Friday, December 2, 2011

Open Mic

     “Thank you, thank you!” The guitarist took a bow and exited the small stage as the scattered audience applauded. Her guitar bumped into the large Open Mic Night sign on her way down.
     Craig clapped lightly from his table in the back of the coffee shop, then turned to his friend Kevin. “I liked her song. What did you think?”
     “Meh,” Kevin said, sipping his latte. “She’s a decent musician, but not original.”
     “You’ve said that about every single person tonight,” Craig said. “I’m going to be very disappointed if you do anything ordinary when it’s your turn.”
     Kevin finished his drink and pushed it away. “No worries. Nobody has ever done what I’m about to do.”
     “Are you going to tell me what you’re planning yet, or do I still have to wait like everyone else?”
     As if to answer Craig’s question, the manager/emcee took the microphone and announced Kevin as the next act. The small crowd clapped as he walked across the room and stepped up onto the stage. He stood in front of the microphone and waited until everyone was silent before speaking.
     “Thank you,” Kevin said, leaning toward the mic. “Tonight, I am going to show you a mime act—“
     A few people in the crowd moaned.
     “But wait, not just any mime act… I’m an audio mime.”
     The moaners became curious and stopped making noise.
     “That’s right,” Kevin continued. “In a completely unprecedented performance, I will portray for you a scene without any movement, only audio.”
     Kevin took a step back and inhaled a deep breath. He then exhaled deeply, shook his arms and head until they felt loose, and stepped up to the microphone again.
     “I’m in a room,” he said, completely motionless. “It’s a small room, and all the walls are transparent like glass. Wait, it’s getting smaller. The room is closing in on me, the walls are getting tighter. I’m trapped inside and I can’t get out. I’m running out of air and I can’t do anything about it. Why won’t anybody help me? Now I’m outside. It’s a beautiful day and I stop to pick a flower. Now I’m trying to walk forward but the wind keeps pushing me back…”
     Craig watched his friend from his table in the back of the room, utterly confused. Although he had to give Kevin credit for originality, he also thought this was the stupidest thing he had ever seen on a stage. Part of him wanted to heckle Kevin for being such an idiot, but he looked around the room and noticed that everyone else seemed to be entranced by his friend’s words. Did they actually like what he was doing? Was it possible that Kevin had a gift for working an audience? Was his friend an artistic genius? The thought was unimaginable to Craig at first, but here was proof right in front of him. Maybe there was something to this audio mime thing. Maybe this could take Kevin someplace. Maybe Kevin would make it big, and Craig would be able to say they had been friends since high school. Anything was possible. Craig watched his friend perform his heart out on that tiny stage with new admiration.
     “I’m trying to climb a ladder, but it keeps falling into the ground—“
     “You suck!” shouted a voice from the audience.
     Within seconds, everyone in the room was booing and throwing trash at Kevin.
     “I knew he was an idiot,” Craig said, then booed and threw a crumbled napkin at the stage.

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