The Mysteries of His System
The Verses in His Life
A Love Story
by Barry Grant
Audie loved saying "Prue." "Prue, Prue, Prue," he would say as he moved the objects on his desk from one place to another, and as he looked out of a window at the creatures and the objects of the air, and as he walked home from work, smacking his chinos on the off-beats, and at other times when the tasks of working and the tasks of living, did not bind his mind. "Prue" was a poem to him, the poem of the miracle of his life, redolent of softness, and ease of spirit, and softness, gentle looks, and smooth touchings, and music, and, everything, and he couldnt say what more, everything. It was a perfect word. And every time he said it, he said it, with all of himself, with all the connections, slowly pulling his lips apart and softly pushing the air out of his mouth into space.
One afternoon, sitting in the red chairs in the room with the system, Janaceks "Kreutzer" playing below the level of their voices, Prudence and Audie read the thoughts of the readers of one of the magazines. One reader wrote the idea that when it comes to recordings, you werent there, and if you were there, which you hardly ever were, you cant remember, and if you can remember, the machines and the processes and the energies change everything anyhow, so forget about fidelity, itz, just, not, a, poss-i-bil-it-y, you, can, have.
That night, together in bed, Audie and Prudence asked themselves, all of the possibilities.
Are things only what they are, or
are things what they are and something else, or
are things only something else, or
are things sometimes what they are and sometimes
something else, or
are there differences among things,
some of them being only what they are,
some of them being what they are and something else,
some of them being only something else, and
some of them being sometimes what they are and
sometimes something else,
and, if there are differences among things,
how does one know
which things are only what they are, and
which things are what they are and something else, and
which things are only something else, and
which things are sometimes what they are and
sometimes something else?
Bright in the rhythm of the distinctions, loose in the light of love, Audie and Prudence made a poem of the possibilities.
Audie, hands crossed behind his head, eyes calm, stomach still, said he had been thinking about the idea of the reader and about the possibilities. "Prudence," he said. "There are differences among things, some of them being only what they are, and some of them being what they are and something else, and some only being something else, and some of them being sometimes what they are and sometimes something else, and sometimes one can tell which things are which and sometimes one cannot tell, and when it comes to. . ."
Prudence clutched her stomach. Sadness and disappointment and fear of Audies philosophy filled her body. "Im tired," she said and gave Audie a quick kiss. She turned away from Audie, and stifled the sobs that rose to the cadence of her questions, "Can I love a man who regards appearances with suspicion? Can I love a man who thinks things can be what they are and what they are not? Can I love a man who thinks he is, or might be, deep in himself, what he is and something else besides?"
Audie awoke, twisted his head, around, and looked through the space where Prudence had been. With one long smooth toss, he flipped off the sheet and the blanket, folding them right across one hypotenuse of the mattress. He pivoted on his buttocks, lowered his feet into a pair of low leather slippers, and walked to the door of the room. As he neared the door, he looked back to the bed, saw the two near-perfect right triangles, and wondered to himself, "Can perfection arise in a situation of anxiety? The enlightened ones say calmness of mind is necessary for art, but look, two near-perfect triangles."
"Prue," Audie said. "Whats wrong?" Prudence sat in one of the hard tall straight chairs in the kitchen, her legs gathered up against her chest and her arms hugging her knees.
Prudence lifted her head.
Prudence pushed strands of hair across her face and set them behind an ear.
Prudence, eyes hard and dark, looked at Audie.
Prudence said to Audie, "Audie. Things are only what they are. Things are perfect in themselves. A lover knows this. A lover knows a thing as the thing it is and loves a thing for being the thing that it is. . ."
As Prudence spoke, Audie slowly lowered himself on to the other kitchen chair, dropped his hands into his lap, and bent his head toward the sound of her voice, and. . .
The gap grew beneath him. Noises enveloped him. White. Pink. Looping oscillations. Warbles. Words from the magazines rang rang rang in his head. The only reason for audio equipment to exist is to recreate sound from signals a critical question in setting up these speakers is how to connect them after considerable experimentation, I recommend either the Gold Aero East German 12AU7 or the RAM Labs selected and graded tube. Audie shivered. He pressed his hands against his ears and dropped his elbows to his knees. "Perfect in themselves, perfect in themselves, is my system perfect? am I perfect? A lover knows a thing. What thing? What does Prudence know? What is happening to me? East German? Selected and graded? Prudence, oh no, no."
Prudence arose before him. She held a glass cylinder upright in her left hand. An apricot glow spilled from her, filling the room.
Audie opened his eyes. He thought to himself, "Something has happened to me. I am not the man I once was. But who am I now?" Audie looked up at Prudence. She held a glass of water out to him. He fell to the floor before her, bowing his head, embracing her legs. Prudence, eyes with tears, set the glass on the table, and sank to the floor next to him. Audie lay his head in the sweet nest of her lap. "Prue, Prue, Prue," he moaned (the air left his mouth in puffs of gentle warm air).
Audie raised his head. Prudence took two quick breaths. His eyes, glowing, met her eyes, radiant, seeking his. "What next?" he said.
Audie and Prudence sighed together.