Friday, 2 March 2012
It had been five years since Rob had left Aberdeen in a blaze of excitement over his new job. Newly qualified with an honours degree in engineering, he’d found an opportunity at the Audi factory in Ingolstadt which perfectly combined the precision of his technical abilities with the intuitive acuity of his musical sense. He was fascinated by the preternatural levels of perfection demanded by the German firm, and after the two-month induction period was behind him, he had asked to be seconded to the physico-acoustic design project. Here Rob rapidly become known as der Autoschlammenakoustikomensch – the man who could be relied upon to come up with ever new variations on the sound made by closing the door of a beautiful car.
During the next few years he rarely thought about Melanie, the girl he’d rather cruelly left behind without much of a farewell. Der Autoschlammenakousticomensch invented a profusion, a veritable family of door-slam sounds, ranging from “Pfrokk” (for the electric-diesel hybrid) to “Sttchmpppff” – not too staccato, but crisp, authoritative and memorable – for the top-of-the range A9 Sport Quattro.
Finally the new range was produced, and naturally Rob was invited to the Berlin launch. His door-slam sounds were everywhere, and he was famous. Beautiful girls reclined on flawless metallic car-bonnets, their bronzed skins scarcely more wonderfully attractive than those of the automobiles they were promoting; celebrities glittered under a galaxy of lights, losing all dignity in the scrabble to be associated with these ultimate success symbols purveyed by the most technically advanced firm in the world. “Sttchmpppff – fPPnnk – Vvfrkk” ….. for those who had ears to hear, and there were many, a new sonic ontology was being born. Even the Berlin Philharmonic could not compete with Rob’s abbreviated but expressive contribution to this innovative world of Beethoven-in-motion, and to a man they put down their Stradivarii and Guarnerii, the better to hear these wonderful sounds.
It was something of an anticlimax when Rob returned to his native city, but his boss had insisted he needed rest and relaxation after so prolonged a period of concentration. So it was that Rob found himself one September evening strolling back through Old Aberdeen to his parents’ house in the Chanonry district, not far from the ancient University. Taking a short cut, he was attracted by the noise of what was evidently a very successful party – a not uncommon event in that part of the town where students were concentrated.
As he passed the garden gate, a young woman came out of the back door, lighting a cigarette.
“Melanie?” Rob cried. “Hello – how are you? Long time no see!”
Her reaction was not pleasant. Flushing angrily, she carefully put her glass of wine on the garden wall. Melanie took a long pull on her cigarette while staring straight into Rob’s face, and then, without a word, strode back into the house. The door slammed violently.
Rob had never heard anything more beautiful.
© Donnie Ross 2012
This story first appeared in Anneke Klein's Rammenas Flash Fiction