The following story is about the development of a fully consensual and loving relationship between a man and a pre-adolescent boy. At some point through the story's progression, there will be a graphic display of sexual acts between the man and the boy meant to show the natural progression and development of an intimate and caring relationship. If the topic of man/boy sex offends you, or if this material is illegal in your place or residence, or if you are under legal age, please leave now.
Any similarities between the characters in this story and any persons living and/or dead is purely a coincidence.
This story is protected under the nifty archives license agreement, and the author (me!) releases the right for nifty and nifty alone to post it on the internet. Please do not post this story anywhere else without my consent or knowledge.
Hello, it's your friend Josh again, here with the next chapter to my story! A couple things changed as I was writing though this and figuring things out. I had to make a minor change to the setting (a change of cities), and some minor character trait changes. It is only by writing forward that I can truly begin to understand who my characters are, and how the circumstances they go though change them.
I also wanted to take this chance to dedicate my story to a very special friend of mine. Through my writing and his, something was able to form that I never thought possible. If it weren't for you Owen, this story would only be a glimmer in my heart. You helped me to realize its full potential, and I could have never done it without you. Thank you so much for all your help and support. Owen Emm, I write this story for you, with all my heart.
Please let me know what you think of my humble attempt at writing by emailing: email@example.com
"So, Steven, settled in yet?"
Steven looked up as he pulled his can from the vending machine, watching the burly man crack open a can of soda. He'd only met Bob once, but had heard enough about him. Social studies teacher, soccer coach, respected among the kids, and as loud and crass as a person can get.
"It's an ongoing process, but I believe I have made some progress."
"They're a handful, aren't they? If you let your attention slip for one second, they will try to get away with murder." Bob said, taking a swig of his drink
"Most of them seem to be well mannered enough." Steven answered, walking around the only table in the teachers lounge to take a seat opposite the lounging teacher.
"Spoken like a true tenderfoot. They do seem that way at first, but don't let those cute little mugs fool you. Under that smiling innocent looking exterior are minds that are forever calculating new ways to get into trouble. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile." The man shifted himself into a sitting position.
"That's a pessimistic way to view things. Not all kids will take advantage of your weakness." Steven retorted, keeping his gaze steady on the teacher.
"Not pessimistic, practical. You have to let kids know that you can't be pushed around, especially with the boys. You have to establish from the beginning that you won't put up with any of their crap. If you're firm with them from the beginning, then they will respect you, and they won't try to pull anything. But even then, you still have to stay on your guard. Always maintain a solid front, and your kids will behave."
Steven nodded his head slowly. "Yes, I think you're right about presenting a solid front, and it is very important to earn the student's respect. With it, they will give you their complete attention, and be willing to work harder. I also believe children need encouragement and reassurance. If you show them that you care, they will also care."
"Bah." Bob said with a wave of his hand. "That may work for some kids, but not for all of them. There are always those few that won't respond to anything, no matter how much you try to help them. Those are the kids with real problems, and it takes a lot more than being nice to them to fix them. That's why it's best to keep the whole class in line, then those little buggers don't have any room to plant their seeds of mischief. It's gotta be zero tolerance from the beginning, its better that way. For the good kids, it's usually not a problem, and for the bad kids... well, then they will know the consequences of their actions. This way, when you do show them your softer side every now and then, they will be thankful for it, and won't take advantage of it."
Steven tried his best to mask a frown that was rapidly changing into a quiet seething. He tried to keep his reply calm and even. "I do agree that when certain members of the class misbehave, the problem needs to be addressed immediately. I agree that kids can't think they will be allowed to get away with anything, and a firm set of rules needs to be put in place. But once those rules are in place, then I believe it is the teachers job to do their best at motivating each and every student to learn. If there are some students who choose not to cooperate, I believe they at least deserve a little bit of extra attention. I refuse to believe there is a kid out there who can't be reached. Some may take more time and patience than others, but I think it can still be done."
Bob could only shake his head and chuckle a bit. "Ah, the passion of fresh meat. Sometimes I wish I still had that kind of fire in me, but that fire died out long ago. I used to feel that way too, like I could reach any kid. But let me tell you, I have been teaching for over 15 years, and the sad truth of it is, you just don't have enough time to help them all. At least, not if you want to have a life of your own. Trust me Steven, you will find it easier to just remain detached. If you wrap up your feelings in it too much, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment, because you can't help them all."
Steven could no longer remain standing. "I am not saying that I can reach all of them, the only thing I am saying is that all of them deserve a chance, and even if I am not able to bring them around, I will at least leave the door open for them, so when they are ready to step through, I will be there for them. And I will never stop trying to help them though that door. Even if they don't step though it during my short time with them, maybe they will remember the things I had to say, and will benefit from them in the future."
Steven let out a deep breath and grabbed his yet to be opened soda can off the table. "Now, if you will excuse me, I need to finish cleaning my classroom for the day."
Bob only shook his head and took another drink. "Take it easy then, Mr. McNealy."
Once out of the lounge, Steven let his shoulders sag. He could see where the Social Studies teacher was coming from, but at the same time, he couldn't agree with him. To not at least try was sheer laziness, and the day he stopped caring would be the day he died.
It was with these thoughts, mixed with a whole bunch of others when a strange sound intruded upon his senses. He had barely started down the hallway when he heard it, a faint sound coming from down the hallway. At first he thought it was coming from inside the office. Maybe one of the secretaries had the radio on, playing a bit of calming music after a long day of screaming kids coming in and out of the office. But as he approached, he realized it was coming from somewhere beyond the office, further down the hallway. Curious now, Steven quickened his pace a little bit, honing in on a melody he was very familiar with. Once he was most of the way down the hallway, past the art room and the 7th grade wing, there was no doubt left where the music was originating. It was coming out the doorway of his classroom.
For a few seconds he thought he might have left the CD player going. He had done so before, letting the music go as he cleaned up his room on the days he didn't have band practice. It helped him to clear his mind, and it also helped him to focus on the task at hand, drowning out whatever other thoughts he had. But he didn't think he had put the CD that had this particular song into the player.
His suspicions were confirmed when the music suddenly stopped in mid-sequence. There was a long pause, and then the music started again, this time at the very beginning of the song. The notes of Mozart's Rondo `Alla-Turca' flowed again, although slower this time, the player trying to match the melody and the harmony on the same beat. The music sped up again, until it was back up to the correct tempo, but once another wrong note was hit, the song started again from the beginning.
If it weren't for all the repeats, the song sounded truly beautiful. The melody line was played quickly, sounding like the fluttering of a hummingbird's wings, and whenever it lined up with a downbeat in the baseline, it was like the bird was flying from branch to branch, beating his wings in triplet patterns to land. Though there were times when the bird seemed to lag behind a bit, or teeter on a branch, its flight was otherwise perfect.
For several minutes, Steven stood there, listening to the sound of the piano, listening to how hard the pianist was trying to make the song take flight. Though the phrasing was off, and too much pedal was being added, Steven could tell the pianist was trying to put heart into it. Whoever was playing this song knew it very well, and though there were shortcomings, he concluded the player was definitely no novice, especially after he heard the player rip though the fast arpeggios in the third section.
Figuring that the pianist in question had to be another member of the staff, or possibly a high schooler from the adjacent high school, he was completely unprepared for what he saw. The person sitting behind the piano was too small to be high school student, let alone another staff member. With a little blond head barely poking above the music stand, bobbing up and down in synch with the music, Steven drew closer to the piano to confirm who was behind it. Once the pianist's whole face was in view, there was no doubt left.
For several more moments Steven stood there, completely unable to move. He could hardly believe what his eyes were seeing. Josh was deeply buried in the music, his eyes not on the page, but locked on his fingers as he sped though the last section of the song. Now that he had his momentum going, he only paused briefly between mistakes, only playing though the previous bar instead of backing up to the beginning. To anyone else but Steven, they probably wouldn't have even noticed. When Josh finished the song, Steven put his hands together and clapped for all he was worth, almost dropping his soda can.
Unfortunately, it did not have the desired result. Josh looked up from behind the piano, and his eyes grew to the size of saucers. Almost in the same instant, he shot up onto his feet, closing the cover to the keys. "I'm sorry!" was all Josh could say at first.
"That was very good Mr. Chambers." Steven said, nodding his head sincerely.
Josh quickly began fumbling out apologies. "I'm so sorry, I won't play the piano again without permission, I promise I will-" then realization dawned on the boy's face. "What?"
"I said, that was simply amazing. You are very good. Why didn't you tell me you played the piano, Mr. Chambers?"
"I didn't think... I thought that... I don't know." Josh stuttered. "I'm not in trouble, am I?" He asked, looking like a mouse that was about ready to run under a floorboard.
"No! Most definitely not! You played beautifully; I can tell you truly have a feel for the piece. The melody was not forced, and you kept up the tempo and rhythm very well."
"Really?" Josh asked unbelievingly.
"Really. There are only a few small things that you need to fix."
Josh's face quickly grew serious. "Like what?"
Steven seized the opportunity to come around the piano and pull up the chair from his desk, putting his soda aside. "Alright. Go ahead and sit back down." Hesitantly, Josh sat back on the bench. "Go ahead and pull up the bench a little more." Josh did so. "Now, the first thing you have to remember when playing Mozart is that none of his songs should be pedaled."
"Because the sustain pedal wasn't officially invented yet, and since Mozart's most known compositions were written in the 1780s and early 1790s, there was not enough time for the invention to catch on," Steven explained.
"Oh, I never knew that. So Mozart never had a pedal?" Josh asked, shifting uncomfortably on the piano bench.
"Probably not. And if there were ever places he went to that did have a piano with a pedal, he probably ignored it." Josh nodded his head slowly. "So, I would like you to try playing the song again without the pedal. Wrap your leg around the bench; get it out of the way so you won't be tempted to use it." Again the boy nodded, doing what Steven suggested, wrapping his right leg around the front leg of the piano bench. "Okay, now start it from the beginning, and try to keep playing, even if you make a mistake. Also, try not to pound the keys so much, I know it's a good technique for solidifying the notes in your mind, but once you know them, try to play them lightly."
"Alright" Then Josh started.
For the first several bars his playing was slow and clunky, and there were several times when he jerked his foot, wanting to play the sustain. When he got to the first roll, he missed the trill at the bottom and stopped. He picked up at the beginning again, but unfortunately his fingers wouldn't cooperate, and he lost his way through the same sequence. Steven could see that his hands were shaking, and they only got worse with each repetition. Finally Steven stopped him by putting a hand on his shoulder. He could feel Josh's breathing. It was sporadic and uneven.
"Mr. Chambers, its okay, just calm down. You don't have to be so nervous. All that matters is you and the piano, don't worry about anything else. Stop and close your eyes for a minute." Josh let his hands fall from the keys. "Now take a deep breath and count to ten. Remember, the only thing that matters is the music, not me, and not anyone else that might be listening. It's just you and the music." Steven softly patted the boy's shoulder. "Now open your eyes and play."
Josh started again, and this time his touch on the keys was a bit lighter and more graceful. Josh bowed into the song, letting his body sway as he played. Though he made a couple mistakes, he kept playing through them. He played all the way though the first section, and then the second section. Before playing the repeat of the first section again, Josh stopped and turned back toward Steven.
"Was that any better?"
Steven nodded his head. "That was indeed better. Now, I want you to close your eyes again, and try to picture yourself in a ballroom. All the guests are there; dressed in bright colors, ready to start dancing. As you play, try to imagine them dancing. Try to imagine the ladies dress's twirling as you play though the trills. Imagine them dip when you play the downbeat of your melody. Play your song so they can dance to it, play your song so that they can flow with it!"
Again Josh started, his eyes fluttering open and closed, trying to put as much emotion into the music as he could. There were times when his foot sneaked back to the pedal, but he caught it in time, and drew it back. Even though he had to fight against his urge to stop when he made a mistake, he kept playing forward, not wanting to disturb the dance. When Josh came to the end of the song again, Steven nodded his head in approval.
"You see. I can tell you are beginning to feel it, the flow of the song. It helps when you play it straight though, doesn't it?" Josh could only nod his head. "I know you want to get it perfect, but there is a big difference between practicing and performing. If you feel uncomfortable with a section, play through the whole thing more slowly, try to keep the tempo nice and even. You don't always have to play the song up to tempo when you practice, don't be afraid to slow it down." Steven turned Josh's music to the next page. "Now, let's work on the arpeggios. Remember, nice slow and even."
Josh nodded his head and started though complex passage. Like so many times he practiced it, he started it at a tempo that was too fast, and Steven had to prod him to slow it down. When he did, he actually made more mistakes than less. It wasn't too long after that when Josh threw up his hands. Steven was nodding his head.
"Just what I thought," Steven said gravely.
"What?" Josh said, sounding a little flustered.
"You play just like I used to." Steven's eyes were focused past the page.
"Yes. We both have a really good memory, therefore when the notes are in our head, we disregard the music on the page, and when that happens, sometimes the notes tend to blur together, especially though complicated chord breakdowns."
The look on Josh's face betrayed his ignorance.
"Look at the notes here." Steven said scooting up on the bench next to Josh, pointing to the page. "This is nothing but a broken up A and C chord, you see?" Steven played the chord. Steven transposed the chord as he went down an octave and then back up. "Now you try." Josh placed his hand where Steven's was. "This also helps you figure out the fingering. If you can see the chords instead of the individual notes, it makes it much easier to memorize."
Josh tried to play though the chords like Steven had, but he missed several notes. "That's not right," Josh said to himself under his breath.
"Here. Let me play the chords with you." Showing Josh the first chord again, Steven waited until Josh's fingering was correct before playing the next chord several octaves below Josh's hand, patiently waiting for him to mirror his actions correctly. After several repetitions, Steven let him play on his own.
"There, you have it now. Very good Mr. Chambers, now let's see you play through the whole passage." His brow furrowed in concentration, Josh played through the complex set of broken chords slowly, and then, with Steven's prompting, sped it up again. When Josh drew close to the end, he looked back up to Steven.
"Don't stop, keep going!" Steven prodded Josh softly.
Without pause, Josh looped back and played the whole song from beginning to end, not letting anything or anyone distract him from the wondrous melody he was creating. When Josh finished, Steven responded with and excited round of applause. "Beautiful! That was simply beautiful! I couldn't have played it better myself!"
As Steven's applause surged, so did the amount of blood rushing into Josh's face, turning it a beat red. "You really think so?" Josh asked in his mouse-like voice.
"Think so? Mr. Chambers, you are a very talented musician! You just played through all of Mozart's Alla-Turca with only a few mistakes. I would imagine there are only a very small number of children your age who can play that song as well as you did."
"Yea, I guess so..." Josh's head was bent over the keys.
"You did well, trust me. You are truly a gifted musician. Go ahead and try playing though it one more time." Steven patted the boy on the back, getting up from the bench.
Josh didn't even budge until Steven was already behind his desk, with his soda can open. Every time he glanced back after a sip, Josh was still sitting there, staring down at the keys. More than once, Steven wanted to ask Josh one of the many questions flying though his mind. How long have you played the piano? What kind of songs have you played? What's your favorite song? Do you like listening to the music too, or do you just like playing? But the only thing he could do was stare at him longingly while sipping at his drink. When Josh spoke, he nearly choked on a swallow.
"Mr. McNealy?" Josh tilted his head around to peer at the teacher. "I was wondering, could we... could you maybe... help me out some more?"
"More? You mean right now?" Steven fought to keep his hand from trembling, deciding to put down his drink before he spilled it.
"No, I mean later." Josh rushed. "I'm working on some other songs, and I thought that... maybe you could help."
"Well, um-" Steven began.
"You don't have to if you don't want to," the boy said hurriedly, waving his little hands in the air. Steven opened his mouth to say something, but he choked on his words. Thankfully Josh took it as indecision. "It would only be for a little bit after school, when there isn't band. And whenever you're too busy, you don't have to."
Finally, before Josh was forced to begging, Steven was able to force the words out. "It would be my honor to teach you."
Though it took a while for it to sink in, the smile that Josh gave afterwards would remain burned into Steven's mind for the rest of his life.
Josh's hands ripped across the keyboard as if testing the absolute limits of what the old upright could do, and though some keys screeched in protest, it held up to the pounding it was receiving. With help from the teacher, his Mozart's Fantasy Impromptu flowed much more smoothly now. As first he was scared to ask for help on this one, thinking the teacher would say it was too difficult, but instead of getting angry, or scoffing at him, he just smiled and nodded. They had worked on it for over an hour today; right up to when the school had to close. By the time they were finished, Josh could play both of the complex downward runs that made the song sound so cool. Once again, the teacher had shown him that his fingering was all wrong, making it much more difficult to play. He still couldn't figure out how Mr. McNealy could so easily recognize where the chords were, they just seemed like a bunch of notes to him. But the teacher had insisted there was a pattern, and once Josh played out all the chords, he could see it as well. It all seemed so simple when the teacher showed him. There were times when he got really mad at himself for not seeing what had been there in the music all along.
Josh was so wrapped up in the music, and in his thought, that he didn't even notice the front door open.
"Josh, I'm home." Josh's mother shouted over the blaring sound of the piano. Josh didn't stop playing until his mother yelled again. "JOSH!"
Josh spun around on the piano bench. "Hi mom." He spun back and continued playing.
Josh's mother's eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth to say something, but she closed it just as quickly, letting out an audible sigh, and left the room down the hallway. When she came back out, dressed in something more comfortable, she skirted around Josh and the piano and went into the kitchen.
It wasn't until she was well into her cooking did Josh finally let his fingers come to a rest. When he looked across the dining room and into the kitchen, he could see she was busy chopping vegetables. "Do you need any help?"
"No honey, I'm almost finished. I hope you like stir fry, because that's all we have meat for," she said, throwing onions into the skillet. Josh didn't immediately reply. Instead he asked another question.
"So, what did you think of the song?"
His mother shrugged. "I think it's sounding better."
Josh visibly frowned. Just better? You didn't think it sounded good? Or even that it sounded a little pretty? Josh shook his head. He guessed she couldn't help it. She had heard him play this song so many times that whatever beauty it had in the beginning was now lost. He needed to play a song she had never heard before, but that would be really hard, since she's heard almost everything he knew. Almost...
Immediately, Josh spun back toward the keys and started the slow and minor chords that led into the Pathetique, playing the introductory chord very loudly, and the following ones very softly. Though the teacher didn't show him how to do the quick roll in this one, he played though the notes again and again until he had found the pattern. Without a single mistake, Josh played though the entire intro, ending right at the bottom of the chromatic run. When he turned back to his mother, she was still busy stirring the skillet pan. She hadn't even flinched when Josh finished his dramatic roll.
Josh's shoulders sagged, his face betraying his defeat. Maybe it's just the piano, he thought. Or maybe she just doesn't notice any more because she hears me play too much. Trying to pull his chin up, Josh decided that he had played enough piano for the night. Noticing how close dinner was to being done, he figured it wasn't worth starting on his homework now, so he ambled over to the couch and pulled a book off the end-table. Maybe something interesting will happen to Prince Caspian in the next few pages.
He hadn't even gotten that far into his book when his mother called him to the dinner table. "It's all done Josh, go ahead and get yourself something to drink."
Shoving his bookmark back in the book, Josh stretched his legs out and pushed off the couch. A few moments later, he had his drink and was positioned at the table, ready to eat with his head bowed and his hands in his lap. Once his mother had everything in place, including a drink for herself, she sat down and began to pray.
"Thank you Lord for providing for us during these trying times, when so many others have been lost to the hurricanes and terrorists. Please watch over them as you have watched over us. Amen." She said, crossing herself.
"Amen," Josh breathed out quietly.
At first, both Josh and his mother ate in silence. A few minutes into the meal, she reached over to the center of the table and started leafing though one of the church pamphlets that had been handed out by the priest last Sunday.
"I was talking to Father Roberts during Sunday mass about a few things regarding you. Father thinks that since you aren't part of the choir, you have the opportunity to help in another way. According to the Father, several families have moved away recently, leaving our church short a few altar boys." She paused for a moment, taking another bite from her plate. "I think it's a great idea, and would go a long way towards preparing you for your Confirmation."
"MOM! I know my Confirmation is coming up soon, but that doesn't mean I have to be an Altar Boy." If Josh's frown was any deeper, his lips would have fallen off his face. "Ben's an altar boy, and all the other kids at school tease him when he's not looking."
She just shook her head. "What the other kids say doesn't matter. Ben is doing a great service to the church, and to God. Ben is a faithful boy, and he will grow up to be a faithful man, and when he dies, his time in Purgatory will be small, if he goes there at all. Those other kids... it's hard to say, but you can be sure that some of them will be spending a lot more time in Purgatory than Ben, and if there is no one alive to pray for them, they will be there for a long time," his mother said with a note of finality.
Josh shoulders sank. He knew his mother was right. Those other kids would probably go to hell or something, but that didn't make it any easier right now. For the past few weeks he had been lucky. He had remained quiet as possible, and no one seemed to notice him yet. But if he became an altar boy, word would get around, and the teasing would be worse than it ever was before. And then, on top of all of that was the very reason for why being an altar boy was bad in the first place.
"But mom, what about... what about what they say?" Josh said, his voice barely above a whisper.
"What who says?" She asked, putting down her fork and looking straight at him.
"You know. That the altar boys and the Priest..." Josh began.
"Stop right there young man. I will NOT have you accusing Father Roberts of Cardinal Sin. Just a few months ago the Bishop came and returned to him his Holy Orders. He is sanctified by the church, and by God. He also told me in person that all the bishops are working very hard to purify the homosexual disease within the Church. Guilty priests are being excommunicated, and no amount of contrition will save them. Without a doubt, those men are going to Purgatory indefinitely." Almost angrily, she shoved the food she had picked up on her fork into her mouth. "Now, if you have no more objections, I will tell Father Roberts that you would be more than happy to do this service to the church."
Josh opened his mouth, but quickly closed it again. There was no point in arguing, not about this. When it came to church, his mother was very strict. But as long as he said his nightly prayers, and went to mass, she didn't complain. He supposed being an Altar Boy wouldn't be too bad, all's he had to do was light candles, usher, and help with the sacraments. Unfortunately, it would mean spending more time at Church, which meant less time to play the piano, and to read.
"I guess that would be ok," Josh said, looking down at his food. He knew his mother was right, and that it was the right thing to do, but... what about what he wanted?
Just a few days ago, he had overheard a few boys in his band class talking about a Science Fiction convention. It sounded so cool. One of the boys said there were people dressed up as Klignons, and Vulcans, and even Borg. He wished he could have seen it, but he knew what his mother would probably say. That fantasy stuff is no good Josh; I don't want you to get involved with it. I don't want you associating with atheists and pagans. It's just bad news all around.
Josh frowned at his food. Fantasy can't be that bad, it's only make believe. And she can't say The Chronicles of Narnia are bad. And why would Star Trek be so bad? Aren't the people who join the Federation supposed to be kind to others and uphold the prime directive? And just because some the aliens didn't believe in the same god we do doesn't make them bad, does it?
"Also Josh, there was one other thing." Her voice penetrated his thoughts. "Later this afternoon, I had to come home and get some papers, and I noticed you weren't here. I was just wandering where you were since there wasn't band practice today." She waited expectantly for a reply. Josh didn't know what to say.
Quickly, Josh thought up an excuse. "I was playing with a few friends at school. They are other boys in the band, and sometimes we play card games in the music room."
She nodded her head slowly. "That's alright. I'm glad you're making new friends. But, next time you decide to stay late, please give me a call at the office."
"Okay" Josh nodded his head, keeping his eyes averted.
As soon as his mother wasn't looking, Josh yanked his gaze away. Great, just great. Now she thinks I have a whole bunch of friends. Why couldn't I just ask her if it was ok to get lessons? Regretfully, he already knew the answer to that question. Because he was afraid of what her answer would be.
"Mr. Chambers, what have I been telling you for the past several weeks?" Steven shook his head. "Just because a section is slow doesn't make is easy. You have to connect the base hand notes to give the same sound as a sustain without actually using the sustain. And you have to drop your hand on the down beat and raise it up for the other three, almost like your hand is being pulled by a string," Steven said, making hand movements that might have been a little exaggerated, but they served to get the point across.
"But, why can't I just use the pedal if it's supposed to sound like a pedal?" Josh almost pouted.
"Because using the petal will blend ALL the notes together when you just want to give the base hand that legato sound. The melody is mostly staccato through here, see the little dots above the notes?" Steven explained, pointing out the little black dots with his finger.
"Yeah, I see them." Josh said, sounding a little flustered.
"Alright, then lets try it again, Okay?"
Josh nodded his head and began playing again. This time, Josh's harmony line flowed more smoothly, dipping from one chord to the next. When Steven started swaying to the rhythm, Josh began to sway as well. "Now it gets softer... Good." Through the next sequence, Steven made another hand gesture. "Pop your fingers up, they have to be springy here... Good. Now decrescendo into the waltz and pull your arm down the run. Don't pull with your hand. Try to keep your hand level, don't bounce it here. When you are doing a quick run, it's about economy of motion."
Abruptly Josh stopped playing. "Stop it, your saying too much! I can't concentrate on all those things at once!"
"Hey, it's not my fault you can't listen and play at the same time."
Josh gave Steven a mean stare. Steven was smiling widely. Josh gave him a mock sigh, and turned back to the piano. Steven backed off a little bit and watched Josh play. He couldn't believe the amount of progress he had made in such a short amount of time. All he needed was for someone to show him what he was doing wrong, and where to improve on technique. Steven knew that with the proper tools, Josh could become a truly great pianist. Steven also knew that he would do everything within his power to make sure that Josh succeeded.
When Josh finished the song, Steven nodded his head. "Yes, that's much better. You've been practicing quite a bit, haven't you?"
"I practice at least three hours a day," Josh said with a wide grin.
"Wow, that's very impressive. I don't even think I find the time to practice that much."
Josh simply shrugged, keeping his smile.
"So, maestro, what other songs do you have completely memorized?"
Again Josh shrugged. "I just have a few others memorized, like Fur Elise, and a couple of church songs. Sometimes the bible teacher lets me play when we sing at Sunday school."
"Can you play them for me?" Steven asked, trying to keep the pleading edge out of his voice.
Josh looked at him funny. "They aren't really that good."
"But you can play them anyways, can't you? I want to hear them."
"Alright" Josh shook his head as if intonating to Steven that he had given him a fair warning.
As Josh played though his songs Steven lost himself in their beauty. He still couldn't believe how talented he was, and how great his feeling for music was. Josh played from his heart, unlike so many others that only sought the highest technical achievement. Josh put everything he had into his music, and it almost moved him to tears. That there could be a boy like Josh, and the fact that he was sitting only a few feet away, made Steven's heart race.
The knock on the door came when Josh was in the middle of one of his church songs, Jesus Loves Children. Neither Steven nor Josh noticed at first, one playing intently, and the other listening raptly. The second knock finally got Steven's attention. When Steven put a hand on Josh's shoulder to silence him, the boy froze after looking up to see who was at the door. Judging from his reaction, Steven had a good guess as to who the woman standing at the entrance was. Immediately, Steven stood up and came around the piano.
"Can I help you miss?" Steven fought to keep his voice cool and completely in control.
The woman at the entrance didn't say anything at first, her eyes searching the room, and then finally settling on Steven. "Yes, I was looking for my son, Josh Chambers, and I can see you have him here."
"Yes. We were just finishing up a little bit of tutoring. I'm Steven McNealy." Steven extended his hand, walking over to greet her.
With a warm smile, the slim, well dressed blond lady shook it. "Elizabeth Chambers, nice to meet you." Her smile diminished a bit when she looked over to Josh. "Josh, I thought I told you to call me. You had me worried, so I came over here to see if you were ok."
"Sorry mom." Josh replied in a very quiet voice.
"Why didn't you just tell me that you were getting piano lessons?"
"I didn't..." Josh was unable to finish.
"Don't worry about it honey." Then she turned towards Steven. "I apologize for my son, if he would have told me sooner, I would have instead that we pay for his lessons, instead of him taking away from your valuable time. How much do you think I owe you for the time you have spent with him so far?"
Steven shook his head. "No no, I made an offer to the entire class that I would help them in any way that I could. I think Josh showed great initiative coming to me and asking for help, even if it wasn't for the French horn." If Steven had been looking at Josh's face, he would have seen it turn a shade of crimson. "You're son is a very gifted musician, and it is my pleasure to teach him. Rarely do you find a child as passionate about music as Josh. You must be a fine parent to have encouraged him this far."
Elizabeth closed her eyes and shook her head. "It wasn't really me who did the encouraging. Josh has been interested in music ever since he was small. I think we finally noticed during Church." Elizabeth threw a smile at Josh, causing him to turn a deeper red. "He was so enthralled by the organist's playing, and when she played the piano for the choir, he watched her like she was a saint reborn into this world. That's when I decided to ask the organist if she would teach Josh. You really took off after that, didn't you honey?" She peered over at Josh.
Josh could only sit there looking embarrassed.
"He wanted to play every song she performed during mass, and I think he learned quite a few of them too." Then a slight frown formed on Elizabeth's face. "Unfortunately though, Josh's teacher had to move away last year."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Steven said, trying to look sincere.
"But that hasn't stopped Josh. He still plays every day, and he spends every dime of his allowance on piano CDs. I think that's what he's been using recently to teach himself, but it's hard without a teacher." Elizabeth stopped abruptly when there was a crashing sound of papers. Both Steven and Elizabeth turned their heads towards Josh, who was now busily picking up the sheet music that had fallen off of the piano. "I think it's great that you are giving Josh lesions. Josh really needs a male role model in his life, and I think a male teacher is much better for a boy, especially during these years of his life."
Steven nodded his head slowly.
Elizabeth turned back toward Josh. "Josh, the only way I will allow these lessons to continue is if Mr. McNealy agrees to teach you formally, and if we pay for the lessons. Is that acceptable for you, Mr. McNealy?"
Steven wore a slight frown. "It's not necessary to pay; I don't mind helping Josh in my spare time."
Elizabeth shook her head. "No, I think if Josh is going to have lessons, then they should be done the right way, what do you think Josh?"
Josh, who had now managed to pick up all of his papers and stuff them into his back pack, was just coming around the piano to stand beside his mother.
"Um, I... I would really like lessons." Josh tried to answer as unobtrusively as possible.
"Then, will you teach him?" Elisabeth asked.
"Of course I will." Steven tried to say as smoothly as he could, knowing it would be completely inappropriate for his enthusiasm to bubble over. "Officially, I charge 30 dollars for one hour sessions, but since Josh is a student in my class, I will half it. I usually do sessions on a weekly basis, and students that I take play in my studio. Since band practice is on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we can either set up the lessons for Tuesdays, or Thursdays. Does that sound acceptable?"
Elizabeth seemed to consider this for several long moments. Though Josh fidgeted nervously the entire time, Steven remained cool, awaiting her final decision. Finally, she nodded her head. "That sounds fine with me."
Maybe only 10 milliseconds after the words had left her lips; Josh turned and gave his mother a gigantic hug. "Thank you mom! Thank you SO much!"
Elizabeth let the hug continue for a few more moments, then dew him back. "But Josh, I want you to remember in the future to call me when you are not going to be at home. Please don't worry me like that again. You can start your lessons next week, but please remember to call me if there are any deviations to the plan, okay?"
"Okay. I will, I promise!" Josh shook his head enthusiastically.
"Now, we have probably taken too much of the teachers time already. It's time for us to leave."
With that, and a small push from his mother, Josh headed toward the door. "Goodbye Mr. McNealy. See you tomorrow." Josh waved.
"I'm looking very much forward to it Mr. Chambers." Steven smiled and waved back.
Several minutes after Josh and his mother left, Steven was finally able to let himself sit down. What had started as a few pointers had quickly evolved into full blown lessons. He should have known that this would happen, and he was very glad that Josh's mother was supportive. He has his doubts as to whether or not Josh had actually told his mother he had been staying late, but since it was only for an hour or so, he figured his mother must not have noticed, or cared. Now that she knew, Steven could breathe a little easier. If it had gone on much longer, he would have insisted Josh call, no matter how much he wanted it to continue uninhibited. And he wanted it to continue more than anything!
Meeting Josh's mother had also put another one of his fears to rest. She seemed like a nice enough lady, though he did find it a bit odd for her to come for Josh in person, when she could have just called the secretary. Steven made it a point to keep the office informed of any students he was helping after school. Regardless of her prior reasoning, he was happy with the result of their meeting.
Steven fought to bring down the fast beating of his heart, but every time he tried, yet more chills rushed through him. For the first time in his life, Steven was going to teach the kind of kid he had wanted to teach his whole life. He was going to teach someone whose passion for music was every bit as great as his was, who was completely dedicated to getting better, and performing at his very best, who was in so many ways just like he had been so many years ago. But even more than all those things, he was going to get to personally tutor what had to be the most beautiful, perfect boy in the entire world.