Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Singing (10/31/05)
TITLE: One More Night
By Val Clark
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One more night in the Insomniacs Lounge and I’ll be free of these sickly sweet love songs. So much for Pastor Anson’s word of knowledge. Where was the breakthrough in my career he’d prophesied would come if I worked the cruise?
‘Coffee for Miss Sarah.’ Nick Freeborn signaled the waiter.
For the last eleven nights Sarah had valued Nick’s quiet, grandfatherly presence. His soft, southern drawl. Now she was off the wagon she needed something, or someone, to replace a whisky bottle in the adrenalin filled hours that followed a performance – good or bad.
Why me when there are a dozen beautiful women clamoring for his attention?
‘You look splendid. A Versace, perhaps?’
‘A Versace rip off, Nick. A fake.’
Everything about me is a fake.
‘And don’t tell me I sang beautifully, I didn’t. You know it.’ Sarah looked around the sparsely populated room. ‘They know it. Each night gets worse.’
‘You don’t like singing anymore?’
Why not tell him? After tomorrow we’ll never meet again.
‘It’s not been the same since my guitarist, Eddie, got religion. He wanted me to believe too, but I couldn’t, not then anyway. He moved out.’
First out of my bed then out of my life when I got wasted and trashed his guitar.
Eddie’s face wobbles in and out of focus.
‘Sarah? Do you know what Sarah means? It means princess. You’ll always be my princess.’
She swears at him, harsh unforgivable words that she will remember with regret every waking moment.
Eddie pushes at the fragments of his favorite instrument with a black booted toe and leaves.
Leaves everything, everyone, including his beloved princess, behind.
‘Earth to Miss Sarah.’
‘Oh, sorry. I’m not very good company, tonight.’
‘True, but you are company.’
The harsh banging on her cabin door finally woke Sarah the next morning.
Entertainment Office, pronto.
Sarah threw the note in the bin and headed for the shower.
‘Pronto means straight away, Sarah, not an hour and a half after the message is delivered.’
Guilty as charged.
‘Maimie’s lost her voice.’
Maimie, celebrated soloist in the Blues Lounge.
‘We need to keep all of our passengers happy. Here’s a list of her songs. You’ll incorporate them in your show tonight.’
I can’t sing these songs. They were our favorites, our signature tunes. I swore I’d never sing the blues again. Never. Lord, if I throw myself overboard now will you send a big fish to swallow me?
‘Not thinking of jumping ship, are you?’
‘I wish I could.’ Sarah handed Nick the list.
‘And the problem is….?’
‘Singing is not just about technique. It’s about connecting. Finding the spine of the song - its emotional core - deep inside me, and communicating that emotion to the audience. I can’t do that without Eddie.’
And that’s why so few people come listen to me sing. You, you old faker, you know that. So why do you hang around?
‘Can’t or don’t want to? Or are you afraid to?’
Nick followed Sarah to the Insomniacs Lounge. The sensual tones of a muffled trumpet tore at her gut as they entered. Terry was totally immersed in making the keyboard do things she hadn’t thought were possible.
At least Terry will enjoy himself tonight.
Sarah reached for the microphone. Nick gave her a thumbs up from his usual table. Every seat was taken. The house lights dimmed. The spotlight intensified.
She totally annihilated the first song. Even Nick didn’t applaud.
Sarah, you’re a professional. She berated herself. Act like one. Mediocrity is destroying you. Sing your heart out, that’s what you do best.
Lord, please give me courage to tap into the pain.
OK. Wherever you are, Eddie, these are for you.
The applause was thunderous. Her ribs still ached from Terry’s bear hug. Even after her third coffee people kept coming and talking to her.
When the excitement finally died down Nick handed her a card. She stared at it in disbelief.
Not just Nick Freeborn, but the Nicholas Freeborn of Freeborn Recording Studios, New York.
‘Eddie’s ready to sign up for a recording deal but he’s not been satisfied with any vocalists we auditioned. Finally he told me about you. It took a while but eventually I tracked you down.’
‘So Maimie didn’t lose her voice.’
‘No.’ He laughed quietly. ‘She gained a substantial bonus, though.’ He signaled for another coffee. ‘Interested?’
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