“Do you have–”

A karaoke bar in Milwaukee is more likely to have an AA meeting than this song. The part of my ego is overplayed by a Fop, who raises a handkerchief to his nose, ready to whip out a fan when the answer is no. But before I finish asking he starts answering:

“Just write it down.”

Effrontery from a karaoke vendor! Fop and fan flail like an injured bird; painted lips prepare for a reproach. Steady, alliteration. Steady, ego. Steady, hand. Just write it down. We do. After viewing many vocal achievements of skill and shamelessness, the vendor finishes answering my question:

“OK, now here’s Ben, singing ‘This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.'”

They have it! Now I have to do it. Those resigned piano chords trudge towards a beginning. While I am singing, I do not imagine Elton John, or Justin Timberlake playing Elton John. A screen displays the lyrics, my biography:

I used to be the main express / All steam and whistles heading west / Picking up my pain from door to door / Riding on the storyline / Furnace burning overtime / But this train don’t stop / This train don’t stop / This train don’t stop there anymore.

It was east, not west, but everything else is right. I was uncommon; by thirty I was going to be “pretty f—ing amazing.” A creature believing it could recreate itself.  My Own Private Id raced through a dark tunnel of desire.

When I said that I don’t care / It really means my engine’s breaking down / The chisel chips my heart again / The granite cracks beneath my skin / I crumble into pieces on the ground.

Broken, chipping, cracking and crumbling. This is how a Sculptor creates a sculpture. I’m not scared.

The song is over. Everyone is staring. Returning the mic to its holder, I step away from the screen.

4 thoughts on “Solong

  1. I’ve done karaoke maybe a total of 3 times, and I generally find it to be a somewhat terrifying experience, and I’m not sure if it is more terrifying for me or for the audience listening. Still, there is something to be said about facing one’s fears, right?

    You’re one of the few people I know who can turn a moment at karaoke into a meaningful scene. Nicely done. Have you ever read Flannery O’Connor’s short stories? I think you might like them, and something about your style reminds me of her work.

  2. I wish there was an option to add photos to comments, because I have the photographic representation of this scenario on my laptop. There is a fabulous sweater involved.

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