The Tale of Clayton W. Smith

Clayton W. Smith opened his eyes as he awoke from a pleasing dream of playing Bach’s “Minuet” at Carnigee Hall. The dream was not as much of an aspiration, as it was a visit to a good time. He had played at Carnigee many times over the years.

Clayton W. Smith rolled over to check his alarm clock. 2:55 AM the clock read. Clayton W. Smith stroked his beard. It was still five minutes before his alarm would go off. Undaunted, Clayton W. Smith picked up a small toy piano he kept by his bed at all times and began playing a four and a half minute long piece he had written called “Clayton-W.-Smith’s-four-and-a-half-minute-long-song”.

Clayton knew his wife beside him would not be desturbed by the early morning harmony, as long as he didn’t miss a note, which was good. Clayton W. Smith never misses a note.

Just as Clayton W. Smith finished his aptly-named piece, his alarm clock went off, filling the room with the sound of Behtohven’s 9th symphony.

Yawning, Clayton W. Smith shut off the alarm to get ready for a very musical day. After taking a quick shower in water specially imported from Cape Breton, Clayton W. Smith enjoyed a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon while studying music for various upcoming concerts and recitals.

At 3:30 it was time to warm up. As usual he started on his keyboard, practicing his scales, and stretching out his fingers. After warming up on the keyboard, it was time to step it up to the honkey-tonk piano. Clayton W. Smith played “The Entertainer” (one of his personal favorites) After warming up on the honkey-tonk for about an hour, Clayton W. Smith felt he was ready to practice his special pipe organ, built into the wall of his living room. He practiced each of the songs he needed to know for church on Sunday, sightreading each of them flawlessly.
Having finished on the pipe organ, Clayton W. Smith was warmed up and prepared to now continue working on a piece on his baby grand piano. After working on that piece for a while, Clayton W. Smith decided it was time to finish up his daily warmups on his grand piano.

Clayton W. Smith jammed on that grand piano playing everything from Motzart to some well known classic rock. So involved with his music, Clayton W. Smith didn’t even hear his wife come into the room.

“Honey, it’s 7:30.” She said.

Clayton W. Smith abruptly stopped playing the piano accompanyment to “Queen of the Night Aria”

“Dang, I’m late!” Clayton W. Smith grumbled as he got up and headed for the door. But before leaving, he stopped in front of a wide selection of interesting hats. Clayton W. Smith chose a green hat that would match his jacket well.
Clayton W. Smith then hopped into his black and white stripped car and roared out of his driveway down towards Hampden Academy.

As Clayton W. Smith neared the Academy listening to Motzart, he thought he heard a real piano over the sound of the radio. Whoever was playing it was good.

Real good.

Intriuged, Clayton W. Smith turned down the road to the elementary schools. Parking behind McGraw elementary school, Clayton W. Smith saw what seemed to be a blonde man in sunglasses playing a grand piano out on the track field.

Clayton W. Smith got out of his car, slamming the car door behind him, and began walking down the gravel path toward the field. As he came nearer, Clayton W. Smith was suprised to see that the man in the sunglasses was actually Elton John!

Elton John finished the end of “Rocket Man” and turned to Clayton W. Smith.

“Clayton W. Smith, I presume.” Elton John greeted him with a thick british accent. “I have heard of your skills on the piano, some say, you’re the best.”

“I am the best.” Clayton W. Smith shot back.

“I see.” Elton John replied skeptically, raising an eyebrow, “Of course you know of me. Sir Elton John!”

“I think I’ve heard of you. You’re supposed to be pretty good.” Clayton W. Smith chuckled.

“I’m better than you!” Elton said icely

“No you’re not.”

“Yes I am.”

“No you’re not.”

“That’s it!” Elton roared in anger, “I challenge ye to a piano duel!!!!!!!”

“Aight,” Clayton W. Smith replied, “I accept your challenge.”

“Choose your weapon Clayton W. Smith!”

Clayton W. Smith turned up the path to his car and popped the trunk. He then pulled his grand piano out of the trunk that he always kept there. He then carried the piano under one arm back to the turf. Clayton W. Smith knew as he sat down to his grand piano, this would be a piano duel of legend. Little children would sing songs of this epic battle for generations to come. The men faced each other across the field for three long minutes silently.

“So, how are we going to start this off?” Clayton W. Smith asked impatiently “I’ve got to go play for the high school.”

“I’ll start you off!!” came a voice from above that sounded much like the voice of Morgan Freeman. “GO!”

With God’s trumendous decleration, it was on. Elton John’s piano produced beautiful, flawless music that struck Clayton W. Smith as impressive, but not as good as he was capable. Clayton W. Smith began playing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” at a tempo so fast that the piano keys started getting hot from the friction.

Clayton W. Smith was pleased to see sweat forming on Elton’s brow above his sunglasses. But Clayton W. Smith himself was begining to tire. That’s when Elton John did something very unexpected. Suddenly, and without warning, Elton grabbed his earring and flung it at Clayton W. Smith’s grand piano. Clayton W. Smith heard the golden earring beeping. Knowing the sound well, he quickly dove away from the piano just as the small explosive detonated sending flaming piano shrapnel through the air.

Clayton W. Smith stood up, brushing burnt pieces of the grand piano from his hair and cursing, he should have known Elton would use a dirty, slimey, underhanded trick like that. He had no other choice. He ran back up to his car to the sound of a piano playing, and maniacle british laughter behind him.

Popping the trunk, Clayton W. Smith pulled out a harpsicord he always drove with. He then turned and marched back toward the track field with new determination. Upon seeing Clayton W. Smith return with the harpsicord, Elton John was first shocked, then the shock gave way to amusment.

“A harpsicord?!” Elton laughed incredulously, “That’s nothing compared to the awesome sonic power of my grand piano!” Clayton W. Smith merely chuckled.

“Let’s just continue.”

They played on.

Elton John, sweat running down his face, sunglasses teetering on the edge of his nose. Clayton W. Smith, with a face of pure concentration, brow furroughed, fingers flying. The sound coming from the track feild that morning was too fast, too beautiful, to powerful for any mere mortal to hear. And yet, still, they played on.

“I’m done fooling around.” Clayton W. Smith said. “It’s time to end this!” Clayton W. Smith’s fingers flew faster and faster until the keys of the harpsicord were actually on fire. though the smoke stung his eyes and the flames licked his fingers, Clayton W. Smith fought relentlessly through the pain. He pounded on the burning harpsicord, delivering note after glorious note.

And as he brought his hand down for the final chord, he brought it down with such force that it smashed the burning harpsicord in two. But his blow continued downward, until it hit the ground. Just as his hand made impact, the whole track field exploded in a cloud of dirt and grass and piano peices.

All was silent dust swirled around the decimated field so that none could see the outcome of the duel. Then, Clayton W. Smith could be seen. He carried the burnt, broken peices of his harpsicord out of the dust. Something clattered to the ground not far in front of him. A cracked pair of sunglasses. As Clayton W. Smith marched up the path he stepped upon the glasses with a satisfying crunch and said,
“Yeah, I’m Clayton W. Smith.”



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