Short Story


I woke up feeling tired, even though I thought that I had slept through the night. My wife Sally looked like she hadn’t slept much either. I expected her to complain about my snoring, but she surprised me by saying “Duke, when did you become a great singer?”

That was a shock in so many ways. I had no memory of singing, I never even talk in my sleep and even more, she normally hates my singing. For that matter, I’ve been banned from singing in thirty-six states. I hadn’t been in the other ones.

“What was I singing?”

“Roll With It”. It was so good, and I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and danced to it for the fifteen minutes you sang. You seemed to be going on a themed medley and went directly into ‘Whip It’”.

“And I never woke up?”


Not knowing what to say, I said nothing, but later that day while I was in the shower after work, I decided to try singing while I was awake. I started with something mellow, “Natural Born Lover”, but as I started, my throat closed and I began to sing through my nose in a voice that I didn’t recognize. Not only was I singing wonderfully, but there was the instrumental track as well.

I cancelled the doctor’s appointment for my snoring. I’d been plagued with congestion and sore throats for most of my life, but my fear of doctors had kept me from medical help, and now I didn’t want to risk losing my new talent. Whatever was happening to me, I didn’t want to risk it. Instead, I worked though all of my favorite songs – mushy ballads, hard rock, big band – with great results every time. Better than Jerry Lee on “Great Balls Of Fire” and superior to John Lennon on “In My Life”.

Because I had grown weary of my actuarial job, and had always wanted attention, I came up with a plan. “King Of The World” was coming through Portland to interview for their network talent show. The process was as tedious as my day job so I won’t bore you – I won every competition including “Battle of the Best”.

There were many skeptics that claimed that I was cheating somehow, but no one could prove anything. My singing was definitely coming through my nose. Despite repeated requests, I refused to be examined, partly because I did want to know the source of the magic, and in part because I superstitiously believed that any checking on me would jinx my gift.

An angle that celebrity culture grabbed onto was my similarity to the former famous flatulist Le Petomane. Le Petomane also made music from an unusual orifice too, but mine was much sweeter.

For about a year, I was the King Of The World. I was on Ophir, Dr. Pill, Murray and all of the big talk shows. Not only did I get to entertain, I was willing to solve all of the big problems – The Middle East, Pineapple On Pizza (yes), Greatest Female Singer (Aretha – duh). Side note – I could sing in a female voice as well as a male voice. I filled all of the big stadiums – the Rolling Stones, Pat Benatar, Neil Young and Paul McCartney opened for me. Actors and politicians fawned over me, but I played it cool. All of the jokes that my wife hated were suddenly hilarious.

One year, two months and five days after my original appearance on King Of The World, I was performing in Portland Oregon, my home town. I was in the middle of Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” when something worm-like popped out of my nose. It kept singing, but I stopped. No doubt you read of the chaos that ensued. I was “exposed” as a fraud, until Mick (what the worm called himself) explained, as best he could, what had happened. The following is edited for brevity and humor:

“Honest guys, I can’t explain it very well either. I don’t know what I am, but I attained consciousness about ten years ago. Am I a part of Duke, am I an alien, am I the product of some mutation or radiation? Don’t know. Whatever I am, I could hear what Duke was hearing and know what he was thinking. I really liked the same music he did, so I took a chance and started singing. I’m not bad for a ten centimeter invertebrate.”

“Whatever you do, don’t blame Duke. He didn’t understand what was happening. And kids out there, stay in school and don’t do drugs – without me.”

After that, the accusations of me being a fraud died down, but my show business career was over. Mick took my place, performing in a huge magnifying cube. I must say that he is a much more dynamic performer than I ever was, probably because of his 103 segments and fifty appendages.

I miss the fame a little, but I still get booked on some talk shows and do some conventions. Most of the celebrities and politicians I could do without, and I did enough travel in that one year to last me a lifetime. As much as I denigrate my actuarial background, it kept me conservative enough to avoid groupies and to take care of the money. Sally and I are happy to be retired young and rich enough to enjoy our hobbies – her hiking, my writing. Bonus – no more snoring, congestion or sore throat.