The Music of Eric Sean


It was at the impoverished East End Hotel that I heard the music of Eric Sean. The hotel was for low lives, tramps, the unemployed and the dispossessed. The lunatic fringe were denizens too, none more so than the trumpet playing Eric Sean.

Hard times had struck me and the East End Hotel was all I could afford when I dropped out of university. My esoteric studies had proved too “Tigerbriteish” for the alchemic Professors. My beliefs that animals existed in the clouds was a mystic cumulus too far. So I descended from the clouds into the hellfire of humanity that was the filthy dregs of the East End Hotel.

The proprietor, a huge beast of a man named Sully, took my copper and gave me a room. I wasn’t expecting the riot act but he did have a few house rules. My room was next to the shifty little mute guy, the musician Eric Sean. Sully told me he had a pet snake and it liked to dance to the music of Eric Sean while Sean played in his room and the snake kept guard at the main door. This seemed improbable to me as snakes are deaf –paradoxically Sean was dumb- and it wouldn’t hear the sounds through a shuttered door. Sully threatened me with physical violence.

“My snake loves that guy so don’t give him any grief.”

The first night was bad. Eric Sean slept all day and didn’t acknowledge any one in the hotel except Sully. Being dumb I could understand his silence, I just didn’t see the need to build a Castle around himself and a passing nod would not have gone amiss. Obviously all he had was his trumpet and he blew it like no one had blown a trumpet before. He practised his trumpet at night and the sounds were the most unmelodic piece of tripe this side of the Dubliners. He played the same note time and again and then honked out a fugue that was as rude as anything Bernard Manning could have blurted. Eric Sean was the worst musician on Earth or any other astral plane.

The next day I jerked Eric Sean as he came out the communal latrine. It might be a mute thing or maybe he did it voluntary for badness but he didn’t flush and his lavatorial deposits were as stinking as his brass playing.  I lambasted his dreadful music and screamed blue murder at him while grimacing at the faecal smells hovering in the air. He gestured a two-fingered salute at me that I suppose could be construed as sign language. I’d had enough and was ready to pulverise him to a pulp.

“Oi! What did I tell you?” It was Sully with his snake lassoed around his neck.

“Beat it to your room before I beat you. Mister Sean, here’s a letter for you. I think it’s your disability benefit for your dumbness.”

Chastened I returned to my dingy room and counted the cobwebs on the mould ridden plaster wall. The half spun webs resembled sheets of music to me and my Professors would say I’ve got my head in the clouds again. Staring fixedly at the imaginary songbook a droning composition emanated from next door. Eric Sean is up and running again. With little point in complaining to the manager I was resigned to my fate to listen to these dirges every night.

And the playing got worse and worse, night after night. Just when I thought Sean had plumbed the depths he sank even further with his damp squid of an instrument. The music was becoming haunting as it sounded like a cat being torn to pieces by a pack of wolves. Howls were emitting from his trumpet that was inhuman and I could not take the aural torture of Eric Sean any more. I went out my room door.

When I was in the lobby I could see the drunken Sully snoring in a catatonic sleep in the main hallway. The snake was standing erect in its basket and swirling to the music or so Sully thought. More probably the snake was rhythmically dancing to the inebriated vibrations of Sully’s snores. Sully couldn’t charm the birds but he could charm the snakes. As these two animals were engaged in a serpentine duet I sensed this was my chance to seize Eric Sean and my intention was to destroy his implement of disharmony.

I burst into Eric Sean’s room and saw the trumpet on a stand. With abject horror on my face I could see the trumpet playing by itself but without any of the valves being pressed. Wailing noises were throbbing from the trumpet. Sean was standing by the wall with the most contorted face I have ever seen. He would have won the World’s Gurning contest, no problem. The sourest puss face was in perfect synch with the shrieking musical instrument. And clarity came over me like a clear sky cumulus cloud with a Golden Calf.

“You’re fiddling the social, you fraud.” I shouted.

The amateur trumpet ventriloquist could resist no longer and ejaculated his excuse.

“One day I’ll make a fortune from this. Everybody else does “Gottle of Geer.”

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