“D-...Mr Tripp,....I am sure that some where inside your skull there is a brain that is collecting dust and will be attributed to the downfall of all human kind if you continually miss use it and allow it to fester and harden into charcoal in future endeavours towards your scholastic career here at Saint Lukes” said Professor Darthomas the english teacher dressed in his university robes in a ridiculously high wooden chair at the head of the classroom, almost throwing Rufus back his assignment with contempt.
Next period was History then a double class of Art.
Learning history to Rufus was a really painful narrative about ordinary people struggling time and time again to achieve the same things year after year throughout time. Equality, Democracy and a tolerant society, yet always beaten down again and again by a bunch of the privileged few whose wills match their greed. Then it was on to Art class to study old buildings, old paintings, make clay ashtrays think of art as a physical object with a size and colour to match and generally wait for the school bell to signal when it was time to ride his bike home.
Rufus really hated being at this school, it said in its literature that you could celebrate being Catholic in Australia, it would provide a stimulating and a mind bending curriculum which links to faith and culture and foster the dignity, self-esteem and integrity of each person in the school. While at the same time filling him with fear in religious instruction by a priest who told him he had rosary beads and that he wasn’t afraid to use them.
This all made perfect sense to him but at the same time he had the snot beaten out of him at lunch time by guys in higher grades than him and invariably had his bikes tyres let down or slashed, was picked on in gym class, and really only felt safe when he was on his way to and from school or in one other place.
The music room.
His sanctum of pleasant sounds that calmed his other wise brutal lunch times and free periods in school. Here... he could relax and switch off. His mind would rest from the constant vigilance of self preservation and the sounds soothed his heart, even if it was some kid belting the bajeebers out of a set of tympani drums out of tune.....and time.
He could hide from the bullies on the stage in the school hall and be amongst guys and girls at all times hidden from sight who just wanted to learn how to master their instruments and he just watched and listened to all their notes, failings and repetitions until perfection was reached by simply following little tiny dots on a page. Who could have believed that these little circles and symbols could equate into sounds that when played in the correct time signature with a degree of passion and thoughtfulness could produce MUSIC.
Rufus was transfixed and silent just watching and listening to all forms of instruments melding together to create harmonious beauty in the form of sound. It was a neat trick, one he knew he would love to be a part of. He stood there mimicking the finger movement of the 1st violinists fingers, he moved his right arm back and forth imagining what it would be like to hold a bow and play a cello. He hit his knees in time with the tympani player and pretended to be the conductor by closing his eyes and counting time whilst moving his body like an ear of wheat in a gentle breeze.
Music touched his very soul and his entire body.
What also touched him was Professor Lagarth on his shoulder who was in charge of the music department while Rufus was mid swing conducting the orchestra from behind the curtain on the stage over looking the orchestra rehearsal.
“Excuse me young man... but should you be in here?” he asked and Rufus froze instantly in embarrassment, his face turning bright red in the dark and he slowly lowered his arms and stopped moving.
" No Sir....” and Rufus dropped his head and felt tears well in his eyes because he had been exposed showing his true feelings, emotions and movement instead of the ones he usually gave out in classrooms which if you had not have marked his name off the role call before class you wouldn’t have even know he was there. The head of the music department had watched him move and feel each nuance, rise of fall of volume and accent of each instrument with complete accuracy as if he was watching the shadow of the conductor. He was impressed with what he saw and had been watching for some time as young Rufus mimicked and copied exactly what each part of the music that was being played needed and how a conductor could extract more emotion and feeling from the players sitting in front of of him and all this was done in the semi dark behind the curtain in complete silence. He could see that Rufus was in total rapture of what was being played. It had consumed him.
Rufus felt guttered. He had been seen in his abject true form. The orchestra played on while Professor Lagarth got Rufus to look at him and when Rufus did the Professor put his first finger to his lips to motion to Rufus to remain quiet and then he gestured that Rufus follow him out from behind the curtain and away so they could talk. Rufus thought to himself he would be expelled for sure and was mortified at this thought as he followed this teacher out in to the hallway of the music department.
“Come to my office young man I’d like to talk to you” said the Professor in a gentle tone that almost sounded like he cared.. and was very similar to the voice of his dad. The professor opened the door to his office and beckoned Rufus to follow him. Then once Rufus was inside he closed the door and asked him to sit down.
Outside the music department office the school bell sounded for the end of lunch time and all the students made their way back inside the school to recommence the classes that were ready to begin.....all except Rufus.