The Erotic Études Opus VI

Étude VIII - Friedrich

Étude VIII - Friedrich

At last, I had found a competent pianist with whom to play the F minor Fantasie: Friedrich Toepken, also a law student. We spent most of Sunday afternoon closeted, getting our timing right, after a week at our own individual practice -- and the result was gratifying. But my hands were growing tired, and the increasing in my errors told me it was time to stop. Toepken was obviously better practiced than I, because he betrayed no fatigue, so after I struck the last chord I laid my right hand on his left and shook my head.

"Please, Friedrich...I think that's enough for one day. Or one week!" He frowned and looked up at me.

"Tired already? Ah, too bad. But it's still afternoon. What shall we do, then?"

I had a ready answer: my local biergarten. He followed me down the stairs and out into the late afternoon. Heidelberg was bustling with tourists still shopping and taking in the sights along the Schloßbrücke. We avoided the press with some difficulty, and found some shaded outdoor seats, where we could sit and watch the river and the crowds from a certain remove.

"Ah - good to have something to occupy me on a Sunday, since my studies are done," Toepken sighed. I found myself studying him a bit more closely.

"What is this? Something to occupy you?"

"Ah yes, I am suffering from loneliness. I had a girl during the entire last term. She adored how I played, so I didn't stint on practice!" he smiled modestly. "You may have noticed I am well practiced... she would sit tirelessly by the hour while I played." He sighed again, and raised a hand for the barmaid to refill his glass, catching my rapid glance. "No worries, Schumann, I'll pay. I know you are on a small allowance. Now, let's get to the more serious business of drinking." And he quaffed deeply on his freshly drawn pils.

After he finished another round with more speed than even I could manage, Toepken spoke again. "I suppose it's no trouble for you, with the curls and blue eyes and all..."

I lowered my eyes.

"What then?" he asked, surprised, growing more garrulous by the minute.

"Rather afraid of them actually. Unless I am good and high," I admitted.

"Whatever for?" he roared. "Look there, even now that barmaid is giving you a lingering stare." I did not follow his pointing finger. "You could probably have any one you wanted. I'm just a lump."

"With excellent four hands technique!" I reassured him.

"Well - there is that," he admitted with a wry smile. "But now be honest, you have certainly had at least a few."

"Less than a few! Of girls, that is."

He glanced up quickly. "Oh," he blushed slightly.

"Two girls exactly," I recounted, "four boys of my own age, and one psychiatrist."

"A what?"

"You know - a doctor of the mind," I smiled tightly. "A friend of my family from my hometown."

"Was he helping your mind?" he chuckled.

"I don't think so. Are you very disgusted?"

"Nooo..." he replied... "I just never..."

"One gets lonely," I temporized.

"One certainly does."

"Then if you are ever lonely.." I trailed off, hiding my expression behind my glass, which I emptied in the next gulp. Toepken did not answer, but waved again for another round.

Some time later, when full dark had closed the terrasse, after we were driven by the evening chill indoors, Toepken, good as his word, settled our bill, and we staggered out, arms around each others' shoulders to steady ourselves.

I turned in the direction of my rooms, and Toepken did not break away. He said "Did you really mean what you said..."

I ruffled his hair. "Of course I did. Are you coming up, or are you going to try to find your way home in your condition? You can certainly stay."

"I'll come up."

I made coffee, black and strong, and the activity cleared my head somewhat. It was clear Toepken was still troubled, perhaps heartbroken over the loss of his girl. He did not explain what had happened to her, nor why she had left him. I brought a large mug of the brew into the sitting room, where Toepken had collapsed on the sofa, and as he loosened his schal and unbuttoned his coat, I handed the mug to him. He held it steady with both hands, and sipped. "My head will be three sizes larger tomorrow, I imagine."

"Just drink that, you will feel better right away." I was already on a second cup and feeling the onset of Knill, the high that emerges at the edge of true drunkenness. But Toepken had not been as careful with his quantities and looked green on his edges. I helped finish divesting his frock coat and shoes, and his head lolled back. I leaned over him to steady his cup and he said "Well, what of it?"

"What of what?" I was truly confused.

"This fucking boys your own age thing," he blurted, and threw out a gesture with his free hand. "You're the experienced one, show me what to do."

I blushed with embarrassment. I could not think he was being serious; but perhaps severely dejected, and most definitely lonely.

"Friedrich..." I began to reply, and he gripped my collar, pulling me toward him, his grasp powerful. A pianist's hands. I tried to set down his mug without spilling it, but some of the hot liquid splashed onto the table as he pulled me down on top of him. He put his lips on my own.

I pulled away, and sat up, and as I did I looked down into his face. He was weeping, with a dismay fueled by extreme drunkenness.

"You are very drunk, Friedrich," I said quietly.

"Yes. But drunkenness has done nothing for my lust. That has not been dulled. I can't see straight, and I could probably not walk. There is probably only one thing I can do."

"I don't think that it's the right situation to be --" I started to say, but he cut me off.

"What better situation?" His sadness was affecting my mood. He was desperately distracted, and it was clear that drink intensified his depression rather than alleviated it, as it did in my case.

"I think I better put you to bed," I said, making up my mind. I pulled him to his feet and unbuttoned his pants, and pulled them down his legs. He stepped unsteadily out of them, and I towed him to the bedroom, where he half-sat, half-fell, into my bed. I pulled the duvet over him, and took the candle back out to the sitting room, where I sopped up the spilled coffee with a rag, and finished my own cup.

Presently, I heard a soft snoring from the other room, picked up my candle, and returned to the bed, undressed quietly, and slipped in next to Toepken, who was now deeply asleep. As he sensed my presence in the bed, he turned and reached his arm around me in a sleeping embrace. I did not push it off, but neither did I return it. I knew that, if he were dreaming, it was not about me. Presently, I, too, slept.

•   •   •   •


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The Erotic Etudes Index

[ I ]   [ II ]   [ III ]   [ IV ]   [ V ]   [ VI ]   [ VII ]   [ VIII ]   [ IX ]
[ X ]   [ XI ]   [ XII ]   [ XIII ]   [ XIV ]   [ XV ]   [ XVI ]   [ XVII ]   [ XVIII ]

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