The Erotic Études Opus VI
Étude XII - Glock
By the time Glock arrived at his office, I had already wrung my hat shapeless with nervousness. He came in, doffed his own hat and coat, and peered at me through his tiny glasses. “And what is this then? You're never up at eight in the morning, unless sick. Problems sleeping again?”
I gazed up at my friend, and he caught sight of my face, eyes swollen and red from weeping, and said nothing. “Well well, come in. I haven't anyone else to see this morning, so I am at your disposal.”
It had taken me days to make a firm enough resolve to see Glock, but after nights of sleeplessness interspersed with uncontrollable weeping, I knew there was only one thing for me to do. I explained to him first about my failed engagement, and about the pain of Ludwig's death. And of course, my mother's. He nodded briefly, and then rose and went to his work table.
“I think it would help in any case for you to have a morphia. You have to have some sleep, and you will in any event feel more relaxed from it.” I nodded. I had not come to him for morphia often, so he knew I was not looking only for a drug.
“Now,” he said, patting the inside of my elbow and twisting a tourniquet on my upper arm, “I think you had better talk to me about what you think is tormenting you, your grief and loss aside.”
He inserted the needle into the vein, and tapped the barrel, while I held my breath. It pinched, slightly, and following that, I felt a sudden rush of dizziness as the drug began its work. He helped me to lie down on the sofa, and sat down in his chair, facing me.
I did not know why, but the first thing that came from my mouth was, “Do you know what love is, Heinrich?”
He laughed, quietly. “Well let me see, sometimes I think that is what is left after my wife has finished nagging at me for coming home too late and missing dinner, that results in her remaining interested in having intercourse with me the same night.”
“So,” I replied, taking him entirely in earnest, “It is to do with sex.”
“No - no, I don't think that is what I meant, Robert. Is that what is bothering you?”
“Maybe. Yes. I might have wanted that girl, Ernestine, but it was just not workable. Not at all.”
I struggled to explain. “It is - it is because I didn't feel love. Attracted, yes. Did you know that we were...”
“You weren't!” he registered genuine surprise. “You had her? Before marriage, even? Does the Baron know?”
“Yes, yes. I confessed it all to him. That was why, actually. It just wasn't workable!”
“Because you found you didn't desire her?”
I nodded. Already, I was feeling drowsy from the morphia, and that which had anguished me all night -- the hidden, mysterious pains of my mind - seemed to lessen, and continue to lessen into unimportance, even as I spoke them aloud. “That is just it! How could that be the same as - how I felt for Ludwig? Oh, my poor doomed Ludwig!” I sighed, and once again the tears rose to my stinging eyes.
“So - it was Ludwig you loved. Did you have sex with him too?”
“Yes, of course. Many times.”
“And that was good?” I could hear the hint of something in Glock's voice - disapproval? Disbelief? I did not know, and I ached to question it, the shadow of doubt in him.
“Well - yes! I would be with him today if he had not become so ill.”
“So why did you leave him when he worsened?” he queried.
“We agreed to it. He did not want me to suffer, and being there with him, knowing how I felt about him, would not help him. So he agreed I should go. But I felt terrible about it!”
“All right,” Glock sat up straight. “So - you had a lover you were happy with. You courted the girl, knowing you would lose him. But you were dissatisfied with her so you abandoned her too.”
“I did not abandon Ludwig!” I cried.
“All right. But you feel like you did. Do you not? It is obviously distressing you.”
“Of course!” I wept, and this time, the tears did not abate, and Glock handed me a large handkerchief and waited for me to blow my nose violently several times before he spoke again.
“But you do not feel badly about abandoning the girl.”
“No - not really. I didn't love her. It would not be right.”
“You should not have taken her virginity in that case.”
“You think I don't know that!” I argued, my voice now querulous.
“Let me ask you something. Perhaps you will consider this intrusive. Have you had more than one relationship of a sexual nature, with men?”
“Yes,” I murmured, now subdued.
“I don't know. Perhaps a dozen. Mostly in youth.”
“When you were seeing Dr. Carus, did you tell him about any of them?”
I looked carefully at Glock and said nothing for a long minute. “Why did you ask me that just now?”
“Carus was your psychiatrist before you went to Heidelberg to school, was he not?”
“Yes, not in a formal way, but - yes.”
“He volunteered. As a friend. He did not charge me for it.”
“I see. So did you tell him about your homosexual affairs?”
“Yes, I told him.”
“And he was not your official doctor then...”
“What did he advise you?”
“He said it was normal for young men, particularly ones with such dominating mothers.”
Glock laughed again, briefly. “That may be true. I hope you don't think that I am asking out of any prurient interest, but did you ever have a relationship with Carus?”
“Whatever do you mean?” I said, rather too loudly.
“Just what I meant. A sexual affair.”
I lowered my eyes and said nothing.
“So - you have. Is that why you don't see him for treatment any longer?”
“Yes. In part. Yes - I did have an affair with him, in the spring of 1827. After my father died.”
“Isn't he about your father's age?”
“What are you saying?” I cried again.
“Shhh, I don't mean to agitate you, Robert. I just think this is a rather unusual collection of events. Do you think Carus turned you completely toward men?”
“I wouldn't say so. I have had relations with women, too.”
“Oh? How many?'”
“Three, if you include Ernestine.”
“Hm. A dozen men, and three women. Do you consider yourself promiscuous?”
“I haven't come down with syphilis yet.” I felt fiercely defensive.
“That isn't the definition of promiscuous.”
“I know,” I retorted. “I am just saying.”
“My opinion is, that sex impulses are normal. I hope you understand that. And all of what I am asking is to a point.”
“So what is your point? Get to it!”
“I have known you for - what, seven years now? You are a very sensitive person, Robert. And it would seem, you are a very impressionable one. I wonder if you would have become so involved with other men if you had not had this relation with Carus. It was quite immoral of him to have pursued you at that age, I might add.”
“All right then.”
“It would be immoral of me to pursue you, and we are the same age, give or take a year. It is the position of a doctor to be objective. Not to ravish someone he finds vulnerable and attractive.”
“He didn't - ” I objected.
“He most certainly did!” Glock thundered. “It completely ruins my respect for him, I might add. However, I have long suspected, and I glad you did not deny it.”
“Now about Ludwig. What would have happened had he not died, and you and he took up a life together, domestically, as it were?”
“It did not happen.”
“It might have done. Did you make any declarations to one another?”
“Damn you, Heinrich.”
“So - you did.”
I was furious with him, but I could not deny the truth that underlay his question. “I told him I would not love another while he lived.”
“Fortunate for you he didn't live very long.”
“That is dastardly,” I murmured, furious.
“Still very fortunate. What do you think would have happened to you as a composer, if it became known that you were having illegal relations?”
I was silent for a long moment. I had, in fact, thought about that, many times, and pushed it out of my mind every time, during the spring of the previous year. Even while my heart ached at realizing Ludwig's illness, I knew that my declaration of fidelity to him was no lie, since I knew he would not live.
“My life and career would be over,” I intoned. “Damn you, Heinrich.”
“Do you know what love is, Robert?”
“I hope so. I thought I did.”
“Do you think that confiding in and depending upon a professional physician who seduces you at the age of 17 while you are mourning your father, is love?”
“At the time, I thought so,” I replied, my voice sounding very far away, in the dream state induced by morphia. “You seem to think otherwise.”
“Yes, I do think otherwise.”
“Do you think I would be loving you if instead of trying to work out this dilemma with you as a medical man, I seduced you in a morphia dream?”
I did not reply. I wept. The thing I so valued in Glock was his almost uncanny understanding of the odd workings of my thoughts. In addition to being a dedicated follower of my career as a composer, and a steadfast friend, he was always consummately professional, and did not remain at that cold distance so many doctors did, when I appealed to them to help with my arcane emotional problems. Which is why time after time, I returned to Glock.
At length I shook myself back together, dabbed my face with Glock's now-saturated handkerchief, and sat back up.
“No. No. I see what you are saying. However, this is not an easy point of view to take in, all at once. So - do you think there is something desperately wrong with me, for preferring Ludwig to the girl?”
“Maybe not,” he replied, noncommittal.
“Then - what are you suggesting?”
“I think I am suggesting - perhaps you haven't really experienced love yet. Or perhaps once. It may be that you loved Ludwig, but he is gone now. Or you loved your mother as well, and are suffering from the loss of them both. But you are still very young.”
“Still young. I feel old. I feel as though I am so near to death.”
“But you are not. You have just had too many losses for someone so young. My parents both still live. I have lost only a sister, and that was at birth. How many losses have you had?”
“Too many. My parents, both, my sister too, my brother Julius, all of my uncles...”
“And Ludwig.” I sighed.
“Don't you think that would affect your interest in others? Or how much you trust them?”
“I am not sure I could love anyone else.”
“You say that - today.”
“That is all I feel right now. The weight of a gravestone on me. I felt when I had the grave built for Ludwig, that it was my own.”
“But it is not. Perhaps it was a monument to a first love.” His words echoed strangely in my ears. A monument to a first love.
“Do you think anyone would love me, Heinrich?”
“Well - who am I to say? Men are not to my taste. But you seem attractive enough by normal standards. A little red around the eyes,” he joked. “A little predisposed to weeping. You will need larger handkerchieves made for you.”
I smiled, in spite of my sadness. Oddly enough, despite the painful turn of our discussion, I felt mysteriously relieved, as though the admission of my loves and losses, had dispersed their power over me. Or perhaps it was the morphia. Or a combination of the two. While I ruminated silently, a habit Glock was long used to, he passed me a fresh handkerchief from his drawer and relieved me of the sodden one.
“Heinrich, what would you do if you were me?”
“Ah, the heart of the matter,” he replied. “Yes, what would I do. I think that the best thing for you to do is to select a compatible female of suitable background, and marry her. Preferably sooner, rather than later.”
“My mother told me before she died, she wanted me to marry Wieck's daughter.”
“Ah, Wieck's daughter. The one you said had --”
“A big nose.”
“But she seems quite lovely enough in other ways. And she can play your piano pieces. So what would be the problem with that?”
“I think she's more talented than I am,” I joked, my humor returning to me by small degrees. “Her father would not approve, either.”
“Well - select someone. Someone female. You will not ever fit into this society by dallying with men, however familiar it might feel, and however comforting. Had Ludwig remained living, and you had not taken up living with him, you might have had a wife, as well as a relationship with him, if that were found suitable to all concerned. I cannot help but think despite your protestations, that you refuse to consider the values of society.”
“No - I do value them.”
“And I still think, despite all, that you have it in you to love a woman. If you give it a fair chance. Trying to change your sentiments while your lover is dying is from the beginning, a doomed proposition. But now he is gone, and you are unattached and lonely. It is time to find a wife, this time as a serious endeavour.”
“Ha, ha, a serious endeavour. Like the magazine. I almost lost the magazine, due to losing Ludwig. I almost lost a lot of things.”
“Is the morphia helping you? You seem calmer, by degrees,” he commented.
I nodded, but then, I found myself drifting off into a waking dream. I was vaguely aware of Glock closing the blinds, and leaving the room. And for some time, perhaps hours, I found myself drifting, and considering what life might be like, if I undertook to fall in love as a serious endeavour.
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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 ]