Our story thus far... One morning Jack Frost began to play piano in the Witherspoon Mansion. Brilliantly. The staff have gathered around to listen and enjoy his wonderful music.
There's just one problem.
Jack doesn't know how to play the piano.
NOTE: May contain some spoilers for Book 2... but I'm not promising anything.
“If you don't mind my asking, Jack,” Jeeves interrupted, “if you don't play, why did you ask for a piano?”
“I didn't,” Jack said. “It was just… here.”
“Cool!” I stepped forward. “Let me try. I've always wanted to play the piano.” I just didn't want to spend years learning, but simply sitting down behind one and playing sounded like the perfect cheat. Besides, he looked like he could use a break.
“I'd love to, ma'am,” Jack said to me, looking right at me and not his fingers. “But there's a problem.”
“Oh?” Nathan and I asked in unison.
“I can't seem to move.”
The scientists looked at each other. “Be right back,” Mr. Smith called over his shoulder as they left the room.
Jack finished the Joplin piece, so I asked, “Do you know Claire De Lune?”
“No,” he said. Then immediately started to play it. “Well, look at that.”
“Can you explain your comment,” Nathan timidly touched the instrument, “about not being able to move?”
Smith and Wesson returned carrying some gizmo the size of a loaf of bread with a microphone-looking wand attached to it. Mr. Wesson watched its display as Mr. Smith waved the wand over the piano and Jack, the device whizzing and whirring with the movement.
“I've tried to stop a number of times now,”Jack answered, “but my hands won't leave the keys. I'd really like to. I still haven't eaten anything.”
“So, a cursed piano,” Mrs. Black growled. “How the hell did that get in here?” We all looked at Jeeves. He was the doorman, in charge of all comings and goings.
“People,” Nathan said, having heard my thoughts. “Not necessarily things, am I right?”
Jeeves scowled at the piano.
“That's a new one,” Nathan added.
The scientists stopped waving the wand and busied themselves with whatever data they collected.
Jeeves joined Nathan. “What if we pulled him away?”
Nathan shrugged. “Worth a try, I guess.”
The two men joined Jack, each taking an arm, and attempted to pull him from the piano. Jack winced in pain, but he never stopped playing. The piece had reached its zenith in complexity, and all the while that Nathan and Jeeves pulled on him – lifting him off the bench, his long legs in the air – Jack didn't miss a note.
Jack cried out. “Enough! That's not working.”
They set Jack back down and stepped away. We all looked at the geeks in lab coats, hoping they had some insight or solution.
“Well, we only have one question for everyone,” Mr. Smith looked all us over.
“How to get Jack away from the piano?”
“No.” He looked grimly at me. “Who?”
“Who?” I repeated.
“Who asked for the piano?”
We all looked at each other. Jack softly moaned, breaking into yet another piece. Malagueña, I believe. No one in the room copped to wanting the thing.
“I'll check with the kitchen staff,” Mrs. Black offered,quickly leaving.
“Why is that the question?”
“Because,” Nathan offered, “only they can make it disappear.”
“Oh, yeah,” I nodded, recalling the Hercule and the swimming pool incident. I perked up. “Wait. Can't I do that?”
Recently, I learned that I have a talent to conjure things. It’s a limited act -- the item has to be nearby and in use. Which the piano clearly was.
“I can go to the basement or gallery, find some corner, and summon the thing.” Or try to.
Jack stood, while his hands kept moving. “Then you'd be stuck playing the piano. That's like sacrificing the Queen to save a pawn, ma'am.”
“Oh, don't be so dramatic.”
“He's right, Winki,” Nathan said. “You'll be stuck yourself.”
Mrs. Black returned with a cockroach on her shoulder. “Nope. No one in the kitchen asked for it. None of the spiders either.”
We all looked at the roach, Hercule. “No! I didn't do this,” he said with his thick French accent. “Although, I sincerely wished I had thought of it. Très amusant!”
“Smith? Wesson? You're with me,” I commanded, taking no heed to their warnings. “I'm going to try.”
“Winki!” Nathan scolded.
“Hey, I want to play the piano. Besides, I just had breakfast, so if this doesn't work y'all will have several hours to find another solution.”
We found a dark corner in the gallery, a room filled with items and portraits, all cursed and wicked. We still could hear the distant sound from the instrument. I closed my eyes, hands forward reaching out for invisible keys, and wanted the piano. Willed to see the piano. Demanded to have the piano.
The music stopped and, at that moment, I raised my hands high, as if I were under arrest. The massive item loomed before me. I didn't touch it, though I sincerely wanted to.
I moved away slowly. The three of us, Mr. Smith, Mr. Wesson, and myself, left the room, backing out, as if keeping our eyes on the thing held it at bay, and we locked the door behind us.
Sooner or later, we will identify who pulled this little stunt. This was a subtle kind of attack, we believe, one that certainly haunts us. Such is life in the Witherspoon Mansion.
You might think you have enemies, but we certainly do.