Excerpts from THE PIANO LOVER

Excerpted from Chapter 4: So Shall Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

Davids' old Underwood portable typewriter smelled of the kerosine he would sometimes squirt into its dusty mechanism to free things up, but it still had a sticky letter 'Q' key. David reasoned that, next to the 'Z' key, the 'Q' was the least used key on the keyboard. He was a good touch typist, having figured out in high school that being the only boy brave enough to take a typing class would maximize his exposure to girls, be more useful, and be less embarrassing than taking a home economics class and learn how to operate a sewing machine. His typing was efficient enough to sometimes sound like a machine gun. Rat-a-tat-tat!

Aurora sat in one of the two straight backed wood chairs at David's wood kitchen table and watched his eyes focus on the white pages as he typed. She had somewhat enjoyed the game of making him struggle to get answers to his questions, as he described it, "like pulling teeth." While it was true she was reluctant to give him honest answers to some of his questions, she was more than willing to give him the fictional answers she knew would compose the kind of documents that served the best interests of her career. Still, it was fun making him 'pull teeth' to get the fictional information out of her, and her way of testing the sincerity of his interest in helping her. If he was only interested in seducing her, he would have posed less questions and not probed them so deeply in his effort to get accurate answers.

As the typewriter continued to 'rat-a-tat-tat,' she got up and strolled along the long wall with the mural he said he had painted. She touched her fingers on the Arc de Triomphe as if she might feel the dimensional texture of its base relief images. She noted the cars in the traffic did not look American and had names like Renault and Panhard and Citroen. At the outer edges of the mural she noted the people seated at outdoor cafes reading papers like Le Journal, Paris Match, and suddenly she caught her breath, The Times Picayune. She looked closer at that table to see the reader was a lone young man who resembled David. She looked over her shoulder at him as he continued to type, realizing he was a person committed to detail, accuracy, and the truth, even if the truth was an aspiration rather than a reality.

She walked over, stood behind his chair, and placed both hands on his shoulders, massaging the muscles at the base of his neck, hearing the zipper like sound as he pulled the last sheet of paper out of the typewriter, stacked it with the other sheets, and turned toward her. She removed her hands and looked down at his face as she heard him say, "Not that it was easy, but I now think we have some useful tools to promote you bookings to club owners, agents, and any other opportunities that come up." He looked from the papers up to her face as he shook the stack of papers in his hand, "Now we need to get a good mug shot of you to put on these before we print this."

Aurora made a decision. She said, "Stan up, David." He looked confused, then stood up. She knelt before him and, in one continuous motion, opened and pulled down his pants and shorts simultaneously, then pushed him back to be seated in the chair. She looked at his shocked face and said, "Dis my way say muchos gracias, bud remember, no strings." Then she placed both hands on his knees, spread them apart, and started to lower her head.

David dropped the stack of papers, which scattered to the floor, as he placed both hands on her shoulders to restrain her. His shocked expression turned into a pained smile. "Whoa, Aurora, I didn't ask you for anything in exchange."

She lowered her hands to clasp them in front of her and leaned her head to one side. "I know. Le agradezco su ayuda. You save my job. You teach me cantos. You escriba mi fomento. My way say tank you."

He picked up the papers and placed them on the table as he said, "But what if I want more?"

She sat back on her heels, placed her fingertips on the floor on either side, and straightened her head as her brow furrowed and she said, "Dis no anytime ting I do. Dis, how you say, one time token of mi appreciacion."

His brow furrowed also. "No, I mean...." Then he looked at his lap, stood up, raised his shorts and pants, and closed them. "I mean, what if I want..." He pulled the other chair closer to his, lifted her by her shoulders, and gently pushed her onto the chair, looking into her eyes. "What if I want a relationship? What if I want.......strings?"

She looked down at her hands and shook her head sideways. "You no wan mi, David." She looked at the stack of papers, put her hand on them, and tapped them three times with her fingers. "Dis.....dis all lies. You done know mi viva. You know verdad, you no wan mi nunca."

His brow smoothed and he looked at her with compassion. "That's for me to decide."

She stared at him with an expression somewhere between anger and shame, one which he could only interpret as pained. "You wan know why I angry, why I no truss, why I a freak? I tell you! I tell you mi whole dirdy story!"

He looked at the veins bulging in her temples. "That's okay, Aurora, I wasn't accusing you of anything. I'm not asking for any confessions."

She stared at the floor. "No, I godda tell you, 'cause you remine mi."

David looked confused. "Remind you? Of what?"

Her eyes began to glisten. "You de tured man who really try to help me. Mi padre, El Gato, et tu."

His brow furrowed deeper with confusion. "I remind you of your father? And who is El Gato, the cat?"

She looked off into space as if she were hypnotized. "Mi madre es muerte a mi tres anos." She looked at him briefly, then back into space. "Mi madre die when I was tree. Mi padre es un bracero, uno migrand worker, leave me con el hermana cuando he pick cotton et peas por el gringos del Norte. He no know he sister do drugs. Elle mi vende a la puta calle. She turn me oud when I was eleven, trading my body fo' drugs to dealers in her casa. When I was turteen, she sold me oudride to a bordello."

David spoke softly. "Aurora, you don't have to do this."

She looked at him. "Yes, I do," then back into space. "You ask aboud El Gato. He was a gringo who came to de bordello, sometimes a week at a time. He pick me soon after I arrive, keep me in he room sometimes a week or more. Furse I tink he mucho viejo, he beard and he belly, bud I done know he famous country western star, make mucho dinero. You know heem por el nombre Jacob Yocum. After mi padre, he furse man tread me kind, like a lady, buy me pretty clothes and jewelry I tho'd was diamonds and gold, bud really costume jewelry. He amigos call him 'Cat' all'a time, so we name him 'El Gato.' He teach me many tings, good and bad."

David closed his eyes. "Aurora, don't."

She ignored him. "He teach me how to dress 'cause I no god mucho clothes before. He teach me how to ead in cantina 'cause I no ead in restaurand befo'; which fork fo beans o salad o fish, which spoon fo cafe o sopa o fruitas, which knife fo bread o steak o budder. And bess of all, when I curious aboud he big shiny guitar, he teach me how to play id; how to toughen mi fingertips so de strings no cud, how to pluck melody o chord o otra ritmos, how to use de body like a conga drum." She sighed heavily. "Bud he also teach me how I be la mas gran puta."

David shook his head from side to side. "That's enough, Aurora."

She took a deep breath. "You need to know. I need to tell you." She looked down at her open hands, then back up into space. "El Gato teach me how to use eye contack and smiles to take control when I give him blow job, how to use my hair to tease and my hands to stroke, and dad way udder men no choke me like before. He teach me positions to take and tings to do and words to say so men canna go too deep and hurd me inside. He teach me to give myself enema and use my finger to stretch and relax mi culo so he ting no hurd me dere."

As tears appeared in her open eyes, tears also squeezed from David's closed eyelids as he spoke a single word, "Please...."

The tears traveled slowly down her cheek. "El Gato, he proud o' me, how good I play guitar. For two, tree year, he so happy to see me and I so happy to see him. Then he gone almos a year, and when he come back I grow taller, mi chichi mas grande, I tink he be happy I become a real woman." Her brow furrowed and her face began to show the beginnings of sadness. "Bud he no pick me. Instead he pick anudder tiny liddle girl. Den I remember wad he say when he look down at my small body benead him. He say, 'You remine me o' my sister.' I think of he sister lake she an old woman lake he an old man. Den I remember when he fok mi culo and say, 'Dis way you no ged pregnand and mom no know.'" She took a deep breath. "Suddenly I realize, dis ole man I love, when he a boy, he seduce, maybe rape, he liddle sister. He pick liddle girl like me because he wanna relive commid incest."

David opened his tear stained eyes and yelled at her. "Stop it, Aurora, stop!"

She turned and looked at him. "David, you should know, before I see you tonide, for de furse time een muchos anos, I gib myself enema jus in case you wann'a fok mi dere, because you de furse man I care aboud like I cared aboud El Gato o mi padre."

David shook his head slightly side to side. "Aurora, I'm not your father, and I'm not El Gato."

Now she shook her head slightly side to side. "Dads de problem. You a beautiful young man like on de cover of one of dose cheap novelas I used to learn to read, and you kind to me in de nurturing way like mi padre et El Gato." New tears began to flow down her cheeks. "Dough you seem to lake me, I scared to dead dad any minnid you gonna go pick peas in California or pick some skinny liddle girl who look like you liddle sister."

David slid to his knees before the chair she was seated in, and embraced her tightly, saying softly, "I don't have a little sister, and I wouldn't last ten minutes picking peas in a field. So you have nothing to worry about." Then he kissed her lips gently and they looked into each other's eyes.

She smiled through her tears. "Oh, David. I know you a young man wid lods o ladies and no interess een commitmend, bud will I be safe eef I try to hold on to dis novela dream for jus a liddle while?"

He hugged her tightly again, saying, "You are safe, and my love's not a dream, it's reality." As the words left his lips, his eyes popped open and an alarm went off in his head. He heard an inner voice saying to him, "Okay, David, you never lied to chicks before, but did you just hear yourself saying the 'L' word?" He took a deep breath, feeling her perky breasts pressing against his chest in the process, and thought to himself, "Okay, maybe that's the way it happens."

Excerpted from Chapter 9: Three's Company

Mrs. Saucier narrowed her eyes at Julienne, then at the two men standing beside the delivery van, then back at Julienne. "Yes, I know you're his friend. I've seen you come and go from his apartment, sometimes at hours I wouldn't want my daughter to keep. And aren't you the one that helped him paint that mural? You know, I'll have to charge him for repainting that wall if he ever moves out. It'll come out of his security deposit, assuming there's enough left to cover the painting."

The two men looked impatiently at Julienne who smiled painfully at the landlady. "Please, Mrs. Saucier, I just want to deliver a gift."

Mrs. Saucier frowned. "But he's not there now, and I can't let you into his apartment without his permission."

Julienne pleaded. "But it's supposed to be a surprise for him. How can I surprise him if he knows you let me in?" Julienne reached into her purse and pulled out her driver's license and business card. "Here, take my information, and if there's any problem, you'll know how to contact me, and I'll satisfy any complaints."

Mrs. Saucier squinted at the cards. "Your last name is the same as that bank's."

Julienne retrieved her driver's license. "Yes, well, that's because it's my father's bank."

Mrs. Saucier's eyes narrowed again. "That bank turned me down for a building improvement loan."

Julienne's eyes widened innocently and her mouth betrayed the hint of a smile. "Oh, well, perhaps I could talk to my father about that."

Ten minutes later Julienne pulled the door to David's apartment wide open as the two men struggled to maneuver the baby grand piano up the narrow stairs and into the area Julienne indicated by the window with a view of St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

Mrs. Saucier watched enviously as Julienne tipped the two men generously. Mrs. Saucier moved toward the door and waited there expectantly for Julienne to exit with her. Julienne stood resolutely by the piano, smiled sweetly at the landlady, and said, "I'll lock up when I leave, and I'll have my father's bank manager call you about your new loan application." Mrs. Saucier hesitated, looked toward the staircase thoughtfully, then nodded and pulled the door to as she descended the staircase.

Julienne set her wicker basket down on the small kitchen counter, retrieved David's silver tray, and removed the bottle of Mumm's Champagne and two crystal champagne glasses from the basket. She surveyed the room thoughtfully, trying to decide if she should move the table and chairs closer to the piano before putting the wine tray on it. She snorted with the thought of how many times she had wanted to bring better furnishings to his apartment, but didn't to avoid appearing to be a 'nest building' female and a threat to his independence. Of course, the piano might be considered a furnishing, but she now had the rationalization that he needed it for his work, so it shouldn't be considered invasive. Setting the tray on the table, she noticed the plastic guitar pick and inspected it questioningly before replacing it in its exact location.

She wore a fitted black lace cocktail dress with a short hem than revealed a lot of her well toned thighs whose complexion matched the silk slip beneath the lace. Her only jewelry was a medium size strand of genuine pearls and small pearl cluster earrings. Her black stiletto heels were the highest she owned, but not as high as the dancers on Bourbon Street. Her only other preparation was the diaphragm she had inserted so carefully, just as she had done so many times before, feeling disappointed or foolish or both each time she removed it later, unsoiled and unnecessary.

She decided it would be best to move the table and chairs closer to the piano, that way he would see her seated there when he opened the door, and she would be closer to him if he ended up playing the piano while they drank the champagne. She positioned her chair at the best angle for him to see her upon entering, trying a cross legged pose, then uncrossed. She repositioned the wine bottle and glasses several times, then remembered she had forgotten the corkscrew. Just as she was about to get up for the corkscrew, the door opened.

Julienne sat back in the chair and tried to change her startled expression into an anxious smile as David entered, his eyes darting from Julienne to the piano and back to Julienne, then widening with total surprise. "Juliennes" eyes searched his for a clue of some happiness in his expression, then she noticed movement behind him, and her smile started to crumble as she focused on Aurora entering the door. Like David, Aurora's mouth hung open as she looked from Julienne to the piano and to David.

David blinked. "Well! Here are two beautiful things I didn't expect to see when I walked in. Julienne! What have we here?" as he looked from Julienne to the piano.

Julienne's eyes darted from David to Aurora and back to David. "Perhaps an awkward moment. I don't know. You tell me."

David walked over and touched the corner of the piano. "First, you tell me what this is doing here?"

Julienne picked up the silver tray and turned toward the kitchenette. "I heard you had trouble working on some routines for want of a piano, so I thought I'd help you by providing one." She looked at Aurora as she set the tray on the sink counter. "It's also a thank you gift for sharing the adventure we experienced at Bettys' Bar and the Chinese gambling den the other night." She put the two crystal glasses in her wicker bag.

David looked at the bottle on the tray. "And what's that?"

Julienne picked up the champagne and looked at it. "It was to toast your new piano, but I didn't bring enough glasses." She set the bottle down and turned to Aurora. "I remember you from Cafe duMonde. I'm sorry, I don't recall your name."

David moved to the kitchen counter and removed three plain water glasses from the cabinet. "Julienne, this is Aurora Alonzo. She's appearing at La Lune and has been helping me work on the routine with her guitar."

Aurora was admiring the piano, running her hand over the glossy black curve on its side. She turned to Julienne and mimicked Julienne's pained smile. "I am...," she looked at the piano again, "I was hees piano, juss anodder piece of furniture een hees life." She looked at David, who frowned at her. "Tanks to you, he done have to seddle for juss six string, now dad he hab over a hundred."

David removed the foil and inserted the corkscrew in the bottle, pulling it out with a popping sound accompanied by the sound of bubbles as he filled the three glasses. "Aurora has helped with more than the music. She's provided some good advice about the nature of the material."

Julienne accepted one of the glasses he proffered to both women. "I have no doubt she's provided you an invaluable service." She smiled reluctantly at Aurora. "I only hope my gesture in no way intrudes upon her service."

David rolled his eyes. "Gesture? My God, Julienne, that beautiful thing is overwhelming. But, seriously, I can't accept such an extravagant gift. I doubt that your father would approve."

Julienne frowned at him. "My father didn't pay for it. I did!" She looked at the piano and began to smile. "In fact, it looks so good there, I think I'll get one for my place." She turned and looked at him. "So, David, how much would you charge me for piano lessons?"

David's eyes widened again. "Hell, Julienne, this piano would buy you a lifetime of lessons."

Julienne tilted her head to one side and smiled broadly. "Done, then. I'll accept a lifetime of piano lessons in exchange for this piano."

David inhaled deeply. "Well, that's not exactly.....I mean...."

Aurora touched the piano again and smiled at David. "David, I hoppy for you. You fran ees muy generoso." She walked over to Julienne and struck a hands on hip pose. "And you fran ees muy bonita." She looked into Julienne's eyes boldly. "I lake you."

Julienne looked a little confused. "Well, thank you." She hesitated a moment before adding, "I appreciate beauty and talent, and, I guess, unsolicited compliments. Surely that's reason enough to like you, too."

David joined them and raised his glass. "To the four of us."

Julienne looked perplexed. "Four?"

David smiled. "Two beautiful ladies, one fabulously lucky man..."

Aurora clinked her glass to the other two. "An' wan muy bonita piano negre!"

Thirty minutes later, David opened the Yellow Cab door as Julienne ducked her head and entered, turning to look at him with a disappointed smile. He swallowed deeply before saying, "I really wish you'd stay. I haven't even had the chance to play something for you on your unbelievably generous gift. And you didn't have to insist Aurora stay when she offered to go. She really does have her own place, you know."

She looked down at her wicker basket and back up into his eyes. "Well, thanks for that reassurance. I didn't really know. But, if your offer to give me a recital... a private recital, is sincere, and your offer of lessons is sincere, I'll enjoy spending some time alone with you soon."

He took her hand and kissed the back of it. "I look forward to that...soon." He shut the cab door and watched it disappear down Rue Governor Nicholls as twilight descended on the skyline.

As he entered his loft, Aurora was seated at the piano with her hands in her lap. "Done worry, David, I no touch you muy bonito piano nuevo. Id still cherry for you."

David sighed and raised his eyebrows as he looked at her. "I don't know what to say. She was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. You! You were the only one that didn't seem embarrassed."

Aurora shrugged. "Por que mi tiene embarrass? 'Cause you fok someone before you med mi?" She laughed. "I no tink you cherry, David , no way!"

David wrinkled his brow. "Actually, I've never slept with Julienne. I've known her a year and she's been up here a number of times. She even helped me paint that mural. But, somehow, we never got around to sex. I've never been sure she was interested."

Aurora's eyebrows shot up, her eyes widened, and her mouth made an 'O' shape. "Ohhhh, she interested! Muy interested!" Then her brow wrinkled. "Es verdad, David, you never fok her? She gorgeous. Mon Dios, I fok her myself."

David looked at her puzzled. "I thought you said you weren't gay?"

Aurora got up and sat at the table, tilting the champagne bottle to verify it was empty. "Oh, David, en la casa de putas I fok liddle boys and old men, liddle girls and old men's espousas. I even see udder girls fok perros et caballos." She shut her eyes and shook her head from side to side. "I done know wad es straid o gay, bueno o mal, okay o loco."

David smiled at her sadly. "Aurora, did you ever live with a woman?"

She opened her eyes and looked at him dispassionately. "I lib wid ocho otra putas."

He waggled his head side to side. "I mean, other than in the bordello, did you ever have a female lover for any length of time?"

She tilted her head to one side and raised her eyebrows. "Why, David? Would dad change you feelings por mi?"

David collected the glasses off the table and put them in the sink. "Not really. It might change my fantasies when I dream of you."

Her eyes widened as she smiled. "Tegan sus duermes con mi, David? I lake dad! Now I tell you I lake fok you fran, you duerme sus menage con los trios. Verdad?"

David winced. "Si, yes, of course. It would be futile of any man to deny such a fantasy."

Then Aurora winced. "No fantasmismo! You wan, we tegan una menage."

David ran water and started washing the glasses. "As eager as you sound, and as eagerly as I might wish it, I don't think Julienne is ready for a menage a' troi. I wasn't even sure she was ready for me."

Aurora brought the champagne bottle and tray over to the sink. "You fok her furse, den you suggess una menage. She wan you mucho, David. She do anyting fo you. I do anyting fo you." He turned and looked at her warmly as he took the tray and washed it. Her mouth curled into a wiley smile. "You lake dad. You wan dad. Es verdad, si?"

David set the tray on the drainboard with the glasses and looked at her with a guilty smile. "Si."

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