“Dead Pianos” Mike James

Dead Pianos is a story by Mike James

Walking up to Donny’s house is always an experience. They live in a shotgun shack down at the end of Morris Lane. It’s so far in the backwoods. I don’t think a GPS can find it. My phone sure ain’t got no signal out here. Boom!

“I wonder who’s shooting?”

The road is swallowed alive by Maple trees; I can barely see the sun through the rustling leaves in the hot August breeze. It gets real spooky out here at night. I wouldn’t drive a tank with searchlights down this road at night. But, I’d do anything for Donny.

He saved my life.

We were swimming out at the big pond. For some reason, I decided to touch the bottom, knowing this pond was at least twenty feet deep. I didn’t know there was a Crappie mat down there, and I got so tangled up in branches and wire. I thought I was a goner.

Donny’s face came out of nowhere through the murky water. He followed my leg down to where I was caught in some wire then got my foot untangled. Donny grabbed me, then raced to the surface. I swallowed half the lake, but I was alive.

The closer I get to Donny’s house, the louder the gunshots are. The moment I step in the front yard, another shot goes off. BOOM! Donny is sitting on the front porch throwing rocks in the driveway.

“Who’s that shooting out back?”

“That’s dad. He’s killing another piano.”


Donny laughs, which is good to see. I’ve only seen him smile once.

“Well, mama left him in a drunken daze for a piano player at a bar in Jackson. He’s been buying old pianos and killing them ever since. Dead pianos are all over the backyard! He uses a shotgun now. A twenty-two bullet ricocheted off the metal then hit him in the leg. He cussed that piano then went and got his shotgun. He put a whole box of shells in that one.”

We both crack up!

With a huge smile, I say, “Well, at least he ain’t taking it out on you.”

That’s when I see Donny smile for the second time.

Mike James is a 63-year-old writer who recently retired.

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