Flash Friday 29/08/2014: Ca-cough-any
The sound of a live classical concert played through the speakers of the stereo system. Everyone sat in their chairs, huddled around the speakers like a log fire in winter, waiting for the key moment. One man leant against one of the speakers, watching the crowd with keen interest.
The song was coming down from a high point. The violins were winding down, the trumpets were expending the last of their players’ breath, and the drums rumbled off into the distance. It fell to the point where only a few instruments were still alive, like some sort of survival battle. Then, slowly but surely, all of the instruments tapered off into a dead silence, ready to strike again with a huge crescendo.
There, in the crucial moment of total silence, a loud, hoarse cough came from the audience of the concert.
The audience sitting around the stereo jumped to their feet, cheering and high-fiving one another.
“That was amazing, Percy!” a woman in the crowd said, applauding towards the man by the speaker. “I can’t believe you got away with it!”
Percy gave a cocky shrug. “When you’re as good as me, being caught ain’t an option.”
“I mean, that was a really big cough. That wasn’t your amateurish ‘tickle at back of throat’ or ‘chocolate went down the wrong way’ cough. That was a proper, full-on, retching up your lungs cough.”
“I agree,” another man from the group said. “That was a solid, clean cough there. Really nice coarseness. Very good volume and tone. Really cut in on the listening experience, made itself known. Refused to be hidden behind the brass and the strings, leaping up like some sort of disease-ridden dolphin. Truly inspiring.”
The lady nodded. “And did you catch that phlegm content on the cough? Came though on the speakers like a treat. Not everyone can get a nice moisture content on their cough and have the microphone pick it up. I have no idea how you do it, Percy.”
“It’s practice,” Percy said. “Why, while you were all children going to school, I was there at every concert I could find, coughing at every opportunity that presented itself to me. I definitely had my rough days back then. Coughing too quietly, coughing just as the instruments picked up again, getting kicked out and a pack of Strepsils thrown after me. This is not luck, neither is it talent. This is pure craft bred from years of practice.”
“Gosh,” the lady said. “I hope that, someday, we can all be as prolific and efficient as you. I’m not sure where the Concert Coughing Society would be without you around. I speak for us all when I say that we’re in awe of your determination.”
“There is nothing to my attitude, other than the desire to make my mark on such a brilliant piece. To imagine the hundred upon thousands of frustrated faces across the world upon witnessing a beautiful serenade ruined by someone’s nasty cold. With enough confidence, determination, and sitting around ill people on the bus, I’m sure you all can become fantastic and infamous coughers in your lifetime.”
The lady wiped a bubbling tear from her eye. “Truly an inspiration for us all.”
“But like I said, every man of his craft needs practice, and the only way to achieve it is to get out there and give it a go. With that being said…” The man brandished a handful of tickets in a fan shape. “Who here likes Mozart?”
Everyone raised their hands.