When the person I call ‘Monostatos’ came into our lives, it was a very puzzling time. What possible interest could this person have in us, I frequently wondered. Something seemed not quite right, but I could not put my finger on it. I grabbed a hint the first time I was asked to play the flute for him — he played accompaniment to a movement of a Bach sonata. He kept looking up at me from under his prominent eyebrows. He seemed to be lying in wait. But why? As soon as I flipped a page, he pounced, claiming I had ‘missed a beat’. What is going on here, I wondered? Why do I have the impression that it is either him or me?
In hindsight, of course, I wish that I had trusted that impression, for it defined the reality of the following 666 or so days. Stealth, deception, hidden ill-intent were the norm. Early-on, they were so far hidden as to be almost invisible.
And so, with helpful and gentle smiles, he enticed me to practice on the stage at Orchestra Hall after rehearsals, which I was invited to attend. How could anyone resist? So out came the Mozart flute concertos, and two of the Mozart violin concertos. The Khat, the Nielsen, Bach, whatever I was working on, soared through the hall and, so he said, through the rest of the building, as i practiced on the darkened stage.
We were the oddity of the orchestra at the time — the concert master called us “Beauty and the Beast” — the gangly young man with the flute player and her three adorable children. It seemed that everyone knew what was going on except me.
Well, that is not entirely true, as I had been studying with the Pricipal Flute player for a while before that. This argumentative little man, in addition to sandbagging my practice, practically accused me of being responsible for the name change of the orchestra. At the time, that seemed completely bizarre. But again, he knew more than I did. So I did have a heads-up — I just didn’t understand it.
But Monostatos agenda seemed to run afoul one day, after a very simple event. On the stage, once again, he asked me to play the Mozart D Major Concerto. He would accompany me (in a general way, as he was not a keyboard player).One of my favorite pieces. The first one I had performed, in fact, when I was in High School. It was, of course, astonishingly lovely to hear the flute in the acoustics of the hall. Afterword, he seemed nonchalant as usual, but there was a glint in his eye that meant trouble. I had done something again that had upset him. I waited for a verbal attack to come — or worse. But there was none.
Subsequent to that he slipped into a profound depression, spending his days in the darkened room I had long before abandoned, knees to his chest, clutching the sheets. I tried to help, but was pushed away. One day he walked into a psych ward and admitted himself. A few days later he left. Then he admitted himself to an in-patient treatment program (though he did not drink) and then left about a week later. I felt helpless and bewildered. I began to accept that nothing might ever work again, and that I had to prepare to take care of my children.
He would not talk, would not share. But, one evening, after going out for a bite to eat, leaving the children with a sitter, we drove to a new construction area on a street called Smetana Drive. I parked the VW beetle and tried to talk with him. What is going on, I pleaded. And then he whispered, in the dark — “I don’t know if you are an amateur or the most exciting musician since Mozart.” I was baffled, and stunned. What possible connecting thread could there be to all of this?
From that moment on, there was nothing but emotional and spiritual war in the house. He ended up running out one night, never to return. I was so relieved that the war was over I didn’t bother to ask what had motivated his becoming involved with us in the first place, much less the traumatic events that followed…