Flash Friday – ‘The Curtain Call’

Caruso with phonograph, early 1900s. Baen photo owned by LOC; no known restrictions. (www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ggbain.29837/)

Caruso with phonograph, early 1900s. Baen photo owned by LOC; no known restrictions. (www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ggbain.29837/)

The Curtain Call

Gracefully remove the disc… blow off the dust… smile at the words Caruso: His Greatest Hits… place it reverently on the turntable… and – ah! – that jolt of pleasure as the stylus settles… and finally, the sound. The sound. The sound, and the memories…

‘Enrico!’ Careful! Don’t scratch it!

‘Dorothy?’

‘You’ve got that blessed phonograph going again!’

‘Yes, dear?’

‘What have I told you?’

Caruso rolled his eyes.

‘We must let the past be the past, I’m retired, blah-blah-blah.’

‘Blah-blah-blah?

‘Sorry, dear.’

‘Come on, now. Come through to the family room. Oh, The Talent We’ve Got! is just starting.’

‘What a treat.’

‘It sure is. Tonight they’ve got a woman who can sing underwater – underwater, Enrico! Can you imagine? – and a little dancing dog. He’s called Puppy, the Pride of Poughkeepsie.’

‘He’ll find that hard to fit on a calling card.’

‘What, dear?’

‘Nothing, sweetheart,’ Enrico sighed, sliding the record back into its sleeve. ‘Nothing at all.’

**

This week’s Flash Friday was one where the story unfolded itself in my mind as soon as I saw the prompt. I knew that, sadly, Enrico Caruso didn’t live to see fifty, so he never had a chance to retire or to see the advent of television (though, as this story makes clear, perhaps that was no bad thing), but this prompt image, plus the required element of ‘a puppy’, just made sense in my head.

I wonder, often, about stars and their lives once the spotlight has gone out. Some, like Caruso, don’t live to see an end to their fame but others, sadly, do. It must be difficult to watch yourself be forgotten and your legacy vanish, and to see the cultural world you lived in change to suit the tastes of a new generation. I wonder what Caruso would have made of ‘talkies’, or of TV talent shows, and maybe he’d have joined in with gusto.

Maybe.

Anyway, this is my offering on a cold, wet Friday. Enjoy! And see you tomorrow for a review of a most interesting, unusual, and mind-boggling book. Ciao!

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