David reclines on the couch in the motel office, trying not to make too many points of contact between his skin and the ratty old fabric.
“Come on Stevie, I promise it will be fun.” he pleads.
“Exactly what part of listening to old guys who think they can belt out country hits and drunk 20-something girls slur through the latest pop hit while giggling sounds like fun to you?”
Stevie rolls her eyes at him and swiftly returns her gaze to the half-finished sudoku pulled up on her ancient computer screen.
“Let’s just go, give it a try for half an hour and if the singers are atrocious we can leave. First round of polar bear shots is on me.”
Stevie pauses and seems reluctant, leaving David impatiently waiting for her response.
Clearly she is ready to give in once free booze is on the table. “Fine David, but honestly I’ll be timing 30 minutes on my phone and ready to call the cab as soon as the alarm goes off. There is no way anyone in this town can actually sing.”
David grins, happy to be getting his way, as usual.
David is STILL occupying the bathroom while Alexis sits on her bed, with Stevie opposite her on David’s.
“David! You said this stupid karaoke thing starts at 8 and it is already 7:55, we’re going to be late!” Stevie yells loudly so he can hear it behind the locked door.
“Not that missing some out-of-tune rendition of Shallow is really a problem for me,” she mutters to Alexis under her breath.
Alexis laughs in response. “I’m so glad he’s dragging you out to this so I get a pass this time. I’ve been looking forward to a quiet night in with this new seaweed sheet mask I’ve been wanting to try and I really don’t want to have to hear any of David’s comments about what I look like with green goop on my face...”
“I HEARD ALL OF THAT!” comes the response from behind the apparently flimsy bathroom door.
Finally, the lock clicks and slowly opens revealing a leather-clad David wearing a tight black t-shirt underneath the jacket and black jeans with holes in both knees.
Stevie gives him a quick once over up and down and is clearly confused by his outfit of choice. “You understand this is a lame open karaoke night at a dive bar in the middle of fucking nowhere, right?”
“UGH Stevie. Come on,” he says as he grabs Stevie’s arm and tugs her out of the motel room towards the cab waiting in the motel parking lot.
The cab pulls up to the Wobbly Elm and stops abruptly. David and Stevie brace themselves against the back of the front seats for impact, which luckily doesn’t come to fruition. David quickly passes the driver some cash and practically shoves Stevie out the car door.
Casually, they stroll into the bar and David looks around, scouting out the room. He spots what passes for a stage (which is really a short wooden platform) at the back of the bar, behind the pool tables. There are three 20-something blondes draped over one another, drinks in hand, sharing two microphones. They are absolutely destroying a pop song that David can’t even make out with off-key slurred phrases and just giggling through half the words.
Stevie visibly cringes and makes a disgusted face. “I can’t believe you are subjecting my ears to these atrocious sounds that are supposed to pass for singing.”
David feigns indifference and huffs at Stevie and again pulls her by the arm over to the bar, hoping to grab a drink before finding a table. They finally get the bartender’s attention and David orders the promised polar bear shots, adding on an extra one for himself. He knows he’s going to need some serious liquid courage to get involved in tonight’s proceedings the way he wants to.
He spots an open two-top near the stage, points and strolls over, putting his two shots on the table in front of him. Stevie knocks her knee against his as soon as he picks up his first shot glass. “Hey, watch out! What??” he grumbles at her. Spilling even a drop of booze is absolutely incorrect as far he’s concerned.
“See the host guy at the karaoke table? He was totally checking you out.”
David glances over, in the most natural and subtle way he can, to try and see the guy Stevie is referring to. Honey brown eyes meet his, coupled with a little smirk and David flicks his gaze away quickly. Honestly, the host is cute. Maybe very cute if he thinks about it. But there’s no chance.
“Absolutely no way he was checking me out. He’s wearing Target jeans and a thermal henley. Definitely straight as an arrow.”
David lifts his first shot in the air and waits for Stevie to do the same. “Cheers to getting drunk and listening to mediocre singing,” he toasts. He downs both of his shots in quick succession. “Now where’s the waiter, I need a refill.”
Over the next 29 minutes, David and Stevie both enjoy a few more rounds of polar bear shots. David often doubles up on his side of things until he has reached a happy tipsy state. He’s managed to sneak in a few more looks at the adorable karaoke host, hoping that Stevie hasn’t noticed. If she did, he would have been mercifully teased about it by now.
All of a sudden, the alarm on Stevie’s phone goes off and David almost jumps straight out of his chair. David notices that a lot of the other patrons are looking their way and he starts to feel hot and embarrassed because of it. “Holy shit Stevie! Turn that godforsaken thing off!” he shrieks.
She smashes a few buttons on her phone while trying to silence the alarm. David realizes she’s starting to get a bit drunk too, considering how long it took for her to turn it off.
As David looks up, he realizes the karaoke host is staring right at him again with a soft smile on his face. As he keens and is about to allow himself to stare back without consequence, Stevie immediately tugs at his jacket arm. “Okay David, that’s 30 minutes and I am definitely ready to go. Even drunk, I can’t handle this karaoke shit.”
David is most definitely not ready to go. He hasn’t had a chance to sing yet himself and certainly hasn’t had enough of the host guy’s glances. Admittedly it’s been quite a while since he has attracted this type of attention and he can’t say he dislikes it. He uses two fingers to pluck Stevie’s hand off of his jacket and tosses it off lightly. He’s not above begging at this point, considering how badly he wants to stay and how many polar bear shots he’s already consumed.
“Stevie, please, can we just stay a little longer. Two more rounds on me.”
“I’m already pretty inebriated David. What’s in it for me?”
“Well, first of all, there is no way you are drunk enough yet if you can still say the word ‘inebriated’,” which honestly David slightly slurred himself. “Plus, you are going to get some A-plus blackmail material when I get up there and sing.”
A huge grin crosses Stevie’s face at the thought of David completely humiliating himself in front of her and the other bar clientele. “Oh, this is going to be good. Count me in.”
Stevie immediately hops out of her chair and over to the bar to add a few more polar bear shots to David’s tab.
Two more shots later, David is making his way past tipsy and approaching trashed territory. He sneaks yet another peek at the man hosting the karaoke night as he helps another would-be singer fill in their song slip. If David is being truthful with himself, the karaoke host is hot. He’s wearing a navy blue thermal henley with the top button undone, allowing just a small hint of pale skin to show. The shirt fits fantastically well over his chest and broad shoulders and his jeans are extremely tight. He could barely fit his hands in his pockets when he tried to pull the pen out to hand to the older man with the handlebar moustache in front of him. Yikes. Okay, back to the host guy. He turns around and David can’t help but check out his ass. He has a really, really nice ass.
Stevie elbows him hard in the upper arm, which immediately takes him out of his thoughts about the guy’s ass. “I believe I was promised some blackmail material tonight,” she reminds him. “Plus, then you can check out the host’s butt up close and personal.” She gives him a light push off his chair towards the host’s desk. Given his state of drunkenness, he stumbles off the chair, hoping no one else saw him ungracefully regain his balance.
David walks up to the host’s desk, trying to act as nonchalant as possible. He does not find it to be quite as easy as it usually is, what with seven shots sitting in his stomach joined by very little food. The host sees him and immediately locks his owlish eyes on him again. He feels a bit warm and flushed under the intense gaze and finds himself looking away just to try and cool down for a moment. As he flicks his eyes back on the man, he notices that the cute host’s face has gone a bit pink. He follows the blush all the way down his neck and wonders how far below the thick henley material it goes. He shakes his head for a moment to make the thought disappear and bring back a casual vibe before opening his mouth to speak.
“Uh, hey, can I please have a song slip?”
“Sure, or I can just fill it in for you, what’s your name?”
David wonders why the old guy with the cowboy boots filled in his own slip, but he also isn’t 100% sure he will have legible penmanship at this point so he answers the question anyhow.
“It’s David, can I give you my song too?”
“Hi David, it’s, uh, nice to meet you, I’m Patrick and I run the karaoke nights here every Saturday. Yeah, I guess that’s pretty obvious at this point. Okay, yes, why don’t you also tell me your song selection,” he stammers while smiling sheepishly. David notices that the blush has not faded, but instead Patrick’s cheeks appear to be a bit pinker than they were before.
“Do you have Mariah Carey’s Vision of Love?”
“Uhhh, hmm, let me check.”
Patrick types on his laptop keyboard and clicks around a few times while David waits and enjoys the view.
“Oh, I’m so sorry David, we don’t seem to have that one. Do you have a second choice?”
“Honestly, anything Mariah will do.”
“Perfect. Coming right up for you,” Patrick beams at David as he confirms his spot.
David stands at the microphone, hand on his hip, impatiently waiting for his song to start. He glares at Patrick, tapping his fingers along the mic stand. He normally enjoys being the center of attention, drunkenly singing in a crowded bar. However, he is now quickly starting to lose his perfectly crafted buzz, being stared at by a bar half-full of people at various levels of drunkenness, actively NOT singing. This is not what he had in mind when he signed up for this. Patrick has an intense look on his face and is clearly trying his best to load up his song. David notices him clicking a lot on the computer, quickly glancing back and forth between the screen, the karaoke binder and his notebook.
In his peripheral vision, David can see the screen flashing, so he turns around and prepares himself by taking in a deep breath. David brings the mic up to his mouth ready to sing and hears music, however it is most definitely NOT his song. He immediately freezes and just stares straight ahead, seeing the words come up on the screen.
Whoa, used to be a hot boy but I'm straight gorgeous now
Whoa, if you wanna see me you gon' have to book appointments now
Whoa, baby, call me stone cold 'cause I'm so stunnin' yeah
David spins his entire body in one brisk fluid motion and glares daggers at Patrick as best he can with his eyes. He hopes that his expressive face is telling Patrick everything he is thinking because no words come out but he’s feeling VERY annoyed at this point and he is quite certain that his impatience is coming through on his face. Patrick is frantically pressing buttons and clicking. At one point, he looks up at David with a soft, apologetic look and shrugs.
After what feels like an hour, but was probably more like a couple of minutes, he hears a familiar tune. He looks down at the karaoke screen and sees words to one of his absolute favourite Mariah songs and starts belting out the lyrics as best he knows how.
Give me your love
Give me your love
Give me your love
Give me your love
He sings along, making all sorts of facial movements and expressions that come naturally while trying to emote the words and feelings of the song. Once he really gets into the groove, his one available arm starts to flail as he holds the mic in the other, trying to mimic his idol. As he performs, he scans the crowd. He first spots Stevie. David can’t tell if she’s laughing with him or at him, but at least she hasn’t got her phone out trying to document this display permanently. His eyes shift and he notices Patrick again. He is intently watching David, giving him his full attention, despite other would-be singers hovering around his station, probably trying to get him to notice that they want to sign up to sing. His gaze bores a hole in David. David tries his best to concentrate on the song and the performance of it all but Patrick’s eyes are so loud and so fond, watching him. David can’t help but stare back and sing, right to Patrick, like he’s the only other person in the room.
Heartbreaker, you got the best of me
But I just keep on coming back incessantly
David leaves the stage after his song finishes. He feels clammy and flushed. At first thought, he wonders if it is from the spotlights and the stage, but deep down, he knows it’s really a result of the focused attention from Patrick.
He returns to Stevie, again pretending to be as casual as possible as he sidles up to the table and tries to glide back into his seat. He tries to contort his body in the proper way, but trips a little on the leg of the chair. Stevie smirks at him. “Wow David, that looked effortless.”
As David considers the possibilities of the remainder of the evening, he notices that Stevie has procured another round of shots and praises the bar gods that he is able to quickly down one to calm his nerves. He turns around to face Stevie, about to ask if she is ready to head out, feeling slightly embarrassed by the whole situation. As he opens his mouth to speak, he notices her face lighting up in a huge grin while looking at something behind him, over his left shoulder.
He swivels around in his chair and notices Patrick himself walking up on to the stage and grabbing the mic off the stand. “Thanks so much for coming to our weekly karaoke night here at the Wobbly Elm. It’s customary for the host to participate, so I thought I’d get up and sing a little something tonight.” David’s interest is certainly piqued at this turn of events and he is definitely not ready to leave yet and return to the dingy motel and his cramped living conditions.
David notices that not many people are paying much attention to the stage at this point. Most of the patrons are engaged in conversation and laughter with their own drinking partners, which is probably for the best. Patrick continues to speak before his song comes on.
“Alright, uhm, I would like to dedicate this song to someone who seems pretty special.”
Patrick turns his gaze straight at David as soon as he sings the first lyric of the song. There’s no possible chance he’s referring to him, is he? David twists his mouth into a sideways grin, tucked into his cheek as he continues to watch Patrick on stage. The music begins to play, a song David is sure he has heard before, but is having trouble placing immediately considering his current level of intoxication. David feels Patrick’s eyes pierce into his soul as he sings the words of the chorus.
I'd walk through fire for you
Just let me adore you
Like it's the only thing I'll ever do
Like it's the only thing I'll ever do
As Patrick croons at him, David realizes he’s actually good. Like, he can really sing. Really fucking well. His voice is smooth and sultry with just the right amount of grit. David maintains eye contact with Patrick as best as he can, though it’s too much and he finds himself needing to look away every so often. He leans into the feelings bubbling up to the surface, just on the edge of being too intense for him to handle. He can feel his mouth twisting into all sorts of hidden smiles and lopsided grins that he is powerless to stop. David wonders to himself how this is even possible, isn’t the alcohol supposed to keep any sincerity tamped down? No matter what he does, he can’t help that his face is giving away the tender emotions he is beginning to feel.
When the song ends, the bar erupts in applause. Clearly, the other patrons in the bar somehow noticed Patrick’s stunning voice too. Patrick gently returns the mic to the cradle of the stand and bashfully walks off the stage, seemingly not expecting that type of response.
David sits at his table frozen in awe. He does everything in his power not to look over in the general direction of the karaoke desk or to make direct eye contact with Stevie, for fear of incessant teasing.
“You seem flustered," she says. But before he can respond to defend himself, she continues. "I like this for you,” are the only words that escape from her mouth in a hushed tone as an almost-sincere smile begins to grace her features.
At this, David does the only thing he knows to do in these types of situations and immediately shakes his hands and flails his arms to try and release himself from all of the feelings threatening to make their way through his body, trying to break free.
Out of the corner of his eye, David can see Patrick making his way over to their table slowly but surely. As soon as he approaches, Stevie politely smiles at Patrick and quickly excuses herself to the restroom, leaving the two men alone. Before she does, she stands behind Patrick and makes eye contact with David. She points at Patrick and then makes a thumbs-up before walking away.
Patrick seems hesitant and still wears a pinkish hue on his cheeks, and asks “Is this seat taken?” through his lashes as he looks up at David.
“At the moment, it appears not to be,” David replies.
“Uhm, I...yeah...I just…” Patrick falters, trying to get the words out.
David can’t help but notice those ridiculously loud eyes screaming at him, a complete contrast against Patrick’s apprehensiveness and what seems to be an inability to speak his thoughts at the moment.
Patrick stops, takes in a huge breath and lets it out slowly and carefully. He grins at David and works up the nerve to speak again. “Okay, let me try this again. Sorry, I’m a bit nervous.” Patrick bites and worries at his bottom lip a little bit before continuing. “I was wondering if you would have any interest in letting me take you out to dinner?”
Deep in his belly, David feels the flap of a few butterfly wings as they spin around, his gut threatening to defy all of his attempts to appear cool, calm and collected. He decides to take Patrick’s lead and take in a deep breath to compose himself, with the pleasant side effect of giving off an air of hesitancy and hoping he seems unruffled by the fact that a really attractive man has just asked him on a date after serenading him in public (even though that part is mostly incorrect, if you’d asked him before tonight).
“Well, you did sing Harry Styles to me, so I GUESS that would be acceptable”
In a completely unexpected turn of events, Patrick reaches out his hand and places it on the table between them, palm facing up so as to invite David to join him. David considers his next move and gives in to the butterflies dive bombing in his stomach, slowly placing his hand on Patrick’s. As soon as they are touching, both men look down at their clasped hands. David notices his thick fingers and slightly rough skin. His thoughts immediately wonder about Patrick’s skin care routine and momentarily considers suggesting some locally-made shea butter hand cream he recently happened upon. Instead, he twists his mouth to the side, shakes his head quickly to release the thoughts and hopes his quick giggle to himself was quiet enough to be imperceptible. Patrick gives David’s hand a light squeeze.
“How does tomorrow night sound? Are you free?”
“Sure, should we meet at the Cafe Tropical at 8? I’ve heard people raving about how moderately edible the food is there.”
Patrick laughs and David notices how bright and happy the sound of it is. The thought immediately fills his mind about how much he would like to hear that same laugh again, many times over. He reaches for David’s phone on the table. “Hey, why don’t I give you my number just in case?”
David gladly obliges, enters the password to unlock it and opens the contacts before passing it over to Patrick. Another light chuckle escapes his mouth. “I like your background David. Very nice pictures of them.” David recalls his split screen black and white shots of Mariah and Beyonce and secretly hopes it might be replaced by a perfectly posed photo of them one day. “David...?” He is pulled out of his daydream by Patrick calling his name while trying to hand his phone back to him. “Okay, I’ve entered my number in your contacts and also texted myself so I have yours too. I hope, uhm, that’s alright?”
“Yeah, yes, of course!” David replies, a bit too excitedly.
Patrick and David both notice Stevie hovering closer to the table, so Patrick stands up to allow her to return to her seat. David can’t help but notice as he shoves his hands back into his very tight pockets. He hopes Patrick didn’t catch him staring but he does notice the slightly embarrassed look and blush is back on Patrick’s cheeks again as their eyes meet.
“So, uhm, I guess I’ll, uh, see you tomorrow evening then. Goodnight, David.”
“Goodnight, Patrick,” he says in a whisper.
David leaves the bar for the night with Stevie on his arm, a little more spring in his step, humming “walk through fire for you, just let me adore you” quietly under his breath, hoping she doesn’t hear it. And, well, maybe she does but she might just be too drunk or too happy for David to mention it. At least until tomorrow, when he’s sure he’ll get teased mercilessly about it as he gets ready for his first date with Patrick .