“In the gypsy style.” Andante yelled as he flung the chair across the room. All four feet of the chair stayed on the floor as the chair spun clockwise. It collided with the others he had taken off the stack of chairs. “What does that mean anyway? “ he asked.
“It’s a form of playing, an intonation. Look, could you stop throwing the chairs?” Basta was trying to arrange the chairs as the Director wanted them. The Director was a particular fellow.
“Who is this guy anyway?” Toss, skitter, skitter, crash. “This guest player? Must be important.”
“Carmine D. Jose is the master of the form.” Basta said.
“The gypsy style!” Toss spin, skitter, crash.
“Would you stop that?” Basta asked. “Did you hear about his heart attack?”
“Who? The gypsy?”
“No, the Director. Had a big heart attack while driving home.”
“At home or on the way?” Toss, slide, spin, crash.
“Stop!” Basta shouted. “Look, you knocked all those chairs all crooked. The stage hands’ll be here soon.” Basta went back three rows to start re-straightening the chairs. “He was on the 405, going over the pass, when it hit him. Blam!”
Crash, another chair. “Stop!” yelled Basta. “Look, just get the chairs set up right. I don’t want to spend all night doing this. Anyway, we have to be done before the stage hands get here.”
“So, like, is there an actual gypsy orchestra?”
“No, just Jose. So he’s driving over the pass and it hit him, this heart attack, out of the blue, so you know what he does?”
“Crashes?” slide, slide, spin, crash.
“God Damn it! Ok, you want to fuck around? Go ahead, I’ll wait.” Basta sat in one of the chairs.
“So this gypsy, is he a real gypsy? Like does he dress in funny clothes and drive all over Europe?
“He dresses like a regular person. Shirt, pants, the works. So the Director, he doesn’t crash, he drives himself to the hospital.”
“Kind of, but that’s the thing; he was right near UCLA, but he drives to Harbor-UCLA. All the way over in Carson.”
“Why’d he do that?” Andante had stopped sliding the chairs and started just un- stacking them, absorbed in the story.”
“That’s the thing, He knew that Harbor was a county hospital.”
“So it’s cheaper. The guy is friggen' dying and he drives 20 miles south to a cheaper hospital.”
“He has his priorities.”
“He has his priorities fucked; you’re dying, you go to the nearest hospital. He said every time traffic stopped he would put the car in neutral and slump over the wheel.”
“Maybe he wanted to die driving. Maybe he’s part gypsy.” Andante continued to take chairs off the stack until there was no stack. He went to the storage closet and slid out two more stacks of chairs. These were orange instead of the yellow that they had been previously working with. He continued. “This gypsy guy, he tour a lot?”
“He’s a musician, that’s what they do.”
“The Director doesn’t tour. He stays put.”
“He’s up and around now.” Basta said. He stood up and started arranging the chairs again. “So he gets out of the hospital and he changes his life completely.”
“What, leaves his wife and kids? Takes up with some 20-year-old? Buys a sports car? Geeze-us, can’t anyone be original?”
“No no no. He stopped everything.” Basta said, “He dropped his mistress, who was 37 by the way. I met her once. Red hair, long legs, stacked. He got rid of all his trash, cleaned up his life entirely. Cleaned out his attic, and garage, and storage bins. Had a series of yard sales. Just down to the bare necessities.”
“No shit, really? What? Did he find God or something? Look there’s an orange chair over there with the yellows.”
“Shit.” Basta said, “ We have to get that out of there, the Director likes all the colors together.”
“Shit. I’ll get it.”
“No, no, no, wait,” Basta said, as Andante stormed through the once perfectly aligned chairs, scattering them as he retrieved the stray orange chair. Andante ceremoniously lifted the chair over his head and walked as stately as he could towards the other orange chairs.
“God Damn it! Now we have to re-do those.” Basta sat down heavily on one of the sunshine-colored chairs. He was turning red and his breath was coming hard.
“You better re-prioritize yourself, bro, you’re going to find yourself in the cheap hospital,” Andante said as he went to get more orange chairs. Andante liked the storeroom. It was dark, cavernous and had a faintly musty smell like a church basement, the smell of mildew and remnants of cupcakes. He worked his way behind several stacks of chairs and bulldozed them out onto the concert hall floor. Basta had started to turn pale.
“So the director,” Basta said, undeterred “He turns his life around completely. No God or nothing, just keeps asking ‘is this what I want to leave behind?’ you know he’s worried about his legacy.”
“His legacy? So he wants to leave behind a series of garage sales and gypsy concerts? I woulda stood with the redhead.”
“Yeah you would, but would she stay with you? I don’t think so.” Basta said. He stood up and went over to the scattered chairs and started to realign them. Andante went back into the storage room and brought out several stacks of green chairs.
“Where do the green ones go?”
“The Director likes the green ones closer to the stage ‘cause the stage is green.” Basta said.
“No it’s not. It’s blue.”
“Yeah, but he don’t know that, they repainted while he was out.”
“He’s gonna be pissed.”
“Yeah, unless he’s really changed, then no.”
“So this gypsy, does he have an entourage? Like a band of gypsies that travel around with him. Gypsy girls and that?”
“I don’t think so. But you know everyone will be here in twenty minutes so you can ask him directly.” The storage closet was now empty and all the chairs where un-stacked. Andante started to put them in rows.
“You see that box on the stage?” Basta asked.
“Yeah, what of it?”
“That’s the programs. Once these chairs are set up we need to put one on each chair.”
“Ok.” Andante went over to the box and opened it up. He took out a program and started to read it.
“Hey, Basta, check this out.”
“It says the director is joining the gypsy on tour.”
“Really? Wow. That’s surprising.”
“Yeah, I guess he got his life cleaned up so he could leave.”
“Or maybe once he got rid of everything there was nothing holding him here.”
Andante took the box to the back of the room and started placing one program on each chair, adjusting the chairs as need be.
“I guess what’s clutter to some is an anchor to others.” Basta said.
“Yeah, what does that make his wife?”
“Alone I guess. Unless she goes with.”
“Maybe she’s a gypsy too.”
“Maybe if we got rid of all our clutter we’d find a gypsy inside too.”
“Except you Basta, I don’t think you’re the wandering type.”
“Nope, but I like the music. Maybe we all don’t have gypsy in us.”
“I think you do, you just have to let go a bit.”
“Every time I do, I feel things slipping out of my control.”
“That’s the point, Basta. Let go, don’t control. Lighten up. Here, look, we’re done. Let's go get a beer before everyone gets here.”
“But what if they get here before we get back?”
“Then they’ll be here when we get back. Dude, you’re a volunteer, what are they gonna do? Fire you? Yeah right.”
“Yeah I guess still…”
“Basta, it’s time you chilled out a bit, lets go get a beer before we’re out of time.”
“Yeah let's go.”
Basta stood looking at the neat rows of chairs. Moved one slightly to the left so it was clearly in the aisle and pushed it hard toward the stage. The chair slid all the way to the stage hitting it with a soft thud. “In the gypsy style,” Basta said, and they left.