Colin had a problem. Not just a small everyday problem but one that affected his entire life. Colin’s voice was bland. So bland that his main source of income came from parents who hired him to talk to their children when they couldn’t get them to go to sleep. He would sit on a chair next to their beds and start to tell them about his day and within three or four minutes the children would be sound asleep.
Colin, his services in high demand, always charged parents for a full hour’s work and they were more than happy to pay upfront. Most parents had Colin’s phone number on speed-dial and he received so many calls every night, that he eventually started just going from one house to another. Some of the children were so used to seeing him that all he had to do was say, “Hello,” and they were asleep and dreaming.
But while the money was good and his services highly sought after, Colin often wondered if his so called talent might be more of a handicap, than anything else. You see, Colin was friendless. Each time he spoke to someone, the person he was speaking to, lost focus or nodded off.
He had gone to doctors, of course, when he could get appointments and not have the receptionist fall asleep as he was asking for a time and date, but each time he questioned a doctor as to whether it was the timber of his voice that may be affecting people negatively, he would look up to find himself alone in the room, or see the doctor napping on his desk.
He had stopped going out to dinner years ago. The waiters always forgot his order and even forgot that he was there. Some of them sat at his table and fell asleep while he was ordering and once a waiter curled up on the floor next to him and started snoring.
Hungry and alone, Colin’s life was not turning out as he had hoped. He just wanted to be able to speak to someone and receive an answer. He didn’t believe that he was asking for too much.
One day, as Colin was walking down the street, he saw a flyer flapping in the breeze. The flyer said:
Do you have difficulty communicating with others?
If you do, come to 165 South Drive at 9:00 p.m. tonight
for your first speech lesson and all of your problems will disappear.
This is a gift from the Universe, so there is no charge.
Colin smiled, tore the flyer off the post and continued on his way with a song in his heart. Hope is a powerful thing.
At exactly nine o’clock, Colin knocked on the door of a rundown mansion. He stood there for a few seconds, thinking that he might just turn around and run as fast as he could, in the other direction. But just as he was about to leave, the door opened.
“Mr. Colin?” asked the perfectly groomed butler. “This way, sir,” he said, motioning Colin forward with a grey gloved hand. “The Voice will be with you in a moment. Please wait here. The man gave Colin a slight bow and left him alone in the foyer. Colin sat on the only available chair, folded his hands in his lap, and waited.
“COLIN, MY MAN,” said the Voice, holding out his hand. “HOW VERY NICE TO MEET YOU AT LAST.”
Colin was stunned into silence. The man’s voice was incredible. You couldn’t help but listen to him. He was amazing. Colin would give anything to have a voice like his.
“WOULD YOU LIKE TO SOUND LIKE ME COLIN? OF COURSE YOU WOULD,” laughed the well rounded, white haired, man standing in front of him “WELL, I AM GOING TO SEE THAT YOU DO!”
Colin moved into the rundown mansion that very evening and started his new life. Over the next six months the Voice gave him elocution lessons and singing lessons. He read poetry aloud for hours at a time and spoke to himself, while looking into a silver framed hand mirror that sometimes spoke back to him, correcting any mistakes he may have made. Colin read books on physics, art, politics, current events, science fiction and music. He watched one film after another and had long and heated discussions about every one of them. The Voice listening and answering in return. He wrote essays and stories about what he saw each day and about what he felt. He wrote a detailed four page paper on the color of the common House Sparrow. He learned everything there was to know about wine. He ate food that he never knew existed. He learned to play the piano and listened to opera and foreign language tapes. He rarely slept, since he was so hungry for information.
Early one Tuesday morning, the Voice came to him and said, “COLIN, MY MAN. IT’S GRADUATION DAY! YOU ARE READY TO GO ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. YOU WILL BE ACCEPTED AND HEARD BY THE MASSES. I’M PROUD OF YOU,” he said, handing Colin a black velvet box. “CONGRATULATIONS.”
“WHAT IS THIS?” asked Colin, removing the lid. “IT’S BEAUTIFUL,” he said, strapping the gold watch to his wrist. “THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE LIFE I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED.”
“MY PLEASURE,” said the Voice. “NOW GO. ENJOY YOURSELF.”
Colin left the rundown mansion and headed home. Later that night he went to a restaurant that he had always wanted to try. He was seated and a waiter was assigned to his table.
“Are you ready to order?” asked the waiter, disinterestedly.
“YES. I WOULD LIKE THE VEGETABLE PLATE WITH POTATOES, ICE WATER AND HOT GREEN TEA, PLEASE.” said Colin, closing the menu.
“Yes Sir. Right away, Sir,” said the waiter. “If there is anything else I can get for you, you only have to ask. Anything at all.”
“NO. THANK YOU,” said Colin, surprised by the waiter’s change in attitude.
A beautiful redhead came up to Colin’s table. “May I join you?” she purred.
Colin, his mouth slightly open, nodded, as he watched the woman slide into the chair next to him.
“May I join you as well?” asked the gorgeous blond.
“Don’t forget me,” said the handsome young man in jeans and a blindingly white, silk t-shirt.
The conversation went exceptionally well. Colin was fascinating and could speak to any subject. His guests hung on his every word. They laughed and were somber in all the right places. He did notice that they were starting to vie for his attention and then he noticed that the restaurant had become unusually quiet. Looking around he saw that all eyes were upon him. No one was eating, their food growing cold in front of them. Everyone was waiting for him to speak. Colin was suddenly uncomfortable and a little afraid.
“WHAT’S GOING ON?” he asked his companions.
“What do you mean?” asked the redhead.
“WHY IS EVERYONE LISTENING TO ME?” he said.
“You have the voice of an angel. Why wouldn’t everyone listen to you. You are the most interesting person I have ever met and that’s probably true for them as well,” she said, looking at the crowd.
Colin felt a stab of real fear rush through him. More people were coming into the restaurant. The waiters were standing around, staring at him, and the cooks had come out of the kitchen to hear him speak.
“CHECK PLEASE,” he said, holding up his hand.
As soon as he spoke people pushed forward, in their effort to get closer to him. Colin took money out of his pocket and threw it on the table, as he stood and made his way to the door. People reached out to touch him, making his skin crawl.
“We love you,” called a man in his fifties. And others joined in the chant.
Colin’s heart was pounding in his chest, as he reached the street. People were coming out of the restaurant and he jumped into the first cab he saw. He quickly took a pen out of his pocket, wrote down an address and passed it to the driver who read it and drove away. Colin looked back to see a crowd standing in the street waving at him. A few people were running after the cab.
Fifteen minutes later Colin was standing in the foyer of the deserted, rundown, mansion. A white envelop, made of the finest linen, lay on the floor. His name, written with a flourish, was on the front. Colin bent over and picked it up. Slowly, he made his way to the stairs leading to the second floor and sat down. He waited an hour before opening the envelop. Waited until his fear abated, until his nerves settled down and then, with great courage he read the letter.
You have successfully completed the, ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH, vocal course. Here are some final things that you should know.
- you now have the voice of an Angel
- everyone will listen to every word you say
- if you sing, you may have to run for your life, so be very careful
- whispering will not help you in any way
- choir practice is twice a month. Detailed information will be forthcoming
When you spoke before, no one heard you. Now you can be heard but you cannot speak. That is what human life is all about. It’s about never really getting what you want. The torment is delicious, is it not? Cruel, most certainly, but delicious nonetheless. Well, delicious to us, anyway, not so much to your species, I’m afraid. That’s kind of a joke among us.
You should have remembered that age old adage: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR BECAUSE YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT. That’s the funny part, Colin. The answer was right in front of you. Granted, our sense of humor is a bit different from yours but we can talk about that at choir practice, which is the only place you’ll be able to use your voice. Now that’s really funny, even you must see that.