Musical Man sans Audibility

Lucinda Palme

Musical Man sans Audibility

The day after Christmas, Patrik Falkenland and Antje Vikström freed themselves from family and friends and set out to spend some time together. They realized the boon and the burden of living together past their traditional first- and second-marriage, and had guests and visits from both their sides.

Without the rush in their steps, they stepped out of their apartment in the direction of Haga Church soaking in the faint moonshine and in the glow of streetlights.

The winter had firmly established but on the Boxing Day it restrained itself from snowing and raining allowing Gothenburgers few hours of relief from carrying their brollies and shielding their bodies from snowproof and waterproof winterwear.

At the Haga Church, Patrik and Antje stood in the queue. The queue was long, in front of them and behind them. “Never imagined, so many will come,” said Patrik.

The queue behind them meandered down to the roadside. “Free concert,” Antje remarked.

“Free or not free, people love music.”

“People are tired indoors, eating.”

“People love music. And it is Elvis Presley, dear,” Patrik Falkenland said. He likes Elvis Presley’s songs, and his gospel music. Patrik is not a regular churchgoer but during Christmas and New Year he prefs to attend a concert or choir. During his younger days, he was all over Sweden attending concerts of music bands and absorbing American pop culture along with the unfolding musical scene elsewhere in Europe. But with age and work and family, musical interest receded as age ascended.

Standing in the queue, Patrik mused over Elvis Presley. If only Elvis would have lived for few more years the world would have had more songs to listen to either gospel music or rock’n’roll or just that voice and just that presence on the stage with the guitar. If only Elvis had moderated his life a bit, if only Elvis would have had stood on his path paved by his musical gift but …

“They would go to a proper concert, if they love,” remarked Antje and wanted to say something more but they were getting into the church. Patrik noted to the manager of the queue, “Never saw a queue in a long time.”

“We are repeating the concert,” said the queue manager, “due to great interest.”

“It is Elvis’,” said Patrik.

Antje intervened, “It’s Christmas and New Year. Time for the church and the god, little.”

The queue manager looked at them widening his cheeks to a smile. Patrik and Antje wondered whether it was a smile in appreciation of their observations or feeling pity for their divergent views.

All the seats inside the church were occupied, and there were people standing on either side of the aisles. A youngster offered space to accommodate them in the pew for his friend failed to turn up. The couple took the seat and squeezed in, warmly in the warmth of musical concert.

Cecilia Nyholm the priest started the mass, and introduced the band: Timo Nieminen, Sofia Myrén, Marcus Liljedahl, Sven Törnell, Bengan Blomgren, Gunnar Frick, Stefan Bellnäs, and Johan Håkansson. The songs of Elvis’ rolled out evoking Elvis’ earthly presence albeit absent on earth: Where No One Stands Alone, Amazing Grace, Crying In The Chapel, Stand By Me (Patrik glanced at Antje, collected her hand into his), You’ll Never Walk Alone (Antje glanced at Patrik, and pressed her hand into his) …

They came out from the church, and saw the long queue! Patrik thought ‘worth to wait’ and felt uplifted. He asked Antje, “How you feel?”

Antje likes gardening, and not a musical person. She is not a regular churchgoer but during Christmas and New Year she obliged herself to be in the company of a man she had married or lived with or a dear one. During her younger days, she travelled widely in west and south Sweden for she wanted to be a gardener. But with age and with change of profession, gardening receded and watching television filled its place. If only she was an inconsiderate person, she would not have come to the concert. Quite lately in life, she realized that a relationship could be maintained with some consideration for the other, or others, and the other of others.

Antje looked at Patrik, lovingly, and smilingly observed, “You’ve forgotten your hearing aid.”

“Oh!” Patrik said feeling Amazing Grace,“I saw the music.”

“We did,” Antje remarked, and kissed his forehead feeling In the Garden.

The moon revealed fully. Soaking in the moonshine, they walked with a spring in their steps to their nest.

—Lucinda Palme