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"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)

8.20.2010

Wild Notes Karaoke Bar

Sheila noticed a small white piece of paper taped to her front door as she got home from work.  The note taped to the door said: See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar.  She grinned.  It seemed the girls wanted to start early with their wild weekend.

She went inside and slipped out of her business suit, letting her clothes fall into a mass on the floor of her room.  She took a quick shower and changed into a pair of jeans and her favorite teal top, the one that brought out the blue in her eyes.  She brushed her teeth, freshened her makeup, and gave herself a spritz of perfume.  Then she breezed out the front door.

A good crowd had already formed by the time she got to Wild Notes.  She took a peek inside to see if her friends were already there.  From a booth in the corner, she saw Jen wave to her.  She pushed through the waiting customers and slid in next to Pattie, who was already flagging down the waiter.

"Happy hour, one dollar margaritas," Jen said.  The waiter, a good-looking guy about their age wearing a Hawaiian print shirt and a name tag that said "Mitch" made his way to their table.

"Another round, please," Pattie said.  "She'll have what we're having."  He nodded and disappeared through the crowd of bodies.

"Anyone interesting yet?" Sheila asked.

"Not really," Jen answered.  "We've had one girl who is obviously practicing for American Idol, and an old guy singing country who looks like he missed the boat.  The rest of them have been the regular drunks making fools of themselves."

Sheila laughed.  "Those are my favorites."

"I know, right?" said Pattie as she took another swig from her glass.

The waiter arrived and passed the glasses around the table.  Sheila leaned back in the booth, swirled the liquid in her glass with her swizzle stick, and took a sip.  She looked at the stage area to see who would be next.

The next guy up looked intriguing.  Not one of the usual suspects; he didn't trip over the cord of his mike, and when he looked out at the crowd, his eyes were clear.  Dark green, clear eyes.  He wore jeans and a button down shirt over a t-shirt, and it didn't look like he had spilled anything on himself yet.  He wore flip flops, and when his brown hair fell in his eyes, he whipped it away with a sharp flip.  He turned on the microphone, tapped it a few times.

"Ahem.  I feel like I should warn you guys," he said into the mike.  "I subscribe to the Japanese philosophy of karaoke.  They believe it's not about talent, it's about the emotion you put into the song.  So, this is just for fun, OK?"

A Bon Jovi tune started playing through the speakers.  He began to sing.

You say you're cried a thousand rivers
And now you're swimming for the shore
You left me drowning in my tears
And you won't save me anymore

Now I'm praying to God you'll give me one more chance, girl

I'll be there for you

Sheila's felt the blood rush to her face.  He stared right at her while he sang.  It was at her, right?  She turned to see if her girlfriends had noticed, but they weren't even watching him.  The only other customers in his line of vision were a couple of elderly women at the table in front of her.

I know you know we've had some good times
Now they have their own hiding place
I can promise you tomorrow
But I can't buy back yesterday

His eyes never left her face.  Memories of old boyfriends swam to the surface, the fun she'd had, the heartbreak she'd suffered.  It felt like he sang for every one of them.

I'll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe I want to be the air for you
I'll be there for you
I'd live and I'd die for you
Steal the sun from the sky for you
Words can't say what a love can do
I'll be there for you

She didn't break away from his gaze.  She let him sing to her.  She felt, for the moment, that he meant what he said, that he was the one to erase all her pain, that he was her promise.  He finished, and he smiled at her.  He ducked his head, set the mike down, and jumped off the stage.  He was lost in the crowd.

She exhaled.  She hadn't realized she'd been holding her breath.  There was a lull on the stage; no one else was waiting to sing.  She stood up.

"Um, Sheila?"  Jen asked.  Sheila didn't answer.  She walked to the karaoke machine and flipped through the titles.  She found one that she liked and selected it.  She held the microphone to her lips as the music started.  Her voice was shaky as she sang the first lines.

I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see
And listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes

Sheila scanned the crowd, but she didn't see him.  At their booth, Jen and Pattie stared at her, their mouths open.

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softy with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life
With his words
Killing me softly with his song

She finished and set down the mike to a scattering of applause.  She made her way back to the booth, where Jen and Pattie still looked confused.

"What the heck?  When did you start singing?"
"Really, are you crazy?"

Sheila reached into her purse and took out a silver business card case.  She snapped it open and took out one of her cards.  On the back, she wrote her home phone number.

The waiter walked up to their table and set a drink in front of Sheila.

"The gentleman over there asked me to bring this to you."  He gestured behind him.  Sheila smiled and handed the waiter the card in her hand.

"Thank you very much.  Can you please see that he gets this?" she said.  The waiter smiled, took the card, and gave her a small bow.  Sheila turned her attention back to her friends.

*****

Today's prompt:  The note taped to the door said: See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar.

To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday here.

8 comments:

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Well written, except the ending needed more punch, I thought. But I liked the concept where, like Sheila, we assumed one thing at the beginning and realized our assumption was wrong by the end.

Too bad you can't use song lyrics so easily in fiction (copyright problems) as people do in blogs.

Carrie Dair said...

Oh my gosh, that was awesome. :) It's like seeing my future husband walk towards me on the dance floor all over again. Only I didn't have a business card to give him. That's probably why it took him two weeks to track me down. But he did. :)

John Pender said...

The ending fell a little flat, but I did like the overall story. Well played, Shelli.

afullnessinbrevity said...

*puts foot up on lounge and pretends to be Ritchie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi combined into one, singing and playing air guitar*
You captured a great moment between the two characters through the music. Well done.
Adam B @revhappiness

Shelli said...

Tanya -- Funny timing, after my comments on the ANWA post. Looks like my scheme to get reciprocal comments worked. ;)

Thanks, I can tell I was fading by the end of the story. And I wasn't even thinking of copyright issues! I hope I didn't step over the line.

Carrie -- My husband and I also met at a dance! He saw me and knew he was going to marry me. He asked me to dance, and made sure he left with my number in hand (written on a gum wrapper).

John -- Thanks. I did feel like maybe the idea was better than the execution on this one.

Adam -- I cracked up when I read your comment! I see that you got the feel I was trying for. This prompt totally made me want to go for it, bad voice be damned. Thank you.

Jason Coggins said...

I don't move in the shady world of Karaoke but you certainly delivered a fantastic portrayal for us recluses. As touching as your singing duelists were it made me consider how come these karaoke singers find it easier to express a feeling using someone elses words/lyrics than say it with their own words? That said I still got goose bumps when I realised she was singing "Killing Me Softly" go figure?

Shelli said...

Jason -- Ah, music is magical, and many of us are so grateful an artist has found a way to say what we feel so beautifully. I'm thrilled you felt goosebumps! I love that song. Thanks for sharing your comments.

Stacey said...

Gosh I'm a sucker for romance! I like how you've written the karaoke voyeurs, and how your MC has been lured away from her voyeurism.