The Old Saloon

Click the pic for the original challenge. Written for Ermilia's Picture It and Write. Is there anything sadder than a piano you can't play?

Flames raged in my cheek, the bone probably broken again. My reflection is already ugly and twisted from when he broke it once before. Daddy raised his hand again. Instinctively, I shrunk away and tried to shield my face from the blow. It never came.

Daddy was gone. I was gone. A pair of slatted swinging wooden doors hung before me. Why did they even hang these skimpy doors? Anyone could just walk through when the saloon was closed, help themselves. Probably just to hide the saloon girls from the street… The thoughts were in my head, but they weren’t my own. A pair of large hands with wispy black hairs growing from the backs reached out and rested themselves on the tops of the doors. I could feel the aged wood under their callused grip.

“Yo, Vance,” I heard a man’s voice behind me say, “Where you going?”

I knew the question was intended for me, but I ignored it. I swung the doors open and stepped into the saloon. My boots echoed on the floor. The room was empty save for a bar with no stools and an ancient piano standing alone on the other wall. Stairs curved up on my right and around to the rooms above that had probably once paid for operation. This’ll be perfect for the shoot.

My imagination added the chink, chink of spurs to my footsteps as I strode slowly over to the piano. I took a few quiet moments to admire it in all its venerable glory. It was covered with dust. I took a deep breath and blew the keys off, choking on the cloud that erupted from them.

I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t mine to do, but I had to touch them, to feel the wizened ebony and ivory delights, to hear the history of their musical voice. I force my hand out and ran my fingers up the keys in an arpeggio. “What the hell?” A burly voice, strangely familiar, mouthed the words as I heard them form inside my head.

The piano had been sitting too many years, unprotected from time and from the elements. There was no magic of bygone melody, no cheerful tinkle of notes, not even the tinny, feltless-hammered honky-tonk tones I expected.  The tired and rotten keys simply crumbled under the thick fingers that didn’t belong to me.

We stood in complete shock for a while, Vance and I… I ruined by the destruction I had wrought on such a precious and amazing relic, and he in numbed disbelief that his hand had somehow moved by itself. Somewhere in the distance, my honky-tonk sounds began to play, the sounds that had once spilled onto the ears of inebriated gamblers, flirtatious girls in feathered attire, and a funny looking little man in a vest whose fingers once danced with the keys I had just broken. Then it all faded away…

Daddy was gone. I hurt in so many places I couldn’t tell where the pain came from. I sat myself up quietly and and hugged my knees to my chest, careful not to allow any sounds to accompany my tears and my trembling lips. All I did was skip my piano lesson.

© 2011 Anne Schilde

About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
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32 Responses to The Old Saloon

  1. Ermilia says:

    ‘My imagination added the chink, chink of spurs to my footsteps as I strode slowly over to the piano.’ I love when you read something like that and you too can hear the chink as you read. Great story! 😀

    – Ermisenda

  2. Tincup says:

    tough topic…but you made it interesting…broken bones like the keys…whores and honky tonk…don’t think I could even begin the story:) Unless I brought in Clint Eastwood…and some short of shoot out:)

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Haha… his last appearance was in an alabaster golf cart carriage, right?

      • Tincup says:

        Over my pin head once again…when I think of Clint…I think of Outlaw Josey Whales…the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…For a Few Dollar More…Dirty Harry (almost used that instead of Tincup), Magnum Force…Two Mules for Sister Sarah…and one of my favorites…Play Misty for Me…where a pyscho chick almost killed him…took place in Carmel…where my parent spend half the year…rugged coast…beautiful ocean…sea life…golf courses…Robinson Jeffers…a slice of beauty and freedom.

      • Anne Schilde says:

        Wow, and I guess I think of Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino and Rango, where they had Johnny Depp (♥) playing the uber-coolest lizard like evah! ♥

      • Anne Schilde says:

        I did see The Good the Bad and the Ugly before. That was the “Aah y ah y ah” movie with some super famous villain actors I could Google and pretend I knew.

  3. Tincup says:

    LMAO…clearly we are seperated by a couple decades…but I did enjoy Gran Torino…great flick if you are a Clint fan…Pabst Blue Ribbon…RALMAO…and I am not really the fan type…but he is my man…like Russel Crowe as well…and Costner somewhat although he is a terrible actor…other than that…Sean Connery…and both dudes in the God Father…another flick (part 1 and 2) that would be good for an intellectual like yourself to help ground you a bit:)

  4. Anne Schilde says:

    Sean Connery is one of the sexiest men EVER. A study of this can be immediately realized if you ever watched Dragonheart. Can a man own me with his voice alone? Um… yeah… that one can. LOL. I freely admit being a sucker for (shush Jules) Scottish accents. I don’t know about Costner. Crowe is hot but not my type. And… don’t think I ever watched that Pabst person, but if he got a blue ribbon, I probably should, eh?

    • Tincup says:

      No donkey…Clint was drinking Papst Blue Ribbon in Gran Torino…yeah…Connery is a stud…not sure I have seen Dragonheart but will look for it. Sweet dreams…maybe it will be of Connery…a little pleasure dream for a change…laughing with mouth wide open and head tilted back.

  5. Tincup says:

    OK…I clicked…and wrote you a poem…called fragments…lol…now time for bed. Sweet dreams.

  6. Wow, Anne, that was good, but hard to read. It’s like you were there with me in my childhood.

  7. Nanda says:

    Very good and sad – the way I usually like… 😉

  8. rumpydog says:

    What an emotion-laden story. Quite moving.

  9. Sunshine says:

    Loved the last line….All I did was skip my piano lesson.
    Felt the heart stop for a moment.
    Great read

  10. You are a wonderful writer, but more importantly, you are an amazing storyteller. I’m glad we met Anne Schilde. I think I’m going to like your blog very much.

  11. Aurora, HSP says:

    Salty, briny, smarting and oh so engaging and memorable… what a gift for story you possess. Following your blog now 🙂

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Thank you, AM! 🙂 I keep feeling like the fish out of water, here. You know, FP is kind of a downer for me, full of Photography, Humor, Education, Family, Travel, Cooking, Fashion, etc… not so much with the fiction. I appreciate your time and all the great comments you and others are leaving so much! I can’t even tell you. ♥ And I really appreciate Ermilia for this amazing writing inspiration!

      • Tincup says:

        Not to insult other bloggers including myself, but you are too talented for what a blog is all about. Great to participate an all but you really should be working on a fiction novel to be published. Maybe you already are. I’ll read it if no one publishes it and I am sure there are some other blogger here that would take a few days or a week to give it a read. Hell, I read my brother deep philosophical works that have never been published and I derive great satisfaction out of doing so.

      • Anne Schilde says:

        I appreciate your comment, Tinc, and I’m die-and-fall-back-in-your-arms flattered. I don’t know what to say. Thank you.

      • Tincup says:

        You don’t need to say anything…you need to do…and I look forward to reading it.

  12. “….to feel the wizened ebony and ivory delights, to hear the history of their musical voice.” ~ Oh my! That’s my favourite line in the whole post! To listen to the history of their musical voice…oh Anne…you are amazing!! Such a brilliant writer!! 😀

  13. Ashley says:

    Wow, this piece is powerful. What a great way to tie it up at the end; though I was not expecting the last line, it felt right when it came. Cheers to this; great, just great.

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