‘Who am I tonight?’ Vanessa Jackman asked, as Jacko, her husband of almost 20 years, lined up his fat cock with the entrance to her slick hole.
‘Well, I was thinking perhaps Meryl Streep. But I saw her the other day. At least I’m pretty sure that it was her. And she’s quite a bit older than you think.’
‘They’re all quite a bit older than you think, Jacko. We are quite a bit older than you think.’
‘I suppose so,’ he said.
Vanessa waited until Jacko’s cock was all the way home and his balls were resting against her arse, and then she clenched the walls of her vagina.
‘Oh, fuck, yes,’ Jacko said. ‘Love it when you do that.’
Jacko waited for a moment, and then, slowly, he began to pull back until just the tip of his cock was left inside Vanessa. And, again, he waited.
‘Perhaps … I could be Angela,’ Vanessa said.
‘Angela?’ Jacko sounded unsure, but he slowly pushed all of the way in again. ‘Would Angela be a good fuck?’ And then he slid slowly back out.
‘Oh, I think so. You must have noticed; she has a very nice arse.’
Jacko paused briefly while he thought about Angela’s arse and then he thrust his cock all the way back in. ‘Mmm. Yes. Yes. Now that you mention it. Do you think that she’d let me fuck her very nice arse?’
‘I think as long as you promised to be gentle,’ Vanessa said. ‘Yes. She’d probably let you fuck her very nice arse. Would you like to fuck her very nice arse? That’s the question.’
‘Would you be there? Would you be watching while I fucked her very nice arse?’
‘Oh, yes. I think so. You’d want me to be there, wouldn’t you?’
Jacko grunted and got down to business, pounding Vanessa while imagining that she was someone else – possibly Angela of the very nice arse. ‘Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck,’ he said after only two or three minutes.
‘I’m going to buy a piano,’ Vanessa said. She was lying on her back, her legs still slightly parted, her cunt slick with cum, gently finishing off with her fingers that which Jacko hadn’t. ‘A baby grand.’
‘A baby grand.’
‘Gosh. But where would we put it?’
‘In the sitting room. In the corner.’
Jacko frowned. ‘Would a piano even fit in the sitting room? You know … with everything else that’s in there.’
‘We’ll probably need to move a few things. But I’m sure that we can find room.’
‘I suppose that we might be able to squeeze in an upright. You know, up against one of the walls.’
Vanessa shuddered as a pre-orgasm orgasm radiated out from the region of her swollen clit. ‘No. I … want … a … baby … grand,’ she said. She decided to save the main orgasm for later. Perhaps when Jacko had gone off to sleep. ‘We can find the space,’ she said when her breathing had returned to normal. ‘We’ll just need to … de-clutter a bit.’
De-clutter? Jacko wasn’t so sure. In winter, Jacko liked the cosy clutter of the sitting room, and there had been a dusting of snow on the ground when he had arrived home earlier in the evening. Of course, in summer, they hardly ever used the sitting room. Since the alterations, the spacious kitchen-cum-family room could be opened up to make one large area that extended to include the south-facing terrace and the small landscaped garden beyond. That was where they lived in the summer.
‘I shall have to take lessons again,’ Vanessa said. ‘I shall need to find a teacher. Someone who can help me to work on the important stuff.’
‘Isn’t it a bit like riding a bicycle?’ Jacko said. ‘You know: once mastered, never forgotten?’
‘It’s been a long time. Almost 20 years. I haven’t played since … well, before we moved out to Hong Kong. And we’ve been back here for almost five years.’
Jacko grunted. ‘But you’ve got all your exams.’
‘Jazz takes more than just exams – well, if you are going to do it well. And if you’re not going to do it well … then what’s the point?’
‘As in Ronnie Scott’s?’
‘Well … as in the kind of music that I tend to have playing during the day.’ Vanessa was an in-demand freelance editor specialising in technical books. She mainly worked from home and usually had the house filled with the music of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett and a dozen or so other jazz pianists from the second half of the 20th century.
‘Oh. I didn’t realise.’
‘What? That I played jazz?’
‘What did you think that I played?’
‘Not sure. I only ever heard you play a few times. I assumed that you played something vaguely classical. Beethoven? Mozart? Chopin? Isn’t that what your exams are for?’
When Jacko got home the following evening, Vanessa had bookmarked a page on a website. The Yamaha baby grand was advertised as being ‘perfect for those seeking a compact solution’.
‘A compact solution?’ Jacko said. ‘It sounds like half a teaspoonful of something in half a glass of something else.’ He smiled, proudly, like the class clown waiting for a round of applause. And then he frowned. ‘So you’re still thinking about a piano then?’
‘I’m thinking about haramidere escort this piano, Jacko,’ Vanessa said, tapping the screen.
Jacko nodded slowly. ‘Not an upright? A good one. Obviously. That wouldn’t take up too much space. It could go up against the wall where the painting is, the seascape.’
‘You don’t listen, do you?’ Vanessa said. ‘I want a baby grand.’
‘It’s just a bit of a surprise,’ Jacko said.
‘It shouldn’t be.’
The ‘compact solution’ was being advertised by a piano showroom near Oxford.
‘It has been given a complete service, in fact almost a rebuild,’ the man who answered the telephone told Vanessa. ‘It plays very well, very well indeed. There are a couple of small blemishes on the case – purely cosmetic – and our restorers will be attending to those during the next fortnight or so. I have every confidence that, once this has been done, the instrument will be in as-new condition. If you would like to come and inspect it … play it … I can postpone the re-polishing until after your visit.’
‘I have a meeting in Oxford next Tuesday afternoon,’ Vanessa said. ‘Perhaps I could visit you after that.’
‘That would be perfect. I look forward to showing you the instrument. I’m Gerald, by the way.’
‘Vanessa. Vanessa Jackman.’
‘The instrument will be waiting for you, Miss Jackman.’
‘I haven’t played for almost 20 years. I’m hoping that I can remember how.’
‘I have heard it said that it is akin to riding a bicycle, Miss Jackman.’
Vanessa laughed. ‘Yes, I have heard something similar. But we shall have to see. It must be at least 20 years since I rode a bicycle, too.’
The night before Vanessa went up to Oxford, she lay in bed visualising herself playing the Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn classic, Satin Doll. In her head, it still sounded pretty good. Perhaps not quite to McCoy Tyner standard; but not bad. Now she just needed to do it on a real keyboard.
Gerald was younger than Vanessa had expected him to be. Closer to 30 than 40. And he had the air of a concierge in a five-star hotel.
‘Please,’ he said, gesturing with his open palm towards the piano stool.
Vanessa sat at the keyboard and stretched her fingers. She played a simple C-major scale – from middle-C to C above middle-C and then back again. And then, tentatively, she played a D-minor seventh chord with her right hand. And then again with her left hand. The keys felt wonderfully responsive, almost sexy, beneath her fingers. And the sound was, indeed, very pleasing. She adjusted her fingers to make a G seventh chord. Yes. It sounded even better than she imagined it would sound. She repeated the two-chord sequence, and then moved on to an E-minor seventh and an A seventh.
Vanessa nodded. ‘I like it,’ she said.
‘It plays very well,’ Gerald said. ‘You play very well.’
With her right hand, Vanessa played an A, a G, another A, and another G, and then back to A. ‘Ci-gar-ette hold-er,’ she sang quietly to herself. ‘She wigs me.’ And then she plucked up the courage to combine both hands and attempt a passable rendition of the verse of Satin Doll. ‘Gosh. I can see that a lot of practice will be required,’ she said.
Gerald smiled. ‘Oh, I don’t know. You certainly haven’t lost your musicality,’ he said. ‘I’m sure that the rest will come back in no time at all.’
‘What do we do about delivery?’ Vanessa asked. ‘We’re in central London. Not far from Marble Arch.’
‘Are there stairs?’
‘It’s a townhouse. But the sitting room is on the ground floor.’
‘In that case, it’s all included in the price. The price includes the piano – pre-loved but in as-new condition – a brand new piano stool, delivery, and tuning in situ.’
‘And the re-polishing?’
‘I would say no longer than two weeks. Possibly less.’
‘What percentage of Catholics, would you say, have little or no confidence in what their priests tell them?’ Jacko asked as he poured their first glass of wine for the evening.
‘Absolutely no idea. Don’t think that I know too many Catholics. Why do you ask?’
‘Just a … thinking exercise,’ Jacko said.
Vanessa knew about Jacko’s ‘thinking exercises’. In moments of stress, he often put difficult questions to himself. The point of doing it was distraction, purely and simply. If Jacko’s brain was engaged in trying to answer a specific question, preferably one to which there was no easy answer, it couldn’t worry about whatever it was that was otherwise worrying him.
‘What’s worrying you now?’ Vanessa asked. ‘I’ve measured the space in the sitting room. It’s fine. Trust me. The painting can even stay where it is.’
‘No. It’s Huntly’s. The want us to re-pitch for their business. I need to clear my mind. There’s rather a lot to think about.’
It wasn’t really sit-outside weather, but, after supper, Jacko put on his pea jacket and his Breton fisherman’s cap, and went and sat out on the terrace with a fresh glass of wine. Vanessa put on a McCoy Tyner CD – “Nights of Ballads & Blues” – and played along içerenköy escort with it on the edge of the dining table.
‘Why do Huntly’s want you to re-pitch?’ Vanessa asked when Jacko came back inside.
The RFP just says it’s their company policy. But Henry says that they’ve been dropping hints for at least six months. All I can say is: It’s news to me.’ And then Jacko said: ‘Did you actually go and look at that piano today?’
‘I did. I told you that I did.’
‘Oh. Did you? Right. Was it any good?’
‘I told you: I’ve bought it – well, I’ve agreed to buy it, anyway.’
‘They didn’t have any uprights?’
‘I don’t know, Jacko. I didn’t ask.’
Jacko nodded. And then he said: ‘I don’t suppose you fancy a bit of rumpy-pumpy. Take my mind off Huntly’s.’
Vanessa nodded. ‘OK,’ she said. ‘Do you need me to dress up?’
‘I dunno. What do you think?’
‘School uniform, perhaps?’
When Jacko entered the bedroom, ten minutes later, there was a 43-year-old schoolgirl in a uniform that looked to be at least a size too small standing demurely in the corner of the room.
‘The headmistress said that I should ask if there’s anything I can do to help you to relax, sir.’
‘How very considerate of Miss Hammersley,’ Jacko said. ‘And did she tell you to take your knickers off?’
‘She didn’t say that I couldn’t, sir.’
‘Good. Well, I think that’s where we should start. And then perhaps you could come and sit on my lap – although I’ll have to take my trousers off first.’
‘I can help you to do that, sir. And perhaps I could suck your cock. Help it to get nice and stiff. So that when I sit on your lap, your cock goes … well … you know where, don’t you, sir?’
A couple of weeks later, Jacko came home to the sound of someone playing a song that he thought he vaguely recognised. And there was someone singing along. Singing? Was it singing? No, not exactly singing. Trilling, maybe. ‘What’s that?’ he asked. ‘That, umm, music?’
‘I meant the song.’
‘Bye Bye Blackbird.’
‘There’s someone singing. Humming along. Sort of.’
‘Yes. That’s Keith Jarrett too,’ Vanessa said.
Jacko frowned. ‘But he’s not really in tune, is he?’
‘Is he not?’ Vanessa frowned. ‘I’ve never really thought about it. It’s just what he does.’
‘Are you …,’ Jacko waggled his forefinger, ‘are you going to be doing that?’
‘Hmm … probably not,’ Vanessa said. ‘Although I’d be in good company. Erroll Garner was famous for vocalising as he played.’
Jacko shook his head. ‘Erroll Garner?’
‘Anyway, how’s the Huntly’s pitch going?’
‘Very difficult,’ Jacko said. ‘I think that they want to pay a smaller fee.’
‘It seems to be what everybody wants these days.’
‘Well, tomorrow night you can help me sort out the sitting room,’ Vanessa said. ‘That’ll take your mind off it.’
Except that at about four o’clock the following afternoon Jacko phoned from Leeds to say that he was going to have to stay over.
‘I didn’t even realise that you were going to Leeds today,’ Vanessa said. ‘We were going to sort out the sitting room. Remember? They’re delivering the piano.’
‘Were we? Are they? Oh. Maybe phone the piano people and asked them to deliver it later in the week.’
‘Tomorrow is later in the week. And make sure that you get something to eat,’ Vanessa said. ‘You know what you’re like when your blood sugar goes down.’ And then she went into the sitting room and started moving things around.
Friday, the day the piano was delivered, was the first day of the year that felt really spring-like.
‘Turned out nice,’ the man who seemed to be in charge of the delivery said.
‘Yes. It has. It’ll be summer soon,’ Vanessa said.
The man smiled. ‘You’re an optimist, Miss. We had hard frost on the lawn this morning.’
Jacko arrived back from Leeds to find Vanessa seated at her new piano, practising scales.
‘Where’s the … umm …?’
‘The cabin chest?’
‘It’s upstairs. In the spare bedroom. The moving men helped me.’
Jacko nodded. ‘Did you give them something?’
‘I gave their boss a blow job. I thought that he could share it with the others however he wanted to.’
Jacko nodded again. ‘I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine. The trains were just a nightmare today. Would you like one?’
‘Thank you. There’s some champagne in the fridge.’
‘To launch the piano.’
With the promise of longer days, Vanessa took to getting up a couple of hours earlier each morning so that she could do two or three hours of work, and then spend a couple of hours at her new piano.
‘See? Just like riding a bicycle,’ Jacko said when he called in at home during the middle of one day to find Vanessa trying to discover how much of Autumn Leaves she could remember.
‘Oh! You gave me a fright. I didn’t realise that you were there,’ she said.
‘I’m not really,’ Jacko said. ‘Just realised that innovia escort I forgot something this morning. I’ll see you about 6:30. In the meantime … yes … keep up the good work. Just like riding a bicycle.’ And he nodded.
When Jacko had retrieved whatever it was that he had earlier forgotten, he returned briefly to the sitting room. ‘That hat …,’ he said, nodding in the direction of the pork pie hat that Vanessa was wearing.
‘Doesn’t matter,’ Jacko said.
As well as the new piano stool, Gerald had given Vanessa a list of possible piano teachers. One was just a few streets away. Vanessa arranged to go and meet him. After she had played Misty for him, Gary, the potential teacher, asked her what she wanted to achieve.
‘I would like to be a better-than-competent player of jazz. Mainstream. Post-bop. Melodic.’
‘Is there anyone in particular whom you admire?’
‘I would like to be able to play like McCoy Tyner,’ she said.
Gary frowned slightly, but then smiled. ‘Ambitious.’
‘Oh, I’m not unrealistic,’ Vanessa said. ‘I realise that it won’t happen overnight.’
‘Do you have the time to practise?’ Gary asked. ‘I mean … to really work at it?’
‘I can find a couple of hours most days.’
Gary seemed impressed. ‘Better than most of my students. And is there anything that you want to ask me?’
‘If I become your pupil, will you want to fuck me?’
‘You know. Will you want to take me to bed?’ Vanessa said.
‘Are you inviting me to?’
‘No. Certainly not. I already have one dirty fucker in my life: my husband. But I remember reading a short story once. It was about a piano teacher. He only took on pupils who he wanted to fuck.’
Gary continued to frown.
‘I think I shall have to give it some thought,’ Vanessa said. ‘I’ll call you in a couple of days.’
When Jacko arrived home that evening, Vanessa was wearing her pork pie hat, sitting in front of an empty wine glass, staring into the distance. ‘I went to see a possible piano teacher this afternoon,’ she said.
‘I think that he wants to fuck me.’
‘Oh? Gosh. Did he say so?’
‘No. But a woman can tell these things.’
A couple of days later, Jacko again arrived home to find Vanessa again wearing her pork pie hat and sitting in front of an empty wine glass.
‘A woman in Bayswater.’
‘I think that it might work,’ Vanessa said, nodding slowly. ‘She has worked with some top pianists. Although, worryingly, I don’t think she has the faintest idea who McCoy Tyner is.’
Jacko nodded. ‘He’s one of those TV chefs, isn’t he? Even I know that.’
‘I think that you are trying too hard,’ Marion, the piano teacher from Bayswater told Vanessa during their second session.
‘Perhaps that’s because I am trying to get it right,’ Vanessa said.
‘Yes. I realise that. And your effort is commendable. But sometimes effort gets in the way of outcome. As my teacher at the Royal Academy used to say, when everything is working, you don’t actually have to play the piano. You just have to think the music, and the piano will play itself. Now … let’s try some relaxation exercises, shall we?’
When Jacko arrived home that evening, Vanessa was sitting at the piano dressed in a black and white kimono-style bathrobe. Her hands were resting in her lap, palms up.
‘What are you doing?’ Jacko asked.
‘I’m thinking music. Round Midnight, to be exact.’
‘Round Midnight? Do I know Round Midnight? And why are you dressed like that?’
‘It’s very relaxing,’ Vanessa said. ‘Maybe you should try it sometime.’
‘Huntly’s are still being difficult,’ Jacko said. ‘I think I’ll get myself a glass of wine. Would you like one?’
‘I’ll just finish my thinking first,’ Vanessa said. ‘I’ll join you in a few minutes.’
The following evening, Vanessa was once again sitting at the piano, looking somewhere way beyond The Sea.
‘Practicing?’ Jacko said.
‘I’ll … umm … go and pour some wine,’ Jacko said.
‘I’ll be with you in about five.’
‘What’s the verdict on the new music teacher?’ Jacko asked when Vanessa joined him in the kitchen.
‘Marion? Hmm … too soon to tell really. She’s definitely different.’
‘Well, different from teachers I have known it the past. As I might have mentioned, she seems to have this idea that if you can just get all your ducks in a row the piano will play itself. Of course, she may be right.’
‘How are you going with Huntly’s?’
‘They’ve agreed to renew. But they want Dennis to look after their business.’
‘And how do you feel about that?’
‘It’s probably for the best.’
When Jacko arrived home on Friday night, Vanessa was sitting at the dining table making a list of names.
‘Marion thinks that I should give a concert,’ Vanessa said. ‘She thinks that I need to learn to “tune in” to an audience.’
‘Oh. Where will you do this? Royal Albert Hall?’
‘No. Just here. Just a small concert. A drink or two beforehand; a little casual finger supper afterwards. Just a few friends.’
‘Oh. A sort of party with live music?’
‘Exactly. I thought that we could get some proper invitations printed. We could call it “Concert by the Sea” – in homage to Erroll Garner’s famous 1955 concert.’