The Piano Man
It was easy to imagine how he had been in his previous life. The life of the party, eternally youthful, quick witted, self -effacing, and popular with drinking acquaintances. He was a great debater and social commentator who never took a stand on, or gave a true opinion about, anything. He was more interested in being liked than being real.
He is a talented musician and has accompanied many well known artists over the years. He avoided the spotlight, gave his talent away freely in support of his band mates, and he was not one to brag, or even take credit for his own accomplishments. Natural musical ability allowed him to play almost any instrument including banjo, guitar, drums and piano in any style. An agreeable, low-key demeanor with a desire to please others made him malleable and easy to work with. His preference was always Jazz because of the room it gave him for interpretation. The only time he could every feel at peace and be himself, for himself, was when he was in his zone, playing his feelings out. Writing songs still comes easy and he has his own personal style of storytelling reminiscent of Garrison Keillor. He was a relentless worker whose original ideas were adapted to become original hits for rising stars. The epitome of “nice guys finish last” he often felt used and unappreciated for his efforts although he insisted that he never wanted recognition. Like many talented and artistic people he suffered for the sake of his art, for the sole purpose of creating something. A little bit too sensitive and vulnerable for this world, he often felt abused, taken advantage of, and tortured by inner demons.
Handsome, classy, and somewhere just beyond middle-aged he had managed to keep a spark of boyish glimmer in his eyes. Distinguished silver sideburns framed his clean shaven face, anchored by a strong square jaw, and flanked with symmetrical laugh lines that disguised pubescent dimples. His big sincere smile was almost a little too perfect like the feathery mop of longish hair that bounced when he moved like it was dancing to a Peter Frampton tune. A little thicker around the neck and middle, a little thinner and drier his sun damaged skin, he had the air of an almost has-been lady killer. Still sexy, but quickly fading into the realm of inappropriately hot.
Like the two sides of a coin, he had one shiny heads-up face that he showed the world, and on the other side his tails-down patina of a bad penny stuck in the muck too long. Only his closest companions sensed this darkness hidden within him. Nobody knew that while he was jovially making plans by evening, he would never follow through with any of them by day. He was sinking deeper into addiction, drinking to ease the pain of his woefully empty existence. When he wasn’t making merriment and living the high life, he was hung over, paralyzed with guilt, crippled with self disgust, and wallowing in self-pity. One day the penny flipped over and he ended up on the fourth floor, the locked off mental unit of the county hospital. The dark depression that he had been fleeing for years finally overtook him.
The Piano Man