Well I know some of you (hell there’s really on three people who read this drivvel) have been wating for more of my story. I actually sat down and wrote some more. Here it is.
Gil, charged though the rain drops ignoring the water that rolled off his hat and down his back. While he ran he muttered curses at the forces that would make it rain for a solid week. Then he cursed his alarm clock. Then he cursed the subway. Then he gave up cursing and focused on running.
He crashed through the doors of The Muse in time to see Dennis Harrigan shaking hands with an well manicured and smartly dressed man. The pair looked up startled.
The well manicured man spoke first, “May I hel-”
Dennis cut him off. “You’re too late old man. This is Mister Allen Hollensworth, the proprietor of this fine establishment. And he has wisely engaged my services to enhance the ambiance of his main room.” He fixed Gilbert with a plastic smile. “So go back where you came from. There is no place for you here.
Gil already on the verge of collapse hung his head in defeat, and turned to go.
“Wait”, the command carried an air of authority that made even Dennis’ smile seem fragile. “Mister Harrigan, your services have been engaged and they can be disengaged just as easily.” Dennis’ smile looked about the shatter.
“It’s just our standing joke, Mister Hollensworth. It’s nothing, right, Gil. Tell our fine, Mister Hollensworth, that this is just part of our friendly rivalry.”
Gil could feel the eyes of manager on his back. “Think fast, Gil.” Gil coughed and then turned around and put on the best smile he could manage. “Ha ha!”, the laugh was hollow even to his ears. “Dennis, you’re such a card. Don’t pay him any mind Mister Hollensworth. We’ve been after the other’s jobs since we were in the academy together.”
Hollensworth’s expression did not change. His eyes fixed on Gil, he slapped Dennis on the back, “See you next week then.” Dennis made a feeble attempt at laughter and turned to the door.
As he passed by Gil, he hissed, “Show me up again and I will see that you never, ever find work.” Aloud he said, “Best of luck, old man.” Then he dashed across the few feet of uncovered sidewalk to a waiting taxi.
Hollensworth watched Gil for a long moment. Then he said, “That man stole your job.” Gil’s facade fell.
“Is there any other time I work? Some other shift that you need?” He pulled off his hat. “Please, sir. I’m in a bit of a tight spot. Anything at all you could offer would not be sneered at.”
“Where did you have to run from?”
“No kiddin’?”, Hollensworth sounded impressed.
“Honest. There was a subway breakdown and no other exit near here.”
Hollensworth’s perfectly waxed mustache twitched while he thought. “I don’t have a job for you here. But since you’ve come such a long way the least I can do is offer you a chance to dry out before the flood hits.” He smiled a surprisingly jovial smile. “Cynthia, doll, take this man’s coat and put it in the rack nearest the heater.”
An attractive red head seemed to materialize out the the air with hands out stretched for his sodden hat and coat. She favored Gil with a heartwarming smile and passed though a darkly stained door.
Hollensworth then stuck his hand, “What’s your name, son?”
“Gilbert. Gilbert Estman.” His hand was wrapped in a warm firm handshake.
“A pleasure. This way, I’ll show you around.” The Muse was new and it smelled of fresh plaster and stain and furniture polish. The walls were covered in amazing frescos, and the furniture was covered in rich cloths. Everything gleamed and shown. Gil gave a low whistle.
“Like it? I put most of my life into this place. It was always a dream of mine. Now my dream is real. I spared no expense that I couldn’t. Now as amazing as all this is. I’m sure this will be of most interest to you.” He stopped next to a Steinway grand piano. “Had it custom built. Notice the inlay. It sounds as good at it looks.” He patted the seat, “Go on sit down. I want to hear you make this lady sing.”
Gil sat and stretched his fingers. “What would you like to hear?”
“Play me you best piece. Then we’ll go from there.”
Gil pondered, then placed his hands on the keys. He breathed out and as he inhaled he began to play. He played a piece from the hands of Mozart. He was so caught up in playing that he was surprised when the conclusion of the song was met with the applause of about fifteen people. They had all drifted in while he played.
This time Hollenswroth gave a low wistle, “If only you had gotten here first. I’d have fired every other player I had and give you all of their shifts. More to the point I’d be giving you all dinner shifts.” Gilbert blushed.
“I’m just sorry the piano was not properly tuned.”
Hollensworth looked confused. “It didn’t sound out of tune.”
“No, not out of tune, but not properly tuned. The differences are subtle but distinct. Do you have a tuning kit?”
“Erm … Yeah. Joey, get the piano tools.” A young boy trotted off, only to return promptly with a small bag. “This is what we got.”
Gil nodded, “It’s a good basic set.” He selected the proper fork and wrench. “See the note you heard was this.” He struck the key. “Now it is technically correct. But every piano is different and each will respond differently to the humidity in the air, et-cetera et-cetera. Basically there isn’t only one way to tune it. See you can have the same note.” He struck the key again, “And it can be done correctly, but it can be even more finely tuned.” He turned the wrench and tested the key a couple of times. “Listen now.” The key was struck … and the note was clear … but it was something more now … a little warmer … possibly more rich. The quality was hard to grasp but it sounded so much more alive that it had a moment ago.
Hollensworth nodded approvingly, “Amazing. Can you do that to the whole thing?”
Gil smiled, “Sure. At least for today. Tomorrow it may need a little adjustment.”
Hollensworth grinned. “Son, I do believe you just got yourself a job. Can you come back before each meal to tune this piano?”
“Um. Sure.” Gil smiled. “Be glad to.”
“Excellent! You’ll be paid naturally. I’ll pay you what I pay one of the checkers, and would you be willing to be on call for when one of these lesser players gets sick or what have you?”
“Really? You mean it?”
“Do I look like I’m lying?”
“Thank you so much! You don’t know what this means for me.”
“I know what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. I like you Gilbert. I want you to make it. Especially since you’re about fifty times better than that guy I just mistakenly hired in your place.” He stuck out his hand. “Welcome to The Muse, Mister Estman.”
“Please, call me Gil.”
“Gil. Go into the kitchen they’ll give you something to warm your bones and then I want you to retune this piano and have it ready for dinner in two hours.”
“Thank you again, Mister Hollensworth.”
“Please, call me Al.” They grinned at each other and shook hands.