Part I: the moment the character finds out there’s going to be a competition
Jacob was trying to eat his lunch hurriedly before the bell rang. He was late to lunch because he got caught up talking to his math teacher Ms. Williams. He genuinely enjoyed her company and geeking out with her about calculus. Also, though, she was hot. And single. He knew his chances were weak, but he would be out of junior high soon enough and when he turned 18, then he would finally bang her. He would swoop in from whatever high profile financial market job he had, where he wore a tie every day, and rescue Ms. Williams from her career, or as he thought, what must be a personal mental hell. Yeah. He could hit it, but he just didn’t want to right now. It wasn’t the right time to strike.
As Jacob was deep in thought, he was distracted by the constant, grating sound of a staple gun stapling flyers on all the bulletin boards and some walls accidentally.
The other students began forming a half circle around one of the bulletin boards.
What was all the big deal?
Jacob walked up to the crowd. It was difficult to see. He stood on his tip toes, but the point of interest was not within his sight. Not because he wasn’t tall, but because his giant glasses weren’t enough for him to see the flyer from that far away.
He shoved his way to the front. He took a minute to read the paper everyone was gawking at.
“Spring Audition for the Musical ‘Company’.” Underneath the title was a list of blank lines for people to sign up.
“You looking to sign up, Jacob?” The voice was Mike James, Greenville junior high school’s chief athlete at just about any sport. He was also kind of egotistical because of it. He was also kind of weird socially too. Like you could tell somebody at home was doing something very wrong at parenting and now it was too late to do anything about it. He was just going to go on his whole life being an asshole.
“No, man. Just seeing what everyone’s standing around for,” Jacob responded.
“Good. Because if I see you in a musical, I’ll fucking vomit, you fag.”
“I’m not going to, Mike! Come on, just get off my ass, man, ok? Can you do that for me? People are staring.”
Mike looked at Jacob for a while. Pondering how he was going to perceive what he just heard. Was he going to react defensively because he wanted to protect his pride and people were watching? Or was he going to back down and look like a pussy? This is how Mike thought.
“Ok, Jacob. Have fun being a fairy in your little musical!” he snorted a laugh and strolled out of the lunch room, talking to himself the whole time.
The bell rang.
People began pouring out of the lunch room to their lockers and respective classes.
A young woman approached Jacob. She was pretty. Cute. Not hot. She had perfectly curled hair that was frozen in place with a plethora of hair products. Always painted with fresh makeup. Her parents had a little more money than the average family in Greenville so she always had new clothes and dental care because they had insurance.
“Hey Jen?” he began, “If I audition for the school musical, does that make me a fucking dork?”
Without skipping a beat, Jen replied, “Yes.” She laughed loudly and moved on to her class, books in hand, before Jacob could respond.
But she saw his face.
I know because that girl was me.
Part II: the moment the character begins to prepare for the competition
Jacob was in his bedroom, standing up, staring at the ceiling for a long time, a poster of a scantily clad woman, basically wearing a string. He liked that in a woman.
He thought about girls a lot. One in particular, really. There were women like Ms. Williams, sure. But maybe it was time he thought, for him to look in a pool of women more his… you know, age.
He didn’t just care about getting laid. He wasn’t like other guys. He cared about getting a girlfriend because that means you can get laid whenever you want.
But how would he get laid, let alone, a girlfriend? It seemed so far-fetched to him because he was not particularly chiseled or wealthy, which he assumed is all women want in a man.
He looked around his room and started pacing. He looked at his old projects strewn about the room. His failed attempt at robotics. His complete fuck up of floral design. His foiled plans to build a gun.
As he stared at the junk on his desk, it hit him. He was going to audition for the musical and impress all the chicks in the auditorium so much they’ll be begging him to unhook their bras.
There was only one bra he was interested in snapping though.
At that moment, he got a call. It was his friend Lucas, they liked soldering different metals together “just to see,” and playing war strategy board games. This happened almost every weekend.
“Hey man,” Jacob answered. “I know you’re calling for a reason but I got an idea for getting laid.”
“I’m listening,” Lucas replied.
“What if I audition for the school musical, the lead role, and I do a really good job and the girls all try to throw their panties on stage at me? Then I can have my pick of the litter, you know? What do you think?”
Lucas laughed his ass off. “Oh man,” he chuckled. “Well for one, what are you going to do? Go up there and solder two wires together? Teach some War strategy? Because I can tell you right now women love that. You could also try bragging about math.”
“What do you mean? You can’t brag about math. That doesn’t even make any sense.” Jacob was getting exacerbated. “What about that 10,000 hours thing?”
“What 10,000 hours thing? What are you talking about?”
“If you work on something 10,000 hours you’ve mastered it. That’s how the saying goes. If I practice enough I’ll be able to do something great.”
“OK, well if you want to do that, please do. I’d go see that, pal.”
“You really think it’s gonna get me laid, Luke?”
“No,” Lucas replied, matter-of-factly. Jacob hung up on his phone.
What was Jacob going to do? He didn’t want to dance, he was a terrible actor and didn’t know how to audition as an actor anyway. That leaves music. He’d always been interested in getting better at music. His only problem was he had no talent at all in the matter.
Looking around the room for inspiration again, he found an old mix CD from 2 years ago. He went to the CD player in his room, plugged in his headphones, laid on his bed, and listened. As the music started up, at first, he thought the song sounded like nails on a chalkboard. He almost turned it off.
But then something happened in the song. Right when he was expecting how the song would turn out, it took a turn and melted his ears into auditory euphoria. Some music makes you tap your toes or bob your head. This song filled his heart into a swelling, bubbling mess.
He quietly removed the headphones off his head as the song softly ended. He pulled up his computer. He opened his recording program and got to work. With only 3 weeks until the talent show, he had his work cut out for him.
As he was beginning to practice each phrase in the song and memorize it by using just record and play, but his mind started to wander. He stopped what he was doing for a moment to daydream.
He didn’t tell anyone, but he was thinking of me.
I know it because it was my mix CD he was listening to.
Part III: the moment the competition begins.
There we all watched Jacob Jones open his spectacular mouth and strike all of us with his angelic venom, sinking his powerful jaws into our veins, stopping our hearts dead cold. There we witnessed the clouds parting, the angels coming down from heaven, and the voice that rocked the souls of each and every one of us in that auditorium that night. Looking around, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The song was, “Nessun dorma,” an opera classic. Nobody in the theater probably knew that, but it didn’t matter. You didn’t have to be a rocket genius to understand music. Music is the universal language we’ve always been trying to hunt down.
He was cascading over a vocal range ascending into snow dusted mountains and descending into the belly of the beast, in the deepest of underwater trenches. When he swayed into a note, we swayed. He raised his hands as if to grab the pitch from the sky and absorb it into his body until it exited his mouth into our sucrose hearts.
He was dressed in merely in beat up, light jeans and an old button down shirt that had faded in the wash. God knows what he wore under it. His glasses were round wire frames and his shoes were skater shoes, but he was not a skater. He didn’t look like the world’s greatest opera singer, or much of an opera connoisseur either. He seemed like he would be into metal versions of video game covers. He hadn’t dressed the part, but at that moment, Jacob Jones represented something in all of us.
The dream of being a famous artist.
Coming back to reality from my fantasies, I watched the judges in the final moments of his song. They were covering their mouths and wiping their weeping eyes.
Jacob took a deep, silent breath, and let out a piercing, perfect pitch within the phrasing of one endless note.
The crowd was silent for what felt like a minute. Then thunderous applause and screams of joy punctured the acoustics in the auditorium. Everyone immediately jumped out of their seats, laughing with and hugging the people sitting next to them.
It was time for the judges to decide if he was going to immediately get the part or go on to receive a callback. It was certain he’d receive one or the other.
After a few minutes, the judges sat back down neatly in their chairs. The first judge, the choir teacher, Mrs. Smith, with a big smile on her face, said he definitely would be their lead role if that was ok with the rest of the judges.
The PE teacher, Mr. Wallace was the second judge on the panel. “You have a miraculous gift. I don’t know how you find it in you to produce such a euphoric audition to our ears, but, keep doing it. I don’t just want to see you at callbacks, I want to see you as our lead!”
The audience clapped with joy.
With baited breath, the audience, as well as the two other judges looked to the final judge, Ms. Washington, the lunch lady.
She said simply, “Yes. Yes. Yes.”
The room exploded into chatter and ecstasy. It was the first time Greenville found something awaken their souls, something like music or art. It was as if we were all asleep and Jacob’s song woke us all up to what life could be for all of us. That could be us on stage, if only we felt like it. We could be just as good as Jacob.
Almost forgetting Jacob entirely, the attention was suddenly brought back to him after his long silence. He seemed frozen. We all figured it must have been the shock of getting the role that made him so silent.
“Are you ok?” Mr. Wallace asked Jacob. Silence. “Well, what do you say? Will you take the lead role?”
“No thanks,” he said matter-of-factly. “You can fuck off.” Then he walked off the stage.
That night I fell in love with Jacob Jones again.