Tea with Beethoven

Tea with Beethoven

Tea With Beethoven by Stephen Halpert


“He’s so distinguished.” Pamela gazed lovingly at the painting of a dashing European gentleman from the seventeenth century. Much to her roommate Debby’s chagrin she’d hung it over her bureau in their shared dorm room.

“Why him?” Debby asked.

“Beethoven is  my hero,” Pamela said. “Even when he was deaf he heard the music of the spheres. I feel so close to him.” His hypnotic eyes captivated her. She’d never seen such intense determination.

“But he’s dead.” Debby shook her head. She wondered sometimes about her roommate. Pamela studied hard and constantly listened to classical music. She seemed to have few other interests.

Pamela sighed. “To me,” she said, “he’s just as alive as I am. It’s different, but as long as we’re connected that’s all that matters.”

“What kind of different?” Debby gave her a wicked grin. “Like you dream about him?”

Pamela’s face reddened. “Yes,” she said shyly. “In that sense we’re intimate.”

“That’s how I feel about the Stones.” Debby’s eyes rolled up. She giggled.  “All four especially Mick.”

“Not to change the subject but I ‘m going to the all Beethoven  concert,” Pamela said resolutely. “This Friday night at Symphony Hall. Want to come?”

“Mike going with you?”

“I wish,” she said. “But sax players live in a world of their own.”

“I thought you two were an item.”

“He’s a musician,” she replied stoically.  “Musicians are married to their instruments. Women come in a distant second.”

Debbie shook her head. “I don’t think so. But tell me about these dreams.”

Pamela smiled. “It’s all so wonderful. He’s such a gentleman. Before I wake up, we have tea together.”

“Bummer,” Debby said. “That’s it,” she laughed.  “Just tea? No fun and musical chairs?”

But Pamela ignored her comment. “I lose myself in his music. When I see him, he’s always at the piano. Then the scene changes and we’re together in a little cafe in Europe having tea.”

“That’s not exactly what I’d call romantic,” Debby said. “If you know what I mean.”

“Beethoven’s very respectable.” Pamela sounded indignant.

“You tell Mike about all this?”

“I tried but he just doesn’t get it.”

“So you’re really going by yourself?”

“When I try telling him, he laughs and says I’m weird. So yes, I’m going by myself.”

That night she dreamed of a fairy tale city with cobblestone streets and houses with peaked roofs and small diamond paned windows. It all seemed so real it startled her and she woke up. Even after she had awakened, she could still see clearly those twisted cobblestone streets and the little stucco houses with small gardens. Though she’d never been to Europe they felt familiar.

Pamela felt happy and excited as she dressed for the concert. She thought of this as a special occasion. She wore her long skirt and dressy shoes, the pair she wore for church with her parents.

Her seat was upstairs in the student section of the second balcony. She didn’t care that buying her ticket had used most of her allowance. This was for Beethoven.

The concert exceeded her expectations. It didn’t matter that she had come by herself; she sat in her seat with rapt attention until the final crashing chords. The concert ran late and she missed the ten o’clock bus. She decided to walk down Huntington Avenue to her dorm.

The night was mild and there wasn’t much traffic. As she walked along humming the theme of the Nineth, she crossed over to Boylston Street and walked through the Boston Common. Between the lights it was shadowy. She shivered. Were those footsteps behind her? She looked back and saw three guys in dark hoodies moving toward her, and they were coming fast.

Wanting to reach Tremont Street where it was lit and more active, she tried to run. But before she could get past the Frog Pond they moved in on her. One grabbed her by the back of her neck and pushed her. She fell onto one knee.

Another reached down and started pulling up her skirt.

“Please,” was all she could say before a hand clamped over her mouth.

The three dragged her across the wet grass. She tried to struggle. She was terrified. Then everything seemed to go black.

When she opened her eyes, a gentle hand was guiding her shoulder. She was stumbling along a cobblestone street somewhere else. She had no idea where.

A man in a heavy woolen coat with an old-fashioned fur collar walked beside her. He carried a thick, carved wooden cane with a silver handle. His arm was around her shoulders as he guided her.

They turned down several winding lanes until they reached a house that seemed familiar. It had an arched roof and narrow diamond paned fluted glass windows.

He took her inside and gently patted her shoulder. As they sat down, he gave her a warm loving smile.

Dazed and confused, she thought she heard him say. “Thank you for coming to my concert.”

Then a teapot and little frosted cakes appeared. He poured them both cups and everything faded from her consciousness.

When next she opened her eyes, she was lying on her bed in her dorm room. Her clothes were damp. Wet grass clung to her shoes.

Her roommate came in and flicked on the TV. “Oh good, you’re up. Wait till you hear this. It happened tonight on the Common. You were lucky you missed it when you were walking back!”

Pamela sat up and rubbed her eyes.

The TV news reporter was speaking. “Three young men wearing black hoodies and carrying switchblades were apprehended by Boston Police after a melee in the Public Garden. They claimed they were assaulted by an elderly man in a wool coat and fur collar, who has since disappeared. Each was treated at the Massachusetts General Hospital for wounds inflicted by some sort of club.”



About the author…


A graduate of Emerson College, Stephen Halpert has been a published author since the 1970s. Most recently, his weekly column “American Scene,” which ran in The Grafton News from 1989 to 2022, featured humorous vignettes of his life with his wife, Tasha, and serial fiction. Since 2020, Halpert has authored a trilogy, The Loves of Gilberto, which he describes as, “a love story with a hint of murder.” In 2018, Halpert published his first collection of fictional tales, Abracadabra Moonshine and Other Stories, available on Amazon. His next writing venture is titled “Mona Lisa’s Eyebrows and other stories.” Contact Stephen to learn more.








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