Shaking Hand

Sometimes, if the dwarf sits quietly enough at his wooden desk under the warm orange glow of his aluminum department store lamp, his mind begins searching across a barren desert for things to write about, and soon an orchestra begins to perform outside the cracked midnight window to his right. A drizzle quietly opens the show, gradually pittering against the shimmering black shingles of the roof. As the light percussion crawls into the room, it catches the outcast’s attention.

In the distance a toad awakens as a tuba for his night shift. His croak serves as a morose, lonely addition ricocheting through the atmospheric dark. The toad thinks of himself as the rooster of the night, an anti-hero, underappreciated and a distant cousin to the bird that will wake the world in a few hours. As he lets another croak escape into the air, louder and lonelier this time, the dwarf listens intently and jots a few lines of awkward poetry onto a coffee-stained page in his notebook.

A half-mile or so down the road at a luminescent intersection, a woman wickedly runs a red light, skidding on two wheels around the sharp corner. She is returning from an immoral night of booze and gambling, her thin face crazed and her curly blonde hair jumping with excitement as she lawlessly hurdles through the night. She is one of the ones that cops love to heckle, harass, and arrest. But tonight her skidding tires are free, for they serve as flutes; a necessary addition to the growing performance outside the dwarf’s window.

A drab grey man in a blue suit stares morosely straight ahead into the blind sky. He is piloting a sleeping red-eye flight, to him a late night road trip. Even his co-pilot snores away, his head cocked sideways and drooling slightly. The man thinks about his wife and the dreadful papers he had no choice but to sign a few months ago. She’d acquired a newfound office romance, disregarding the man as if they were back in high school and now, he finds himself hazily piloting his way through life, the world around him seemingly also in a constant doze. He only ever feels his emotions clearly when he is alone with his thoughts, 35,000 feet up in a charcoal sky.

Unbeknownst to himself, his aircraft now contributes a layer of bass-heavy atmosphere to the accumulating sounds of the night, and way down below in the third story of a house the dwarf is now hunched over, scribbling furiously, his mind morphing into a microwave popping ideas quicker than he can digest them. The pits and pats of the earlier mist have now prospered into a perpetual percussion, pouring down and punching violently against the window. It is accompanied by the turbulence of a thousand winds, prompting the colony of tulip trees in the distance to howl in harrowing harmony. They have waited patiently to join in on the piece of music, and it is their time to shine. As they sing, they let their flowers dash throughout the night and slip into the dwarf’s room, covering it in a layer of pink and white confetti.

Next door, a glass is smashed against a wall by a man and a woman cries softly. His yell paired with the other sorrowful sounds of his home penetrate through the paper thin walls of the rural neighborhood and out into the sky. Normally, the sounds would have merely been the echoes of their scheduled nightly quarrel, but tonight they whirl and twist into something that contributes, a beautiful cello section that serves a purpose amidst the brewing of audible ingredients.

Startled yet appreciative of the heartfelt performance, the leader of a colony of crickets summons his army to awaken, and they grab their trumpets immediately. He’s confident they can add a glimmer of hope to the disparate number, and his cluster of students begin chirping along with the hellish skids of madwomen, the wooshes of divorce way up in the sky, the croon of the toad next door, the skitters of breaking glass and boxing match of yells, the bongos of the rain, the howling of the tulip trees, and the gasps of the wonderstruck dwarf.

By this time, each sound of the dark is seeping in through every pore of the dwarf’s crimson bedroom, drowning him in an overwhelming crescendo of sound so beautiful and haunting that he drops his pen and pushes a chair up to the window. Standing on it, he sticks his head out and begins waving his hands exuberantly along with the music, letting the rain strip him back. A sustaining, ringing roar of thunder rips through the night, atop all the other instruments, and the dwarf’s pudgy right hand kisses the sky, flailing and directing the sound in every which way, while his left rests on his head, keeping his nightcap from escaping into the wind. As the thunder bellows to a conclusion, his arms drop in unison. All that’s left is a lone quartet of the chirping trumpets, who perform an ethereal, triumphant outro along with the dwarf’s signaling hands, now hung low and trembling lightly.

Sometimes, if the dwarf sits quietly enough, an orchestra begins to play outside his cracked midnight window, and he is the conductor.