Beck Justice knows holiday sparkle and snappy carols only mask December’s cruel, black heart. He learned that lesson even before he landed on the streets eight years ago, and his recent step up to a tiny apartment and a busker’s permit for Seattle’s Pike Place Market has done nothing to change his mind. But one day in the market, Oleg Abramov joins his ethereal voice to Beck’s guitar, and Beck glimpses light in his bleak, dark winter.
Oleg, lucky to have a large and loving family, believes Beck could be the man to fill the void that nevertheless remains in his life. The two men step out on a path toward love, but it proves as slippery as Seattle’s icy streets. Just when they get close, a misunderstanding shatters their hopes. Light and harmony are still within reach, but only if they choose to believe, risk their hearts, and trust.
Find Falling Snow on Snow here:
Snow in Seattle is often an ephemeral thing, covering the city by night, gone by day. But this time, contrary to predictions, it not only remained but kept falling, creating sledding hills out of residential streets and blocking doorways with drifts. On Friday, the shoppers still came to the Market, and Christmas music proceeded to echo through the halls, including that produced by Beck’s guitar. If anything, the people were a little less hurried, maybe their smiles a bit more genuine, but they still wanted “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells,” and Beck didn’t think any real goodness resided at the heart of the holiday season, whether white or blue or even rainbow.
The snow stopped Friday afternoon, but started again in the silver dawn Saturday morning, and that day the Market seemed as whisper quiet as the rest of the city. Around four in the afternoon, Beck was performing in one of the Market’s coldest and generally least bustling corners. Of the few people passing by, not one stopped to listen, and Beck’s fingers responded of their own accord by simply stopping. He sat down in the corner, his back against the wall, and looked out a long window opposite. The sun shone momentarily, its isolated orange rays slanting through the falling flakes as if giving a wave to remind the city it still burned. The sight was mesmerizing, and Beck didn’t think at all before he started to play a song he loved—a song of a Christmas day dark and harsh, one which, unlike storefronts and Santa photos, might harbor true compassion.
Beck’s fingers coaxed a dark, cold wind from the strings, and he felt the words of the hymn he played rise in his throat and form on his tongue. He let them loose, speaking them like a poem of loneliness, and left them hanging in the air on frozen breath.
“In the bleak midwinter frosty winds made moan.
Earth was hard as iron, water like a stone.”
He wanted to stop. The words made the music more beautiful , more true than ever, and he wanted to listen to it, to hear what his hands were telling him. This wasn’t the kind of music to play to a Christmas-shopping crowd at Pike Place Market—he knew that. Yet where moments before no one had even looked at his happy caroling guitar as they passed—even if they tossed money into his open case—now he saw through the screen of his eyelashes that people gathered. They waited for something, a small crowd still as a deep winter night.
Despite his reluctance, his words continued to steal out into the world as if they had every right to his voice, but then he heard something else. At first he thought it an echo—the market was full of them—but it gained in strength and beauty, and he understood. Someone had begun to sing. Clear, brave, flawless as Beneventan chant.
Like an angel in a cathedral.
His own words became a whisper, his fingers grew more sincere as they traveled the strings in pursuit of a beauty that would match the singer’s voice. He lifted his gaze to search the small crowd that had gathered, but not one among the men, women, or children moved their lips or seemed to do anything but listen, perhaps as enchanted as he was by the sounds. It seemed a moment touched by something beyond the mundane, and he thought of his grandmother’s rosary hanging as always around his neck, though it meant nothing religious to him at all.
Beck wasn’t, in fact, a man of religion. And though he admitted the possibility that something more existed than what could be seen, the closest he knew to spirit lived right there, in the music. In the tones born in the body of a fine guitar, the passage of breath through the vein of a flute. In the flight of sound on the wings of a perfect voice. Like this one.
“Snow was falling, snow on snow.” The singer wove the words over and under the harmonies Beck offered up with fingers and strings, turned them into something different, something more.
The song ended, as all songs do. But this time, when the words stopped and the echoes died away, Beck felt a thrill of panic, for he still hadn’t located the singer. What if he never found them, never again heard that soaring voice, never looked into the eyes of the man who sang. Yes, he thought, a man. He hadn’t been sure at first, as the alto voice had reached notes high for the range. But it’s a man, he thought again, and he knew it because of the way the voice had touched him.
About Lou Sylvre:
Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and likes to conjure it into books. The sweethearts on her pages are men who end up loving each other—and usually saving each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very, very sexy. As if you’d want to know more, she’ll happily tell you that she is a proudly bisexual woman, a mother, grandmother, lover of languages, and cat-herder. She works closely with lead cat and writing assistant, the (male) Queen of Budapest, Boudreau St. Clair. She blogs at http://www.sylvre.rainbow-gate.com, is @sylvre on Twitter, and loves to hear from readers on facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.