It’s Christmas Eve, and Vince is faced with a difficult decision. He’s wanted to marry his lover and partner, Iñaki, for the longest time, and yet every time he’s asked, Iñaki has always said no.
Can Vince set aside his personal misgivings and gift his beloved Iñaki the one thing he’s been waiting to hear him play? Can playing this one song be the secret to getting his Christmas wish?
Note: This work has been previously published but has been reworked, re-edited, and expanded.
Christmas Eve, 2018
Ten, nine, eight…
Vince Guidotti’s hands trembled. He glided his sweaty palms down the smooth material of his pants as the mental countdown went on in his head…
Breathing in deeply, he then slowly let go of his breath in a soft rush of air through his lips as he counted to one.
This is it. I can do this.
By hook or by crook, he would walk out there, face the audience, the cameras, and play that damned song. Then maybe, just maybe…he would finally get the answer to the one question he’d never failed to ask every year for the past nine years.
Damn it, why does it have to involve playing that cheesy song?
His thoughts were rambling. He really needed to focus on the song choice. This was a number he’d never thought he would ever play. He had refused to play it as far back as he could remember. The particular song he was thinking about might be fitting for this purpose, but it actually had nothing to do with the special event tonight. It was not even listed on the program. Of course it wasn’t. Why would it be? It wasn’t Valentine’s Day. However, it played an important role in his future happiness. Did he really have a choice?
Yes, this particular song was an immortal standard beloved by many, but it was cheesy as hell. Give me, What A Difference A Day Makes, or even Summertime! Those are romantic. Right? He tried to convince himself that it was.
Then, memories of that night, when he had been at his lowest, misted his eyes. A night his life turned around, totally out of the blue. Almost a decade ago.
Stepping out of the elevator, Vince glanced at the lobby clock. A sigh fed by grief burned in his throat. It was well past ten at night. Checking in that day, he had barely taken the time to leave his bag in his room or even use the bathroom. The message he’d dreaded his whole life had come within minutes of his arrival, and he’d left for the hospital without pausing, despite having been on the road and behind the wheel for eight hours straight.
As soon as he got there, he’d barely had time to look in on his uncle’s body and grieve. Some officious looking woman had led him into an office where he had to sign endless documents, place a call to his uncle’s lawyer, and finally, settle with the hospital accounting department. By the time he was done, his uncle’s body had already been released to the mortuary, where it would stay until the funeral the following week. Vince had gone back to his sterile hotel room desperately needing a drink. He left his room to see what the late-night bar downstairs might offer at that hour. It was the only way he knew to drown his sorrows.
Almost on impulse, he’d picked up his trumpet case. Inside, on the plush red velvet, nestled the precious trumpet gifted to him by his uncle when he’d turned eighteen. The recollection of a piano playing when he’d arrived earlier pulled him to the rear of the lobby. He stood there for a moment, tilting his head to the side until he finally caught the faint piano notes. It came from an annex off to the left. Vince followed the music until he saw two ornate glass doors.
The door clicked behind him as he entered the dim area. He sat on a bar stool and ordered a strong drink when the bartender approached him. Taking his drink, he looked around in search for a place to sit. Lost in the shadows, he finally caught sight of a lone table. Not wanting anyone else to take it before he could, he turned back to the bartender, thanked him, and hurried over to it. Just in time too, for just when he sat, a group of people walked through the doorway. Once he was seated, he stared into the amber liquid in his glass and lost himself in memories. A few feet to his right, the pianist tinkled a series of club standards, though none of the audience appeared to pay attention to him or the music. But Vince listened, and he nursed his drink.
After a couple of songs, he concluded that the old man was good. Really good. He also knew the man could do better than what he had been hired to play. Relying on his instincts, he stood after the last song ended and approached the musician’s dais.
In a minute he had introduced himself, learned it was David playing, and convinced him to jam a few sets together. Raising the trumpet to his lips, Vince hesitated. He thought about his uncle and how they’d played together. Finally, Vince let the cold metal warm against his lips. With a nod to David, he listened as the first bars were played. On cue, he took in a deep breath and began to play. The smooth notes Vince created lifted him into another reality, beyond the pain of today. He and the trumpet melded into a single entity that spoke from the soul.
Playing this special trumpet took him to a place where he could express all his hurts without fear of anyone looking in. It was where he went whenever he needed to de-stress and forget the worries of the day. There, he could hide the pain burning within from the world.