The Other Side

I keep having the kind of dreams that most people only enjoy when they smoke something.

In an episode of this one I met a glum couple in late middle age who cherished a steam-driven parlor organ that their late, untimely deceased son had loved to play. They coaxed me to start up the mechanism and, once a burst of steam could be evoked from its engine, spray a burst of some sort of coolant into it. The steam took on the shadowy form of a young man in the clothes a person of probably my father’s generation would have worn for a formal photo, hat included, and I could hear his name: “Victor — Victor.” I was left wondering if this was some kind of medium’s trick or what the point was.

I have no idea if anyone ever invented a steam driven organ of any kind. I can’t even think what it would involve.

You know there are people who just dream of being naked in the breakroom.


6 thoughts on “The Other Side

  1. Did you not have steam organs on roudabouts (carousels, I think) in the US? You must have done. They were superb and usually accompnied rides on those rigid leaping horses.

    Tailor-made for wish-fulfilment.

    • Ah, yes, they were called calliopes and yes, I now remember that they were *steam* calliopes. Easily found on Youtube; I should have looked. I never heard of a parlor version, but some enterprising chappie probably designed one at some point.

      We had a carousel on the National Mall, right outside the headquarters of the Smithsonian Institution, the last time I passed through there, though the calliope music is of course recorded. It has a quaint charm which is inevitably blunted by the presence of the young swarming about.

  2. That would make a fabulous short story. And of course, I couldn’t help but think of Samuel Marchbanks’ description of the pedal-driven parlor organ, so enthusiastically pumped by young ladies of an earlier century. I don’t have the book right in front of me, but I believe this quote to be substantially correct: “Many a young man was startled, on his wedding night, to find that his bride had legs like an eight-day bicycle racer thanks to her dedication to her organ. When skirts were raised, the jig was up.”

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