Cover design by the always amazing Greg Simanson
“It’s a novel that reads as equal parts Gothic horror, campfire story, and slasher flick, and somehow, Kimmell blends it all into one master work of symphonic terror.” Clayton Smith – Author of Apocalypticon
It all started with this short phrase repeating in my head again and again for days…”We had four pianos.” i wasn’t certain where it would lead me, but definitely fascinated by the possibilities. i hope it intrigues and challenges you as much as it did (and still does) me. please enjoy a brief glimpse into the world of “the Idea of North”…
1 – Four Pianos
We had four pianos. The black Kawai upright on the wall next to the stairs in the entry way was Mary’s. Directly across the floor from the bathroom door stood Eliza’s brown Yamaha. With only a foot or so of space left between them while they both played, they needed to rest each bench upside down on top of the pianos when they finished. Otherwise, you couldn’t enter the house without tripping.
Mother’s instrument was the fifteen foot dull white Steinway grand beneath the chandelier in the center of the living room. I never understood why she put it in that particular spot. It blocked the path from the kitchen to the dining room, making it extremely difficult to carry out hot food or the large pitchers of honey tea she loved so much at mealtime. Though it rested there our entire lives, we never really did get used to the obstacle. Spills happened from time to time, and Mother made sure we knew damn well that nothing should ever fall on that fucking Steinway.
On the landing at the top of the stairs was my beat up, unfinished and warped Sears-Roebuck console. Its keys clicked and pedals stuck. The lid was removed long before I was born, so many years’ worth of dust had accumulated on its strings. The cracked ivory on G below middle C exposed wood beneath with a pronounced semi-transparent glob of glue still left behind. Constant use left a pronounced finger indentation with a faded crimson stain from scratches and cuts to my finger brought on by the jagged edge of the break.
Somehow all four pianos were in tune with each other. I have no memories of seeing a tuner ever come over to maintain the instruments. For that matter, I don’t remember seeing anyone ever come over to the house at all.
Mary played Bach while Eliza stumbled her way through Beethoven. If Mother played anything other than Chopin, I really couldn’t tell you what it was. The battle of staccatos and sustained tones while all three played at the same time was a deluge on the ears that should have made Charles Ives and Arnold Schoenberg puff their chests with atonalistic pride.
I was left to my own devices on the second floor. There were no score pages or lesson plans to learn from. Mother said that I must use my ears. In order to prove my worth, I had to “Open yourself and just listen…” She would say this and point her round knuckled finger up at me. Then the three ladies would begin.
“Play the Bach.” Her whisper would pierce the silence after the final chords had all but faded away. Her closed eyes were lost in some form of twisted prayer rapture with her head hanging down so the tips of her hair gently brushed the keys of the Steinway. I would then begin my attempt to play the first Goldberg Variation with Mary’s exact phrasing. Not the easiest thing to do for an eight-year-old boy.
Sweating through muscle-aching fingers, I’d come as close as I could. When I finally stumbled to a close, the words, “Now the Beethoven,” would climb up the stairs to greet me. It was usually the Moonlight Sonata, but sometimes Eliza would play the Appassionata or even the Pathetique. Mother would never allow me to play her beloved Chopin. Apparently, I didn’t possess the grace and subtlety to reach his exalted heights of bliss.
We knew better than to rise from our pianos until Mother had set us free. Sometimes she stayed that way for hours, hands folded in her lap with her back hooked over. The orange shag carpet beneath my piano bench revealed dark circles from my small bladder losing the struggle to hold on to its contents.
Finally, her head would slowly raise and give a slight nod. Lids silently lowered over keys and benches were placed up high to provide walking space. Then the three of us walked to our bedrooms, shut the doors and lay down atop our crisply made beds waiting for Mother’s “critiques.”
I stared at the ceiling for a while. Watching as the knots in the old wood swirled around turning into airplanes and dragons. The man pictured in the framed black and white photograph on my dresser was not my father. Instead, a portrait of the famous Canadian pianist Glenn Gould gazed into a mysterious distance somewhere over the keyboard. His hair caught in fantastic mid-air swirls while nimble fingers blurred. Mother thought it might serve as my inspiration toward greatness.
I did not yet know my father. Mother would not speak of him and my sisters changed the subject swiftly whenever I asked questions. When I was little it was easier to not let it bother me, although it did grow through time into a rather distracting thought. I learned to keep it to myself. I often wondered who he was and where he might be. Did he play piano too?
My eyes grew heavy as the photo of Mr. Gould began to reach out and speak to me. I heard Eliza crying through the wall next to my headboard. I could only assume she didn’t perform up to Mother’s satisfaction. I don’t know if Mother ever hurt my sister’s physically. I never saw bruises or heard any sounds of violence. But her displeasure was enough to crush their spirits rather intensely.
Footsteps made their way slowly across the landing to my door. Mother stood outside for a few moments and then let herself in. She walked to my bedside, brushed a few wrinkles out of her blouse and sat down on the mattress next to me. She folded her hands neatly in her lap one on top of the other without interlacing fingers. Her left hand rested flat with the palm facing up, right hand palm down on top.
She inhaled a deep breath and held it for a long while. When she finally cracked the silent seal to speak, her lips barely moved. If any wind blew outside my window it would have drowned the sound. “You must learn these words. Learn them so that you know them deep in your blood. You must become them.”
Of course I had no idea what she was talking about. I was only a child with little understanding of the goings on within my own house, let alone the outside world. I wanted to ask her what she meant, but when she turned to face me, I remained still. She didn’t move all the way around, just a slight angle, letting me know the great importance of what she was about to say. “Listen closely. Hear what I say and remember it always. These words mustn’t ever leave you.”
At that moment, Eliza appeared in my doorway. Red cheeks and puffy eyes, long intersecting lines of tears rolled down her face. Her light blond hair, normally pinned in a stray-less bun at the back of her head, hung down at full length past her shoulders. I almost didn’t recognize her.
Other than the short white socks covering her feet, she wore no clothing. Too young to be stirred by the idea of female nakedness, I felt nothing but brotherly joy to see her. She made no sound, slowly turning her head back and forth. Her entire body trembled. Softly at first, the shaking grew stronger and more violent until the door frame creaked where her hands tightly squeezed.
“Get back to your room child.” Mother leaped from the bed and in two long strides grabbed Eliza by her pale, trembling shoulders. “You knew this day would come.” She snatched the door and tried to slam it shut, but Eliza threw herself in its path
“No!” Eliza was actually shouting. I bolted upright with my heart in my throat. None of us ever talked back. I couldn’t believe it. “He’s only a little boy Mother. He doesn’t deserve this!”
Mother slid her hands down my sister’s arms and shook her hard. Eliza screamed out “No!” once again as Mother lifted the girl easily off of the floor, threw her over her shoulder and carried her out of the room. I didn’t know what to do. I could hear them struggling down the hallway toward Eliza’s room. I heard strings vibrating in a thunder of dissonance when they slammed into my piano. I heard the crash of a mirror being knocked to the floor. I heard Eliza’s door slam shut. Through the wall, I heard loud voices rumbling and then the sound of crying. I heard three sharp unintelligible barks pierce the air. I heard my own heart buffeting the walls of my chest.
I heard myself being afraid.
Eliza was closest to me in age. Older by eight years, Mary was already twenty-two. They both played with me and had helped to raise me, but Mary was never affectionate. Eliza was the one who always brought me presents and helped me pull down branches from the oak tree out back turning them into guns and swashbuckling swords.
My heart raced so quickly I thought I’d die soon if I didn’t calm down. Hyperventilating, I lay down and closed my eyes. My fingers immediately spread out and played the Moonlight Sonata on the deep blue bedspread. While still difficult to play the piece correctly, its melody never failed to calm and soothe me.
Eventually, I fell asleep. I opened my eyes to see Mother sitting on the side of the bed. Face obscured by shadows, I couldn’t make out her expression, but the steep forward curl in her shoulders intoned a deep sadness. She remained so still; I could easily have mistaken her for a part of the dark.
“I am storm.” She said. “Repeat what I say Dalton.”
I didn’t move. A dirty wind rustled from my mouth, “I am storm.”
“Good. Now all of it,” she turned her body to me and breathed out the words in a sigh…
I am the air in your lungs
I am the blood from your heart
I am the fingers of your fist
My breath will cleanse the Earth
I am the Storm
I repeated the word quietly and methodically with no concept of their true meaning. Mother stood, walked out of my room and down the stairs. I heard the front door open and felt warm spring night air flow into my room luring me back to sleep.
Reviews are lifeblood for an independent author like me. The more we get, the more Amazon pays attention and helps promote our work. If there are less than 25, Amazon doesn’t helps us out at all. That being said…
I have 5 gift books to giveaway for honest reviews on Amazon.
Here’s the back cover blurb of the book in case you haven’t had a chance to check it out…
When piano prodigy, Dalton Beaufort, plays his music people die. Devastation is all that remains as storms of unprecedented size rage across the country side. An elite group of Storm Trackers catch on camera a strange shape at the base of the largest tornado ever recorded. Uncanny haunted melodies play upon the gales as whirlwinds churn and blow the world away. Dalton must do everything in his power to discover what links him to the mysterious tempests, and avoid traveling along the path of a grim family tradition. After all, death and music run in the family.
Blurb One Liner:
When piano prodigy, Dalton Beaufort, plays his music people die.
I will take the first five people to comment.
I need 5 readers that will read and review the book.
Thank you and go…
the new book trailer for
the Idea of North
made by S.E.Rise
Here’s a nice review by author Jennifer L. Hotes
Never hurts being compared to Spielberg
When piano prodigy, Dalton Beaufort, plays his music people die.
Devastation is all that remains as storms of unprecedented size rage across the country side.
An elite group of Storm Trackers catch on camera a strange shape at the base of
the largest tornado ever recorded.
Uncanny haunted melodies play upon the gales as whirlwinds churn and blow the world away.
Dalton must do everything in his power to discover what links him to the mysterious tempests, and avoid traveling along the path of a grim family tradition.
After all, death and music run in the family.
the Idea of North