I grinned. “And I’m John Williams.”
He didn’t react. He stared blankly at me, still vacantly pumping our hands up and down.
“No, really,” I said, “no joking, who are you?”
“Pablo” sighed and motioned for me to sit. I did, still studying the old man behind the desk. This wasn’t Pablo – a few short years ago, Pablo had been so alive, zipping around the Twitterverse in an unending quest to straighten the Star Wars canon. Here I beheld a tired, thinly stretched, and graying old man who could have passed for a Jedi in exile.
“Did you orchestrate this?” Would-be Pablo held up the printed cue faintly.
“Yes.” I was more confused than peeved. Scoring was hard work, and this was the first time I had been referred to the story department on matters of music. It shaped up like a pointless dent in my schedule for wholly unmusical reasons. “Is something the matter?”
“You indicate that this cue,” said Pablo weakly, “incorporates a men’s choir.”
Pablo sighed. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’ll have to rethink this. If you’ve built anything in particular around the sound of a men’s choir, that’s also out.”
I wasn’t shocked, but my annoyance now overtook my confusion. “Just a minute, please. What about a men’s choir is so objectionable that the story group has to step in to interfere with the scoring process?”
Pablo didn’t answer. He lay his forearms on the table, wrapping both hands wearily around a bright green mug.
“I’d really like an answer, ‘Pablo,’ because that is a lot to ask.”
I suddenly noticed the veins in Pablo’s forearms. They stood out vividly as though they had been stenciled in with magic marker. He was straining – and he was gripping his fluorescent mug pretty hard.
“Is this about that silly Sno – ”
CRASH. I flinched. The mug had shattered from between Pablo’s hands. A gash in his palm pulsed heavily, and blood began to dribble out.
“You’re bleeding, my god, you’re bleeding. Are you okay? Where’s your first aid kit?”
“Stop.” Pablo hadn’t moved.
“Just.” Pablo was still sitting ramrod-straight. “Just. Please.” He didn’t sound hurt, just wearier than ever. Maybe that was shock. “Please redo this cue.” He looked me in the eye. “And please don’t try using a men’s choir again.” The cut in his hand was slowly pooling blood among the ceramic shards of his former mug.
I bolted out the door. I had passed a first-aid kit next to the hand sanitizer on my way in.