Chapter 34

Several years ago shortly after Kyle and Jay first got together...

 

Silence fell across the audience as the music starts. Tapping his foot to match the tempo of the music, Kyle raised the microphone to his lips and started to sing softly, then with increasing power. As he held the final note of the song the audience quickly rose to their feet, whistling, cheering and applauding wildly. He finished the song, smiled and bowed to the audience, tears glistening in his eyes.

 

Never before has there ever been such a response to his singing. The Judges may not like me, but the audience sure does. Kyle said to himself as he handed the microphone back to the stagehand and walked over to where Craig, the show's host, was standing. It took several minutes for the standing ovation from the audience to die down.

 

"Well Kyle, are you in the habit of bringing the house down?" Craig asked.

 

"No, this is the first time."

 

"And why don't I believe you? Let's find out what the Judges have to say. Let's start with you, the one and only Tammy Saunders."

 

Tammy wiped tears from her eyes. "That was an unbelievable performance. Until now, my favorite rendition of The Impossible Dream was by Luther Vandross. I'd give you a hundred stars if I could, but I have to settle for ten stars.

 

"George Carlson?"

 

"Everything in his performance was right on, pitch, timing, vocal inflections, everything. No question about it - ten stars."

 

"Bob Johannsen..."

 

"You've totally blown me and everyone else away. Ten million stars."

 

"Patti Johannsen..." Totally speechless, she held up both hands, indicating ten stars.

 

"Well, America, who's going to win the million-dollar recording contract with American Music Service? It's up to you. Will it be Eddie Johnson with nineteen points, or Kyle Matthews with twenty points? We'll find out after this commercial."

 

"We're back, with the finals of the adult male singer category. Who's going to win the million-dollar recording contract, Eddie or Kyle?"

 

Kyle nervously scanned the audience, looking for a familiar face. He locked eyes briefly with Jay, sitting next to his family. Jay smiled and held up both hands, displaying crossed fingers.

 

"Who will be the winner of the adult male singer category? America, you went to your computers and voted for who you wanted to win. Let's find out who that is. The scoreboard, if you please..."

 

Kyle looked at the scores and nearly fainted. He won! His score was forty-nine and his opponent's score was twenty-five. He couldn't believe it. When Jay finally convinced him to audition, he didn't think he stood a snowball's chance in hell of even getting on the show, let alone winning the recording contract. Sure he had been in a recording studio when the GLBT choir made a CD to sell as a fund-raiser, but this time it was going to be him and him alone. Unbelievable! No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't get his head around it.

 

After the thundering ovation died down to a dull roar, Craig gave him a slap on the back, bringing him back to reality. "Well, Kyle, you just won a million-dollar American Music Service recording contract. What do you think of that?"

 

"It's unreal. After Eddie's performance, I really didn't think I stood a chance."

 

"Well, the Judges love you, America loves you and the audience sure loves you..." He paused, waiting for yet another thundering ovation to die down. "Is there anyone special out in the audience you would like to say something to?"

 

"First, I would like to thank the Judges, America, and my family. But more importantly, I want to say a special thank you to my best friend, Jay, for believing in me and convincing me to audition and also the Director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Choir for all his help in developing my voice."

 

At first, there was a stunned silence then yet another ovation, during which Kyle realized what he just did. In the emotion of the moment he had outted himself to the entire country on national television! While he never hid his homosexuality, he never flaunted it. Now everyone in the entire country knew. The shocked look on everyone's face confirmed it. Well, he thought to himself, there goes the recording contract out the window not realizing that his sexual orientation wouldn't matter. The only thing that did matter was his voice.

 

After the show, while talking with the other winners as they waited for the post-show press conference, Jay snuck up behind him, and tapped him on the shoulder causing Kyle to practically jump out of his skin. As he turned around Jay grabbed him and gave him a bear hug. "I'm so proud of you for winning, I can't even tell you"

 

Kyle turned and returned the congratulatory hug. "Jay, if you hadn't believed in me, I couldn't have done it."

 

"You didn't need me to believe in you. You only needed to believe in yourself."

 

"I wonder, since now the entire country knows that I'm gay, if I'll lose the contract?"

 

"I doubt it."

"Name one gay American recording artist that's out."

 

"k. d. Lang."

 

"k. d. Lang is female. Out lesbian performers are far more acceptable in society than gay male performers are.

 

"Unfortunately, that's true, but I really don't think your sexuality is going to matter."

 

"Excuse me, Kyle? We're ready to begin the press conference."

 

"Okay. Jay, I'll see you afterwards. I love you!" The last statement said in a barely audible whisper.

 

"Me too, Kyle."

 

Kyle sat on the platform, nervously awaiting his introduction. I wonder how they're going to react to me, since I told everyone I was gay. They'll probably not want to talk to me. I wouldn't have any idea what to say to them anyway. Those thoughts turned over and over in his mind.

 

"Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you Mr. Carlos Perez, President of American Music Service. Mr. Perez?" He stepped up to the podium and raised his hands for silence.

 

Here it comes. Here's where they call Eddie up and give him the contract instead of me. I should not have said anything about the GLBT Choir. I don't know why I did. If it hadn't been for Jay I never would have auditioned, and if it hadn't been for GLBTC, I wouldn't have even made it past the first audition. Kyle was convinced that there was no way he'd get the contract now.

 

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. What did you all think about the adult male singer competition tonight?" His question was greeted with wild cheers, whistles and applause. "I'm glad I wasn't a Judge." The audience responded with peals of laughter. "I'm here to present an exclusive recording contract with American Music Service which covers the recording, burning and distribution of a minimum of two CDs. Both men are equally deserving of the contract, but I can only give it to one of them. It is my great pleasure to announce that this contract is being awarded to Mr. Kyle Matthews. Kyle, would you come up here please?"

 

Clearly not expecting to hear his name announced, he hesitated. "I think we need a crowbar to pry him out of his seat." More laughter erupted from the audience. It finally sunk in that regardless of his coming out on TV, the contract was his. With unsteady steps, he crossed the platform to the podium. Mr. Perez held his hand over the microphone and whispered to Kyle "this is not the real contract. This just says that the real contract will be delivered by bonded courier to the lawyer of your choice for review before you sign it. You are under no obligation to us until you have read the entire contract, discussed it with your lawyer, and signed it, which I sincerely hope you do. This is just for show."

 

He removed his hand from the microphone. "Kyle, I've seen a lot of talent come out of competitions such as this. You are by far the best I've seen in a long, long time. I am honored to present this recording contract to you. All you have to do is sign here." He handed Kyle a gold pen with the American Music Service logo. Kyle read the contract and realized that it said exactly what he was told a minute ago, that it was not the real contract. The real one will be delivered to his lawyer, and he was under no obligation. He didn't even have to sign it. He was free to decline, if he wished. Like he would even consider declining! He scanned the remaining pages, which all said the same thing. Tearfully, he took the pen and signed the contract amidst cheers and applause. Looking out from the podium, he spotted Jay, Kim, Bryan, and numerous other friends and family, most of whom had tears rolling down their cheeks. Jay blew him a kiss, Tommy and Andy gave him double-thumbs up, and Kim pantomimed giving him a big hug.

 

Ever since high school chorus, he always wondered what it would be like to have his own album, never dreaming he would ever have the chance. Now he was going to find out first hand. Sometimes even the wildest dreams can come true.