Piano Man by Graham Wynd

‘That do for you, Tommy?’

Eric had a think. Surely he was always Frank and Earnest: Frank in the north, Ernie in the south. This was north. ‘Frank, love, the name’s Frank.’ Daftie. But she was well fit, a regular gym devotee. He was a bit surprised when she responded so well to his flirting. Above his league but hey, anyone might have a champion sort of day.

‘Sorry, it’s just that you remind me of Tommy.’ She handed him a generous glass of whisky. Posh included her liquor in the pretty little cabinet. The woman was drinking some bubbly with a double-barreled French name, but he went right for the good stuff. ‘I’m just going to change the music.’

‘Oh but I like that piano man,’ Eric laughed. ‘You know, sing us a song Mr Piano Man, sing us your songs all right…’

She looked at him blankly, then chuckled and snapped the CD case shut. ‘This is a string quartet, La jeune fille et la mort.’

‘Oh, I don’t know Morty at all. I liked that Saddo though.’ He was laying on the cheeky chappie a bit thick but they expected it, didn’t they? Posh women like this. Taking a walk on the wild side. Well, he was up for it. Very up for it.

‘Satie,’ she said with a wan smile, sitting beside him on the sofa. It was not a comfortable sofa though it looked pretty with all these curlicues on the ends.

‘Saddie, yeah. His songs are sad but kind of nice.’

‘It was a year ago Tommy…left.’ She smiled a sad smile at him. ‘You remind me of him.’

‘So you said.’ Eric hoped she wouldn’t talk too long. He was ready to get down to it, before the whisky flowed too much. It was hitting him a bit hard after all those cheap lagers. He should pace himself until they were done. Maybe he could take a bottle with him as a kind of memento. She had plenty to spare. ‘But I want to make you forget all about him.’

Eric moved closer to her on the sofa, leaning in for a kiss. Her lips were surprisingly cold. Well, he could fix that. He set his glass down on the shiny lacquered table. ‘Let’s cuddle, love.’ He slipped his arm around the curve of her waist.

A sudden wave of dizziness fogged his brain. Too much whisky. Tut tut, he didn’t want it to affect his performance. So far all was well downstairs. It had been weeks and he was gagging for it.

‘Tommy always liked it on this sofa,’ she said from somewhere above him. ‘Said it was easy to brace himself on.’

‘Oh yeah, for certain,’ Eric said, hearing his words slur. Christ, he hadn’t had that much. Maybe the good stuff was stronger. He rallied. ‘Let’s get to it and I’ll make you forget everything Tommy ever said.’

‘I can’t forget. I can’t ever forget his cruelty. He hurt me.’

What was her name? Elizabeth, Mary—some name like a queen. ‘Listen, love,’ Eric said then forgot what came next. He slipped onto the floor and stared up at her, eyes goggling. ‘Hey…’

‘Happy anniversary, Tommy,’ she said sitting astride him. ‘You’re going to leave me again, I know. But I have to do it until I get it right.’ She held the knife aloft. It glinted like her eyes.

Eric saw the blade fall but he didn’t really feel anything but wet. Posh birds. You just never knew.

A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Publications include LOVE IS A GRIFT and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books, SATAN’S SORORITY from Fahrenheit 13 Press,  as well as tales in the 2016 Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes . Wynd’s stories have been translated into German, Italian, Polish and Slovene. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here. Find Wynd on Facebook and Twitter.

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