The Piano Player
Will Hyde



Jeremy Stoner was a honky-tonk piano player who had never really had a significant moment in his life, until he went out in that terrible storm and got hit by lightning.

It was a Miracle.

Jeremy Stoner was a honky-tonk piano player who got hit by lightning, and survived it. But that wasn't the miracle. He woke up with a dry feeling in his mouth and an electric tingling in his hands -- and the most incredible talent in a century. His music grew another dimension.

It became electrifyingly emotional, shockingly stirring. When he played a sad song, everybody who could hear it would be touched -- no, seized -- by a raging case of melancholia; strong men grew tight of throat and wet of cheek, and the ladies wept like newlyweds or new widows.

It was awesome, but it was nothing compared to what a happy tune would do. When Jeremy played an upbeat tune, every ear it touched would tingle with pleasure; joyous laughter would fill the air, and everybody would love, love, everybody else. Everybody got high when Jeremy played a happy tune -- enraptured, like the Pied Piper's mice.

But the action didn't really get good until Jeremy played his own favorite number, The Stripper.

When Jeremy played that one, The Stripper, every woman who could hear it was immediately overcome by the impulse to take off her clothes, to do the dance of the seven veils and strip off every stitch.

That was the Miracle.

And it only worked on the ladies.

Too bad there was so little market for such a talent in Goldenrod, Idaho. Life was simple in Goldenrod; working the farm in the daytime, a big meal at home, a little television to end the evening ... and church on Sundays. There were only nine hundred souls in Goldenrod, and every one of them went to the same church.

Everybody lived the same life in Goldenrod, and everybody went to church every Sunday, including Jeremy Stoner. In fact, it was in church that Jeremy discovered his incredible new talent. He found it in church, but he knew immediately, of course, where it had come from; he knew he had been a little different ever since his great electric moment in the storm.

The parishioners though, were sure they had experienced a miracle when Jeremy played a sad song and everybody cried until tears ran down their cheeks. He took them to the bottoms of their emotions with a sad tune, and then he took them soaring to the heights with a happy one.

Of course Jeremy didn't perform his favorite number in church. He saved The Stripper for the amateur show tryouts in Pocatello. He was planning to explode into Show Business, via the amateur show route. This big event was held at the college in Pocatello; the tryouts were on Friday afternoon and the show was on Saturday night. The tryouts were shown by closed circuit television to the college music class.

If Jeremy had known what he could do, he probably would not have bothered with the amateur show. When Jeremy played The Stripper for his tryout, every girl in the auditorium and eleven more in the music class, stripped off every stitch -- and each one did so with another version of the lewd dance. It was sensational. The eleven in the music class got caught by the dean of girls and were suspended from classes, pending an investigation... but nobody snitched on the happenings in the auditorium.

And what's the first thing you would expect Jeremy Stoner to do, after he discovered he had this incredible new talent?

You'll never guess.

The first thing Jeremy did was call the Sheriff.

Actually, the Sheriff himself never came anywhere near Goldenrod; but the only police force Goldenrod had was the Flower County Sheriff's Department. The Flower County Sheriff had a deputy on duty in Goldenrod. Just one, and she was only on duty during the daylight hours.

She. The incredible Charlene. Charlene Whatzername. Nobody seemed to know her last name, she was just Charlene.

Deputy Charlene, the Electric Bitch! That's what they called her.

Perfect.

She was a fooler. She could pass for a small-town college girl, or the farmer's innocent daughter, if she wanted to; even in uniform, she didn't appear very threatening. On Sundays, when she shucked the uniform for Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes -- usually a simple skirt and sweater - - you would want to walk along with her, protect her. That's what she looked like, but she was something else. She was a dedicated student of some obscure oriental philosophy. She had moves that could break every bone or rupture every organ in your body. She could, and she would, if you got out of line with her.

She was not all that big, and she looked like sugar and spice, but the incredible Charlene was one bad broad! The same day Jeremy Stoner ended up struck by lightning, Deputy Charlene finished her day by kung fu-ing the shit out of three lumberjacks and a mechanic, who'd had the drunken bad taste to have said: "And what's a sweet little thing like you gonna do about it...?" It seems they got a little rowdy at the Golden Inn, and the bartender had to call the Sheriff. Two of them went directly to jail, and the other two went to intensive care.

None of which had anything much to do with Jeremy Stoner's lust for the Deputy. Jeremy had been in love with the incredible Charlene for two years and thirteen days -- that's how long it had been since she came to town and he saw her for the first time.

The first time Jeremy Stoner saw the deputy, he was a goner. He teetered on the brink for fifteen seconds, and then he fell -- Head- over-heels, ass-over-teakettle, libido-over-logic, and I-don't-care-if- the-sun-don't-shine in love he fell -- Hopelessly, helplessly, irretrievably in love he fell. He thought about her by day, and dreamed about her at night, but he kept his thoughts and dreams to himself. He didn't have the balls to approach her. He was afraid. He was afraid she would shoot him down, because she could have anybody, and he was just a honky-tonk piano player. With no balls.

She was indeed intimidating... but that was before. Now he had the power of the piano, and it filled him with confidence.



"I've written a sonata for you, my lovely," he told her on the telephone. "It's called Sonata to a Fair Maiden," he was sure she would like that. "And I want to play it for you, one time, before the world hears it." He presented himself as an admirer who only wanted to admire her, a simple artist who had written a masterpiece, not because of his talent, but because of his inspiration. He was grateful to her, for her beauty, because it had moved him to magnificence; it had moved him to writing Sonata to a Fair Maiden.

His approach must have been a good one, because she went for it. She said she had heard his music in church -- and had been moved by it!

She said he could pick her up at sundown, when she got off duty; she said he could take her to dinner, and then she would be pleased (pleased!) to listen to his masterpiece. She said she loved the piano, but she warned him that he would be in big trouble if he got out of line.

Jeremy sat in his car for more than an hour, outside the Sheriff's office, just waiting for the sun to go down. It seemed it never would. It seemed to Jeremy that the Earth had stopped its turning, just as the sun reached the tops of the mountains west of Goldenrod. But of course it had not, the sun did go down; and the moment it did, the incredible Charlene came out.

He met her on the sidewalk and introduced himself, like a peasant to the Queen, although it was not necessary. She had a file on every one of Goldenrod's citizens, and she knew who everybody was. She was as efficient as she was beautiful. And beautiful she was, even in her uniform. The hat with the badge did nothing to dull the golden shine of her hair, which now she wore loosely tied at the back of her neck. Her eyes were a startling blue, they seemed larger than life, like a child's. And her body...

God! her body took his breath away, he was breathing through his mouth. Even in uniform, with the cartridge belt and gun, the handcuffs riding behind, and that nasty black club they called a baton, she didn't look like a cop. And anyway, she was off duty now.

"Do you want to change first?" was the only thing he could think of to say to her, and that was hard because his tongue was dry.

"No," she said. "I'm off-duty, but I am the only law in town." And she didn't want to ride with him for the same reason. "I'll follow you," she said.

She looked at him as if he were nuts, when he opened the door of her prowl car for her; but then she smiled at him -- and he was destroyed. He had difficulty just getting into his own car, and when he did the seat was too far back. He had difficulty getting the key into the ignition, and when he did the car wouldn't start because it was in gear. But these things work out, and he was determined.

It was barely a mile from the Sheriff's office to Flower County's one truly elegant restaurant, the Golden Inn, but the drive took a full three minutes. The speed limit on Goldenrod's only paved street was twenty-five, and he was being followed by the town's only police car. It was weird. he felt like the spider leading the fly -- but this fly had a stinger!

Dinner at the Golden Inn was weird too. Jeremy had never been treated like a Superstar before, but when he walked in with the Electric Bitch, he was. The Headwaiter, usually as staid and stiff as an undertaker, was as fawning and eager to please as a puppy -- if he'd had a tail he would have wagged it. He led them to the best table in the room; in the back, by the fireplace, where he would have seated the President. He snatched up the Reserved sign, and then waved the approaching waiters away -- he meant to serve this table himself.

And serve them he did. He brought, with the compliments of the house, a small bottle of white wine that was so good Jeremy would have taken it home in a doggy bag, had the deputy not been drinking... but she was, one glass. On the Headwaiter's recommendation, they had the wild duck breasts and fresh mountain trout.

In all, the dinner was a huge success. the meal was delightful, and the firelight sparkling in those big blue eyes was intoxicating. When she smiled at the Headwaiter and then thanked him for the excellent service, it did more for him than did Jeremy's twenty-dollar tip (of course, a part of that may have been because the Headwaiter had been on duty the night the deputy cut down the three lumberjacks and overhauled the mechanic).

By the time dinner was finished, Jeremy was sure he had the incredible Charlene's number. She wasn't so tough -- it was just that she took herself and her job very seriously. By the time dinner was over and they were chatting like old friends, a stranger would have thought they were lovers, or newlyweds. And Jeremy's confidence had returned.

"Now let's go to my place," he said, when she laid down her fork for the last time. "I have a piano," he added, when she raised her eyebrows at the suggestion.



Jeremy's apartment was back the way they had come; it was a mile beyond the Sheriff's office, so the drive took nearly six minutes. Six long minutes, but this time Jeremy felt more like he was being escorted than followed by the prowl car. He felt like she was with him now; he was sure he had reached her, although he still had not touched her. He had been only the perfect gentleman, so far.

So far. But now came the moment of truth.

"This is called Sonata to a Fair Maiden," he said, when he sat down to his piano. She was settled on the couch with a cup of coffee -- she wouldn't accept anything stronger than a cup of coffee.

"It'll sound familiar at first, but that's just to warm up the fingers," he said.

He played a few bars of a sad tune, to see if it would reach her. It did. Her big eyes grew moist. He played a few bars of a happy tune, to see if she would lighten up. She did. The big blue eyes grew bright, and then she smiled at him.

That did it. He couldn't hold it back any longer -- he launched into The Stripper, with all the feeling he could muster.

He didn't think it was going to work at first, but after a long moment she got that distanced look in her eyes; and soon even the incredible Electric Bitch began to dance to Jeremy Stoner's music. She tossed the cap with the badge onto the couch, then she took the little ribbon from her hair and let it fall. It tumbled down over her shoulders in glorious golden waves.

She took off the cartridge belt as if it were the first of the seven veils. She held it in both hands for a turn, then dropped it on the floor; it hit the floor with the heavy thud of gun and baton, the handcuffs rattled. She danced around it a couple of times, as if it were a sombrero and this was a Mexican Hat Dance. And then, slowly, carefully, starting at the top, one button at a time, she opened her shirt.

She wore no bra.

She dropped the shirt on the floor with the other stuff, and pirouetted around the growing pile like a ballerina, her hands together above her head. Her breasts were not large, but they were exquisite. They jiggled just a little with her movements, but the jiggle was a firm one. Her nipples were erect.

Jeremy too, was erect, flushed with prickly heat; he was sweating and his hands were moist, but he played on.

And the incredible Electric Bitch continued to dance.

She kicked off her shoes, both with a saucy little flip of her dancing toes. First upon one foot and then on the other, she went up onto her toes and into a delicate spin, a figure skater now... and while she was turning, the foot that was not on the floor worked the sock off the one that was.

Could the incredible Charlene dance? Did Moses throw holy writ around? She went into a swinging motion with her hips and belly that would have sent Salome home, and began toying with the buttons of her pants.

And then...

...then the incredible Electric Bitch showed Jeremy Stoner exactly how incredible she really was.

She took off the pants.

She wore no panties.

"Sweet Lord," he said. And then it hit him! He was seized. He was frozen. He was aflame. He was entranced, enraptured. He was enthralled. Out of focus, out of control. His ears rang. His eyes watered, mouth did not.

His breathing stopped and his heartbeat paused; he quit playing and dropped to his knees. He started toward her, walking on his knees, unbuckling his belt. It wasn't a thought on his mind, it was a vision -- and he meant to kiss it. You could have hit him with a club, and he wouldn't have noticed.

Which she did. And he didn't.

The first time she hit him with her baton it was an off-balance swing and a glancing blow, and he didn't even feel it.... But the second time she hit him she rang his bell with a head shot. His vision cleared and his hearing came back.

"You Bastard!" She screamed, pulling back to give him another one. "You Bastard!" She screamed again. "I'll turn your lights out!" She screamed. "I'll hand you your head!" Then she fired again, a long looping swing that might have taken his head off.

It missed.

He scrambled back to the piano. He couldn't think of anything else to do. The only thing he could think of was The Stripper.

It worked.

The distant look came back to her big eyes, and she returned to her dance. Now the baton was a baton, and she was a majorette, twirling it. Now it was a broomstick horse, and she rode upon it.

Around and around the room she danced.

And Jeremy Stoner played on...


Will Hyde (why@kpc.com) is an Editorial Consultant for a Los Altos, California publisher of manuals and how-to books. (Bio last updated in 1991.)

InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 1, Number 3 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1991 Will Hyde.