Edward Hopper style painting, Alone At The Bar by Theo Michael

They call me The Piano Man, I've been called worse...

I am forever looking at my watch, but it doesn’t make the evening go any faster.
Only seven days to go and I’ll be out of this situation. Endless nights playing dross to people that never listen. I could play the same song all night and they wouldn’t notice, all those years of sneaking in at the Royal Academy to play their pianos wasted.
Still the Palm Tree Hotel was rated and pulled in the crowd, especially during the summer season. Working here I have a roof over my head, and a bar to drink in, life’s been worse.
They call me The Piano Man, and again, I’ve been called worse.

I was born Tim Small, but prefer to be called Clint Handsome, nice ring to it. The name change isn’t official, I just lied with some fake I.D., easy to do, used it to get the job here. I guess they never checked.
When I applied for the job, the interviewer, dark haired, nice cleavage not too big not too small, piercing eyes, asked me to sing and play a song on the piano. I played The Lady In Red, she melted and offered me the job on the spot. It’s obvious to guess someone’s age and you know what music they’d like.

Speaking of jobs, well it’s more of a job, I have a score to settle with their next big shot guest, Frank Martin, singer and celebrity. Not to me. He was an ex roommate, struggling musician sharing a pad, and he is due to arrive this Saturday.
When is a good friend not a good friend, the answer, when he meets a record producer and decides to go solo, has a big hit, makes millions, and develops a big ego to go with it.
Guess what, I wrote that song, 'Stay The Way You Are. We wrote many songs together. This one I personally wrote, all of it, but couldn’t prove it. I tried reasoning, begging and even threatening him, all to no avail. He stuffed me in the courts, well I’m here to stuff him now. Yep, a real pleasure to wound him, perhaps even kill him. But I am getting ahead of myself. I’ve been playing the piano here for a whole week now.

Not many guests, but every break I get I chat to a guest at the bar. I nicknamed her The Lady In Red, her name is Sasha. She's always alone. She says she's waiting for her husband who hasn’t arrived yet.

No brainer, I’m thinking the longer he’s away the better. She's a looker and a bookworm who loves reading. Myself I am a movie buff. We get on fine. I play her request every night. ‘Just one more time,’ she says and smiles seductively, straight out of the movie Casablanca. Her favourite, she's seen it 30 times.

We drink at the bar most evenings, we enjoy it, as lonely people do. Of course we know it won’t last. Yesterday she popped to the ladies room when her mobile phone rang. Her bag was on the stool. I was safe guarding it. I gently opened the bag, should I answer the phone or not? I decided not to when I saw a small gun nestled in the corner and her hotel security badge sitting next to it.

‘Oh shit’ I thought, ‘she’s hotel security’. She's smart to dress like that. You'd never guess. I decided, two can play that game. I had done nothing wrong yet. I kept schtum, and would carry out what I came here for, revenge on Frank Martin. First performance this Saturday I would take him out like a pro and be gone before she even knew it.

Sasha returned from the ladies, and I went back to the piano all smiles as usual, pretending nothing had changed.

The next day I started to think twice about everything, but my mind was made up, robbed out of millions for the song Frank stole, not even a handout our apology. Well, an eye for an eye, or something like that. The weekend couldn’t roll around quick enough. But it did.

This Saturday the hotel is buzzing. Sold out, standing room only, I'm ready to put my plan into action.

I have a clear view from behind a pillar at the back with fire exit doors right behind me.

The show starts. Frank has the audience eating out of his hand. I got to thinking you’ve got to admire this guy until he starts singing my song ‘Stay The Way You Are’. The thief deserves what’s coming.

The silencer is on. I aim and fire, once... twice. What, he is still standing and singing. I fire again and again, still singing...

I empty the chamber, he is still standing and singing.

And then, a tap on my shoulder shocked the life out of me.
'You never thought you could kill anyone with blanks did you?' Sasha says as she clicks her handcuffs on me.

‘What on earth are you doing?’ I stutter. ‘You can‘t let him get away. You’ve no idea, he stole my song!’

‘Be quiet,’ she whispers. She hides the handcuffed hands under her coat and escorts me out into the corridor, making their way to the first floor. ‘Don’t make a fuss,’ she continues with a finger over her lips.

‘Guess what, I know, you are bloody hotel security,’ I stammer.

‘Not anymore’ she replies, as she unlocks the cuffs.

Smiling she says, ‘I have the keys to his apartment. I also know the combination to his safe.’ She gives me a hug and to my amazement a peck on the cheek. ‘Let’s go.’ She says.
‘Hold on a minute, this relationship is moving kind of fast?’ I blurt out. ‘I thought you were here to wait for your husband?'

‘ Well he’s here now. That selfish dickhead of a husband I’ve been waiting for is Frank. But now he's my bloody Ex to be precise. Let’s take him for every penny he’s got...’

‘My word, she’s cool, nothing like a bit of love to uplift your soul.’ I thought.

‘This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.’

Story by Theo Michael

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