Prompt:Write a story in which, at some point, a character breaks into song.
It was the wee small hours of the morning, when the whole wide world is fast asleep.
But sleep wouldn’t come for him. Things didn’t go well at the lounge last night. His singing didn't cause anyone to even look up from their nachos or their conversations with their friends. His tip jar was as empty as his bank account. Rude drunks, he thought. Then everything else came rushing in: the divorce, losing his kids, his job. Now it looked like he was going to lose his gig.
There was no point in trying to sleep now. He propped himself up on his pillow and was about to get up, when he noticed a dark shadow with a human form in the corner of the room. He should not have had that second martini. One relaxed him; two apparently made him see things.
Slowly the shadow came forward into the shaft of moonlight that had snuck under the curtain. All he could make out was the shape of a slim, smallish man and two gleaming blue eyes peering out of the gloom.
The figure came to the edge of the bed. He was not afraid. It actually seemed to him that being murdered might not be a bad thing.
He could see now that the man wore a small fedora at a rakish angle and carried a raincoat slung over his shoulder. He seemed to be puffing on a cigarette, but, oddly, he couldn’t smell any smoke.
“My God!”, he said, “You're……………..”
“Good morning, sport,” the apparition said. “That was the worst Sinatra act I have ever seen. You mailed it in, kid. You sang at them, not to them. You didn’t give a shit, so of course, they didn't either.
If that is the crap you are going to deliver, don’t use my name.... or my people will pay you a visit.
Put some feeling into it. Reach into that great big bag of hurt you’ve been dragging around and share it with the stiffs.
If my suicide albums are going to be your source, respect them. I paid a heavy price for the suffering that comes through on those records. You know: 'the torch I carry is handsome. It’s worth its heartache in ransom.' It was Ava. It's always been Ava. That bitch goddess broke my soul. Now they tell me I am doomed to long for her through eternity here in the big casino.
And speaking of respect, pay attention to those lyrics. Articulate, kiddo. Those great American songwriters- Mercer, Cahn, Van Heusen, and the rest- created poetry. Mouth and caress each and every lyric like it was a warm titty. And slow down; singing a torch song is like sex, the slower the better. By the way, cut back on the doobie-doobie-doos. I only did that in my later years when the pipes went.
You got a nice voice, kid. A good, clear baritone. Not as good as mine, but good. I didn’t have the best chops in my day either; I always thought Damone and Bennett were better; but they were performing, kid, and I was squeezing out every ounce of pain and loss that was crammed into my flattened tooth paste tube of a torso.
I was a louse in life. A strutting rooster. A womanizer and hell raiser who chewed his best friends up and spit them out; but goddamn it, I put the best part of myself into my music, and that is my legacy.
Anywhere there is a guy who got his heart broke by a dame, I am there. Anywhere a broad aches for someone she can never have, I am there.
I am the guy at the end of the bar staring into his drink.
I am the dame in the john crying on her best friends shoulder.
And, I gotta tell you, I got a lot of folks laid along the way.
You want a Sinatra act, kid? That's a Sinatra act…and it’s a tough one to follow.
So don’t lie there feeling sorry for yourself, get up and make the suckers feel sorry for themselves. Oh, and practice. Don't put it out there unless you get it right, even it they're not listening. Ciao, baby.” And he was gone.
“What the hell was that?” he said in wonder.
That night as he took his seat at the piano and surveyed the crowd. He didn’t see a roomful of rude, noisy drunks; what he saw was a hundred aching hearts.
And he sang to them.