A Piano Player

I’m sitting at the piano in a dive bar called The Silver Whistle. On the top of the instrument are a red lighter, and an empty scotch glass with 75 cents in dimes in it. I’m playing around among the happy notes of the C major scale to an empty room, and the only movement in this place is my last exhale of cigarette smoke making its way towards the bar.

The red lighter isn’t mine; I borrowed it from a man who was lighting mourning candles on Canal Street. A picture of a young boy sat between the flickering flames. After I had lit my cigarette I tried to give him his lighter back, but he was lost in his own thoughts, and didn’t respond. So I pocketed it and kept walking towards the Whistle.

The Piano isn’t mine. It belongs to the bar.

The 75 cents isn’t mine either. It belongs to the day shift player, Tom. It must have been a slow day, and Tom must have already had bus fare. Sometimes though, and I understood this so well, you just felt like you were worth more than what was left in the glass, and that taking it would have been an insult to yourself.

The C major scale belongs to someone, although I’m not sure who.

The music I’m playing though? That belongs to me. It is my feeling poured out through tired tendons and nicotine stained knuckles. The scale is a blank canvas, a blank piece of paper, a blank cocktail napkin for me to scribble poems of notes upon, cast thundershowers of sound onto, and make a little piece of my soul manifest itself into reality for all to hear.

Owning anything else is the room, anything else in the whole world, ceases to matter.

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