A pale sticky permi-haze of stale beer and cheap regret hangs low beneath what passes as a ceiling in the shambling building that the proprietors shamelessly attempt to pass off as a bar. The waitress is half an eternity into telling me the intimate details of her less than extraordinary life, pausing to laugh every few seconds as she reaches the more sordid parts of her history. Three kids by two different guys, the first two belonging to neither of her ex-husbands and the third coming to her by way of a cousin that overdosed on meth. The arresting officer was the dealer, but before she can relate the report on this information one of the more regular patrons of the bar gestures for her attention. I'm a little disappointed. Story was just beginning to get interesting. Then again... thank God. Thought she would never stopped talking. The waitress was cute though, but in a waffle house sort of way.
She flashes a smile to me from across the bar. I politely respond and then turn my attentions to the task at hand. I rise from my stool and begin to make my way to the front of the bar, various eyes casting a dubious gaze in my direction. I pay them no mind. I have business here and I mean to see it done.
The wary eyes of the owner follow my every movement. I am coming for him and he knows it. He also doesn't care. His face is a cross network of life and experience; his eyes the dull hue of boredom. I've seen it all, they seem to say, and you are not a surprise to me. I reach the front of the bar and he looks down in my direction. Literally. Not hard to do when you are a 6' 9" bear of a figure with arms that, though on a body that is beginning to show signs of age, still serve as a reminder former life filled with immense strength and fights. A slight smile begins to creep onto the corners of his weathered lips.
"You're turn, little man," he growls, his voice sounding like glass and rocks wrapped in burlap and scrapped across gravel.
He jabs his large hand into his pocket, pulling out a microphone and jabbing it towards my chest. I take it in hand and step on the stage. The music begins to play and I proceed to belt out the worst rendition of Prince's "Purple Rain" this side of William Shatner.
The regulars howl along with me, drunkenly off key and filled with the jubilation of the moment. Those less inebriated however, cringe at every missed note and off key warble exacerbated by the random squeal of the feedback. The bar owner is next to the waitress that regaled me with her story, impatience draining into his face as she gestures and glares towards one of the customers at the end of the bar. Whatever the issue, she is upset and the customer, upon seeing the owner, it is decidedly later, is wisely ushered out of the door in a very hurried manner by a couple of his less drunken buddies.
I finish the song, my impromptu background singers continuing far beyond the performance. They can have the moment. I step off the stage and settle into the smiles and high fives of my friends.