Josh had remained tight-lipped about the songs he taught The Acapocalypse, or how they were going. Carrie was prepared to let that be a part of his world he kept to himself—would go so far as to say she felt it important they keep some parts of their lives distinctively their own.
She saw him whisper in Amanda’s ear when the group got on stage. She liked Amanda. She seemed smart and kind and from what Josh said, she was instrumental in getting the group up and running. Despite all of this, in that moment of him whispering and the moment of her giggling that followed, Carrie loathed the girl.
Carrie pushed those thoughts from mind, though. She had come to the open mic night at the student center café to support Josh and this new endeavor. She would clap and cheer and listen and push the rest of those thoughts out of mind for the time being. All of that, and she would use Josh’s digital camera to record the performance for him to dissect later on, and maybe post on YouTube if things turned out well enough.
The open mic night marked an unusual setting for an a cappella group to perform. The members barely all fit on stage, and looked sort of funny in their matching black t-shirts and jeans, particularly in contrast to al the acts that preceded them—mostly solo acoustic guitar acts, some girls reading poetry. Perhaps the most awkward piece of all, though, was that the turn out for the event was so small. As it turned out, the eight members of The Acapocalypse made up about half the audience for the other acts, and so, when they got on stage, their own audience looked embarrassingly small.
Carrie heard the chatter, the confusion from the other spectators. She had visions of the group proving itself—of singing so well that they won over everyone in attendance and began to develop a reputation that would bring them bigger audiences wherever they went and supporters on Facebook.
Josh blew into his pitch pipe. A moment later, the group launched into its rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” Josh had sung the solo to this song with his high school group, but stepped back now, having abdicated it to a guy who, to his credit, sang quite well, who gesticulated wildly, and made such pronounced facial expressions that he seemed determined to make it a musical theatre production.
Nonetheless, Carrie would have thought the song was going well enough based on what she was hearing. Only in watching the group did she recognize that they were unraveling.
First came the sideward glances—the onset of confusion, uncertainty in the group itself. Someone had missed a cue, or something sounded just out of tune. Josh had started out just swinging his arms a little, but escalated to more discernibly keeping the beat. By the end of the first minute, he had stepped outward, and did nothing to hide that he was conducting, cuing different parts, signaling the dynamics with rises and falls of his hands.
Thirty seconds later, the song was hardly recognizable—only salvaged by that emotive soloist, who kept a hopeful smile waxed on his face, and reached out into the distance. But before long, even he had seemed less certain.
Nearing the end of the song, the group came together to sing the lines of the solo all together in unison. They actually sounded good then, which would have been a good thing had it not marked such a stark contrast to the preceding two minutes.
Josh offered them a visible cut off with his hands to end the song. He turned and bobbed his head to the audience. Others bowed at the same moment, others a moment later, others not at all. Carrie stopped recording and clapped, conscious of clapping louder than the polite applause from the rest of the handful of bystanders. She waved to Josh, but he didn’t see her, or ignored her.
He made eye contact with Amanda, gave a little shake of his head, then kept walking.