Juan Caracas does not exist. At least, not to my knowledge. If what they say about thoughts creating universes are true, then in some universe he is a somewhat obscure Brazilian composer with no creativity at naming his works.
The rapture of Juan Caracas started on a dusky Tuesday night in the October of my senior year of high school. Earlier that week, our band teacher, a twenty-three year old fresh out of college flautist named Carla had insisted that we audition for Honor Jazz Band, every twenty-odd one of us, or we would fail band for the quarter. High schoolers are easily intimidated. It was speculated that one was later intimidated right into a physical relationship with her. But that aside, we were all reluctantly pressured into going.
There were only two clarinetists in the band; me and a kid named Adam, who was a great friend. I had no solo clarinet music -- being rather uninterested in the music -- and he suggested that he would bring his along so that we could both play a solo from the same book. At least I wouldn't have to waste money on the affair.
I grabbed my empty band folder and my clarinet and managed to arrive on time at the high school at which the auditions were being held. I waited around outside for Adam, but he didn't show. I went inside, sat down in the auditorium and a squirrely man took the stage to tell us all about the auditions. I paid no attention. I was shaken from my reverie by everyone storming the stage, and realized we were supposed to receive index cards showing our audition places. Still no Adam.
Don't panic, I told myself. The tenor saxes are in the same key (B flat) and I can get music from one of the emerging players in my band. I reached the head of the line and received my card. #101. Uh oh.
So here I am, holding my empty band folder, and standing at the door of the audition room. All right -- I'll just go inside -- Carla saw me already -- and beg off. I forgot my music, I'm sorry, I guess I forfeit my chances to get in the band, you probably didn't want a clarinet player anyway, whatever.
I turn the knob and walk inside. My judges are the prospective director of the band -- and Carla. As my heart jumps into my throat, my brain jumps out of my head. Carla inclines her head and gives me a smile, and the other judge asks what I've prepared. I hear myself saying, "I will be performing the Brazilian Suite #3, by Juan Caracas." I open my empty band folder and set it on the stand.
All of its own accord, my clarinet rises to my mouth, and I begin a sulky, humid Brazilian piece. It chirps like a cricket, sways like a bossa nova, and in every way is captivating. When the judge looks bored, I make it faster, staccato notes peppering the imaginary page. When the judge seems interested, I continue whatever phrase I'm on. When the judge looks impatient, I draw to a close.
Exhausted, I turn to leave. "Wait," the judge says. I turn back, terrified. "Yes?" I squeak. "That was excellent," he beams. I stop myself from rolling my eyes and rush out.
Friday morning, I found out I was the only person from my school to make the band. Better yet, they never provided me with the information I needed to go to the rehearsals, so I managed to avoid failing, and to avoid wasting my time in the band.
Juan Caracas was never heard from again. But I bet the first two Brazilian suites are pretty nifty, too.