5.15 – Lost

“Where are we?” I asked El Puma.

At some point we were supposta get off the NewYorkCity Roads and enter the NewYorkCity Streets, but The Gods never told me how. There were lots of Roadsigns everywhere, but we couldn’t understand any of them, and then I hadta just pick a random exit.

“I have never seen these streets,” El Puma said.

They were dark with no street lamps and no street signs anymore. All the houses and shops had wooden boards over the windows, and someone had covered them with spraypaint paintings. As we drove thru I kept seeing mysterious moving shadows, and I didn’t know if they were from trees or dangerous Downtown MeNotzies. I tried to turn around and go back to the exit, but I couldn’t find a way to get back on.

“Dammit,” I said. “We’re trapped.”

“Where do The Gods say to go?” El Puma said.

“I don’t know. They won’t say.”

“The God of The Road has suddenly abandon one of his Gifted Realities?”

“I accidentally lied before. The God of The Road has no idea who I am. I was actually a terrible driver at first and hadta practice a lot just to be kinduv alright at it.”

“So anyone who practices could drive as well as you?”

“Yeah.”

“This encourages me, but also discourages me. How do we find our way now without The Gods lighting the way?”

“We probably hafta ask someone.”

“But you said a Reality Traveler never asks for directions.”

“No, that’s wrong, too. Anyone who’s lost has to ask for directions.”

“This makes more sense to me, but who do we ask? There is nothing but darkness around us.”

“I know. It’s scary.”

“Yes, I suppose we must keep going until we find some light.”

Soon we found a gas station with one dim lantern hanging high over it. The building was small and very spraypainted. Its windows had holes in them, and some of its pumps didn’t even have nozzles on them. It was kinda dark inside, and you couldn’t see anyone in there, and there was no open sign. It seemed too dangerous to get out and check. It seemed like you could hear bullets and screams in the near distance. But just as we were about to pull out and try to find a better lighted thing, I heard something else.

“Wait,” I rolled down the window to listen more closely. “There may actually be a God on our side afterall.”

“What is it?” El Puma said.

“Just follow me.”

Then I got out of the car, and he followed behind. We went to the door and jiggled the handle, and it opened. Inside behind a wall of bulletproof glass was a real live Downtown NewYorkCity Reality. He was a gray haired, gray bearded, old Adult, but he was up on his feet, flapping his arms, and dancing around beneath a flickering lamp like an old Moth who’d gotten inside the house cuz someone left the door open. My first instinct would’ve been to cover my ears and protect my wool wares, except he was listening to none other than Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” on The Radio. His voice was wheezy and not good, but he was singing and dancing with full passion. I started singing along, too, not to overpower him, but just enough to let him know I knew the song.

“How you know those words?” the Moth said. “This before your time.”

Then I told him about The Voice Professor and how I was supposta sing it for the Recital.

“That right?” he said. “This song a part of my past too. “Cupid” a song about my wife. Years ago we in the streets of NewYorkCity.  Outta a million people passing another million people we pass each other.  Arrow fly suddenly from the heavens right down into our chests.  Stops us in our tracks, we look into each other’s eyes, and know we gonna be in Love forever and we been ever since.”

“He’s a Lover like us!” El Puma said.

“Point is we think we in control,” Moth said. “But it really The Gods, and they be laughing at us. Ain’t nobody better than nobody else down here, ya know? Nobody a God but the Gods.”

“I know,” I said. “That’s pretty much the Reality Traveler Humility Mantra.”

“I don’t know those words. But I always known about The Gods.  Wasn’t even listening to the Radio tonight, but something tell me put on Old Old Hits station.

“The Goddess of Music,” I said.

“Yes,” Moth nodded furiously, “that exactly who it was.”

“I think she wants us to MeToo, so you can help us.”

Then we told him all about Reality Travel and how we were on a desperately important MeToo mission to NewYorkCity, but we got lost.

“Ain’t no shame in getting lost,” he said. “This a confusing place.”

Then El Puma told him where we wanted to go.

“Oh, that easy,” the Moth said. “Just take a right at the next light and then go all the way down Heart of the Streets Street, and then you home free.”

“Thanks,” we said.

“Gods bless ya,” he said.

5.14 – The Voice Recital

The Voice Recital was at the ALC Auditorium and there were lots of seats all filled with Realities who wanted to hear God-Given Gift singing. Even El Puma came.

“Your singing may be like a big net,” he said, “and when the chicks in the audience hear it, VUSH! You scoop up all their Love.”

I had worked on “Cupid” every week with The Voice Professor, and I was nailing it easily every time. I was even able to learn all the words without having to hear them. The Voice Professor didn’t know, but I was even nailing it without following The Rules of Singing. I never practiced cuz it was boring, and I Rocked Out hard every time I was in my car. It never seemed to affect my voice, and I wondered if I was just more Gifted than even The Voice Professor realized. I couldn’t wait for everyone to hear me and get The Chills and fall in Love with me.

Backstage everyone was singing their nonsense words to warm up. Including The Hottest Chick. She was finally all alone to talk to. I summoned my courage and trusted El Puma’s training would carry me thru.

“Hey,” I said, “you’re a really good singer.”

“Thanks,” she said.

“I’m in Private Voice Training, too. The Voice Professor says I have the Gift.”

“Good for you.”

“Are you also a Reality Traveler?”

“Yeah, isn’t everyone here?”

“I guess so, but I just got my Calling Card to the Reality Travel Training School.”

“I’ve known some Travelers who’ve gone there. How’d you get in?”

“I hadta MeToo a gritty down-and-out looking local truck driver.”

“I’ve MeToo’d a few truck drivers in NewYorkCity. Also truck drivers in Paris and Buenos Aires.”

“Sounds far off and exciting.”

“It was okay.”

“Oh.”

“Next semester I’m going to MeToo truck drivers in Sidney with my boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend? Does he go here?”

“No way. He’s a NewYorkCity Reality originally from Australia.”

“Like Crocodile Dundee?”

“I don’t know. I don’t watch TV.”

“Oh.”

Then she stopped looking at me, and I didn’t know what else to say to her. And the only thing to do was to start to pretend like I needed to practice my song. I was nailing it like always and vibrating air off all the right spots in my throat to make the right pitches. The Hottest Chick noticed and even raised her eyebrows. I wondered if my voice might be good enough to steal her away from Crocodile Dundee, but there was one little spot that wasn’t working right. I’d vibrate air off it, but it wouldn’t make a sound. I couldn’t even feel the air on it, and it was like it was numb and dead. But I really needed that spot, too, so I could hit the high and powerful “Cu” in “Cupid.”

“Dammit,” I said to the throat spot.

Then as I kept going thru the song I noticed other spots stopped working. It was like the numb spots were contagious, and soon I was missing lots of notes. It started to sound like I opened up my Gift and it was actually a wrapped up box full of poop.

I found the Voice Professor right away and told her about it. By that point even my speaking voice was coming out more scratchy and weak. She put her ear up close to my mouth, and I tried to sing for her.

“Uh huh,” she said gravely.

“What?” I said.

“It’s The Dead Voice.”

“What’s that?”

“Have you been following all The Rules of Singing?”

“Well, last weekend I did drive home to Ohio and sang a little bit in the car.”

“How much?”

“Really not too much.”

“Uh huh, The Dead Voice don’t lie.”

“Alright, I sang way hard for like the whole seven hours each way.”

“Uh huh.”

“I thought it wouldn’t matter.”

“No one is above The Rules.”

“But…”

“There’s nothing you can do now about it. The Gods gave you a Gift, and you didn’t take care of it, and now they’ve taken it away.”

“Forever?”

“No, but it ain’t coming back tonight.”

“But there are so many Realities here I have to MeToo.”

“Uh huh, and you would’ve. But sometimes you have to get humbled like this to respect The Gift.”

“Dammit.”

Then I didn’t wanna be there anymore. I didn’t wanna hear anybody else sing if I couldn’t prove I was better. And then I just wanted to get back to Alone Reality in my room as fast as possible.

“Hey,” The Duckling stopped me on my way out. “When are you singing? I don’t want to miss it.”

“Just leave me alone,” I said.

It was the last thing I could say loud enough to hear, and it was the last thing I ever said to her. When I got back to my room I cried. Tears came out of my eyes, but no sound could come out of my throat.

5.11 – The Adult Bar Band

Soon after Wolf called, a band started playing at the Adult Bar. It was a classic drum-bass-two guitar-singer rock band just like The Beatles. I wanted them to be good, cuz they were covering old Radio Hits that could’ve MeToo’d everyone there, but the singer was like a quiet little mouse and his voice was so small no one even knew what songs they were trying to do. I hadta order another drink to deal with it.

I was doing pretty well at ignoring them until they started trying to play “Cupid.”

It sounded like Sam UnCooked.  It was low, weak, and had all the smoothness of sandpaper.

“No!” it made me scream out.

I needed someone to share in my frustration. I looked over at El Puma, but he was deep in conversation with his new best Adult friend. So I turned back to the Adult chick next to me.

“Can you believe they’re doing this song?” I said.

“Oh,” she said. “I hate to admit it, but I don’t actually know this one.”

“Well, this song is great! But the band isn’t doing it justice!”

Then I started singing the words so she’d know how it was really supposta sound.

“You have a great voice,” she said. “Do you sing in a band?”

“No, but I should be in their band right now.”

“Their frontman is a little timid.”

I looked back up and his posture was all shriveled up and his nose and eyes were pointed to the floor.  It seemed like he’d rather swipe a crumb and scurry into the nearest hole then play music.

“If you weren’t Touched by The Goddess of Music you shouldn’t even try,” I said.

“Goddess of Music?” she asked.

“Goddess damn right! Watch this.”

Then I got off my stool and headed up to the stage.

“Cupid draw back your bow and let your arrow go!” I sang loudly all the way up there, and it was easily way louder than the singer even tho he had a microphone. Then the song started sounding like the real version and nearby Adults started taking notice.

“Hey,” an Adult said. “This song was on The Radio when I was a kid!”

Then a few of the Adults came closer to the stage, and some of them starting singing along too and even dancing.

“This wouldn’t be happening without me!” I told them and kept singing.

When the song was over everyone clapped, but the singer looked upset probably cuz he knew he had nothing to do with it.

“You’re welcome everyone,” I bowed and went back to my stool.

“Did you hear that?” I asked the Adult chick next to me.

“Yeah,” she said, “but I kinda feel bad for the singer. You kinduv upstaged him.”

“Oh, who cares. The MeToo justifies The Means.”

Then I needed another drink, but when I asked for it the Bartender wouldn’t make me one.

“You’re cut off,” she said.

“What?! Why?”

“You’re too drunk.”

I looked over at the Adult chick next to me, and she was cringing. And the guy next to her was laughing.

“Can’t hold their liquor too well up in Canada, eh?” he laughed. “Lightweight!”

“I’m barely even in Alcohol Perception at all,” I tried to tell them.

“I’ve been at this for a long time,” The Bartender said. “I know the signs. No one sings that loudly unless they’re wasted.”

“No, you sing like that when you’re a Great Reality Traveler who’s been Touched by The Goddess of Music and just MeToo’d your whole fucking bar.”

“Kid, I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”

By then El Puma had caught wind of the situation and tried to jump in to help.

“This is the Great Reality Traveler Jonathan,” he told The Bartender. “His word is bound by The Gods. If he says he is not drunk, he is not drunk.”

“Look Mr. Just-a-Water,” she said. “Why don’t you get your friend to pay his tab and get out of here, before we have a problem.”

Then El Puma turned to me.

“I know this is a great injustice,” he said, “but I know these Adults, and we may not want to War with them.”

“All I know is a Traveler never apologizes when the other Reality is the one being bullshit.”

“I am sure this comes straight from the mouth of your finest Reality Travel Training Professors, but we have to remember the Adults are very close with the police.”

I looked back at the Bartender, the spiders in her eyes were extra crawly with way too many bristly legs and poison dripping off them.

“Alright, fine,” I said. “We’ll go, but only cuz this place is a MeToo-Impossible House of MeNotzism and Music-Death.”

I paid and was just about to leave when I checked the inside of my jacket and realized I had some final words for everyone in there.

“I’m The Fucking Bluebird,” I yelled to the whole bar. “I’m a Musicman Traveler who flies to all Realities and sings to them. But you’re all bullshit Adults. Fuck all of you!”

Then we ran out the door.

5.10 – Track #1 of The Great Trip Mix – Sam Cooke’s “Cupid”

“The Goddess of Music,” The Voice Professor said, “touches certain humans at birth, giving them The Gift to perform music at the highest possible level.”

“What about if you can cry you can sing?” I asked.

“If you can cry you can sing, yeah, but if you got The Gift you can cry and sing better, uh huh.”

“Alright!”

“All of our favorite musicians were Touched. Little Richard, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston… And I believe, tho raw and untrained, you have been, too.”

“Alright!!”

“Uh huh, but you have to understand, The Gift is a precious thing. It’s not enough just to have it, you have to take care of it. You gotta work really hard. You gotta almost pretend like you don’t have The Gift in order to make the most of The Gift. I can help you do this, but you gotta do exactly what I say, uh huh?”

“Uh huh.”

Then she handed me The Great List of Singing Rules.

- Practice every single day
- Warm up with nonsense words before singing songs
- Stand up straight
- Breathe
- Exercise
- Drink plenty of water
- No smoking
- No drinking
- No singing in the car
- No oversinging, especially right before a performance

I didn’t like a lot of the things on the list.

“Singing in the car?” I said. “But that’s where I do all my singing.”

 “Uh huh,” The Voice Professor said. “See, but what’s the most important thing about singing?”

“The Gift?”

“Nuh uh, the most important thing is air. You gotta think of your body as an air machine that needs to be operated correctly. When you’re sitting in a carseat, the machine is like a bent straw. You know what it sounds like when you blow thru a bent straw?”

“What?”

“Phht.”

“Oh.”

“When you’re bent you gotta use too much energy to get sound out, and if you blow too hard you could blow out your whole voice. You always gotta stand up straight to sing.”

“Alright.”

“The Rules ain’t always gonna be fun, but you still gotta follow em, uh huh?”

“Uh huh.”

“Now we gotta pick a song to practice all The Rules on and then sing at the Voice Recital.”

“But what if no one likes the songs I like?”

“That don’t matter, cuz you not gonna blow them away with the song, you gonna blow them away with the voice. Now how bout that oh-oh-oh-uh-huh song you were singing in class?”

“Faithfully?”

“Uh huh, who does that one?”

“Journey.”

“I have never heard of them before, can you play it for me?”

Then I brought it in, and we put it on. The Voice Professor turned it up loud and stuck her ears right up to the speaker and kept saying “uh uh” and “mm” and “I see.”

“Tell me,” she asked. “Who is this singer here?”

“Steve Perry,” I said. “The highest and most powerful voice in all of music.”

“Uh Haha!” she laughed. “Whatever you say.”

When she finished listening to the song, she gave one final “uh huh.”

“Yeah, I can see what he’s doing,” she said.

“What?”

“He’s doing Sam Cooke.”

Same Cooke was a high and powerful soul singer about having many Really Old Hits just before The Beatles started The Great List of Old Songs.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Steve Perry isn’t a true original?”

“You kidding, right? Everybody in music trying to sound like somebody else.”

“Even the Beatles?”

“Please, they were doing Chuck Barry and the Righteous Brothers and Little Richard and the hundreds of now nameless to history Rhythm&Bluesmen from the South who came before them.”

“No way.”

“Uh huh way. Now if you wanna sing like this Steve Journey we gotta go to the source.”

Then she put on Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.”

“Cupid” is a song about The Goddess of Love coming down from The Other World in the form of a winged baby and shooting arrows at Realities to make them fall in Love.

“Now listen to this,” she said. “Your boy may be high and powerful, but Sam Cooke is high and powerful and smooth, uh huh!”

She was right. Sam Cooke’s voice was one of the best I’d ever heard. He could give you The Chills just from one note without even knowing what the song was about.

“Go ahead and sing along,” The Voice Professor told me.

Then I did and I was able to nail it right away.

“Uh huh,” The Voice Professor said. “The Gift.”