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The Kamikaze Piano
The warning came too late.
That sound changed my life forever. It destroyed me. It also gave me a purpose.?
I had no idea it planned to come. No one did, obviously. But one minute I was running ahead, down the street, the next, I heard the warning. Turning, I was just in time to see the bulk of a piano hurtling down from three stories up. I had no time to react, just time enough to notice it’s target. Then, with a CLAAAAAAAANNNNGGGGGG!!!!!! it landed. The roar of the piano as it shattered completely drowned out any scream my father might have made.
Before I knew it I was by his side. “Dad?” I whispered.
He was almost completely buried by the splinters of wood. Like spines, the keys stuck up on his back, and one had lodged itself in his ear. Only one eye stared at me from the rubble.
“Dad, you’ll be alright”
“No I won’t.”
He could at least talk.?
“I’ll fix it. I’ll get revenge. Like Batman.” I assured him.?
“I know you never believed in superheroes. But I can do it. I won’t let this evil deed go unpunished” I said, looking at the glossy splinters or black piano, each like a knife, ready to attack. The broken ivory smile leered at me, taunting me to do my worst. “There’s not much more I can do to this one,” I said, “but it’s allies will suffer.”?
Struggling, my dad lifted his arm from the rubble. “No...” he said, pointing at a blue van labeled “bulky movers” that was driving away behind me.“Sue...” Those were my father’s last words. ?
“Thank you” I said, even as my eyes filled with tears. “I know the name, I can find her family. Sue won’t get away with this...”??
Of course, I couldn’t tell anyone my plans. I didn’t know who might be an enemy, who might be working for them. They sent me to counseling. They thought I was in shock and had no idea what to do. Well, I didn’t. But I knew that when the time came I would be able to act.??
I drifted through high school. Nothing mattered nearly as much as avenging my dad. But I couldn’t. Junior year I met Jen when she transferred to our school. She was beautiful, with silky blond hair that slid all the way down he back and a smile that was slightly lopsided. She would meet me at lunch every day and help me with my Trig. everything seemed perfect. But then she showed her true self.?
“Are you coming to my recital tomorrow night?” she asked.?
“Recital?” I was only half listening. “So x is 23?”?
“I’m performing my piano piece in a national contest. If I win...”?
“You play...” I choked on the words.?
“I play piano. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”?
I snapped. “You play PIANO. You traitor! How dare you ally yourself with such demons. A spy! You must be. Sent to spy on me, find my plans. Get out, now. A piano player!” I stood up, throwing my books to the floor. Seconds later Jen’s lunch joined them. I was yelling for all my worth. “I thought I could trust you!”?
“But you can!” eyes flooding, she shook with fear. “Or you could...”?
The whole lunchroom was staring now. “Which of you?” I said to them. “Which of you are traitors?”?
But I stopped myself from continuing. I should restrict my words. If they were worried enough about me to send a spy, well, I’d do better keeping them in the dark. I marched out silently, feeling everyone’s stares, determined never to talk to Jen, the traitor, again.?
Half a week later I saw her letter in an advice column. “I don’t know what’s wrong with my boyfriend. I asked him to come to a piano recital and he blew up.” I tore the paper up and threw it away. If she thought that would make me feel guilty, like she actually cared, then she was wrong.??
My mom was another traitor, I’d discovered.
“Why did you have to go and dump her?” she said one day before school. “Jen was such a nice girl.”
“She was a traitor and a spy,” I replied, shoving books in my bag. Why hadn’t I done that last night, so I could leave immediately?
“She just played-“
“Don’t say it!”
She sighed. “You need to put your fear of pianos behind you. It wasn’t the piano’s fault; it was the people who had been moving it. You should be afraid of moving companies, if anything.”
“It wasn’t anyone else.” How could she not see? “Dad said the piano’s name. His last words! He wanted me to avenge him!”
“Sweetie, he was a sensible man. I’m sure any avenging he wanted you to do was to take legal action against the movers-“
“He said her NAME!” I roared, and slammed the door shut behind me.
After the breakup, word got around that I was a person to be avoided. That was just fine with me. I steered clear of everyone, but that gave me no excuse to stay as far away from home as possible. I found myself needing something to pass the time until my golden opportunity came.
Besides, I had the idea of being an avenging hero, and to do that against something as diabolical as a gang of pianos I would need help. I spent time planning out the gadgets I could use. Lasers, chainsaws, 100 ton weights to squish them like they’d squished my dad. I couldn’t afford any of this, of course. That’s why I’d need a job.?
No one was hiring. I spent half a year applying in fast food restaurants and grocery stores, and never even got close enough to be shown the door. I was getting desperate; this was a waste of my life. I could be building my own tools in this time! ?
Finally, I secured an interview that looked promising. Until the man said, “I’ve heard that your background is... slightly unstable.”?
“How?” I said suddenly defensive.?
“Well, we pride ourselves on giving people chances that they might not get, otherwise.” He said, sounding very pleased with himself. “We’ll hire you on a test run”
I couldn’t help smiling. “What will I be doing?”
“Polishing. It’s a very important thing, we’ve got tables and frames and pianos-”
“Is there a problem?”
“You really expect me to polish the evil things? To help them? What kind of twisted sicko are you?”
I didn’t let him finish. “Well I won’t be associated with you anymore.” I said. “Find someone else!” I slammed the door on my way out. And the table in the hallway never stood a chance.
I had no job. So I became a burglar.
Burgling was actually quite satisfying. Instead of doing menial work and waiting for a paycheck, I chose my hours and could physically see the money coming in. “some criminal,” the papers called me, but I wasn’t that bad. It was only temporary, after all, to prepare for my great act of justice. And I wasn’t killing anyone. I wasn’t even stealing really valuable stuff. I broke into stores during the night and relieved them of a few trinkets. Small things. I could hide them, and sell them, and most of the time the stores assumed they were being shoplifted. They increased their daytime security, but didn’t do much during the night. And if I’d been a real criminal, I would have been caught easily. I’d read enough comics to know that.
Things were looking up. And then the moment came.
I’d come in the back window. I tended to do that, even if I didn’t know what the store was. Every store had some little trinkets I could slip away. But this one was different. I started as I found myself in the midst of looming shapes, nightmares. Startled, they stared at me from the darkness. I had found their hideout, their conference room. A piano store.
I could barely breathe. I suppose if I’d been confronting a person who had squished my dad, who’d ruined my life, I’d be tasting blood. As it was, my mouth seemed full of sawdust.
They loomed at me from the walls, grinning with their imperfect teeth. Yes, I was unarmed. But this was the time. I couldn’t turn back now, just let this go. In every keyboard I could see the malice of the one who had fallen from the sky so many years ago. I could hear the terrible crash and my father’s scream as if it was happening again. None of them were talking, but I’d make them I’d make them sorry.
I picked up a stool. I’d kill them with their allies. I hurled it at the nearest grand, obviously the leader. The stool smashed into his forehead with a reverberating CLAAAAAAAANNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!
Ears ringing, I laughed. Then I turned on the one sneaking up behind me, and kicked him under the chin. Nothing could stop me. Again and again I struck out. “Die! Die!” I screamed and laughed, each crash intensifying my pleasure. “Ten years! I’ve been waiting!” Everything they’d ever done was being avenged. “Remember Sue? This is for her!” I could almost see the cape, neon and proud, flowing behind me.
Sirens outside. I could see the lights. Good.
Two cops broke through the front door guns pointed, and fell over the remains of the leader. I smiled. “They’re here” I spread my arms wide.
Instead of thanking me, they dashed over and seized my hands. “You’re coming with us,” they said gravely.
“You can thank me here,” I protested, struggling. I’d seen one more. Black and loyal, he had tucked itself away in a corner. I couldn’t let him go free.”I’ve got to finish...”
One cop pointed his gun at my head. “I think not” They dragged me outside.
“No!” I tried to fight but they were too strong.”You’re working with them, aren’t you?” I realized.
“Just come quietly.”
“No! I’ve got to finish! If it knows where I am, it can come after me! No!”
I was shoved into the back of their car. Frantically I beat on the back window. “Just one more!”
The car started and the shop, the lair, dwindled into the distance. “No...” I felt myself crying. “no...”
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Oh, look... There's the sweat on your brow.