Jeff, the Organ Guy

Submitted into Contest #38 in response to: Write a story about someone learning how to play an instrument. ... view prompt

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“You what?!”

Jeff sighed. “You’ve heard me, honey. I bought an organ.”

“Jefferson Ridgley Jones, please tell me this isn’t another one of your ‘projects’, where you spend all our family money on some ridiculous urge you get, and then we have to struggle for months!”

“This is nothing of the sort,” said Jeff, though that’s almost exactly what it was.

His wife, Mariane, stood in the hallway, arms crossed and eyes locked on target. Her fury could be heard almost bubbling up from inside her. Though that could just be the food that she was cooking in the kitchen.

“Look, Mary-”

“Don’t you Mary me, Jefferson!”

Jeff chuckled. “I already did, remember?” He wiggled his ring finger in front of her, hoping to ease her mood with a bit of humor. It didn’t work.

“The country is on lockdown, we’re both out of our jobs, there’s three kids, a dog and a guinea pig to feed - not including one very hungry grown up - bill’s for the car service are due this month and not to mention all the bills for the house-” She took a quick gasp of breath, not breaking up her sentence, “-and you decide, in a crisis like this, to buy an organ?!”

“It’s a good time to start learning to play an instrument, Mariane. Besides, aren’t you the one who always says I should explore my musical talents?” He wiggled with his eyebrows and deepened his voice. “Remember Tahiti? I bet that marimba is still hot to the touch.”

For a brief moment there was a look of glee in her eyes and her cheeks flushed like red tomatoes, but then the moment passed. She was really pissed.

“Why are you so irresponsible?” she sighed. “Did you even think this through before you bought it?” Her look darkened. “How much did you pay?”

“Now, now, let’s not start blaming one another. Mind you, this is no ordinary organ than every clown at the circus can smash on with his clowney hands. This is a sacred instrument, and it deserves a proper respect and attitude.”

Mariane’s face went from angry to angrier. “How much?”

“I should tell you,” said Jeff, looking at her like he was explaining some secret to one of their daughters, “that it is a church organ. So it is holy, and will not do well if we are fighting on its behalf.”

Mariane blinked. “A church organ? I don’t understand.”

“The ones that they have in churches,” Jeff explained.

“I know that,” said Mariane, annoyed. “But those things are huge.”

“Yeah,” Jeff said, scratching the back of his head and looking around the house. “We’ll have to make some space. They’re going to haul it in tomorrow.”

Mariane’s jaw dropped. Jeff knew from experience that was a bad sign. Whenever she would suddenly run out of words to throw at him during an argument, he knew better than to linger around.

“Well, better start making that space,” he said and hurried out the hallway and toward the living room, leaving Mariane to stand there, dumbfounded.

Haul, Jeff?” she shouted after him. “Ships are hauled in the port, not instruments! What the hell did you buy with our money?!”

“Honey, I can hear the soup bubbling over,” said Jeff, entering a safe zone where the kids were playing in the living room. She wouldn’t dare yell at him in front of the little ones. 

Would she?

With a loud slam of something metallic - presumably a pan - he knew he was off the hook, for now. He chuckled to himself, thinking of the look on her face when they’ll start bringing and installing the pipes in their home. She probably still didn’t quite believe him. Who would buy a church organ?

I would, he thought and grinned. A man with a plan.


Early next morning, a sound of beeping and heavy rumble woke up the whole neighbourhood. Three heavy duty trucks blocked the road in front of the Jones’ house, each dragging a long tarp covered trailer behind.

Jeff was already out to meet them, wearing workman’s clothes and a satisfied smile. 

“Morning, boys,” he greeted the truck drivers and the accompanying workers. “Let’s unload these bad boys before my wife comes yelling at me!”

It took the better part of the morning, but they managed to unload the trucks, placing the cargo in the front yard. 

“That’s a lot of pipes,” said Jeff, arms on hips, smiling from under his sweat covered brow. The kids came out to see what was going on and they were already playing with the smaller pipes, blowing air into them like whistles and such. The smallest were only a few inches long. The largest one was almost 10 feet tall. There were nearly 2000 in total. 

“You’ve lost your mind,” said a faint, incredule voice of a very shocked Mariane, who stood at the door, arms crossed.

“You’ll see,” Jeff chuckled. “Before this quarantine is over I’ll be a master organist and then we’ll be able to tour across the states, as I’ll be invited to play in every church with an organ!”

“But Jeff,” she said, too shocked to shout, “you’re not even religious.”

He waved a dismissive hand. “Music is it’s own religion, honey. It belongs to no one god.”

“You’re crazy.” She shook her head, looking alarmingly pale and dragged her feet back inside.

That I might be, admitted Jeff. But I’m also going to be the guy who has a motherfucking ORGAN set in his own living room!

Not minding the curious looks of neighbours, he took the first pipe and carried it to the front door, while waving at the workers.

“Alright fellas, let’s instal this bad boy!”


For the next two weeks, the Jones’ home turned into a strange mixture of a construction site, an amusement park for the kids, a psychiatric asylum for a stressed housewife, a church and a man cave for one middle aged man who may or may not be experiencing a midlife crisis, during a real life virus crisis.

But regardless, in only two weeks time the workers managed to pull the impossible and set up a full functioning organ in a family home. Since there were 2000 pipes to install and only so much space to instal them, some rooms became a led and aluminum jungle, holding the largest pipes. The smaller ones were scattered all throughout the house; bolted to the walls, the ceiling, sticking out from the floor in the middle of the room, replacing flower pots and other decoration in the corners, hung over the windows instead of curtains, replacing radiators, filling the whole basement and attic and even decorating parts of the roof. 

The hardest thing to pull off was to provide the air supply to each individual pipe. A lot of holes had to be drilled into the walls, floor and ceiling and a lot of PVC pipes pulled all throughout the house. A powerful compressor was installed in the basement to provide for air pressure through the PVC pipes and everything was connected to the organ console, which was set up in the middle of the living room.

Essentially, the whole house became one giant instrument.

And it sounded like one too. At first there was some tuning to be done, but the workers had a lot of experience, having installed organs in churches and chapels before; and now in a home as well.

The first few days were the hardest for the neighbourhood. Jeff had to get used to the unfamiliar playing technique of the organ, and it was quite painful to the ear. But soon, to Mariane’s amazement, Jeff got the hang of it. Not just that, he learned quickly. Like he’d been practicing before…

Pretty soon the whole neighbourhood echoed in the joyfull, furious, complex and grand sounds of the church organ, played under Jeff’s skillful fingers. The whole house shook and trembled with vibration. All the mice and termites and wasps were forced out of the house. Now and then a PVC pipe seal would break from the pressure or one of the metal pipes would get loose. Sometimes the kids would stuff things into the pipes and clog them, and Jeff had to fix everything.

The complaints from the neighbours were endless, his wife and kids and dog and guinea pig were slowly going mad from the constant bombardment of sound, but Jeff was having a blast.

And before long, their house got on the internet.

Somebody recorded him play through the window and posted it on YouTube. The video spread like the virus, people clicking on it and sharing it with everyone they knew, since it was one of the most absurd things they ever saw. A man turned his home into an instrument. Who wouldn’t check that out?

“Jefferson, I’m leaving you.”

Jeff did not hear his wife, as he was lost in the music.


Now he understood why Davy Jones loved it so much!


“Huh?” He turned around from the keyboards and noticed Mariane with the kids, all dressed to go somewhere, with suitcases packed. “Huh?” he repeated.

“We’re going to my mom’s,” said Mariane. “Until you get your shit together.”

The youngest one of their three girls snickered at the word shit.

“But… why?”

“Really, Jeff? Why? Look around you! Is this a home appropriate for children? Are you a parent that’s responsible enough to raise them? Our house looks and sounds like a church! We’re on YouTube!”

“I know, isn’t it great?”

“NO! It’s not great! I’ve had it!” Mariane picked her suitcase and stormed out the door, dragging the kids with her. The three of them waved Jeff and then followed, reluctantly. 

The dog likewise went after them.

“She’s got you too, Rufus?”

Rufus barked an apology.

Jeff let out a sigh. They’ll be back, he thought. It’s all part of the plan. 

He turned back to the organ console and made sure Mariane and the kids could hear him play all the way through the neighbourhood as they drove away.


Eventually, the police came knocking on Jeff’s door. But it wasn’t until they came knocking on the living room window that Jeff noticed them, as he couldn’t hear the knocking over the organ music.

“Ah, good thing you’ve come,” said Jeff as he opened the front door. “I could use some help. A few pipes got loose, but I don’t know which. I need someone to spot for me as I press each key.”

The two officers exchanged unsure looks. “Sir, we’ve received some complaints about the noise…”

“Yeah,” said Jeff and nodded. “You’re not the only ones. My neighbours are driving me nuts! The sooner I get those pipes allingned, the better! Would you lend me a hand?”

He didn’t wait for them to answer and went inside, leaving the door open for them.

“Mr. Jones, we’re here on official business to inform you, that whatever you’re doing here-”

Jeff was already at the console and yelled from the living room, not even hearing what the officer said. “Just go to my wife’s room and check the closet pipes for me, will ya? Don’t worry, she won’t mind, she’s not here!”

“Mr. Jones!”

A surge of air rushed through the pipes, blasting the whole house with a furious chord. “Which one is it, then? Guys?”

The two policemen entered the house and with hands on their gun holsters walked in the living room.

“Sir,” one of them yelled over the loud sound, “step away from the instrument! Stop playing this instant, or-”

He couldn’t finish his warning since one of the PVC pipes broke loose from the ceiling, falling on the officer and blasting him with pressurized air. 

Jeff turned and frowned. “Ah, so there’s the problem. That pipe was leaking air. Thanks for pointing it out, guys.”

As Jeff stood up from the organ console, to go fix the broken pipe, the second officer grabbed him, turned him arround and slammed him on the console, playing a discordant sound with Jeff’s face.

“I’m placing you under arrest for assaulting an officer and refusing to cooperate! And for making your home a dangerous place!”

The other officer, the one who got air blown in his face, picked up his fallen hat and kicked the PVC pipe away angrily. Then he helped his partner drag one confused Jeff out of his house and into the police car.

As they drove away, leaving the air compressor running, the organ produced one long, sorrowful, deflating sound.


At the police station they put Jeff into a holding cell with a few other law breakers. Some looked like real criminals and gave Jeff the chills, but then as they started talking he found out that nearly everyone in the holding cell had been put there for breaking the lockdown rules in one way or another.

“Yeah man,” said one guy, looking very ashamed of himself. “I totally forgot it was a pandemic, man. So I hosted this big party, over thirty people, and before everyone even came, the police were already on my doorstep.”

“Well, that was stupid of you,” said a middle aged woman with short hair. “And highly irresponsible! Don’t you know people are dying? I’m here only because I accidentally sat on a park bench that was wrapped in police tape.”

The ashamed guy mumbled something and looked at Jeff. “So what did you do?”

Jeff sighed. “I turned my house into an organ.”

They all looked at him. “Come again?”

“The neighbours complained,” said Jeff and scratched the back of his head. “Even my wife left me with the kids. And when the cops came a pipe hit one on the head… It was embarrassing.”

“You’re the Organ Guy!” exclaimed someone from the back. “Now I recognize you, I’ve seen you on YouTube!”

“That’s me.”

The middle aged woman frowned and shook her head, as if trying to grasp some difficult concept. “Why?”

“Well, I had a plan of turning the whole neighbourhood into a giant orchestra,” he said, some passion returning to his eyes. “Each house would play some different instrument and some would even sing. It would be a charity concert. But… it didn’t go exactly as I thought it would.”

“You’re crazy,” the woman kept shaking her head.

“That’s what my wife said too.”

“Smart woman.”

The man from the back chuckled in disbelief. “How much did it cost you?”

“Well, I didn’t actually-”

“Jones, you’re out!” shouted one of the officers, cutting Jeff in the middle of the sentence. 

He unlocked the cell and let Jeff out. Mariane stood there, her hands crossed and her face angry.

“Hi Mary-”

“Father Murdock called and told me everything,” she said. “About your little ‘project’ with him. He’s the one who paid bail for you.”

“Listen Mariane, I-”

“Why didn’t you tell me? This whole neighbourhood orchestra idea of yours? Turning each house into one of the instruments? All the times you weren’t home I thought you went out drinking or something, but in reality, you were in church, practicing the organ!”

Jeff didn’t know what to say, so he just smiled. “Surprise!”

“Ugh, you’re such an idiot!” Then her face eased up. “But a noble one. Father Murdock told me it’s a charity. For the virus victims.”

Jeff nodded. “Yeah. Too bad I failed though.”

“Not quite,” said Mariane. “I’ve been at the house. Mr. Corston, the fireman? He’s begun playing his old trumpet on the balcony. Cecilia and Jenice? Turns out they can play violins. Despite the complaints of our immediate neighbours, it turns out there are quite a lot of musicians living in our neighbourhood. And seeing what you did, seeing people’s reactions of that video, they got inspired! The Williams’s even came asking why the organ music had stopped! They want you back behind the keys!”

Jeff’s eyes ignited with passion and he picked up Mariane and ran out of the police station with her, leaving both inmates and officers turning surprised looks.


Back at the house there was already a news crew waiting for him and a bunch of neighbours in their backyards and balconies, instruments at the ready. Somebody obviously spread the word about Jeff’s plans.

He became known as the ‘Organ Guy’ and it wasn’t long until cameras started rolling, broadcasting his performance across the internet and even television. His neighbours joined it, singing or playing their own instruments from their own homes, be it on balconies, backyards or even on rooftops.

Many live streams were set up so everyone could join in from all over the world, to watch the performance or to play along with them. Donations were collected by Father Murdock, Jeff’s secret conspirator, and distributed to families who’ve lost all income due to the lockdown. 

But to Jeff, it wasn’t a religious thing. It was to show the world that by working together, giving to and supporting each other, all is possible. 

And it starts with one individual’s idea.

Even if it’s as crazy as turning your house into an instrument.

April 23, 2020 09:51

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1 comment

Miles Gatling
14:55 Apr 29, 2020

Dude, this story is so awesome!


Show 0 replies

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