He sat in the shadows of his apartment and no longer played the piano. It squatted undisturbed in the corner; his flowerpots were marshaled in an orderly file along its closed keyboard cover. Portraits of his friends and his family (but no wife and no child) wandered like refugees atop the polished lid.
As his reputation had grown, so had his tension over maintaining it. In his mind's eye, his fingers on the instrument became thick and stiff, like sausages cracking on a barbecue grill. Finally he found he couldn’t take the heat, and so he turned his back on the whole cookout.
For a while, his reputation – the sold-out concerts, the critical accolades – preceded him, and he was recognized in the street on his way into town. But then the world moved on, and he did not. Soon only his former page turner knew the fading glory of his artistry.
Every now and then he was tempted to make a comeback. He’d feel a twinge of desire to dispatch the plants on a suicide mission, to flip open the lid of his chosen demon, to send the marginalia of his everyday past sprawling to the floor. He'd play them all a thing or two, he'd give them another piece of his mind.
But then he feared he'd have very little left over for himself if he did. And besides, now his hands were stiff and curling from disuse.
Like an altered minor arpeggio, his crowd of admirers diminished the more he declined to give himself to them, and at the last only the page turner attended his funeral. She wasn't surprised by the closed casket covering what she had last seen of him. After all, she knew that the lid had fallen shut on him a long time ago.