July 25, 2012 by Marcus Speh
The aftermath of reading Carson McCuller’s “The Ballad Of the Sad Café” (my dictation software transcribes her name as ‘cosmic colors’) is filled with strange sensations, partly because I had my ear wax removed for the first time in 15 years (wife: “why have you got so much wax in your ears?” Me: “what?”), which led me into a world of forgotten sounds, beginning with the creaking of the wood panels under my bare feet in the morning and making me curse the construction worker who rides his road building machine past our apartment every morning, generating noise that my brain had learned to subtract from the scaffold of sounds around me, but is helpless to do so now, it’s protective layer of wax gone, removed by a very friendly, very chatty nurse (though, owing to the rinsing procedure, I am unable to repeat the content of her chattiness). Every loss leads to a gain, I think, as the silence resonates within the hollow cavern of my auricle. I’ll play it by ear now.
The aftermath of reading Carson McCuller’s “The Ballad Of the Sad Café” is filled with strange stories that beleaguer me while I’m still lying in bed. The strangest one among them is the story of twins, trained snipers, who lost their minds in one of the wars of the American Empire. Upon coming home to their little southern town, they lock themselves in a water tower from where they pick out strangers and shoot them. Despite the inconvenience brought to the townsmen from these two, nobody betrays them: the Law has no reach in this town. The drama of the homecoming heroes ends when Hungarian twins, who shoot absurdly well, come to town, nobody knows where from. They get the respect of the town when they shoot the rifles out of the hands of the two homecoming heroes up on the tower. Subsequently, the mysterious European beauties fall in love with the blood-thirsty American twins, they get married and have quadruplets, two boys and two girls, who resemble their parents like clones, and who speak Hungarian and English perfectly from birth. In the end, and this is markedly different from the melancholy stories of McCullers, everyone is healed, insanely happy, and the dangerous concept of strangeness has given way to tolerance and togetherness.
I told you it was strange.