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Young Bernard possessed so much placid self-assurance that it bordered on being a superpower. Repeatedly the solid foundations of his life dropped out from under him, but he always retained his composure and some form of parachute always manifested to protect him from what looked like an inescapable fall. His family had once been quite wealthy, but after the death of his father, Young Bernard's mother sustained them in their accustomed lifestyle by slowly selling off the family treasures.

The private prep school he attended with the sons and daughters of genuinely wealthy families left him better educated than most graduates of four year universities, and the mannerisms his education instilled in him and his solid foundation in the classics allowed him to feel at ease and move freely among the upper classes even when he was overdue for a haircut or his socks had holes in them.

By the time he reached college age, the family fortune was completely gone, but he made the happy discovery that because he had no vocational ambitions nor any desire to attain an actual degree he could attend college for free and take whatever classes appealed to him for however long they held his attention. His residential status was fluid. He co-habituated with a variety of lovers, both on and off campus, and while he could not afford to pay tuition, his ability to act as a confident liaison between the sons and daughters of privilege and the denizens of the wrong side of town granted him an easy income. One semester his name even appeared on a lease for an off campus house.

Of course, he had repeated encounters with the police, but his calm, patient and inoffensively cheerful demeanor saw him through all such encounters without bodily injury. Debate and music appreciation classes from his prep schools days proved invaluable to him. In debate, he had had to argue both sides of whatever proposition was assigned to him. That meant he had to develop a perspective that would allow him make a strong case for things he didn't actually believe. What's more, since victory, rather than truth, was his objective, he felt no reservations about winning on technicalities. This put him in a very good position to stand firm in the face of intimidation by the police who meant to spook him into self-incrimination. He could, without visible agitation or self-consciousness, repeat again and again some variation on, "I'm very sorry officer, but my father has given me explicit instructions that I am never to answer questions from the police without the family attorney present. I understand that you are doing your job, and I respect your dedication to it, but unless I'm actually under arrest just now, I do have a very important affair to attend. Am I under arrest? In that case, I do need to get going. I am free to go, aren't I?"

On those occasions when the police could not be mollified by his calm insistence on the niceties of strict legal protocol, his music appreciation instruction helped lubricate the moment. He could lose himself in all manner of music that he could bring to mind note for note and measure for measure. So powerful was his ability to conjure enveloping music that it sometimes amused him to discover that he was actually face down on the pavement with a policeman's knee on the back of his neck rather than at a philharmonic performance.

He did learn vicariously through an associate's misstep that whistling aloud to demonstrate one's comfort in police custody could turn an otherwise disinterested police officer into a rampaging demon. For this reason, he gave no sign of his retreat into music other than a nearly undetectable swaying of his head, a tapping of his foot or a humming so soft as to be barely more than an inaudible vibration in his throat, sinus cavities and chest.

In his years at and around the university, he made enough contacts to find himself on the inside of several seemingly promising enterprises, but in each case critical funding did not materialize, or a rival venture was the first to some critical milestone, but time and again Young Bernard displayed his unerring ability to manifest some sort of parachute when the balloon that was drawing him aloft burst without warning.

Not being on a path to graduation, he didn't pay much attention to how long he stayed in the orbit of the university, but he did notice that there were fewer and fewer courses that captured his interest, and that some of the ones that did appeal to him he had completed more than once, sometimes with multiple instructors.

One day he looked in the mirror and realized that he was noticeably older than most of his college playmates. The time had come for him to move into another sphere. Key to making this move would be transforming his ability to manifest a parachute into the capacity to sprout wings. That way he he could depart from each collapse and find a new perch without losing altitude. He locked eyes with his reflection and composed an oath that would keep him focused on this new trajectory, for he knew well that he was a creature of habit and could easily lapse into familiar routines. Once he had composed his oath he spoke it aloud, and as the music swelled and bouyed him aloft, he understood that if he never again came to rest he would never need to deploy a parachute when the ground fell out from beneath his feet.

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