Aunt Flo played the old piano like shoeing the nag tied to the back porch. Well meaning Christians saved the old piano from a fire of suspicious origins. It seems the blaze started in an upstairs bedroom of a local brothel. At my young age I neither knew what the word brothel meant nor why any of the local Christian men knew that a piano was located inside the ornate Victorian structure located on the outskirts of the village of Pumpkin Center.
Nevertheless, the piano was saved, delivered to the Shady Grove Church, and there spent its final days playing hymns to the Lord. I'm not too sure who benefitted more, the piano saved from the fire, or the souls who stood and praised the Lord as the tinny music poured out of the over varnished wooden box.
Men and women came to church in buggies, rode horses, or drove whatever contraption the local shyster, Slim Collins, at Pumpkin Center motor sales and hardware, had talked them into. I always thought it interesting that the older horses were tied around back by the outhouse, and the good buggies, motor-cars, and tractors were parked out front.
One of the men was always assigned to watch over the horses and it was a game for a youngster like me to try to sneak out of church to play with the animals. Sometime between seeing how loud my shirt would rip off of the shellacked pews and watching my aunt pound on the old piano I could usually follow my uncle out the side door, with the premise of going to the outhouse.
Youngsters were always excused to go to the outhouse, as it was believed that children's bladders, though emptied minutes before the service, would often need to be emptied again during the second hymn.
Which brings me to the great piano fiasco. I had snuck out back with my uncle Homer, supposedly for a quick trip to the outhouse, but really to feed the horses some sugar I had swiped from the breakfast table.
I heard "Old Rugged Cross" played in a near ragtime pace and then the music abruptly stop.
My uncle patted my shoulder. "We're better out here, boy."
Little did I know, but Slim Collins had arranged a trade in of the old piano for a new one, which he and some of his rough necks had wheeled into the one room church during the second hymn of the Sunday Service. Apparently, Slim, who was also the church treasurer, had purchased the new piano without consulting the church pianist, Aunt Flo.
Uncle Homer held my shoulders tightly. "I don't think I told yer Aunt that the new piano was coming."
I thought it sounded like fun, like a birthday gift or something. But, apparently, my sentiment was not shared by my Aunt.
I could hear the ruckus growing inside the church. The preacher was trying to bring peace to the congregation, but to no avail. Finally, I heard "Jesus loves me" pounded out on the old piano; followed by the same cords, minus the tinny sound, played on the other piano. The difference was noticeable. My opinion was that everyone should be happy. Again, I was wrong.
From somewhere deep in the church I heard Aunt Flo holler, "You'll be movin' this piana over my dead body."
Suddenly, the side door of the church flew open. I heard a rumbling noise; then the old upright piano virtually flew out of the door with a gray haired woman screaming at the top of her lungs, spread eagle across the keys and clutching the lid. Her flowered dress was waving in the wind as the piano cleared the porch and crashed onto the lawn below, spooking two geldings, which bolted against their tether and commenced to drag the entire line down to the country road - a dirt path that ran alongside the Shady Grove Church.
"Is ya dead?" My uncle stood on the edge of the porch and looked down at his wife.
"Not yet, ya old fool. Come git me outa this piana." She was sitting in a mass of wood and wires.
A dozen men including the preacher suddenly burst through the open door and ran down to the crash site.
Aunt Flo looked up at the minister. "Suppose this means we gotta keep that new piana?"
"dub" is a freelance Christian writer, best known for his straight forward approach to common issues. His 38 year professional writing career gives him keen insight into successful reporting. To contact dub email firstname.lastname@example.org