Marian was bored to tears at Kelly’s dinner party. The small gathering of budding artists had turned into a major drag with Percival’s arrival. The man was a pompous ass with and encyclopedic knowledge of everything under the sun, and, like all windbags, loved to hear himself talk.
Benny mentioned he was trying his hand at cubism so Percival recited every fact on Picasso known to man. When Kelly asked Parvati how her book was going, Percival remarked the importance of grammar, style and a good agent. The self-publishing thing was only a fad, he assured her. Percival spared no one—not even mild and affable Sonny—his judgment, condescension and pretentiousness.
“So what brings you here?” Percival turned to Marian who was stifling a yawn, “I understand you’re a mathematician. How are you acquainted with these pseudo-artistes?”
“Marian is an excellent singer,” Kelly interjected, her smile tight as if she’d swallowed a SweetTart, “she has a beautiful voice and trained in opera, but works in Math instead. Her father was a musician.”
“Oh,” Percival smirked, “have I heard of him?”
“Only if you’ve heard of Hangman,” Marian answered with an air of pride she didn’t always show, “he was the frontman and main artistic force of the band.”
“Is that so? What genre did they play?”
Percival scoffed; Marian pursed her lips.
“Do you, um, like heavy metal?” Percival sneered, he seemed not to realize he ruffled people’s feathers.
“Oh yes, I love it,” Marian was sincere, “I’m the vocalist in a band—we’re not professional. I love music and the mathematics helped me understand it better and appreciate it from a different point of view.”
“Ah, so you know all about overtones, scales, harmonics and such.”
Percival’s tone was not only mocking but highfalutin. The jerk was undermining her father’s achievements. Hangman was a very successful band and Marian had witnessed the struggle and exhaustion the constant touring, playing and recording caused.
Dad loved to write music and Marian recalled happy days when he would sit with her and compose. She co-wrote many of Hangman’s songs and appeared on the credits as M. “Written by Eric Noose and M” graced the titles of Hangman’s greatest hits. Rumors circulated among the fan base about the mysterious M. Some thought M was Eric Noose’s mistress, and others that M was a celebrity musician who preferred to stay an anonymous collaborator, such as Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger. Few people knew M stood for Marian.
“I dislike popular music, but maybe Mary here can enlighten us on the hidden wonders of heavy metal and prove that it’s indeed music and not just noise.” Percival’s nagging voice brought her back to the moment.
“Marian,” she looked him in the eye.
“My name is Marian, not Mary, and I have so much to say we’d be here till next week. I could tell you all about heavy metal from a musical, mathematical and cultural standpoint but I don’t want to monopolize the party.”
Besides, she thought, the heavy metal life is not for me. She knew rocker’s devils were booze and drugs and did not wish to meet either.
“Why don’t you tell us all about your favorite musical style,” Marian continued. Kelly and Parvati glared daggers at her, but Marian’s smile was sweet and innocent.
“Yes, well, in my humble opinion, classical music is the only music worth listening to…” Percival was off on a snooty rant which began with the history of music. On and on he talked, oblivious to people glancing at their watches, yawning or checking their phones.
“And,” Percival looked around the room with an air of haughty defiance, “do you know why Beethoven’s music is so magnificent?”
“Because it’s composed of the same notes, but jumbled?” Marian exuded honeyed snark.
Everyone roared with laughter. Percival turned bright red and looked like he wanted to slap the sneer off her face. Instead he stood up, said goodnight through gritted teeth and, with his nose way up in the air, stormed out the door.