The piano tuner came over today—at my request. He doesn’t have as much personality as my last one, but he is taller by an inch or two.
Picture the scene with me—I open the door. Having only spoken on the phone, and lightly at that, we exchange cordialities and I invite him in. He knows to remove his shoes. But it’s what he did next that I latently long to see—not that I’d ever admit it to anyone. Usually I like to be in control. Usually I like to command the action. But every once in a while, I derive immense pleasure from watching. And today he didn’t disappoint.
He touched…the body of the piano. Mind you, he didn’t just reach out and raise and lower the fallboard. It wasn’t merely—and gently—sliding the music rack in and out. No. He rested his body against its body—nonchalantly. Like he couldn’t hurt her. Like he knew she didn’t mind.
He removed the music rack completely and laid it aside. Then he even rested a tool or two of his on the pins that he would soon twist and turn intelligently.
Understand me here. It’s as if he and my piano were old friends. Intimate friends. As if they had a history. In a sense, you could say that I became an unwitting voyeur. And I loved every minute of it.
You see, I could never do to my piano what he did, no sir. She means too much to me. I treat her perfectly. I only touch a few spots of her body, and delicately at that. I play on her keys ferociously, but that’s what they’re there for. Sometimes I open her lid, but usually I keep it closed. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to do more, to go further. But it feels premature. And there’s a mutual respect that comes with waiting. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to watch when I get a chance on a Friday afternoon.
Jessica’s little legs hung off the side of the hospital bed as she sat alone with her mother. Looking directly into her mother’s eyes, Jessica used all her energy to not cry and seemed unaware that her left heel rapidly tapped against the side of the bed.
Just before her last breath, Jessica’s mom told her, “Make sure and practice for me, okay? Your dad loves that piano.”
After the funeral Nick tucked Jessica into bed and leaving the lights off, poured himself a drink.
The next morning a sloppy and slow rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” aroused him to the full force of a hangover.
“Just stop, Jessica,” he groaned.
Slowing and softening just a bit, she pretended not to hear.
“I said stop!” he roared.
Confused and unused to him yelling, she pulled her delicate hands from the keys and as he rapidly approached instinctively raised them to protect herself from the blow that never came. The sound of the piano’s keylid slamming shut opened her clenched eyes just in time to see him turn towards her. She stared right back at him. Embarrassed, ashamed, and now uncertain of what he was capable of, he hurriedly walked away. She turned back to the piano, lifted the keylid, and began to practice.
As he whirled around in disbelief, he felt an unnatural warmness come over his head. He raced to the bathroom. She heard him try to cover up his sickness with coughing. His head pounded as he walked from the flushing toilet to where she was in the living room.
“What did I tell you?” he barked.
This time as he reached for the keylid, the little girl was ready. Matching his determination but not his strength, she pushed back against it with both hands, arms locked.
He let off long enough for her to remove her hands but still closed the lid.
“I don’t want to hear that piano ever again,” he said.
Her face always flushed red before the tears came and this time was no different.
“But mommy told me to practice!” she said as she lifted the lid and, again, began to practice.
“I don’t think you understand. My living room came to life. I can only interpret this to mean that my will, my hopes, my desires–that I–manifest the future,” Pete told his friend.
Given that Pete, like any man, has an impressive streak of riding high on life at times, we should note that his claim isn’t quite unfounded. Before explaining his claim’s seeming impossibility, we must first denote 2012’s sublime specimen of synchronicity. Back in 1989, as a mere child of eight our hero saw the film Top Gun. You know, the movie starring Tom Cruise that pretty much did recruiter’s jobs for them ever since? Yeah, that Top Gun. He then went on to become a military pilot. While serving as a pilot, he was a member of a squadron which had an unofficial theme song. The theme song was Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive. Here’s the kicker. In 2012, Tom Cruise starred in a film called Rock of Ages (which unlike Top Gun did not inspire anyone) in which he (TC) sings Wanted Dead or Alive. Think about that for a second. Coincidence or not, that’s some seriously Mufasa C-O-L shit.
Back to our story…
“No Pete, I do understand. I just don’t think it’s more than a coincidence. I don’t think there is any hidden meaning. I can’t believe I’m even acknowledging the idea that you control the future, but I am, and you don’t,” the Debbie-downer replied.
“You can’t tell me it’s just coincidence. When people walk into this place what do they see first? Metallica hanging on the wall. Then they notice the beautifully 670lb Steinway and Sons grand piano,” Pete said, taking a breath that signaled that he was not going down without a fight. “And last night, for all the world to see, Metallica and a Steinway and Sons piano performed together on the same stage! How many people have Steinway and Metallica in the same room?” he asked, using hand motions to bolster his claim. “How many? Maybe 3. Maybe 20. But I’m one of them,” he said, his crescendo one self-assessment away from its peak. “Man, I feel good right now!”
“Yes Pete. And did you notice that you have a globe of Earth in the room too? And the performance happened on Earth!” his friend mocked. Continuing, he said, “And there are lights in this room! And the concert had lights!” Pete was no longer smiling. “And we’re in a room. And they performed in a room!”
“Go to hell.”
“And there are people in this room…”