Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: AS EASY AS PIE (12/01/16)
TITLE: Quiet Giant
By Francie Snell
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It was early evening and we had just competed in the Annual Regional Track Meet held at a college out of town. We were tired and ready to go home. However, with the bus running late, we had no choice but to wait in the college common area until it arrived.
We had lumbered in to the large room that hosted multiple seating arrangements, a small library, a TV perched high on a shelf in a corner, and a piano placed against a wall. After we all found places to sit, the tedious chore of waiting began. After a short while, boredom set in.
Perhaps it was only a few of us that noticed a boy stand and slowly approach the piano. He was massive, the biggest kid in the room. At least six feet tall and a good two-hundred-fifty pounds of mostly muscle, he made the rest of us appear puny in comparison. The only thing I knew about him was that he was our new, one and only shot putter, and the only freshman on the team.
The piano bench screeched along the hard wood floor as he pulled it out from the piano. With a casual manner, he stepped in between the bench and the piano and had a seat. He placed his hands on the keys, and without pause, began to play.
He moved his hands across the keys in fluid motion. Like a master pianist, he gracefully swept from one end of the scales to the other. Faces filled with looks of awe and every jaw dropped as the clear and moving melody from a Mozart’s Concerto soared through the room. All eyes were suddenly upon his broad shoulders as he sat with his back to the audience. His performance seemed effortless, as if he had composed the music himself.
I scrambled off the couch and crept closer to watch him play. I gawked in amazement as I stood off to his side. “Hey, ya think you can teach me how to play something?” I yelled over the music.
He stopped playing, but kept his eyes on the keys. Silently he nodded, and then scooted sideways on the bench making enough room for the both of us. I slid onto the bench beside him and he immediately began the lesson.
With his right hand, he slowly played the beginning notes from a familiar song. With his left, he pointed at a key in front of me. “Start here, right hand, pinky finger.”
I watched him play the simple tune and mimicked his movements using the keys in front of me. Over and over again he played it as I followed. Four notes up and four notes down. By the time the bus arrived, about twenty minutes later, he had taught me how to play the beginning chords of Colour my world by Chicago.
That was forty-three years ago, and I can still play it to this day. I’ve often reflected on my experience with the quiet giant, Carl, I learned was his name. He was like polished bronze, a winning shot putter clad in sweat clothes and tennis shoes, and an accomplished pianist, rolled into one, a marvelous surprise. He was the new kid on our team, and someone I will never forget.
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