Sunday, August 10, 2014

Piano Man

Piano Man

*Story contains M/M relations, and elements of horror and potential violence.*

Watching you play music is like watching someone enjoy a fine brandy. The look on your face is so breathtaking it's painful. You savour every note. You stroke the keys with an incredible degree of passion. It fascinates me. No, it entrances me. It's the thing that keeps drawing me back here to spend twelve dollars on a single martini and stay for four of them.

That and your smile.

I'd be lying if I didn't mention that.

You have a lot of us; your awestruck minions. I've seen the women slink up to your piano in their little cocktail dresses and try to drape themselves, oh so cat-like, oozing sexuality all over the place. And the little blond waiter too; the one with the baby blue eyes and remarkable talent for chatting up anyone that looks like they have money, but with the memory that simply dissipates into atmosphere the moment he leaves your table. Even some of the other men, the better dressed ones, the quiet ones; you know the type I mean. You leave us all spellbound. They think you're beautiful when you play. They all want to be part of it somehow. Not me though. I mean, I do—think you're beautiful, and want to be part of it—but there's a marked difference between them and me. I think you're beautiful all the time.

You'd probably ask me how I know that. And while I'm not about to tell you that I've Google searched your pictures with infinitesimal detail (by the way, you look damn fine in your graduation photo), I would tell you that I browsed your online portfolio and really enjoyed some of the more candid shots.

If we spoke – which we haven't.


I've tried. All right, I've thought about trying. The thing is – I've seen you cock that eyebrow just as often as I've seen the fake smile you offer when someone makes an attempt at conversation. It's nerve-wracking. Knowing me, I'd probably combust on the spot from pure mortification if I had to watch that sexy dark brow arch and rise in response to something I'd said. So if I've taken an inordinate amount of time in choosing the ideal thing to say, who can blame me? Besides, I'm not much of a conversationalist, even at the best of times.

You might have noticed that I come in on Sundays now too. It used to just be Fridays after work. Until I saw the sign: Fridays and Sundays, from dinner until nine, the complimentary accompaniment to ridiculously over-priced alcohol and food – you. In all this time that I've been coming, how I managed to miss that sign I'll never know. Of course, in the beginning it didn't matter who was playing, only that someone was. I have this thing for the piano – it reminds me of my father, you see. He used to play for hours, and I'd watch him and watch him from the stairs until he'd finally noticed me. Then he'd pat the bench beside him and I'd slink over and slide along until I was pressed as close as I could get without being in the way.

It was nice. He was nice.

Most of the time.

Everything changed when I saw you though. That's how it goes sometimes, I guess. Head-over-heels, steal-your-breath emotions pop up out of nowhere and slam you into the boards without asking if you'd prefer to step out of the way. It should go on record actually, that as attractive as you are, if I had been granted the opportunity to decide, I'd probably have declined. I really don't need the trappings of a relationship or the inconvenience of trying to fit something else into my schedule right now. Work is crazy. Life is in chaos. Besides, you don't seem that interested… in anyone, really. I've yet to see you turn an intrigued eye at any of your would-be courters. There was that guy with the nice smile that waited a couple of times for you when I first started coming in, but he hasn't been around in quite some time. Maybe it's a breakup thing; maybe Mr. Perfect-Teeth shattered your heart. Maybe it's a work thing; maybe you don't like to cross-pollinate. Who really knows?

After all, I did see you laughing with the guy at the grocery store down by the fire hall. Doing that head tilt thing that people do as if they're trying to say oh, yes, I'm fascinated with what you're saying, please keep talking. When what they're really thinking is man, I'd love to be buried in your throat. That could just be my misconstrued perspective though. I've heard that my social skills are lacking. But you should know, it took everything in my power not to slam the jerk's head up alongside the wall when I watched him watch you walk away. The nerve of some people. Like you're some kind of eye candy laid out for his personal indulgence, for heaven's sake.

Nice selection on the orange juice, by the way.

It's my favourite brand now.

Wait... was that a smile? My God, you just smiled at me. One of those empathetic, 'damn man, I'm so sorry' smiles, but still! A smile! It's the guy you're empathizing with me over, isn't it? That sat down beside me? The one with the belly he's trying to hide behind the untucked shirt and the bald spot at the back of his head that he's trying to keep out of the line of sight, right? He's sweating far more than any man should in a nicely air-conditioned lounge. He's probably had to steel himself up with at least three drinks and a heck of a lot of just-do-it's for this ill-fated attempt at coming up to talk to me. I should be an ass and just tell him to pound off. In the long run it'd be better off for both of us. But I feel bad for him. So I'm letting him prattle on about… well, I don't even know actually. I stopped listening ten minutes ago.

Instead I've been trying to catch your eye. You have such fantastic eyes. I imagine you hear that all the time. Great body, too. The bike riding obviously pays off. I used to think it was a lack of funds that forced you to travel back and forth on the bicycle you ride to work, but you actually seem to enjoy working out.

Which reminds me – that gym of yours has an awesome sauna.

And I really love that tattoo on your hip.

Or maybe you're one of those tree-hugger guys? I can see that being part of your personality; as conscious of the environment as you are about everything else. That's what nice guys do after all: think about others first, make the effort to do the right thing, be supportive and understanding. Like the way you always make a point of nodding whenever someone drops you a tip or sends you over a drink. I can totally picture you going out on long hikes just to enjoy the scenery or doing one of those community trash-collecting ventures. A nature lover.

Actually, now that I think about it, you probably are.

I mean, you're fastidious in the way you separate your recycling.

It's a good night to try and chat you up. It's pouring outside – that constant, heavy rain that makes the wind miserable and the streets treacherous. So I think, maybe, just maybe, I might ask you if you want a ride home. It's a nice vehicle – safe, clean, roomy and dry. And really, your house is only ten minutes away. My SUV would be way faster than the thirty-five minutes it takes you on two wheels. So it wouldn't be a bother or anything.

Not that I'll tell you that I know how far away your house is. I'd hate to have you think I was some kind of crazy person. I'll also omit the part about your neighbour's dog (that little black terrier with the bad attitude and the grating voice) and how it actually turns into quite the sucky-baby when proffered a few Milk-Bones. They're like doggy crack. Get 'im hooked and before you know it they're wagging and dancing like you're a godsend anytime you show up.

Like you're their best friend.

Like you belong there.

Anyway, my mind is wandering again. My point is, it might be a good night to approach you. Ask, you know? What's the worst that could happen? Well, actually... the very worst would be you say no and I die a slow, painful death of complete humiliation and end up too embarrassed to ever show my face here again. Maybe I'll just wait until you leave, until you're outside. I park out back anyway, in the alley. That's where you lock up your bike, underneath the overhang where the maƮtre d' and the busboy smoke their cigarettes. I used to carry a bit of a torch for that kid, the busboy. Until I saw him face-planted on your boss a couple of weeks before you started working here. I should have known; that kid's whole family acts like a brood of cheap whores. I'm just saying; the only reason he was hired was because your boss likes a little bit of young man as a side dish to his usual hetero servings.

That's another one of the things I like about you. You're not trashy. You don't spend all day flirting and sizing up every other guy that you see. Except for the grocery store chap. And you're a little too friendly to the FedEx guy that drops off at your building on Tuesday mornings. Oh, and I should warn you – that guy at the Post Office, the one with the postal box on the same row but four boxes to the right of yours? Don't trust him. I know he looks cute and everything but I don't know... he gives me this weird vibe. Be careful around him. Maybe don't be alone together, you know? Actually, to be really sure, you should probably just stop talking to him altogether.

Just to be safe.

Of course.

Look at you. I mean, just look at you. You move like you're some kind of cat. The graceful way that you rise from the bench, how you always bow to the lounge, even the way you don't clear out your tip cup but wait for the waiter to bring it over to the table for you – you radiate class. You make me want you so badly I could pound my head into this bar, until I knocked myself out cold, and still not be able to erase you from my mind.

Well, I sincerely hope Mr. Sweaty Guy isn't too heartbroken over my departure but you look parched and tired. And if I carry over a drink to you myself, I'll probably have time to drop this in it. You like dark beers so that's a good thing. They're a little bit bitter to begin with and they take longer to drink. Don't worry. It's just something to relax you a little. Certainly nothing that can hurt you.

I would never hurt you.

You can trust me.

I know I should be listening more carefully to what you're saying, since you've been so gracious as to let me sit down with you, but I can't get over how gorgeous your fingers are. Manicures do wonders, don't they? I love how you don't even seem embarrassed when you go into those places. Like you have just as much a right to be there as any of the women that frequent them. I'd never even given the concept a second thought before. I'm glad I went though. My hands look good. Not as nice as yours, of course. You have such perfect hands.

And wrists.

So I'm thinking, maybe instead of driving you home, I'll drive you to my place. If I can convince you to let me drive you, of course. Those sleepy eyes of yours will help with that. Funny how quick that stuff hits, isn't it? Especially when you're tired. I mean, you've had a busy day – up at seven, showered, in town by eight to go to that appointment. Or was it an interview? Then you had the gym, lunch with your friend from college, shopping for those new shirts. You so deserve better than megastore clothing by the way. Actually, on my way here tonight I stopped and picked you up some pyjama pants and t-shirts from American Eagle. You'll like them. Very comfy.

They're perfect for just laying around.

It's okay, you don't have to keep talking. Your tongue seems like it's fumbling a little bit anyway. I'm just going to let your boss know that you're not feeling well and I'll help you out back to get some fresh air. I'll just grab your jacket. The navy blue windbreaker—in the kitchen, first wall to your right, third hook along, with your cell phone, your keys and your wallet in it—and your helmet. God awful thing that helmet, but safety first, right? You won't need it. But I'll bring it with us just to get it out of the way. Out of sight.

Out of mind.

There's lots of room in the back for your bike too. 8-0-3-6-5-4-9. I know, your eyes are saying what the hell even with that fuzzy mind of yours, aren't they? But, really, it's an easy combination to remember. I'm just going to put you here, in the back seat where you can stretch out, and then I'll grab the bicycle.

Just think of this as a seat belt of sorts. I'd hate to see you get hurt.

Now close your eyes. Breathe easy. Just relax.

Wait... first...

One little kiss. That's it; I promise. And my God... the chance to finally rest my lips against yours…

See... that was nice. This is nice. We're going to be very nice, you and I.

Very nice, indeed.

You'll see...

As long as I can make it home without getting pulled over. Cross your fingers for me...

Copyright © 2012 AF Henley

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