Short Story – Camping Karaoke
The sunset on the lake made me sad. Another day and no alligators spotted. What’s the use of camping next to a swampy Florida lake if there aren’t any alligators?
Music from the bar up the road tempted me out. My friends’ arguments about how drinking in bars isn’t part of camping did nothing to deter me. I left them to their smokey, burnt marshmallow sharing of tales of their decades-gone glory school days.
The road back to the highway was starlit and noisy. The insects and frogs seemed to be in tune with the twangy guitars ahead. It was one of those weird moments when I knew I was supposed to be afraid of the deep dark woods, but I wasn’t. Too much noise and vision for that.
The roadhouse was across a four lane highway that wasn’t all that busy but the cars came fast out of the growing dark. They didn’t all have their headlights on yet. It took a while for enough of a break to sprint to the medium. On the medium the fear hit. I was surrounded by speeding cars who had no expectation of a person being here. I could almost hear the thump of my body bouncing off a hood.
Finally there was a break and I made it to the dirt parking lot. Oddly, the music seemed no louder as I got closer. That changed when I opened the door. The music blared with all possible noise then stopped. It wasn’t for my presence, just the end of the song.
Or maybe it was me. By the time I made my way to the nearest bar stool I noticed that I was the only man in the place. I had wandered into that rarest of rare bar experiences, the Lesbian Country Music Karaoke night.
Surprisingly, nobody seemed to be bothered by my presence, so I took the same attitude. I successfully ordered, payed for and drank a beer. Listened to some loud off-key drunken sing-sobbing. Had another beer and realized that I was having a good time. Didn’t know any of the songs being sung, but so what.
Then it happened. This tiny little woman came up to me and said that I had to do the male part of the song she wanted to sing. I told her I didn’t know the song and she said, “That’s why they have the words on the screen you dumb breeder.”
I looked around for support but found none. So I followed the little woman up to the stage. The woman in charge set up a second microphone and pointed out the back-up singer’s monitor. I didn’t know such a thing existed.
The music began and the little woman sang, badly. I’m talking raccoon in heat bad. Then words appeared on my screen. I more spoke them than sang them. I sounded like William Shatner on an off night. The lyrics were somewhere short of Dick and Jane on downers. It was hard not to laugh.
The song ended and the audience clapped. The bartender came up to the stage and dragged me out the front door. She gave me a shove and said, “OK, we’re done with ya.” She shut the door and I heard it lock.
I was halfway across the scary though now mostly empty highway when I realized that there was no music. Apparently nobody wanted to follow our train wreck of a duet.
Back at the campground everyone was already tucked in. I sat watching the dark lake, trying to figure out what I had done to earn the karmic punishment of that bar. Then my mind wandered off into the universe trying to figure out everything else. At some point it got very cold but I didn’t notice.
Then the sun came up. It was beautiful. I wished for the next adventure and climbed into my sleeping bag.
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