The outside smell of urine oozed it’s way into the stained hardwood floor below me. All the other restaurants I’d been in seemed to have a way to keep it out. Puzzling, considering how the Glenlivet bottles glowed over the glossy black piano. The Woman in the red dress was playing her ass off.
“Sing us the Song of Piano-man!” She belted.
The entire twelve person crowd went wild. Amazing they were still functioning at 3 am. Shit, it was amazing I was still awake but I couldn’t help it. The energy I got from this city was like a shot of cocaine.
“I bet yours is next,” Maria said.
We’d met earlier in the night when I asked if if she’d knew where a bathroom was. She said it was the worst pickup line she’d ever heard. I laughed because it wasn’t one and danced my way into the bathroom.
“I hope so. I have to hear it once before I go to bed,” I said.
DUH DUH DUH DUUUNNNNNHHHH
Just as the skeleton crowd began to cheer, the bright lights fired up, exposing everyone’s facial flaws. It’s the brightest thing I’ve seen since stepping foot in New Orleans. The Pianist waved to the crowd exiting the stage.
“What?” I said. “That’s it?”
“I guess so,” She said, standing up and fixing her jet black hair.
“No, it can’t be! I’ve got to hear it. I’ve just got to!” I yelled.
I looked around, most of the staff were picking up beer bottles. The closest one walked a giant black bag down the isle towards the entrance. “Screw it,” I thought, “I need a good story.”
I ran up the cracked brown steps to the small stage and took inventory of the instruments. “HEY!” I heard someone shout but there was no time. I removed the velvet strip over the seat in one fatal swoop, like a movies when a waiter yanks off a table cloth. The wooden protection cover flipped up, relieving the gold plated Yamaha lettering above the keys. I glanced at Maria, who let out a nervous laugh as I began to play.
“Blue Jean Baby. LA Lady. Seamstress for the Band.”
“OH Hell Yea!” someone in the back shouted and began singing along.
The keys hit like a sharp knife in hot butter. Due to earlier hand grenades, I expected to be screwing up somewhere but I didn’t. It was as if the late night audience wouldn’t allow it. I looked over and saw the trash bag waiter making his way up the stairs. Not now. At least let me get to my favorite part.
“Oh how it feels so real, Lying here, with no one near!”
More people started joining in, even the annoyed bartender cleaning the glass hummed along. I was almost there, one line away.
“When I say softly, SLOWLY!”
I felt to hands grab my shoulder back and two more grip my side. My hands slapped several notes making disdain come out the Yamaha. “Knock it off! That’s a $10,000 piano,” one yelled. They carried me down the stairs, but the song wasn’t over.
“HOLD ME CLOSER, TINY DANCER! COUNT THE HEADLIGHTS ON THE HIGHWAY!”
The full 12 person crowd came to life singing along and cheering as I tried to kick my way free. Their noise grew louder and louder as we went past the bar. One dark hair man with a trucker hat stood up clamping his hands at me.
“LAY ME DARLING, SHE’S SO BLANDLY!”
The two men tossed me threw the door and slammed it behind me. My elbow hit the aged brick sidewalk below. Faintly, I could hear the crowd still singing behind the door. I looked to my left and there stood Maria.
“Well what do you have to say for yourself, sir Elton?”
I glanced down at the dirt on my Levis, then looked at her pretty brown eyes and spoke.
“So… You wouldn’t happen to know where the bathroom is, would you?”