(From the soon-to-be-published novel copyright 2010, Donald Riggio)
Bobby cocked his head to the side to indicate that Johnny should follow him the rest of the way down the hall to his room. Once inside, Bobby closed the door.
“Pop a squat.”
Johnny sat in the only chair in the room. It looked like it belonged to the kitchen set. The room was small and square, furnished with a single bed, and a three-drawer clothes dresser with an oblong mirror attached. A crucifix hung on the wall over the bed and two other pictures adorned other walls. The air was stale from cigarette smoke.
Bobby set up a small, portable record player contained within a suitcase type carrying case. When he turned around he had a stack of forty-five’s in his hands. He gave them to Johnny.
“You know the words to any of these?”
Johnny looked through the records “This one, I guess.” He said, giving it to Bobby.
“Alright, I’ll put it on and you can sing along with it.”
“Sing along with it? You mean out loud?” Johnny seemed shocked by the suggestion.
“What the fuck? Of course out loud!”
“I…I can’t do that. I’d be embarrassed.”
Bobby found that funny. “How do you expect to sing in the choir if you’re embarrassed?”
“In the choir I don’t have to sing by myself.”
“Dufus! You’re gonna’ have to sing by yourself at the tryout.”
“Yeah, I know, but still…” Johnny was out of excuses. “…Maybe if you sang it first?”
“I’m not trying out for anything.” Bobby soon relented. “Okay, it it’ll make it any easier for you. I’ll do it first.”
Bobby affixed a small, yellow plastic disc to the center of the forty-five so that it fit properly over the nipple-like spindle on the record player. He turned the machine on, moved the tone arm to the beginning of the record, and then lowered it. The four-inch speaker crackled and hissed before giving way to an instrumental introduction.
Bobby stood, raised his eyes to the ceiling and belted out the lyrics of the ballad in perfect unison with the singer on the record. His presentation and poise impressed Johnny. Bobby’s voice was full and he exhibited great range. When the record finished Johnny felt like applauding but he didn’t.
“ Feel better now?” Bobby asked
“ Okay, but don’t expect me to be as good as you.”
“Oh, believe me, I don’t. You ready?”
Johnny rose from the chair and took up position as his friend had done. Bobby started the record again and plopped down onto his bed. When Johnny opened his mouth, very little came out. Bobby burst out laughing.
“C’mon, C’mon that ain’t singing, that’s whispering! Open your mouth so they can hear you all the way up on Tremont Avenue!”
Johnny hesitated, and then composed himself enough to catch up to the lyrics being sung on the record. The two boys laughed together after it was all over.
“How was that?” Johnny asked.
“You sucked!” Bobby blurted out without hesitation and a hearty laugh.
“Aw, c’mon man. It wasn’t that bad, was it?”
“All right, I take it back. But you need a lot of work, man. You were off key in a lot of spots. Oh, if anyone ever asks you again, you’re a tenor.”
“Is that good?”
“Well, I’m a tenor myself so I might be able to help you with some things. You wanna’ try it again?”
Johnny thought for a moment. “Yeah, yeah I think I’d like to.”
Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "My arms are empty, my nights are long and lonely I miss you so. Each new tomorrow can only bring me sorrow, I love you so." From: "Have You Heard?" By: The Duprees.