Academic journal article Chicago Review

Leonid Goes for Help

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Leonid Goes for Help

Article excerpt

Leonid Andromodov, panderer to the socially correct and composer mauvais of pastiches, operettas, and secular spectacles, returned home one night from yet another late run-through to find his wife, Sylvia, dancing recklessly on the kitchen table. He was struck by her frenzy, her rhythmic fervor. Her clothes, which appeared to have been flung with fair abandon, were strewn across the floor, the cabinetry, and cooking surfaces, as were those of the young man who danced opposite her. Who is this young man who is naked in my kitchen and dancing on the table, he wondered. He has the swarthiness of a Gypsy and the air of a miscreant and yet his steps are deft and, in their animal way, not unsophisticated. Is he a professional dancer? Perhaps a chorus boy? And what is his relationship with my wife, Sylvia? Is he a ship passing in the night or something more sinister and lasting? Leonid's head spun with possibility.

"Sylvia!" he barked.

Leonid wheeled into the night only to be stopped at the comer by Vibrata Fleischman, one of the city's pricier professional ladies. "Whoa, Leonid," she said throbbingly. "What's up?"

"My wife, Sylvia," Leonid said, distraught.

"You appear distraught," Vibrata said.

"I'll be fine, I -"

"You were wheeling into the night until I stopped you."

"Yes, I was. Thank you."

"Where were you going?"

"I was going for help," Leonid said, settling down.

"First you must settle down and tell me about it."

So Leonid told Vibrata what he saw when he came home from yet another late run-through. He rambled without organization or punctuation, spilling his wretchedness in a flow of colorful detail.

"And that's it?"

"That's it."

"Perhaps," she said with throaty compassion, "I am in a position to help."

"How?"

"Expertise, consolation, distraction."

"Thanks all the same."

"Hear me out," she said. "If he is a professional dancer, she is probably taking dancing lessons. If he is a chorus boy, you have nothing to worry about. But didn't you say Gypsy?"

"There seemed to be a certain hot-bloodedness, yes."

"Hmmm," she said professionally.

"I don't know where to turn."

"We will think of something," she assured. "Meanwhile, would you like to party?"

"Tonight?"

"On me?" she said with a cryptic twinkle.

"Well, I do like parties -"

Ambling one of the city's intensely scenic parks, Leonid chanced upon, in an opportune copse, a palmist. Her stand was clumsy and jerry-built but amateurishly vivid and not unwelcoming. "Hello, Leonid," the palmist said as he approached. "What's your beef?"

"How did you know my name?"

"I am a palmist, remember?"

"But I haven't shown you my palm."

"In some cases I have to fake it." She rolled her eyes with dark aplomb. "You've got a problem, talk to me."

"It's a domestic problem," Leonid said. "I walked in on my wife."

"What was she doing?" The palmist glowered.

"She was dancing on the kitchen table."

"Was she naked? Was she dancing with a comely young man you have never seen before and who was also naked?"

"Yes, she was." Leonid's eyes swam with confusion and self-pity. "Can you tell me what this means? Can you critique my behavior? Can you envision a way out?"

"No."

Leonid cased the gala goings-on with fashionable cheerlessness. The hurly-burly of opportunity and self-promotion is all about me, he mused. And yet how removed we are from meaning or fondness or even love. How adrift -

"Leonid, you came!" The Defense Minister's wife planted a wet buss. "And where," she glanced absently about the glittering pavilion, "is sweet Sylvia this evening?"

"I'm afraid she has taken to her room." Leonid smiled with bleak artifice. "The poor dear is quite done in."

"Of course she is."

"Your brooch -" Leonid obliqued. …

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