This blog features short works of fiction on occasion. Below is one.
I needed to go into the city. It was important.
Just bad luck my car wasn’t running right. I dropped it off at my mechanic’s garage in town. Told him the engine was knocking. Said I hoped it wasn’t a big problem because the car wasn’t worth a big repair. I didn’t tell him there was no money to pay a big bill.
He told me he’d give a listen and check it out.
“It might mean something and it might not,” he said. “Cars are like people. Some days they sound better than others.”
“Welcome to my world,” I replied.
Took twenty minutes to walk to the train station. Bought a round trip ticket from the Station Master and waited on the platform for the train. Nearby, a group of preschoolers was snaking along in a semi-organized row. Several women were on patrol, herding back the strays, and keeping the line mostly intact and away from the tracks. The children’s excitement was palpable, marked by a chorus of squeals and laughter in the high pitch of kids without a care. The women shouted at each other nervously. I was excited and anxious, too, but there was enough noise in the air. I kept mine to myself.
The ride into the city was an hour. Gave me plenty of time to reflect on my last studio audition.
It was a narration job for a religious group. The script was an orison found on Saint Patrick’s breastplate. Legend has it he wrote the prayer before participating in an epic Easter Sunday battle between the Catholic Faithful and Druid Pagans in ancient Ireland. It is a long prayer; I was asked to read one part:
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
That was two weeks ago. Thought I was out of the running for the job. This morning the producer called and asked me to come to the city and read again, for the client this time.
Stepping into the sound booth and closing the door, I could feel the armor of silence encase me. I put on the headphones, lay the script on the sheet holder, leaned into the mike, and said, “Test, test, test.” After the technician got the sound levels he wanted, the director signaled me. I took a minute to read the prayer one last time, saying the words aloud in my head.
“Whenever you’re ready,” he said.
I read the script.
From the booth, I could see the client say something to the crew. The sound technician opened his mike.
“Nice, nice,” the director said. “Now, this time give me more earnest, more purposeful. Like you are really praying for something.”
I laughed and reminded myself it’s called voice acting, though his instruction required no rehearsal.
“Of course,” I replied. “Not a problem.”