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Please read “About this project and the Author” for more information on my project. In this excerpt, Daryl must do his radio show after Annie leaves him…

“I spent the rest of this evening sitting in the dark while having a few drinks to take the edge off before my show. Whenever my mind turns to Annie, it’s always her eyes I see first. I have looked at them so often and I can see them in my mind so vividly, it’s as though the rest of her is about to draw itself around them and she will be here with me again. I think about her, about the reason for which I seem to have lost her for good. Her image fades in and out between childhood memories flashing in a sequence starring fear, tears and broken bones. Why would anyone ever want to hear this, especially a beautiful human being such as Annie? I’m still trying. I’m still trying to find the words and I just can’t do it. Is it because it all happened half a lifetime ago and the words are buried too deep. Am I too lazy to dig them up. Am I just being a coward. I’m not even sure anymore what it is that’s making me so dizzy; is it the booze or all these questions spinning in my head.

I’m taking the thirty minutes walk to the station hoping the fresh air will do me some good and help me clear my mind. About halfway there I get an uneasy feeling after I realize that I am not prepared for tonight’s show. I walk straight ahead with a busy mind but unable to focus on anything specific; my show, Annie, my past, nothing sticks long enough for a thought to take shape. Then, the phone Annie insisted on buying me early in our relationship rings, which is unusual at this hour, especially on a weeknight. I frantically reach in my pocket hoping it’s a call from Annie but, no. It’s Susan, my technician, producer and trusted friend of eight years asking where I am in a tone that betrays her anxiety. It’s unlike me to show up at the last minute as I have always placed a great deal of importance on preparation but tonight, understandably, I lost track of time and I sense Susan is on the verge of migrating from anxious to outright panicked. There’s a lot of timing involved in what we do and everything has to be choreographed precisely, especially for a six hour show which is a rare thing in radio nowadays.

I pick up the pace and get to the station with only a few moments to spare. Susan has readied my studio as usual and all I have to do is sit in front of the microphone which I do, still wearing my jacket and still holding my phone. Susan is standing next to me and talking but I can’t really hear her, although I did get something about going on the air in two minutes. For a second there, I have no idea what I’m going to say and the on air light is about to go green. After all these years of endless talking, all these intros, the countless stories and commentaries and for the first time of my career I find myself drawing a blank.

But only for a second.

This microphone has become an extension of my body and the reflexes acquired over time are mixing with the adrenaline and kicking in.

I touch my finger to my phone to bring up Annie’s number and send her a text message. This will get her attention, first because she sleeps with her phone on her bedside table and second, because she knows I absolutely despise text messages. After typing the message “Listen to my show, please”, I touch the send button and then turn to Susan to worry her with a request.

“Get all the Cat Stevens songs you can find”.

When we first started working together, Susan kept scheduling Cat Stevens songs for our show and every time I would ask her to replace them with different ones. At first, she argued that hosting a show featuring music from the seventies and refusing to play at least a few of Cat Stevens’ biggest hits didn’t make any sense. I just told her I wasn’t a fan of his music and I didn’t feel his songs matched our format, which was ludicrous because it was a perfect fit. She tried to slip one on me every once in a while, but I always managed to get them off of our play list. After a while she just dropped the subject all together. So now, I have managed to shock her with my request.

“Cat Stevens? What? Why? You’ve always said no Cat St…”

Susan stops talking abruptly as she sees the look on my face. I look up over he shoulder to see the seconds hand on the clock of the studio racing toward the number twelve. Susan turns on her feet and leaves the studio to run to her booth. Even though I’m looking at her through dirty and tinted glass, I can see her nervousness and confusion. With about five seconds to go, what I am about to say is definitely not going to calm her down.

“And Susan, whatever happens, don’t cut me off the air”.

“What? Daryl! What the hell is wrong with you?”

At that same moment, the clock hits midnight and she has no other choice but to turn the microphone on because if she doesn’t, there will be dead air. In our business, silence screams incompetence. This would reflect badly on the both of us and she absolutely knows it. So almost immediately, the light goes green and my mic goes hot.

As I take off my jacket, I begin talking. On my way here tonight I had no clue what I was going to talk about. It’s strange how when the instincts take over, it all comes naturally. Either you have it or you don’t. I don’t know much in life but I know this; I have it.

“It is midnight so a great new day to all of you…”

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Contact: steve.marchand@rogers.com

This project is entirely written on an iPad

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