Chapter 4 – Kara
Kara wasn’t so sure about singing. She hadn’t done a karaoke night since her Navy training days in Illinois. Maybe she would after a bite to eat and an alcoholic beverage. When the sodas came, they ordered hot wings and salads. Kara told Olivia they would probably order alcohol after the meal. As the server rushed off to place their order, Kara watched the interaction between the cowboy DJ and his friend.
The younger friend was handsome, probably in his early forties. He was clean-shaven and wore a polo shirt, designer jeans, and boat shoes. He looked kind of preppy in contrast to his more country-attired friend. She could tell by the ease of their conversation and laughter that they had known each other for a long time. As the two talked, the cowboy put his white hat atop his head.
Just after their food arrived, the DJ picked up a cordless microphone and announced, “Welcome to fabulous Flannery’s. It’s time for Thursday night karaoke. I’m Cowboy Don and I’ll be starting us off with a little mike check tonight. If you’d like to sing, don’t be shy. Come on up and let me know your song. I’ve probably got it in my computer. If you don’t know what you want to sing, I have binders with a lot of popular songs and artists, but that’s only a small part of my music library. I’ve got it all, old and new.”
With that, Cowboy Don took over the TV monitors on either end of the wall that Kara faced. His laptop flashed the lyrics to Margaritaville on both monitors, and Don began to sing without looking at the screen as he walked toward Kara and Amelia’s table. Amelia grinned as she turned to check the DJ out.
“I love this song!” Amelia exclaimed.
Kara was smiling too as Cowboy Don passed. He sang the words as he walked slowly to the far corner of the bar area to check the sound coming from his two large speakers. As the DJ began to walk back toward his setup, he stopped at Kara and Amelia’s table as they ate, just in time for the line, “Now some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,” to which he added, “Hi, ladies!” Both Kara and Amelia burst out laughing as Cowboy Don returned to his station to adjust the sound levels before the song ended.
“That’s all there is to it!” Cowboy Don exclaimed. “So come on up and give me your song. Next up is my good buddy Pistol Pete. Now, I usually sing country and Pete usually sings rock and pop, but tonight we’re going to switch it up. You can sing whatever you want. I have over 100,000 songs to choose from. And now, here’s Pete!”
With that, he handed the microphone over to his friend and fiddled some more with the sound controls. Pete remained sitting at his table, a bottle of beer in front of him, looking up at the monitor to his right and singing a sad country song about a man drinking tequila and trying to forget his lost love, but losing the fight.
Kara thought he sounded great for someone who didn’t ordinarily sing country music. She didn’t know much of it herself. And the song made her think not only of the bottle of tequila that Amelia had purchased for her and “someone special,” but also of her inner pining for Tim. Why do I think and feel this way? She couldn’t understand it, but she vowed to just get on with her life anyway.
After Pete sang two verses and was launching into the melancholy chorus, Cowboy Don approached Kara and Amelia. “Are you ladies going to sing tonight?” he asked as he faced Amelia, who had just finished a bite of salad.
“Maybe if we had some adult beverages first,” Amelia suggested.
“I think we can make those arrangements,” Cowboy Don said confidently. Then he turned and strode back to his station.
As Pete finished his first song and handed the microphone back to Don, the DJ covered the mike and said something quickly to his friend. Cowboy Don then announced, “That was Pistol Pete with one of my all-time favorites from Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter. Come on up and give me your song if you’d like to sing.”
Olivia emerged from the kitchen and Pete motioned her over. The waitress immediately went to Kara and Amelia’s table and asked them what they would like to drink, compliments of Pistol Pete. The two young women hurriedly looked over the specialty drink menu, and both decided on the house’s special whiskey concoction. Olivia passed by Pete on her way to the bar to place the order, and the man gave her his now-empty beer bottle, asking for another.
“I’m going to play a few videos before we move to the next round of karaoke,” Cowboy Don announced. “I need more singers, so please get me your song choice for round two.”
As a sultry Rihanna video played on the TV monitors, Olivia first delivered beers to Cowboy Don and Pete before dropping off drinks to Kara and Amelia. Pete turned to face the two young women and raised his beer. They hoisted their glasses in turn, and Kara mouthed a “thank you” toward the man. This was the first good look she had at his face. He was quite handsome for an older man, with brown hair neatly trimmed and combed to the side. Not that she was interested at all, but she appreciated the gesture of him sending drinks to their table.
A thirty-something man got up from the bar and went to speak with Cowboy Don while a mix of pop, rock, and country videos played. Pete gave the DJ another song request as well. After a few sips of their cocktails, Amelia suggested that she and Kara could sing an old Spice Girls song. Kara giggled, but agreed they could try it during round three, after they’d had a bit more to drink.
After three videos had played, Cowboy Don announced the man from the bar, David, would be next. Kara got the impression that David was trying to impress a young woman at the bar that he had been chatting with. Just friends, she thought to herself as she sipped her drink, but he wants it to be more.
After David did a fair job with his song, Pete sang a little more up-tempo country song about a man trying to convince his woman to make love one last time before she left him. Then Don sang a Goo Goo Dolls number that Kara really liked before putting on more music videos. The drink was starting to boost Kara’s confidence, so she walked past Pistol Pete, smiling, and provided her song selection to Cowboy Don. As he looked up the song on his computer, Don asked if the two ladies lived in the area. Kara explained that she did, but that it was Amelia’s last night in town.
“Well, I hope you ladies can stay for a little while,” Don said, smiling at her.
“Oh, maybe I can do one more song after Amelia and I sing,” Kara replied. “Let’s see how the first one goes.”
Before returning to her friend, Kara stopped briefly at Pete’s table to thank him for the drinks. “We can’t stay long tonight,” she told him. “I have to take my friend to the airport in the morning.”
Pete looked disappointed at this news. “Will your friend be back?” he asked.
“Not any time soon,” Kara responded. “She lives in Florida. But I’d love to come back some other Thursday night and sing.”
“That would be great.” Pete smiled back at her. She noticed then that he had smoky blue-gray eyes that added a good deal of charm to his friendly face.
Kara walked back to take her seat across from Amelia. “I just thanked him for the drinks. I think he likes you,” Kara told her friend.
“Not my type,” Amelia replied, “but I seem to recall you having an affair with an older gentleman.” She chuckled.
“That was a few years ago. And anyway, I want to see what happens with Alex,” Kara said.
“I know. We can have this Cowboy Don guy snap a pic of us singing and you can text it to Alex!”
“I like that idea!” Kara chimed. “Let’s do it!”
When it came time for them to sing, Kara gave Cowboy Don her phone number and asked him to get shots on his phone of the two girls singing and text them. He was happy to oblige. They flubbed the lyrics to their song horribly, even with the words on the monitor before them, but laughed it off, trying not to be too self-conscious.
The two women were standing by Pete’s table as they sang, adding a bit to Kara’s nervousness. But she enjoyed herself and decided, out of the blue, to ask Pete to sing a duet with her the next round. She and Amelia finished, laughing out loud, and handed their cordless mikes back to Cowboy Don as a smattering of applause rose from the people in the pub area. Amelia rushed back to their table and took the last swig of her drink as Kara approached Pistol Pete.
“Do you know The One That I Want from Grease?” she asked him politely.
“Of course I do,” he replied, smiling back at her.
I love those eyes! she thought. “Oh good. That’s a great movie! Can we do that song the next round, before my friend and I leave?”
“I’d be happy to!” Pete beamed. “Would you and Amelia like another round of drinks before we sing?”
“Thanks, no. We really have to get up early. But I promise I’ll come back another time and stay longer.”
Kara returned to her table just as Cowboy Don sent two pictures of her and Amelia singing and laughing. Don began to play another round of videos on the monitors as Kara showed the pics to Amelia, giggling all the while.
“I think you should text the one where we’re cracking up to your boyfriend Alex,” Amelia chuckled. “I want to send them to Drew also and see what he thinks.”
The pictures came with a message from Cowboy Don, who asked if he could post them on his Facebook page. She replied to the text, saying that he had her permission as long as he sent a friend request to her at Kara Sparks too. He replied that he would be happy to, and that the pics he posted helped him to drum up business.
Kara also sent the picture of her and Amelia losing control during the song to Alex. She told Amelia that she would be singing a duet with Pete before they had to leave. “That sounds like fun,” Amelia told her. “Maybe you can come back and sing with him again,” she said, grinning at Kara.
“Maybe I will. He is rather handsome, not to mention his karaoke skills.” They laughed again.
Before it was Kara’s turn to sing, Pete sang Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison. He’s getting back into his comfort zone, Kara thought to herself. Although he had done well with the baritone country songs, she thought Pete’s voice was definitely more suited for the tenor rock ballad. And Kara noted that he sang with a lot of feeling, like he really had lost the love of his life. She and Amelia applauded and cheered loudly when he was finished.
Then Cowboy Don announced that Kara and Pete would sing together, and Kara approached him to take a cordless mike. As she stood side-by-side with Pete, she noticed that he was tall, lean, and he seemed to be in good shape. She told him she really liked his last song.
“Thanks,” he said. “I used to sing with a rock band in my college days.” He smiled wistfully as he said it, as if to say, “Those were the days!” She loved the flash in those smoky eyes as he spoke.
Then their song started and Pete launched into an impressive John Travolta impression. Kara wasn’t so sure she did as well with the Olivia Newton-John part, but she felt like she held her own. Amelia cheered her on until the end.
When their song was done, Kara and Pete got the loudest applause of the night from the Flannery’s patrons. Kara thanked Pete and Don and said her goodbyes. She returned to her table, paid the check, and she and Amelia headed back to the hotel.
“That was a fun time,” Amelia remarked as Kara drove. “I really enjoyed seeing you, and I hope you feel better now. Oh, and Drew says we look like a couple of dorks.” Both women laughed at his comment.
“I do feel better,” Kara replied. She received a text message on the way back to the hotel. When they pulled into the parking lot, she read it. “It’s from Alex,” she said. “He says it looks like we had fun and he wants me to go to South By Southwest with him in Austin next Friday. He has a friend working security that can get us up close to the stage to see The Frenzy. I really like them! And I haven’t been to a festival like South by Southwest yet!”
“Then you should go. And you should sleep with that boy too,” Amelia advised her.
“We’ll see,” Kara said in response as they exited the car and headed for the hotel room to get a few hours of sleep.
The alarm on Kara’s phone woke them at 5:00 A.M. Amelia was due to catch a 7:30 flight to Atlanta. They quickly got ready to go and checked out of the hotel a little before 6:00. On the way to the airport, Kara thanked her friend for coming out and helping her forget about Tim.
“Maybe this thing with Alex will work out. I’m just not sure about the distance factor, or the fact he’s a law student,” Kara confessed. “You know they have no lives outside of school.”
“Well,” Amelia mused, “the semester is almost over and maybe you can spend some time together this summer.”
“You forget, I’ll be looking for work after I finish cosmetology school and leave the Navy. I probably won’t have much of a life either.”
“Well, good luck with everything and keep me posted,” Amelia said sincerely as they pulled up to the drop-off point at the airport. She gave Kara a big hug before getting out of the car.
“Enjoy your trade show in Atlanta, and your time with Drew,” Kara said. She helped Amelia get her bag from the back seat and watched her walk into the terminal before driving away.