Trusting adults can be dangerous when you are a kid, especially if you’re a teenager. The only adults who want to actually spend time with teenagers are either your parents, or somebody who does not have your best interest in mind. Like the creepy guy who still hangs out with high school kids when he’s old enough to buy up because nobody his own age will tolerate him. This is a story of a friend’s parent who tried, inadvertently, to kill her own son and myself with stupidity.
My friend Jim and I were drafted into service by his mom and her weird boyfriend to help them move. They even promised us a joint if we were good. (if you haven’t gathered this by now, Whiskey was not the best kid in high school, and Jim’s parental situation wasn’t the greatest either) We had two runs that were uneventful, and then came the third.
They had an upright player piano that was apparently some kind of family treasure for them. This is why they saved it for last. It was special. Almost as special as the tooled leather set of Time Life “Old West” books. The difference being that the books never tried to murder anyone.
A normal piano is heavy enough, add a complex set of gears and spools and it becomes a locomotive of death. I’m sure the piano weighed only slightly more than the truck. Now anybody with half a brain (and not knocking back Old Milwaukee chased with Mexican brown weed) would wrap this treasure with moving blankets and ratchet strap the thing to the side of the moving truck. Or, hell, hire professional piano movers. Nope, the “grown-ups” in question decided Jim and I would ride in the back to keep the piano from getting damaged. They hooked a series of very old bungie cords together to secure it, so all would be fine anyway. The teenage bodies were just back there as a sort of insurance…or living bubble wrap. Jim was all for it (free weed!), and I, caught up in the vortex of group stupidity, shrugged and went along.
We hopped in the back with the piano, and Jim’s-mom’s-boyfriend closed the door. He looked sort of like Skunk Baxter (Google that). The truck started up, Jim and I lit a couple Camels. It apparently occurred to no one that the fucking monster piano was on wheels. On the first turn, it turned into the “Fist of Odin.” The piano rolled from one side of the truck to the other, only momentarily slowed by the bungie cords which snapped in spectacular fashion. With a typical teenage regard for our own safety, we threw our 15 year old frames in the path of the careening piano. We had one job – save the f’ing piano – and we were being paid for it in shitty weed. It was not worth it. That thing hit harder than any offensive line in the NFL. Then the truck turned the other way. Desperately we tried to hold it back, but all we could do was ride it to the other side of the truck.
We hit the wall. “Holy fuck!” I screamed, “this thing is gonna kill us, why don’t they stop?”
“I don’t know just help me,” wailed Jim. Now openly mocking us, the piano began to play “The Entertainer.” For ten miles we wrestled the beast. Really, after the first two, we just started running from it. It was like the world’s worst cage match; two scrawny teenagers vs. a thousand pounds of (possibly haunted) musical instrument. On the straight stretches of road we yelled and pounded on the wall to the truck’s cab but, because the truck had no radio, Jim’s-mom’s-boyfriend was rocking out on his Walkman and oblivious to our life and death struggle with the piano of doom. That, or he just didn’t give a shit.
At some point, the truck finally stopped. We slumped against the walls, exhausted, bloodied and afraid. The back door rolled up. “What the fuck happened?” Jim’s mom shrieked. The family treasure was battered and bruised somewhat less so than us, but at least it had stopped playing. Jim’s bloody nose didn’t warrant a second glance. She was screaming mad, alternately bitching out Jim and her boyfriend in rolling waves of crazy. I realized then that I was not going to get my joint, so I slipped out of the truck and limped away to the bus stop.
Chalked it up to another valuable lesson learned: When you’re working for weed, get the weed upfront. To this day, though, I can’t hear “The Entertainer” without breaking out in a cold sweat and looking over my shoulder.