the-man-who-stole-satie

The Man Who Stole Satie

Athens, Greece, 2014. Simos, an architect and musician, keeps having inexplicable recurring dreams that confuse and haunt him.

Paris, France, 1894. Madeleine Durant is sharing Erik Satie's bed. But he is distant and does not love her.

When two people, from different centuries, become oddly intertwined, life becomes a mystery. 

What do these two have in common? Can the past interfere with the present or the present alter the past? 

As one note follows the next on a score, so Simos and Madeleine must realise that everything in life is connected and

only by working together can they create a harmony.

 

 

 

 

 

THE MAN WHO STOLE SATIE 

 

 

October 2015, Athens, Greece

Lent et retenu—‘Detached but not dry’ 

Simos Makris

‘Last night in my dream, I was Satie’s lover,’ Simos said, his fingertips running up and down Amalia’s knee, hardly touching the surface.

     ‘You were who?’ Amalia scrunched up her eyebrows into a neat little knot in the middle of her forehead.

     ‘Satie’s lover. Erik Satie, the French composer. Haven’t you heard of him?’

     Amalia shrugged her shoulders. ‘No. Should I have?

     ‘I don’t know. Perhaps. He’s well known.’

     Simos got up from the sofa, walked across the room, and stood in front of the large French windows with his hands in his trouser pockets. Early morning sun washed over his face and body, warming him up. His bare feet welcomed the accumulated heat seeping through the hardwood floor; it snaked up his toes and legs, tingling as it spiralled. He closed his eyes and turned his face up towards the sun; it was soothing, not burning, as it would be in the summer.

     ‘Anyway. I was his lover,’ his voice sounded muted, hoarse.

     ‘Oh. And how do you know that?’ Amalia raised herself on her elbow, reached over to the coffee table, and picked up a magazine. The sound of flicking pages filled the room. ‘Well?’ she pressed, seeing she didn’t get a reply.

     Simos tilted his head to one side, his eyes still closed.

     ‘I’ve been having the same recurring dream recently, and it’s always about Satie.’

     ‘Oh? And what’s it about, then?’ Amalia turned another page.

     ‘Each time there’s a slight difference, one more detail, something new. But it’s basically the same dream.’

     Amalia took in a deep breath.

     ‘Well, tell me.’

     Simos turned round to face her. The gentle October sun made her pale grey-blue eyes translucent. They were small, sparkly, clever. She was staring at him, her lips pursed together, one side slightly raised in a half-expectant smile.     

     ‘You know, you have eyes like his,’ Simos said.

     Amalia raised her eyebrows. There was a momentary silence, then she broke it by laughing in a low voice. She looked at the floor.

     ‘Really, now? I have his eyes?’

     Simos smiled.

     ‘Yes, I know, it sounds funny. But you do. The same colour and shape. Looking at you reminds me of him.’

     Amalia rubbed her eyes with her fingertips, sleep was still visible on her smooth skin. ‘OK. Whatever.’ Her hand settled behind her neck. ‘So, are you ever going to tell me about those dreams of yours, or shall I go and make some coffee?’

     ‘Do you really want to hear this? Or would you rather have that coffee?’

     ‘Nah. This is interesting, you know, mysterious almost, so go ahead—tell me.’

     Simos walked to the sofa and sat beside her. He picked a strand of her hair, held it between his fingers—fine, thin hair. His hand moved to her cheek, his thumb caressing her chin and lips, then down to her chest, his fingers touching the top of her breasts. It rested there. She turned to look at him, that half-smile on her lips, again, her eyelids lowering a little. His hand slid off her body.

     He turned his gaze towards the window.

     ‘It always starts the same way. We’re in his room—more of a hole than a room, really; he calls it a ‘cupboard’, and we’re naked—just finished making love. It’s hot in there, late summer, sweat’s streaming down my neck. The window’s open, but it doesn’t make a difference. My hand’s resting on his chest and I can feel my skin sticking to his, his chest hair coarse under my touch. He smells of alcohol.’

     ‘So was this Satie guy gay, then?’ Amalia propped a pillow behind her back and brought her legs up onto the sofa, made herself more comfortable.

     Simos shook his head. ‘No, no, not as far as I know. In my dreams I’m always a woman.’

     ‘Oh…’ She fixed her eyes on Simos. ‘A woman? Interesting.’

     Simos lifted his legs onto the sofa, too, placing them either side of Amalia’s, with knees bent.

     ‘Yes, I’m a woman in these dreams. And I’m in love with him.’

     ‘Does he love you?’

     ‘No. I don’t know. At least, I don’t think so. He doesn’t know how I feel, doesn’t really care enough to find out.’

     ‘These are very odd dreams, aren’t they?’

     ‘Yes. They’re unlike any I’ve ever had.’

     ‘Anyway, go on,’ Amalia said, sinking lower into the sofa, stifling a small yawn.

    ‘I turn to Satie, try to pull him close but he moves away. He sits up suddenly with his back towards me. My arm falls onto the bed. He stands, takes his trousers off a hook on the wall and slips them on. Without turning to look at me he speaks, always the same thing, a little louder than a hoarse whisper. “You can go now.”’ Simos lowered his eyes. ‘That’s when I notice my nakedness.’

     ‘Are you a prostitute?  In your dreams, I mean.’

     ‘No. No, I’m not. I’m just in love with him.’

     ‘Have you known him long? Or is this a fling? A one-night stand?’

     Simos shrugged his shoulders. ‘Not that long. I’ve been with him before a couple of times, but that’s all. That’s the feeling I get.’

     ‘Hmm,’ Amalia said, a short, sharp sound escaping her mouth. ‘Well, how do you know it’s Satie and not some other composer? In fact, how do you know he’s a composer at all?’

     ‘His scores are scattered all over the room, on the floor, in whatever free space there is in that suffocating area, and he’s always humming snippets of music he’s composing, music that, as Simos, I’ve heard before and know is his.’

     ‘I see.’ Her eyes narrow a little in concentration.

     ‘And there’s that painting of him on the wall above his bed.’

     ‘What painting?’

     ‘It’s his portrait. By the artist Suzanne Valadon. I know this because I’ve seen it in books. But, as the woman, I don’t know who’s painted it. In one dream I asked him to tell me, but he never did. Or if he did, I couldn’t hear it. The only thing I can hear is, “You can go now.” That’s all. Over and over again, “You can go now.”’

     ‘OK,’ Amalia said, her eyes glancing towards the window. ‘So why does this dream affect you so much? I mean...we all dream of strange things, don’t we?’ Amalia let out a little laugh, but restrained it.

      Simos placed his hand over his mouth, all the time looking at Amalia. Slowly, he lowered his gaze.

     ‘I know. We do. And I have no idea why it recurs so often and why it gets to me every time. But it does.’

     Amalia jerked herself out of her reclining position and lifted her body up. She took her legs off the sofa and stood.

     ‘Hmm…well, that doesn’t really say very much, does it? I think they’re just weird dreams, nothing else. I wouldn’t pay much attention to them, if I were you,’ she said, and walked out of the living room. Simos could make out sounds coming from the kitchen: the kettle filling up with water, the coffee jar opening and a spoon hitting the glass sides. He sighed, lay back down on the sofa, covering his eyes with his arm. The smell of coffee reached him. He heard Amalia stirring in some sugar, tapping the spoon on the mug ten times—at least eight more than was necessary. Silence. Then the soft sound of her feet approaching. She sat down near him and sipped from her drink—little, careful sips, making sure she didn’t burn her lips.

     ‘Well, don’t stop now. Does anything else happen in this dream of yours?’ she asked.

     ‘Not much. Never mind. It’s not important,’ Simos replied, his arm still resting over his eyes.

     ‘Suit yourself.’

     Simos felt her body move, lean over, heard the soft clink of the mug being placed on the coffee table, then paper rustling—she was flicking though a magazine once more.

     Neither of them spoke. The occasional sound of paper being turned disturbed the silence.

     ‘Are you going to go to work today?’ Amalia asked, brushing a page with her fingertips.

     ‘No. I think I’ll stay home.’

     ‘Oh. I thought you had a deadline for this project.’ Another page turned.

     ‘Mmm…yes, the model has to be ready by the end of next week. I’ll put in a few extra hours in the coming days, but I don’t want to go in today.’

     ‘OK. If you say so.’

     ‘I’m tired.’

     ‘Yes, I can see.’

     Flick.

     Silence.

     ‘Right. I’m going to jump in the shower. I’m meeting the girls for brunch in an hour.’

     The sofa dipped then sprung up into stillness, her footsteps fading. Amalia had gone. A minute later, the sound of running water and humming reached him, then the bathroom door closed. Simos opened his eyes. The sun was getting stronger. A shaft of light glided across the floor and onto the coffee table. Pretty soon it would engulf him, too.

      He turned to his side facing the window and wedged a pillow under his neck. His eyelids got heavier and he gave into that sensation

 

Seul—‘Alone, for a moment’

The door slammed, waking Simos with a start. His heart was racing and, for a brief moment, he didn’t know where he was. The sun was full on his face now, and he squinted. Amalia must have just gone. He was alone. His left side ached from lying in one position for too long. Twisting his body, he slumped onto his back, one leg resting against the sofa. He stared at the ceiling, placed one hand on his chest and his fingertips touched something cool—a piece of paper. He lifted it, shaded his eyes and read the scrawl scribbled on top:

     Tried to wake you to say goodbye, but you were sleeping heavily. Going out. See you later. A

     His hand dropped to his chest, his breath moving it up and down, up and down.

     You can go now.

     That voice, gravelly, low. He could hear it, grating, indifferent. Simos’ eyes closed.

     You can go now.

     His hand became heavy. His fingers curled into a fist, then released. Taking in a sharp breath, he stifled a small cry.

     You can go now.

     Then silence.