I.- Ambrós's test
Ambrós is convinced that the things hide when he's in a hurry and just appear when he's looking for something else. At this time he's looking for his keys. He has looked on the shelves of his book-library, in the tray of coins, even in the pockets of his raincoat. He's about to start looking for his sunglasses to see if the keys are near but he has no time for experiments, if he doesn't hurry up he'll be late and he knows that they will not wait for him, he feels the nerves caressing his neck.
In the meantime his sister Siobhán watches silently from the doorway of the entrance. Her neck is wrapped with a green wool scarf and repeatedly hits the ground with her umbrella.
The keys are not in the drawers of the dresser. Ambrós snorts and put his hands on his head. Siobhan looks at him, opens her mouth, closes it, and swallows. She'll be late for school. He runs from side to side of the house.
"Mom, where are my keys?"
His mother answers from the kitchen with the voice muffled by the noise of the smoke's extractor and the whistle of the pressure cooker.
"Look for them on the telephone table."
The keys are there half hidden between the lamp and the yellow pages.
"Are they there?"
Ambrós puts the keys in his coat's pocket, takes his fiddle, goes out and closes the door gently. This morning drizzle. The sun tries to appear behind a grey wall of clouds. He doesn't want to open the umbrella; because once it's wet it's a nuisance.
A fat drop hits his forehead. He looks up and another falls over the tip of his nose, another, and another. Within seconds begins to fall a stark rain that forces him to squint. Rain reduces visibility by half.
Ambrós family, the Mc Guinness, have always lived in the Nurroob Upper neighbourhood, it's located at the base of a rugged mountain, from far you can see the skyline of Bailledúill riddled with distinct skyscrapers and there is no place on earth with anything like this. Daily life isn't too stressful living in this Bailedúill district, because what used to be a neighbourhood of monotony has grown into a multicultural hub, known for its street performers.
The Baldur Junction station is full of people waiting for the train, most of them workers and young students. The train appears nearly empty reflecting his headlights into the wet bitumen, the rain that keeps falling. Ambrós and Siobhán come in, the doors close and with a smooth and gently movement the train gets on function again.
Ambrós sit memorize and order as the pieces of a puzzle all the parts of the musical piece to be played in front of the jury. Behind Siobhán there is a thin man with dark patches under his eyes, his hair greasy and stuck to the skull, stained vest and a cloth in his hands. He's dressed a little bit strange with what was once a t-shirt is now a vile collection of pieces of dirty fabric, grime and muck, it barely manages to hang from his shoulders like a discarded old towel. Part of the bottom has been torn of and the sleeves are worn away, leaving much of him exposed to the elements. He's wearing a rugged coat over his t-shirt. It's in relative good condition apart from the holes, but at least it helps him stay protected from the elements, even if only for a little. His pants aren't much better either. There's a big tear on the left side which runs from the top to almost the bottom. But at least he has shoes to protect his feet.
Next stop Spectrum Station, here steps out Siobhán, says goodbye to Ambrós and with a soft kiss on the cheek whispers good luck on the test! He looks at his watch and spiders with the nail of the index the fiddle's case.
It's hard to describe a complex person like Ambrós Mc Guinness, It takes a while to get to know him but two things you'll never forget are that he's companionably and hardworking. He fears rejection in relationships, emotionally moody. Hey! Nobody's perfect of course he has a share of darker side to deal with too. He's also likely to be original and creative His disrespectful nature and grim ways can cause uncomfortable situations. Fortunately his hardworking nature helps prevent most of these grievances. His wardrobe is full of weird and spooky clothes, perhaps out of date for his early twenties, this morning he's wearing his cherished black semi-matte leather-look jeans, both legs feature distinctive side fastenings with eyelets, a classic simple cut-pirate white shirt with open neck laces up through silver metal eyelets and a stylish double breasted green waistcoat with collar, the front is in two tone brocade and fastens with ornate metal buttons fully lined and backed in black satin. His Victorian style frock coat, coloured beautifully in dark purple cotton velvet, it's tailored with a slim front lapel and side seam pockets. The front fastens with three ornate brass buttons. The back of the coat is tailored. His feet are covered with black leather combat boots featuring four buckle straps, with triple stitching and capped steel toe, accompanied by a dark violet scarf. This attire in combination with his auburn hair full of dreadlocks and a pierced lip gives him a sinister appearance.
Next stop Vulcan Station, hey, hey, nerves on! "I'm sure my voice shakes because of the nerves" -thinks for himself-. The train stops, Ambrós presses the bottom and the doors open, he goes down and breathes deeply.
Located on the Greenfield Street, from the outside The Black Quaver's EcstasyConservatory looks intimate and cozy, it has been built with burgandy bricks and has spruce wooden decorations. Tall, large windows allow enough light to enter the hall are added in a fairly symmetrical pattern. The building is shaped like a short U. The two extensions extend into a covered corridor to each side.
The building doors are still closed; waiting there is a long line of people simulating a multi-coloured snake. He walks slowly, like following a fine line of chalk. By opening the doors one by one entered a broad corridor.
The doorman, a tall man with black hair, cordially greets everyone who enters the building, gives them a card with a number, asks the name and writes on a pad of stripes. At the same time shows them the access door to the test. The doorkeeper gives Ambrose a pap card with the number 17 written in block letters.
"Second floor, door number two, wait there to be called" announce the man.
The second floor is bigger than the first, which creates several overhanging parts on several sides of the Concert Hall. This floor has a different style than the floor below.
Ambrós thinks that if they accept him it will be a dream come true, something he will never forget. He decides to sit on a bench in the corner of which sits a tall girl with curly dark brown hair and green eyes. The girl is dressed with a dress made from dark turquoise and white fabrics. It has a short poofy skirt with a corset about the waist and bell-shaped sleeves. It is accented with a coordinating sash and lace; her feet are covered with high-heeled buckled calf-length boots made from fruit print fabric designed in vivid magenta, dark pink, dark green, and white. She has a sleek appearance.
Her hair is covered with a funky monmouth cap knitted from vivid green yarn. She wears a bandana around her neck and she is shaking like a leaf.
"Are you cold?"
"No" replied the girl, "I'm nervous".
"Are you going to do the test?"
"Yes, I'm waiting, and you?"
"Yes me too."
"My name is Ambrós."
"Mine is Moira." "Which instrument do you play?"
"The fiddle this I have inherited from my grandfather. And you?"
"I play the bódhram."
The conversation is interrupted when a tall and robust man announces in a tremulous voice, passing the number 17.
"That's my number"
"Best of luck"
"Thanks Moira, you too"
Ambrós walks to a tall wooden door push it with the shoulder, once, twice. The door gives way and closes with a bang that bounces off the walls.
The room is large with rows of chairs upholstered in fuchsia. In front of the jury there's a colour chair desk. Suddenly Ambrós's fear has been crushed like a ball of dough.
"Good morning," says one of the jurors.
The juror is a boorish guy, with slanted eyes of the colour of the afternoon sky. His luxurious, wavy, brown hair is worn in a style that reminds you of a peacock's tail. His skin is white. He has an upturned nose. His wardrobe is practical.
"Good morning," announces Ambrós voice shakily.
"Tell me your name, your surname and the part or fragment you are going to play." A slight tremor comes up to him in the back and feels a cold fever. "My name is Ambrós, Ambrós Mc Guinness and the piece I'm going to play is the "Butterfly of a Cat" for fiddle from Anatol Haselberger ."
"When you want you can start" says the member of the jury with resolute voice.
In the room there's an awkward silence, lasting several minutes, Ambrós takes a deep breath recovers his smile, takes the fiddle off the case, with his left hand holds the bow. Try another deep breath, and a cough attacks him.
Head down, He close his eyes for a moment just a slow blinking, until the itching in the throat yields. The notes hover in his head like the bubbles of a soda, quickly orders the pieces of the puzzle, holds firmly and gently the fiddle's bow and begin playing the piece.
The minute-long of the piece seams for him hours, when Ambrós reopens his eyes a tear stings and slips to the tip of the nose. In the room, nobody talk, you can hardly hear the sound of some breathing accelerated.
The faces of the jury have the expression as smooth as yellow marble, all is still. He lowers his head and stand still, staring at his feet. At last the noise of a chair falling breaks the silence. One of the jurors, a tall young man apologizes. "You played the piece beautifully, the best interpretation that my ears have heard in ages, of the precious piece that created the gold mind of the great composer Anatol Haselberger."
Ambrós can't talk he feels his face like wax. "Yes, I know that the most difficult part is to start -speaks the young jury- then everything is easier. The test is over, you can relax, in two weeks the results will be posted on the board in the entrance." Ambrós can only nod, puts gently his fiddle in the case, but before wipe all traces and humidity that has left soaked. He fastens the cuffs of his shirt and put on his jacket.
Leaves the room absent without really knowing what to do takes out his mobile phone and dial the number of his girlfriend Helen, as always is busy.
The rain keeps falling on the wet asphalt, he's determined to not open his umbrella, decides to go for coffee to the Loop Mug, he likes hot coffee, coffee makes him restart.
It's located on Goldenbell Avenue, in an arcane ward of hidden alleys and alchemical forges. The street outside is paved with spiral-carved flagstones. From the outside the Loop Mug looks humble, displaying a red light above the door, delightful and inviting. Large and small stones and hardwood tree trunks make up most of the building's outer structure. It's hard to see through the small, curtained windows, but the thrilled sounds from within can be felt outside. As you enter the tavern through the hardwood door, you're welcomed by aromas of roasted meats and cheerful singing.
Ambrós arrives to the high wooden door of the Loop Mug; he pushes the door and enters the door close quiet with a smooth soft. It's as charming inside as it is on the outside. Rounded, stone beams support the upper floor and the decorational lights attached to them. The walls are littered with so many different memorabilia, you're not sure if they tried going for a specific style at one time or just put up anything they like.
Ambrós checks out the premises. The bartender is quite busy, but still manages to welcome you with a friendly nod. The place is full of stools, chairs chaise-lounges and tables and with them people sitting. By going to sit on one of the stools... BANG!
Ambrós sees Darius kissing Helen and a mild tremor in the back comes up like dripping ice water. Both see him stand still, frozen in that moment that produces fear. Without hesitation Ambrós approaches her and says, "Tell me why, I do not want excuses. Don't think it's better not to give you time to invent a new story. I just want to know why. I deserve an explanation and you have to give it to me. I don't know how these things happen. And I just ask you why? I don't want to know the circumstances, I just want the reason. If you tell me the reason I'll be quiet."
His stomach has been turned upside down to finish the sentence. The words have emerged as buttered and he couldn't stop them. Without stopping to watch he turns on himself and leaves the Loop Mug's closing the door with a bang. He walks absent down the street, finally decides to visit his father that director and doorkeeper at the Cat-like face Inn. On the way, he watches a young girl who is sitting on the curb. It seems that something is wrong with her, without thinking he decides to see what happens to her.