Some nights, that office is his.

Mornings find the crunched basement office rather quiet, just a piano sitting, top closed, keys covered, in an empty room while next door two diligent men taptap away at their computers. One is older, grey at the temples and most everywhere else. He types slowly, picking out every letter ever so carefully. The other is young, his curly black hair bobbing to and inaudible beat-- maybe headphones? maybe imagined music? His fingers fly-- he jams to his personal soundtrack and the mechanical clacking of his typing.

Evening. The younger one's pace slows as he surfs into the end of his workday. The older fellow moves next door where his fingers move much more deftly over the piano keys that have been aching all day for motion. He conducts his dignified, if small ensemble-- seven Asian women whose voices aren't quite as well suited to Brahms's subtle harmonies and they might have been a decade ago. They sing Brahms nonetheless.

The young one clicks around, surfs his favorite websites, winces when a chord goes particularly sour. Lights are turned out, piano keys recovered, windows closed, shades let down, and they all go home.

Friday evening. "Sure, I'll lock up... just leave the key... I've still got a couple things to fine-tune here."

The older fellow plunks down a keychain-- a treble clef in brass-- wishes his young colleague good night, happy weekend, and leaves. The curly-haired one surfs a bit longer, to be sure boss is out of sight, locks up and leaves.

All day Saturday, the office sits quiet. Dust collects and the sun moves quietly in stripes through slatted shades across the piano-- top closed and keys covered. Sunday is also quiet-- until evening.

The young one comes back-- To retrieve something forgotten? Does he want to make use of a superior internet connection? Is a change of scenery necessary? He opens the windows wide, uncovers the lonely keys and takes to them like one starved and half-mad. He has been waiting all week for this.

As he plays, he rocks back and forward, bending so that his glossy locks touch the keys, then back again, eyes shut. He wails a particularly plaintive lyric with his chin thrown up to the sky and eyes still shut-- then the rhythmic head wag that accompanies a determined stride piano returns-- left-bass, right-treble.

I stand Sunday evenings at that window, watching in silent awe, for it is not often one sees pure joy.

If musical value is to be determined by the happiness derived from its complex tones, this pupil has far outstripped his master. The choirmaster is quiet, competent, and consistent, but the curly-haired boy-- for all the jagged edges in his voice and locomotive halt and sway in his piano-- creates music that lives.

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