NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 19

So now we find him , still drunk but sober enough to be tormented by gnawing all-too-familiar feelings of inadequacy and guilt , staggering aimlessly in the middle of the main highway that from the northern suburbs leads north to the sea and south to the Italian Alps , conversing wildly with himself —
very Catholic Bolinski ’ s crowd-pleasing “ Te Deum ” as the final number on the program of the Royal Gala Concert to be attended by all the crowned heads of Europe and which , in the words of Viscount Castlereagh ( whose elegant but , alas , evasive proposal for ending the slave trade had been met with pious indifference by the now bored and distracted delegates impatient to adjourn ), “ will hopefully and with the Grace of Our Lord bring this oft cantankerous Congress of Vienna to a most joyous , harmonious , and optimistic conclusion —”
This talented young Polish musician , who for the time being shall remain without name , instead of heading straight home with the money paid him for three rehearsals and the gala concert ( and where his aged and loving grandparents were eagerly awaiting his return so as to surprise him with a rare pot of rabbit stew and a cup or two of real Peking tea ), and alas with characteristic perversity , joined two of his fellow musicians on their way to a nearby brothel and tavern where , in the course of two hours of feckless drinking , he managed to spend every farthing in his pocket buying drinks for one and all , while running up an astronomical tab he had no hopes of ever being able to pay , while getting so drunk himself , he no longer knew who or where he was —
“ Abolish the slave trade indeed —!” he ranted , shaking his head back and forth with theatrical disgust , “— these so-called aristocrats , hypocritical assholes every single one of them , it ’ s easy for them to talk ! Me , I ’ d gladly sell myself into slavery if I thought it ’ d get me out from under this mountain of debt , and I could live out the rest of my days on some cozy plantation in the American Southland with nary a worry about who ’ s going to pay for the rent and food —!”
No sooner were these words out of his mouth than a wayward cloud suddenly darkened the dazzling full moon , and the silence of the night was shattered by the urgent wild clatter of rapidly approaching hoof-beats .
Immediately sober and alert , the young musician staggered to the middle of the road to see from which direction the unholy commotion was coming — just in time to leap out of the way of a runaway team of horses pulling an elegant but wildly careening carriage , its lighted lamps banging furiously against the crested doors , its driver struggling to keep his balance as with one hand he waved the drunk musician out of the way and with the other strained backwards on the reins in a vain effort to bring the horses to a halt —
But almost frozen stiff by fear , though still capable of admiring the elegant lines of what obviously was a royal carriage , the bulging eyes of the high-born horses were almost upon him before , and at the very last moment , he managed to leap out of the way and in doing so ( and in response to some entirely unexpected playful instinct ) seized hold of the dangling reins as they came slapping against his chest and thighs , leaned back , dug in his heels , all the while pulling back as hard as he could , until suddenly the carriage toppled over on its side and the wild-eyed frothing horses came to an abrupt halt —
His hands bruised and painfully seared by the whip-like slapping of the reins , the by now sober but frightened young musician came running up to the overturned carriage , its wheels still spinning wildly , only to discover the phantom driver was nowhere in sight —
Thinking the man had been bounced off the driver ’ s seat and was lying in a ditch nearby , perhaps unconscious , he got down on his knees — finally flattening himself face down on the rocky slope — and had snaked his way halfway to the opposite side of the toppled carriage when suddenly two strong hands began yanking on his ankles —
Twisting his head around he caught a glimpse of a pug-nosed giant with enraged bloodshot eyes —