He was barely able to stifle the yawn as his fingers tinkered with the piano keys, finishing up the last piece of the night, barely hitting the right keys. Not that anyone cared, or even noticed, for that matter. He was glad this was his last piece, even though it was the last performance he would ever give. His fingers were killing him. He’d been playing since ten o’clock the night before, with only a couple of ten minute breaks. It was now three in the morning.
It was three in the morning and the piano bar was still hopping. He almost couldn’t believe it. People of all ages were still enjoying the music and drinking and dancing. He even saw some children running around, but most were now slouching over the tables and giant plush chairs, fast asleep while their parents still indulged in and tapped a foot or finger to the music. It was the last day of Earth’s life; parents weren’t concerned about getting their children to bed on time. It wouldn’t matter anymore. They just wanted their children to enjoy themselves, no matter how tired they were. Even the wait staff looked asleep on their feet, but most were just waiting patiently until the place closed and they could head home and enjoy their last hours. The manager was slumped over the bar and was probably snoring, though no one really noticed.
It was the last day of Earth. There would be no tomorrow. Every rule and law had been thrown out the window. For months, the people of Earth had been holding fast to them, holding onto some sense of order. But now, during the last twenty-four hours of life, nothing mattered anymore.
But, still, Grant wanted some sleep. Usually, he was home by one and fast asleep by two o’clock in the morning. He rarely worked later than midnight. Considering Earth would be blown up in less than twenty-four hours, he supposed he should be up and out doing everything he could to enjoy the last few hours of life. Kind of like a death row inmate’s last meal, he thought wryly to himself. Those inmates enjoyed their last meal, he should at least enjoy the last hours of his life.
With an inaudible sigh, Grant ended the popular tune with a flourish. Or as much of a flourish as his tired hands and eyes and brain could muster. The piano bar’s patrons erupted into applause anyways as he stood and took a bow, his too long brown hair falling into his face. He kind of liked it long; all the applause always embarrassed him and his hair helped hide him at least a little.
“More! More!” the crowd yelled, still clapping like mad. Half of them were more than drunk and would probably end up snoring under the tables in ten minutes while others might be able to hobble out of the bar and into their cars where they would eventually slump over the steering wheel and only the urge to throw up would wake them. The parents would be okay; they hadn’t had much to drink because they’d had their kids with them. The others were lost souls and he wasn’t going to encourage them to imbibe any more than they already had by continuing to play. Nope, this piano man was out for the night.
Grant straightened and held up his hands. He gave them a shy smile and shook his head.
“Sorry, folks,” he said. “That’s it. That’s all I have for you. I hope you enjoyed this last night. All the best to all of you.”
With a last bow, Grant turned and rounded the piano to slip behind the curtains and into the back hallway, tugging down the hem of his tuxedo jacket as he walked. He made his way to the kitchen, where he would pick up a pastry reserved just for him, and then make his way home. Just as he did every night. Just this one last time.
On the way to the kitchen, though, he ran into the manager, who had apparently roused herself enough to a mildly wakeful state. All the clapping and shouting had probably woken her. She looked a little disoriented and her eyes looked sleepy and glassy, but she was, for all intents and purposes, awake.
Olivia smiled warmly at him. He could see her eyes were misty and bloodshot as she rapidly blinked the sleep out of them. She reached out and grabbed his hands. In their usual routine, Grant lifted the older woman’s hands and kissed both of them, his own eyes misty now.
Olivia had been a wonderful boss. She was smart and sassy, but had been sad ever since her husband had passed the year before. Despite that, though, she still looked smart, complete with a navy blue skirt suit and perfectly styled white streaked auburn hair, still held in place, probably by more than a lot of hairspray, Grant suspected. She was a slim woman who couldn’t hold her liquor to save her life. She hadn’t liked the piano bar much when her husband had first opened it nearly thirty years before, but, over time, she’d grown to love it and had taken over after her husband’s death a year before. Vince had been a good man who had treated Grant like a son. He missed his late boss almost as much as the man’s widow did.