The funeral was simple but elegant. There were few in attendance, other than his father’s former colleagues whom David barely remembered. He recalled dim dinners with them, and the unappetizing fare such as oysters and fowls that were not chicken. There was wine and cognac, and peach-based desserts. Sometimes there was a sweltering ham, sliced thick, and rich, lumpy potato salad, and that felt more honest. The men would talk about academia, and the women would discuss complex novels and romantic poetry. It was a rarefied environment, full of big ponderings and show-offy intellect, and David understood none of it. He reckoned they were trying to impress one another when they debated the arcane, pausing only to parse each other’s words until they had no meaning. Dull and dull. The nights usually ended with Donald at the piano, playing something “bawdy by Bach”, played barrel-house style. That was the best part of those nights, and David loved his father most when he riffed on the keys and then gave David a broad, unselfconscious grin.

He recognized only one of the pallbearers, Stanley Olay, a fat man not much younger than his father. He used to pull nickels out of David’s ear, and bring the latest copies of The New Yorker, where they were displayed on the coffee table and gathered dust until his next visit. Occasionally, he would pull out a packet of photographs, usually of his children, or his favorite restaurant architecture, and he and Donald would sit on the porch and discuss college politics, who was up for tenure, who was retiring. David remembered those visits only because because Stanley Olay was friendly and unimpressive. He didn’t try to be the smartest person in the room.

**Excerpt from The Stone Age, a work-in-progress**

Published by

Steven Baird

Writer, poet

12 thoughts on “Academia”

  1. I love this, Steven. Each time you post an excerpt, I just want to read more.

    The nights usually ended with Donald at the piano, playing something “bawdy by Bach”, played barrel-house style.

    When I sit down to play piano, I usually warm up with Bach. This made me laugh, because it often comes off that way, I think. My fingers are “cold”, so I just blaze away on the keys, no nuance at all…Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking forward to see where this is going, Steven. How many works in progress are you currently posting snippets from at this point? As a reader, just trying to grasp a framework for how many stories I’m floating through at this point. My memory is just no good anymore lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just this one. Well, I’ve got the collaborative detective story going on, but that’s for fun. ‘The Stone Age’ is my serious work-in-progress… just snippets here and there, but it’s the big deal for me. lol, I know what you mean about memory. I don’t think I could handle anything else. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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