steven bach
Falling in Love Again
moved the
microphone,” she said.
She said it in that voice Hemingway wrote “could break your heart,”
but that was not its aim at the moment. There was an insistence in it now
that sounded not from emphasis, but from reserve—a hush almost over-
ridden by the scrape of adjusting chairs and the snap of instrument cases
clicking open and shut somewhere on the stage behind her. There was the
faintest break in this rustle of busy background as another voice, this one
male, said “Sorry?”
“Somebody moved the microphone,” she repeated, as calmly as before,
as quietly.
“Fellas, please,” said the man. Scraps of sound on the stage scudded into
silence. “I didn’t get it, Marlene,” he said.
“Somebody moved the microphone while we were at lunch.” She colored
the words with the faintest hue of authority—not with volume, but with
shading, modulation, a veil. “Moving the microphone is nightclubs. This
is not nightclubs. This is theater. This is concerts.”
Her final word resonated in silence.
Then, “Right, Marlene,” the man said, and dutifully turned to the others,
his voice flat: “No touching the mike, okay, fellas?” just as if they had not
been there to hear it for themselves.
“Thank you, Burt,” said the break-your-heart voice at the precise in-
stant a squeal ran through the sound system, as if some gremlin in the
circuitry were confirming her point.
Silence. Then the slash of a downbeat.
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