Dust On The Keys

“Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do”

 

Someone is playing my piano, I’m sure of it. Sounds like a customer lost their way on the way to the bathroom and is now practicing scales in my private kitchen. I poke my head out of the door of my commercial kitchen and look around to see if anyone I know is eating today.

 

There’s a lot of locals, if I can just get the attention of one I can have them go back there and throw out the intruding musician. I see Dave sitting in the corner of my luncheonette drinking a coffee and reading the paper. “Hey Dave.” I wave my hand to get his attention but the pot of soup on the stove starts to boil over and I have to turn back to the task at hand.

 

After the lunch rush I hear it again. Is that person still playing my piano? It’s been two hours now, how rude! I wipe my hands off on a towel and head to the front door to lock up.

 

“Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do”

 

“Hello? I’m closing up, it’s time to get going.” I call out as I walk down the hallway to my private quarters. I reach the door to my private kitchen and it is locked. How did someone get in here? My heart starts to beat a little faster and my mind races with thoughts of who could possibly be in my apartment.

 

“Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do”

 

Unsure of what to do I reach up and knock on my own door. The playing stops. Sweat starts dripping from my hairline even though it is not particularly warm today. I run back down the hallway, pausing only to grab my cell phone and keys from where I left them on the lunch counter. Thirty seconds later I’m standing on the curb outside dialing the police.

 

The police arrive fifteen minutes later and enter the building with guns drawn. After a few minutes they come back out and declare there is no one in my apartment. I nervously follow them inside and take a look around. Nothing appears missing or out of place. The police think that I was just hearing music from another building in the neighborhood.

 

After the police have left I go into my kitchen and look at the piano. It certainly doesn’t look like anyone has played it recently. There’s about an inch of dust on the keys. I grab a cloth and dust it off then I take a seat on the bench.

 

I’m rusty, I can’t even remember the last time I sat down and tried to play… Christmas maybe? That was months ago. The piano is rusty as well, it is out of tune. I stop playing and pick up my phone. Might as well get this fixed so that I won’t be able to use it as an excuse to avoid the piano again. I call the piano tuner and make an appointment for him to come out in the morning before the lunch rush.

 

Later that night something startles me from sleep. “Hmmmm?” I open my eyes, did I just hear something? I wait a few minutes but only the silence is deafening.

 

“Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do”

 

“What the…” I’m suddenly paralyzed by fear. My heart is racing, my body is burning up and I’m sweating profusely. I’m trying to only take the quietest of breaths. Who is in my house? I turn my head slightly towards the nightstand but my phone is not there. I consider turning on the light but I do not want to attract attention to my location.

 

Unsure of what to do I just lie in bed, terrified, until morning comes and the piano seems to have stopped playing. Slowly I get out of bed and crack my bedroom door. I listen for any sounds but hear none. After taking a few deep breaths I creep down the hall to my kitchen. Why is it that when I’m trying to be quiet every single floorboard creeks?

 

There’s no one in the kitchen. I let out the breath I’ve been holding. Maybe it was just a dream? Just my imagination?

 

The doorbell rings and my heart jumps back into my throat. The piano tuner! I forgot he was coming so early and I haven’t even dressed yet. I run my fingers through my hair and dry to get myself under control as I let him in.

 

I show him into the kitchen and then excuse myself to get dressed. When I get back to the kitchen he has the insides of the piano on the counter and he is writing in a little notebook.

 

“You had to take it apart?” I ask.

 

“Yea. Looks like mice have taken up residence inside. Take a look.” The piano tuner gestures to the open piano.

 

“Ummmm, no I’m not going to do that. Can you close it please?” I’m terrified of rodents and can’t believe that my piano has been infested. But at least I’m not going crazy and my house isn’t haunted by a piano playing ghost.

 

The piano tuner closes the piano. “They aren’t in there now, but it looks like they are living there and running up and down the strings.”

 

“Ok. Well, can you fix it?” I ask while my eyes are darting around the kitchen. I don’t want to be in this room right now.

 

“Yea. I’ll fix it. It will take me a couple of weeks but you have to get that mice problem taken care of in the meantime.”

 

“I will. Can I get you a cup of coffee or some breakfast? I run a luncheonette in the front here.” I say as I open up the door to my restaurant.

 

“No thanks.”

 

I show the piano tuner out and lock up my private quarters before getting ready for the lunch rush. Around 10am there is a knock at the front door. Lunch doesn’t start till 11 and the hours are posted, who would be here at this hour?

 

I open up and see the health inspector. “Sorry ma’am, we’ve had a complaint about mice in your restaurant. We are closing you down.”

 

“Wait no! The mice are in my apartment not here in the restaurant.” I try to explain but he is already fixing a health notice on my door. That damn piano tuner! What has he done!

 

That was about a month ago. Since then I’ve had my piano fixed by a different piano tuner, the mice have been taken care of, my luncheonette has reopened but I’ve got far less customers. My house is not haunted, I’m not crazy, there’s no longer dust on the keys and life goes on.

 

Copyright 1/10/2016 – Dust On The Keys by Kerry Milauskas

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