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Saturday, April 25, 2015

"V" is for "Vegas Dreams"

Welcome to the 22st letter of the A-Z Challenge!

My theme revolves around the soon-to-be published memoir, REVIVAL, which I wrote for former professional opera singer, Donald Braswell.

Yesterday, Donald mentally prepared himself to sing in front of the judges and the live audience at America's Got Talent...

"V" is for "Vegas Recall"


…Several contestants clasp their accessories and broken dreams as they retreat from the musical battleground ahead of us. I glance at our motley crew. We’re the new recruits, replacements shuffling toward the front lines, the antithesis of Easy Company from Band of Brothers. The reality of what could happen to any of us—what would happen to most of us—throttles further conversations, except for the nagging voice in my head. Yes, you are insane.

Corralled in a green room with fading blue walls and dirty mirrors, the smell of ancient coffee and fresh fear reminds me of a dingy, West Texas truck stop.

“The things you do to win a million bucks, right?” said a magician, who wipes his palms off the front of his trouser legs as if he needs a spark for some tinder.

My witty come-backer (something to do with only here to meet the host, Jerry Springer,) dies in my mouth as an acrobatic duo passes the open door. The young woman is inconsolable, her head buried in the muscular shoulder of her partner. Those guys, too? Wow, they were great.

Any sense of nervous humor flees from me and the oft-heard buzzers, which sound an immediate and early end to the latest act, sound harsh as the judges cull the stage of dreams. Acts disappear, and the only respite for the next-in-line is the setup time. Sometimes, the voracious crowd roars its disapproval when contestants are announced.

There’s no satisfying these guys, and I wonder if they’ve been here since 7:30 a.m., too? I glance at my wrist. Almost 5 p.m. That’s crazy…

A tap on the shoulder. I whirl around.

“Donald Braswell?” said a young, busy-looking crew member with short dark hair, accessorized with the much-squawking headset.

I nod.

“I’m Pete.”

“Hi. What’s up? Howya’ doin’?”

We share a quick handshake.

“You’ll be on soon. This way please.”

I follow, but having a guide is weird. Pre-accident, I’d owned backstage. It was my office, my sanctuary.

But, it’s been years, c’mon now…

Pete apparently receives a flash message.


Like a traffic cop at a busy intersection, his hand shoots out, the white palm stark against his dark shirt. The walkie-talkie squawks, Pete mutters back, and then lowers his hand, slow, like an old drawbridge.

“Hang on. One more act ahead of you now. The cowboy roper and his quarter horse.”

The horse. My audition for a horse! How’d I forgotten those guys? Easy I suppose, especially when you’re stashed away in a trailer. Out of sight, out of mind. I feel sorry for the crewmembers who maneuver the huge beast through that cramped backstage. A rumbling clip clop and several muted curses arrive before the equestrian version of Andre the Giant lumbers past. Its heaving nostrils and dark eyes betray only a mere touch of panic, which amazes me. I step into a recess and send positive thoughts to the almost-horizontal cowboy and his effort to avoid pulleys, wires and whatever else overhead that worked to unseat him. We lock eyes and nod hello like it’s an everyday occurrence. A few more feet further and a big, hairy rear end clears the curtains.

The visual brings on a snicker and I kick my right ankle to stop a bad case of the giggles. Audiences once waited with excitement and anticipation for me, the new, young lead tenor ready to make his grand entrance. Here I am, thirteen years later and about to follow a huge horse’s ass. Lord, you surely know how to keep a man humble.

Tomorrow: "W" is for "Wife"


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - I'd hate to stand in line for hours on end ... those guys are so keen to try their luck (many of them) ... but then the gems come through ...

Funny about following the horse onto stage ... Vegas Recall, I imagine would keep anyone humble .. cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Following a horse would keep me humble. The whole experience sounds awful.

Tamara Narayan said...

I knew animals were great at relieving stress, but this takes it to a whole new level. Great tension and humor in this excerpt.

Tamara Narayan said...

I knew animals were great at relieving stress, but this takes it to a whole new level. Great tension and humor in this excerpt.

Jo said...

I have done some waiting in the wings. Terrifying. Never had to follow a horse's ass though.

quietspirit said...

Mark: I couldn't wait that long. I would blow it when my turn would come. God made me a different way. I am still glued to Donald's story,

Anonymous said...

Bahahahaha Ah, man.

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