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Dum Spiro Spero (standard:romance, 10788 words)
Author: J. NicklausAdded: Jan 23 2002Views/Reads: 2212/1546Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A choice between that which one loves to do, and that which one loves.
 



Shrieks of canned sitcom laughter fell from the small dual speakers of
the television in the living room, while the sibilant chatter of mom on 
the phone echoed in the tiled kitchen. Twelve-year-old Jalan looked at 
the clock above the back door-8:30 pm. Bedtime, but not if he could 
help it. 

Pre-teen fingers slowly touched the latch on the sliding glass door.
Gently he lifted it, hoping the ambient noise would drown out the click 
when it released. Looking around he saw neither Dad nor Mom noticed. 
Silently he slipped outside and eased the big door shut behind him. 
Jalan had always enjoyed fall. The stars twinkled like the sun off a 
summer lake. The night held a special kind of magic for him, too young 
to know or understand why, just a feeling. Staring into the sky, he 
seemed to search for the answer to a question he didn’t even know yet.  
The brisk night air wrapped him in a blanket of thoughtfulness. He 
never heard the door slide open, so his mother’s voice startled him. 
“Time for bed, hun.” 

“Jeez mom, don’t do that!” 

“Sorry about that. C’mon in and get into bed. It’s a school night.” 

“I know, I know. I’m coming.” Grudgingly he shuffled inside and headed
for the bedroom. One last pre-sleep consolation awaited him. His 
transistor radio. 

“Goodnight Dad, goodnight Mom” he mono-toned, slipping by as they sat
glassy-eyed in front of the television. They both answered without 
looking. 

Jalan headed straight for the top drawer of his desk. Pulling it open he
drew out the small radio he used every night. Making sure the dial was 
set he stepped over and flipped the light switch. Carefully he turned 
the unit on; the familiar warm glow of the power indicator softly 
bathed his face in pastel red. Music seemed to be the only thing to 
soothe and lull him to sleep. He felt some deep connection to it. He 
drew back the covers on the bed and slipped between them, 
simultaneously positioning the radio under his pillow and raising the 
volume just loud enough to be heard through it. A routine the youngster 
had tacitly perfected over many years. 

Lying on his left side, he listened to the layers of music pumped
through a tiny speaker, letting his mind drift into fantasy, imagining 
it was he singing the words. He let himself absorb the sounds and 
adulation of the improbable crowd. One song after another he listened 
to, until they began to bleed one into the next. Another night he 
tricked his mind into slumber, another step towards hope and 
achievement. 

II 

Something was off, and Jalan knew it, felt it. Again he heard the
irritating pop of the booth intercom as it cut into his headphones. 

“Try it again” grumbled the weary voice. Jalan snapped. 

“Dammit Mack! Can’t you find ONE good take from the last twenty! I
haven’t changed a single pitch or octave since take eight! Jesus!” 

“What the hell is wrong with you, man?” bellowed the producer from
behind the thick, angled studio glass. Mack was not one to be trifled 
with or questioned. He took the reins from the start and never intended 
to let go until the masters were turned over to production. For Jalan 
to imply he wasn’t doing his job right only served to light a very 
short fuse. 

Again that annoying pop in the headphones. “We gotta talk. NOW.” 

Disgusted and bent out of shape, Jalan yanked the Sennheiser headphones
off his head and tossed them carelessly aside. He was pissed and didn’t 
care who knew it. Storming through the heavy soundproofed door two 
dozen thick-tongued explicatives barreled through his head.  With the 
sliver of dignity he had left he thought better of blowing up and kept 
his mouth shut. He rounded the corner of the booth to see Mack cradling 
his forehead in his hands. Little lights blinked, SMPTE digital 


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