9.8.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by Juergen Teller
Photo by Juergen Teller

September 8, 2013: He took requests.

One Reply to “9.8.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. Once he held centre stage, so to speak. He had a place in the middle of the room with a warm light on him that was kind to his face. There was a Kilner preserve jar for his tips set on a special stand and a board with his name on and his picture with stars around it; and on the board it said he took requests.

    For years that was how it had been. He was made much of then and his glass never empty and young men and women were drawn there by the music and the light and airy that everything was. And girls called him by his first name and they sat beside him sometimes, close enough he could feel the heat of them through his clothes, and they watched his finger dancing over the keys in wonder. Some of them he took back to his place when the bar closed and they were deep enough in drink that they slept with him and left in the morning with regrets.

    Then one day his grand piano was moved into a corner, and surrounded by leafy indoor plants, and the tips that had once been ten dollar bills became pennies, and he was not noticed as before. A small grey crept into his hair and the light on him was dim so that he might have been a shadow and no more. The board still showed him young and it still said he took requests, but he only played after nine. No one came to sit beside him in those days and he went home alone at the end of his spot and he was thankful for that.

    His name was Étienne and he smoked French cigarettes; they reminded him of home and his father leaning over him to watch him play. ‘When a man has music in his soul he is ever happy’ his father used to say and Étienne playing in their front room made the father smile and sometimes he even sang though his voice was broken and he did not ever know all the words. Étienne played for him and for just such moments, and even sitting in the darkening corner of Bellini’s Bar it was his father he heard in his head singing along to the songs that he played.

    Then Étienne’s grand piano was not thought so grand any more and Mr Correlli shook his hand and thanked him for his service and he said he was sorry but he would have to let him go. The piano was not what the customers wanted these days, Mr Correlli explained. They asked for guitars and drums and boys with voices as high as girls screaming. A bright new jukebox was moved into the corner where the piano once was, all candy lights and chrome, and Mr Correlli said it was what they’d requested and he was sorry again and he wished Étienne well.

    Étienne’s fingers dance on the edges of tables these days and in his head he hears the music there would be if the table was a piano and he remembers what his father once said to him about music in his soul and being happy and Étienne smiles to himself and it is enough.

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