I collapse in the conference room of Sactown Royalty Headquarters, completely exhausted. A whiteboard overrun with crappy idea after crappy idea, scratch out after scratch out, and failed premise after failed premise boasts my failures in the opposite corner of the room. Will, having succumbed to his fatigue hours ago, is sprawled in a chair, sound asleep.
“Will, we’ve gotta get this down. We can’t give up now. WILLIAM SALMONS GRIFFITH GET UP THIS INSTANT!” I kick my friend’ foot with all of the power a panic-induced giraffe can muster. He awakens. “I hate the Grizzlies…I hate the Grizzlies…oh hey, sorry. I must’ve dozed off. Did you make any progress? You must’ve. There’s a reason Bryant and Greg named you the Zach Lowe of this place.”
I bury my head in my hands. “I’ve got nothing, Will. Absolutely nothing. I don’t have a single idea for the next fan fiction. Akis’ new code of conduct is just too restrictive!” I throw the thick manual across the room. I don’t know what the editors will do to us this time; we already don’t get breakfast. Whatever it is, it’ll be severe.
Will’s eyes snap shut in concentration. “There’s gotta be something. There’s gotta be something. There’s gotta be something.” His eyes pop open as a grin slinks across his face. “I think I might have something, Timbo. What do other writers do when they’re stuck?”
“I don’t know. You mean like other sports writers? I feel like we’ve exhausted all of those avenues.” I reply.
“Exactly. We’re thinking too much like sports writers. What do television writers do when they’re in a rut? What about…a musical?”
“A musical?” I say, throwing a confused look Will’s way. I’m sure he’s snapped.
“Yes! A musical! I’ve seen a bunch of different TV shows change it up and record a musical edition. 30 Rock, Scrubs, Psych, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Community, and a whole slew of programs have tried it in the past, and they were all smashing successes!” It’s almost as if Will googled a list of television shows with musical episodes and listed them off.
“By golly that just might work. We’ll have to figure out if anyone we know can sing, first. After that, we’ll record the episode and post it to the site. That just might get us the clicks we need. Will, you’re a genius!”
“It’s not my worst idea. We should probably check with the bossman before we pivot to audio, though.”
“Good idea.” I reply.
The two of us make our way to the executive elevator in StR Headquarters. The doorman, Jon Brockman, stops us. “What’s your business here? Are you bringing any clicks?” He asks. “Sorry Mr. Brockman, sir. We don’t have any clicks, but we have a click-worthy idea.” I reply. He harrumphs, but let’s the pair of us through.
We arrive in the gilded, mahogany entryway to Akis’ office. A statue of Ziller’s cat adorns each side of the door. Will’s trembling hand lightly knocks. “What do you want?” A voice cuts through the silence. “Um, Mr. Yercostas, sir. We have an idea to get some traffic to the site, but we wanted to clear it with you.” Will replies.
“You may enter.”
Will and I scramble into the office, hesitating before the greatness assaulting our eyes. There he sits, Mr. Akis himself. “What’s this ridiculous idea?” He demands. “Well sir, we want to create a musical edition of the mailbag. We think it will hit a different type of market while keeping the core clickers happy. It may increase traffic up to 25%.” Will replies.
“Hmm…sounds interesting. Just remember to follow the new rulebook. You’ve read Article 12, section G, right?” Akis asks.
“Um, we don’t have it memorized, sir.” I reply.
“WELL MEMORIZE IT! Article 12, section G states that all media recordings, including those of a musical nature, must be performed by staff members of Sactown Royalty. No outside contractors are allowed! Not after that blasted John Legend incident.”
“Oh…okay…um…we’ll get someone on staff.” I reply.
“Good! Now get out of my office! I’ll be tweeting at Pete D’Alessandro for the rest of the day!”
We hurry back to our offices as quickly as possible, mystified. “I can’t sing, can you?” Will asks. “Not a lick.” I reply.
“Well, it looks like we’ll be holding auditions. Let’s get started.” We email an invitation to every single member of Sactown Royalty, and almost every single writer joins us. Unfortunately, Greg is on vacation for another day and Kevin is holding individual workouts for teams in search of a backup center. Brad is the first to respond, the first to arrive, and our number one candidate. He briefly glances at the lyrics before stepping to the mic.
“Dear Thedosia, what to say to you? You have my eyes. You have your mother’s name…”
“Brad! Those aren’t the lyrics!” I shout from the booth.
“Oh, sorry. Let me start over.” He nods at us through the glass. “SomeBODY once told me the worlds is gonna roll me…”
“GET OUT!” Will screams. Brad scampers out of the recording studio. “Who’s next?” I ask.
The Boston Baritone, as he referred to himself in his reply, saunters up to the mic confidently. He begins to sing the lyrics, not beautifully, but not horribly either. “This may just work.” Will mutters.
Tony finishes the song, and we meet to discuss the results and the role. “How much is this gig payin’?” Tony asks. “Well, all we can give you is the combination of our annual bonuses from Vivek, so it’ll be about $250,000.” Will replies. “I guess that’ll do” Tony says.
“I’m just curious, how would you spend the money?” I ask.
“I would donate to a campaign. It’s called ‘Revive Duje Dukan’s NBA career. I’m the chairman, director of the board, and sole member.” Tony replies proudly.
Will and I exchange glances. “We can’t give this guy that kind of money. He’ll just waste it.” Will says. I agree. “Sorry Tony, but we’re going to go a different direction. We’re not going to enable your ridiculous spending” He storms out of the studio.
The next five hours are spent with similar results. Every single writer can sing, but every single one would also waste the money. Richard promised to spend it on beard implants, Omer was going to buy a gold plated legal pad, Bryant stated he would buy the perfect apricot, and Sanjesh was even going to go as far as to pay for college!
We head back to the conference room, distraught. “We’re screwed.” I declare. “We can’t hire anyone from the outside, all the guys that could do it here are foolish, and the article is due tomorrow!”
“I know this is tough, brother, but there’s gotta be someone out there who fits the bill.” Will replies.
At that moment, Greg pokes his head into the door of the conference room. “Hey, I got your email. I got back from vacation a little bit early, and I heard you might be looking for a vocalist. Would you guys be willing to give me a shot at the part?”
Will looks at me. I look at will. We both shrug in sync. “Why not?”
We hand our editor the sheet of lyrics. He reads through them, closes his eyes, and well...the perfect words have yet to be penned to describe what touched our souls in that moment. It was the sound of a light breeze caressing a babbling brook in an undisturbed forest. It was the jolt of love a lad of 14 feels when he holds his lover’s hand for the very first time. It was the melody of a baby’s first giggle united with a crackling fire on a snowy winter’s night, sprinkled with the joy of the ice cream truck on a hot summer’s day. It was beauty personified.
Through tear-stained eyes, I glance at Greg. “The position pays $250,000. What would you do with the money?” I ask, ready to be crushed.
“I think sound investments in long-term, safe stocks, combined with a few more risky positions would probably be my play.” Greg replies.
I jump for joy. “This is perfect! He’s the least foolish person I’ve ever met, he meets section G’s requirements, and his voice is tinged with the voices of the angels!”
Will smiles. “You’re right. He’s perfect. All this story needed was a G-reg Wise Singer.”
Welcome back to the Royal Mailbag!. To ask a question:
-You can comment below
-You can reach us by email at: email@example.com
-You can tweet the @SactownRoyalty Twitter account, or you can tweet us directly at @TimMaxwell22 and @WillofThaPeople
-You can ask our Sactown Royalty Facebook page!
-You can snail mail a letter to 3 Games Above 500 Lane, Sacramento, California 95842