The Ultimate Mystery

It was the ultimate mystery, how a human being could survive when logic said death would be better, how the human mind dealt with unimaginable pain, physical and emotional, and how he could use the unique knowledge he now had to try to ease the transition back to life of Rainie Adler, and perhaps help himself at the same time.

It was the ultimate mystery, and he had solved it.


Since the Bechstein arrived, House had played a little every day. And since Rainie's hand surgeries had given her back the use of her hands, she spent a lot of time at the piano, too, building up her strength and coordination.

House had been right—she was a gifted musician. Even now, having lost so much of her technique, he could tell she understood music in that fundamental way only real musicians do. The first time she'd sat at the piano, after her first hand surgery, she'd cried with joy.

Now, they sat together on the bench for the first time, and played a duet.

Next door, Wilson finished up a long phone call with Evan Schuster. After a few minutes of folding laundry, Wilson pricked up his ears, noting that something about the music sounded a little different. Maybe it was louder, or maybe it was something else. Whoever was playing seemed to be using the entire keyboard. He could hear very high notes and low, rumbling ones and everything in between.

The song was a simple one, but full of rich harmonies, with a strong emotional undercurrent. It was vibrant and compelling, with simple jazz riffs linking phrases. The song went on and on, building with each new variation.

He thought he recognized the tune. Once upon a time, he thought, House had told him the name of it. Whatever it was, it made his heart soar.

Wilson carried a stack of freshly laundered bath towels to the linen closet, and put them away neatly, returning a moment later with washcloths and hand towels.

The music continued.

Done with the laundry, he moved on to his living room, where he dusted a few objects and then settled himself on his couch to read.

And still the song went on, louder, then softer, changing and evolving as it progressed from a somber elegy into an exultant concerto for two.

He felt so good, he thought he might just take a nap. His eyelids closed and he dozed for a few minutes.

When the music finally ended, he stirred.

Oh, yes.

Now he remembered.

His eyelids grew heavy again and he began to slip into a relaxed slumber, a smile on his face.

It was called "Hymn to Freedom."1

The End

1 "Hymn to Freedom" was written by Oscar Peterson in the 1960s and used as an anthem for the civil rights movement. House fans should recognize it from the end of the episode "All In," when House has finally solved what killed Esther, a patient who died 12 years ago. He sits alone at a piano, and plays, his feelings about solving the case (and finally absolving himself of the guilt over Esther's death) expressed through music.