On The Spot Orchestra
by Joshua Blanc
"Good evening, and welcome to The Six O'clock News. I'm Tom Turvy."|
"And I'm Lalinda Galorf."
The reporters paused a moment to show off their smiles, which had recently been surgically installed.
"Tragic, tragic news," said Tom sadly, still smiling like a Cheshire Cat. "A peaceful protest against 'fur on vehicles' down on East Sixty-eighth Street has turned violent this evening."
"Yes, Lalinda, it seems a riot broke out when someone drove by in a sealskin convertible with the top down."
Lalinda pretended to faint, and in the same breath sat upright again with her smile intact. Tom shot her a sideways glance.
"Let's go live to the scene of the riot-in-progress, with our roving conductor, Gim Gibbly, and his On-The-Spot Orchestra."
The camera cut to a scene of violence, flames, and loud explosions. The backdrop was a crowded street shrouded in twilight. At the end of this street, seated before the camera on a flatbed truck, an orchestra played the lilting overture from Hans Bergmann's opera 'The Death Of A Baby Seal.' The conductor turned to the camera, but kept his baton in motion.
"Thanks, Lalinda," said Gim.
He was a slim fellow, with receding black hair and a pencil moustache.
"I'm here at the corner of East Sixty-eighth Street and South Twenty-third where, as you can see, all hell has well and truly broken loose."
"What has happened to the sealskin car, Gim?" asked Tom.
"That's it burning in the center of the carnage, Tom."
A flaming toilet, hurled by a protester, flew over Gim's head. Gim ducked, and flailed his baton frantically -- prompting a short burst of dramatic music from the orchestra.
"Corkers," he said, straightening up again.
He set the mood with a clarinet solo.
"If you look over there by the shoe store," he continued, "you can see crowd control. These fine peacekeepers have been here since the outset, and at the moment they're subduing a number of hippies."
As the camera panned, Gim played a piece of sixties peace and love -- featuring the flautists in the front row. Chants of 'We will not be repressed!' and 'Play some Hendrix!' came from the fray.
"Uh-oh, here comes the military with their riot tank!" Gim cried.
He flipped through the pages of his massive book of music until he found a military march. Signs emblazened with 'Fuzzy dice, not fuzzy seat-covers!' and 'Say no to leopard-skin trim!' were pushed aside by the pusher-asiders as the tank rolled forward, accompanied by a fully armed marching band. With an ear for music like none other, Gim picked out the tune they were playing and matched it. Assaulted from either end of the street by the fascist music, the protesters covered their ears and huddled together in the center of the street. The tank came to a stop, and the band ceased. Gim did too, and silence washed over the scene.
"Gim, what's happening now?"
"I'm not sure, Lalinda ... Wait, the leader of the protesters just yelled 'charge!' Yes, it looks like they're going to attack the tank -- perhaps with their teeth."
Gim's trumpet section sounded a charge as the protesters moved en-masse towards the tank. The gun barrel rose until it was at a forty-five degree angle. The mob ignored it and began beating the tank with their flimsy bits of cardboard. All the while, the orchestra played suspenseful music. It reached crescendo when a handful of smoking canisters were fired into the crowd.
"I do believe it's teargas!" said Gim.
The violins vaulted into a heart-rending theme of sadness and loss, while the protesters fled in droves from the descending clouds of chloroacetophenone. The moment would have been perfect, but for the lack of slow-motion playback.
Wisps of gas played over the orchestra, and one by one the players sniffled and wept. The wavering of string on bow became so emotive that even those in the studio burst into tears. Finally, a canister thunked right into the tuba, and the orchestra was hidden from sight, bawling uncontrollably and abandoning their instruments in favour of nursing their eyes.
"Gim *sob* Gibblyyyy, f-for Six O'clock ... *whimper* news, signing oh-ho-hooooooffffff ..."