The Entertainer

by Amy Mornington

When I am alone, I sing with the beauty of a lark, yet when Bert lifts the lid of the old piano and stands his beer on top, and the crowd at the bar asks me for a song, I can only grin, politely, and shake my head. But they insist, they insist, and, eventually, softened by drink, I decide this time I will show them. When I hear myself miss the first awkward note, and the next, as if the tune and I are two magnets of the same polarity and the harder I chase it, the faster it runs, I see how they stare, the crowd of men and women with cigarettes or beer glasses half to their lips, and I see their anger at the noise I make, far from the beauty I find when alone. They look at each other, their lips quavering, their eyebrows flickering, and I wait for the embarrassed laughter to start, and when it does I begin to save myself by tapping my leg as though it is a club foot. Now, lifted upon their laughter, I shake my arm and swing myself further from the tune by stretching my mouth to a comedy shape, my lips stretched wide or pushed together, then, as the laughter swells, I cross my eyes and flare my nostrils until I am nothing but grotesque, and I raise my arms and lead the rabble in tuneless song, watching them swaying together, and now cigarette smoke is blown from lips and beer is poured down throats, and arms are round shoulders in the smoky air, and I am their leader, their conductor, and as we finish our song I sag down onto my seat, spent, my head bowed, and they clap and say "bravo" and they tell me how wonderful it must be to bring such laughter to people, and they leave a handful of coins on the table, a drink on the table, and I say thank you, thank you, I say thank you. I have decided I do not like other people very much.


Amy Mornington has decided she doesn't like other people very much.


other people said...

But we like you.

Quin said...

and your words.

i do not, however, like word verification, finding myself having to type it more than once...my fingers missing the keys as my eyes follow each letter, mouthing them carefully.. swearing this time, this time... i'll get it right.

and i never do.

this post was no exception.