The Black Keys of a Piano


I had had one day. One day to mentally prepare for what was to come, and it slipped away so quickly. Leaving me open to the attack of today, school didn't last nearly as long ad I'd hoped and now, I stood on the sidewalk, a mere ten feet from his black front door, where somewhere behind it, he waited. Patienly or impatiently somewhere, walking the halls or playing his piano. Adrienne wasn't home, what if he was some kind of weirdo?...

More nervous thoughts started collecting in the back of my mind, making my palms slick with sweat and the thought of dashing back across the street became more and more tempting. And as I looked up at his house, it appeared as intimidating as ever...

I gripped the backpack strap on my shoulder tighter and approached the door, I was not going to be a woos. I was going to go into that house, and get my first lesson, I would be playing piano soon, so I could shove it back into Mr. Clarence's face. He wouldn't have the pride of talking down about me in class, telling the other students that if they didn't practice, they'd end up a 'Harleen'. I knocked once in a brief but informative beat, a moment later the door unlocked and he stood there.

At least I thought so anyways.

I couldn't even be sure he was the same person now. His hair, which had resembled a black fuzzy cat nesting on his head one day ago, was now a spiky disarray of blond, brown tinted locks. His eyes, still bright green and surrounded by a almost girlish cloud of black eyeliner. I could tell something straight off about him, I was almost as tall as him, and that was just plain awkward...

“Harley.” he greeted softly, gesturing behind him to come in, I warily slinked past him into the main room. “Dracula.” I responded calmly, once again taken back by the hugeness of his foyer.

“Ah, back to the name calling again?” he said with amused disappointment, a small crooked smile on his lips, but his expression guarded and wary.

I shrugged, not looking at him “You started it.” I muttered indifferently, gazing around the room, now partially decorated. A few pictures were on the walls, photos of people I'd never seen in my life, or had any intentions to. There were decorative dressers and a small sitting area in the middle of the foyer, and a golden chandelier hanging above my head, I looked up at it in wonder.

He laughed “Guess so... Pardon the mess, I'm still sorting things out." he gestured to the small amount of cardboard boxes that remained in the foyer.

“Can we begin?” I asked impatiently, getting antsy to get it over with.

He grinned and nodded “Right this way,” he gestured up the stairs.

“I know...” I paused before I went into any detail.

He stopped on one of the steps and looked back at me, giving me a puzzled look “How would you know?” he asked, turning to continue climbing the stairs.

“I was spying on you while you played the piano version of Can't Buy Me Love.” I responded without really thinking it through. He narrowed his eyes and smirked, nodding slowly, he continued up the stairs without comment.

The room the grand piano was in was massive, painted white on the walls that weren't sheer glass. Windows that stretched from the floor to the ceiling. The ceiling was high above us, with a colorful scene of angels (which seemed to be a common embelishment for his home) was painted on it. Tall panes of glass looked just over the trees and rooftops of the small neighborhood. A striaght shot gaze to the beach and crashing waves in the distance.

I gawked, well, uniformly pretended I did not care how amazingly huge and ornate his house was.

He laughed “Sit.” he commanded, gesturing to the wooden bench in front of the silky, smooth black piano. Just the size of the instrument was intimidating.

He plopped down beside me and played a quick flourish, which I watched in confusion. He treated the instrument as though it was an untamed lion, that had taken a loving turn to him. Adoring his every movement but growling threateningly at anyone else who approached it.

“Alright..." he sighed, ruffling his hair. "we could begin with the history of a piano or we can get straight to business, what's your call? I can go on for hours about both." he says with a nearly blank expression until he laughs.

"Start playing, I guess..." I spoke slowly, with uncertainty. "Okay," he laughed, scooting towards the piano, "where's your middle C?” he asked, gesturing to the black and white keys.

I looked at the keys for a moment before tapping one. The one that I was 100% sure about. If there's anything I learned in music class, it's that-

“No.” he said slowly.

“That's where Mr. Clarence says it is!” I protested, I hated being called wrong about the only thing I knew about the whole ordeal of playing music. It was frustrating...

He laughed and shrugged, studying the keys thoughtfully “Well then... Mr. Clarence was wrong too.” I sighed and waited for him to continue.

I let all my air out in a big gust of frustration, I didn't look up or meet his eyes as he tapped a key, four white keys down from the one I'd pointed out. He pushed it three times.

“See? That key is always going to be your middle C. As long as you know where the middle C is, you can virtually find almost any note on the piano, and navigate it more smoothly. With a little practice, you should have no hesitation towards the middle C.”

I nodded slowly, at least trying to absorb the information, but already it felt like it was too much for me to comprehend.

He tapped his chin thoughtfully “Hmm, here let's try a easy note.”

“E.” he commanded, pointing to a white key. I nodded and kept track of it's location for future reference. This would be the lesson of my life...

"Anyways, we'll start with these keys. F, B,C, and E all to the left of middle C." he instructed, pushing each of the white keys in turn.

“What's wrong with the black keys?” I demanded when I noticed all the keys we'd played had been white, it felt... Like they were left out or something.

He sighed and ruffled his unnaturally blond hair into a big spiky flop “The black keys do special things, you'll learn about them later on. Now, play me a—”

“What? No way dude. Tell me why we haven't used them yet and why they are hardly used! Are they mental or something?” I demanded.

He laughed “Sure, they are mental. Not used as often as the white keys, but often enough. Now, no more questions about the black keys until I get to them?”

“But—” I began to protest.

“No more questions,” he interrupted “they are very special and we will work on them when we get to them. Alright?”

I narrowed my eyes but didn't force the subject. “Okay...”

He smirked “Alright, let's begin again, one, two, three...”

I played the seven notes I'd learned all together. They actually sounded half decent, but that didn't stop the thought of hey, you're actually pretty good at this, Harleen... from emerging in my mind and making me mess up. I glared at the keys for a moment before attempting it again.

“Harleen, your mother called for you.”

I spun around on the bench in surprise. Adrienne leaned against the doorway with a smug expression, how long had she been standing there? Obviously long enough to hear Dracula preach to me about black keys... My cheeks burned up, but it didn't make me feel and different about their neglectance.

“Oh, okay.” I mumbled, shuffling to my feet and shoving my stuff back info my backpack carefully. “Oi, I never caught your name.” I said turning to face him again. He was still perched on the bench.

“Billie Joe.” he said, a small smile on his lips as though he was resisting the urge to laugh or something.

I nodded. “Ok, thanks for the lessons BJ. When's a good time for next session?”

"Uh..." he paused, baffled that I was already considering the future. "whenever tomorrow, works, I don't ah, start work for another three days, so, yeah, whenever you're free, come on over."

I smiled. "Cool, thanks. I'll see you tomorrow."

So... Billie wasn't as bad as I thought he'd be, if anything, he was kinda nice, kinda quiet, but sure to tell you what order you're gonna learn things in... He was mysterious, as well... I shrugged it off and exited his front door.