Piano for Three: Sunday Snapshots

07 Jun, 2011

by Stacie Williams

Lobby Lounge

Where: Parking garage
When: 7:30pm
What: Power-washing of the parking ramps. Motors running, water streaming, hoses draped across the cement. Cars with license plates from Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee all sport bike racks. Perhaps for people taking part in the UPAF Ride for the Arts which went on over the weekend?

Where: Elevator bank in hallway
When: 7:35pm
What: The soft hum of the A/C reflects the summer heat outside as fans circulate cooled air.

Where: Café at the Pfister
When: 7:36pm
What: A man in a khaki shirt moves rhythmically through the space, circling with his mop, shoulders flexing, reaching and swirling as he cleans the floor.

Where: Lobby
When: 8:03pm
What: Automatic doors at the main entrance open with a squeaking “swoosh” and a man on a mission brusquely enters, sweeping past tall vases cradling Birds of Paradise flowers. He’s holding aloft a white box topped with a brown paper bag: a guest’s order from a local eating establishment, arriving by delivery, the grease starting to spot the corners of the bag.  The phone rings.  Someone needs another bathrobe.

Where: Lobby Lounge
When: 8:36pm
What: The crinkle of paper and soft breath of pages being turned as a man sits in one of the plush chairs, reading the latest issue of TIME magazine. Ellie & Jeff quietly confer over the drinks menu, shoulders touching as they examine it where it sits on the end of the bar. Another guest stands with arms crossed in front of the corner armoir, open to reveal a previously hidden television, tuned to the (muted) NBA Finals.

Where: Business Center
When: 8:50pm
What: Minesweeper working fine.

Where: Lobby
When: 9:02pm
What: A guest returns from dinner. At the front desk, Stephanie, a gently gregarious soul, cheerfully inquires about how his meal was at Elsa’s on the Park. He has nothing but glowing enthusiasm and asks her for another recommendation for when he’s free another night later this week.

Where: Lobby Lounge
When: 9:15pm
What: Piano music begins again: strains of a soft waltz drift through the room, bouncing off the marble floors and expanding upwards into the arched ceiling. A bar stool squeaks.

Where: Lobby
When: 9:16-9:23pm
What: The phone rings. Two arrivals check in within quick succession – one right after the other. Footsteps on carpet, followed by wheels of luggage trailed behind. Guest #1 noses around on a tablet-style device, waiting while Stephanie finishes up a phone call. The clattering of keys follows as she swiftly checks him in, giving directions on where to find the pool.  Guest #2 is dressed similarly: casual, comfortable traveling clothes. She, too, is checked in within moments.

Where: Lobby Lounge
When: 9:26pm
What: The automatic doors swoosh, squeak. A gentleman in a polo shirt and baseball cap rushes in, practically charging to a table that stands adjacent to the rear of the piano. He grabs a chair and sets it directly facing the enter of the instrument, his back to the lobby. Elly is by his side within seconds, confirming his order (which she already knew: he’s definitely a regular). He teases her. Jeff lobs a few remarks their direction, punctuated with laughter. He removes his cap, offers some cash to the piano player’s tip jar and murmurs some requests. The piano player’s head nods an affirmation, never ceasing the dancing of his fingers across the keys.

Where: Lobby bar
When: 9:42pm
What: Recently checked-in guest comes down to the bar and takes a seat, spreading her newspaper out before her, open to the crossword puzzle, her pen tapping in hand, in time to the music.  The gentleman who sat by the piano has joined everyone else at the bar.  The piano shifts from a lilting, soothing melody to something more bright, bubbly and lively – mirroring the increase in chatter as banter between Elly and Jeff and the other guests picks up slightly.

A humming fan, footsteps on the carpet, soft laughter, clattering keyboard keys, a tapping pen, the squeak of a bar stool, piano music, the swoosh of the automatic front door, a door being shut as someone departs…

About the author

Stacie Williams

With a love of stories and storytelling, Stacie Williams has worked at a local Milwaukee bookstore for six years, and has experience in travel writing and blogging. In 1998, she moved from California to study theater at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, and stayed.

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