Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Phone Call (Ch.5 Pt.2)

Josef Gingold, formerly concertmaster under George Szell with Cleveland Orchestra, was chamber music professor par excellence at Meadowmount. His studio on the first floor of the Main House was directly opposite Galamian's room. Gingold, having been a protégé of the legendary Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye, was a much sought after teacher and chamber music coach. Charming and forever patient, his students adored him. Gingold invited everyone to his studio for a warm welcome. "Come children," he said, his voice deep and gruff, "vee'll play chamber music!"
He opened a cupboard filled with sheet music. "Look vot I found. Bach's beloved Brandenburgs!"
Gingold's excitement was infectious. 
"Let's begin with number three."
The students cheered.
The newcomers sat on the floor and watched as the older campers, many in college, grouped into a semi-circle—three violinists, three violists, and three cellists.
Lynn Chang sat first chair. I remembered how he tore into the Tchaikovsky Concerto at Boston's Symphony Hall and was curious to hear him play chamber music.
Lynn brimmed with confidence. The house mother's daughter, Stephanie, sat next to him. "Ready?" He darted a sly look around the room.
"Ready!" shouted the students, their bows held in mid air.
The Brandenburg Concerto pulsated with vitality.  

As swirls of rhythm filled Mr. Gingold's studio, a teaching assistant barged into the room, and gestured for the playing to cease. "Is Marjorie Kransberg here? Has anyone seen Marjorie Kransberg?" Mr. Gingold glanced up. His broad smile faded. Lynn Chang stared blankly. The room fell silent.
I couldn't imagine why I was being summoned, and slowly raised my hand. 
"There you are," said the assistant hurriedly. "Marjorie, your father is on the phone. There's been an emergency and he needs to speak with you right away. The pay phone is open in the booth. It's just by the entrance way. Here, I'll show you."
I could feel the blood rush to my head. My mother had died. I just knew it. Why else would my father call? I began to whimper.
My legs, now made of rubber, followed the assistant to the phone booth. Her face darkened as she handed me the phone. She turned around and left me alone in the cubicle.

I held my breath.
"Margie, precious darling—it's Mummy and Daddy. (They were on the phone together). We had to say it was an emergency or else they wouldn't let us speak with you."
Perspiration soaked my shirt. I could hear my father inhale from his cigarette.
"Tell your mother you're ok. She didn't sleep all night worrying that you're homesick, and I'll tell you, your mother is driving me crazy. You are Frances. You're making me—"
"My sweetheart, precious darling, are you alright? Do you miss Mummy and Daddy?"
"No," I said, feigning calm.
"That's funny. Last night, your first night at camp, I sensed that you missed us. I was sick with worry, my dolly. I miss you, I miss you terribly. Do they serve vegetables at Meadowmount? Enough milk? Are you kept warm at night?"
"Yeah," I replied, secretly grateful to know that my mother was worried sick but had not died. "I'm listening to Lynn Chang play the Brandenburg Concerto in Mr. Gingold's studio." 
"The wha?" asked my father, taking another puff of cigarette.  
"Oh, how phenomenal. John, did you hear that?" My mother's voice leaped. "She's with Lynn Chang! I always wanted the two of them to play duets together."
 "Mum, I've gotta go."
"Don't forget to eat your fruits and vegetables. They'll make you strong."
"Frances. This call's costing money. Marjorie, if you should need to reach us, call collect. Say to the operator, I'd like to place a person-to-person call to John Kransberg. Ok, little pisher?"
Mother was about to say something. "Marj—"
"She's fine Furr," I heard my father gasp, and then a click followed by a dial tone.