Good morning, everybody.
I was in some kind of restaurant with my brother. We had apparently been given permission to go sit down somewhere. So we were heading to that area.
I think I may have headed down a small stairwell, heading to the table my brother and I had been assigned to. But I was stopped when I heard someone singing Japanese karaoke. I looked behind me. My brother wasn't there.
I went back up the stairs. In some place like a lobby or front cashier area, there was a person singing karaoke. The area had white tile floors, a few large game/vending machines, like the crane machine where you can win stuffed animals, and a big LED screen on the left (my left) wall. Beyond the game/vending machines I could see the front door to the restaurant. Through the glass doors I could see that it was night. At my edge of the white tiles was a male worker standing at a small cashier counter.
The person singing the karaoke stood in the middle of the floor of white tiles. The man was my brother, even though I couldn't get a good view of him. He was wearing a big, brown hoodie. The hoodie wasn't pulled over my brother's head. But my brother was wearing a baseball cap, pulled down so low over his face that I couldn't see him. And I think he kept turning away from me, at maybe a 30 or 45 degree angle.
I figured out somehow that this was a new kind of karaoke system. It was like a karaoke jukebox. There was some machine around here. There was a big crane machine just past the LED screen, and I assumed the machine was just beyond that LED screen. That machine was the karaoke jukebox. You put money into it, just like into any old jukebox, and you got to choose your song. Your song then appeared on the screen.
The only thing weird about the system was something strange about the money. It was like some big drawer pulled out, like a wood drawer with a glass barrier over the inside of the drawer. The inside of the drawer was coated in something like shiny, metallic blue wrapping paper. Somehow you put your money into that thing and then slammed it back into the jukebox machine.
I stood watching my brother. He was really good. My brother was singing some song I'd never heard of before. It had a good melody, maybe a little sad. I'd had no idea that my brother could do Japanese karaoke! I wondered how widespread Japanese karaoke was among people today, how many young people could sing it. I hadn't really thought of it before. Suddenly I didn't feel very special for being able to do Japanese karaoke.
I thought I'd sing a song. But some other guy walked up to the screen. Just below or near the screen was another machine, which looked like a small, standalone jukebox. This machine was a regular jukebox that played regular, non-karaoke songs. The man was apparently going to put money into the machines and play some songs. The man hated karaoke. So he wanted to fill up the time with regular songs right away, so nobody could do karaoke.
Somehow, though, the scene switched around a little bit. The man and the regular jukebox were gone, and now the karaoke jukebox was just right behind me. I tried to get a look at the person singing. The person was no longer my brother. But he was still singing well. But I could never get a view of the man's face.
The man was at the last chorus of the song, I think. The chorus actually used the Spanish words, "Mi corazon, mi corazon," and then went into more Japanese.
I turned around to the jukebox. The top of the jukebox was all glass. Inside the glass case was something like a white tabletop, or maybe just a flat surface with white paper spread across it. On this surface lay a couple stacks of compact discs and some lone compact discs, none of them apparently connected to any mechanism.
Up on the wall was a white sign with red lettering, something like a sign you'd see at a swimming pool. It was instructions for how to order a song. You had to press two numbers, just to access a certain genre (or disc?). The first number was for some classification that wasn't clear to me. The next was a genre. Using these instructions, I did the best to pick a Japanese song. I picked the genre "anime," even though I wasn't looking for an anime song.
Now I went over to the keypad, which was just an outline of a keypad in something like red plastic, stuck to the glass case. It was like a decal, almost. There was no screen or anything to indicate which buttons you'd pressed. I didn't believe the thing would actually worked. I typed the numbers 5 and 4. Nothing seemed to happen.
There was a young, black man behind me. He mumbled to himself, "Oh, man. Another one of these guys. We're gonna be here forever because this guy can't figure out how to work the machine."
I became a little self-conscious at what the man had said. But I thought that he'd be able to help me. So I turned around and asked him, "Well, maybe to speed things up, could you actually show me how to do it?"