The Reluctant Pianist

Peter Chang, the world-renowned pianist, sits on stage beneath a glowing spotlight in the center of the Metropolitan Opera’s stage. It’s a sold-out crowd, and they’re all here for him. He smiles nervously, and tightens his tie. Behind him, an orchestra of the finest musicians in the world tune their instruments.

Francis Brazinni, the charismatic conductor, walks onto stage in his tuxedo to a thunderous applause. He grins, bows, and backs subtly over to Chang.

“Chang,” Brazini says leaning in, “Are you a-sure you’re ready for this? You’re not having that, uh, problem we discussed earlier? We can still call this thing off.”

“Uh—“ Chang responds. “Uh…uh” he bangs his fist on the top of the piano, bites his knuckle,  hits himself in the head. “Yeah, fuck it. Fuck it. I am the great Peter Chang. I can handle it. We’re good.”

“Okay, you understand the entire orchestra is counting on you? You’re the cue to start, you know.”

“I do.”


Brazini takes a breath and raises his conducting baton to the orchestra. He nods and Chang starts playing an incredibly simple ascending C major scale. A large drop of sweat falls from his forehead and splatters on the keys.

He plays the wrong note.

People start whispering loudly from the audience.

“Heavens to Murgatroy! What is he doing?” a dandy sitting in the balcony hisses to his bored wife. “This is Bach! Not Piano Lessons for Dum-Dums!”

Chang breathes loudly into his piano’s microphone like a fat man who has just eaten a fistful of Cadbury eggs and is now choking to death on their nougat-y center. The sound fills the unbearable silence.

“Okay, you can do this buddy,” Chang says to himself.

Brazini backs over to Chang.

“Chang, a-buddy. Everyone can hear you when you’re a-talking to yourself, you know that, no?”

“I know,” he says. “I just don’t want ‘it’ to happen again. Give me time damnit.”

Brazini backs off and Chang restarts playing the scale, gets halfway through and then flubs another note.

Brazini crosses his arms and looks at Chang disapprovingly.

“What the fuck is he doing?” someone whispers loudly from the audience.

“Shut up you imbecile! What do you know about true art?” Chang shouts at the audience. The spotlight shifts to the heckler to reveal she is a paraplegic servicewoman in an electric wheelchair with a little American flag coming from it. The crowd boos. “Oh…sorry,” Chang mumbles.

He begins humming a major scale to himself, but screws this up halfway.

“You got this Chang,” he says to himself. His voice resounds through the auditorium.

“Do you seriously not know how to play a major scale? You fucking hack!” a heckler shouts.

Chang stands up.

“You are a cyst on the face of the musical world!” he shouts at the darkened audience. The spotlight shifts to reveal the same woman in a wheelchair, now giving him the finger. “And I’m not sorry this time you disabled whore!”

The audience begins booing.

Brazini who has gone as pale as a ghost, tries to salvage things by grinning apologetically at the audience. “Folks, heh heh, this is all one big a-misunderstanding.

They only boo louder.

“Alright, alright Changy…Come on. You didn’t play in the goddamn White House to screw this up,” Chang says, his eyes welling up with tears. He wipes the tears away.

With one hunt-and-peck finger, he plays the first note of the scale. It’s right. He smiles to himself and nods. A few seconds of searching on the keys later, he puts his finger on the next. It’s good. He seems to be ignoring the crowd now, in the hypnotizing groove of playing something most children know how to do. He finds the next, and the next, all without a mistake. Brazini, spotting this, holds his hands up to the audience, who hush in anticipation of Chang’s next retarded mistake. But it never comes. In thirty seconds, he gets to the halfway point, then starts descending, in note after note of perfect major scale-age. Finally, he raises his finger to hit the last note.

“Yipee!” he whispers to himself as he pushes the key down. At this point an exceptional fart escapes his asshole and he shits himself in the key of C, precisely the note he intended to play, and the sound of his rupturing asshole washes out into the crowd, resounding louder than any sound yet heard in the Metropolitan Opera, rumbling through the wood walls and shaking the audience members in their seats thanks to the construction of the chamber, made to resonant with loud, flatulent Cs. A man’s eardrum bursts with the transcendent explosions issuing from Chang’s anus as his pants fill with stew-bowls of shit. Blood spurts out of the audience member’s ears. The servicewoman’s head explodes in a rain of skull and brain.

In a moment, the tumult has calmed down, and the rapturous applause begins. Chang steps to the front of the stage, his own feces trailing down his pant’s leg like a lumpy garden snake as he take a bow below a shower of audience-cast confetti and roses. Behind him, the swelling orchestra sets in playing the most heart-achingly poignant rendition of Bach’s Opus 73 ever heard by human ears.