The Haunted Heaven: Chapter Fifteen: The Friend of the Court And Measure 142
By Michael Moriarty
web posted September 12, 2011
The world of adults for me arrived with my parents' divorce. Sitting alone, without either of my parents to coach me, to answer questions from the Friend of the Court, he who will testify on my behalf in a custody hearing?
Did my father "prep" me? Fill me with the answers I should give the Friend of the Court? I am really not sure. I don't remember anything other than his saying, "Michael, you will be asked about your mother's behavior at home. Just tell him what you have already told me."
The glare of the television set was the only light in my mother's living room as my sister Jean and I sat in silent efforts to enjoy the Ed Sullivan Show.
Mom snored when she fell asleep drunk.
For seventy years I haven't dared venture into the details of that twilight nightmare, the day Mom told us how our father had ordered the death of our two siblings by abortion. No, that point of view certainly didn't come out in one, relatively short sentence. It dribbled out over Mom's drunken lips.
"Do you know...that your father...your Papá...forced me...to have...not one! No, no, no, no...not one...but two! Two abortions!"
I'm now listening to my Andante Orientale and wondering how my lifetime could carry me from the nightmare of that evening to the horrors of Chinese Communism.
No, I'm not sure how much force it took for my father to get my mother on the operating table.
I do know, however, that Red China will drive a mother there at gunpoint.
"What is an abortion?" I ask.
For now the brass of the final movement for Concerto For Orchestra cries around measures 111-116 sounding like the soul agony of my dying siblings, at least what I hear in my heart. The previous measures of Allegro Furioso are myself being dragged to a memory I would have wished to happen to another species on another planet.
It's all about the deaths of myself...yes...well...my brother and sister obviously...or my two sisters...or my two brothers...no way of knowing.
The lone sound of the timpani pounding out an earlier rhythm heard in the flutes is the actual abortive operation, beginning around measure 106
I look over at a book.
"The Roots of Obama's Rage".
Obama's angry?! That spoiled-brat is in a rage?!
Leonard Bernstein once described Aaron Copland as such an angry man that if Copland hadn't had music to pore his rage into, he might have become a serial killer of some sort.
Hmmm...Leonard Bernstein...one of my demi-gods. Whether or not his legacy is entirely crippled by his infatuation with black rage and the Progressive Left? I doubt it.
My God, in the Eighties?!
I was protesting Reagan out of an insane Liberal blindness which now is a virulent disease among Progressives...and reaching homicidal intent with the likes of George Soros playing Grand Puppeteer!
The Friend of the Court.
Hmmm...amicus curiae...the Latin in my life would come later but the law, unfortunately, was introduced to me rather early.
As heavy as the price was for ratting to the Friend of the Court about my suicidal mother and...well...when she hit me across the neck for playing piano instead of listening to her...music was my only escape and she hit me for escaping.
Therefore I entered a Dionysian universe!
This needs explaining.
The theme of Dionysius and Christ as both wine Gods will, I assume, keep erupting in The Haunted Heaven repeatedly. Perhaps that is why my arrests for public intoxication weren't so foreign to me. If my mother could hit me for escaping her and luxuriating in music the same way I luxuriated in wine...well...thank God for head phones these days.
I still, and with increasing clarity, live in both Christian enlightenment and Dionysian freedom, both at the same time. I need think only of Aeschylus' trilogy The Oresteia. I performed for months in Sir Tyrone Guthrie's production of it for the Guthrie Theater. His translator, John Lewin, had named it The House of Atreus.
It has taken me four decades to at last come to peace with the disparate extremes within Man, his simultaneous order and disorder. Both are facts and each demanded a God or Poet to make such seeming warring extremes, Christ and Dionysius, mystically, metaphorically and eternally related.
Now, on mornings like this, I realize how joyously "in the bleachers" I am. Sitting literally above the fray that increasingly boils up within my former homeland. I can see the inevitability of it all.
This morning I wrote Mamma in Italy:
I am perched on the western, cowboy side of the Canadian bleachers, listening to a Finale playback of the third movement of my Concerto For Orchestra.
I have no idea if this creation will ever find the world of concert audiences...but...hmmm...the creation itself is its own reward.
Now, in the fourth movement, Allegretto Orientale, I realize how this Memoir reads more like a diary than an autobiography and...well...I don't much care.
It is its own record of my life.
That I perform as Bernstein to my own Mahler, with a running narrative on the meaning of my music?
Hmmm...well, I'm an actor! That means, according to one Manhattan pundit, a performing artist filled with "generous narcissism".
To betray one's mother and doing so out of narcissism begs the question: at what age are we expected to leave our self-involvement and join "society"?
I left the American Team fifteen years ago. I sit on the sidelines...in the Canadian bleachers.
The richness of my inner being grows not only with every day but every passing hour. Oh, the mornings are the same for me as they are for most people: arduous. We drag ourselves into the day. However, it is not the "I" of us that lifts us out of bed.
Pause between your first moves of the day and...well...wait. Before you know it, something else is making your next move.
It is the dance toward your destiny!
Our Lord danced toward His destiny, knowing that His crucifixion was only the end of the first act in a three act epic. As far as I am concerned, we are now in the third act.
Christians who know that their own tribulations are still only the first act of their eternity?
They are, indeed, "free at last!"
"Lord Almighty, free at last!!"
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law & Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at email@example.com.