1723 c/o Leo Stillinger


There are two pianos falling from the sky. That is how it appears; in reality they are falling but not from the sky. They have been thrown off the balcony of Johann Sebastian Bach's apartment in Leipzig, a city in Germany.

"Bach!!!" yells a man, then kneels.

It wasn’t me, thinks Bach. I’m innocent.

But there are undoubtedly two pianos falling from the sky.

There are bulls running through the streets of Leipzig and Spain.

A 23-year-old German man is gored by a bull as he walks out of a yellow taxi cab. His blood spills on the streets and people scream as he dies quietly on the asphalt thinking of earthquakes.

Twelve minutes after he has died, the police arrive. His blood flows down the gutter like rainwater and accidentally falls into the water supply, causing Germans to drink infinitesimally small amounts of blood for three weeks.

Bach goes to a museum gift shop and buys three postcards. He walks home and addresses them to his mother, his father, and his sister.

Bach wishes he had gone to the actual museum. He loves art. Bach thinks the word "shit."

Bach receives a letter in the mail from Antonio Vivaldi. The letter says that Vivaldi has written four violin concertos called The Four Seasons. The letter asks if Bach would like to hear them.

“That bitch-ass motherfucker,” says Bach to his apartment. “That pretentious cocksucker. That Verdi fucker.”

“That yellow fucker,” says Bach.

Nobody tells Bach that his pianos are falling from the sky.

• • •

Increase Mather dies.

Increase Mather is a person. It is a human name. “Increase Mather” is the name of a human.

Increase Mather thinks, I have a fucked up human name.

He dies loudly.

Increase Mather’s son is named Cotton Mather. Increase Mather wanted his son to have a sillier name than him.

Increase Mather was involved in the Salem witch trials. He wrote Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men, Witchcrafts, infallible Proofs of Guilt in such as are accused with that Crime, which states "It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that one Innocent Person should be Condemned."

Witches were killed for being witches. Being witches is a crime in the past.

30 years after the Salem witch trial, Increase Mather cries. He is on a boat to Germany crying.

He is crying because he is talking to a 23-year-old German man who is returning to Germany for his father’s funeral.

The German man says, “The last thing I said to my father was ‘Goodbye’. That is uninspiring.”

“Yes,” says Increase Mather and starts crying.

The German man gives Increase Mather a handkerchief. Increase Mather resists a strong urge to bite the handkerchief in half and swallow both halves.

“Where are you going in Germany,” says the German man.

Increase Mather sobs. “I am going to Leipzig,” he says while sobbing.

“Oh,” says the German man. “I am going to Leipzig too.”

What they are beginning to understand is that there is a giant, secret, invisible magnet located in Leipzig. It is sometimes called The Center of the Universe because it is, literally, the center of the universe. It is on the sidewalk fifty feet under Johann Sebastian Bach’s apartment balcony. It is a crack in the sidewalk.

Bach feels his life changing. He feels his life moving towards a large event. He feels himself tugged impossibly towards the large event, like a giant magnet. Bach feels like a tiny mosquito.

The boat trip takes many days. Increase Mather tells the German man how his wife Maria died and he remarried.

“Why are you alone now,” says the German man, looking at the sea.

“Hm,” says Increase Mather. “I have a son named Cotton. I named him Cotton because I have a silly name and he has a silly name. Sometimes I pretend he is a rabbit.”

The German man smiles and winks.

They arrive in Germany and take a train together to Leipzig. It is winter in Germany. There is perfect snow on the trees and small rabbits behind the trees. There are fields of snow.

The train ride ends and they exit the train. “I have to take a taxi now,” says the German man.

“Goodbye,” says Increase Mather and kisses the German man on the lips.

Bach feels like there is a mosquito in his ear. There is literally a mosquito in his ear but he also feels it metaphorically. Bach thinks about The Center of the Universe and then takes both his pianos and pushes them off his balcony.

Bach’s pianos fall.

The Center of the Universe pulls them toward itself with a creepy force.

Bach is thirsty, so he pours himself a glass of water. It tastes of blood.

Hm, thinks Bach.

A man is gored by a bull.

Increase Mather steps on the Center of the Universe and is crushed by two grand pianos.

Increase Mather’s bones are crushed.

The first man to arrive at the scene of Increase Mather’s violent death is a security guard from the museum who has been spending time outside Bach’s apartment, day-dreaming, because he is in love with Bach.

“Bach!!!” shouts the security guard in an existentially anguished voice.

The security guard kneels next to The Center of the Universe and prays for Increase Mather.

Bach looks out from his balcony.

I’m innocent, he thinks

• • •

Later, when the pianos and the bodies have been cleaned from the streets, and the bulls have been driven out of Leipzig, and the water no longer tastes of blood, Bach goes to the museum and studies the art.

He makes casual eye-contact with the same security guard.

The security guard thinks about passionately kissing Bach next to Rococo paintings.

A mosquito lands on a painting and Bach wants to punch it.

Later, Bach takes a train to Berlin, where he attends a concert of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Bach weeps quietly into his handkerchief. Two years have passed. The world has changed. It is 1725.