‘Can’t say what happened between conception and five’ Koll jokes. ‘Six, they send me off to school, and eight, it all blows up.’ Koll’s attributes are negative from here out. Small town. Everybody knows. Hellos of relatives push through like ice. Happy Holidays.
‘Not everyone intends you evil’, whispers, Morti . Koll looks up and Morti nods toward him: ‘I see how you feel.’ Koll’s pupils dilate as he drifts toward trance.
‘I can’t handle Holidays’ Koll nudges, ‘I know. Something’s wrong with me.’ Koll’s eyes scatter as his banter turns to anguish.
‘Number five of eleven’, Koll notes later. Morti’s all but an only child, as his brother’s much older. Father is a priest and Mother, a lesbian. Cagey, Koll asks ‘Was he trying to save her?’
Morti’s head twists sharply, and in flat affect: ‘He’s a pretty good guy, actually. My mother can be a little strange.’ There’s a long silence, then Morti, solemnly: ‘You’re family now. You can stay here anytime.’ Morti stuns Koll with this inexpectancy.
In the cavernous, cathedral loft Koll settles and watches light move across the Toronto skyline. One of Morti’s cats visits. ‘He’s incredibly standoffish, don’t look at him’ Koll recalls. Koll daydreams, writes, reads, naps, sketches, walks the streets and is is off to museums and parks. Morti’s home when Bach resounds from the piano. The sound of the grand sends Koll soaring.
Family winter holidays: Mum preps three floors for activity. Crowding is a norm when family gathers. Koll is the tree decorator. He places, backs off, places…on and on andn on, perfect and different everytime. ‘Leave him alone. He’s quiet’ is whispered. ‘Where did he find those nice dried seedpods?’ The boy is a tease target and trouble follows him. Most don’t know what to do with him.
Aer whil, families arrives. Silent onlookers watch Koll skirt the hall, then bolt out the door. Off to the wood.
Wind sheer, rustle through trees, heaven. A human intrusion impossible. Birds surprise. Deer standing silently and still, 40 feet away surprise. When Koll spots them it’s pure magic.
Dusk coming on. Koll heads back. Dinner’s started. ‘Say your prayers before you eat’, directs Daddy. Everyone hears him lay down the laws and that seems the point.
Koll eats in the music room, door half closed. A few bites between soft organ pedal pumps. The sonorous effect sooths. Koll’s chord sequences aren’t recognizable. Mum comes to sit briefly. Koll’s godmother may join to chat. If others run in Koll’s out of there, likely off to hide in the back of a dark closet.
Koll tell’s Morti: ‘This is one of my best memories: The piano is waiting. One, then another tune their guitar. A mandolin is brought down. Heads are raised in harmonious glory. Easy for me to walk into that scene. I hide cross-legged in a corner.’