Here is a sample chapter from my rough draft to give you an idea of how this nonsense is progressing.
Canto 25 – Wish Upon a Star
I honestly was just minding my own business. The bar, I mean. I was minding the bar. Ugly Bill and his idiot child were talking to the FBI somewhere they didn’t bother to inform me about. Orgus, Bill’s truck-driving uglier son was in the hospital. And my brother Richard was home in front of the TV pretending to be sick or something. It was just me, Captain Noah Dettbarn, and an amazing number of unwashed glasses in a business that hardly ever had customers enough to get multiple glasses dirty.
The Captain was busy with his one and only bottle for the day, probably thinking about the South Seas Islands where he used to go by cargo ship. A place where palm trees swayed in the breeze and tropical girls danced in grass skirts with no tops on. I envied his memories. So much more colorful than small-town Iowa in October. Why did it always seem to be October in Iowa, anyway? Sweater weather and cold snaps and early frost.
But my regrets and glass-washing were interrupted by the whole gaggle of Norwall Pirates coming into the bar where they really weren’t supposed to be.
Billy was leading the way, followed by that danged Ricky kid. I knew he would be back. And Francois and little silent black kid and then the two girls, Mary and Val.
“Ricky wants to try the singing machine,” Billy said. “Would that be okay? Please?”
I glared at them all. “What have I got to lose? The instruction book is on top of it. And if Ricky breaks it, Ricky’s daddy the cop has to pay for it.”
Ricky grinned at me. “You know he don’t have no money, right?”
So, like a flock of pigeons or a gaggle of geese they circled around the clunky Japanese squawker box and started chirping and arguing and other things that were hard to ignore. I couldn’t help but notice how pretty young Valerie really was. Even in baggy Fall clothes, she had a body and face that were going to take her far in life and going to break more than one heart. I wondered if she was in any danger from the Teddy Bear Killer that Ugly Bill was going to help capture. Of course, I knew the pervert only killed boys. Still, I had to wonder.
“So that’s what you have to do,” Billy was explaining from the manual. “And now all you have to do is pick one, put the number in, and sing.”
“I try first!” Sang out Ricky.
“Don’t you wanna let the deaf kid sing first?” I asked. “I have never heard his voice.”
“Uncle Victor, you know he can’t speak except in sign language.” Billy was glaring back at me. That skinny little hairball on stick legs was trying to correct my social skills. Nuts to that. I ate a few more antacid tablets.
“That would be perfect for me,” I grumbled to myself.
“Here’s the one I want,” Ricky declared, “Steppenwolf, Born to be Wild.”
Billy helped him type in the right series of numbers, then the screeching began.
“Get your motor running…!” he bellowed like a moose during mating season. “Head out on the highway…”
I regretted not buying earplugs when I bought the damned karaoke thingy. I regretted it almost as much as not being on a South Sea island with girls in grass skirts and no tops.
“Looking for adventure…!” I started fixating on counting the bar glasses on the counter behind me, anything but listening to that moose-mating noise pollution. I also re-stacked the coasters and cleaned the peanut bowls. I successfully refocused my attention to totally ignore Ricky destroying that song.
“Oh, gawd! I only get twenty-five percent on that score? I thought I sang better than that!”
“That was pretty awful, Rick,” Valerie said diplomatically.
Ricky looked angry, but everybody else was nodding agreement. So, the kid gave up and pressed the microphone into Francois’s hand. The French boy entered a code surprisingly quickly.
“When you wish upon a star…”
My beloved Jesus! It was electrifyingly good right from the very first note.
“Makes no difference who you are…”
They were all listening with their mouths open.
“Anything your heart desires… will come to you…”
Even the Captain was listening. I swear I saw tears in his old red eyes.
“If your heart is in your dreams… no request is too extreme…”
I couldn’t help but think about how depressed this kid had been since I brought him here. He’d lost his whole family. He’d been in the back seat of the car with them when they had died. He’d been sleeping hour after hour at our house because he was too sad to do anything but dream. And here he was putting his whole soul into a song about dreams and wishes and stars… and I… um… I was about to cry too when he hit that last long beautiful note.
The song ended, and everyone was stunned. The machine put fireworks on the screen and scored him one hundred percent.
“Sing it again,” said Valerie, softly. It was the only thing anyone could say. And then he sang it again, just as amazingly beautiful as the first time. And he scored one hundred again. Everyone was sniffling or openly crying because it was so touching. Especially pretty little Valerie who had lost her own father only a couple of years ago. Her cheeks were dripping wet.
“Vicar, you gotta have him sing that again tonight,” said the Captain. “People have got to hear that. I mean… gawd dang! That was amazing! I gotta bring folks here to hear that.”
And I knew he was right. That was not something we could afford to keep to ourselves. That kid had real talent.