Based on a Dash. Something a bit different.
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Dr. Charles Hutchings finished his presentation on Henry Dreyfuss. He turned off the projector, closed his laptop, and looked around the small lecture hall at his small audience of fellow doctors. He smiled. "I will now entertain questions from the floor," he stated.
A hand shot up. Hutchings acknowledged it.
"Dr. Hutchings, you say the boy was incapable of speech?"
"No, not incapable," Hutchings responded drily. "I would say unwilling to speak. Henry, to my knowledge, has never spoken a word in his life."
"Is he toilet trained?"
"Yes," Hutchings said. "In fact, his parents informed me that he was toilet trained at the proper age. There was no difficulty in this. He also feeds himself."
"Does he dress himself?" This came from a woman in the back.
"Yes," Hutchings stated. "He awakens before his parents, and sits on his bed quietly. When his mother comes into the room, he dresses himself, and performs his morning routine in the bath. He always waits for his mother. And then he proceeds to the kitchen, where he awaits his breakfast."
"His clothing, sir?"
"Always black shoes, black shirt, and jeans. It never varies."
"So," a voice in front spoke up, and the sarcasm was evident, "this boy, Henry Dreyfuss, the child of two simple-minded but hard working parents, spends almost fourteen years of his life gazing out a window. He acknowledges almost nothing except basic human needs. And then, one day, he sits down at the family piano, which is an aged and wretched instrument. And, in the space of one week, by simply hitting keys here and there, composes a symphony in the style of Mozart."
"Not only in the style of Mozart," Hutchings said, "but almost perfect in every way. You all heard the recording of the symphony played by the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is marvelous."
"How was he exposed to music?"
Charles recognized this man. He was the Chief of Psychiatry at Thomas Jefferson University. Charles walked from behind the lectern and propped his backside against the table holding his laptop and the projection equipment. He removed his reading glasses and placed them in the case inside of his breast pocket. These actions gave him time to consider his answer.
"His mother," Hutchings stated, "had some piano training as a youth and in her early teens. She reached a level where she could perform popular songs and some of the simple classics. As you saw and heard on the video, she does have some basic skill. Henry sits quietly and listens when she plays. The sound of the music from the piano evidently gives him pleasure."
"What do the parents do to earn their living?" This was from another voice in the rear.
"Mrs. Dreyfuss works as a chambermaid at the local Holiday Inn Express. She is quite competent in the performance of her work, or so management informs me." Here Charles paused. "Mr. Dreyfuss is a general laborer for the borough of West Chester. He performs whatever odd jobs and tasks assigned to him. Both parents appear to be pleased with their lot in life and do not complain."
"And their residence?" the Chief of Psychiatry asked.
"A basic, three-bedroom rancher on the west edge of town," Hutchings responded. "It is well kept; however, there are some small improvements that need to be made. The family has never been late or missed a mortgage payment."
"Has the child any other artistic activities?" a psychologist three rows back queried.
"He likes to draw during the day," Charles stated. "He draws simple sketches of the rooms, the family home, and what he sees from the window. His sketches are done in ink and pencil."
"How did the child first express his interest in music?" a young woman in the center of the auditorium asked.
"Henry sat at the piano and began by hitting a key here and there," Charles responded. "He evidently became agitated from the sounds. He has a way, which I have not yet observed, of expressing his discomfort to his mother." Charles Hutchings paused and caught his breath. "His mother and father had a discussion, and his father stopped at the local music store one day and purchased some music notebooks. He gave them to Henry."
No one said anything.
"Oh, have I told you?" Hutchings asked.
Everyone present murmured.
"Henry has been back at the piano for two weeks now. He appears to composing an opera."
The murmurs became shouts.