“Vell, since you asked.”
Opa looked over at Oma and added: “Zey are old enough to know vat really happened.” Oma looked into the hearth and the shadows of her wrinkles danced in the firelight. Opa smiled at us knowingly, white lips framing browned teeth. Nodding, he continued:
“It really vas ze most extra-ordinary experience in my whole life!”
Opa sat deeper into his sunken leather chair. His movements slowed and then ceased. His soul lost in the memory vaults of his mind, looking for the file with the full story.
Isolated parts of his body jerked as he re-animated and picked up speed:
“It vas, as usual, a cold afternoon. Frau Schraub and I decided to walk to ze Musikverein to attend ze matinee performance of ze traveling Transylvanian Monks Choir. Oh! You should have seen ze Musikverein in zat time. Gilded balcony boxes, gilded ornaments, even gilded cufflinks on ze attendants! Oh meine gott! And ze perfumes, zey were inebriating. Ve men all sat zere drinking in Midnight Vishes, Eve’s Secret and even some vomen dared to vear Pink Depression. Can you imagine vat a disturbance it vas? But zat afternoon, when ze monks appeared on stage, everyone got sober right avay. Ze humility of ze monks’ poise, se-ven-ty-two of zem calmly lining up in rows. Ah. Ze silence rose and zen fell as ze tritonal vibrations began. I tell you zat vibration shook ze gilding off our teeth! Ve felt as naked as god’s children. Ze polyphonies of ze choir weaved new clothes for our beings to become...erk..”
Opa gurgled and coughed. His eyes wandered off and then a rasping sound came from his throat as it always did before one of his 'episodes':
“assamalaitooaaaA alles consumini nihilihomini balangasuuuooorna!”
He turned to us with his elated rictus, his nostrils sniffing the air but just as suddenly, he frowned. His face chalked up.
“For gott’s sake! Argh! Ah vell, anyvay. Frau Schraub and I left ze Musikvereinssaal feeling like babies! New! Nozzing made much sense anymore so ve vent home and sought ze comfort in each other’s arms and...Anyvey! Ze next day, ve found out ze roof of ze concert hall had collapsed on ze monks during rehearsal before ze night show. Ve vere shocked and really, devastated! And, ve vere not ze only ones. Ve vent to back to ze Musikverein to see vat had happened and saw many ozzers from ze matinee audience vere zere. Ve gazzered before ze rubble like lost lambs and zen, yes my little ones, ve did do it like zey said. Ve did tear off our clothes and begin to sing!”
Opa was exuberant, but getting tired. He lay his head back on the chair’s headrest and closed his eyes.
“All of us! Ve sang and ve chanted, mitout a stich as you say, in ze rude Viennese air, while onlookers desperately tried to clozze us. Ve knew not vat ve did. But ve knew vat ve felt.”
Oma seemed to be smiling, even laughing, but it was hard to tell in the flickering light. Opa thrilled:
“Ve vere one voice! Such power...And zen, ven ve finished, ve all collapsed at ze same instant. Some people called it mob hysteria, some a mass hallucination. But I know! I felt it! Zey vere wiz us! Zey vere good to zeir promise.”
Opa’s skin glowed translucent in the firelight. He seemed to doze off but his familiar rasp creaked out announcing the beginning of another episode:
“Nigaliboo vizaminilooya huaka ni boombala ommm mishka nishkaaaAla!”
Opa gagged and his eyes snapped open.
“Ach! It vas amazing but it had its’ side-effects. Zey called it Monk Regression Syndrome, or somezing like zat. Zey said ve vere experiencing ze remaining echoes of shock from such resonant beings. But ve know ze truth, don’t ve, meine Frau?”
Oma finally piped up with her warbling voice:
“Oh, Opa Schraub, enough meine liebe. Ze story is causing me to..um..you know.”
Opa arched his billowing eyebrows at her and looked back at us.
“Vell, meine lieblings. Know zat you too know ze truth, you must excuse us. Ve have some 'communing' to do.” Opa got up with a series of creaks. He gave Oma his hand and helped her steady onto her cane. Opa turned to us one last time: “Remember, ze situation is hopeless, but not serious," and they hobbled off through the doorway.
We looked at each other and of one accord, snuck up to the crack in the door. As we positioned ourselves, we could hear them harmonizing. They stood there, facing each other, chanting in the candlelight. Shadows grew and stiffened around them, turning first into smoke and then into dark cloaked figures. We froze as the monks manifested and circled our großeltern. The monks threw back their hoods and howled in unison. The walls vibrated with their wailing. Oma and Opa raised their smiling faces to the skies and sang loudly. The monks clawed at their clothes, unfolded their flesh, and began sucking their necks, drinking the vital flow from their song. As the incantations thickened into a feeding frenzy, we fled to hide under our beds, fainting with fear. The next morning we were surprised to wake up alive, tucked in our sheets. We held hands as we went downstairs. The house was silent and smelled of stale smoke and slaughter.
We found Oma and Opa’s bodies in a tight embrace on the floor, naked.. to the bone.
"The Lovers of Valdaro"