Maria was a dancer, well that's what she called herself. Others may have used different titles like stripper or pole dancer but Maria preferred just "dancer." For four nights a week she would dance upon stage for gaze of men she despised. Men in suits who had more money than charm. Men who would for a few hours prefer to sit and stare at her writhing torso than spend time with their wives. What made it so ironic was she was extremely good at it. Yes she was great looking and yes she could move but it was more than that. Not just the "tits and ass" but the look! A smile, pout, glance, sometimes a sneer could capture a man's fantasy and send him reaching for his wallet in that vainglorious hope of something more but the most they ever got was a bold unabashed stare as they stuffed notes into her minuscule underwear. Then up and strutting across the stage, all eyes following her every move. Every touch she made upon her breasts, every toss of the head. Each and everyone of them wishing it was their hands caressing, their fingers running up and down her thighs, their tongue on her lips. Then she would glance in their direction and each and everyone of them thought that she danced just for them.
It was a game that she played, just a game. From the young ones full of bravado and bluster to the old ones secretly playing pocket billiards under the table. She could manipulate, tantalize, and excite but always, yes always, leave them wanting more.
Her outfits were not joyful extravagances. Naughty silks, satin, leather, and lace cut in all the right places, brought no pleasure. Merely tools of the trade to by cast aside as she left the stage. Applause cascading around the room. Eyes glued to her naked swaying buttocks as she disappeared behind the curtains. For Maria, desire smelled like money and the whole club stank of it.
At the end of the night she would dress in jeans and jumper, then take a cab to her flat and music. Music was about the only thing that could touch her now. That wonderful interaction of mathematics and emotion. The interplay of harmony and discord of beats and rhythms. The men could watch her body but they never heard her heart.
Monday was a "down day," no club that night. A day to stay indoors in pajamas awaiting internet purchases and the too long overdue piano tuner. As she stared at the the rain-soaked London streets outside her window, trees lashed by the wind and squall. Hand resting on the white baby grand piano. It had cost far for more than she could easily afford. Took up far too much space but wtf. Those men would pay the finance and she just loved her. She contemplated lifting the lid but the discordant sounds that she knew would emerge could only exacerbate her. Better to wait for Albert the dear old guy that made her little "Baby" sing again.
Suddenly a jolt of the buzzer forced her out reflections and into reality. "Hello," an unfamiliar face on the cctv. "Albert sent me. He's not well today and asked me to fill in." Dead eyes looking in all different directions except for the camera and a youthful, soulful face, he is blind!
"Okay, can you make your own way up or should I come down?."
"I'm good, just direct me."
"Second floor on the right. I will leave the door open".
"My name's Gary," he announced as walked in. His white stick in one hand and a small sports bag over his shoulder. "A baby grand?"
"Yes, it's just there in the corner. Oh fuck sorry." Ashamed of the faux pas, Maria looked at her pointing hand and gently took hold of Gary's arm instead, leading him over to the piano.
A smile came over his face as he said, "That's okay everybody does it. Can you open up the lid for me please?"
"Can I get you anything, a cup of tea?"
"No I'm fine. Just leave me to it."
Maria did just that and sat on the sofa, watching and listening as this young man gradually and carefully brought forth order from the chaos, harmony from dissonance. His hands and ears working together as his face dwelt not in the dimension of space but of sound. Expressions of joy and disapproval at shapes and colours unseen, only heard. She also could not help herself from noticing that he had a very, very cute bum!
How long had that been she asked herself. How long since she had even looked. Good lord when she really thought about it. This had been the first day she could remember even touching someone else. The thought of her hand under his arm involuntarily brought it down to the top of her breast. She stopped in blushing embarrassment then stifled a laugh thinking, "He can't see me!"
"Sorry what was that?" Gary asked his head turning sharply in her direction.
"Nothing really, I was just thinking that your much better looking than Albert."
"Well I wouldn't know about that would I?" A wry cheeky smile came to his face and if she didn't know better a twinkle in those dead eyes of his.
Maria mused, "He really doesn't know good he looks or me, or anyone. I could be Marilyn or Margret Thatcher, it would be all the same."
Meanwhile Gary was gradually bringing "Baby" back to life. Fine adjustments to the mechanics of the instrument. Each note sounding sweeter and more beautiful than the last. Till it rang out like the London bells and a thousand flowers of colour exploding in firework profusion. It quite took Maria's breath away, a tear formed in her eye. To hear "Baby" sing for her as an audience, not a player.
"Do you play yourself Gary?" Maria asked tentatively.
"Yes I'm studying music and composition at the royal collage of music. I do this to help pay my way."
"Could you play something for me please? I don't get to really hear her when I'm playing myself." Gary was about to answer when she said, "I'll pay you extra."
"What would you like me to play?"
"Anything you want, em.. something of yours would be nice."
"Okay how about this?" As he played, the music permeated the room and Maria listened and watched. Her hands slipping under clothes and touching the points of desires kept hidden in plain sight for so long. His music bringing forth and matching the rhythms of her hands. As his fingers gently stroked each note, hers would do so too. As his hands crashed out chords hers would clutch and squeeze in an unrequited duet of lust. Fast runs of treble notes, fingers flicking in unison. Slow, deep passages, exploring dark wet caverns.
When he finished Maria was shaking and very, very wet In a soft voice she said, "Could you play that for me again please Gary? I would like to dance." Gary nodded but before he started playing Maria said, "Let me clear some space and limber up first please." So doing she stepped out of her now soaking pants and panties and unbuttoned her top. Leaving just one button fastened. Went over to the center of the room and started stretching. A slow arching back, neck, limbs, and mind ritualistically preparing themselves for expression. Lessons learnt so long ago, brought back for more carnal uses, like the spelling of words in a love letter.
"Okay now Gary, anytime you're ready please." Once more the music played and Maria played too but this time she danced. Oh how she did dance. Salome would have been shamed. Sultans, potentates, emperors, and kings would have renounced their thrones and palaces, to have been there to watch her writhe upon the carpet. Cavort before the bookcase and give herself, completely to the maker of music. Who stared not at her but at some other world. Never before had she danced like this and never ever would she dance like this again. To a seen but unseeing audience of one. Never before or since had she felt like this. The dance, the music, her passions and desires all bringing out the hidden prisoners of mind and body. That only the raindrops on the window could see.
When it was over Maria removed her top and dried herself with it. She was certain he could smell her. Heard her when she came so often and hard but he didn't say anything except, "Is there anything else I could do for you?"
"Oh that's a $64,000 question," thought Maria. Of course she was tempted. Of course she thought about it. Guiding him to the bedroom, undressing him and touching his face as he touched hers. Making him part of the dance but instead she said, "No that's all thank you." Although a different thought did occur to her. So as he collected his tools and put them back in the bag, Maria went to her purse. "Can you get downstairs all right."
"Yes the lift has a voice to help me"
Still naked, she took hold of Gary`s arm and guided him to the door. When it was open and he was about to leave, she grabbed the back of his neck and pulled him forward for an embrace. His hands and arms responding to her kiss, closing around her naked and still sweating body, as their moist mouths entwined. Whilst Maria's hand reached down inside Gary's pants and deposited the four £50 notes taken from her purse. Then gently but firmly pushed him though the door and closed it shut.