The Black Keys of a Piano


I felt excited as I exited the Armstrong's house that evening. Which was unsual for me... I mean, I had always wanted to learn to play piano, but without the proper guidance, I never succeeded much, so my excitement dwindled into a stoic state of annoyance because even after three years, I still couldn't play the thing. I found myself actually quite excited to return the following afternoon.

I made the short trek across the street to my house. The road was empty, the sidewalk was jut beginning to become illuminated with street lights as the sun sat, and distant dog barks and train horns could be heard.

I pulled my worn backpack straps further up on my shoulders as I walked to the front door. I never really thought about it much, but I really did enjoy living in Oakland. It was a small, peaceful town, rich with music culture of all kinds. It had quiet neighborhoods and friendly neighbors (Everyone was friendly to one another except for me. My neighbors didn't like me.)

I opened the door, hung up my backpack, and followed the sound of my parents voices and the smell of chicken to the kitchen.

"Oh, Harleen, you're home. How was piano lessons?" My mom asked, giving me a quick smile before bending over in front of the stove to pull out a baking sheet.

I dropped into an empty seat at the island with a sigh, a sigh of relief to be back in my own home. "Great." I smiled, racking my brain for something else to say. "I learned a few things. He's a great teacher, kinda secretive though, but whatever." I shrugged, reaching out to grab the pepper shaker and rotate it in my hands.

"How so?" My dad wondered curiously, crooking an eyebrow.

"He wouldn't tell me what the black keys did." I chuckled to myself, finding it quite funny that he refused to tell me anything more than I needed to know for said lesson.

"Oh..." My dad echoed, becoming lost in thought. Dad was a big thinker, always thinking of new, creative things. The old garage in the backyard was dedicated to his works. Parts of motorcycles, old sportscars, bicycles, and electronics that I had no name for littered his workspace, but he was happy with it, and always knew what to build. Part of the reason why... Our front yard was full of handmade lawn ornaments.

"I learned basic stuff, like where the middle C is and all that. Hopefully I can learn some actual songs soon." I added on conversationally.

"Well..." My mother said while placing another pan into the oven, "I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. I think Adrienne mentioned that he was in a band, as well." She shrugged nonchalantly.

"A band?" I echoed in wonder, becoming curious. "Did she say which one?"

"Oh... No. I don't think so..."

I pursed my lips in thought, imagining the creepy dude across the street being apart of a band like the Ramones or Blink-182. Chances were, though, that he was apart of some ragtag garage band full of old dudes with nothing better to do on weekends than practice and play bars sometimes when the better bands fell through on the setlist.


That night, after I'd gotten ready for bed, with Nirvana playing in the background, I sat on my window seat with a notebook open in my lap. Instead of small doodles covering my paper like I'd have liked it to, a list of math problems was there instead. I groaned, looking at them, then out my bedroom window, at the house across the street.

I sat up a little in interest when a car pulled up alongside the opposing curb. I watched it with interest, while also trying not to make myself obvious.

A man and a woman got out of the car. In the light from the streetlamps, I couldn't pick out any distinct features about them, except the fact that they were all dressed in black.

"Huh..." I murmured to myself, watching them knock on Dracula's door, and then walk inside when he answered the door. "Vampires..." I whispered in wonder.

I fell asleep to a Foo Fighters' album, and had forgotten to set my alarm before dozing off. I woke with the sun's rays in my eyes. The blinding light reminding me that it was now dawn, and if I didn't haul ass, I'd be late for school.

I tripped on my tangled sheets and hit the hardwood floor with a thud, but that didn't stop me from scampering to my feet, ripping my shirt over my head and pulling the first top my hand touched from the closet. I yanked it on awkwardly while hopping around on one foot to pry off my pajama pants. I kicked them into the corner and yanked up a pair of worn black jeans and buttoning them. They certainly were not my finest pair, but I didn't have time to carefully examine every pair I owned.

I pulled my green Chuck Taylors onto my feet, twisting the laces into a hurried knot, hopping off the floor to grab my leather jacket and grey hoodie, and fled down the stairs, trying to pull the garment onto my shoulders as I went, bumping into the wall at the end of the steps on my way.

Wrenching my backpack off the hook in the hall, I yanked open the front door and saw the school bus a block down the road, happily making it's way to the middle school with a busload of grumpy teens in the back.

A sigh of loss seeped from my lips. How the hell was I supposed to get to school now?! I mean, my parents are gone, at work! My neighbors are all either not up yet, or the ones that are, despise me, and if it were the end of the world, wouldn't give me a ride to a lab to manufacture a cure, just to spite me.

I could run, and make it... Fifteen miles across town. I might be there a bit after noon... I had a bike, collecting dust in the garage. But none of the afore mentioned options sounded like effective means of travel.

While my eyes scanned the quiet street, they landed on the huge, dollhouse style home across the street, and more importantly, the sleek black Camaro sitting in the driveway. It's only flaw was the small dent, the size of my fist, on the rear bumper.

I sighed in sadness. It was this or nothing... And I knew it.

Swallowing my pride, I buried my hands deep in my jacket pockets and stalked across the empty stretch of cracked pavement. I looked up at the long windows on the second floor, the houe growing larger and more intimidating as I approached the big wooden front door with one of those lion's head knockers.

I stared up at it for a moment. Chewing on the inside of my cheek while contemplating rather or not one absent day would cost me too much.

Groaning, I finally reached up, curling my fingers around the knocker, and brought it down on the wood three times in the quietest, politest knock I could possibly make, despite the circumstances.

I wondered if anyone was even awake yet, and after several more seconds of silence, I turned away, in a hurry to disappear of their porch before anyone saw me, hanging around their house like a cast out beggar.

Then the door creaked open behind me...


Adrienne's sweet, kind voice filled the empty, cold moring air. I winced and turned back to face, her. Me standing half a step off their porch awkwardly.

"Hi, Adrienne..." I greeted in embarrassment, turning to fully face her.

She looked at me in confusion. "What are you doing here so early? You don't have lessons until noon, right?"

I nodded, "That's right. I just... Ah..." I stopped to look down at my feet awkwardly while I tried to muster up an acceptible response. "I missed my alarm this morning, and missed my ride to school... I don't suppose maybe you could give me a ride?" I hedged, trying to come off as subtle and kind, not blunt and demanding as I felt.

Her smile was nothing but kindness. "Of course." She replied, reaching for the keys by the door.

"Who's that?" I heard someone say from behind her, and within a moment, Billie Joe appeared behind her, for the first time since I'd met him, he wasn't wearing eyeliner and looked like an approachable human being.

"Just Harleen. She asked if I could drive her to school." Adrienne told him, reaching for her jacket.

"Take the day off, Adie," He told her kindly, brushing her arm with his hand. "I'll take her."

Adrienne looked as confused as I felt, but didn't refuse his offer. She handed him the keys and stepped aside while he grabbed his own leather jacket, and then-- went to the mirror beside the door, produced a black eyeliner pencil, and scribbled two black lines around his eyes before smiling at his reflection in acceptance, and heading out the door.

He was a weird individual, that was for sure...

He proceeded to walk around the front of the car, unlock his door, climbed in, the faint click that followed hinted that he'd unlocked the other doors. I hesitated outside the front door. Some adults got weird if you sat in the front seat, and they bitched and moaned for no reason.

He finally leaned across the console and rolled down the passenger window.

"You coming, Harley?" He called to me, and I wrenched my arms from their crossed position on my chest and wrenched the door open, dropping into the low bucket seats. They weren't just low, they were so low I struggled to look out the windows and pretend that I was alone to avoid conversation efficiently.

"Buckle up." He said, smiling at me cheekily in a way that made me wonder if his mission in life was to annoy me.

I pulled the vinyl strap over my head and buckled it into place, paying him no mind as I did so. He backed out swiftly, and hit the button that turned on the radio.

You know that lurching feeling you get in your heart when you recognize a song? And you're so excited that you want to scream it from the rooftops that you know what it is, who the artist is, release year and what album it's from?


Nirvana bursted from the speakers of the Camaro, and vibrated the frame. Come As You Are thudded in my eardrums, Kurt Cobains melodic rough voice molding brilliant lyrics, and in the corner of my eye, I see him smirk and realize all at once, that Nirvana being on the radio just now wasn't a coinicidence.

"I noticed your shirt." He cackled with great enjoyment, peering down at me sideways without looking from the road.

I looked down, I hadn't even noticed which shirt I'd put on, but sure enough, there were the iconic yellow smiley face and the bold yellow print above it delcaring the band title Nirvana.

I felt my cheeks burn pink with embarrassment, and prayed the flush in my cheeks would pass quickly. I hated blushing. There was nothing wrong with it, really, I just hated when it happened to me.

"Oh..." Was all I could manage to say. I was at a loss for words as I silently sized him up. We obviously shared likeminded music interests. Maybe learning piano from him wouldn't be so bad... Maybe he could teach me About a Girl on piano? If that was a thing...

He surprised me by laughing, at my expense, but a laugh all the same. "Dude, I think it's cool," He said, nodding as he navigated the quiet streets in search of the middle school. "Not many kids your age listen to the classics anymore. I mean, yeah, Oakland's pretty heavy with the punks that came over from Rodeo, but they're not all that genuine anymore. I think they've forgotten what it means to be punk." He laughed about that statement, but I simply analyzed it mentally with great interest.

"Anyways," He interrupted my thoughts when I hadn't laughed at his previous remark. "What other music are you into?"

My eyes widened involuntarily.

"What?" He asked, looking slightly confused and concerned. "Wrong question?"

"No..." I shook it off, "I was just going to say, that having asked that question, I hope you're ready for hours of talking." I smiled about it. I could talk for hours about the music I love, bands I want to see, things I want to do musically. However, most people shut me out after the first few minutes.

He laughed again, "Well if you're still coming over for lessons later, you can tell me all about it." He smiled at me, and I gave a small smile back, entirely unsure, why, even after the teenage bitch I had been to him since I'd met him, why he was being kind to me. Most people just automatically did not like me before I'd even spoken or done anything to spite them. It was just... Different.

"Sure." I agreed, looking up as we pulled into a parking place just outside the school's front doors. I'd make it to my class before first bell.

"Thanks for the ride, I really appreciate it." I told him as I got out, "My teachers don't like me as it is. If I was late, it'd just be one more reason for them to want to expell me. I'll see ya later, Drac."

He laughed, "Later, Harley." He called to me before I shut my door. I took a moment to look back at him and stick my tongue out playfully before jogging through the front doors of the school.
♠ ♠ ♠
I'm back! After a long, tedious hiatus. I always kinda had an idea where this story was going, but it never made it that far. I'm hoping to finish it this year. :D
Huge thank you to POLLY CH. for requesting and reminding me of this story, as well as everyone's support! I'm glad you all like it, and I hope to be getting back into writing GD fics again.
Keep it cool,
Rage & love