constant painful withdrawal from something for the past ten years only to become addicted to something else. And you tell me you are depressed that all that is over? Well I’m not” 
   “Why are you so angry, Wolfe?” Susan asked snapped.
   “I’m not angry” he answered “I’m simply saying that for once in its long creepy career, death, that goddamn thief, finally came at the right time “
    “I have always wondered if you were mentally ill” Earnest said
     “Let him be” Mary added. “It’s his way of healing”
    “And how are you healing” Earnest asked her.
   “My usual way” she answered “Guilt and trying to bargain with God to make it all not true”
    “Well I’m not angry” Wolfe said again.
     “It’s all right if you are angry” Mary said “Anger covers pain. There are other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time”
     “Thank you Doctor Mary” Wolfe said.
    “Why don’t we discuss something pleasant?”  Mary said.
     “I know what we can do” Susan said happily “We can all meet again, like we used too in the old days. Sunday’s. Remember how it was on Sundays? We can have that again. There’s the four us and he’ll be with us, in spirit. What do you say?” It’ll be just like it was, just like it should be. One big happy maladjusted family.”
    No one was interested.
     “What will you do with his things?” Wolfe asked.
     “His things?” Susan asked indignantly.
     “Well his instrument….his…things” Wolfe said haltingly. He knew he was in trouble.
      Susan turned her slender body to face him “What do you mean what will I do with them?
     “Well” he said slowly “will you donate them to a charity? Sell them perhaps?  There is a market certainly. I could probably fetch well into the six figures or more for his instrument if you’ll allow me to make inquiries”
     “I’ll do no such thing.” Susan snapped “I’ll keep them where they are, where they belong.”
     “Why?” Wolfe said equally loudly “He left you nothing except debt. So why won’t you let me sell them for whatever I can for you?”
    “Why?” Susan shouted emotionally “Because they are his, they are his belongings”
    “He’s dead and gone and your broke and here” Wolfe said flatly.
    “You know he never liked you and now I can see why” she answered.
    “Now come on, that’s uncalled for.” Earnest said
    “Heartless little schemer.” She added and then turned her back on him.
     No one spoke but after several seconds. Finally Earnest said softly “However the heartless little schemer is correct, Susan. He is dead and you should start thinking about…”
     “That doesn’t mean everything changes.” She snapped “That isn’t what it means. Only people like you think like that”
    “Yes I recognize that this is a somewhat inappropriate statement to make at this time” Wolfe said.
   “When has in inappropriate ever stopped you?” Susan snarled.
   “All right” he said emphatically “Okay. Fine. You talk about not being liked?”
   “I think we need to get off this” Earnest interjected “Before we say more things we don’t mean”  
    “I don’t know why I’m here.” Wolfe said loudly “I didn’t like him very much” and then he corrected himself “Not at the end” and turning to Susan he said “And I knew him for years before you arrived.  There wasn’t much about him to like at the end”
   “I prefer to recall him as in his fantasy life” Earnest said “The glamorous life. The ideal of him”
     “When did you hear from him last, Earnest?” Mary asked
     “Oh, five years was it? Yes. Five years. But we were on again off again constantly. He would stop the drugs, stop the boozing and seem genuinely interested in focusing on music again. But he had declined as a performer although some of the old spark was there every now and then. He told me he was embarrassed by the bookings he was getting. Retirement communities, that sort of thing”
     “After he got ill last summer, he just decided to die.” Susan said “He stopped playing entirely. It was too painful for him. He felt like his career had been ripped from him, and he didn’t have the great venues to play in anymore and it just crushed him.”
    “Ripped from him by whom? Fate?” Wolfe asked “He screwed himself, plain and simple”
     “They closed the doors to him.” Susan said angrily “He was blacklisted. You know that. You know that more than anyone else”
    “He was blacklisted because he lost control of himself and as a result everything around him disintegrated, his career his family. Everything.” Wolfe said “How can anyone with that much opportunity be called a victim? ‘He had everything handed him and he messed it all up.''
    “When did you see him last?” Earnest asked Wolfe.
     “Oh” he rolled his eyes and calculated “Last year…no …yes, last year when he had that liver failure issue. I phoned. Didn’t actually see him”
     “I didn’t hear about it” I said
     “We kept it under wraps.” Susan added “He wanted it that way”
     “He should have died then” Wolfe said twirling a plastic stick in his tea.
     “Oh ease up will you please?” Earnest said.
      “Why? I speak the truth.. There have been other concert violinists with the same problems and they did not just give up. Their careers did not suffer. Other concert artists have gone into decline, accepted it, and just moved on, but for some reason, our boy could not bring himself to move along.”
     A group of students slowly made their way into the cafe
   “Must they open that door every time they come in and leave?” Wolfe growled as he cast the evil eye on some departing students.
   “Well yes, that’s the entire purpose of a door” Earnest said “It serves no other purpose”
   “It lets in the cold air” he snapped.
   “We’ll have them exit through the back, how would that be?” Earnest said
   “Why don’t we just meet in a bus station or something?” he snarled.
   “You have no idea what bus station looks like.” I said “For all you know this is a bus station.” 
   “And what happened between you and him?” Mary asked Wolfe. 
     “He stopped talking to me ten years ago.” He answered “I booked to play for a large condo community in South Florida. The money was good. Glamorous? No. But a good paycheck. I brought it to him in person. He was drunk or maybe he was high, but he was in a foul mood. He was insulted. Kept screaming “A condominium!” smashing things. Threw a lamp at me. That was the last of us. Then he called earlier this year. We spoke for a while. Never mentioned Florida” 
    He stared out into the rain and then turned to Susan and said “It’s astounding how much of what he did to us we simply decided to forget”
    Although she was looking out the window, Susan reached across the table and taking Wolfe’s mighty hand in her own and kept it there.
   “Mercurial. He was a mercurial performer” Earnest added “It was what I called him in the first column I wrote about him. He didn’t know what it meant. He assumed it meant mediocre”
   “He was barely educated” Wolfe added.
   “So I look up from desk the next morning and there he is, red as beat, my column in his clenched fist demanding to know why I called him mercurial. I reached across the desk opened the dictionary and read the definition “Wonderful word mercurial. Related to the Roman God Mercury. Unpredictable, lively, active, brilliant, impulsive, consistent.”     He said “Oh. Well in that case do you want to go and have a few drinks?” I said yes. He needed an agent. I abhorred writing columns so I told him I would be his agent. He agreed. We were both good and drunk by then. But I represented him for seven years. Never had a written contract between us. I booked him in more than 100 concerts a year back then. He grossed almost a million bucks a year just from the shows. And then there were records.
    “What happened between you two?” Mary asked Earnest
     “I was with him one afternoon” Earnest replied with a deep sigh “we were both drinking, this was in the beginning of the end and he asked me “Why aren’t I on television anymore?” and I lied and I didn’t know. Well we argued, as drunkards do. So in the spirit of complete meanness, I phoned…I’ve forgotten his name, the producer up in New York, he’s dead now. I get this producer on the line and he asked him, on the speakerphone, “Why is our boy not on television anymore?” and the producer doesn’t miss a trick and says “Because your boy is an unreliable drunk” and he hung up.  A few weeks later I got a letter from the questionably esteemed Mister Wolfe seated here on my right stating that he was now representing our boy”
     “I thought he would be a good client” Wolfe said nervously and turning to Earnest added “And I did not pursue him, he came to me”  
     That was lie, they all knew it, but the course of the conversation changed.
  “Where was the second wife? Why wasn’t she there today” I couldn’t remember her name but I could picture her beautiful face “What’s her name?”
    “The bitch from hell.” Susan offered.
     “What was her name?” Earnest asked.
    “That was her name” Susan countered.
    “It was her title, actually” Wolfe offered.
    “Why did he marry her?” I asked “She was so awful.”
    “She thought he had money, he thought she had class” Susan said recalling her face “Jesus, he really was a hick back then wasn’t he?”
      “No” I said “I think he was just young”
      “You could spot her a mile away” Wolfe said
      “Well, now we could, yes” Earnest replied
      “She’s the one who turned him to drugs.” Mary said “He was innocent drunk before” her.
      “She didn’t even have the class to show up to the man’s funeral” Ernest said.
      “Well thank God for that because she’s dead” Susan said happily.
      “Dead?” Earnest repeated.
      “Seven or eight years ago” Susan said “Put a gun in that lovely mouth of hers and pulled the trigger”
      “I understand no one claimed the body” Mary added.
      “Jesus” Earnest whispered “She was so beautiful”
      “What about the mother?” Wolfe asked “You never hear much about his mother.”
      “A drinker” Susan said taking a sip from Wolfe’s flask “very tragic. Dead too.”
      “I heard” Wolfe said “his father pushed him, mercilessly. He pressured the kid to practice for hours at a time.”
     “Well that’s the oldest tune in the book though isn’t it?” Earnest said.
    “He told me” Mary said “That it was his old man who got him into Juilliard.
    “He got booted out though” Wolfe said.
   “Why?” Mary asked.
   “Generic disciplinary reasons is what I’ve always read’ I answered. 
   “He seduced a teacher.” Susan said flatly.
    “A man or a woman?” Wolfe asked. He was fishing for gossip.
    “You’d love it if it were a man wouldn’t you?” She answered.
      After a brief lull in the conversation, Susan said   “Well his rise was fast his descent was so painfully slow.”
      Wolfe added “I heard that when he returned home from the international competitions Moscow to Idaho….”
     “Colorado” Mary corrected.
     “All right, Colorado.” Wolfe said “I heard that when he returned home from Moscow to Colorado that his father had choreographed a publicity stunt and that included having the boy’s horse met him at the airport.”
  “That’s a long drive for a horse isn’t it?” Mary asked.
     “And” Wolfe said tossing more gasoline on the fire “Let us return to the august Carnegie Hall. He sold the place out?”
     “Yes we did” Earnest answered.
    “But to that I say, so what? Putting asses in seats does not equate to talent, we’re not Hollywood you know.” Wolfe said “The entire point of that concert, if you will remember was to prove that he had the right stuff for a long term career that he wasn’t a pretty boy flash in the pan. And all of you saw what happened, you were all there. All that he managed to do was to reinforce the image of a musician wonderfully adept at light repertory and at sea in Brahms.”
   “Show some Goddamn tact will you?” Earnest begged
   “He succeeded but for the wrong reasons.” Wolfe said firmly “It’s the same with all of these competition winners. They never have a chance to recover. His is a cautionary tale of what can happen when a gifted young artist, still personally and musically immature, is turned into a global commodity for a spate of wrong reasons.   His entire package was nothing more than mastery over a small body of 19th, 20th century showpieces that were intended to show off the violinist's art. That was all well and good in the beginning but as the years went by it grew old”
   “He didn’t mature” Mary added “as a musician”
   “And” Wolfe continued “as expected the critics took him task increasingly for what they saw as, correctly I should add, of flash over substance.’you used to be able to start an artist in Carnegie Recital Hall and build them up over seven years. Now you have a couple of competition winners who reign supreme over a limited ability until the next couple of winners come along and pushes them out of the way.''
    “But” Earnest interjected “they always said that about him, from the very beginning “His repertoire relied too heavily on flashy pieces that lacked depth” but it didn’t bothered him, not in the beginning anyway. Nothing bad could touch him and he knew it.  He used to say to me “Aside from technique of the highest caliber, you need the glitter. The conviction of your own style. The polish."
   “He had no polish” Wolfe said looking directly at Earnest “Not the right kind.  He had flash. There is a difference you know”
   “He was never an introspective artist, he said that once” Earnest said in his defense. “He told me “Ernie, the problem with introspection is that it has no end.”
    “He failed completely in the heavier repertory, Beethoven and Brahms.” Mary said “You know that”
   “Because he was never given the opportunity early on to develop and grow.” Earnest said
   “That’s not true” Wolfe said “The opportunity was there for the taking. He chose not to take it and he paid for it as a result. The Big Five orchestras barely acknowledged him.
    “He played with Philadelphia and Cleveland” Earnest said
   “He played with them once” Wolfe corrected him “perhaps twice Boston, Chicago New York Philharmonics? Never. The music directors at those orchestras didn't want to spend their time conducting his repertory. And had they asked for Beethoven or the Brahms, he wasn't ready. You can't make a career just on bravura repertory.”
   “But you can make a career out of being charming” Earnest said “And he was charming”
   “And he was overbearing” Wolfe added
   “And he could be tactlessness.” Mary added “He told a conductor once, I’ve forgotten who it was, when he was told that he would have to perform a duo recital ''I don't intend to share half the burden with the pianist. It's a violin recital, and I intend to play just that.''
   “My God” Wolfe said as the memory came to him “He posed for After Dark, do you remember that? What an uproar that caused! Do you recall that?”
   “How can I ever forget?” Ernest answered mournfully.
    Wolfe leaned into Earnest to closely and whispered “Tell me truthfully. Did you arrange that?”
     “You are really obnoxious” He answered “and no. I did not. He did it on his own.”
      Earnest paused and looked out into the rain and saw them, the two of them twenty years ago in Manhattan at the photo shoot. He’s lying naked, belly down on a white carpet on the floor, the auburn red of the violin covering his torso, a bottle of Armand de Brignac in his hand “Cheer up Ernest!  We’re letting them see a new side of me”
   “Managing him could be a nightmare” Earnest said aloud but barely above a whisper.
    “You’re telling us?” Wolfe shouted. A group of students at a table turned to look at him.
   “You are being loud” Mary said with an eye towards the kids.
  “Oh fuck them” Wolfe said directly to the kids and waving them off he turned to Mary and whispered “Our boy did a three page spread, shirtless, wearing cowboy gear.”
  “I missed that one” Mary said “What’s After Dark”
   “It was this Gay rag” Wolfe answered. “It was long before you were around”
    “Before I was around?” she asked
    “Yes, you know, before you two were involved” he replied
    “I think it was a legitimate weekly magazine, filled with celebrities” Earnest added
    “Well he was a cowboy, you know” Mary said
   “Oh please, not everyone from Colorado is Cowboy” Wolfe said waving her off.
   “Yes true” Susan replied “but everyone from Turkey Ridge Colorado is a cowboy. I’m certain of that”
    “Cowboy indeed” Wolfe said dismissively “He was trained at Juilliard.” And then he turned to Earnest and snickered “You couched him into wearing those damn boots”
   “I did not.” Earnest said “The man wore cowboy boots”
   “Snakeskin they were.” Susan said “Who in the name of God hunts down snakes for their skin? Where do they get people to do that sort of thing?”
    "He could stand on a horse" Ernest said “Only cowboys can do that”
   “Now there’s a talent every violinist needs.” Wolfe added with a majestic wave. “Did you advise him on that bit of trashy behavior as well?”
   "He could play violin on a horse.” Mary said “I saw him do it when we went to his father’s ranch or far or whatever you call those horse places"
   “Oh I’m so sorry I missed that.” Wolfe said with a condescending air.
   “Well anyway, it’s difficult to do.” Mary added
   “How would you know?” Wolfe cracked and then added “And once again I say unto ye “The triumph of flash over substance. He could play a violin on a horse but he couldn’t play Beethoven in New York, or Chicago or anywhere else for that matter” 
   Pensive for a moment, Ernest took a sugar packet, examined it, rolled into a ball and snapped across the table with a flick of his fingers. .Susan ran a manicured finger over the rim of her cup, squinted and asked Wolfe “What did you just say?”
    “That he wasn’t a real cowboy” Wolfe answered as he poured more whiskey into his coffee cup.
     “No” Susan said sharply, her lips closed tightly her clear blue eyes focused completely on Mary’s face. “You said to her ‘before you two were involved’
    She leaned in and stared intently at Mary from across the small round table “You were involved with my husband?”
   Wolfe and Earnest looked across the table at Mary. There was no saving her from what was about to happen. Her mouth was open, her eyes were wide, her fingers dug into the sides of her cup. She took a deep breath.    
     “That isn’t what I meant” Wolfe lied.
   “It was for one summer” Mary said
    “It’s all ancient history” Earnest said cutting her off before she dug the grave any deeper.
    The sentence was barely finished when Susan reached out quickly and slapped Mary across the face. Mary reached up to in shock causing the cup to tip and spill over the table. The shop fell silent as every eye watched the drama unfold.
    “You two faced” Susan searched for the words, her face flushed. She raised her hand again but Earnest took her by the wrist and lowered her arm to the table as Wolfe sopped up the coffee from the table.
   “Every all right over there?” the tall, thin young man from behind the counter asked in a way that was intended to be commanding.
   “Does everything look fine?”  Wolfe asked and then waved his hand dismissively at the student who stared across the shop as thought they were frozen in place. “Return to your comma’s.”
   “It happened quickly. It ended quickly” Mary said as she tilted her slender face up towards to white ceiling “ I didn’t know you then, well I didn’t know you well. He told me that you two barely spoke. He lied. He lied about everything all of the time. I learned that later”
   She looked directly across to Susan and with her eyes filling quickly with tears she shook her head and said “I was young and he was beautiful and I was stupid and dumb and you are my best friend.”  
   “And you are my only friend” Susan said taking Mary’s hand “and if a girl can’t slap her only friend who can she slap?” and Mary laughed against her will and wiped away her tears and Wolfe rose a meaty hand in the air and shouted “Garçon! Coffee’s!”
   “It’s self-serve” Earnest told him.
   “I don’t know what that means” he replied.
    “Well its much like your life philosophy” Earnest said.
    “He was flat broke” Susan said and then taking Wolfe’s hand in hers again she said “Maybe you should look into selling his things, his instruments and all”
     They fell into a moment’s silence.      
    “The public forgot him.” Susan said “He became unfashionable”  
    “He should have known the public would tire of him.” Wolfe added “Celebrity in the mainstream is a fleeting thing, nothing more than a disposable commodity in the mainstream.”
   It was about that time” Susan added “when he tried to come back by presenting himself in a more sober and serious light, but the classical world didn’t want him back”
   “Well no one took him seriously anymore.” Wolfe said “Those people tend to mistrust sudden fame. You know, he once said to me “Wolfe my lad, fame will make me immortal” but actually fame killed him. And it killed him a hundred times or more”
   “He was so bewilderment by it all, by the loss of his career.” Susan said “He started losing weight. He drank more until he stopped playing the violin entirely.”
      The young man from arrived with a filthy white towel and sopped up the spilled coffee and walked back to his position to the counter causing Wolfe to point a spot on the table and say “I think you failed to leave some germs here, on this spot”
      They were tired from the subject and the gloom of the day darkened their moods.
    “Are we okay?” Wolfe asked to one and all “Is everything all right between us?”
    No” Susan answered “but we will be. We just have to accept what happened to him was his own doing, really, not ours”
   “Well what more can be said?” Earnest asked
  “He seemed unable to thrive out of the limelight. So, he withered and died” Wolfe said.  “Even the brightest candles are not meant to burn too long”
    No one spoke for a moment until Wolfe said “I should take a leak before we leave” and he did and they waited for him making small talk and when he was finished they gathered their coats and hats. The rain had stopped and the sun appeared cautiously from the clouds.

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