Overslept, yet sleepless, he felt a bit sickly by the edge of daybreak, but many slept by the frigid waves every night, without nourishment, without warmth, a half sleep. He knew this feeling if only briefly. He was starving, but they needed more than he required food and rest, so he brought them egg sandwiches and water incase the missles were to fall, a forboding vision his dreams had haunted. Atleast they would enjoy a good meal one last time.
The sky did not quiver with the charcoal arrowed bombs that day, so he continued his travels toward the temple.
On the path, an upright piano, dark grey, perhaps black once, and beige wooden insides, lovingly carved and placed to form a musical arrangement in the tangible form of cogs, and hammers now crashed to small wooden bits and spread against the pavement. Disgarded. This broke the prince’s heart.
“How could anyone treat someone like this?” he thought.
To him pianos held more personality, more sentience, more life than nearly any person he had ever known. They were conduits devised to carry sound through them, just as he was.
“I’ll come back for you.”
The fallen instrument weighed heavy on his mind once arriving, scarfing down a meal, soon to leave only briefly entering the temple’s facilities.
He plotted his course carefully towards the fallen vessel, and knelt beside its broad ivory keys, now sunken diagonally towards the ground. “Who did this to you?” the lonely prince pondered, his thoughts in shambles as he placed a hand thoughtfully on the cold disheveled case, marked mistily dusted, dirt caked within the wood grain. A pause of melancholic understanding loomed inside his heart. To be thrown out in this way.
Anxiously, the prince struggled to lift the piano to it’s original stature, first from the back, tugging and pulling at all ends, then from either side, every corner, every nook to no avail. His slender frail form was not built to move such a scale of great creatures, and exasperated he collasped beside the keys, thumbing them tenderly a bit. Tears swelled in his eyes as he spoke, “How.. could someone be so cruel?” His fingers pressed the ivory parts lightly in an attempt to relieve alledged pain. Was the agony he felt projected? Or was there something more?
“Do you have a name?” He asked as if in a dark room, expecting no answer.
Slowly a gnarbled rumble came to, gurgled through the strings, through old hammers, releasing out the keyboard socket into a distinctive grumble.
“Larry. Oi… kid… my back.”
The prince nearly fell over himself in astonishment.
“You can talk?”
“Of course I can.”
The piano muttered, glinting a thick Brooklyn accent, as a large squarely built man in his mid fiftites might have spoken if he had smoked a cigar every moment of his waking days.
“Not that it’s any news to you.”
He coughed a bit, shaking the dirt from his insides, “Agh, my back.”
“Who did this to you?” the prince inquired, still befuddled in bemusement.
“Agh” His keys writhed and withered as he grappled to speak. The prince consoled him, his eyes stricken griefly, swelled, pondering the recesses of his mind to decifer an antidote. The instrument creaked, “The misses had a fight with the old man again. Could’ve told her right from the start. Caught’em in the act, pianos have a better sense of these things, heh, not that anyone listens to me.” He chucked, still shaking through his anguish.
“Know the feeling.” The prince smiled lightly, still sniffled a bit. It was nice to talk to someone.
“Agh.” The keyboard crumbled inward again as he shook. The prince leapt closer to comfort, still attempting to allieviate the pressure from the tired creature’s curving back side by propping a hand upward against his fallen keyboard.
The piano seemed almost surprised in his attempts of solace. He gathered himself slowly.
“So,” the piano spoke brash but kindly, “Where you from?”
“Well,” the prince stammered over his words, “My whole family comes from New York. Mostly atleast.”
“I knew it.” The piano grinned widely past any signs of blatant anguish. “You’re talking my territory, come a long way but I miss my old streets, strange town hereabouts.”
“Heh, yeah me too. But my parents moved to Pennsylvania, that’s where they raised me, we went into the city here and there, but.. I guess I have no right to call myself a New Yorker.”
“Nonsense,” the piano piped. “doesn’t matter where you roam, doesn’t matter what the fuck people think. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker, and that’s you kid. I see it in your eyes, in your blood, that big’ol heart, come on don’t be sheepish, hell I saw it coming a mile away and you can’t miss it.” The prince laughed, he felt small and giddy like a child. It had been so long since he had talked to someone that could see him so clearly.
“I guess so.”
“I know so,” the piano chimed in. “Be true to yourself, kid. Fuck what the rest of’em say. You know you, I see you too, and I like what I see. Shux, coming here to care for an old fool like me, hell I’m glad the old bat threw me out just so we’d be meeting like this.”
The prince’s voice grew soft again.
“I’m sorry I can’t lift you.”
“Well, don’t worry about that.”
“You’re hurting. I wish there was something I could do.”
The piano sighed, a deep rumbling reverberated through his strings.
“Listen. I’ve lived a long pretty damn full life.
I’m old, kid. Really, really old. And listen, you just can’t save everyone, look even Jesus knew that. There’s no use in sticking around helping an old bunch’a keys like me.”
The prince looked towards the sky, little lights glimmering, mixed in an concoction of dispair and acceptance. The piano knew that look as if he had felt it a hundred thousand times through a looking glass of days long past. His words muffled deep, faint compassionate bellows.
Take a piece of me with you, so that I can remind you not to give a fuck what anyone thinks, remember that tough New York blood inside of you, and remember that you’re one hell of a gal.”
“Okay, guy. Fine whatever.
Point is, you’re loved, kid, even if it’s by some old shmuck like me.
Now, pick up that piece of wood over there.”
“No, the one over there.
Yeah, that one, and take it with you.
Don’t worry about me, kid. Just meeting you tonight… I don’t mean to get all soft on ya… but it’s enough for me.
Now don’t you forget me, get on that train, and carry on.” His keys huffed a bit, chords whispered on the air like bells on the wind as he spoke.
“Sometimes the best way to help someone is simply to listen to them.”
The two grew silent for a moment, as the prince took in the wisdom of the kindly instrument’s words. Suddenly, he embraced the piano, warmth, rose petals lifted and settled in a woolly breeze.
“Not without a hug first.”
It seemed the staged timing of a film, the actors cued. Two young men appeared from an apartment complex across the street.
“Now don’t you be thinking of-” the piano protested, but his words fell short. The prince pondered. To listen. He’s right, and yet.. He thought of his broomstick. No. Not again. No, I will not leave you here in pain.
“Excuse me!” the prince exclaimed, “could you please lend me a hand?”
“Damn it, did you not hear a single word I just said?” the instrument insisted but to no avail. With their aid, one hand on either side, one hand under the casing of the keyboard, the piano was lifted up to a playable position. The prince thanked the generous men, and as they disapeared from sight, he whispered.
His keys stirred a moment.
“Ah… well a… it feels…” he shifted his stance from one octave to another.
“It feels… good.
You know kid,
I think I’m starting to like you.”
The prince laughed and played the keys a bit, a couple C octaves to soothe his new found friend’s nerves. A gentle smile.
“You’ve got life in you yet.”