Paradigm City Paradigm City - A fan site dedicated to the anime series Big O Paradigm City
Main -
Paradigm City > Fan Works > Fan Fiction > Player Piano
- Poll
Player Piano

Chapter 1

Roger Smith sat and sipped at his coffee in the informal dining room on the eighth floor at his house. Sounds from the piano upstairs trickled down the spiral staircase as Dorothy continued practicing.

Instro paused in the doorway. "Roger Smith, I would like to talk with you."

Roger stood and smiled at his friend. "Come on in, Instro." He gestured to a seat and sat again. "What's on your mind?"

"How far do you expect Dorothy to go with her lessons?" At Roger's look of inquiry, he continued, "As I told you at the start, I have nothing to teach her about technique. She's done very well as a solo performer; she has played occasionally at Amadeus for the past two months, and my regulars are quite happy to hear her. I think it is time she worked with a larger musical group, and in front of a larger audience."

"That being?"

"The Paradigm Orchestra," Instro stated without hesitation.

Roger blew a slow silent whistle. "That's quite a step."

"Challenging, but not impossible. I know the conductor, Kieren Zaworski, and I think she would be agreeable to a guest performer."

"And do you think my negotiations may be necessary, Instro?"

Instro inclined his head. "They may be. We androids are expected not to take an active role in business or negotiations." He looked down at his hands. "In any case, I have not played with the Orchestra in years. Not since my father died."

Some part of Roger's mind noticed that the piano had stopped. "Before I take your case on, I think we had better let your pupil in on this discussion." He stepped to the door. "Dorothy, could you come down here?"

Dorothy appeared a little too quickly to have been doing anything but eavesdropping. Roger suppressed a smirk; no need to let on that he'd found her out. Silently, he seated her and returned to his chair. "Dorothy, Instro thinks that you need experience playing with a larger group. How do you feel about that?"

It was a measure of her excitement (he'd learned that much about her) that she waited a second before giving a nod. "I would like to play with the Orchestra, if it can be arranged."

That was a straight answer. Roger stepped to the side table, picked up the phone and dialed. "Kieren Zaworski, please. This is Roger Smith." After a pause, "Good morning, Dr. Zaworski; this is Roger Smith. I am calling on behalf of R. Instro Amadeus -" he was interrupted by the voice on the other end. He nodded. "Yes, he's doing very well. He would like to meet with you." He listened again, eyebrows rising. "One o'clock will do, thank you. Good-bye." He hung up the receiver, and turned to the others.

"Well, Instro, it looks like your stock is pretty high with the Orchestra. Dr. Zaworski wants to see you at one. Care to stay for lunch?"

Instro shook his head. "I have some work to do at Amadeus. Would you pick me up from there?"

"Sure; then we'll see you at 12:45."

Instro rose and bowed slightly. "Thank you, Roger Smith. Until then."

After lunch, when they were in the Griffon Dorothy said, "Instro seems to be of interest to the Orchestra."

"He used to be a regular guest performer several years ago, before his father died. Dr. Zaworski is eager to see him, so I'd say we have a good start for negotiations." They pulled up at the steps to Amadeus just as Instro stepped up to the street. He had a black folder in his hand. Dorothy got out and moved to the back seat, and Instro took the front.

"All set, Instro?" asked Roger.

"Yes." He turned to Dorothy. "I have some music for you; Madame Z will want to hear you." Dorothy accepted the folder and paged through the music.

Paradigm Orchestra Hall was inside the main dome. Roger parked off the main street, near the performers' entrance. Instro led the way inside, quite at home. A stagehand directed them to the stage, where Dr. Zaworski was.

"Instro!" A trim grandmotherly woman spotted him and waved him over, meeting him halfway. She gave him a quick hug, "How are you, my dear? And these are your poor hands," she turned them over, looking at them. She shook her head sadly. "Such a dreadful accident. You can still play, though?"

"I can, but I'll never be what I was."

She shook her head, smiling. "None of us are. But you still have what's in here --" touching his head "-- and here --" his chest, " -- and so you understand the music."

"You are flattering me, Madame Z," Instro said cheerfully. "I would like to introduce my friend Roger Smith, and my pupil Dorothy Wayneright."

The conductor shook hands with Roger, then turned to Dorothy. "My dear, in a sense we've already met. I knew your original." She gave Dorothy's hands the same quick examination she had Instro's. "She was a promising child; beautiful voice, but her piano was adequate at best. What a pity that she died so young."

Roger saw Dorothy stiffen at this mention of her "original," the human Dorothy Wayneright. He'd seen her do this before; was she unsure of what to say, or merely unhappy at the comparison?

She said only, "I'm pleased to meet you, Dr. Zaworski."

"Come along, then. We'll see what Instro's made of you," said Dr. Zaworski. She led the way to a piano on stage. "Did you bring your audition music?" Dorothy looked puzzled, then held up the folder. "Very good." The older woman flipped through the sheets, pulled one out, and handed it to Dorothy.

Dorothy sat at the piano and began a lilting air. Roger could tell that it was a waltz, but he didn't recognize it. When she reached the bottom of the page, she placed her hands in her lap and looked up at the conductor, who slid a second sheet over the first.

This piece was something complex and baroque. Beside him, Instro shifted slightly and said, sotto voce, "Bach fugue. The left and right hands are playing the same melody, but not at the same time." Roger realized that Instro was a bit on edge. His teaching, like Dorothy's playing, were on test.

Next came a section from a sonata, the rhythmic bass line challenged by a passionate treble. Some idlers had drifted to the stage, and they stood quietly, listening. Roger could see that they were as interested in the music as in who was playing it.

Roger hadn't paid much attention to Dorothy's practicing. Hearing those three sections in quick succession brought home how much her playing had improved over the last two months.

Dr. Zaworski glanced at Instro. "Is this music new to her?" Instro nodded.

Dorothy said, "I looked at it on the way here."

Zaworski smiled slightly. "That's what you are supposed to do. It was well played for the first time through. You will do, Dorothy." Her gaze rose to include the three of them. "Let us talk in my office."

Once there, she offered them coffee and showed them to chairs facing her desk. "It happens that I have been asked to perform a charity concert next month for the Children's Hospital," she stated. "I am working on the billing now. I think perhaps you are not surprised by this, Instro," she said challengingly.

"Daoud Levy mentioned something of this last night, when he visited me at Amadeus," the android stated.

"Daoud Levy is an inveterate gossip, but this time I forgive him," she replied. "Instro, it would be a fine draw if you were to play. What are you thinking of?"

"Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos," said Instro.

"Hmmm." Her eye rested speculatively on Dorothy. "Has she performed in public?"

"At Amadeus. I think she is ready for a larger audience."

"The Mozart would be a fitting finale. I think you should take a piece to open, and the orchestra will play one or two in the middle." She turned to a filing cabinet, pulled out two sheets, handing one to Instro and the other to Dorothy.

"Instro, your previous contract was signed by your father on your behalf. You should read this through and sign if it is acceptable. Dorothy, this is a contract for part-time employment with the Orchestra. It spells out the ownership of any pieces you might play with the Orchestra, and the pay rate. You should read it through, ask for advice if anything is unclear, and send me back the original, signed."

Dorothy asked, "If it is a charity concert, Madame, why would we be paid?"

"The charity is from the Orchestra's profits, not its performers. We don't expect you to give up your daily bread - or oil." She smiled briefly. "Rehearsals will begin next Monday at nine a.m. with a first read-through. I will see you two then."

Next Page >
-   -   -