Piano Man, a story

I watched him from the back of the room. A slender and quirky man, with long hair, sitting behind a piano. He was singing a song about nothing in particular. He had been doing that ever since I came in.

I knew I was in love with him. I just didn’t know why. I had been coming to the bar every day for two months now, listening to him play and whiling the hours away. All the while, his words kept enchanting me, like little faeries dancing around my head.

He was quite the wordsmith, that man. And tonight, his delectable linguistics were at work once more. I listened to him sing about a garden gnome, the same song he sang every night. Every time I heard him sing those words, I fell in love with him even more.

Tonight had to be the night. I had to speak to him.

I sat there till the early hours. Until he himself grew tired of playing the same notes. He thanked his dwindling audience and stepped off stage. He walked over to the bar and ordered his usual, a whisky sour.

I took a deep breath and a sip of vodka, for the sake of Dutch courage, and casually walked over to the bar, where he stood.

“Hi.” I said to him, praying I didn’t look a fool.

“Oh hi. My voice has gone a bit croaky, I think.”

The enchantment was even more intense from up close. He was the most interesting man I had ever met, and I had barely shared a word with him.

“I’m Tim, by the way.” he said, quietly, possibly to save his voice.

“Jem. And you played an amazing set there.”

“Thank you, Jem. What gem are you? A diamond? No… it must be a ruby, with all that beautiful hair. Or emerald, because of your eyes. I’ve seen you before, I think.”

“Ehm… yes, I’ve been here a couple of times. To see you play.”

“Ah, a connoisseur of the finer things in life, me thinks. I bet you are a lover of good food and good movies too. Might I guess… you like Italian food, don’t you?”

I was flabbergasted. “Yes, I do! How did you know?”

“A well-inspired guess. Plus, you have some kind of Bolognese sauce on your t-shirt.”

I looked down and spotted a few reddish stains on my new shirt. “Ah, for fuck’s sake.” I muttered.

“It’s alright, I’ve had that too. I don’t mind. Just means that you enjoyed the meal.”

“I did, actually. But I’m quite hungry again. And it’s too late to get food.”

His eyes lit up. “Ah, but I know a solution to your rumbling stomach! Care to join me?”

“Where to?”

“A most amazing place. Best food in the city, I think. Come on, I’d love to know more about you. You are such a constant in my audience.”

I thought it over. For about a nanosecond.

So, I let Tim the piano man take me out.

***

“I told you they had good food!” he chirped enthusiastically, as he watched me greedily devouring a spinach and ricotta cannelloni roll.

“It’s brilliant! So much flavor in this, I can’t even begin to sing the praises. How do you know this place?”

“I come here an awful lot. They have the most amazing pizzas. Even the fabled chocolate pizza.”

“Ooh, chocolate pizza!”

I licked my lips at the thought of it.

“You’re cute, you know. Like, seriously cute. You’re making my cute-o-meter go bonkers.” he said, smiling sweetly at me. “But then, I knew it from the moment I laid eyes on you.”

“When was that?” I said, mouth full.

“About two months ago. You kept coming ever since, so I figured I must have struck a chord with you. What maked you come back?”

“Well… I just think that you’re a good musician. That’s all.”

“Really? So it wasn’t my raw, sexual magnetism that attracted you?” he chuckled.

“How did you guess?” I said, smiling slyly. This was turning out to be quite an amazing, albeit very inpromptu first date. At least… I secretly hoped it was that.

“So, Jem, what brought you to the bar in the first place? Can’t be a lonely heart, can it?”

I fell silent. He had hit the nail on the head.

“Can it? Oh, I’m sorry. You’re obviously not up for answering.”

I wasn’t. But the urge to tell him about my fiancé was quite great. I needed to shake the memory from me.

He noticed that my mood turned quite dark.

“Hey, I’ve got a question. Have you ever seen a garden gnome at night?”

If his intent was to bewilder me completely, he had managed it succesfully.

“I knew you’d give that look. See, the thing about garden gnomes is that they’re smart little fuckers. They stay completely still until sundown… and then they go off and have a wild party. That’s why you never see the blighters at night. They’re all at a great big party.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Despite it making absolutely no sense whatsoever, it was incredibly funny to consider.

“Ah, I knew I could put a smile on your face.” he said, smiling himself. “It’s my favorite story to tell. I have quite an active imagination.”

“You wouldn’t say. So… are you a Londoner? Do you live around here?”

“I’m everything and nothing. But mostly, I’m a Londoner. I don’t live around here though.”

“Where do you live?”

His mysterious smile sent my heart a-flutter with both want and worry.

“Nowhere in particular. I travel a lot. Don’t want to settle down. So, I float around. Play my music where I can.”

“Where’s your next stop?”

“I’d love to go to Australia. Somewhere in Asia. Africa…. everywhere, really. But I do have a feeling that leaving might be harder this time.”

“Oh? What for?”

“Because of a gem of a woman.” he smiled. That smile, and those words hit me straight in the stomach.

“Go out with me. Properly. I promise I won’t bite.”

I sighed. My heart felt quite heavy at the thought of letting another man into my life so soon.

“It’ll cure whatever is causing your heartbreak.” he whispered, taking my hand and giving it a kiss.

“I don’t think it will.”

“But I can try, can’t I? There is no harm in trying. Maybe I can help you pick up the pieces.”

I let it linger in my head all the way home. I said no in the end. And as soon as my foot crossed the threshold of my flat, I knew I had fucked up.

I went to sleep that night, thinking about garden gnomes.

Leave a comment

8 Comments

  1. I love it. Very well-written in the sense that you make every word count. The setting, the detail, the realism of the dialogue – all of these things add up. And you end it on a wonderful, open-ended note. Well done.

    Reply
  2. Yummy

     /  November 15, 2011

    **Chanting “we want more”

    Reply
  3. *chuckle* You really have a full-on-Tim-crush, don’t you? Love it!

    (Guess what? He’s actually Australian! Although he lives in London now.)

    xx Dee

    Reply
    • I guess I kinda do 🙂 Either way, he is obviously the inspiration for this story, which makes a nice change from the burly muscled bald blokes I usually write about.

      I heard him on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and I kinda deduced that he was Australian from the accent. The cutie-pie 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lovely quirky characters, though I guess a character inspired by Tim Minchin could be nothing but! x

    Reply
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