August/September 2005

Piano Man
Mark Sullivan

Jack had been struggling with his writing for years now, but finally he had broke his rut. Months of work have been put into his new symphony, each note carefully planned out. Now was the time to unveil his anticipated piece to the waiting crowd. Nervous, he takes his seat. The bright lights blind his eyes to the darkened room.

With a deep breath, Jack begins playing his masterpiece. His confidence slowly fading with every sour note. He had gone over the song many times before, but now something is different. Each off-key note rattles his nerves slightly more than the last. The song is inspired by the people in his audience, every note represents someone in his crowd. Their faces flash in his mind with the strike of their key.

The song fades away into silence from its listeners. With eyes closed, Jack exhales, wondering if they could sense that something was off. Slowly he turns toward his audience to take a reluctant bow and for the first time, gets a glimpse of the crowd. A big smile takes his face. Of course they hadn’t sensed anything, he thought, how could they? They’re all dead. Their last breathes advanced his work bit by bit. Jack had strangled them with the very wires that were now strung in his piano. Every one of their deaths giving life to something far greater. They are to be immortal, in song.

Some had been there longer than others, slowly decaying. Every neck still showing traces of the blood that escaped as the piano wire glided through skin. Jack had dressed them all up nicely and placed them in the seats where they have waited patiently for his performance. The only sign of life given off comes from the maggots dining on their rotted flesh.

Now, looking at his lifeless crowd, Jack realizes the mistake that had plagued his sound. He had forgotten the song was made up completely of minors.