by Pung Worathiti

For fifty years, I have been staring at 88 piano keys in front of me and thought to myself:

Everything that I need to create a masterpiece is in front of me. All the notes. It’s here. If I put my ten fingers at the right place in the right combination in the right order at the right time, I’ll create something so meaningful that can touch people. It’s the code that still waiting to be cracked.

But then this kid walks into the bar.

He was a small. like thirteen years old kid small. He came up to me and ask if he can play a song or so. I said sure I can use a break. I stacked another chair for him so that he can reach the keys. He said thanks and sit on the chair with a peaceful face, then hover his hand on the keys as if balancing something invisible in front of him. A second later, he sprinkled his fingers on the keys, playing it like an adult who has been through life multiple times over. It’s like ten times jazz combine in one small body. He cracked the code with his two small hands. The melodies, The chords. That voicing. Those improvisation. It’s beautiful, innovative, complex and simple all at the same time.

At that moment, I knew I will never be as good as him. No matter how hard I try. No matter how many devil I made a deal with.

“You don’t know Joey?” my drummer said to me after the gig “He’s this genius kid on the internet. Thirteen years old.”

“I have no idea” I inhaled the smoke deep into my lungs “This fucking kid”

“It’s alright” he said “Music is not about competition, it’s all about the balance”

Musician who said that either they are already on top of their game or not very serious about music. He’s the latter.

“Of course” I brushed off, finished my cigarette and toss it away. When I was about to smoke another one, Joey came out from the bar with what I believe, was an orange juice in his hand

“Hey kid” I called him. He turned his head over “What’s your secret?” I asked him

“Sorry, but I don’t understand your question” He asked back, politely. Too polite for what he just did.

“Come on kid, you know what I’m talking about. How can you be this good. How can you play like you know what Jazz is all about?” I said

Then he stared at me. Confusion occur on his face like I was asking the most stupid question in the world.

“Don’t you get it?” He said


“Jazz is —-”

“Joey!” A woman whom I believe was his mother interrupted our conversation.

“let’s go home, it’s late. Time for bed.”

She took Joey’s hand with her. He walked away and never looked back at me.


Worathiti Manosroi

First published in Arcana