“Come sit with us a moment. Have a little break and something from our menu.” It was going well. The trumpet player made a huge mistake when he formally excused himself and gave up. None of them had ever played in such a residence. The party was being held in the basement, sunken deep into the hillside. There were twelve guests – twelve elegantly dressed gentlemen and ladies in evening gowns. The room was dominated by an enormous fireplace with crackling fire; walls adorned with paintings that were lit by individual reflectors suspended from the ceiling. On the opposite end stood a bar made of highly polished wood of deeply red color; behind it a lighted display of bottles and sparkling stemware. Next to the bar in the corner and separated by two jardinières was the piano. Underneath a soft reflector, the quartet was just having their premiere there.
David had been waiting for this invitation. He wanted to get to know these people better.
“I hope you can have a drink with us, it’s part of being a musician.” The greying gentleman in a classic smoking tuxedo, presumably the key protagonist of the entire celebration, has just invited them join them for a pause.
“Have a seat and tell us a little bit more about yourselves. Your music is extraordinary. I would like to be able to contact you in the future.” Kaz gladly wrote down his and David’s phone numbers. “I must say, I haven’t heard such beautifully heartfelt jazz as you’ve been playing today, in a long time. Let me introduce myself. I’m professor Habbel, director of our clinic, and here are our ‘nobles of the scalpel’, without whom we’d be an empty castle.” It was a social, very friendly invitation. David was the first to speak.
“Here, Kazimierz Blowiecki, is the only true professional in our group. He studied classical piano and it’s thanks to him that our music’s got spark.”
“I recognized it right away that Mr….”
…that Mr. Blowiecki is a poet of the piano.”
“It’s easy to play on such an instrument. That’s Schimmel and the type is surely K-hundred and twenty five, am I right? Model ‘Noblesse’. Am I correct? It plays itself; my touch can only be ruining it.”
“Yes, yes. You have your countryman Chopin behind you, right? I think he’s a great advocate of the piano.” They laughed and David happily introduced also Sven and Juan from Peru. Professor Habbel continued in his interest about the musical ensemble.
“And why do you call yourselves ‘King of Hearts’? Whose idea was that?”
“King of Hearts? If you like it, then that’s what we needed. It has to do with the way we identify with the jazz, and also with the fact that David here is actually a cardio-surgeon.”
“Really? A colleague! Where are you based at?”
“I’m not. I didn’t get residency. So I play the sax and feel ok.” Habbel watched him for a bit, it seemed he wanted to say something, then he just raised his glass. Then followed a short silence that lacked explanation. David had the feeling that Habbel was thinking about something. But maybe he was just telling himself that.
“And what is it you’re celebrating? If you don’t mind my asking.” Sven and Juan were sitting to the side, they were laughing, but David sensed this was a historic type of a meeting. Professor Habbel started laughing and evidently found himself in an awkward position. He hesitated whether he should offer an explanation or quickly think of something. He was buying time.
“It’s a bit of a private occasion. It may be hard to understand. How could I put it, a celebration of the essence of our current state, if I can say it like that.” Now Kaz and David were both curious.
“We will keep it to ourselves. Maybe,” insisted gently David.
“Look, it is…, but I really don’t know. You’ll think that, for something like, you didn’t need to come here tonight.”
“We most certainly won’t think that.”
“Alright, but right after I tell you, you’ll hit it again and play ‘The Old Lucky Sun’. You know how it goes…papadada padada.”
“Sure we know it, professor,” interjected Kaz, “but you’re changing the subject a bit.”
“Every year at the beginning of February we celebrate red wine. That’s simply because, traditionally, it’s good for blood. And blood, that’s what we need and what can’t dry up during our surgical procedures. So that’s why we get ourselves the best red wines and have a great time. Well, we are paying homage to the wine’s wonderfully seductive taste, received from sun, energy and ripening. At the same time its unpredictability and a certain fragility – that filigree softness with which we must approach wine. And also the fact that sometimes wine has one mood and another time another; its invitation and the estimated measure with which we reach for the glass. So…,” turned the dignified grey-haired gentleman and an erudite in his respected field, “…actually it’s the same as with beautiful women. I trust you now understand all that we’re celebrating tonight. Everything, without which life would be impossible.”
“Well, professor, we would’ve come in any case, with reverence and real passion.”
“I knew it. To your health, then. And now, please, play some more.”
They played marvelously. It made a difference, playing for an audience that was real and heard the music, rather than simply providing a background noise. They left feeling fantastic that their daring entrance onto the music scene, under the name ‘King of Hearts’, had been a success.
Later that night, he had stories to share. Alice was glad especially because David was becoming himself again. It was one in the morning, but they didn’t have to get up early the next day, so they stayed up talking about their future, how they would pay off their debts, how David wouldn’t have to work for a few dollars in the warehouse, how they would change up their wardrobe, travel somewhere on a vacation, how they would have a nice Christmas the way they’d imagined, without tension and stress.
“Will you get it, David?”
“Who could it be at this hour?” After the third ring David picked up.