Before the mic drops (Short Story)
Seated solemnly backstage. Recollections of what brought him to this position in the first place. Life was a testing timeline for him – mired by deaths of few he loved, abuse by many he hated, and a heart hardened from diminishing trust. He remembered how existing was once a chore in itself – a daily clocking in to a despised nine to five that had no end in sight. Begrudgingly, he would carry out the most basic daily maintenance to ensure he survived. His eating was forced, his sleeping sporadic. He half-heartedly tried to overdose more than once previously, but even for that, his self-deprecating mind would taunt him. Even the act of ending his own life could not belong to him, another failure to add to his collection.
One day, unknowingly while trying to numb his sorrows at the bar, Devros found himself at an open mic night. He watched passively – uninterested and resentful as amateur acts would follow, one after the other, to a dull and lethargic reception. Like a man possessed by his drink – suddenly – as the last act seemed to have finished, Devros rose to the stage and picked up the microphone. Aimlessly, carelessly, he looked at it as though he was peering into his soul. His mind again denouncing a body rebellious. He began to talk to the microphone, opening the wounds of his past while seemingly arguing with the doubts of his mind out loud. He was almost mocking himself, poking fun at his own insecurities, misfortunes and problems.
Not addressing, or perhaps even aware of the crowd, he continued to unleash rants, scoffs, ridicule at his lowly self, impervious as to his surroundings. Yet what followed was astounding. More people from the bar started to gather towards his act. Scoffs and apathy transformed to smiles and soon laughter from a growing audience. His aggressive but ironic demeanour meant that the few hecklers that tried to mock him only added to the atmosphere. As it grew around him, so too did his confidence. He had no idea what was happening, but the appreciation was fuelling him – an energy he had not known for his years. He bellowed condescendingly yet wittily as his life’s problems, and the people couldn’t get enough – cheers, ovations, laughter filling the room.
Devros almost draws out a half smile when he thinks back to that day. For the phenomenon only accentuated, as he was now of the renowned worlds greats of comedy. Whenever he would set on that stage, he was commanding, eccentric, and a master of trickery in fooling the world that contentedness existed behind his painted smile. Though now was not like before, that original fire in his soul, the instinctiveness of that performance would never be as natural as it was the first time, before any reaction was intended. Todays crowds look at him with admiration and awe – at how great his life must be and how happy a man that carries all his wit and laughter to the stage. Devros often looks back at them feeling like a bull in the ring, goaded by spectators that have come to taunt and witness the fool in action.
From a young age, he learned quickly that trying to release his demons, and speak of his troubles seriously was an idea quickly to be dismissed. The world was unsympathetic and almost humiliating the one that spoke of their woes. Yet, the same pain, when delivered in jest, with an air of mystery to authenticity so as to never seem too serious….people were paying to see! The audience became like an enemy to him. He felt that they were here for his suffering, that the more he would appeal to their joy, more parts of him secretly died with it. Then, for the first time since he could ever remember, a genuine smile beamed across Devros from cheek to cheek as a thought trickled from his brain across his lips.
Maybe someday, he would have the last laugh.