Friday, February 14, 2014

Billy Saddle, the Baseball Novel, Chapter Eight: Luciano Pavarotten

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David is almost grateful that tonight’s candidates are awful. He’s got enough on his mind. Mostly his eldest son, who has not left his room for days.
            Candidate number one is a tough-looking redhead who comes from a blues background. She sings every song as if her old man is coming home to blow her head off, and the more she emotes the harder she sings. Putting all that pressure on her throat causes her tone to blat out, nicely illustrating the line between singing and shouting. He’d like to give her a good, hard slap for crimes against music, and feels fortunate that Isaiah is handling personnel duties.
            “Thanks so much for coming out. You’ve really got a terrific voice. We’re going to take quite a while to come to a decision, so please be patient with us.”
            “No problem!” she says. “I’m so sorry about your friend.”
            “Thank you. That’s one reason we’re taking so long with this. We’re still in a bit of shock.”
            He sends her out the door and returns to the garage, eyes  to the heavens.
            “Sorry, Larry.”
            “You are so smooth. You sure you never went to law school?”
            Isaiah grins. “That is so much preferable to ‘You sure you never played basketball?’”
            “So you’d prefer to be stereotyped by race as opposed to height?”
            “‘How’s the weather up there?’”
            Candidate number two is even worse. David recalls a mention of classical training and choirs. Larry used to attribute his breath control to just such a background. But to show up with sheet music, and to reproduce each note with Mozartean precision? Well, yikes. He and Isaiah are dragging him through a metronomic rendition of “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” when a ruckus breaks out inside the house. It sounds like a pit bull on the attack.
            David cuts out, leaving Isaiah with Luciano Pavarotten, and sails down the hall. He opens the door to find Pablo in his briefs, sparring with the TV screen as he sends a squad of zombies to horrible deaths.
            “Die, you motherfuckers! Pieces of shit DIE! Fuck you and fuck you. Not so fucking bad now, are ya!?”
            He spots his father at the door and freezes. David is stunned at the transformation, the scraggly patches of beard, the snarled fright-wig, dark circles under wild eyes.
            David points at the screen. “Watch out! They’re right on top of you.”
            Pablo pauses, confused, then turns to find a circle of flesh eaters bearing down.
            “Get ‘em!” yells David. “Kill those motherfuckers!”
            “Yahh!” Pablo guns them down in a shower of blood. “Die you assholes! Fucking DIE! Ahahahaha!”
            David returns to the garage, feeling very fortunate that Elena’s not home.
            “Hi. Sorry ‘bout that. So Isaiah, have we heard enough of a sample?”
            It takes a moment for Isaiah to realize that David is initiating an escape sequence.
            “I think I’ve heard enough.”
            “Thanks so much for coming out,” says David. He punches the garage door opener. “You’ve got a fantastic voice. We’re going to take a while to…”
            By the end of the spiel, he manages to walk Placido Dumbingo to the driveway. He grabs two beers from the fridge, and they toast their auditioner farewell as he circles the court.
            “We are so fucked.”
            “Come on,” says Isaiah. “That’s only, what? Seven singers?”
            “Shit. Maybe we need to start cruising the karaoke bars.”
            “Ha! Right.”
            “I’m not entirely kidding. What was the ruckus about?”
            David takes a deep drink and stares at his fake-book, which has flipped itself open to “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?”
            “I think that was… therapy.”
            “You got a weird family, man.”
            “Define ‘weird.’”

Photo by MJV

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