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"Piano Man" • Billy Joel (by Lori D'Angelo)

John at the bar is not, in fact, a friend of mine because I don't go to the bar anymore. I used to go to that bar all the time. Before Raimi. I even met Raimi there. Now, with the smell of rancid beer and my memories of Raimi seeping through my memories like a bad hangover, I stay away from the bar. 

I wonder if Raimi had made it big like Billy Joel if the trajectory of his life would have been different. 

Instead, the trajectory of his life like this: Dream big, fail. Dream big, fail again and again and again. Then stop dreaming. 

Ever since Raimi died, I hear the song differently. But still I listen. I think one time maybe I'll be listening and feel something profound, something to make it all mean something other than nothing. 

I just keep re-listening and coming up with stupid questions like: What's a real estate novelist? Is there a certain way a person drinks a tonic and gin when he's making love to it that is different from when the person is not? 

And I wonder something else: If Billy Joel had never became a megastar, would he still be playing that piano bar? Or would he be dead like Raimi? 

I wonder if there will be a time when my memories of Raimi drinking too hard and laughing too loud and failing too much will begin to fade like the song I used to love. Or maybe I'll still remember him but without the ache. 

Lori D'Angelo is a grant recipient from the Elizabeth George Foundation and an alumna of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Recent work has recently appeared in Beaver Magazine, BULL, Bullshit Lit, Chaotic Merge, Idle Ink, JAKE, North Dakota Quarterly Review, Rejection Letters, Thin Veil Press, and Wrong Turn Lit. Find her on Twitter @sclly21 or Instagram and Threads at lori.dangelo1. She lives in Virginia with her family. 


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