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A fast food manager

Gets a cryptic letter

A golden microphone

The Voice of an April Fool

There was always a quiet moment after the last customer left DelTaco. It was silent enough to hear the key click the cylinder in the lock, bolting the front door shut for the night. Then, space for an inhale, and whoever had fryer duty for the night got to pick the cleaning tunes. 

Miguel was pissed about being on the fryer for the third night in a row: Twister Sister began to shout about not taking it anymore. 

Gail snickered and then went to the office to wait for the cashiers to bring their cash tills in to be counted. While the teenage crew began to filter the frying oil and clean the grills, she could sit in the relative calm of the office and count money, prepare the deposit and do the credit card reports. 

The three cashiers came with their drawers, each with a cash register receipt/report tucked on top of the twenties till. Gail took the drawers and was about to say good night to them when something caught her eye. An envelope with a golden microphone where the return address should be.

“Hey, wait, who knows what this is?” Gail asked the three girls, holding up the envelope. 

Maria and Brittney shrugged. “Some guy brought it by, said it was for you,” Arrellia said. “It was the middle of the rush, so I just tossed it in the register.”

Gail nodded. “Do you remember who he was or what he looked like?”

Arrellia shook her head. “He wasn’t a regular, if that is what you meant. I really don’t notice old guys.”

“So he was older? Like 50? 60?” Gail asked.

“No,like maybe 25, 30?”

She was not helpful. Gail waved them off and took the envelope back to the office. She opened it, and there was a letter with the same golden microphone at the top.

Dear Gail.

Your talents are too big for Karaoke. You should definitely audition for the voice. Call me at the number below, and I can set up the audition.

There was no signature at the bottom. Too talented for Karaoke? Who was this person? Gail had never sang Kareoke in her life. She didn’t even go to bars or drink, for that matter. Her small, sad life was this Del Taco down the road from the city high school. The only singing she did was in the shower. 

A chill ran down her back. Did someone hear her singing in the shower? The apartment was small, and the walls were a bit thin, but she didn’t really hear her neighbors, so did they hear her? And The Voice? Who in their right mind would suggest she take time off of work for some silly singing contest? She did watch the show – it was one of her favorites. But she wasn’t young, like the kids on the show, or have a ton of singing experience like the people her age on the show. Covering Adele in the shower didn’t seem to be the type of resume required. 

Gail checked the letter and the envelope again. No return information at all and no way to contact either to accept or decline the offer. Of course, she would decline. That went without saying. 

She tossed it all into the trash and didn’t think about it again until the next Thursday. Ariella came back to the office with her drawer. And another envelope.

“Did you see who it was this time?” Gail asked. She wanted to tear open the envelope, but not in front of Arellia. 

“You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I think it was Blake Shelton – the old guy from the Voice.”

Gail could only nod. Her mind was going supersonic, though. Blake Shelton? Encouraging her to audition for the Voice? Based on her Karaoke singing? She was starting to ignore the fact that she still hadn’t been to a karaoke bar.

Once she was alone, she opened the letter. Another page with the Golden Microphone on top. 

Dear Gail, 

We have set up the preliminary audition. Please come to the Civic Center Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 pm prepared to sing. Based on your past performances, we suggest “Hello” by Adele and “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.

There was still no contact information. But those were two of Gail’s favorite songs. She also was off on Tuesdays. It couldn’t hurt to audition, right? And she might even meet Blake Shelton. 

She got to the Civic Center at 2:30 the following Tuesday. The doors were locked. How odd, she thought, wouldn’t everyone be warming up before their audition? She peered through the glass doors. She saw a man mopping the floors and started to bang loudly. Maybe she was at the wrong entrance, and he could point her in the right direction. 

Gail started to explain the audition as soon as he started opening the door. 

“What?” he asked. “An audition for a tv show? Here?” 

Gail’s heart sank a bit. She pulled out the letter and held it out to the janitor.

He read it, then looked at her. “Honey, it’s April first, remember? I think your friends may be playing with you. There is nothing here today.”

Gail took her letter and thanked him. She began to walk back to her car but sunk down on the sidewalk and started to cry. How stupid did she have to be to fall for this?

She felt a gentle shake on her shoulder. 

“Hey Gail,” said a young woman. The credential that hung around her neck said “production assistant.”  “It’s your warm up. Could  you follow me please?”

Gail sat up. She was in a room filled with people sitting on various pieces of furniture. Some were strumming guitars. Some were listening intently to whatever was in their earbuds. Most had, like her, a sticker with a participant number on their chests. A participant number and a golden microphone. 

“Come on, “ the PA said. “You have a fifteen-minute warm-up, and then you go. I heard you singing earlier. I would bet my life you get a chair turn.” 

Gail could only nod. “I had the strangest dream.”