Authors: Madison Parker
Harmony Ink Press
5032 Capital Circle SW
Ste 2, PMB# 279
Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Play Me, I’m Yours
Copyright © 2013 by Madison Parker
Cover Art by Catt Ford
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Harmony Ink Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Ste 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA.
Library ISBN: 978-1-62380-919-5
Digital ISBN: 978-1-62380-450-3
Printed in the United States of America
To my fellow introverts, who know what it’s like to live inside your head, may you find someone who loves you just the way you are.
To Kurt, for filling my days with love and laughter. Thank you for your patience and support.
To Todd, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Thank you for your guidance and generosity.
To Jeff, for inspiring me to write from the heart. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.
Play Me, I’m Yours
There it is!” Lucas fumbled with the camera, then shoved it in Mason’s hands and darted off. If not for the throng of tourists milling about the city’s Inner Harbor, pointing and smiling, Mason wouldn’t have believed he was witnessing his seventeen-year-old brother skipping down the sidewalk.
“Daaaaaaad! He’s doing it again,” Mason said as he passed the camera off to his father. No way was he taking pictures of his
brother acting like a schoolgirl.
“I know, son. Let him have his fun. He’s been looking forward to this for days.”
“What’s the big deal? It’s just some dumb piano.”
Mason pursed his lips as his brother plopped down on the whimsically painted piano bench.
took a seat on the empty bench, he stared at the work of art before him. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so excited. He’d have to remember to thank Mrs. Davidson for advertising the “Play Me, I’m Yours” street piano project in class. He was probably the only one listening as she explained that the project involved more than 500 pianos placed in public locations throughout the world.
Maybe it wasn’t worth getting
excited about, but when he saw the flyer, his eyebrows shot up. “Cyndi Lauper!” he squealed and then immediately wished he hadn’t. He heard the snickers in the room and abruptly felt the rush of heat to his cheeks.
Mrs. Davidson had given him her kindest smile and said, “I hope you all have an opportunity to visit one of the pianos while they’re here. I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding to share the gift of music with your community.”
Teachers always said corny stuff like that. Like playing music for strangers would make any sort of difference. Sure it might entertain for a few minutes, but that was it. Even so, Lucas couldn’t wait to get home and read more about the project online. Not that he had any deep desire to commune with his fellow citizens. More like he wanted the opportunity to channel his inner Cyndi. Cyndi Lauper was his childhood idol, and there she was on that flyer, perched upon a street piano.
She was the reason he sat here now. Lucas brushed his fingers across the piano keys. Even if Cyndi hadn’t played this particular piano, she was with him in spirit. The piano, covered with bold areas of red and yellow paint, reminded him of her. It was adorned with black and white curlicues and ample amounts of glitter. Multicolored layers of tulle and strings of shiny beads trimmed the bench. He worried that he looked like he was wearing a skirt—no, a punk tutu—as he sat. Lucas looked down at the piano, where “Play Me, I’m Yours” had been painted on the keys. What would Cyndi do? She was bold and brazen. She wouldn’t care what other people thought, and even if she did, she wouldn’t let it stop her.
“Dad! Get a picture.” Lucas waved to his family, then plastered on his biggest smile and posed for the camera. He planned to upload the picture to the project’s official website later that afternoon. If he were lucky, maybe Cyndi would see it.
“Oh my God,” his brother groaned. “He’s such a dork.”
Lucas ignored the comment. His brother always called him a dork. He didn’t mind it so much. It was nicer than the names most kids called him.
He took a breath, hoping to calm his nerves. A few people gathered nearby, but he didn’t recognize any of them. He wouldn’t have had the courage to go through with the performance if he saw any kids he knew from school.
“This one’s for you, Cyndi,” he said as he struck his first note.
Lucas never sang when he played. He had a decent voice, but he preferred to let the music speak for itself. Maybe that was his classical training showing. He loved playing classical pieces, but pop songs were more fun.
Lucas knew this song well, though he’d never played it for an audience before. It was one of his favorites. It reminded him of happy times spent with his mom.
When he was younger, he and his mom had housecleaning “parties.” All that really meant was his mom played loud music, and he helped her clean the house.
She’s So Unusual
was their favorite “party” album, and he loved to “bop” around the house with a feather duster. Of course, back then he thought bopping meant dancing. He had no idea “She Bop” was a song about masturbation, and the mental image of “bopping” around the house with a feather duster now made him laugh.
A larger crowd formed around the piano, but Lucas hardly noticed. Lost in the moment, he pounded the keys as he entered the chorus of the upbeat song. The spectators clapped to the beat and sang what few lyrics they could recall. It was one of those songs everyone knew but no one could sing.
As the intensity of the music heightened, so did Lucas’s body movements. It began with biting his lower lip and bobbing his head and progressed to rocking back and forth in his seat. By the second chorus he periodically lifted his butt clear off the bench and scrunched up his nose, oblivious to everything but the music.
too much for Mason, who noticed his father also averted his eyes when Lucas went into funny face mode.
Mason turned to see a man approaching his father.
His father reached out and shook the man’s hand. “Hey, Steve. How’re you?”
Steve repositioned his Baltimore O’s cap. “Good. Good to see you. Is this your son?”
Mason’s father clapped him on the back. “Sure is. This is Mason.”
“A fine young man you’ve got there,” Steve said. “What are you guys up to?”
His father’s eyes darted to Lucas, and he hesitated.
Mason took advantage of the opening. “We were on our way to Sports Tank and got distracted by Jerry Lee Lewis playing the piano over there.”
“Yeah,” Steve said. “Liberace’s more like it. That kid looks queer as a three-dollar bill.”
“Totally,” Mason said, crossing his arms.
His father’s posture stiffened. “It was nice seeing you, Steve. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.”
“Yep, you too. Gotta run. Good seeing you.”
As soon as Steve turned to leave, Mason’s father gave him a stern look.
“What?” Mason asked. “He said it, not me.”
The conversation was cut short as the crowd began to clap and cheer for Lucas, who offered a bashful smile in return.
“Lucas,” his father said abruptly. “Let’s go.”
“Dad, can’t I play one more?”
“No. Let’s go.”
wanted to ask his dad what was wrong. He wanted to ask if he’d liked the performance. But that nagging voice in his head told him to let it go, that he was to blame for the shift in his father’s mood.
His suspicions were confirmed when his brother said, “Couldn’t you just play ‘Chopsticks’ or Mozart or something? Why do you always have to make such a spectacle of yourself?”
Lucas remained quiet as they walked to Sports Tank, where Mason wanted to buy a new pair of goggles. Mason competed on Providence High’s varsity swim team. Although Lucas didn’t swim, he knew everything about the sport, thanks to Mason. Most days Lucas stayed after school to watch the team practice, since he had to give his brother a ride home. It was part of the we’ll-buy-you-a-car-if agreement. He would have agreed to a lot more too—anything to avoid riding the bus to school.
Lucas decided to wait out front while his dad took Mason inside the store. It was obvious Mason didn’t want him around, and Lucas didn’t want to be where he wasn’t wanted. The problem was, that was pretty much everywhere.
He sat on a bench near the entrance, where he drew his legs to his chest and rested his chin on his knees. He thought about his earlier performance. What was his dad’s problem? The crowd seemed to have liked it. This was the first time in a long time he’d been out with his dad and his brother, and it wasn’t shaping up the way he’d hoped. So maybe he
shown off, but he’d wanted to impress his dad. Playing piano was the only thing he was good at. He should’ve just waited until his mom could’ve come. She would’ve liked his performance. Better yet, he should’ve just come alone.
Lost in thought, Lucas didn’t notice the approaching boy until he spoke. “It’s Lucas, right?”
“Huh?” Lucas looked up at the boy. “Uh, yeah.”
It was Chris Robins. Chris Robins needed no introduction. He was one of the popular kids at school, always making wisecracks in class and getting in trouble for not having his homework. Chris’s shaggy blond hair was long enough in front that it usually obscured his eyes, but at the moment Lucas could see them clearly. They were a piercing pale blue. Lucas’s mouth fell open slightly as he took in the rest of the boy’s appearance. Chris was wearing cargo shorts and a T-shirt that read, “I got a dig bick.”
“Whatcha doin’?” Chris said.
“Just waiting for my dad. He’s inside.”
“Hey, I saw you playing piano earlier. You’re really good.”
Lucas hugged his knees more tightly. Chris had been there? Lucas attempted a smile but only managed a weak “Thanks.” He grasped for something more to say, but his mind blanked out on him. He hated when that happened.
Chris didn’t seem to have the same problem. “So, I was gonna go to the arcade tonight, but my friend bailed on me. You wanna go?”
“To the arcade?” Lucas didn’t know what to say. He’d never been in this situation before. Boys at school never talked to him, let alone invited him out anywhere.
Chris smiled at him. “Yeah. We could meet up at Bay Burgers first if you want. Grab a bite to eat and then head over to the arcade?”
Lucas wanted to say yes, but something held him back. He wanted time to think about this, but he heard his mother’s voice telling him he’d never make friends if he didn’t take a chance on people.
“Yeah, sure,” he said before he could talk himself out of it.
“Cool. See you at Bay’s at seven?”
“All right, see you there.”
Lucas couldn’t help but stare as Chris turned and disappeared into the store. What had brought Chris here? He wasn’t a swimmer, at least not for the school team. Lucas was all too familiar with the team roster, and Chris wasn’t on it. Maybe he followed Lucas here from the Inner Harbor and was only going into the store as a cover. He said his friend bailed on him, but surely he had other friends he could’ve asked. Why Lucas? Was Chris that impressed by his piano playing? There
been a lot of people clapping. Maybe Chris had seen him in a new light, seen him as something special. His music teacher said music had a way of bringing people together. Maybe she was right. He would have to remember to thank Mrs. Davidson.