A story concerning a very important present which managed to change the life of somebody who in fact did not want what he received.



Parker Lee was on stage signing with that voice of his which could make opera arias so special that few would deny that his was talent of a rare kind. It was on this
occasion as he sang the role of Othello in the Met that he felt the presence of
all those who through out his career had supported him at times even more than
he had himself. How this moment was a glorious one for him not only as a
professional singer but as a person was something that perhaps only he truly
felt though his sister Kim had a hint. As it had been her who through the gift
she had given her brother so many years ago had inspired him (perhaps in
directly) to become the great opera tenor he now was.



It was not so much that the particular performance he was giving had any significance to anybody other than himself but it had been 20 years since that day on which he
received the gift from his sister that had changed his whole life and the
direction it was going in and all those who had influenced his career were
there. This including his first signing teacher. She being Getty Albert whom he
at first had referred to as “Frau Hitler” given her strict work ways which he
would later learn to appreciate.



Naturally with this day being of consequence to him many other people whom he had studied with at New York School Of Music had come that included Getty’s son Bill along
with his friends yet this was a special occasion for other reasons. One of them
being that several members of his family had come who did not make it a habit
of attending the opera such as his father Terence, who had named him after the
great Charlie Parker. This in the hope that he too might become a Jazz
saxophone player like his father had wanted to be though never became; as his
was to be a good but never an outstanding Jazz pianist. Jazz being the kind of
music he had hoped his only son would take up not only as a hobby but as a
profession; like he had. Terence for his part still giving performances in
several of New York’s
Jazz night clubs.



Apart from Parker’s father and sister, it was also his mother and friends (with whom he grew up with) who had come to this performance so important to him. After which
he decided to have a party at his Park avenue apartment to which all those who
were near to him had already been invited in order that he might celebrate that
present he had received so many years ago by telling them how it had led to his
becoming an opera singer.



Othello was the role he so much cherished as it allowed his passion to flow though not for reasons that he might be jealous as this moor was but because this was a
character who like himself was black. It was not that he had anything in him
that opposed playing Caucasian characters like Macbeth or Tristan like he had
done so many times in the past but there was something about playing a
character of his own race which he felt brought out something in him that other
roles simply did not. Of course these
traits being the leader he felt he could be and not desires to kill his loving
wife who had been so for many years as well as being his trusty manager along
with mother to both his children; Othello and Teresa . They too being in attendance
on this most special of occasions in their desire to not only see their father
perform but to be able to decide if opera was something either of them cared to
follow as a career. This given that they both were thinking of following
careers in music though were not really sure weather or not to enter New York’s School
of Music or perhaps study
Jazz somewhere else. As for Othello he was very much impressed with opera
though was not really sure if his voice could handle such roles. Teresa for her
part was younger than her brother by one year and was even less decided than
her brother as to not only what kind of music to take up but weather to take it
up at all. As she was concerned it would mean having to make too many
sacrifices regarding her time which she could see she would not have much of if
she were to take up music as a profession.



Chapter Two




The opera came to an end as Othello, the part he was playing killed himself after having taken the life of Desdemona, whom he had believed to be unfaithful only to find
out it had been but a trick of not only the man he thought to be his friend
(Casio) but of his own mind. It was moments like this which he in part lived
for. The audience getting up out of their seats to applaud in the thunderous
manner they always did and the throwing of roses on stage as all the members of
the cast came out to take their curtain call. This being done in an order that
saw the singer with the smallest role came out first to be followed by those
with bigger roles with him being the one to come out last to join the rest of
the cast who had thrilled another audience. There was a certain comradeship
that never failed to develop between himself and those who performed along side
him that he always appreciated as one of the best things regarding his
profession of opera singer.



It being something he cherished almost as much as he did any other part of what he did; knowing how he and those around him (some of which had been strangers to him at
the start) had just combined all their talents and skills to come up with a
performance that had truly dazzled an audience. It to a certain extent was
something that had become even routine to him given it took place night after
night yet despite this he had never seized to enjoy it. Specially on this night
which already meant so much to him given how it commemorated that day on which
he had received what he at the time dubbed “the unwanted gift”.



All followed as it should that night with James Levine coming on stage and taking his bows along with the rest of the cast who had performed so admirably yet in
mist of all this joy it was Parker’s mind that drifted back to the past so many
years ago. Almost leaving his body that went through the motions of bowing
though he had drifted to the point where it all began so many years ago at that
CD store he worked at. He had been working since the start of the school year,
this being his senior year to not only have money for his own pleasures such as
going out with his friends but so he might get a Christmas present for both his
mother and father.



Parker had worked hard and saved his money and using the discount he could get from the CD and audio place he worked at, he decided to get his parents as well as to a
large extent himself; a state of the art Pioneer stereo with a CD player. This
being something relatively new at the time as it had come out just five years
prior and though still expensive the price was slowly coming down. It leaving
him the possibility that he might purchase his family a stereo that would allow
them to fully enjoy the sound of music in their home. This something which he
hopped would be even more appreciated in a household like his; where his father
was a musician.



Parker had truly picked out a stupendous stereo yet as he looked at it now wrapped (in several packages) under the large Christmas tree in his parent’s living room he
suddenly started to feel in a way sad as he sat with his girlfriend, Jennifer.
It having been the two of them who had just wrapped it up after having just
brought it home in a taxi; hoping to have it done while Parker’s parents and
sister were out doing some shopping of their own.



Jennifer and Parker had not been together in intimacy for a long time. This despite the fact that they had known each other for sometime; given they had been in the
same school since the 8th grade with this being both their senior
year.



Jennifer for her part was what many would consider to be an attractive African American young lady with most of the features associated with her race. Her having looks
that even many a white young man in her school tended to admire. As she did in
many ways resemble Angela Davies. Jennifer and Parker who at 18 were the same
age, in reality did not start dating till the start of the school semester. As
she had finally taken notice of he who had always in some way or another been
after her till she at last decided to give him (who at first she was not all
that attracted to) a chance to delight in her society for what would be the
first of many a date to follow.



Jennifer at first had found Parker to be average in appearance with very little to distinguish him apart from his being tall (182 cm) and a voice which he
would often use to sing the songs he played on his Walkman which in reality he
did well though very few of his school mates appreciated. It given the fact
that none of them with the exception of Jennifer were in to Jazz as he was to
the point of knowing just about every singer in this category of music. It
being Jennifer who had even taking to liking jazz more due to her relationship
with Parker than any kind of love for this sort of music which she would
eventually get to appreciate for its own value and not just the one who would
eventually become her husband.



Jennifer who even noticed a certain sadness about Parker as he sat on the sofa saying nothing as if lost in contemplation with more than merely the fatigue from
having worked most of the day and carried home a stereo but as if he felt
something was not as it should be. Jennifer for her part had known Parker for
quit sometime by then and had come to realize that if there was something
troubling him; it would not be a matter of too much time going by before he
came out and said what it was. Her naturally knowing it was nothing she could
have done yet was curious to know what it was that was occupying his mind other
than the fact that they had made plans to join their friends to take in a film
of the season.



“You know Jen, I’ve been thinking that I should be getting something for my sister Kim for Christmas. You know she might be upset that I didn’t get her nothing, after
I got well my our parents an expensive stereo and you a nice… oh” Parker
stopping as he spoke. Jennifer laughing “ You were going to blow the surprise
you tried so hard to keep from me well don’t worry guess I’ll just have to wait
to find out what it will be but that seems like a good idea why don’t you get
her something for this season? After all tis the you know what…” Jennifer
replied in her form that was so relaxing and soothing as both sat next to one
another on the sofa feeling the company of the other as they enjoyed a minute
of brief romance while getting ready to go out again in to the winter’s cold of
December.



“That it is Jen but I feel I should get her something even if she is probably not going to get me anything but just the same just a little would be ok but what? I don’t
even have so much left over but still I feel I should make the effort just the
same.” Parker replied almost seeming to feel better after having said what his
mind held. “Well, you know it all depends on how much money you wanna spend and
what she wants and I think it is a great idea to get your sister something even
if she doesn’t get you anything though who knows she may get you something
after all…”. Jennifer spoke to be interrupted by Parker “Yes, I know tis the
season so what you say we stop by over my place of work where I plan to get her
a CD of some kind of music she listens to. I don’t know Michael Jackson or
something like that though I am not sure what she is in to anymore.”. Jennifer
enjoyed being with Parker and there was something about him that seemed wise in
the way he found solutions where others did not yet on this occasion it seemed
to her that he was planning something which she herself could feel but not put
her finger on. “Oh, I see! You wanna use your discount at the store to get your
sister a present?” Jennifer replied as she put on her jacket and Parker did
likewise. “And what is wrong with that and besides I used the same discount to
get one of your presents as well as this stereo for my parents.”



Jennifer and Parker were ready to go back out again and with the idea of going to where Parker worked before it closed it was Jennifer who said “Well at least now I
know that you got me something connected to music. I just hope it is something
we can listen to romantically.”. Parker started toward the door followed by
Jennifer who did not need to be told it would be wise to leave now as later
might not give them enough time to go to all those places they needed to for
the evening. Parker for his part was feeling pleased that he for the first time
in his life had a job that allowed him to be as generous in this time of year
as he had always wished to be; for he in truth was well paid. Parker also
feeling the joy of the season and his decision to buy his sister a present as
he kissed Jennifer on the lips as the two of them made their way out of his
parent’s apartment on the upper eastside of Manhattan.




Chapter Three





Jennifer and Parker walked down the street dressed in their winter attire to keep them warm in this season of Christmas joy in the city and what a delight it was to
walk hand in hand as they passed the shops and all those places; so nicely
decorated yet as they walked it was Parker who had to figure out something in
his mind. What to get for his sister? Should he get her a CD but then again he
should also get one for himself and with his money now not so abundant,
specially after having bought Jennifer a present and the Christmas season
coming this would not be so easy. He of course could purchase a CD for his
sister but what would he listen to on that HIFI he had just got for the whole
family if he were not left with enough to purchase something for himself. Of
course there was also the factor that the New Year’s was not so far of which
would mean he should have some left over for any expenses that might arise from
that night; most noted for the many parties held in its honor. It was then as
he and Jennifer walked to the music store where he worked that he opted to
employ the tactic he had been considering all along but was not sure if he
should apply. It being to buy a CD for himself or a set of them which he would
give his sister which she most likely would not like but this was not the
point; for in all this he would be able to listen to the CDs he had given her
as a present.



It would be like killing to birds with one stone as he would be giving his sister a present and getting to hear Miles Davis; his favorite jazz musician. How many times had
he looked over that collection of Miles Davis CDs only to consider it too
expensive yet now he had a reason other than himself to spend on it. He would
be cultivating his sister or so he could always tell her if she were unhappy
with it and ultimately even if she hated it as such were chances that she would
he still would get to listen to his favorite music. Of course there was always
the very small possibility that she might like it but even if she did not what
did it matter since to the best of his knowledge she was not going to be
getting him anything anyway. She like himself also had a job but had said
nothing about getting him a present and seeing the way she spent money on
cosmetics and clothes was the indication he used to insure himself that it
would be wise not to expect anything from his dear sister on that Christmas.



Jennifer and Parker entered the place of his employment where he was instantly recognized by those he worked with yet as he said hello his mind was occupied
on that Miles Davis compilation he had set his mind on. He could almost see
himself sitting in the living room of his parent’s apartment listening to this
great jazz musician on that HIFI he knew would so much please his father. In
all this however it would be unfair to say that Parker had purely selfish
intensions; since it could turn out that his sister would also become a jazz
fan. After all he too had not always been a jazz fan and as a matter of fact it
was not till his father gave him some of his old records that he became one so
why was it so unconceivable that sister would also end up gaining a love for
jazz?



Jennifer however did not hide her surprise if not her total distaste for his idea to purchase this kind of music for Kim which she knew Kim was almost certain to
end up detesting. This given how she knew her contrary to his brother’s believe
to have ears that were friendlier toward the sounds of Michael Jackson than any
jazz musician; specially one whose music was complicated to say the least and
far from what one could dance to.



Jennifer however for all her wanting to say something regarding what he had purchased for his own sister refrained from saying anything in the store since the whole
matter of selecting and paying for the CDs in question had been one of a few
minutes. This due to his working there and not having to stand on the long
lines of the season. Jennifer also not even being sure weather or not this compilation
of CDs which she had clearly seen Parker buy was for Kim.



Naturally once outside the store and on their way to meeting their friends, Jennifer did declare in no uncertain ways that she was against that idea of Parker giving
such a gift to his sister. Jennifer’s thoughts being expressed in the following
words “Are you sure getting your sister music by Miles Davis is a good idea? I
mean she doesn’t like Jazz stuff or are you sure that CD ain’t for you by any chance
so you can listen to it?”. Parker for his part looked away from Jennifer as he
feared the look in his eyes would give away that he had been caught yet he did
have an argument he felt he could try on Jennifer and should it convince her
than why should it fail to do the same with Kim? It was with this thought in
mind that Parker started his attempt to try to convince in a voice that sounded
as if its speaker was not even sure if he would be believed; as the following
words came out “Listen, I think my sister should experience new things and new
ideas. After all what is an older brother for if not to broaden his sister’s
horizon to new ideas and cultures. I mean parents sometimes buy their children
educational games which they perhaps even know their children won’t like so
much but they get them in order to you know…”. “You mean bring some culture and
learning to their children?” Jennifer interjected seeing his point but not
really agreeing as there was one small factor he had not seen or perhaps had
not wanted to and it being what she mentioned after he replied “Yes that is it.
See you see what I am talking about.” “Yes but there is just one slight
difference and it being that these parents get these things for their children
not with the hope of being able to use them when their children are not being
occupied by them!” which was precisely what Parker did not want to hear.



“Ok, so I am going to be listening to it too but is that a crime? I mean sometimes girls give each other things and use them, for instance I don’t know perfumes and
stuff or guys give each other footballs which they will also be using, so what
is the big deal that I get her some CDs I also like and it ain’t like she is
gonna be getting me anything so what’s that big deal?” was Parker’s reply which
really did not convince Jennifer but at least left her believing that he might have
in fact some selfless reasons for this present which he intended to give his
sister. “Ok, you get your sister what you want, that ain’t my business but I
just don’t want any Miles Davis or Charlie Parker CDs or I am gonna be really
pissed and besides I got you something I know you will like, you even said so.”
Jennifer replied which made Parker glad he had not bought any such presents for
the romantic acquaintance in his life.



Jennifer and Parker went to the cinema and saw the film they planned to see with their friends and the evening went by like so many others yet the anticipation of
Christmas was in the air. It being what they felt in their joy at being
together and sharing their society during this most special time of year.



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