Malinconico opened his eyes. It was pitch black. But he could hear the bawling.
Scarlatti had awoken in a panic.
The keening echoed throughout the empty upper rooms as Malinconico made his way through the dark to its source. Words did not seem to assuage, nor did a kind hand on Scarlatti’s shoulder as he sat up in bed with tears streaming down his cheeks.
Malinconico knew what he had to do, yet he was reluctant about this last resort. He had to interrupt a man and woman on a date.
The midnight winds kicked up as the young man stepped outside. He drew his robe close and realised the uselessness of his thin moccasins against the chill. Still, he made his way down the drive and through that street of Sheffield into the night.
What else could he have done?
He didn’t have a telephone number to call, and his attempts to allay Scarlatti’s junior freakout were for naught. He carried a sense of guilt as he trudged through the darkness. He didn’t want to have to bother the couple.
Malinconico found himself at the doors of Manse Messac. A smouldering lantern cast a dull amber pall across the portico. Melodic strains of merriment drifted from within beneath the low howl of the winter gusts.
After several feeble knocks the doors gave way and he stepped inside to find himself surrounded by the din of music, smoke and boozy adults towering over him.
“Where are they?” he pleaded over the clamour.
Malinconico wove through the forest of legs towards a doorway at the far end of the crowded room. He stood at the threshold gazing down the dim stairway. Louder music, lights and movement lay at the bottom as he moved downward step by step.
The basement chamber was filled with couples in their stocking feet moving to somewhat dated songs and dance. Malinconico caught the eyes of Courier One and Miss Nadoghy. They both froze in their steps and eyes grew in astonishment.
“He won’t stop crying,” Malinconico blurted, on the verge of tears in frustration...
In the end, everything worked out, though most parties felt an underlying twinge of chagrin. Miss Nadoghy was mortified by a sense of negligence, whilst Courier One most likely shrugged it off in quiet admiration of the youngster’s fortitude. Young Malinconico himself was discomfited over having to crash a party and (in his eyes) embarrass two adults in a plea for a problem he could not solve himself. As for Scarlatti, there is no evidence he remembers the episode.
“Some spin in their stead
and some from pillar to post,
’tis all a dance, this tasque
of which they make the most”
— Phineas Guttes