The Man of Their Lives Online - Francoise Bourdin

CHAPTER 1

The technician on the other side of the window gave Louis the thumbs up. Louis lowered his steely gaze to the orchestra, who remained frozen anticipating his verdict.

“Thank you, gentlemen. It was…”

For a second he tried to come up with the words to express his satisfaction.

“It was right on,” he finally said with a smile.

He set his baton on the side of the lectern and gathered the score. The heavy soundproof door opened and the director barged into the studio, beaming.

“Awesome!” he shouted. “I swear, you’re saving my movie. Actually, I’m going to use the score wall-to-wall. No use wracking my brain with post-production and those damned actors. They’re driving me nuts, every single one of them. The second theme, the one I told you I like so much, with all the violins? I want it to be swelling, you know? Like, haunting. Louis, we’re going to get tons of tears you and me!”

In the spacious recording studio, the musicians were putting away their instruments. Some had worked with Louis before, and admired him unconditionally. If they gave him their best effort, they knew he’d be a pleasant conductor. Fussy but patient, demanding but always courteous. Louis preferred to record in Paris whenever the producers—and their budget—allowed. So he was popular with the local musicians’ union.

“It was missing a bit of emotional impact, you know?” the director continued. “I couldn’t be more adamant about that. We need maximum emotional impact.”

Louis nodded but said nothing. He thought the director had no talent whatsoever. His stupid film was going to tank at the box office in eight days, tops. No music in the world, no matter how amazing, could turn his pic into a masterpiece.

“Buy you a drink?” the director said, clutching Louis’s arm.

“Sorry, I have to go home. I promised my son I was going to spend the evening with him. I’ll see you on Monday for the mixing.”

It wasn’t some lame excuse. He did need to speak to Frédéric. He’d neglected him too much these past few days. Though he knew better than to hold his breath, he wished that for once traffic wouldn’t be too heavy on the highway.

Coming out of the studios, in front of the Palais des Congrès, Louis realized that the sun had already begun to set. The early evening was cold and dreary, matching his frame of mind to a T. He’d composed the music they’d recorded in just five days. It was perfectly melodramatic, both “swelling” and “haunting,” just as that moron director liked.

Instantly he regretted thinking that. Looking down on the people who hired you only meant that you were belittling yourself. Of course, all movie directors wanted the same thing—for the audience to reach for the tissues. Like it or not, Louis excelled at exactly that kind of stuff. And, he’d been given a full orchestra to work with, something increasingly rare in this day and age. Why was he complaining?

He got to his car and searched for his keys. They’d escaped through the hole in his jacket pocket and found their way in the lining. He took his time fishing the keys out, all the while admiring his brand new red coupe. A beautiful thing, as elegant and powerful as the manufacturer claimed. He’d managed to make Alix crazy with envy when he bought it. Their passion for sports cars would undoubtably ruin them one day if they didn’t stop trying to one up each other. Twenty years ago, their father had made the mistake of giving them driving lessons at the Montlhéry racetrack—both of his children had fallen in love with speed. Since then, despite their fair share of traffic violations and suspended licenses, nothing could to stifle their passion.

Louis tossed his score on the backseat and slid behind the steering wheel. With a little luck he’d be able to make it to Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer in time for supper. Back at the house, Frédéric was probably scratching his head, wondering what to take out of the fridge.

Louis was about to put the car in gear when someone rapped on the window. He lowered it.

“I loved the recording! Musicians are always better when you’re the one conducting…”

“Where were you hiding?” said Louis, staring at his sister.

“In the booth, behind the consoles. And you know what? Everything was so incredibly tight, from beginning to end!”

“Alix,” he reminded her, “you know nothing about music.”

“Maybe. But everybody was happy. Here, you forgot the CD of the recording. You always leave too quickly.”

“What are you doing