This is a kind of program music.

The story is about four men each represented by the cello’s four strings, all tuned down a step or more.  It took quite a few run-through’s to solidify the form and story… there are details left out of the story deliberately, as this isn’t The 365 Writing Project, so there are gaps, and the story, admittedly, deserves some attention… but enjoy!  See you tomorrow!

The story:

Setting: Early 20th Century.  A dry and dusty roadside in Alabama.  It is noon.

Four men, each in prison for a crime they did (or perhaps didn’t) commit were out working on the roadside as part of their sentence.  It is the hottest day of the year, yet they are forced to work with no shade and very little water: appetites are high and irritations persist throughout the day.

The first man: short and thin, in his early thirties with a voice that bites the ear with its nasal quality.  He stands with his jaw pointed down, his hands on hips and belly out because he thinks it makes him look bigger and more threatening.  He is irritating, argumentative and persistent.  He is the newest addition to the gang.  He whimpers and whines about the heat and the work.  He is ignorant about the rules, has no notion of the layout of power within the chain gang, but continues to talk of escape and all the things he’ll do when he gets far from there.  In this moment, he speaks up suddenly and loudly in the middle of a silence: it cuts through everything but the afternoon heat.  His annoyance is violently corrected by “The Boss'” Third Man, and he ends up limping to the truck back with only one eye to see from and three fingers missing on his right hand.

The second man: Middle aged and weak.  He is often sick and doesn’t know how to roll his own cigarettes.  He is a follower and though he’s been in prison for some time, his allegiances shift constantly and irrationally.  He makes the mistake of encouraging the annoying man’s fantasies of escape at first, but see’s the error of his ways when violently and physically corrected by “The Boss” at the end of the day.

The third man: Shockingly ugly and disturbingly paranoid but undeniably muscular.  He is the right hand of “The Boss”, the gang’s most influential and powerful inmate.  He is The Boss’s Ego and Superego.  He has been an inmate for 25 years and has gained certain privileges and rights due to specific horrific sacrifices he has made just to survive within the gang.  He is missing the last three fingers on his right hand.

The fourth man: “The Boss”.  A huge, strangely charismatic older man with gaped teeth, huge biceps and a stomach so round he can’t see the ground.  He is intelligent, quiet, and speaks slowly and only when absolutely necessary.  He rolls his cigarettes into a perfect 4 centimeters every time.  He communicates only through his human Ego and Superego: The Third Man.  The Boss becomes so irritated by men one and two, he orders immediate action be taken and physical violence is used, but subtle enough it looks like an accident while out working.

Four Men in the Jug