The story of a blind man.
|The Blind Piano Tuner.
John (The Blind Piano Tuner) - Child to fifties. Always seems younger than he is proven to be.
Diane - Thirty-something. Hopeful but naïve.
Samuel - 4-17. Rough and hypocritical.
Linda - 17-25. 'Perfect person' type. Pregnant. Motherly.
Alan - 17-25. Acts tougher than he is.
Nurse - Any age.
(Spotlight Stage Right on Diane, dressed in white, standing in front of the curtain.)
Diane: Come on…
(Black out…the sounds of a piano being tuned are heard)
Voice of small child (John ): What are you doing?
Voice of Adult: I'm working.
Voice of Child (John): Will you teach me?
(Lights up on hospital scene on Stage Right, keeping Stage Left curtain closed halfway. Nurse and Linda  smooth out the covers on a hospital bed. Samuel  and Alan  watch quietly)
Linda (quietly.): Fifty-six…
(Nurse pulls stage right curtain across the stage as if it was a hospital room divider.)
Voice of Young Girl (Young Diane): You're just as smart as I am. You're just…a little bit older, is all.
(Curtain opens on living room scene, with one chair [CS] and a piano with a bench [LCS]. The year is 1993. A real child can be put in place of the voice, as the actors would normally simply pretend the child is there.)
Voice of Child (Samuel ): Mom…I can't reach…I just can't reach!
(Diane enters from SL, leading John, the Blind Piano Tuner [wearing dark glasses] to the piano.)
Diane: It's alright, Samuel…just give me one second.
(She picks up the music and places it on a small side table [SR]. Diane sits in seat and mimes to 'Samuel' to play with his toys behind her. Actress may choose to whisper this instruction.)
Diane (to John, who listens while feeling the top and sides of the piano): It's so nice of you to do this for me…I got the piano from Sam's father's will, and decided to give it to Sam, for when he's older. Which I suppose is now. His father used to play the piano, did you know that? You should have seen his fingers flying - every day he'd just sit down and play the piano: Mozart, Beethoven - even some of the newer songs. Eighties songs, naturally - he quite liked the Supremes, though. Isn't that strange? He was so liberal! His father hated the Supremes…they were in his time, you know. He just didn't understand how three black women could become so popular - it's amazing to think about the times back then. Disgusting, truly, but really amazing. Here, I'll help you with that… (She takes his hand and guides him to the back of the piano's top.).
John: Yes, I know(He continues to feel only around the sides of the piano, not caring to open the top).
Diane: I figured that it may have all had something to do with his playing the piano. His liberalism, I mean. I'm not sure why - maybe he just loved the songs so much that he didn't care who played them. He didn't care what colour you were, no matter what. Somebody could have been red and green, and he's just celebrate them as if they were Christmas (she laughs). I asked him that one day, I said: "If somebody were green and red, what would you do?" And he just answered exactly what I said. I changed it to red and green…it had a better ring to it, you know what I mean. I just hope that Sam will have half of the class his father had. He simply…understood things. He knew how the world worked.
John: Where is he?
John: Your husband.
Diane: Oh, oh he wasn't my husband. No. We were going to get married a year or so after the birth, but then he died when Sam was almost one.
John: I'm sorry. I didn't know.
Diane: Well, we haven't spoken for years and years! It was such a surprise, finding your name in the papers. I read: John Harold, Piano Tuner. John Harold, I said to myself, why does that name sound so familiar? Then I remembered you! I suppose we haven't really spoken at all for over eight years. Long time, isn't it?
John: How did he die?
Diane: Sam's dad? Oh, it was a car accident. One of those new models.
John: How have you been (John finally opens the lid to the piano)?
Diane: Oh, we've been wonderful! Sam just started school this year, isn't that right Sam (She looks back at the invisible child)!? He still prefers playing with his toys. We went out and bought him a new pair of running shoes the other day, after I got my pay-check. I was so sorry that I couldn't get the new shoes before school started, but its fine. Sam knows I love him, don't you, Sam (she looks back again)? He does, I'm sure.
John: How have you been, Diane (He begins tuning the piano, every once in a while pressing down keys to check the sound)?
Diane: Me? I've been well…making ends meet, you know. I've been working at the convenience store in town. In fact, I got myself a pair of shoes, too! High heels…I'll use them if I ever go out somewhere fancy, maybe. Wouldn't that be nice? To get all dressed up with fancy shoes just to go out for dinner.
John: What would you like to do?
Diane: Well, if I could ever get a babysitter I'd take a Nursing program at the local College. I'd need money first, though. As they say in business: you need to have money to get money.
(John plays a few more notes on the piano, holding his ear close to the keyboard. He lowers the top.)
John: I'm done.
Diane: So soon! Well, you are talented, aren't you! Of course, I knew that. You'd always tune the piano down at the group home. Remember? You used to be my own special caretaker. I remember you tried to teach me how one day…never made much progress. It was such a surprise when you left. Sorry…I can't find my check book - ah! Here it is…how much do I owe you?
John: I charge about $25 dollars per tuning…
Diane: Well, you are making a good business! Alright then…I just need a pen.
John: Don't pay me.
Diane: Oh, nonsense. Sam, would you mind grabbing my pen, dear (she pretends to watch Sam come in front of her to the piano).
John: It wouldn't be polite.
Sam's Voice: Where is it?
Diane: It should be just over on the other side of the piano.
Sam's Voice: Do I have to?
John: I don't want you to pay me, Diane (he begins to get up, but drops one of his cleaning cloths. Bending down to pick it up, his sunglasses fall off. The child [Sam] is heard screaming as Diane rushes over to pick up the sunglasses. There is a black-out)
(The scene changes to a 1998 in a different [and nicer] house. There is a piano that is angled [SL] so the audience could see the back of a pianist sitting on the bench. There is a desk and chair on SR. Alan enters, leading John to the piano.)
(The phone rings.)
Alan (obviously uncomfortable with the situation): Do you mind if I get that…sir?
(Alan picks up the phone.)
Alan: Hi mom…yeah, he's here.
I have to stay…shouldn't I do my homework or something?
(Whispers) I don't know what to talk about. When are you coming home? You have to drive me to the concert, remember?
But I don't know anything about the piano yet…how do you know that he does, either?
Mom, he can't see it. Why can't I leave him here? He should be fine.
He can't be that slow.
Fine - simple. Well, if you're going to use that excuse, how could I talk to him? I'm no EA.
Fine. Just get home soon, okay? Bye.
John: Was that your mother?
Alan: Yes, sir.
(Alan walks over to desk and sits, taking a notebook from his backpack.)
Alan: Do you mind if I do my homework while you…do that?
John: Not at all.
(Alan begins when the phone rings again. He picks it up.)
Alan: Hello? Oh…(becomes noticeably more masculine)…hey. Yeah, I'll be there. My mom has to - I mean, she has - my - car. I know. She's always borrowing it.
(Becomes nervous)You want me to pick you up? Don't you have to be there early?
I guess I could go early…It's just that…My mom doesn't really like me driving others around. It's…not safe. Yeah…she'll freak if she finds out.
No, no - she'll find out. Yeah, yeah. She'll - she'll want to know why I'm leaving so early.
(Alan laughs)Shut up. (Quickly)Um…she's going to want to drive us over there. Is that okay?
I know, parents are so annoying. Okay…bye.
(He hangs up the phone and goes back to the desk, noticeably happier.)
John: Who was that?
Alan: (stands up - a bit surprised) Oh, that was just a friend, sir.
John: Where were you two going?
Alan:(a bit annoyed) Her concert, sir.
John: Her concert?
Alan: Her concert.
Alan: Well, yes. Her concert.
John: What kind of concert?
Alan:(embarrassed and quiet) It's her piano recital.
John:(mischievous) Oh. Is this a special girl?
Alan:(very quiet) I'd like her to be…
John: And so you're learning how to play piano?
Alan: Excuse me!?
John: Do you enjoy piano?
Alan: Oh…well, I don't know anything about it yet, sir.
John: Tell me.
Alan: Tell you what, Sir?
John: Why are you taking piano?
Alan: (whispers) You wouldn't get it…
John: (Harshly) I would.
(The scene changes to a hospital room. A nurse is tending to John, in the bed, while Alan and Linda [now older] walk in, hand in hand. It is 2006.)
Nurse: Did a doctor let you in?
Alan: Yes, Ma'am.
(Alan approaches the bed, pulling Linda with him.)
John: (Older voice) Who is that?
Alan: It's Alan Donald, sir.
John: Of course…I last visited you…it must have been three years ago! Do you remember the day you dropped one of your music books on the floor, and all of your notes fell out?
Alan: Excuse me, sir?
John: (Disappointed) Oh, I just wanted to see if you remembered. Do you?
Alan: I can't say I-
John: Do you remember that happening?
Alan: No, sir. No, I don't remember that. Um…this is my wife. This is my wife, Linda.
Linda: How do you do, John?
John: Well, if it isn't Linda Rally!
Alan: (To Linda) You know him?
Linda: Of course I do. He used to tune my piano at least once a month - sometimes even twice!
Alan: You never told me that when I said we were coming.
Linda: I assumed that you knew. John - you won't believe it, but we're going to have a baby.
John: (Slowly) What will you call it?
Alan: (Interrupting Linda) We haven't decided yet.
(John is silent.)
Nurse: He is asleep.
Alan: That was fast.
Linda: (To nurse) Will he wake up soon? There was so much I wanted to talk to him about!
Nurse: He might not wake up at all. I suggest you sit and wait…visiting hours go until six.
Linda: But, if he wakes up after six, then-
Nurse: You won't be here.
Linda: But, what if-
Alan: Linda. (To nurse) What does he have?
Nurse: Chronic Bronchitis.
Nurse: Why, Miss?
Linda: (clearly annoyed at the Nurse) "Ma'am." Why did he get it?
Nurse: Many premature children, especially from his era, have ended up with it. It also explains his other health problems.
Alan: His era?
Nurse: He was born in exactly 1950. Brought up in a home when his parents left him at the hospital. That's what his papers told us.
Alan: He told me that, sort of - it was a long time ago - but - that would make him…56?
Alan: That's so old!
Nurse: Not if he doesn't wake up. (Pause.) I suggest you both sit down if you would like to wait. (Nurse leaves.)
(There is a blackout. When the lights go up the bed is empty, yet Linda and Alan are still sitting. Samuel  enters and crosses to the bed. He makes an angry gesture and leans on the bed. Linda stands and crosses to the boy, attempting to comfort him.)
Linda: (To Samuel) Are you family.
(Samuel looks up, and shakes his head.)
Linda: Oh. Did he tune your piano?
Linda: Do you play?
Samuel: I did.
Samuel: (Annoyed) Until I was fourteen.
Linda: I see. What's your name?
Alan: Stop pestering him, honey.
Linda: I was just making conversation.
Alan: Excuse me?
Samuel: My name is Sam.
Linda: I'm sorry you couldn't reach him in time.
Samuel: So am I.
Linda: You know, he used to tune our pianos. We have a joke that he brought us together....kind of like a twist of fate-
Samuel: (suddenly angry) Look...why are you talking to me. You don't even know me.
Linda: (taken aback) Oh. I'm sorry.
Samuel: You have no business talking to me. Why don't you just leave me alone.
Alan: Hey, she was just trying to help.
Samuel: What if I don't want any. (Alan approaches Samuel.)
Linda: Alan, it's okay. He's just upset that his friend died.
Samuel: Now you're talking ABOUT me.
Linda: Don't worry, dear, it's alright. We understand. You must have been very close-
Samuel: Close? See: that's what I mean. You can't just assume that about me. You know why I came here? To tell him how much I hated him. To make him die miserable and unhappy, like I'm going to.
Alan: Who the hell do you think you are?
Linda: Alan, please!
Samuel: You know what the really dumb thing is? I'm actually going to tell you who I am. He said he was friends with my mother. He would come and tune our piano for free. She would tell him everything. He was like her pillow. And then, out of the blue, he doesn't come when he's supposed to. He disappears. He left us, and didn't even want to know how that could hurt her.
Alan: And you wanted to ruin him for that?
Samuel: He didn't get it…you wouldn't understand.
Alan: Oh, I understand you. Trying to look like a big idiot when you're just little idiot coward looking for sympathy!
Samuel: Not sympathy! (Both stop and listen.) It was never sympathy. Now, that's what you don't get! Empathy. He didn't feel empathy! He never cared!
Alan: He never cared? He…never cared!? Of course he cared - he was the greatest listening this world has ever seen.
Samuel: But he didn't mean it - he was slow!
Alan: He was challenged.
Samuel: That doesn't make him a good person!
Alan: It doesn't make him a bad one either!
Samuel: He never understood anything-
Alan: (yells) Hypocrite! He understood a whole lot more than you do!
Samuel: He left us practically on the street-
Alan: What would he have done to help you even if he hadn't!
Nurse: (enters swiftly) Excuse me…would you two please leave the hospital for this.
Samuel: He could have helped her - he made her happy-
Alan: Do you want to take this outside!?
Samuel: Oh, that's smart.
Linda: Stop it! (They stop.) You two don't even know each other - a man just died!
(There is a black out. Nurse and Linda smooth out the covers on an empty hospital bed. Samuel and Alan watch quietly)
Linda (quietly.): Fifty-six…
(Nurse mimes pulling stage right curtain across the stage as if it was a hospital room divider as in the beginning of the play.)
Linda: (To Samuel) What did you say your name was?
Samuel: (begins to leave, but turns back after a pause) Sam Peterson.
Linda: We'll drive you home.
Linda: We're driving him home! Where do you live, Samuel?
Samuel: I can walk…thanks.
(Alan gives an exasperated sigh.)
Alan: Just let us drive you home!
Samuel: I'm fine.
Linda: Who is your father?
(Samuel pauses, but answers when Linda approaches.)
Samuel: He died.
Linda: Do you have any foster parents? A group home?
Samuel: I live…with a group…
Linda: Samuel…do you live on the streets?
Samuel: I did.
Linda: What happened when John moved away from your town?
Samuel: My mother called the society where his social worker was. They told her he was here.
Linda: Keep going.
Samuel: (silently with guilt) She wanted to visit him, so we drove up. She wasn't well…and we hit another car.
Linda: Where did they put you? (Silence.) Where did they put you…Sam?
Samuel: In a group home.
Linda: How old were you?
Linda: Tell me what happened next.
Samuel: I got away - out, I mean - when I was fifteen. Then…my friends found me.
Alan: (sighs comically) Friends!
Samuel: I read about - him - in the paper.
Linda: Who took you in?
Samuel: A group of guys. They had an apartment. They didn't do anything bad!
Alan: Criminals - you spend your time with criminals!?
Samuel: You're one to talk. You're hardly older than I am!
Samuel: They don't do anything that bad, okay?
Alan: Stop lying!
Samuel: I am not lying!
Linda: Why can't you two just stop!? Alan: he's just a boy. You have no right to treat him like this. (To Samuel) And you - I don't think you fully understood him.
Samuel: I understand him just fine, thanks. He hates me.
Linda: I was talking about John. You say that he never truly cared about anything - I disagree. Perhaps he could never feel empathy, perhaps he was only taught how to react to things, but sometimes - sometimes I felt as if he could understand me better than anyone else in the world. And I think that - maybe - he was just stuck.
Linda: I think that there was a John there…but he just couldn't get out. He couldn't show people that he really could see…everything.
Linda: How old are you?
Samuel: (pause) I'm seventeen.
Linda: Come home with us.
Samuel: Are you kidding?
Linda: Are you worried about them?
Linda: What could they do to you?
Samuel: I don't know.
Alan: Do you have any idea how serious this is? You should report them to the police!
Linda: Sam…come and live with us. We could help you - even just for a year or so. However long you'd like, really.
Samuel: I couldn't…why don't you two hate me? (Alan huffs.) You should.
Linda: Maybe…maybe we just understand why you did it.
Linda: Samuel - you could start all over again. Think about it. Instead of mourning your mother, you can do and be good - and make things right. Will you?
Samuel: Do you think…that I could?
Linda: If you tried very hard.
Samuel: Are you sure?
(The curtain closes and Diane, dressed in white, enters from stage right. There is only a spotlight on her.)
Diane: Come on…you can make it, just come on!
(John enters [also from stage left] and stands beside her. Diane stares forward as she speaks to John.)
Diane: He isn't coming.
(Lights up stage right, preferably red. Samuel stands on stage right, staring into the audience. His line is said with fear, unlike at the beginning of the play.)
Samuel: Mom…I can't reach…I just can't reach!
(Lights down stage right.)
John: (to Diane.) Don't worry. He'll make it.