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in wall to wall. Half had come just to see what all the to-do was about, not actually to listen to us. You couldn’t hear much of anything anyway over the squeals, hollers, and showers of applause. And during our violent rendering of the ballad “I Know You Rider,” a drunken stampede of students—a fraternity of some unknown order— poured down our walkstreet and plowed straight into us, shouting their own song. They strove to out-sing us, to banish the spirit of our byway fête and replace it with theirs. We tried to compensate by grinding our music louder, madder, and as fast as our fingers could handle. When we came around to the chorus


again, the forty or so people in our faction were screaming, “I know you rider gonna miss me when I’m gone! I know you rider gonna miss me when I’m gone!” Most of the lyrics of the fraternity’s song, in viscid French, eluded me. I couldn’t hear my own bow strokes. And I was so rocked that if the dead returned during that interval, I wouldn’t have known. If I couldn’t hear Ed’s washtub, Tyler’s git, the boys, nor even my own fiddle, I certainly couldn’t have heard the scream that no one hears nor a passerby speaking on a frequency outside the faculty of human hearing. The night’s din peaked during that riot


contest and subsided as the last of the onslaught marched through us. I signaled Tyler and Ed, nodding once, twice, thrice. . . . The crowd was just in pieces. And before the whistles and plaudits died down, someone called out asking for our name. Nobody heard Ed say, “Tippecanoe and


Tyler Too,” because he didn’t say it. Rather, he 32


“. . . I was so rocked that if the dead returned during that interval, I wouldn’t have known.”


yawned with drunkenness, while at once the years of unfettered living caught up with Tyler. The two of them took a break. I answered a request to play “quelque chose de classique” by digging out a Dvořák piece I remembered from my childhood lessons. I paid close attention to the formal technique I’d been known to butcher. On that one at least, I did old Miss Gross proud. After we settled on our next tune, Tyler


announced—without warning—that it would be our last. “Ducks on the Pond” felt over before it began. By the end, just three onlookers remained; and everyone who’d left wandered off without dropping a franc. After divvying up the pot, despite the splash we’d made, we each came away with the paltry equivalent of about twenty US dollars. I didn’t know Astrid’s apartment phone number, but Tyler wrote down the number of “a girlfriend in Dublin”—the least impossible means of contacting him. The guy seemed to live everywhere. Then he and Ed struck out for the van they traveled in, and I never saw them again.


*** The terraces along the perimeter of


the square were lively with people speaking French, Flemish, German, English, and Japanese. Everybody was smoking. The scaffold fronted by


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