A typical midweek night in the hotel bar. The usual collection of travelling business men and insipid locals.

I stuck to the set list, occasionally adding a meagre jazz interlude.

Gwen was sitting at the bar. Her cheap perfume stank the place out, the attempt at an alluring red dress screamed desperation.

By eleven it was deserted. Behind the bar, Sam was clearing up and wiping down.

I stopped playing.

‘Early finish?’ I asked Sam.

He shrugged. ‘Might as well. There’s no one gonna notice.’

‘Thanks Sam.’ I pulled the fallboard down over the keys and the cover over the piano. I pocketed my tips. A measly ten bucks.

Walking out I saw a small crowd gathered. As I passed I recognised the cheap scent. I saw the red dress and the pool of blood. Gwen had turned one trick too many.

I would miss her in the bar each night. I wondered if anyone else would.

This desolate town would carry on regardless. The set list would remain unchanged.


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© Mike Vore

Written as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story in around 150 words, based on the weekly photo prompt. Thanks as always to the challenge host Priceless Joy. For more information visit HERE.

To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

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45 thoughts on “THE PIANIST’S SET LIST

  1. Oh no, poor Gwen. But I like the subtleties in this story. It’s amazing how invisible, some people can be or perhaps how unobservant the rest of us can be. I really liked the line when the character wondered if anyone else would miss Gwen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sounds like a dead town and dead people if she was not even going to be missed, lying outside not even noticed until he comes out and finds her, how sad to have lived a life as such, good story though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No one misses the downtrodden and the desolate – although I think they feel less human and more ghosts from a bygone age. Poor Gwen, at least she’ll be remembered by someone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Surprised no one’s mentioned it yet, but the first thing I thought of was Billy Joel’s “The Piano Man” which is his description of his early days playing in a piano lounge before becoming famous. It’s the story of futile dreams in a dead end world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Iain, I love the imagery in this piece. “Sam was clearing up and wiping down.” I could see a man standing behind the bar cleaning off the countertop with one towel while another is thrown over his shoulder. You painted the scene! Nice job.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sad story and depressing, however, real to life for a lot of people. I’m sure there are people that work and do not seem to get the recognition they want or deserve and those that get noticed for the wrong reason. It’s a shame this type of life is often times just accepted and becomes the norm. Great job in portraying this.

    Liked by 1 person

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