Not that key

Not that key. That’s the yellow key. The one that hates to come back up. Once depressed, it is reluctant to recover. You know, dear heart, if you really want to play me, keep the pressure on evenly. It is never necessary to hammer. I take a hint better than a holler…I’ve been in storage you know. Not much call for my kind anymore. Not that it matters a whole lot where I stand. Most storerooms are more song and story than these movies I was made for. All I get to count as screen time is a little tinktanktunk in the sound track, a passing angled shot of the keyboard and my highball-ringed, butt-burnt top—oh, and then the lower half of whoever’s sitting at me, with a finger or two from a fat-wrapped, shirt-armed plinkplanker visible, as if he were in action at the board—before the lens is away to frillyville and the muddy boots of the town saloon. The camera has to find its way through extras pretending to be a crowd, everybody moving their mouths faking monkey business—cocottes galore—and sitting on breakeasy chairs that could give way and dump their rumps in sawdust. What a bore. Bar as long as a Pullman car. Bar as long as a Pullman car. Not that key, honey. The key with the hairline crack. Yes, that one. Yum. My G-spot. So ask away.


I’ll tell you the worst right away. You want to know the worst? You Q & A types always want to know the worst. The worst was—I have overheard interviews, over heard—so I know—I know what you want to know: the worst—well, the worst was when I realized this darkie couldn’t play me. What a vile happenstance! What a remorse for me. After months of waiting I finally get a call and an opportunity to see some action, I’m working again after a long layoff, and the guy can’t type, can’t pluck, can’t tickle the ivories. Not that my keys are, you understand. Ivory, I mean, or even bone. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was better put together than I am, but really…what a sorry résumé! What a downarounder!


Don’t push down on me like that. When you surprise my keys they don’t sound. I tell you some folks would set drinks down on the board as if it were stiff with rheumatiz. I could get drunk on licked lips, I’ve endured so many spills. Don’t push down. I’m not in hearty operation, okay? And the leaners. Rick leans on me. Everybody leans. Let’s go into Rick’s and lean on the piano. Bogie, you know, had a lisp. Nothing about him was promising.

William H. Gass, Don’t Even Try, Sam, [In:] Eyes: Novellas and Short Stories, 2015.

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