Apex of the Songbird, Episode 10: The Man With No Face

Aaaand we’re back! Did you miss us? (Don’t worry, I’m sure your aim is getting better.) Apex of the Songbird will now resume its usual schedule, with new installments every Wednesday and Friday. But in addition to this, we (and by we I mean probably mostly Angi) will continue to post occasional thought-pieces. So you have that to look forward to and/or ignore.

And so, we raise the curtain once again…

(Was that too melodramatic? Sorry.)

~*~

The arena was absolutely packed. People had come from all across the system for this show, and the whole mass of them were thrashing in anticipation, almost as a singular entity.

The lights went down, and all was silence. This was it. This was what they had all been waiting for.

“Hello Hyacinth–I hope you’re as happy to see me, as I am to see you!”

 

A voice, smooth and musical floated over the melodies as the heavy bass began to kick in.

The stage began to illuminate in a rainbow of colors as lights flared to life, and the crowd began to shout out their approval.

Slowly, a figure stepped into the light.

He stood a shade or two over six feet tall. He was wearing an all white outfit with splashes of blue, orange and green all over his shirt and his well-fitting leather pants. His white boots began to tap against the different light plates, each one hooked up to a certain part of the pyrotechnics.

 

He looked up and his eyes, a queer shade of gold seemed to glitter in the flashing spotlights. “I’m so excited to share my last show with you!” he said, his melodious tenor reverberating. The screams were drowning out everything, but the music still prevailed.

 

He raised his hand, and the roar of the crowd fell to a murmur.

“You’re all beautiful, each and every one of you,” he said. “And without everything you give me… all of your energy… I couldn’t do what I do. So from the bottom of my pounding heart… thank you.”

Then he closed hiseyes, took a deep breath, and began to sing.

The show went off without a hitch–he’d always felt like it was a great show when the girls and guys he brought on stage were able to keep up and dance with him. As far as he could tell, there were only a modicum of tears.

 

“Thank you all for everything, I’ll miss you all!” he said, and blew a kiss out to the audience. The lights dimmed on his final encore, and he began to make his way backstage. He grabbed a water bottle almost immediately, downing it in an instant as his backstage manager walked with him.

“You were amazing, Ben!” said his managed excitedly, her faced flushed. “Absolutely killed it! They’ll be talking about this one for years!”

Ben grinned, tossing the bottle in a receptacle. “It was a great show–I’m so glad I get to leave on my terms. Going out on top, y’know?” he said with a smile, running a hand through his hair, still well-coiffed despite the sweat.

She grinned at him. “Whatever you say, cutie,” she said, patting him on the rear.

He chuckled. “Now now, Regina, trust me. You don’t want anything that’s coming out of these pants tonight,” she said with a laugh. “God, I can’t wait to burn these things tonight at the wrap.”

“You should sell ’em,” said Regina, shaking her head. “So when were you going to tell me?”

Ben looked puzzled. “Tell me what?”

“I mean, I don’t know if you were just having a laugh or if you had a change of heart, but-“

They headed towards his dressing room, his eyes narrowing. “Change of heart about what?” he asked, peeling out of his soaking wet shirt. “About not burning this all white affair?”

“…about this?” she said, pressing a tablet to him that had his concert schedule on it.

“I mean, I get it, a lot of artists do the ‘oh I’m retiring’ thing, but they usually wait a few years.”

Ben frowned, looking at the template as something in his stomach tensed. “…must be a typo. I finished the tour tonight.”

Regina scratched her head. “Are you sure?” she said. “I got a call from the booker this morning…”

Ben shook his head. “I’ll uh. I’ll give him a call. We’ll get to the bottom of this, okay Reggie?” he said, giving her a warm smile. “Why don’t you relax, dinner for everyone’s on me!”

“You’re damn right it is!” she said, grinning. “Well, whatever’s going on, you were amazing. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with you.”

Ben leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, before settling a hand on her shoulder to stop her from swooning. “You too, sweetheart. Now go, the night is still young!” he chuckled. “I’ll be joining you guys soon.”

He sighed as the door shut behind him, and immediately began shedding layers. The too-tight pants were tossed aside, joined shortly by a wig.

He ran a hand over his short cut black hair, and plopped down on the huge cushy couch that dominated the dressing room. He looked at the tablet and shook his head. It didn’t make any sense. And it was just the last in a long line of things that didn’t add up.

 

He could never focus after a show. For the moment he needed to let his brain relax. Since he wouldn’t be able to do it much longer, he pulled up his fanmail sorter and tried ot see what people were saying.

There were always a lot of them, and he always read every single one. (Or at least, started to read them. Some of them got weird.)

He heard from all sorts, so it took a lot for one of them to really stand out.

This one did.

Dear Ben,

At least, I hope that’s what your name is now. You know I have trouble keeping up.

I am pleased that you got this message, hopefully you got it in time. We share a lot of mutual hopes, and close friends. I’m asking that you seek out one of them, because without it, I fear that we won’t share anything at all.

I think that he’s a fan of Top 40, and he’s got a good shot at being able to help you out. Sorry if that sounds a little obtuse.

Talk to you soon, and good luck,

Troia

Ben stared at it for some time.

Then he leaned back, deflating.

“No,” he said, dropping his tablet. “No. I’m not doing this. I’m not getting involved. I’m not.”

He wasn’t sure who he was trying to fool into believing it. Because e was the only one there. He rubbed at his temples. There were too many questions and not enough answers. But someone was definitely following him. He needed answers… he needed time to figure things out. Adn, more immediately, he needed someone to watch his back. He groaned and tapped in a number on the pad.

 

“…Hey… Reggie. Can you get me in touch with that shipping company? I need to put a couple things together.”

 

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