Solong

“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.