Music to Read Words By: Nine Inch Nails – Just Like You Imagined live @ Henry Fonda Theater, LA 9.08.09
The bench scraped the tile as he adjusted it, pulling it in under him. Stationing his body closer to the keys. His station. He and the piano were relegated to the lobby now. No longer lounging about.
Long ago he was Ambiance, sometimes even forefront. He staged things from on high, sometimes with other fellow musicians. Now he was background noise at best. The hustle of people around him, keeping the sound he made out of mind. Out of time. From another era.
The Lounge. For more than a decade, /up until the renovation, that was his home. I’d it was still there, it would have been full of his patrons, sitting down and listening as he played. The Lounge was no more though. The dim lighting and cocktails tables taken away to make room on the floor for VLTs. It was a form of entertainment he could not understand, but it made the hotel a lot of money. Or so he heard. The doors held tinted glass that kept out the outside world, but when the doors were opened the electronic, inorganic buzz and jingle of the machines could be heard. The noises from the Casino were the worst kind of cacophony to his own ears, but the siren sound seemed to entice people to enter and seemingly never leave. At least not during the Piano Man’s shift.
Now they were just people on their way to somewhere that was not here in the lobby, and not his at all. Not even for a moment. The oversized snifter atop the piano paid witness to this. A few bills of his own seeded in there, but never growing.
The hotel lobby was expansive. It was a million dollar masterpiece, with no money spared on the art and sculpture, all bright and gaudy and proclaiming their culture. That was his statioevn now. A relic – another piece on display in a place meant not for more than a quick glance on your way to elsewhere. He was likely noticed more when he wasn’t there and a sign replaced him. The sign would be read, and reading it would tell people that the piano was not to be played, except by the man playing it between the hours four and seven PM from Thursday to Saturday nights.
The hotel manager always managed to say something. Even when he voiced no words his face would still speak his mind. His lips would purse as his eyes would pass through and over the Piano Man, the Piano, and the never growing Money in the snifter. The Manager likely saw numbers underneath; Piano Man saw that calculating look.
Manager wanted a gallery full of art, not a museum showcasing two relics collecting dust in the corner. The manager would like to have them installed elsewhere or moved out for good. Likely sometime soon.
Businesspeople: business done, now looking for pleasure. How did people find other people to fuck anymore? They must use the internet to hook up. Or just grind up against each other randomly in clubs. It all seemed so antisocial. No real conversations over cocktails and cigarettes and him musically aiding the flirtation in the lounge any longer. No time for that. No time at all for conversation or foreplay. Straight to fucking and then straight to bed probably.
Twice on his current shift now he had been approached for photos. Not be in the picture, but hold the camera and take it. For families, both of them on vacation, Children in tow. This was not the kind of service the Piano Man wanted to perform. He wasn’t even a prop for these people. Just a tripod. It was embarrassing.
Sunday was what he lived for now. He would go to the mall. The mall had an arboretum. The arboretum acted like a town square, drawing people to sit and talk and eat their fast food and take a break from the shopping to be done. There was a piano there, at one end of the open room. A piano wanting to be played.
Sometimes the Piano Man would go and watch others play. Children and grownups of a variety of age and skill. Some labouring to tinkle out Chopsticks. Some playing the bits of Beethoven they could recall. Some even playing to their own tune, and playing it well.
It was all beautiful, and it reminded the Piano Man of why he loved the piano so. He saw the faces and felt the emotions. The exhilaration of those playing. Of the players playing the emotions and feelings of those watching.
Piano Man spent most of his days there. He had nothing he wanted to do more. If the arboretum didn’t close, He likely wouldn’t leave. When nobody was playing the Piano Man would take his turn. And some people would listen. And some people would talk on through his music, ignoring what he played but still being affected by the environment he was helping shape.. And it was all beautiful. His play would be taken in on an elemental level, as would the flora and fauna of the arboretum. Here he could feel the reverberations that he no longer felt in the hotel lobby, and it energized him.
And he would play and play, and then stop to let others play.
And then it would be Thursday, four PM, and he would stare from his perch in the hotel lobby. And play more music not to be heard or felt by anyone, fading into the background.
And he would wash.
And he would rinse.
And he would repeat.