Black and blue

Audrey grappled with the old typewriter, the one she’d found at Goodwill earlier in the year. How could changing the ribbon be such a chore? She’d found a source for functional typewriter ribbons online. The instructions were simple enough. Too simple, perhaps: “Remove old ribbon spool. Insert new.”

She stared at her inky fingers. Audrey was not one to admit defeat easily—hence the mid-century solution to writing a new draft of the beast—but she wasn’s so proud that she wouldn’t ask for mechanical help. There was a fix-it shop not too far from here. All she had to do was to put the blasted typewriter into the carrying case, which was over there on the coffee table—


She couldn’t tell what she had tripped over. The typewriter went flying, she landed on it with her right shin and rolled over it. She sat up and rubbed her leg.

“Owww—that’s gonna bruise like—oh, no—”

She groaned at her ink-smudged pants.

• • • • •

Evan jogged to keep up with Danni. They were several blocks past the park.

Pam Wells/The Pullets

“Come on,” she’d said. “I know where there’s a piano.”

They turned the corner onto a tree-lined commercial street. Danni wheeled past the doggie daycare, barbershop and dry cleaners before stopping in front of a thrift shop. An old upright piano was visible through the front window. Someone had painted it a swimming-pool shade of blue, and someone else (presumably) had tried to restore it to the original black, without success.

A bell jingled as Evan pushed Danni over the threshold. A middle-aged man came from behind the counter to hold the door open.

“Thanks, Beau,” Danni said.

“Welcome,” he said, and  propped the door open with a painted brick.

As Evan loosened his grip, Danni spun right, toward the piano.

“Do you play?” she asked him.

“Not really,” he said. “I indulged my parents when I was a kid. Took lessons.”

“Music lessons are good for your brain,” she said. “Sit with me.”

There was a chair pulled up to the piano, a modern wood chair with a red seat. She nudged him to push it to the right and rolled in next to it. Evan sat down.

“Did you ever see The Beast With Five Fingers?” she asked.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“Well, there’s a hand… a disembodied hand…and it goes around committing murder—” CRANG! as her left hand hit a minor chord— “and also plays the piano.” Danni began to play, only with her left hand, the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita in D Minor. She held onto Evan’s hand with her right.

Evan listened, watched, felt the music surge. As the piece moved into the upper octaves, Danni leaned against him to reach the notes, never letting go of his hand. On she played for more than ten minutes. Finally she came to the end, which brought a lively if small round of applause from people who had gathered outside the door..

“Where did you learn to do that?” Evan asked. He was dumbfounded.

“I took lessons, too.”

Audrey, one of the outside crowd, stepped through the doorway to get a closer look. There she was, the pianist—a teenage girl. Wonderful. And with her, a young man… who looked like…


©2010 Pam Wells


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