Anzzia Magazine Summer 2019 Volume #31 - Page 45

"Stumpf?" she said, "you're the coach. You knew him better than his parents. Why did he..." She began to cry again. “What does it all mean?”

"That life is sacred," I muttered. I sipped my beer and listened to the music.

"Why, Stumpf?" Linda asked again.

I finished the beer and looked at her, wondering who I was to have answers. The music flowed to its inevitable end. I got up and played the last movement over.

I sat down and listened to the violins sigh.

"What is the answer?" Linda asked again.

"I read the letter." I mumbled.

"What?"

"Earlier today I read all fucking nine pages of his last letter. He ranted. The first time I really just scanned it. Afraid my name would be in it. Good or bad, I really didn't care, I was afraid. But, no. No reference at all. I sighed."

I poured more beer and lit my pipe.

"I read it again and again and again. Dave's mother thought I'd want to. Kept searching for an answer. The writing just got sloppier, more erratic as it went. It got hard to read."

"What did he say?" Linda asked.

"Everything and nothing. Nothing I hadn't told his dad, the school psychologist, the counselors. I felt a little like Cassandra."

The coda of the “Pathetique” came to its dirge ending. I got up, put the needle back on the final movement again.. I puffed at my pipe, sat down and sipped beer. "He said," I continued, "he said. I remember snatches. He said, 'If I had lived I know I would have wanted to be an actor and write comedy..." I drank some more. "Then he said, '...after

Dracula I was thrown into a fit of depression that would make E. A. Poe envious...' I think he stole that line from me. Who knows? He talked about listening to Mintz playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

Then he rambled some more about this-and-that. Then he said, 'To those who wonder why I am different, I have always wanted to put that question to you...' Then he ranted some

more. The kind of shit you'd expect. Wanted some books donated to the school library."

We listened to the music for a bit. I got up and began to pace.

"Well," I said, "what do you make of it? Sometimes there are no answers, only questions.....When I was a child I always asked 'why?'"

I took a long drag on my pipe and looked out the window. Snowflakes swirled in the dusk of night. The music sifted through the silence.

"No, that's not it..." I sat down, "I still say why, but it's not a question anymore....It's really not a question...."

Linda looked at me, her gray eyes webbed with teary red.

The symphony sighed to its inevitable end. We sat in the silence, the silence sat with us.