On Thursday, Vron arrived at the rehearsal a few minutes early and found Marcin stomping around in a snit.
“Is there some universal law that requires everyone in and associated with my choir to leave town in August?” he asked Vron, or maybe Heaven itself. He introduced Vron to Mike, another tenor conscript.
“I know a pianist who could come. He’s at the conservatory with me,” Mike offered. “Does it pay?” he asked shyly.
“Not as well as crime, but, yes, the pianist does get paid,” Marcin said through his clenched teeth and named a paltry sum.
Mike went to the pastor’s office to use the phone. While he was gone, Vron offered to play if no one could be found, and Marcin growled something about needing his tenor. He pulled himself together and introduced Vron to the other tenor, who was a regular member of the congregation and glad to have company in the tenor section.
“Okay, Harold can play for you,” Mike said upon his return. “And I found you another tenor. His name is Louis. They’re both on their way.”
“You’re an angel, Mike,” Marcin said, clapping him on the shoulder. “If only you were a better sight-reader.”
Vron retreated into the choir stalls to look over his music and get over being nervous. He hadn’t sung in a choir since he’d sung next to Marcin in their conservatory days. The other choir members ambled in and took their places around him. Marcin frowned at his watch and ran the choir through some warm up vocalise. This was soothing to Vron and reminded him of his youth.
Next to him, Mike waved at two scrawny, shaggy-haired young men rushing down the center aisle. Vron would have spotted them as Conservatory students my their lack of haircuts alone; the t-shirts and jeans on their underfed frames made it a certainty. The young men exchanged hasty greetings with Marcin. One of them sat down at the piano and the other joined the tenor section. Mike whispered, “Hi, Louis,” so Vron assumed the pianist must be Harold.
Ably accompanied by Harold and conducted by Marcin, the choir finished their warm-up and launched into the repertory. Louis and Mike were strong singers; Vron thought they’d probably end up in opera choirs or regional opera companies because there’s a glut of genius tenors in the world, too. With Vron and the member of the congregation, the four of them managed to represent their section tolerably well.
Harold seemed very in tune with Marcin’s direction, which indicated to Vron that he was well-trained and polite, even if he didn’t seem terribly interested in what he was playing. He did seem interested in watching Vron, repeatedly making eye contact. Vron found disconcerting, so he paid even closer attention to his tenor part. Musically, it was pretty straightforward stuff and Marcin was such a good choirmaster, he had most of it drilled into them and polished by 8:45. Marcin was smart, too; he recorded the last pass and let the choir hear how good they sounded. They sounded very good and everyone went home happy.
Vron was halfway out the door when Mike caught him and dragged him back to introduce him to Harold.
Harold said, “Hi.”
Vron said, “Hi.” And there was silence.
“I, um, like the way you sing,” Harold said at last.
“You can hear me over the whole choir?” Vron asked, not sure what to make of all this.