Danny - Part 6

Printer-friendly version
 
danny-dj-resized.jpg
   
DANNY
Part 6

by Roberta J. Cabot

This is a story about Daniel, a guy with a unique talent and an even more unique problem: A great singing voice and the looks of his gorgeous sister, and how he and his family and friends deal with life with him having breasts. And now, it is coming close to that moment, when he has to choose the path his life would go - between being a girl or remaining a guy. Danny finds it a little more difficult to continue with the subterfuge as he suddenly finds himself going on TV.

 
Author’s Note: As some of the readers know, late last year, I had some problems, both personal and work-related. And this was one of the times where work-life has interfered with fun-life. I have not had the opportunity to concentrate on writing Danny or Kimmie stories for over two months, except a little day-in-the-life story and a little poem. But everything’s settling back to normal, and I have finished Part 6 of DANNY. Many thanks to everyone who have been emailing me and/or posting comments with advice, constructive comments and words of encouragement, and I profusely apologize for the long wait.

As usual, please excuse the grammatical errors and questionable story elements, as well as any problems in format. I’m doing my best to improve. Really… heheh

A little note here to say hi to my chatroom “posse” — Breanna (and her robot, Breebot), Abby, Alyssa, Ananga_Ranga, Aunt Andrea, Cindy, Fiona, Grover, Jen, Karen, Kristine, Lexa, Mel, Pippa, my layout editor Seph, and new chat-friends Yuki and Donna — thank you for the jokes, the quotes, the tech talk, the long chats, the words of encouragement, the tough advice, an occasional shoulder to cry on, and a great time chatting. Seeya in the Chatroom! (but just on Saturdays, now... sniff sniff, sob sob…)

Anyway… here we go with Part Six. Hope you like… (Again - feedback, please!!)


 

Part Six: One Meeting, Two Caramel Frappes,
and Three Interviewers Equals One Big Dilemma

 
 
In Part Six, Danny goes all out in his dual reality, going public in his Dannie-the-Rocker persona, super-DJ Nighthawk, AND his usual humdrum Danny Fairchild self, on both radio AND TV! Not that he had a choice about it, mind you. Gosh…

 
 
Seventeen: A Meeting
 
***** (Danny) *****

As we went down the radio station’s hallway, we saw Danielle’s entire gang there, lounging around in the lobby area. Danielle probably got a ride with Joanne, and Joanne blabbed to the rest of their girlfriends, and, as these things usually go, it became another excuse to get together, supposedly to rescue lil’ ole me again. Presently, they were all looking at my poster (me with the flying hair and scarves), probably wondering what was up.

Anyway, we didn’t stop to chat, and I just waved to them on our way to Mrs. Piper’s office. It was a huge office — easily the size of my booth, the engineer’s booth and the adjacent library put together. Before anything, Mrs. Piper gestured for us to sit down, took orders for coffee and phoned the nearest Coffee Bean. She even included coffees for the girls outside.

Danielle and I sat down in the chairs in front of Mrs. Piper’s desk. Tracey took one beside Danielle but nearer Mrs. Piper, all the while with her looking at Danielle, mouth agape.

“Yes, Tracey,” I answered the unspoken question, “Danielle is my sister.” I performed the introductions. “Tracey, this is my sister, Danielle. Danielle, this is apparently my new engineer, Tracey, who just happens to be Mrs. Piper’s… daughter.”

“Danielle?...” Tracey asked, still confused.

“It’s a long story,” Danielle answered, “involving our kooky Uncle Nathan. He wanted to give us the same name given that we were twins, even if I was a girl and Danny was a boy. Plus the fact that we were Irish on our mother’s side.”

“Notice the red hair,” I said, “and don’t ask me to sing ‘Oh, Danny Boy.’” Tracey giggled.

“Anyway,” Danielle continued. “I was named Danielle” (she stressed the pronunciation) “and he,” she pointed at me, “was named Daniel” (again stressing the pronunciation). “Usually, I answer to ‘Danielle’ and he answers to ‘Dan’ or ‘Danny.’ To minimize the confusion, you know.”

“But you both look the same… Twins, you said?”

“We’re fraternal twins,” she said. “I’m a girl and he’s a boy. We don’t usually look this similar, though, except when one of us starts dressing as a girl when he’s not supposed to.” She pointedly glared at me and my outfit.

I cringed a bit. “It was a mistake, Danielle. I thought I was putting on my regular clothes.”

“We’ll talk about this later,” she grated. She faced Mrs. Piper. “Hello, Mrs. Piper,” she said in a conversational but cool tone.

Mrs. Piper had listened to Danielle’s short recitation quietly, and nodded to her. “Good morning, Danielle,” she answered, equally cool. She turned to Tracey. “Aside from being Danny’s sister,” Mrs. Piper said to Tracey, “Danielle happens to be his manager, or the closest thing to one.”

She went back to Danielle. “I suppose you’re here about the poster?” Mrs. Piper asked.

Danielle looked to me. This was one of the times I was grateful for our pseudo-ESP thing, as Danielle instantly got the message that there were other things going on.

“For starters,” Danielle answered Mrs. Piper. She folded her arms and waited. My sister’s so awesome. I don’t think anyone can get Mrs. Piper to become this ill-at-ease.

“Well,” Mrs. Pier said, “let’s lay our cards on the table. I’ll go first.” Mrs. Piper took a deep breath and began.

“Late last year, as you two know, I moved into your wonderful little town, looking for a place to settle down with my little family.” She nodded at Tracey. “The reason we picked your town was because it was the closest we could find to a small-town community with good folks to be around in, good weather, and had the advantages of the bigger cities — good schools, a thriving commercial and business environment, and adequate health facilities. After we had settled in, Tracey had started to acclimatize to the neighborhood. True she had some problems, but that was expected.” I nodded at that, although Danielle didn’t get it. “In fact, she said that she really liked it here and said that this is the place she wants to call home now.”

Tracey smiled at her mom and reached out to touch her hand.

“But that’s not what we need to talk about right now. Anyway… I was happy that Tracey was adapting, even thriving, in our new town, but I found that I had some problems settling in. Though Tracey was fine, it seems I had become too used to the big city’s rat race that I found myself bored without much to do. My companies were all pretty much taken cared of, and were essentially running on autopilot, adequately run by my board of directors, so there wasn’t much for me to do around here. So, I bought and took over the operations of the local mall and cineplex as well as a little run-down skating rink in town.”

I looked up at that. “So it was you who fixed up the rink!”

Mrs. Piper nodded and continued. “These little businesses were just the ticket for me. I made them totally separate from PiperCorp. so these would eventually be for Tracey alone, if ever she would want to stay on in town. The second-to-last local company I bought was KRPQ. Little did I know about the dire straits that it was in. When I took over, I had tried all that I knew to do to keep the station afloat, but all to no avail. I was all set to throw in the towel when I heard your voice on the radio, and how the listeners responded. They even started to call in! I saw a way out for the station. It seems, with you, the station discovered its niche market.”

I was about to react but Mrs. Piper waved me down. “It is a fact, Danny. No need for you to say anything.”

She continued her story. “So it was with this new development that I started the ball rolling to get the station back on it’s feet - by first securing your services, then revamping the programming using your show as the template, fixing up the office and studio, hiring new people and then getting commercials lined up.

“The thing that I had failed to realize was — it seems radio is not mainstream anymore. With TV, iPods and the internet, AM radio will never make it on its own. So Tracey and I have come up with a plan. Tracey?”

Tracey cleared her throat, and took over the conversation. “Mom and I thought it over, and we said that we would need four things: one — we needed to continue with the changes, which we did; two — we needed to make the AM station more than just a music station, and to start offering more than just music. That’s why we revamped and updated the on-air staffing to include more hip announcers, with the intention of starting to broadcast news events, maybe talk shows and other things; three — we needed to go FM since AM, as an entertainment channel, is just not there anymore. So we will transition everything to the new FM band that mom purchased the rights to from another company that was also going under. We’ll then turn the AM one to some kind of infomercial shopping station.”

“You mentioned four things,” Danielle said. “What’s the fourth one?”

Tracey nodded. “I was getting to that. The fourth thing was to increase awareness of our station, and to do that, we needed to do a promotional and ad campaign blitz — ads on TV and the newspaper, posters at the mall and in the two schools, et cetera. That includes sponsoring the Rockrgrrl Evolution Concert. Mom?”

“Tracey’s right. We had other promotional things lined up, but with Rockrgrrl Guitars, it seemed the right thing for us. True, their campaign is national. But I was able to get them to agree to sponsor us in exchange for media coverage here in our franchise area.” She took a piece of paper from her desk, which I recognized as having the same information I was reading in the booth. Mrs. Piper passed this sheet on to Danielle, and she started reading.

“Wow!” Danielle said, “this is brilliant! Danny, have you read this?”

“Yup,” I said, “and that’s the dilemma — how am I gonna be able to do the thing, and not let anyone know it’s me in the band? There’re interviews scheduled, Danielle! Obviously, we’re gonna have to have Unlimited Bandwidth on air, and I’m gonna haveta interview them! What — have me talk to myself!?”

Danielle nodded slowly. “Yeah, I finally see what you mean.”

“It’s difficult enough to hide the fact it’s me in the band, and then to hide the fact that it’s me on the radio, too…” I shook my head in despair.

“But, Danny,” Tracey looked at me, “why do you have to hide it?”

“Don’t you get it, Tracey? I’m a guy!”

“Are you sure you’re a guy? You don’t look it.”

I stood up, with the intention of punching Tracey in the mouth.

Danielle put her hand on my arm. “Danny!” she exclaimed. “Don’t!”

“But…”

“Tracey didn’t mean anything by it. She really thinks you’re a girl.”

“Danielle…”

“Sit down!”

I reluctantly sat down, and glowered at Tracey. Tracey looked at me in embarrassment at her mistake, as well as in a little bit of fear.

“Tracey,” Mrs. Piper said gently. “Apologize right now.”

Tracey looked down. “I’m sorry… I really thought you were a girl… I…”

I looked at the tall transsexual, and realized how badly I flew off the handle.

Tracey stood up. “I’m sorry…” She walked out of the room.

“Tracey!” I said. I turned to Mrs. Piper. “Where’s she going?”

Mrs. Piper shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess she’s ashamed of herself for making the mistake. She’s a transsexual, Danny…”

“I knew that.”

“You did? Did she tell you?”

“I figured it out.”

Mrs. Piper looked at me in the eye.

“I should have known,” she said. “I keep on making the mistake of underestimating you.”

“Where’s she going?” I repeated.

“I don’t know. But my daughter’s pretty reliable. She’ll probably just walk around a bit, and maybe go home. It’s not the first time she’s done it. Gender identity is important to transsexuals, living lives masquerading as people of the wrong sex. To make such a mistake — it borders on the… how shall I say it… on the unforgivable. ”

“I’m going after her,” I said, and left the room.

I found her outside in the floor’s lobby, behind the sliding glass door outside the office, head down and waiting for the elevator.

“Danny!” Joanne and Nikki exclaimed.

I raised a peremptory finger, forestalling them. “Sorry, guys!” I swiped my ID at the detector and went through the sliding glass door.

“Tracey!” I said, and stood beside her, but she didn’t respond.

“I’m so sorry for overreacting,” I said. “I know you didn’t mean anything by it, that it was an honest mistake. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”

Tracey looked at me with big, wet tears on her face. I reached up and gave her a hug. I had to reach a bit as she was quite tall.

Tracey broke into sobs. I couldn’t stand being the cause of her pain. I tightened my arms around her neck.

“Please stop, Tracey. I’m so sorry.” We stood there for over a minute, me not letting go. But I knew the worst was over when she hugged me back.

After a while, Tracey’s crying was reduced to a few sniffles, and she let me go. I lifted her chin and looked her in the eye. “It’s all right, Tracey. I just overreacted. I’m sorry.”

Tracey smiled a small smile. I smile back, and giggled a little bit. “You need a tissue,” I said.

I got lucky, ‘cause that made Tracey laugh out loud. I hugged her again.

“Now, come on back to the office, and let’s finish our meeting, ‘kay?”

Tracey nodded. “Okay.” She got a little packet of tissues from her back pocket, blew her nose and wiped her eyes.

When we went back in, my friends crowded around us.

“Danny?” Nikki said.

“Hi, Nikki,” I said, and gave her a kiss. I turned to Tracey. “Tracey, I’d like you to meet my girl, Nikki.”

“Hi,” Nikki said, and shook Tracey’s hand. I looked around. “Janet’s not here?”

“No one was answering at her house,” June said.

“That’s okay. I guess she’s tired from the concert. How about the guys?”

“I tried calling Morgan,” Drew said, “but his mom said he was sleeping.”

“Same with Mikey and the others” Mel said. “Sleeping, that is.”

“Well, everyone needs a rest. So? Why are you guys here?” I put my hands on my hips and harrumphed.

“We hitched with Danielle and Joanne,” Betsy said. “Danielle said you might be in trouble?”

I giggled. “I didn’t send out for the cavalry. I’m fine.” I turned back to Tracey. “And these,” I said, gesturing to the others, “are Danielle’s and my friends. This is Betsy, Joanne, Mel, Drew and June.”

There were hugs and handshakes all around.

Tracey was looking at Drew and June.

“Don’t tell me you’re twins, too,” Tracey said.

The girls giggled, but I pulled Tracey along back to Mrs. Piper’s office.

“Sorry, girls,” I said. “We’re in the middle of a meeting. Soon as we’re done, we’ll go and do something, ‘kay? In the meantime, why don’t you bug Lou in the DJ booth,” I giggled. “That’s always been fun for me.” I gestured to the studio further down.

They all giggled, and trooped down the hall to the DJ booth. Nikki gave me another kiss.

“I’m all right, Nikki,” I said. “I’ll come get you as soon as we’re done.”

“’Kay,” she said, and joined the others.

 
***** (Mrs. Piper) *****
 

Dan and Tracey came in holding hands. Tracey had evidently been crying but she seemed fine now.

“Tracey?” I said, got up and gave her a hug.

“I’m fine, mom,” she said. “I’m sorry for overreacting. I’m okay now.”

Tracey and Danny sat down, but Danny sat in the chair beside Tracey this time. A fact that didn’t escape my notice.

“Everything okay?” Danielle asked.

Danny reached over and took Danielle’s hand. “Everything’s fine, Danielle,” Danny said. He looked over to Tracey. “We’re fine, right?”

“Superfine,” Tracey said, and giggled a bit.

“Maybe I should continue this later,” I said.

“No, mom!” Tracey said. “I’m fine. I think we should finish this, and get it over with.”

I nodded, and gestured for everyone to settle down.

“If you say so, Tracey. Now where did we leave off? I think Danny was talking about his, ummm, conflict of interest…”

Danny and his sister looked at each other. Clearly, there was something up in the air.

“Danny,” I said, “We need you. We cannot get the ball rolling without you. I’ve laid my cards on the table. I think it’s your turn.”

Danielle shrugged at Danny, and Danny looked at me. He took a deep breath and began his own little story.

“Okay, Mrs. Piper. But it remains between the four of us. Otherwise, I’m resigning.”

I nodded, fearing that there were other implied threats.

“I understand, Danny,” I said, and turned and faced Danielle. “Danielle, I will sign any NDA you want. If you would like, I can give you a copy of PiperCorp’s standard non-disclosure agreement and you can modify it as you like and I can sign.”

Danielle nodded and Danny continued.

“Ever since I was eleven or so,” Danny began, “I’ve always been mistaken for a girl unless I corrected them. A while back, after going to the hospital, I found out that I am intersexed, sort of. Intersexed refers to someone who has an… atypical combination of physical features that distinguish guys from girls. And it’s usually connected to problems with a genetic condition. So, it seemed that there was a reason for it instead of something I was doing.” He stopped there a bit, apparently deep in thought. I couldn’t help but look at him in sympathy. His sister looked at him, too. Danny saw, and gave her a sad little smile.

After a moment, he continued on, shaking himself from whatever he was thinking. “Anyway, the only reason I mentioned this was because my problem seemed to keep on getting worse. When I got to be part of the band, most of our audience thought I was a girl, and I think they actually preferred me as a girl.”

Tracey interrupted his story. “Your amazing voice was also because of your medical condition?” she asked.

“Partly,” Danny said. “I guess my throat surgery when I was seven had a lot to do with it, too.” He then recounted an accident that happened at his Uncle Nathan’s, and the surgery that he had to have and how his voice was affected permanently.

“Wow!” Tracey said.

I glared at Tracey. “Tracey, don’t you get any ideas.”

“What did I say!?”

“Sorry, Danny,” I said. “Please go on.”

“Anyway,” he said, “here we are. I am now a female singer, a female DJ and me — just a regular guy studying at the local high school.”

“How can you still pass as a boy at school given how you look?” Tracey asked.

“Tracey!” I admonished.

Danny smiled sadly. “It’s okay, Mrs. Piper.” He looked at Tracey. “It’s all in how you dress, I guess, Tracey. You should see what I usually wear. The way I look today is an accident…”

“You must have been picked on a lot,” Tracey said.

“Yes, but not as much as you might think. My clothes camouflaged my… features pretty well. And my doctor got me exempted from PE and stuff, although I had to take extra-curricular stuff like the glee club and internships to make up my unit deficiencies. In fact, that’s how I ended up going to KRPQ for that internship that turned into a DJ job. Plus…” Danny looked at his sister. “I have my sister and my friends to help and protect me.” Danielle reached out and touched Danny’s hand.

Tracey looked at them. “Wish I had friends like that,” she whispered to herself.

Danny touched her on the shoulder. “I think you found a couple today.” He said.

Tracey looked up at him. He gave her a wide smile and a wink. She smiled back a little hopefully.

“Mrs. Piper,” Danny looked to me. “I don’t want anyone to know I’m part of the band, and I don’t want anyone to know I’m the Nighthawk.”

I was about to speak, but Danielle beat me to it. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Piper,” she said. “I’m afraid that’s not negotiable.”

“Well…”

Danielle shook her head.

“…all right… But what do we do about the interviews?”

“Well,” Tracey said, “what about we pre-record Danny’s questions, and have the band answer those.”

I actually thought that through, but turned the idea down. “No, that’s a little too complicated, and not exactly honest.”

“But, isn’t hiding who Danny really is is not exactly honest either?”

“It’s not the same. And it’s too complicated.”

Danielle shook her head. “It doesn’t have to be complicated, you know. Just have someone else interview the band.”

“The thing is, Danielle, the advertisers asked for the Nighthawk specifically. Danny, you don’t know how popular you’ve become.”

Danny moaned, and put his head in his hands.

“The interview’s for ten PM, Saturday night, right?” Danielle continued. I nodded. “And you have other people lined up, and not just Unlimited Bandwidth?” I nodded again.

“How long will the show be?”

“The video is a little over one and a half hours end-to-end, but the program’s gonna run up to three hours.”

Danny looked up in surprise. “That’s, what, one-and-a-half hours of interviews?”

I nodded. “And commercials, and little features, maybe plugs for other shows, station IDs, et cetera, et cetera.”

“Who does the slot just before then?”

Tracey answered. “We’re having the new kids, Harry Seavers and Sally Marshall, do a thirty-minute pre-show.”

“Pre-show?” Danny asked. “What’s that about?”

Danielle waved him down. “Quiet, honey,” she said, “We’re trying to figure out what to do.” Danny gave her a raspberry. We all laughed.

Danny looked at his sister, smiling. “Sorry, sis. What have you got in mind?”

“Well, why not just have the band come in for their interview during the pre-show, have the new guys take care of interviewing them, and then, when they’re done, you switch into the Nighthawk to run the next show.”

I nodded. “I think that’s a great idea!”

“I still think my idea was better,” Tracy grumbled

I laughed and gave Tracey a kiss. “I’m sorry, Trace.”

“It’s your station, after all, mom.”

“Don’t be like that,” I said and patted her cheek.

“Sorry, mom…”

“Okay, now you contact Harry and Sally and tell them about the plan and possible schedule change; that they’re going to make the nine-thirty pre-show an interview show. And if they have questions, they should talk to me.”

“It’s not for a while, yet, mom. What’s the hurry?”

“Just do as I say. That way, they can prepare for the show better.”

“Okay.”

“They’re going to interview Unlimited Bandwidth in their pre-show, and introduce Danny’ program. Got it?” Tracey nodded. I turned to Danielle. “Right, Danielle?” I said. “You can set that up with the band?”

“No problem, Mrs. Piper. What did you originally have planned for the pre-show, anyway?”

“Well, we did have a lot of station promos and specials originally lined up for the pre-show.”

“Why don’t you just spread them over both the pre-show and the concert show? That way, the listeners will get two solid programs instead of one slopping over the other.”

“Sounds good,” I nodded.

Tracey took out her celphone and started typing a text message. “Okay. I’m texting them the info.”

“Oh, that reminds me, Danny — the interviews will be simulcast on TV as well.”

He looked up in alarm at that. “What!”

“I just got confirmation that KRPX is sending a remote crew here. Especially since I let on to their manager that I’m getting the Rockrgrrl people and Unlimited Bandwidth over for the live interviews. It seems they’ve agreed that it’s gonna be KRPQ’s show. So you be sure to be in your best duds, okay?”

“But Mrs. Piper!”

I looked at her… I mean, him. And I thought it through. Oh, no… “I didn’t think of that… That could be a problem…”

Danielle looked at me, and then looked at Danny a little thoughtfully. “Hmmm… yeah…. Well, don’t worry, Danny. We’ll figure something out.”

Danny moaned. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Tracey looked at Danielle. “What does he mean?” she asked.

Danielle giggled. “It’s nothing, Tracey. Just a little private joke. Now, I think we need to get out of here, and leave your mom to her work.”

We all stood up. Danielle reached out to shake my hand. “Thank you, Mrs. Piper. I’d appreciate it if you can email over that NDA form, and if that poster can be taken down.”

“Right away, Danielle. I’ll make sure that poster’s replaced with something that meets with your approval.” I gave her a smile so she’d know I wasn’t being catty. “Tracey, can you do me a favor and if you can take Danny’s poster down as soon as you can?”

“Sure, mom,” Tracey said.

“And, Mrs. Piper,” Danielle said, “I think we need to come to a more permanent arrangement, given all that you’re planning for Danny and your station.”

“I understand. And thank you.”

She nodded. “’Kay, let’s get outa here, Danny.” She picked up her purse and proceeded to walk out the door.

Danny picked up her... I mean his backpack and jacket. “C’mon, Tracey,” he said.

Tracey turned to me with a question in her eyes.

I made a shooing gesture. “Go on, honey,” I said. “Go enjoy yourselves. I’ll hold down the fort.” She gave me a kiss and made to follow Danielle and Danny.

I watched them file out, all with such energy. Oh, to be young again.

The arrangements for the show next weekend weren’t what I originally planned, but I guess they’re okay, given the alternative was that the station would have lost Danny altogether. That Danielle is a very bright and sharp young lady. Shrewd negotiator. But I already knew that. Those two are quite a pair. I’d best be on my toes, or better yet, maybe I should hire her as well. But those two are tied at the hip. Two for the price of one. But maybe I don’t want both…

And I was glad that Tracey is getting along with the twins. Maybe I should move her to Danny’s school. I’ll ask Tracey later about that, if she’d like to move schools.

But right now I need to think up a way to get Danny to agree to let people know who he really is. And Danny will only agree to it if she agrees. The key is the sister. I can only imagine what kind of numbers I can get for the station if people knew who the Nighthawk really was.

 
***** (Tracey) *****
 

I walked behind the two. They looked so incredibly like each other, though you can see a bit more masculinity in the way Danny walked and talked, and that paradoxically made him sexier than his sister. I can only think that it gave Danny an earthier aura than his sister, and therefore a sexier one. Not by much, I guess, but just enough that you would notice it when the two are together. Couldn’t be just that, though. I continued to try to figure out why that was, and I had to come to the conclusion that it was Danny’s outfit - he was wearing a simple pale-rose short-sleeved crew-neck cotton tee over designer mid rise hipster bootcut jeans, plus a pair of high-fashion tan wedge-boots with big buckles. The combination was both simple and yet oh-so-sexy. His sister probably helped pick his clothes - I can’t believe a guy can have such good taste.

She turned profile as she talked with her sister. I mean “his” sister. She… he had his hands on his hips, legs a littler farther apart than a girl would. If you knew he was a guy, you’d probably think he was just being a guy, but in his apparent girl-persona, it just gave him that touch of rebelliousness and tomboyishness that made him the tough-but-sexy bad girl that guys seemed to find so attractive. At least I was.

With him in profile, I couldn’t help but notice the curve of his breasts.

“Are your boobs the real thing?” I blurted out, and I was immediately embarrassed. Why did I do that? Stupid, stupid!

The two of them looked at me with faint smiles. “What do you think?” Danielle said.

“What size is he, anyway?” I said, and I blushed crimson with shame. I just wanted to sink into the ground.

Danielle looked at her brother, giggling. “What are you now, Danny? Thirty-two C?”

Danny waved at her dismissively. “Oh, shut up,” he said to her.

“Wow,” I said. “You’re a C-cup?”

Danielle giggled again. “Actually, we both are.” She stuck a pose.

Danny grabbed her by the hand and dragged her along. “Okay. Enough. Let’s get the girls and get out of here.”

She nodded, giggling. “Where are we going now?”

“We’re gonna be visiting a new friend. Let’ go, Trace.”

I felt wonderful that I was being included, but I faked nonchalance. “Sure.”

When we were back in the lobby, there were introductions all around again. I went to the posters against the wall and reached up a bit to take down Danny’s poster.

“Must be nice to be that tall and all,” Danny said dryly.

“Here,” I said and handed it over to Danny. “You can keep it if you want.”

“Ummm…”

“You’re taking it down?” Betsy said. “Can I have it? … That is, if you don’t want it, Danny.”

I looked to Danny. He shrugged. “I guess…”

“Yayyy!” Betsy said, and grabbed it before anyone could say anything else. She hugged it against her like a schoolgirl with an enormous book.

“Wait!” Joanne said.

“No fair! I wanted it, too!” Mel said.

“Me, toooo!” Drew and June said simultaneously.

“Sorry, girls,” I said. “I only had the one.”

“But... but…” The girl, Mel, was overreacting. But I would find out later that she was someone who collected a lot of concert memorabilia, and she wanted the poster for her collection. But what I think the real reason was is that it was a picture of Danny.

I looked at all of them. “So. I suppose all of you want Danny posters, then?”

They all nodded, with Mel nodding emphatically.

“I have an idea.” I went back to my mom’s office. “Mom, can I use your computer and printer for a few minutes?”

Mother looked up at me from the papers she had on her desk. “Sure, honey. I needed a break, anyway. What are you up to?”

“Danny’s friends want copies of his picture. I want to print up a few for them.”

“That’s all? All right.” She got up. “I’ll get out of your way, then, and see about the coffee we ordered earlier.”

“Thanks, mom. Won’t take more than ten minutes.” She gave me a kiss as I sat down at her desk, and she walked out of the office.

Reaching into the lowest bin, I brought out a fresh package of 8R inkjet photo paper.

I popped the paper into Mom’s printer and booted up her computer. I logged on to the office network and searched for my home computer’s shared net drive. I quickly found Danny’s picture file which I had optimized last night for inkjet printing, and printed a dozen copies. Once done, I shut the printer and computer down, grabbed a black marker pen, and went to the front.

I found mom and the others drinking coffee and having a laugh at one of mom’s stories. I’ve heard all of them before, so I tuned her out while I handed the girls the pictures I printed out.

“Danny?” I said. “I was thinking maybe you could authograph the pictures for your friends.”

“Oooh!” Joanne squealed comically. “Autograft pitchers!” Everyone laughed.

“I hope one of them’s for me,” mom said, and handed me a tall decaf cappuchino.

“Oh, I printed up copies for us, too, mom.” I gave Danny the marker.

Danny took the pictures and marker from me with a comical flare, and wrote a personalized dedication each, and simply signed it at the bottom with “Dannie.”

On mom’s picture, he wrote, “to my best boss in the world. And I’m not kidding.” Everyone giggled, except for mom.

“I don’t get it,” mom said plaintively. And we laughed some more.

On my picture, he wrote, "Stop being so testosteroney! Which, by the way, is the real San Francisco treat." (Phoebe and Chandler)

I didn’t know how to react, but when I looked at Danny, all I saw was an expectant look. I laughed, and felt flattered that he tried to think of a joke that the two of us could share, given our similar… predicaments.

On June’s, Drew’s, Joanne’s and Mel’s pictures, he wrote quotations from rock-n-roll people and movie lines:

“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ‘em all together, I guess” (Elvis); “Do you like having a good time? Then you need-a-good-watch!” (Rocky Balboa); “I look like I am hung over. It's like a head full of ideas, an exploding head.” (Bono); and “I always listen to ‘NSYNC’s Tearin’ Up My Heart. It reminds me to wear a bra.” (Britney)

Everyone couldn’t stop laughing at that last one.

On Betsy’s big, mounted one, he wrote a quotation, from someone I never heard of: To my angel — “music is well said to be the speech of angels” (Thomas Carlyle)

Betsy read the dedication, gave Danny a kiss and cried. She rushed to the bathroom. Danny wanted to follow, but Nikki stopped him.

“Give her room, Danny,” Nikki said. “She’s just being her usual Emo self.” Danny nodded reluctantly.

For the picture he gave Danielle, he put another quote: “The best thing about having a sister was that I always had a friend" (Cali Rae Turner)

And to the one for Nikki, he wrote a quotation from Bayard Taylor’s poem called "Bedouin Song" (a quote usually mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare): “I love thee, I love but thee with a love that shall not die, till the sun grows cold, and the stars grow old."

Nikki gave him a big and sloppy kiss. “I love you, too, baby,” she said.

All the girls, even my mother, went “awww…”

Danny sure is a well-read girl, ummm guy…
 

Joanne pushed me into the little van’s front passenger seat.

“Sorry, Tracey,” she said. “You’re too tall. And us tall girls get to sit in the front.” She looked at her watch and turned to the others as they were just settling down in the back. “So where to, guys? Lunch? It’s twelve-thirty now, you know”

“Twelve thirty?” Danny mumbled. “Damn. No time to go home and change.” He tapped Joanne on the shoulder. “Joanne? How about you guys drop Tracey and me off at the college and you go on ahead for lunch. And we’ll meet you guys later. There’s a nice fifties-style ice-cream parlor at the mall. I went there once a month or so ago. Pretty nice place.”

“Can’t we go with you?” Mel pouted.

“I don’t think so, Mel. Sorry.”

“’Kay, Dan,” Joanne said. “Ice cream parlor at the mall at three, then.”

“Cool, Joanne. Thanks!” He gave Joanne a kiss on the cheek.

Joanne smiled. “No prob.” She turned the van at the next corner.

The girls quizzed Danny and his sister about the meeting they just had, and everyone was hanging on their every word. They were all excited about the upcoming show, but were wondering how we would manage the interview of the band.

“Well,” Danielle said, “it was my idea to allow the other announcers to take care of the interview with the band, and then, after the band, Danny can take over. Haven’t worked out the details, yet.”

“So that no one will connect the Nighthawk to the band?” Mel said.

“Well, duh,” Danielle responded, and Mel pouted.

“Oh, Mel, I’m sorry,” Danielle gave her a hug. “I didn’t mean anything.”

“But that’s it, isn’t it?” Joanne said. “So no one will know who Dannie from the band and Danny the Nightwalk really are.”

“What’s your point, Joanne?” Danielle asked.

“I think it’ gonna be harder and harder to keep Danny’s real identity under wraps. Especially when people see him on TV. As it is, there are too many people that know about him.”

Danielle thought that over. “Well,” she responded, “Lou Jefferson and Dennis Oldfield are the only people from the station that know and have actually seen Danny, and I don’t think they’ll blab.”

“You’re forgetting Goodwyn the night security guy,” Danny said.

“And him, yeah...”

“… and me and my mom,” I interjected.

“Okay, you and Mrs. Piper…”

“…and the band and the gang, of course,” Betsy contributed.

“Of course…”

“…and my Glee Club friends,” Danny piped in.

“Huh?”

“And your folks and mine?” Nikki said.

“Wait, wait!”

“And I think Mrs. Sparks, though I’m not sure,” Danny said.

“All right, already! You guys have made your point.”

This was greeted with silence. After a minute, Danielle cleared her throat.

“Well,” Danielle said, “the NDA will take care of everyone at the station.”

“NDA?” Mel asked.

“Non-disclosure Agreement.”

“Ahh.”

“And I’ll take care of the gang,” Joanne said.

“… I’ll take care of my folks,” Nikki said.

“… and I’ll take care of Mrs. Sparks, Fallon and the Glee Club,” Danny said.

“…and I’ll talk to my folks,” Danielle said. “So how’s that? I think we have it well in hand.”

Joanne frowned. “Well, barely…”

“Joanne…”

When Joanne stopped at a red light, she turned to face the backseat. “Guys,” Joanne said, “one of these days, it’ll all come crashing down, and things will catch up to us. I think we have to come clean one of these days.”

“But Joanne,” Danny said.

“Just my opinion, Danny. I’m not forcing anything. I just think we should plan for it, for a way to manage your — what do we call it — your ‘coming-out’… thing.”

Danny looked worried. “I hope this planning session doesn’t involve another sleepover.”

Everyone giggled at that. Wonder why. What did they mean, sleepover? Hmmm.

“Well, okay,” Danielle agreed. “But for now, let’s just do this. Danny?”

Danny nodded glumly. “Joanne,” he said, “I agree. I mean, in principle. But, for now, let’s just do this. I’m just not ready yet.”

Joanne craned her neck to look at Danny. “That’s totally okay, Danny. We can do it any way you like. I just don’t want you hurt.”

The light turned green and Joanne goosed the accelerator.

“Thanks, Joanne.”

“’S’ok, Danny.” Then she smiled a sly smile. “Besides…”

“What?”

“I think another sleepover’s overdue. Don’t you think?”

And everyone giggled, except Danny. I think he was moaning.
 
 
Eighteen: Two Caramel Frappes
 
***** (Danny) *****
 
The van stopped at the college’s front gate, and Tracey and I got out. Nikki and Danielle had to go down as well so I could step out.

“You gonna be okay?” Nikki asked.

“Sure, Nick — stop worrying.”

“I don’t know about this, Dan,” Danielle said. “I mean, what if that girl you’re meeting suddenly decides to do something, like try and off herself? What’s worse is that what if the reason she does is because of something you said? You need a professional with you.”

“Danielle,” I sighed, “I know all that. One of the big reasons I’m meeting up with her is to see if she does need professional help. You know, it might just be something as simple as loneliness.”

“As simple as loneliness…” Tracey murmured.

I turned to her. “Tracey…”

She smiled brightly at me. “I’m fine, Danny.”

I gave both Danielle and Nikki a kiss. “So, I’ll see you later then?”

“’Kay.”

“See if you can bring the guys later, okay?”

Danielle pouted. “What for?”

“Nuthin. Only if they want.”

“’Kay.”

I waved as they drove off. “Okay, Tracey. Let’s go find the café.” We walked down the cement path that cut through the grassy knoll in front of the main admin building. Most of us around these parts were proud of our little community college. The curriculum and the teaching staff were pretty good, and a lot of people from the surrounding communities use the college like a prep school. I looked around and noticed the kids, probably mostly out-of-towners.

I spied the café as we rounded a little grove of trees and led Tracey to the place. Most of the people were sitting at the tables outside, and the ones inside were couples or little groups chatting, a few working away on their little laptops and netbooks. I wondered if any of them were Val.

The barrista behind the counter noticed me. “What’ll you have miss?”

“I’d like a caramel frappe, please. Grande.” The guy nodded. “Tracey?”

“The same, please , but just a tall decaf one.”

He repeated the order. “Two caramel frappes, one grande and one tall decaf. That’ll be eight-twenty please.”

I handed over a ten-dollar bill and the guy handed me the coffees and my change.

We went outside and sat in the wonderful, early afternoon sunshine.

“Wish I ordered a sandwich as well, or something,” I said. “I’m starting to get hungry.”

“Why didn’t you?” Tracey asked.

I shrugged. “I guess I can wait until later.”

“Listen, Danny,” Tracey said. “I have to agree with Danielle. What if we say the wrong thing? We might make it worse with this Valerie person.”

Danny nodded. “I know, but what would you suggest? Bring a suicide prevention specialist with us? The girl trusts us. Least we could do is talk to her first before bringing in other people.”

Tracey shrugged. “It’s your call.”

I raised my face towards the sunshine, smiled at the wonderful warmth, and sipped my cold frappe.

“You’re sure you’re a guy? You must know how gorgeous you are.”

I smiled sadly at that. “Not something I do deliberately, you know.”

Tracey giggled. “You got some... on your lip.”

I took my paper napkin and wiped the offending foam off.

“If I could look half as natural and as gorgeous as you…”

“If I could give it to you, I would.”

“Sorry, to be such a basket case, Danny. I just hate being a freak…”

I grabbed her hand. “You are NOT a freak. Okay? Stop talking like that!”

She nodded sadly.

“Tracey! You’re not a freak, okay?”

We stayed like that for a while.

“Ummm, excuse me?” we heard someone say. “Would one of you happen to be Danny from the radio station?”

We turned around. Standing beside our table was a tall, thin girl, almost as tall as Tracey, with straight black hair and no makeup. She was wearing a simple t-shirt, jeans, and trainers and carrying a little backpack.

“Are you Valerie?” I asked.

“Yes, I am. I’m sorry, but you’re the only redhead here so I assumed…”

I stood up and gave her a hug, never giving her a chance to pull away. I read in one of those suicide prevention pamphlets in school, depressed people didn’t want to be hugged, but I figured that everyone needed a hug.

She didn’t put her arms around me, but I could feel something in her give. I felt the little shudders, and knew she was crying.

I pulled back, got some tissues from the dispenser on the table and dabbed at her tears.

“I didn’t know if I should have come,” she said.

“I’m glad you did.” I gestured at Tracey. “This is my producer, Tracey. She was the one who answered your call.”

“Hello, Valerie. Remember me?”

“Hi,” she said, and they shook hands.

I gestured and we all sat down. “Coffee?”

“I don’t drink coffee, but thanks, anyway.”

“I drink lots, myself.”

“Yes, I know,” she giggled, pointing at my ginormous frappe.

“Val,” I said, “I just wanted to meet you, and talk to you…”

She nodded.

“… and see if I could help in any way.”

“You already did.”

“I’m glad.” She gave us a sad little smile.

“I’m sorry about your sister,” I said.

“S’ok. Not your fault.”

“If it were my sister, I’d probably feel just as bad.”

“Are you and you sister close?”

“We didn’t used to be. But now we are.”

“Sisters are like that…” I looked away. Sisters… I caught Tracey’s eye, and we looked at each other. Do I tell? What would it accomplish? And wouldn’t it just be another person on the list of people who knew that I had to keep tabs on?

Tracey shrugged, seeming to say that it was my decision. She turned to Valerie and smiled. “You should see them together, Valerie. They’re twins! And they act so much alike.”

“That must be fun,” Val smiled.

I made a decision. I read in that same pamphlet that one of the most important things was to establish trust. And, as I have learned, one of the things you can do to earn someone’s trust is to share personal stuff, even secrets. I just hope this girl will keep my secrets… secret.

“Actually, Val,” I began, “Tracey’s right - my sister and I are twins. But we aren’t sisters.”

“Huh?”

“Yes, she is my sister. I am her brother. Danny is short for Daniel. We’re fraternal twins.”

She looked at me like I was crazy, and after a beat, she stood up.

I grabbed her arm. “Val, please! I’m telling you the truth!”

“You’re fooling with me, you’re…”

“Sit down, please.”

She sat down reluctantly.

“I want to tell you a story…” and I told her about me and my sister, my problems with my looks, about how she lent me support, even if in the beginning I thought she was just being selfish. I talked about my Halloween, about my friends. I talked about my hospital stay, and how I found out about my medical condition, about having breasts, and how I became a DJ on KRPQ. I even demonstrated my Brad Pits and Bimbo Betty voices, and they laughed. Throughout my story, Tracey listened as avidly as Val, and at the end of the story, they were both very quiet.

“I’m so sorry, Danny,” Val said.

“No need to be. I’m doing okay medically. No cancer, or possibility of cancer, or other problems like that despite being intersexed. I have a lot of friends that are helping and supporting me. And we have fun most of the time. I think I’m happy. Most of the time, anyway.” I laughed.

“You’re lucky, Dan.”

“I know.”

“But why are you telling me all this?”

“I want to be truthful with you, Val, and to let you know about me, about who and what I am, so that you will trust me and allow me to help you.”

She looked me in the eye.

“Val? Can you let Tracey and me help you?”

“You already did, Danny.”

“Oh, Val.” I gave her another hug.

I asked about her family, and she said that because of this morning, she mustered enough courage to call them. Her dad was a corporate lawyer that frequently worked on weekends and one of the family rules was that no one should call him except in emergencies. Shaking, she called up her dad. When he heard her voice and the crying she had tried to hide, he offered to come over. In fact, she’s expecting her dad, even her mom, to arrive tonight.

“Oh, Val,” I said, “that’s great!” Another hug moment.

“When they arrive, be sure to tell them how you feel. And ask them how they feel. Be yourself, and don’t hide anything. I think that if you do, it’ll be a start for your family to get past Tess’s death. Get some kind of closure.”

“I’m scared, Danny. What if they get mad or something.”

“I’m pretty sure they won’t. But… would you want me around? Like, just in case?”

She bit her lip and looked away. “Nahh, I’ll be okay.”

I wasn’t that clueless, and picked up on the hidden signals.

“How about this — I’ll give you my celphone number...” I picked up a napkin and quickly scribbled it down. At least, this way, I don’t openly contradict her, yet allow her the feeling of assurance, of someone being there to help.

I handed her the napkin. “Now, don’t share this with anyone, okay? Call me tonight if you want to talk, or whatever, or if you want me to come over or something.”

“Okay, Danny. Thank you.”

“Oh! Wait… you can’t call me tonight. We have a gig tonight. Text! Text me. My celphone will be in silent mode, but I promise I will check it during our breaks.”

She nodded.

“Contact me anytime. I might not be able to answer right away all the time, but I’ll definitely answer. That’s a promise. Okay?”

She gave me another hug. In turn she scribbled her own celphone number down, and I put the tissue in my pack.

“I can’t help but wonder why you’re doing all this for me,” she said.

I smiled. “I guess it’s my way of paying it forward. But really, I’m just a sucker for the ladies.”

Val laughed. “You know,” she said, “when you told me your name was Dannie, I had assumed that you meant you were also the singer from that concert the callers were talking about, not this!”

Tracey and I gave each other a look. Val picked up on it.

“What!?” Val said.

“Val, I gotta tell you something else…”

She looked at me, then Tracey, and then me again.

“I. Don’t. Believe it!”

I shrugged. “I’m afraid so…”

“Shut up! It can’t be! Seriously?”

I nodded. “Seriously…”

“Shut up!”

So I proceeded to tell her about Dannie and Unlimited Bandwidth as well… Damnit!

After my little story, Val was looking at me with eyes as big as golf balls.

“Wow!” was the only thing Val said after my second little story.

“Thing is, Val,” Tracey said, “Danny’s trying to keep his identity secret.”

“Oh! You can count on me, Tracey. No worries… but… wow!”

I scratched my head a little sheepishly.

“What about the band, and the interview next week?”

I groaned. “I know, I know…”
 

Tracey and I left Val at around three. We invited her to go with us to the mall but she begged off, saying she wanted to straighten out her room before her folks came by at six. Tracey gave an open invitation to visit the station, and we exchanged hugs.

“Thank you, Danny. Tracey.”

I smiled. “No prob. Remember to text me tonight, whatever happens, okay?”

“I will.”

“You’re sure you don’t want me around later?” I said.

“I’m sure.” She leaned down and gave me a peck. “And your secrets are safe with me. No worries.”

We watched her walk away back to the women’s dormitory. It was on the campus grounds so we knew she didn’t have to walk far. She kept turning around and waving at us.

As for us, we had a little further to walk since the bus station was on the other side of the campus. When we got to the bus stop, there weren’t any people there so we had the bench all to ourselves. I looked at the sign and noticed that the next bus that would be passing nearest the mall was due in thirty minutes.

“Thirty minutes, Tracey, so I guess we make ourselves comfortable.”

“Thirty minutes? Damn.” She took out her celphone. She mumbled something into it and shut it off.

“What was that about?”

“Nuthin,” she smiled.

After five minutes had passed, a banana-yellow Toyota FJ Cruiser with a white roof and black trim pulled up while we were chatting.

A man in a business suit got out, went to Tracey and gave her the keys. Tracey mumbled her thanks, and went to the driver’s door.

“Come on, Danny,” Tracey waved.

I looked at the car, and then at the guy in the suit. I was confused but got up from the bench and got into the car.

“Tracey?” I said after I closed the passenger door.

“I called the office and asked mom’s driver to bring my car over. Better than waiting for the bus for half an hour. Hope you don’t mind?”

“Mind? Why would I mind?” I rubbed the dash and smelled the new-car smell. “Great set of wheels, Tracey. How new is it?”

“Mom got it for me when we moved here. But I haven’t had much of a chance to drive it around. Not too many places to go, yet. And no friends to drive with. Besides, I just got my license.”

I keep forgetting Tracey’s filthy rich… I tried to hide my smile. And I knew Tracey’s a newbie driver - that much was obvious, given she was driving five miles an hour down a wide but empty road. “Don’t you think you should speed up a bit?” I said.

“What? Oh!” She goosed the accelerator and, after an initial jerk, we were driving at a more normal pace.

“Well,” I said, “hang around us long enough and you’ll get more than enough driving practice. Pretty soon, you’ll get sick of us bumming rides. Your brand-spanking-new car won’t be that brand new anymore.”

Tracey laughed.

When we got to the mall, Tracey drove to the basement parking for employees. She pulled up at a reserved parking spot and got out. I noticed that she parked in the General Manager’s parking spot. I put on my jacket, grabbed my pack and followed her out to a service elevator.

The elevator opened to the main floor of the mall. We went to the escalators and proceeded to the second floor.

I pointed to the ice cream parlor. “Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe” the sign on the glass said, just like Archie’s favorite hangout in the comic (there was a little “R” in a circle right beside it so I knew the owner got some kind of permission to use the name). We pushed the doors open and we found the girls sitting at a table by the glass window.

It was a very nineteen-fifties style fastfood-type place. It’s like I was in a re-run of Happy Days or something, complete with waiters and waitresses wearing little paper hats and little aprons.

Apparently, none of the guys were able to go, as the only ones there were the girls from this morning - Nikki, Danielle, Bets, Joanne, Mel, Drew and June. I stood by the only empty seat. Tracey signaled for me to take the only vacant chair and looked around for one for herself.

Nikki and Danielle leaned over and gave me hugs, and I waved to the others.

As I settled down, someone cleared her throat. “Ahem!”

I looked up. “Someone’s taken my chair,” Janet said.

“Janet!” I exclaimed, got up out of the chair and gave her a hug.

“Hey, sexy,” she said, looking me up and down. She made a patting gesture for me to keep my seat, and got another for herself, putting it between Tracey and me.

“Don’t rub it in,” I grumbled as I sat down again. “It was a mistake. Anyway, Janet, this is Tracey Piper, my new producer at the radio station.” They shook hands pleasantly.

“So,” Janet said, “the girls have been telling me about next Saturday? That’s great!”

“We do have a problem, though,” I frowned.

She nodded. “But it’s not as if it’s going to be the first time…”

“Janet!”

“Kidding, kidding,” she giggled and gave me a kiss to placate me.

“You know, I feel like a fish out of water here,” Tracey said.

“S’ok, Trace. You’ll start to feel at home after hanging with us for a while.”

Tracey smiled as Janet gave her a casual hug, the first time I saw her smiling unself-consciously since this morning. And whatever happens, I am happy that Tracey now has her “posse.” I giggled at the thought and everyone looked at me quizzically.

“What’s so funny?” Betsy asked. I shook my head and signaled a waitress for a menu.

I looked the menu over and went all fifties. “I’ll have battered onion rings to start, and then an order of mini burgers and French fries, a strawberry-banana malt, a regular cherry-coke and a banana-boat sundae. You, Tracey?”

She looked through the menu. “I guess I’ll have a small bowl of chili, crackers and a small strawberry malt, please.”

“Comin’ up,” the waitress nodded and walked to the kitchen. She was even chewing on gum. Talk about atmosphere.

“So!” Janet rubbed her hands together. “What’s the plan? Mweheheheh…”

“Oh, Janet,” June said. “We’re being serious.”

“Sorry!” She rubbed her hands together again. “So,” she whispered in a ridiculously low voice. “Seriously — what’s the plan? Mweheheheheheheh…”

Everyone burst out laughing.

“Okay,” Danielle said. “The plan. It’s going to be on TV, right? So people will see. So we need a disguise. An outfit that’ll make him look different from his everyday self but similar enough to how he looked like in the concert last night. I had the idea that we’d have Danny in costume again.”

“Dannie the rock star rides again! Yay!” Mel cheered.

“Shhh!” Joanne hissed and clapped her hand to Mel’s mouth. “Don’t make a scene, Mel.”

“Mmmphgggph…” Mel mumbled.

“Eeep! Sorry, Mel.” Everyone giggled.

“How about the outfit itself,” June asked.

“Simple enough to pick out, I think,” Drew said. “Something sexy, but not too sexy. It’s on public TV, after all. And we need to keep her red hair, of course.”

“Wig!” June said.

“Right, June. Danielle, you still got that wig from last Halloween?”

“I think so.”

“We’ll need that. But we need a different hairdo, I think.”

“I’ll take care of that,” Joanne said. “Danielle, the wig’s not synthetic, right?”

“Yes…”

“’Kay. I’ll pass by your place and get it. I’ll have it fixed up.”

“So, who’ll be in charge of the outfit?” Mel asked.

Janet nodded to Danielle. “Let’s leave it to Danny’s manager.”

I was a little puzzled by Janet’s vaguely resentful tone, or maybe impatient is a better word to use. Then again, it may just be my imagination as everyone didn’t seem to notice anything wrong.

Danielle was clapping in glee.

“Danielle…” I growled.

“Peace! Peace!” she said. “I won’t go overboard, Danny. I promise. It’ll be understated but sexy. Conservative but hip.”

“Not too conservative,” Janet said. (There it is again — that tone.)

“Of course,” Danielle giggled. “So, girls. Shopping?”

“Sure!” “Yeah!”

“So — outfits for Danny, June and Janet. And the boys, as well.”

“And what a coincidence!” Betsy giggled. “We happen to be in the mall, too!” Everyone laughed.

“You’re forgetting about the program itself,” Tracey said. “And it’s supposed to include interviews.” Tracey was looking at me. “Like a disguise, hmmm.”

“What’re you thinking, Tracey,” I asked.

“Well, your look seems to be well in hand. And I trust you guys’ll be able to wing the interview itself. Now, assuming you can pull all of that off, what about the, ummm…” She pointed at her throat.

“What?”

“She means your voice, Danny-boy,” Janet said. Her tone was starting to get to me. Must be my imagination. Yeah.

“The Brad Pits and Betty voices,” Tracey asked, “did you really make them up from scratch?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you think one week is long enough for you to make up a new voice?”

“Sure, but I’m gonna need some sorta starting point.”

“I have the concert on DVD at my place. We can listen to your interview, and let’s try for something as close to that but different enough from your regular voice.”

“Is that even possible? I wasn’t trying to change my voice when I was being interviewed. So, doesn’t that mean I sounded like I regularly do in the interview.”

“Ummm, I hate to say it, honey,” Joanne said, “but that’s not true. When you’re in girl mode, you sound a lot like Danielle, not Danny…”

“I do?” I didn’t know that.

“Yeah, Dan,” Mel said. “You do.”

I didn’t like that. Does this mean that, when I’m in the band, I sound like Danielle? If that’s true, then no wonder people thought I was a girl. But I didn’t want to believe that.

“That’s not true,” I said petulantly.

“Yes,” Janet said. “You do.” What’s with Janet!

“You guys can work on Danny’s voice later, Tracey,” Danielle said. “Right now, we have a mission! A mission to shop!”

The waitress took that moment to come back with our order.

“Here you go, girls,” the gum-chewing waitress said. She put our food on our table, and Tracey was looking at my big order with unbelieving eyes. “What!” I exclaimed. “I was hungry!”

Nikki pulled Tracey aside. “Get used to it, dearie,” Nikki said. “Dan has a bottomless pit for a stomach.”

“Nikki!” I said.

“Oh, Danny. You know I love your tummy.” She suddenly leaned down, pulled up my shirt and gave me a tummy zerbert right there. My girlish giggles filled the restaurant.

“Nikki! Quit! No! Quit it! Nikkiiiiii!”

Everyone in the place broke down in laughter, and I blushed crimson.

“Nikki,” I grated.

Nikki saw my angry face.

“Oh, Dan! I’m so sorry. I was just joking…”

Seeing her remorseful face, I couldn’t stay mad. I pulled her to me and gave her a kiss.

“I’m sorry, Dan. I didn’t mean it, I…”

She just didn’t want to stop talking. I tried to give her another kiss, but this time I tried to make this one just like the ones I got from Janet and the girl from Foxtails last night. The main difference this time was that I was the one who was kissing, and Nikki the one being kissed. It was the same but different... I guess I’m not saying it right. I guess, instead of feeling like I was melting into another’s arms, it was like the reverse. I felt powerful… like I was the one in control, yet not. Like I want to dominate her yet protect her. Powerful, heady stuff. I tightened my arms around her. I was her defender, her protector. And, in a deeper, more primitive way, it was like I owned her. This must be how it is to be in love. I felt so turned on, I couldn’t believe it.

When we broke, I saw Nikki’s face, blushing. I could feel how warm she was. How soft. And as we looked into each other’s eyes, I felt the tension go out of her, and she slumped into my arms… she had fainted.
 

I was still embarrassed. I shouldn’t have kissed Nikki in front of everyone. At least not that way. I surreptitiously looked at Nikki, and she seemed totally relaxed. So I faked a nonchalance that I didn’t feel, and concentrated on lunch. Actually, I was a little scared. My mind went back to that day, so many months ago, when Dr. Roberts and I talked about my… condition, about Batch Fourteen, about pheromones. Ever since then, I have had a strong suspicion that people weren’t behaving normally around me. And it was my secret fear that it was the pheromones. But I tried not to think about it. If it were the pheromones, how can I trust the people around me. Was it me they were reacting to, or was it the pheromones? Were what they seemed to be feeling genuine? In a way, it was like what I would imagine to be a superpower — like x-ray vision or something, but I couldn’t bear it if it were affecting the people that were close to me — Danielle, Morgan, Nikki… Especially Nikki. What would I do if it t
urns out Nikki wasn’t really in love with me?

As I ate one of my mini-burgers, Tracey looked at me, mouth agape.

“I can’t believe how much you eat…”

“Shut up and eat your chili and crackers.”

“Like I said, Trace,” Danielle said, “get used to it. That’s just the way he eats.”

Mel giggled. “Danielle’s the same way.” Danielle elbowed her. “Ooof! Hey!”

I was subtly grateful for these shenanigans. It put our relationship in familiar, non-threatening patterns — predictable, friendly and… painless. I smiled at everyone’s antics, and hoped that this would always be the way it would be.
 

“Now, tell me if you guys are done already,” Danielle said. “We DO have to do a bit of shopping.”

“Ummm, Danielle?” I said. “Do you mind if I give that a miss? I want to, ummm… Change clothes! Yeah, that’s it! I need to go home to change out of these clothes.”

Danielle smiled and patted my cheek. “You don’t have to invent excuses, Danny. I know how you feel about shopping.” She gave me a peck on the cheek. “How about this — you and Tracey work on that voice thing, and we’ll do the shopping, and we’ll just surprise you with what we get later. Okay?”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, Danielle.”

“No prob, little brother.” She stood up and got her things, and the other girls did, too. “Let’s meet at the house later so we can get you ready for your gig. Okay?”

“Okay.”

She held out her hand palm up. “Credit card, please,” she dimpled.

I got my backpack and fished out my Mastercard gold picture-credit card. “Don’t go crazy with this, okay?”

“Whatever do you mean, my darling brother?” She leaned down and gave me a sisterly kiss on the cheek and hugged Tracey. “Let’s go, girls. Shopping!”

I looked at Tracey. “Whew. We just barely escaped that one.”

Tracey was following the girls out with her eyes, a wistful look on her face.

“Tracey? Did you want to go with the girls? ‘Coz it’s okay if you do.”

She looked back at me. “Nahhh, that’s okay. Besides, we have to work on your new voice, remember?” She giggled.
 

I went with Tracey back to their condo unit. And what a condo unit! Tracey and her mom occupied the whole top floor of the building. Their place was easily as large as our entire house, first and second floors combined. Being the good hostess, she took my jacket, and directed me to make myself at home in the living room area. It was styled in fifties retro-chic, a sunken living area, with couches sculpted onto the sides. A big pile of throw-pillows made them super-comfortable, though. I dropped my pack near the middle “couch,” and looked around. The coffee table was piled with a lot of fashion magazines as well as computer gaming magazines and other tech stuff. This was probably where Tracey likes to hang.

As I sat down, Tracey came back with a couple of Coke Zeros, with straws already popped in, as well as a bowl of what looked like cheese puffs on a tray. Cool! She also had a laptop under her arm with a little condenser microphone plugged into it.

She put the stuff on the coffee table, pulled a large beanbag chair near me, and plopped down. She then rummaged around in the coffee table and came up with a DVD in a crystal case. “Here it is!” she said. She then picked up a TV remote and pressed a button. The built-in concrete seats immediately in front of us slid back as if by magic, and a really big flatscreen TV rose. Tracey leaned forward and popped the DVD into the player immediately beneath it and sat back.

“Have you seen this yet?” she asked. I shook my head no. “Well, don’t worry,” she continued. “The people from Rockrgrrl said this is just the raw version, but the one we’ll be playing next Saturday will be the cleaner production version.”

She set the video playing, and I leaned forward to watch. Tracey jumped to a part near the end where our band was about to take the stage. I finally got a picture of how we looked and sounded like. Internally, I just had to cringe — it was like when you first hear your voice on a tape or voice recorder, you know? It didn’t feel like it was me, at all. I saw me in my getup, dancing and gyrating as I sang, and my cheeks grew hot in embarrassment. How… uncool I was. Ekkkk.

But I looked at Tracey, and she was clearly enjoying watching me and the band. I had to giggle. I mean, it was just me there. In a girlie getup. What’s the big deal?

Tracey skipped over Janet’s song, and went directly onto our third song. Guess she wants me to see myself in action, maybe to get some ideas going.

When we took our bows, Tracey clapped her hands almost like a little kid. She skipped on forward again, and pressed the play button for our interview.

I listened to me as the host spouted inanities, and I tried to struggle gamely along. I guess I did sound like Danielle a bit, but not exactly.

“See what I mean, Danny?” Tracey said.

“Rewind that again, please, Tracey?” I said and leaned forward some more.

Yes, I guess I did sound like a girl. Or like Danielle, to be precise.

“Any ideas, Danny?” Tracey said, and pressed the mute button.

“Well, what do you think of this?” I said, trying out something.

Tracey looked at me, mouth agape. “Wow!”

“Tracey, stop that! What do you think of this voice?”

Tracey shook her head and tried to think straight. “Well, it’s awfully sexy, but your voice is a trifle too low. You sound too close to the Nighthawk.”

I nodded and cleared my throat again. “What if I went the other way,” I said, demonstrating with a different voice. “Make it higher and more cutesy. Like this?”

Tracey giggled. “Now you sound like a Japanese anime girl. But I think you’re on the right track. Try again, but this time, not so high and tinney.”

I cleared my throat again. “How about this? ‘Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth…’”

Tracey clapped. “Cool, Danny! A lot better. Try it again, but this time, just a smidge lower in tone.”

I tried again. “’To be or not to be, that is the question. ‘Tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows…” Tracey started giggling helplessly.

“That bad, huh?” I said.

“It isn’t that,” Tracey said. “It’s just that I was imagining you playing the role of Hamlet in a school play, but you were doing it in that voice. God! Too cute!” She laughed.

“Heheh… I guess that would be funny… But, seriously, how do I sound?”

“Actually, that’s real good. Sexy, actually, but also cute - a Hello Kitty kind of cute… But I like it! I guess all you need now is a bit of practice.” She thought a bit and snapped her finger. “Here’s an idea!” Tracey said and opened up her laptop. She sat down next to me and opened a browser on the computer, logging on to a website called “Top Shelf.” It was one of those sites with little fan-written stories. She looked around a bit and came to a story. It was entitled “It’s A Raid!” and it was inside a blog-post called “It’s A Drug I Tell You.” She then activated the mic and gave the laptop to me. “Now, read the story, and talk into that,” she said, “and we can play it back so you can hear how you sound. Hopefully it won’t sound too far from your interview voice. We can then fine-tune it further afterward, and once you have it tuned, to remember to use it all the time when you’re in your Dannie-the-singer persona.”

So I started reading the funny story, and tried saying them with inflections that I thought were appropriate to the characters in the story, but using only my new voice. It was a temptation to slip into other voices, but since we were practicing, I tried to resist that.

After maybe ten minutes, I stopped and we played the recording back.

“Pretty good, huh?” Tracey said.

I shrugged. “I guess…”

“Though it sounds different from your voice in the interview, at least it’s very similar.”

“I guess…”

“Stop guessing and practice! Practice, practice, practice!”

“Slave driver!” I said, but smiled at Tracey so she’ll know I was just joking.

So I kept on practicing for a couple of hours while Tracey watched the concert DVD with the sound turned down low. I had moved on to the magazines that Tracey had on the table and picked up some back issues of Cosmo Girl, Seventeen, Teen Vogue and a British teen fashion magazine, “Sugar” (that one I did with a British accent. Heh.), but I guess me droning on, sort of mumbling to myself in my new voice, was not the most exciting thing in the world, and Tracey fell asleep beside me, her head innocently leaning against my shoulder. I gently slid her down so that she was more comfortably lying down on the couch, and her head was resting on my lap. I continued practicing, and tried not to move too much so as not to wake her. I guess she was real sleepy. From what I gathered, she stayed up the whole night watching the concert DVD and making my poster. So I let her sleep, and I just continued practicing, occasionally stopping to sip from my coke can and munch on some cheese balls. I had unconsciously started
running my fingers through her hair and smoothening it out.

After a while, I decided that I had my voice was as tuned as I could get it for now, and quit practicing. I looked at the wall clock, and it said seven o’clock. I best get a move on or I’ll be late for the gig.

But I realized I haven’t heard from Val yet, and I got worried. I decided to send her a text message. Reaching down for my backpack, I rummaged inside and found the napkin with her number. I thought a bit and risked calling her instead of texting her.

As her celphone rang, I continued combing out Tracey’s hair with my fingers, and waited.

“Hello?” a voice on the other end answered. It wasn’t Val.

Tracey mumbled, “whazzup?” I combed through her hair again, and that seemed to calm her down.

“Ummm, good evening,” I said into the phone a little worriedly. Could I possibly have the wrong number? “May I speak to Valerie, please?”

“Who is this, please?”

“Could you please tell her it’s Danny on the phone?”

“Dannie? The radio announcer?”

“Ummm, yes, ma’am?”

“Val told us about you, dear. I must thank you for what you did. If not for you, I don’t think we’d be here now. Thank God for you, dear. Bless you.”

“Ummm, ma’am, who is this?”

“Oh, dear me. I’m sorry. This is Valerie’s mother. Wait, my husband would like to speak to you as well.”

After a short moment, a big booming, officious-sounding voice came on the line.

“Hello? Hello, yes, who is this?” In the background, I could hear his wife saying faintly, “it’s the girl from the station, dear — Dannie.”

“Ah, yes! Good evening, Dannie.”

“Erm… good evening, sir.”

“Young lady, I would like to give you my thanks, for putting my girl a-right. Valerie said that if not for you, she wouldn’t be here. I am forever in your debt. Please let me know where we can reach you and perhaps we can arrange to meet so I can personally thank you in behalf of my family.”

“Ahhh… hmmm… thank you… um, sir? I guess…”

“Fine, fine,” he said. “I’ll expect a call soon, then. Here’s Valerie.” I heard him faintly as he handed over the phone to his daughter. “Here you go, my love,” I heard him say to Val, “it’s her.”

“Dan?” Valerie said into the phone.

“Hi, Valerie. Ummm…”

“Oh, that’s just the way my dad is.” She laughed, a full and honest kind of laugh. My heart soared when I heard it.

“So, everything’s okay?”

“Okay enough for now. I guess I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future, but everything’s okay for now. Mom and Dad and I have to work on a lot of stuff, I guess, but everything’s okay. For now. Jeez, I’m repeating myself.” She giggled. “Mom suggested we see a professional, and see how we can get past this, and move on.”

“I’m glad, Valerie.”

She paused. “Danny, thank you. I cannot say it enough. Without you…”

I smiled. “No need, Val,” I said. “S’okay. Like I said, I’m just a sucker for the girls.”

Valerie giggled.

“But this is not the end of it, y’know? I’m gonna bug you all the time and call you at all hours of the night, visit you in your dorm and force you to visit me at the station. And then you’ll be forced to retaliate in self defense, and have to come visit me yourself, and call me back and bug me all the time as well. Y’know?”

Valerie giggled again. “Oh, Danny…”

“It’s all good, Val. I’ll let you go so you can get back to your mom and dad. Just keep my number handy, in case you need help, or just want to talk or something.”

“Okay, Danny. I will.”

I hung up. I saw that Tracey was awake and was looking up at me, her head pillowed on my lap. I guess she heard, and figured out what had happened. She sat up, turned to me and gave me a hug. I hugged her back and I broke down.

“Val’s okay, now?” she asked gently.

I nodded my head against her shoulder. I was so happy for Valerie. At this moment — this one moment, everything was right in the world.

Tracey just hugged me and let me weep against her. I was so gross, I needed a tissue. But I didn’t care. I hugged Tracey so hard ‘coz I was trying to stop my heart from bursting in joy. At this moment, in this precise minute, everything was good in the world, everything was right.

Just then, Mrs. Piper came bustling in, carrying a big, wonderfully-smelling paper bag of what smelled like Chinese take-out. She saw us on the couch.

“Kids?” She said in a worried tone. She put down what she was carrying and went to us.

“Guys? What’s wrong? Tracey, why is Danny crying?”

“Oh, nothing, mom. No need to worry.”

Mrs. Piper didn’t pursue it and invited me to stay for a Chinese take-out dinner. I blew my nose and said that I had to get to the station, get my car, go home and change, and then go on to Mario’s for our usual Saturday night gig.

“What time are you due there?”

“Eight o’clock?” I said.

“Oh, dear. I don’t think you can make it.”

“I think you’re right, Mrs. Piper. Guess I’ll skip going home.”

Mrs. Piper nodded. “Tracey, maybe you can drive her down to the station so she can get her car and make her appointment?”

“No problem, mom. Danny? You set?”

“Sure. Just let me call Danielle first though.”

I opened my phone and dialed Danielle’s number.

“Danielle, hi. Yes, yes, I know. Stop yelling and listen. I’ll skip going home and changing, and meet you guys at Mario’s instead. Yes, I know how I’m dressed. Do you have a better idea? See? I didn’t think so. Can you bring the three guitars to Mario’s, though? Just in case? Okay, thanks. Love you. See you there.”

I hung up and turned to Tracey. “Okay, Tracey, I think I’m ready.” I then turned to Mrs. Piper. “Mrs. Piper, thanks awfully for the invite, but I have to go. If I can take a raincheck, I’d appreciate it.”

“I totally understand, Danny. Now skedaddle, you two.” She shooed both of us away, and we left for the station.
 

After we picked up my car, Tracey left her Toyota Cruiser there and decided to ride with me to Mario’s.

When we got there, I saw that we had just arrived just in time. They were just finishing setting up. I gave Tracey a hug as she went over to June and the others. Danielle stopped me, slipped a couple of plastic bangles on my wrists with a couple of silk scarves knotted into them.

“What?...”

“Just trust me, Danny. Now go!”

I shrugged and went up the stage. Betsy was there with her violin, as well. I looked around in the audience and I spotted her butler, Walter, again in a chauffer’s uniform, carrying what looked like a home videocam. I wondered why. Maybe Betsy’s folks wanted to see their girl in action.

I gave Betsy a hug-and-a-kiss, and conferred with the guys for a bit. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that Betsy was there, so I thought up a cool gimmick: I thought, why not do a mash-up? I told everyone my idea, and my song suggestion, and everyone thought it was cool. Betsy said she knew Paul McCartney’s song, so I guess we were set.

Dale stepped up front and Janet and I moved to the back. I kept shaking my wrists as the scarves were starting to get on my nerves, but when Dale started to sing, I switched to Dannie-the-singer and forgot about the scarves, the audience and everything else, and concentrated on making a good performance.

“You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs…” Dale sang, and I was back on stage. I was home.
 
 
Nineteen: Three Interviewers
 
***** (Danny) *****
 
The following Saturday night, I found myself in Dale’s van with the band, parked near KRPQ’s building, nervous as hell, and worried about the interview and the radio program.

We had talked with Mario earlier in the week, and explained why we couldn’t play in his restaurant Saturday. Mario shrugged and, surprisingly, canceled our gig without too much of a protest. In lieu of our performance, I heard he had rented a video projector and intended to show our TV-slash-radio program in the restaurant. So that was why he didn’t protest so much.

I looked into the rearview mirror of Dale’s van, still trying to get used to me with brown-brunette hair. Danielle had applied a temporary hair coloring thing to it this morning — the kind that can be easily shampooed off, so I’ve been walking around all day, trying to get used to a brunette Danny. I also sported some fake nails, lightly glued to my real nails. This gave me long, bright-pink nails to match my guitar’s color.

So the Nighthawk’s gonna be a brunette. And Dannie-the-singer’s gonna have extra-long red hair with large but soft curls. And Dan’s gonna be… well, just Dan.

With the brunette hair, Mom said I looked like a totally different person, especially if I kept up the attitude, and kept the hair in the chic straight-but-messy do I currently had it in. That was the objective, after all — to make me look totally different. But I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I just hadn’t combed it yet, and the attitude is just a natural thing, because I was pissed and irritated to death by all of these changes…

Mom and dad saw me earlier when I was trying out the extra-long red wig. Dad said that I looked like Farrah Fawcett when she was still in Charlie’s Angels. Well, I knew who Farrah Fawcett was — I saw the TV special on her battle with cancer, and her death. And I knew about her being one of the stars of the Charlie’s Angels TV show (with the hype that surrounded the fairly-recent movie remakes with Drew, Cameron and Lucy, how could one NOT know about Farrah and the Angels…), but I had to google her to understand what Dad meant. When I saw her pictures while she was part of that seventies show, and when I saw her pinup poster - well, if Dannie-the-singer can look half that good…

I shook myself out of my reverie and tried to focus on the here-and-now.

Janet, June and I hurriedly started changing clothes. After doing this a couple of times in front of the girls, I was less shy about it. But not by much...

Since we knew I’d be doing this tonight, Danielle got me to wear my thong gaff as well this morning. I wore the white one, and followed the instructions again. It wasn’t uncomfortable, per se, but it wasn’t something I would voluntarily wear. And it was a pain especially if I had to go pee. When I had managed to struggle it on, Danielle had me come out of the bathroom so that she could inspect me. I self-consciously turned around for her, dressed only in the white thong gaff and the sports bra, hyper aware of my butt cheeks being on display. She looked me over, running her hand over my hip, supposedly smoothening out some wrinkles at the gaff’s waistband. She said they would be obvious in girl clothes if I didn’t keep them unbunched and flat. I raised a disbelieving eyebrow at that, since I knew I’d only be wearing jeans. I mean, how critical could it have been? Ah, well. Ya do what’s ya gots ta do...
 

“Danny,” Danielle called from the front seat. “Be sure to take off your sports bra. You’ll be wearing a tube top, and we don’t want your bra straps to ruin the outfit.”

“What! You mean I have to go bra-less? You didn’t say anything about that!”

Everyone stopped at that, and I blushed crimson.

“Ummm, yes, Danny, but don’t worry. The tube top is pretty substantial, and besides, you’ll be wearing that shawl-cardigan thing over it.”

“I still think the little cutouts at the back of the cardigan are a little much.”

“Nahh, it’ll make you look sexy.”

Thank god for Dale’s big Ford. We weren’t cramped at all, and Janet and June easily changed into their outfits. But they were done quickly, and I was just starting. They were just looking at me, waiting for me to finish, and I blushed again.

I pulled off my trainers, socks and pants, and was it my imagination only or did the girls gasp? I called to Danielle and she handed the pants and shoes over from the front seat. I sat on the rear-facing seat and struggled to pull the tight jeans on. I had learned something new at the mall today — “distressed” jeans. Apparently that’s what they called these type of jeans — which were “pre-ripped,” I guess you’d say, and with little wisps of the denim’s cloth sticking out, including at the seams (I think they called those “whiskers”. Or are those the pre-faded streaks in the denim?). *Sigh*. Girl clothes…

After I put the pants on, I looked over the shoes, or “sandals” as Danielle called them. Didn’t look like any pair of sandals I ever saw. They just looked like a mess of straps with heels attached. And what a set of heels — Danielle said they were four-and-a-half inchers. But with tips from June and Janet, I managed to put them on and zip up the little zippers in the back.

“What size shoes do you wear, Danny?” June asked curiously.

“Danny’s a Size Five narrow,” Danielle answered for me.

“Gosh…” There she goes again.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, that’s even smaller than my shoe size…”

“Umm, Danny,” Danielle called in singsong, giggling. She was dangling the white halter and the black sleeveless cardigan from her finger.

I took them and looked at the girls. They were looking at me with big eyes. I took a deep breath and skinned my shirt over my head. I then struggled and pulled the sports bra off, and then I heard June sigh again… I hurriedly put on the white cutoff tube, adjusting my boobs in them so they felt comfortable, though the fact that my shoulders were bare and my bellybutton was on display was muy uncomfortable. So I hurriedly shrugged the cardigan on. I wondered why they called it a cardigan, but I quit trying to understand girls’ clothes.

As a final touch, Danielle handed me a pair of white plastic bangles with gold and silver silk scarves knotted in them.

“These again?” I asked.

“Just put them on,” said Danielle, “one on each wrist.”

I complied, and the scarves trailed down, hanging loosely. I suddenly got the gimmick — they’re sorta gonna be like the scarves I wore last week in the concert and at Mario’s.

“Those are gonna be your trademark,” Danielle dimpled.

I frowned in exasperation. Danielle’s starting to feel like a “real” manager.

“Look at this,” I said to Janet and June, turning around to show them my back. The “cardigan” had horizontal cuts on the back, and they allowed my back and the white tubetop underneath to peek out. “Can you believe this?”

“Gosh, Danny,” June said. “That’s so sexy.” Did I hear her right? She actually said “gosh” again?

“See, Danny?” Danielle said. “I was right.”

I just shrugged and adjusted my tubetop again, and shook my hands, irritated at the scarves that were getting in my way.
 

Danielle and June spent some more time working on my make-up as well as putting on my wig over my newly-colored hair. The wig was longer than it was before. I don’t know what Joanne had done with it to make the wig longer, and it now had lots of subtle curls that framed my face in a very sophisticated way, except there was a loose curl that hung just over my left eye. It irritated me, but not enough that I would want to take the wig off. At least it wasn’t blocking my vision.

However, the loose curl over my eye made me want to push it away, and I would unconsciously push it away with the back of my left hand. And, as the night progressed, I would do the unconscious gesture every couple of minutes and, with my scarves, the gesture was emphasized. And, eventually, along with the scarves, the gesture becomes another trademark of mine.

After June pronounced me ready, we exited Dale’s Ford Explorer. It took us less than twenty minutes in total to change - that gave us exactly ten minutes to spare.

“That was quick,” Dale said sarcastically, and June playfully hit him on the head. Danielle handed me an itty-bitty patent-leather shoulder bag, presumably with my stuff transferred into it, and I put the strap over my shoulder. It was one of those that just had enough space to fit my wallet, keys and a few odds and ends, but I had learned that such bags were more for show than for utility. Just like girls’ pants pockets.

Dale locked the van, and we shouldered our instruments and hurried down the sidewalk towards KRPQ’s building, with Danielle and me leading the way. Mongo, ever the gentleman, carried June’s little eighties-style portable keyboard with shoulder strap for her, as well as helping Dale carry the little steamer-style trunk that contained wires and other essentials between them. June grabbed the acoustic from me as she wasn’t carrying anything anymore. Though I found walking on the skyscraper heels a little difficult, I was navigating well enough with them, and was able to keep pace with everyone.

As we neared the building, I unconsciously pushed my hair away from my eyes with the back of my left hand and tapped Danielle on the shoulder. “Where will the guys be, again?” I asked.

“They’ll be at Nikki’s, Danny. And then we’re supposed to have late dinner at Mario’s.”

“Oh, right. Guess I’m gonna have to change from the Nighhawk back to Dannie then, huh?”

Danielle suddenly stopped in her tracks, causing a six-person pileup.

“Hey!” I complained.

“Danny,” Danielle said. “I completely forgot! We forgot to put an outfit together for the Nighthawk!”

“But we did color my hair and everything.”

“Yes, Danny, but we completely forgot about the outfit! Damnit!”

I looked at her with growing panic. “Oh, no!” I nervously push my hair away from my eye with my hand.

We looked at each other for a while, and then Danielle gave me a hug, (but was careful not to smudge my make-up). “Don’t worry, Danny,” Danielle said. “Big sister will think of something. Now, gimme your credit card.”

Though I knew full well that my card’s gonna get hit with another whopper of a bill, I still handed it over.

“Now you go on, I’ll meet you guys at KRPQ.” She jogged back the way we came.
 

When we got to the building, we saw the KRPX OB van parked at the curb. The retractable antenna on top was fully extended this time. “Pretty exciting, huh?” June said.

We walked to the reception desk and the guard looked us up and down. The dirty old man… At least he didn’t recognize me. Thank god for that.

Janet told him who we were and he made a fuss about looking us up in his log.

Tracey came out from nowhere.

“No need, Mac,” Tracey said to the guard. “These guys are expected. They’ve been scheduled for an interview.”

The guard nodded. “Yes, Ms Piper.” He nodded to Janet. “Go on up, then, miss.” He gave us another once-over. The old coot…

“Wow, you guys look great!” Trace said. “Danny, you look… incredible!”

I blushed. “It’s all Danielle’s idea, actually.” Like a nervous gesture, I unconsciously push my hair away from my forehead with the back of my left hand.

“Pretty cool!”

We all rode the elevator, and it was a tight squeeze with the entire band there — Dale, Mongo, June, Janet. And me, of course. Not to mention Tracey.

“Pretty tight squeeze,” Dale commented.

“Sorry about that,” Tracey said. “The building has pretty small elevators.”

“No need to apologize. Six people, a keyboard, four guitars and a steamer trunk DOES take up a lot of space, but there’s room.”

Dale and Mongo were in classic rocker garb — boots and black jeans, Dale had on a leather jacket and Mongo was wearing an old, green army jacket.

June wore a chic loose black-and-white tiger-print tee over shiny gun-metal leggings (I saw the package the leggings came in when she was changing, and it said “liquid leggings,” and it’s true — it was like it was poured over her. It was all I could do not to stare.) and a pair of crocheted Uggs, while Janet wore a black tie-waist lace tank with low-rise stressed skinny jeans and slouchy D-ring boots in black suede. With Janet’s sexy figure and height, and June’s sexy pants and enormous… assets, the two girls looked incredible.

Good thing I was as dressed up to the nines as they were, in the aforementioned Danielle-inspired ensemble — the black sleeveless laser-cut shawl/cardigan (with horizontal cuts in the back) over the white strapless crop tube top, plus the pair of faded-blue vintage whiskered distressed skinny jeans (sounds like a stray cat or something), and the strappy gun-metal gray sandals with the four-and-one-fourth heels. Danielle said I would look fantastic but I didn’t think so (I especially felt the cutouts on the back of the cardigan a little too over-the-top, despite what everyone said). I also wore the long red wig from the Halloween thing oh-so-many months ago, plus very vivid (but restrained) make-up courtesy of June. Danielle said, with the super-long wig and make-up, plus the skyscraper heels to give me lots of extra height (I was almost as tall as Janet’s five-eight height now), I would look sufficiently different from my normal image and easily fool the audience. I fervently hoped so.

I hefted my candy-pink Rockrgrrl electric guitar, again unconsciously pushing my hair away with the back of my left hand, scarves trailing my hand, while June held my Rockrgrrl acoustic. Janet and Dale had brought their usual while Mongo struggled with June’s keyboard.

“Will we be playing our instruments, Tracey?” I asked.

“If they are,” Mongo said, “I’m gonna need my drums.”

“No need,” Tracey said. “It’s just for a lot of dumb show, for posing for pictures and such. Don’t worry.”

“Shouldn’t have brought these, then,” Mongo said, gesturing at the trunk.

“Are we late?” I asked.

“Ten minutes ahead of schedule, actually.” Tracey looked at her celphone and read a text message. “Mom just texted that the TV station guys are setting up for the beginning of the pre-show. Rockrgrrl sent over a big placard, and last I heard is they’re waiting for a commercial break so they can mount it on the studio’s back wall. Mom said she’s waiting to introduce you to someone named Taylor, from Rockergrrl. But he says he already met you guys.”

“Yeah, we met him at the concert. He was the event organizer, and he gave us our prizes.” I raised the guitar.

“That’s good. Where’s Danielle, by the way?”

I thought up a plausible lie. “She said she’ll be coming up a littler later — but she stressed that she’s not gonna be getting in front of the camera. To avoid any… problems later. Being recognized, I mean.”

Tracey nodded, understanding the situation.

The elevator opened, and we saw Mr. Taylor sitting around in the lounge, waiting for us apparently.

When Tracey swiped her ID at the detector and the door slid open, Mr. Taylor stood up, walked over and shook Tracey’s hand.

“Ms Piper? Hello. My name’s Johnny Taylor, from Rockrgrrl? Your mother said I could wait for you here.”

“Good evening, Mr. Taylor,” Tracey said.

The man’s focus shifted to us fairly quickly.

“Hello, again, guys! Good to see you again!”

Janet was the first to move forward to shake his hand. “Hi, Mr. Taylor.”

He did the round of handshakes and went directly to describing how the interview would be conducted.

“The TV station sent a one-camera crew - no sound equipment or sound technicians. It’s my understanding that KRPQ will be sending the audio feed via a T1 line to the TV station. And it’s gonna be live.”

June looked alarmed, and Taylor noticed that right away. “Don’t worry, dear. Just be natural. Besides, you all look terrific.” He looked us up and down, and gave us a thumbs-up, although I thought his look lingered a little too long on June’s breasts and my outfit.
 

We went in and saw a cameraman and a technician shooting through the glass of the booth. “Must be using a polarizer lens or something,” I said to the guys. “That’s why he can shoot through the glass.” I looked at the producer’s booth and no one was in there.

“Well, someone knows her stuff!” The cameraman said in a loud voice, and turned to us.

“No need to whisper,” he said. “We aren’t recording the sound. We’re leaving that to them.” He pointed a thumb towards the broadcast booth, and we saw a guy and two girls talking.

We heard their muted on-air chatter in the speakers overhead — just a lot of blah-blah about the latest chart-toppers, the sponsor and the station (of course), but the announcers had a very casual and engaging manner. Very similar to my own style, in fact (I flattered myself heheh). At the moment, they were talking to a listener. I looked through the window, and instead of the expected two announcers, there were three in there. I tried to recall their names. There was the guy, Harry Seavers, and his cute partner, Sally Marshall. But there was a blonde there, too, also talking a mile a minute. And although slightly older-looking, she was so much cuter than Sally. I looked at Tracey and hooked a thumb towards the blonde.

“That’s Talia Stevens, the early-morning DJ.”

I nodded at that.

“So, Dannie,” Mr. Taylor said. “Are you and your band all set for your interview?”

“Actually, Mr. Taylor,” I said, “our band leader’s Janet.”

“Oh, sorry,” he said pleasantly. “My mistake. Are you guys ready for your interview?”

“Oooh, sure!” June nodded. “I’m both scared and excited!”

“Got what you intend to say planned already, dear?”

“Gee…”

I tuned them out and walked up to the booth’s window. The three announcers noticed me, and I grinned at them and gave a nod. Those girls are real cute! I unconsciously pushed my hair from my forehead again with the back of my hand, scarves trailing and pink nails flashing (It barely registered with me that I was doing it anymore).

They gave me a grin and waved, and Harry gave me a thumbs-up. I waved back, the scarves trailing my waving hand.

“Well, thank you kindly, dear caller,” Harry was saying. They had just switched off the caller. “But it looks like our show’s just about done here, girls,” Harry said. The other two made some agreeing noises. “But don’t tune us out just yet. Coming up is our thirty-minute pre-show to our three-hour Rockrrgrl Evolution Concert special, and it’s gonna be simulcast live on TV via KRPX. The one-n-only Nighthawk will be hosting the main show, and we’re gonna be subbing for him in the pre-show.”

Talia took over. “So stay tuned to KRPQ, the home of yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s hits! Seeya after a few commercials!” I cringed a bit at that. I wondered who thought up that cheesy line.

Talia hit a button and a peppy little jingle started playing. I didn’t even know we had a jingle.

As soon as the jingle started playing, some of Mr. Taylor’s people went in with the placard and mounted it on the booth’s rear wall with suction cups. The placard had a picture of three cute girls playing rockrgrrl guitars, and over them was the company’s stylized logo. The guitars had the same color scheme as the guitars that we got, and all I could think of was it was another marketing gimmick.

At the far corner of the roughly square room, away from the front window, they erected a white projection screen facing diagonally into the room, as well as a little projector on a small card table. They moved the cables of the projector as out of the way as possible. Someone turned something on and a spinning projection of KRPX’s logo appeared on the screen.

Not to be outdone, Tracey came in with a couple of people and started to put two standees with our station’s revamped logo in very conspicuous positions. The three DJs took off their headsets, came out and shook our hands. We had a bit of chit-chat, introducing ourselves as well as exchanging a few pleasantries. The two girls were real cute, even up close.

“So you’re the famous Dannie Fairchild,” Talia said.

“Well, I don’t know about famous.” I cleared my throat, trying to get familiar with the new voice I concocted for my Dannie persona. I shook their hands, the scarves flowing and trailing my movements.

“Believe it, honey,” Sally said.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, “but let’s save this all for the show, okay? I think the cameraman’s signaling us.”

We all went to the cameraman. Who was also the director, apparently.

“Okay, kids, this is the way it’s gonna work — I’m gonna be shooting from outside the booth so that you can have as much space as possible. Now, guys,” he gestured at the three DJs, “as we agreed before, I want one of you,” he gestured at Harry, “to be at the controls at the other booth to manage the callers and commercials, but you can also talk with the band.” He pointed at Sally and Talia. “You two stay behind the console, and you guys,” he took me and Janet by the hand and pulled us into the booth, “will be sitting down in the booth with them.”

“Be sure to bring your guitars with you!” Mr. Taylor called.

We picked up the keyboard and guitars, and walked back into the booth. The cameraman arranged five swivel chairs in a semi-diagonal line facing both the window and the control panel, and then sat us on the chairs, with me nearest the window, followed by June, Janet, and then Dale, and then Mongo. It was like he arranged us according to height.

He went out of the booth, looked though his camera’s viewfinder and went back in. He moved the chairs closer together, went back out and looked through the camera again. He was obviously trying to get us all in the shot, and he seemed satisfied this time. He knocked on the glass and gave us a high sign. He then put on a headset — one of those with a mic on a little flexible boom, and gestured for us to wear our own headsets. Talia handed us a set of wireless headsets each. She, Sally and Harry were all wearing their wired ones though.

I put on mine and felt it weighing down on the wig. I idly noticed that Sally was wearing the pair I always wore when I was working the booth, and thought it kinda made her look cute.

“Testing, testing,” the cameraman said. “Can everyone hear me? Now, Harry, is it? Can you move a little to your left please, so I can get all of you in the shot? Great. Now, we’re gonna turn the lights here outside off. Can someone bring up the lights in there? That’s so there won’t be any reflections on the glass to interfere with the camera.” Talia fiddled with something on the wall, and the lights inside became brighter.

He pointed at June. “You girl, second from the left. Please move a bit forward. Thanks. And everyone, please put your instruments on the floor. We’ll get to them later.”

After everyone complied, he gave us another thumbs-up. One of Mr. Taylor’s people rushed in and connected an amp cable to my candy-pink, and rushed back out.

“Now, let’s do a sound check. Everyone?” Everyone piped up and said a few inane remarks. I sang the refrain from “There She Goes,” and everyone clapped.

“That was great,” the cameraman laughed. “Okay, we’re all set. All celphones and other electronic devices off, please.” We all switched our stuff off.

He then made a call on his celphone, looked at his watch after finishing the call, and switched it off. “Okay, I just called the TV station. They said that they’re ready for our feed. I’ll give you guys a five-count, and on the one-count, we’ll be live. Everyone up for that?” Everyone agreed. “Harry?”

“Yo!”

“Harry, run a jingle when you want to break, and the techs will synch it with the commercials. The breaks’ll be three to five minutes long. I’ll then give you a five-count before we need to switch back, and you play another jingle to segue us back in. Clear?”

“Super clear, chief. No worries.”

“Okay then. The OB van signaled. We’re gonna be going live now. And heeere we go! And — five, four, three, two…” and then the red light on his camera switched on, and he started to pan slowly from left to right.

Harry played the thirty-seconder jingle, and Talia, cool as a cucumber, smoothly segued in. The camera stopped moving and focused on her.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, It’s nine-thirty in the big city, and you are tuned in to KRPQ, the home of yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s hits! We have a very special evening lined up for you, folks — tonight, we’re gonna be featuring the Rockergrrl Evolution Concert. Tonight’s also another first, since, as our home viewers can see, we are also being simulcast on TV as well. My name is Talia Stevens, the host of the Early Morning Power Drive show here in KRPQ, and with me is Sally Marshall.”

The camera moved a little bit to focus on Sally.

“Thank you, Talia,” Sally said. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m Sally Marshall, one of KRPQ’s news and events correspondents, and I’m so glad to be here right now. As Talia said, we are indeed live over both KRPQ and TV station KRPX. Hi, there, guys!” She waved jauntily. “Aside from the concert, we’ll also be having a live in-studio interview the concert winners, the band called Unlimited Bandwith! Isn’t that right, Harry?”

The camera swung over to the left towards the producer’s booth. In doing so, the camera moved over us, and we momentarily had an opportunity to wave at the audience.

The camera eventually settled on Harry, and Harry gave a big smile.

“That’s absolutely right, Sally. Hey, there folks. Harry Seavers here, for KRPQ news and events. We are going to have lots of fun and interesting stuff to give you tonight. Later tonight, we’re gonna be featuring interviews with Kats and Kitties and The Sound Bandits, the runner-up bands in the concert, as well as some special features on Rockrgrrl, the company and the wonderful guitars they make. We are also gonna have a contest within the show. Up for grabs are three, count ‘em, three! Rockrgrrl guitars! Rocker Girrrll!” Harry laughed. “I’ll also be here taking your calls if you’d like to talk to our guests or join our contest. But right now, let’s welcome to the KRPQ studios, the winners of the Evoluton Concert - Unlimited Bandwidth!”

Talia and Sally played along, and gave us a big round of applause while the camera zoomed out to get us all in the shot.

Talia took over. “For everyone else who don’t know, Rockrgrrrl guitars put together a concert event over at the Jubilee Center called the Evolution Concert a couple of weeks ago, sort of a battle of the Bands kind of thing, pitting ten local girl bands against each other. The sponsor, RockrGrrrl Guitars, are makers of guitars exclusively for girls and women. I guess you’d probably consider them as the new Daisy Rock Guitars, right, Sally?”

“I guess you could say that, Talia,” Sally said. “Some of you might know that Daisy Rock guitars are being used by such artists as Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch, Miley Cyrus and Lisa Loeb. As well as some of the older eighties icon rockers like Heart.”

“That’s right, Sally,” Talia continued. “Like the Daisy,” Talia gestured to me, “mind if we use you a little bit, Danny?”

Well, might as well, I thought. I got up, bent down to pick up my candy pink. I put the strap over my shoulder and struck a pose with the guitar, which made my bandmates laugh.

“As you see, Dannie here is modeling one of Rockrgrrl’s top of the line guitars.” I mimed some fashion-model poses, which got June giggling.

“RockrGrrl guitars are light-weight guitars made specially with necks that are narrower than normal, with some models having a shorter scale length and reduced spacing between the frets, which make the guitars easier to play for girls with their smaller hands and bodies.”

I continued the over-the-top poses, gesturing to the parts of the guitar that Talia was talking about.

“Care to demo your Rockrgrrrl, Dannie?” Talia asked and I obliged by playing a couple of bars from the iconic song of The Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

I did stop before I got carried away, but apparently Dale was singing along with my playing, and when I stopped, we heard him sing “I can’t get noooo….” His voice faded away in embarrassment when he realized that I had stopped and everyone was listening to him.

“Ummm..” he said, embarrassedly, and everyone laughed. I put the guitar down and sat down at my seat again..

Talia laughed. “That was a sample folks of what we have in store for you later. And since we’ve heard a bit from them, let’s introduce everyone — the members of Unlimited Bandwidth! From right to left, we have the band’s drummer, Julius Kaufman, but everyone calls him Mongo.”

Mongo nodded in his usual, deliberate way. “Hi,” he said.

Talia took a moment to respond to that. “Ummm, and next to him is Dale Rapaport, the band’s base player.”

“Thank you Talia,” he smiled, and nodded pleasantly at the camera. “Yep, I play base, and sing backup. Plus I play a mean game of checkers.” Everyone laughed.

“Next to him, on keyboards, is June Bright.” June didn’t talk and just giggled.

“Heheh. And then we have Janet O’hara, the band’s lead singer, and lead guitar player.”

“Hey, Talia,” Janet said. “Thank you for having us, and thanks to Rockrgrrl for giving us this opportunity. It’s a dream come true for us.” She waved at the camera. “Hi, everyone! Thanks for tuning in.”

“You’re absolutely welcome, Janet. And next to her, is the band’s other vocalist and guitarist, Dannie Fairchild.”

I cleared my throat and tried the new voice I made up yesterday. “Good evening, Talia,” I said. “Hi, everyone!” I waved at the camera, scarves trailing. I still had problems with the voice, though, so I tried not to speak any more than I had to. Yesterday, Mikey said Dannie the singer sounded a lot like Kari Wahlgren. I didn’t know who she was, and Mikey wasn’t telling, so I googled her and found out she’s a prolific voice actress and did a lot of voices for cartoons and anime. Knowing Mikey, he probably had anime in mind, so I did a quick search. Among the many anime titles I brought up, the only shows I could recognize that had Kari Wahlgren was a voice talent, were Cardcaptor Sakura and Chobits. I haven’t seen them, but I promised myself I’ll try and watch a couple of episodes soon.

“Cool threads, I have to say, guys,” Talia said. Dale, Mongo and I mumbled our thanks, but Janet and June giggled and preened. “Your usual gig outfits, I take it?”

“Heck, no!” Dale exclaimed, and everyone laughed. “The girls went out and bought new outfits just for tonight! In fact, Dannie bought hers just this morning!”

“Dale!” Janet said, and punched him on the shoulder. “That’s not true!”

“Owww! What’d I say?” Everyone laughed.

“So,” Sally started as the laughter died down, “let’s get the standard stuff out of the way. How did you guys meet?”

Everyone looked to Janet.

“Well, the band had been together for a while now. We met in school, and have been playing together on and off for over a year.”

“So, you’re all seniors?”

“Actually,” Dale said, “we graduated over a year ago, but we all decided to take a couple of years off before moving on to college and other stuff. Try to see if we can make it as a band.”

“So far, it’s been going okay,” Janet said. “We have a regular gig over a couple of places, at Mario’s downtown and…”

“Woah, there, girl,” Talia said. “No free plugs — against station policy, you know.”

June giggled.

“Ooops!” Janet smiled. “Well, I guess what I wanted to say was that we were just trying to stay in the game, play our gigs, and wait for that big break.”

“And we’re hoping this is it,” Dale said, and grinned.

“Well,” Talia said, “all we can say is Good luck, and I do hope you make it.” She then turned to me.

“So, Dannie,” Talia said, “how does it feel to be in the band?”

“Well, actually,” I said, still trying to fine-tune my new Dannie-voice, “I’m still a bit not used to all of this. I’m a late addition to the band. I actually only joined a few months ago.”

“Wanna tell us how that happened?”

“Well,” I said nervously, unconsciously pushing my hair from my forehead again with the back of my hand, scarves trailing, “I picked up a little flyer pinned to the school bulletin board, advertising for a vocalist and guitar player for a local band. I auditioned and, well, here I am.”

June giggled again.

“There must be more to it than that. I’m sure there must be an interesting story in there somewhere?” Sally said, looking at June.

“For sure!” June giggled. “We were there in the… place where we play, and we were auditioning for singers the whole day. We were down to the last one, and in walks this little kid! Wearing jeans and a big smile. We liked her on sight, well, I did anyway, but we just didn’t believe this kid could really sing.”

“True enough,” Janet said. “And I was being a shit to the kid, making it difficult for her. But as soon as she started playing and singing…”

“We knew we found our fifth bandmate!” Dale said.

“Yeah,” Mongo mumbled.

“Mmmhm,” Talia said.

“She started singing ‘Can’t Get Enough,’” Dale continued, “and she had the whole place jumping in a sec! And it was just a friggin’ audition!”

“’Can’t Get Enough’ by The New Radicals?” Sally asked. “That’s one of my favorites!”

“Mine, too,” Janet said. “And the rest, as they say, is history.”

Talia turned to me. “And you feel that you’re now a real member of the band?”

“Oh, sure!”

Sally turned to the giggle-box, June. “June, what do you really think of your bandmate?”

“Oh, wow,” she said. “I think Dannie’s the coolest and she sings real good. We all think she’s one of the band’s best attractions. And she’s also become one of my bestest friends!” She leaned over and gave me a little peck.

The DJs and the rest went, “awww…”

The camerman signaled.

“Ok, kiddies,” Talia, said, seeing the signal, “we’ll get right back to the Evolution Concert winners, Unlimited Bandwidth, after a few more messages from Rockrgrrl.”

Harry pushed a button and a different version of the station’s jingle started to play.

“Aaaaand, we’re out!” the cameraman said, making a cutting gesture across the neck. “All right, kids, everything’s going super. Good work. Now, try and relax. You got five minutes!”

“You’re doing great, guys,” Talia said.

“Yeah!” Sally echoed. “Smooth sailing so far.”

Mr. Taylor burst in, followed by Tracey. Tracey went directly to Talia and Sally, and conferred about something.

“I’m loving it!” Mr. Taylor said to us. “Just loving it. How about you, girls? Where are your guitars?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Taylor,” June said. “I play the keyboards.”

“That’s too bad… How about you, honey?” he asked, referring to Janet.

“I prefer my own, Mr. Taylor,” Janet said. Mr. Taylor frowned.

“Ummm… the colors of the guitars we got? Well, they just weren’t me…”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Mr. Taylor said. He pointed to the guitar in front of her. “This is your guitar?”

“Ummm, yes?”

Mr. Taylor looked at it for a second and then whipped out his phone. “Billy, this is Mr. Taylor. Can you please check if we brought a rock-candy classic, the large cutaway model? I’ll hold.”

He tapped his foot for a bit as he waited for an answer. “Billy? Great! That’s good news. Please string one up and bring it in with a hardcase and cables. Yes, the works. Yes, bring it in here to the booth. Thanks!”

He snapped his phone closed and turned back to Janet. “Well, I’m having our technician bring in a candy classic, similar Dannie’s Candy-Pink, but in classic wood panel colors. Ahh! Here it is! Thank you Billy.”

Mr. Taylor got the big black guitar hardcase from this little guy and opened it with a flourish. “Tada!” he said, as he brought out a gorgeous electric, larger than mine, with the look of a strat, but covered in a lacquered-wood-grain finish. Everyone went “oooh!”

“Wanna try it out?” he said, and winked at Janet.

“Sure,” Janet said, trying to be offhand about it, but eagerly reached for the guitar.

Mr. Taylor then turned to Dale and Mongo. “How about you, boys? I don’t suppose you’d care to…”

Mongo shook his head but Dale was looking at Janet’s shiny new axe with a bit of envy.

Mr. Taylor beat him to the punch. “Don’t worry, son. I’ll get you one, and you can tell me later how you feel about it.”

Dale grinned.

Mr .Taylor then turned to me. “Well, Dannie,” he said. “You did one heck of a job. And thank you for showcasing our product so well!”

I shrugged. “I was just foolin,’” I said self-deprecatingly.

“You’re being too modest, dear.”

“Umm, Mr. Taylor,” Talia said, “I think we’re about to start.”

“Ooops! Let me get out of your hair, then. Great work, guys!” He left the booth and stood behind the cameraman.

When the cameraman made a sign, Harry played the same jingle as before. After the short 5-seconder, Talia said, “Aaaaaand we’re back!”

She picked up the little piece of paper Tracey had handed her during the break.

“Before we continue on with the program, we’ve got a little surprise for you,” Talia said. “Throughout our interview, there’s one other person we didn’t get to talk about. Someone that’s also important to the band. Anyway, this close friend of the band consented to giving us a copy of a video that she had of the band, singing in their last gig at Mario’s last week. And it features her — the band’s newest bandmate!”

We looked at each other, and it dawned on us. Betsy!

Sally saw from our faces that we realized who they were talking about.

“That’s right, guys! Here’s Unlimited Bandwidth, featuring their newest member, violinist extraordinaire Betsy Haley, in their mash-up of “I Love You” by Paul McCartney and the Wings, and “Come Rain, Come Shine” by Thailand sensation Tata Young. Ladies and gentlemen, Unlimited Bandwidth!”

As it happened, I though that particular number was one of our best ones with Betsy. We turned and faced the projection screen, and saw ourselves.
 

On the screen, a picture of the stage at Mario’ sprang up, with Mongo, June and Dale in their grunge best, and me in the crewneck shirt and jeans that I wore to the office last time, but with the last-minute addition of the trailing silk scarves on my wrists. Our video doubles started playing — Mongo on drums, June on keyboards and Dale on bass. As usual. The song was simple to play, as it was just C, E minor 7, and F major 7 over and over and over. Dale started to sing. It was different hearing us play this way. Dale sang real well. I was surprised.

You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs…I look around me and I see it isn't so. Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs… And what's wrong with that? I'd like to know, 'coz here I go again!

June played a riff of synthesized saxophones and Dale sang the refrain.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you…

And as Dale sang Paul McCartney’s simple refrain, Betsy came out with her violin. We all clapped in the booth as we saw her come out on stage, her eyes almost closed in concentration, her bow caressing her violin strings in short, crisp strokes as she accompanied Dale.

After Dale sang the refrain, Janet and I came in with our guitars. In the booth, the DJs and the others clapped as well. Dale remained silent and my video-double sang Tata Young’s lyrics to the same musical accompaniment, scarves and bangles jiggling..

Unsuspecting, the way you cross my mind. Who could've known you'd be so real. But unrelenting - the grip that lives around you. Give me a sign so I can rescue you, and save the day, yeah!

In place of Paul’s refrain, I sang Tata’s refrain. Bring in the rain, bring in the shine. Let it go, stop wasting time. I'm calling out to you! And don't chase the sun, don't race the sky. Let it go, stop wasting time! And I'm calling out to you. I'm calling out to you...

(In the background, Dale, Janet and June sang Paul’s refrain in place of the second voice: I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you…)

I continued on with Tata’s lyrics.

Fascinating, how moments feel sublime. Seems like I'm glowing when you're near. But unavailing, when you pay no mind or you're twisting every other line. Baby, say the words, I'll rescue you and make you mine!

Dale took over and sang Paul’s refrain, with all of us singing harmony.

I love you! I love you!

In the booth, we were all singing along, even Sally, Talia and Harry. On the screen, Dale’s video double continued on, singing Paul’s iconic chorus.

Love doesn't come in a minute! Sometimes it doesn't come at all… I only know that when I'm in it - It isn't silly… love isn't silly… love isn't silly at all!

All throughout, Betsy was grinning like a fool and playing her heart out. And, on Dale’s heels, my dopelganger sang Tata’s refrain.

Bring in the rain, bring in the shine. Let it go, stop wasting time. I'm calling out to you! And don't chase the sun, don't race the sky. Let it go, stop wasting time! And I'm calling out to you. I'm calling out to you...

On the screen, Dale and June sang the second voice, but video-Janet went to the edge of the stage and got the audience to sing with us: I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you…

And then we stopped for a split second.

After that split second, my on-screen double sang into the silence: Come rain come shine, (the rest sang a follow-on line: come rain come shine…) stop wasting time (stop wasting time…). Come rain come shine, (come rain come shine…)… You will be mine!

I then went back to the usual refrain, with everyone singing the “I love you” second-voice:

in the rain, bring in the shine (I love you…). Let it go, stop wasting time (I love you…). I'm calling out to you! And don't chase the sun, don't race the sky (I love you…). Let it go, stop wasting time (I love you!)! And I'm calling out to you (I love you…). I'm calling out to you... (I love you…)

We repeated the refrain maybe three times more, and then we stopped dead. And in the silence, I sang the last line: I'm calling out to you...

On the screen, as well as in the booth, everyone exploded into cheers and applause. Hey, we weren’t proud — we cheered ourselves, too!

“And here she is!” Harry said, from the other booth. “Unlimited Bandwidth’s one-woman string section, Ms. Betsy Haley!” Betsy, blushing like crazy as always, walked into the booth. We stood up and gave her hugs. When I went and hugged her, I felt her shaking in nervousness. I held on to her until she calmed down. Betsy snuggled against me, burying her nose in the hollow of my neck. It was like she was breathing me in, and it was calming her down.

“You okay, Bets?” I whispered to her. She nodded against my neck. First time I was taller than her… “That’s good. Now let’s sit down.”

We looked around for a spare chair but found none. “Ummm, Danny,” Betsy muttered to me, “Where?”

“I guess we share my chair.”

Luckily, the chair was large, and we were small enough that it could accommodate the two of us. And I guess Betsy didn’t mind squeezing in with me. Janet gave us one of those faintly irritated, hostile looks that I’ve been noticing from her since last week. I think I need to have a talk with her or something, soon.

Betsy draped her arm around my shoulders, and took a deep, calming breath. “Hi!” she said to the camera. She waved to Janet, Dale and Mongo and gave June a little hello kiss on the cheek.

“I can see you’re all friends, then?” Talia said. We all nodded.

“Well, Betsy,” Talia continued. “I guess I have to ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind right now — why weren’t you with the band during the concert?”

“Well, ummm, I had this family thing upstate, and I couldn’t join them. I was all broken up about it, but everything went okay.”

“Yup, everything did indeed go okay,” Talia smiled. “So, how did you end up as part of the band?”

“Actually, I’m just an unofficial member of the band. I sometimes get to play with them ‘cause I’m friends with Dannie, and she knew I played violin. She convinced me, as well as the band, to play together once, and I think we all clicked. From then on, when Dannie and the band need a violinist, well, I’m there.”

“Where did you learn to play the violin?”

“Where else? Ummm, I took classes?…” Everyone laughed.

“Where else, indeed? Ladies and gentlemen, Ms Betsy Hayley.” All of us gave her a round of applause. The cameraman gave us another signal, and Sally took over.

“Now, another set of reminders from our wonderful sponsors, and then we’ll be back to take some calls from our listeners and viewers. Take this down, folks — the digits are! Five-five-five, twenty-eight seventy-eight! Back in a flash!” And then Harry played another jingle.

“Okay, folks,” our cameraman-director said, “you can take a breather.”

“Ummm, guys?” Harry said, “the board just started blinking at me. How do we handle all of these callers?”

“Harry,” Sally said, “you just pick a button, and then patch ‘em through to the booth.”

Harry gave her a dirty look. “I know that,” he said. “I mean, what, do I just let everyone through?”

“Well,” Talia said, “just do what you always do.”

“Talia, we usually have, like, one or two callers and this time we’ve got, let’s see… at least twenty on the board! Do I go first caller first? What? I’m not a program producer!”

I nervously pushed my hair away from my eyes again, and thought.

“Well,” I said, “why don’t you go first caller first, ask ‘em if they have anything specific that they want to ask, and you decide if they’re okay to let through. If they’re okay, ask them to wait, and put ‘em on hold, patching them through on a first-caller basis. And if you don’t think it’s an okay caller, tell ‘em that there are too many people on the line, and ask ‘em to call again.”

“Hey, that’s good!” Harry said. “Have you done this before?”

“Me? No!... Ummm, I mean, it seems the only thing you can do if you have too many callers to handle.” I nervously pushed my hair away again.

“‘Kay, I’ll do that. Thanks! Talia? Sally? You girls give me a cue when I can patch a caller through.”

“Okay, Harry,” Talia said.

We’re goin’ back on the air folks,” our cameraman said. “Get ready! And Five, four, three, two…” and his camera light blinked on.

There was no jingle this time — Harry seemed a little too pre-occupied with the callers, Hurriedly, Sally pushed a button and our jingle started playing.

“We’re back folks, and it’s time to take some callers. Harry? Do we have a caller on the line?”

“You bet we do, Sally,” Harry said. “We have someone on the line who wanted to ask about the synthesized voice you used in one of your songs.”

“Hi? My name is Abbey, and I just wanted to know how you guys did that voice thing, where you made it sound like a robot? I think it was in your first song at the concert.”

“Hi, Abbey,” Talia said. “I guess we have to wait for the concert to hear the songs, though. Were you at the concert?”

“Yes, I was. I was very interested in the tech aspect of the thing. So I wanted to ask.”

“Someone from the band want to tackle that?”

“Ummm, hi, Abbey, it’s June. I think you’re talking about the first song we sang? The one from Meja, I believe, a song called Luxury. Anyway, it wasn’t that big a deal, it was just a preset on my Casio synthesizer.”

“Darn,” she said. “And I thought you used some kind of fancy trick, like you used some kind of pre-amp or maybe used some sound program to alter the voice.”

“Well, we do use some computer programs too,” I said. “Like Soundforge, to clean up our recordings, but mostly, what you hear is true-blue Unlimited Bandwidth.”

“Oh, cool! But, Soundforge? How do you deal with the limitation in the number of tracks, and…”

“Beep! Beep!” Dale joked. “Geek alert!”

Everyone laughed good-naturedly. “Heheh, sorry about that, Abbey,” Talia said. “Pipe down, you! So, Abbey, you were at the concert. Can you tell us how it was, the atmosphere and so forth.”

“Gosh, what’s to tell? I was simply incredible! I mean, it was the first time I saw a concert with just girl bands. I never knew there were so many, and all of them so good!”

“Girl power, huh?”

“Right on, sistah!” she said. Everyone laughed.

“Anything else you’d like ask the guys?”

“Ummm, I guess that’s it, except that I totally love the band, and Dannie, especially. Hope to see the band in more concerts.”

“Thanks, Abbey,” I called out, and the rest of the guys echoed me.

Abbey giggled. “Thanks, Dannie! Thanks, guys!”

“Well, then, Harry,” Talia said. “Who’s next?”

“Talia, we’ve got someone named Kris, from…”

And that’s the way it went for the rest of the show. Most of the questions were about personal things, like where we hung out, what were our favorite bands, who does our hair. Et cetera. Someone even mentioned my new hairdo, and said it was “fab.” It got a little sticky, though when they started to ask where we went to school. It was a good thing that Janet took those questions, making such questions easy enough to sidestep — Janet said that they had already graduated, and that implied that I had, too. Only Betsy was the one who got pinned, and the caller was able to extract the name of our school. I didn’t realize at the time the repercussions of that one little thing to Betsy. And to me, as well.
 
 
Twenty: A Big Dilemma
 
***** (Danny) *****
 
The DJs wound up the show in their own inimitable way, deciding to play one of our songs from the concert, the one with Janet singing the lead - Patti Smyth’s “Look What Love Has Done for Me.”

And as the video played on TV, credits played over it (we found this out later from Mel and the others).

After the pre-progam, we posed for shots with the DJs, Tracey, Mr. Taylor and his staff (with us holding our guitars, of course). Good thing the TV station was playing some other stuff in between which gave me nearly thirty minutes to do my pictures, make my goodbyes to Mr. Taylor, Talia, Sally and Harry, and to sneak away to change. Tracey faked escorting us to the elevators, allowing me to escape into Mrs. Piper’s office where Danielle was waiting.

Tracey waved to Danielle, closed the door and went on with the rest of the band, maybe up to the lobby downstairs.

“Quick!” Danielle said. “Out of those clothes! I’ll take the wig off.”

I unzipped the sandals and stepped out of them. Maybe I should have said stepped down instead, given the height of the heels. I then took off the jeans I had on and picked up the new pair of jeans on Mrs. Piper’s couch. While I was doing that, Danielle was taking the bobby-pins from my wig.

After a bit, Danielle had the wig off and started fluffing out my matted hair.

I looked over the new pair, and noted that they were more conventional. I waited until Danielle was done fluffing my hair, and then struggled to put on the new light-blue denim pants.

This new pair was incredibly tight! At least it had a little bit of stretch to them and it allowed me to eventually slide them on. I was disappointed, though, ‘coz the new pair only came up to my hip. Or rather the pants rode ON my hips. Danielle took a pair of scissors and cut the price tag off. She then handed me a white canvass belt and I threaded it through the loops. Hopefully, the belt will stop the pants from sliding off my hips.

I clicked the silver buckle closed and looked around for my new top.

“Wait!” Danielle said. She took off my bangles-n-scarves thing, the thin gold chain around my neck, and all the jewelry I was wearing. She pushed my brunette-colored hair aside and took out my earrings, replacing them with very nice-looking silver studs.

She then took hold of my left hand, dipped them in a little bowl full of soapy water, and after maybe ten seconds of soaking, the fake nails peeled off. She did the same with the other hand, and my fingernails were now free of pink!

She then made me go to the little kitchenette and had me wash off the sudsy water, as well as to wash my face free of makeup.

I did it quickly and dried my face and hands with the little towel that hung on a little peg by the sink.

When I got back she was taking what looked like a white singlet or tanktop from a bag, and cutting off the price tag.

She handed it to me. “Go on! Put that on! Quick! We don’t have much time!”

“What, no bra?”

“It has something built into it so you don’t need a bra. Now go on!”

I grumbled a bit but complied. I took off my cardigan, and then my cutoff tube-top. As I did, Danielle stopped to look at me.

It was different this time — used to be, when we were caught in moments like these, there would be an awkward, uncomfortable silence, but it was different now.

I looked at her and waggled my eyebrows comically. Danielle burst out laughing and hugged me in a sisterly way. That was a bit funny, especially since I was topless.

Anyway, I pulled on the sort-of tanktop and it barely covered my bellybutton. Yup, it had sort of a bra built in, and I adjusted my breasts in them.

Danielle then handed me a pair of booty-socks and a pair of fairly-low-heeled pointy-toed tan suede cowgirl boots. I sat down on the couch and put them on while Danielle wiped some lotion on my dry-from-washing face.

I stood up and was fairly glad of the low heels. Danielle then took some tissues and wiped the excess lotion off. I can’t believe how fast this costume change is going!

“And now,” Danielle said, “here’s the finishing touch!” She handed me a short, light-tan cowhide jacket. I walked to the mirror and looked at myself.

“All I need now is a ten-gallon hat,” I said.

“Oh, stop it! You look beautiful. Now, spritz yourself with this and let me comb out your hair a bit.”

I looked at the little bottle. At the top, the bottle was totally transparent, but it became pink as you got to the bottom. Didn’t know Lacoste came out with perfumes now. I spritzed myself and the scent was light and fresh-smelling. Danielle picked a good one, even though it was totally different from the scents she usually spritzed me with.

Danielle folded my clothes and stuffed them, including my wig, purse and sandals, into a big slouchy bag. She handed me a little brown backpack which was only a little bit bigger the purse, and presumably with all my stuff transferred into it.

“Gimme a smile, Danny.” I smiled my Nighthawk smile and Danielle hugged me. “I think this’ll work!”

Tracey knocked on the door.

“You guys ready?” she whispered.

“Yes, we are, Tracey,” Danielle called back. “Is the coast clear?”

“Yes. Come on out.”

I shouldered the backpack, and Danielle and I stepped out.

When she saw us, Tracey did a double-take.

“Woah! Babe alert!”

“Oh, stop it, Tracey,” I said. She gave me a one-armed hug and led both of us back to the booth.

It was still set up the way it was before, but I pantomimed surprise.

“Here we are!” Tracey said, and led us up to Harry, Talia and Sally.

“Hey, Tracey,” Sally said companionably.

“Harry Seavers, Talia Stevens and Sally Marshall, I’d like to introduce you to the one-and-only Nighthawk!”

“The Nighthawk!” Talia exclaimed. “Finally we meet.” She extended her hand for me to shake. The perspective was a little different, as she was now taller than me, whereas when I was Dannie, I was so much taller than her. I felt the same with Sally and Harry as well when I shook their hands.

“Well,” Harry said, not letting go of my hand. “You really are as pretty as they say you are.”

“’They?’”

“Dennis Oldfield and Lou Jefferson? The early morning announcers? I think they’re the only ones that get to see you.”

I didn’t know how to react to that. “Ummm.”

Tracey stepped in to fill in the awkward moment. “This is Danielle, her manager.”

They shook hands. “Awfully young to be a talent manager, aren’t you?” Talia said.

“Well, it’s an unofficial position,” Danielle replied. “I do it ‘cause she asked me to. Hi.”

Harry still hadn’t let go of my hand. “Anyway,” he said. “What should I call you. The Nighthawk doesn’t seem appropriate.”

Danielle, Tracey and I looked at each other. Yet another detail we weren’t prepared for. First the outfit, then this…

“Ummm, you can call me Robin,” I said, which was the first name I could think of.

“Robin,” Harry said. “What a pretty name.”

“All right, Harry,” Mrs. Piper interrupted. “Settle down. And you can let go of Robin’s hand.” Apparently she’d been standing near the cameraman the whole time, just behind the camera chatting quietly with Mr. Taylor, but we didn’t notice.

Harry dropped my hand like a hot potato.

“Boss!” he said, in embarrassment. “How long have you been here?”

“Long enough,” she smiled merrily.

“Ummm, nice to have met you, Robin. Danielle. I have to be going now. Hope to see you guys again, soon.” He nodded at us, and quickly left the room.

We watched him go, and Mrs. Piper quipped, “Now, do you think it was something I said?”

We all laughed at that.

“Anyway,” she continued, “ummm, Robin, this is Mr. Taylor from Rockrgrrl Guitars, our sponsor for tonight.”

“Good evening, Robin. I’m glad to finally meet the famous Nighthawk that everyone keeps talking about.”

“Good evening, Mr. Taylor.”

He turned to Danielle. “So, Danielle, you also manage the Nightawk, too? I am quite impressed!” Oh, God, that’s right! Danielle had already met Mr. Taylor at the concert, when she got our prizes and papers from the concert. Another detail we weren’t prepared for! Damnit!

“Umm, hello, Mr. Taylor. Well, actually, I do this only as a favor. Robin’s a close friend of mine.” Geez, hope he buys that.

Mrs. Piper turned to the cameraman-slash-director. “How are we fixed for time?”

“The station says maybe fifteen minutes more. So you guys can relax for a bit.”

“In that case, we have just enough time to get a few photos. Tracey? Can you do the honors?”

Tracey nodded. “Sure, mom. Let me get my camera.”

We exchanged a few more blah-blahs with Mr. Taylor until Tracey came back with a nice little Nikon DSLR and monopod with a little claw foot. First, Tracey set the timer of the camera, and got a picture of us DJs with Danielle, Mr. Taylor, Mrs. Piper and Tracey. Afterwards Tracey took a picture of just the DJs, and then some pictures of just me behind the booth’s control panel. I mugged for the camera, making funny, goofy poses, all with my headphones on my head.

One of my poses was where I was standing behind the control panel, with one of the turntables to my left. I had my left hand resting casually on my left hip and I held my right hand up with two fingers raised in a peace sign. My head was slightly cocked, hair hanging down freely from the right side of my head, and I was giving the camera a sexy little wink. That was the picture Tracey selected for my wall poster, and it’s now hanging there, where the old poster used to hang.

After the impromptu photo-op, Mrs. Piper shooed everyone out of the booth. Talia and Sally left the station while Mrs. Piper and Mr. Taylor went to her office, and waited for the two bands that were scheduled for interviews.

As I sat down, Tracey handed me a small sheaf of papers. “Notes on the program,” she said, and left me to go to the producer’s booth.

“How did you come up with ‘Robin,’” Danielle said.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “It was the first name that popped into my mind.”

She looked at me, not believing. “I don’t know, really! … I mean, Nighthawk, Robin — both of them birds?...”

Danielle smiled. She gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Good luck!” she said, and went to follow Mrs. Piper.

Our cameraman spoke and I heard him in my headset.

“Okay, miss, when we’re about to go on air, I’m gonna do a five-count, and when I get to one, that means we’re on. Clear?”

“Clear,” I said. I looked through the pile of paper in my hand, as well as the control panel. Seems I won’t be doing much — many of the knobs and switches were covered with little post-its that said things like, “No!” and “Do Not Touch!” I guess my job tonight is to just talk. I rapidly read the pieces of paper in my hand, but in what felt like just a moment later, I heard the cameraman say, “Five! Four! Three! Two! And….”

I was on the air.

end of part Six

To Be Continued...

bobbysig-pink.png

   
Author’s Postscript: Part 6 was totally newly-written, and none of it was sourced from any previously-written stuff of mine. Apologies for taking so long writing it. However... I will be taking a short break from Danny's universe, and give some story-writing attention to my new witchling, Kimmy, and Mark, our resident ghost hunter. As usual, I'll do my best to write new stuff, and I hope those who are following the story can maintain their patience. Bobbie Speedy-Gonzalez Cabot (that's me heheh...) is off and running! (By the way, the Abbey character here bears no connection to my new real-life chatroom friend Abbey, except for a common passion for music and computers... And maybe for being a geek, too? Peace, Abbey! Just a joke! ;) )
up
410 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos

Comments

Bobbie...

Andrea Lena's picture

What a great tale from a precious friend and terrific writer. I love this story! Thanks!


She was born for all the wrong reasons but grew up for all the right ones.
Possa Dio riccamente vi benedica, tutto il mio amore, Andrea

  

To be alive is to be vulnerable. Madeleine L'Engle
Love, Andrea Lena

Adorkable!

So our Ms. Cabot is a comic book geek, too! Yaaaay! You know, there are a couple of us that may be talking to you about ... something ... soon!

Wait, how do I know she's a comix geekgrrl?

Perhaps -- just perhaps -- it has something to do with the not-so-thinly-veiled DCU reference...

Harry still hadn’t let go of my hand. "Anyway," he said. "What should I call you. The Nighthawk doesn’t seem appropriate."

Danielle, Tracey and I looked at each other. Yet another detail we weren’t prepared for. First the outfit, then this...

"Ummm, you can call me Robin," I said, which was the first name I could think of.

I mean, come on. What self-respecting totally geekgrrl comix chick would miss that? I mean, that poster in the hall has to have a last name on it, right? All the other posters -- including the one from the concert now in Betsy's possession -- have first and last names, right?

May I offer a suggestion?

Robin Grayson
The Inestimable
Nighthawk

Hoorayyyyy!

Yayyy!! More Danny - I'm a fan, Bobbie!
I can just feel the walls closing in on Danny's attempt to keep personal, band and radio personae separate from the public perspective. Well, that's a bit of a "duh" given the foreshadowing with Betsy being recognized and linked to Danny, but hey! I was thinking that before I read that part. So there! :-p
I can't help but feel that the whole "Robin" thing is a big problem. Up to now, there's been a real person attached to whatever face Danny presents, but Robin is new and not in the record, as it were. I just think that will be a problem, but maybe they can play it off as a stage name. What will the radio station do given the amount of publicity that is coming like a freight train? I see some big issues.
Also - the part where Val's parents reconnect with Val is wonderful. I love happy moments like that. *sniff*
This is really good stuff Bobbie! I'm sad to hear a break from this story is coming, but as long as you keep writing, I'll be reading it! :-)
Talk to you soon!!
~abenderx~

BTW

BTW - I am a proud, Trek-gear-wearing geek. I can induce boredom in a non-geek in less then 10 seconds so I'm just sure I qualify! :-)
It's an honor to be labeled as a geek which, ironically, proves the point. lol

Don't use wav editors for multi-tracking lol - err... OK I'll save that for IRC chats to induce boredom. ;-) I've got some great software to tell you about! (*coughGEEKcough*)
~abenderx~

Robin the Nighthawk

Just spelling out the reference, and why it had to be irresistible to include...

Dick Grayson, the first Robin (of Batman and Robin) ... when he was forced to give up the Robin mantle and adopt a new hero identity, became Nighthawk.

Nighthawk. Robin. It had to happen.

Whoops!

Um, Edeyn, I hate to tell you, but Dick Grayson was Nightwing, named after the Batman-like hero of Kandor, who was actually Superman. Nighthawk was the Batman-analogue from the Squadron Sinister/Supreme and later the Defenders over at Marvel.

Definitely glad to see you

Definitely glad to see you with Danny and friends. Hope things go better for you in this new year.

BW


I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

This is FAB

I' so glad you managed to get the time to write this episode. Also that it was a nice long one.

This story of Danny is really good.

Briar

Briar

I absolutely loved it. I'm a

I absolutely loved it. I'm a huge fan already of your stuff. Hey for all of you guys out there who don't really know the song Dale and Danny sing try rereading it and singing the parts to yourself. Awesome with the feel you get with the story it made my arms stand on end.
I loved the shakespeare quote he wrote out foe Nikki, I'm so going to crib that for something one of my roleplay characters to say to his SO.
Much love.

typos are sometimes so funny

[quote] it made my arms stand on end[/quote]
Now that really is creepy!!!

All you have to do now is wave them in time to the music...

Thoroughly Enjoyable!

I'm really enjoying this richly-textured story. Wonderful rock and tech references, and a nicely complex plot with lots of stuff going on and excellent characterizations. Great writing all around. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

So glad to see you back here

with this wonderful story! Your writing is so engaging and fun. And your graphics are really, really nice. I really like the photo nod to Dannie at the top of this story. Yes, it's quite sexy. ;)

SuZie

SuZie

Wonderful

Great chapter. I have a feeling some interesting dilemas face our Danni.
Hilltopper

Gina_Summer2009__2__1_.jpgHilltopper

Great to See...

...the story continue, and with a long episode with a lot of developments. Looking forward to more, when you get to it.

Curious: I made the same leap with Robin and Nighthawk, though I was farther off base -- I was thinking of the original Kandorian Batman-and-Robin team, Nightwing and Flamebird (Superman and Jimmy Olsen). But the Robin, so to speak, there was Flamebird, not Nighthawk/Nightwing.

Eric

About Robin etc.

bobbie-c's picture

Back in the day, when I was maybe nine or ten, there was a TV Show called Midnight Caller, about a midnight radio talk-show host, the Nighthawk, who was an ex-cop who tried to help his callers with their problems during the day. I caught a few epoisodes of the show on channel 4 (couldn't escape watching it because my sister loved the show and we couldn't watch anything else when it was on), but it was canceled right when I was starting to like it. It did run on syndication, years later, and that's where I got to watch it and love it.

Danny's radio persona name, "The Nighthawk," comes from the lead character's on-air name. Also, Mrs. Piper is loosely (verrry loosely, mind you) based on Devon Miles, the beautiful and rich radio station owner from that show.

Though I would like to say that the inspiration for using Robin as the name of Danny's announcer alter ego came from the comics, I'm afraid not - it was more simple. As Danny himself said, “I don’t know, really! … I mean, Nighthawk, Robin – both of them birds?...”

I honestly didn't think people would have connected the names Nighthawk and Robin in that way - Dick Grayson went on to be NightWING after all, not NightHAWK.

Also, I am indeed a comicbook fan... excuse me, I mean, ahem, Graphic Novel fan... but not that big a fan as the people that I used to hang around with still are. (yes, I do know about Ultra Pro Acid-Free sleeves, and I definitely have something to say about that Superman-Doomsday... fiasco, but maybe this is not the place) But I sorta left that part of me maybe five or so years ago as part of my... growing up, I guess you'd say. Those people are still friends, but I guess we drifted apart. People change, after all, though I guess I was the most changed among us heheh. But it's okay. No prob. It's all good, I guess.

Anyway, maybe one of these days, some of us can collaborate on a comic-derived story, though if I do that, I'd like to make it a little different than how that "genre" has been so far treated in BC. fictionmania, etc. without making it "comic-book-y," if you guys know what I mean.

Last of all, I would like to say Thanks to everyone - 1,800 hits in less than a day (yep, I checked heheh). It must be some kinda record... well, probably not, but it feels amazing that people like to read the cra.... ummm, stuff I wrote - I am not a real writer, and I cannot help but feel overjoyed and grateful that people are enjoying what I write. Thank you, thank you, thank you to infinity...

- Bobbie

If it makes you feel better,

If it makes you feel better, I read through it twice in the first 24 hours it was posted. I think I read it within 30 minutes of your putting it up.

BW


I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

yes, it does.

bobbie-c's picture

Yes, it does. Thank you. ;) As well as for all of your encouraging comments in the previous installments of the story. I read all of them, you see, as well as everyone's, including all the pms and emails, and take both the good and the bad to heart.

Writers are terribly affected by the opinions of their readers - their hearts soar and fall to the tides of the opinions of their readers. At this moment, my heart is soaring so high, you can't see it from the ground.

Amateur writers (and none can be more amateur than me) do not have the thick hides that professional writers have, I'm sure. I think the professionals have no choice but to develop this thick skin, otherwise they would die from the sharp barbs that intractable readers are able to wield. But by the same token, they are less able to feel the wonderful feeling that those like you so easily bestow.

I do not have such protection from those barbs, but by the same token... well, all I can say is thank you.

With gratitude,

- Bobbie

yer welcome, yer ladyship! :)

yer welcome, yer ladyship! :)


I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

Cockney to the max

bobbie-c's picture

Lor' luv a duck! Hey! Are you makin' fun ov me? Strewth! Geeezzaa! What is all dis charlie chalk abaaaht ladyships? All I wan'ed ter do was ter vank you, innit.

Blimey! Rattle an' Hum 'ere, you! C'mere! so I gok wan Heavenly bliss you.

Mwah!

Nuff said, yeah?

- Bobbie

Danny 6

typo "guts" should be "guys" ??
Otherwise, I look forward to the next "portion of life" in the Danny Fairchild universe.

You are absolutely right!.... darn....

bobbie-c's picture

Yes, you are absolutely right - that was indeed a typo. As you see, I have the guts **ahem** to face my mistakes head-on. Typo has since been corrected. :)

- Bobbie

p.s.

In future, though, I am sure posters (me included, of course heheh) would appreciate typo and grammar corrections to be a more... private thing... rather than a publicly viewable comment? Comments about the quality of the content of the work (both positive and negative) and other things the commenter would like to share with everyone, would, I am sure, be truly helpful to the poster AND quite interesting to the readers. But I am sure sharing grammatical mistakes with everyone can be mean-spirited, if that's the only thing to share, and isn't really appropriate to share... and can probably be best kept less... public, and spare the poster some embarrassment (me included). As a fellow writer, I am sure you can appreciate my sentiments.

I know you were half-joking and wasn't being mean-spirited, so I thought it would be safe to make this comment, as I am sure you will take it in a positive light. If you were more serious in your comment, I'd probably just pm you about it, if at all. I just thought I'd like to share this opinion of mine with everyone.

I am getting off the soapbox, now... ;)

ditto

Another Reason To Post These Privately

Typos and minor grammar errors are easy and quick to fix. If the reader is going to use the story comments to post those publicly, the public will be left scratching their heads after they're fixed. "Huh? What the heck was she talking about? I don't see that in the story. Poor, confused girl!"

typo

i look at typo's this way that you read it and who care's about typo's i still know wot was going on and i think adds to the fun of the story and no one can have a 100% right all the time.

thank you bobbie for a very good story

thank you
harry
from the land down under
Queensland Australia

Chatroom?

Could someone post details or private messge me details on the chatroom.

Thanks,
nobody.

Danny...

Just wanted to add my 2 cents worth to everyone else. lol I'm quite enjoying your tale and though I found it at part 6 I read it through in one sitting. I will be looking forward to seeing your next installment!!

Blossom

loveing it

i just love this story keep it coming i wish some can make a move on this as i think it may be a big hit.

what is danny going get up to next i can not stand it haveing to wate to find out watts next and good luck

Re: Danny

Bobbie;
Love this story. Looking forward to the next one. So keep them coming.
Robert

001.JPG

Ohhhh Dannnnyyyy Boooooyyy

Yes I'm Irish. LOL

This is a really great story. I enjoy how you've "fleshed out" each of the characters. I'm looking forward to finding out how long Danny can keep his identity a secret from his adoring fans, and how the group handles it when it finally becomes known.

Mark

Danny

I really enjoy this story and am looking forward to more. Have you gotten any work on any new chapters yet :)

Zach

Its really nice story. Thank You for the great job and I hope that you will sometime have some time again to add some new chapter. Thank Zach

Danny

Bobbie I hope you are able to get back to this one soon. Hard to wait for more of this fun kid.

Well written

Looking forward to you resuming the story!

Part 7 coming reeeal soon.

bobbie-c's picture

Hey, JamesD.

Couldn't sleep *again* 'coz of my ever-present insomnia... so I peeked in the site to while away the time, and I saw your comment.

Anyway, do not worry, I am gonna be finishing up part 7 preeeetty soon.  Apologies for that, but then again, i have never hidden the fact that I'm a real slow writer. =))

Anyway, to tide you over in the meantime, please feel free to check out the following (there's a sort-of preview of part 7 in there btw).

http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/fiction/29402/playing-part-cou...

Hope you like it.

 Â 

 
To see Bobbie's blogposts, click this link:  http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/blog/bobbie-c 
To see Bobbie's stories in BCTS, click this link:  http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/book/14775/roberta-j-cabot 
To see Bobbie's Family Girl Blogs, click this link: http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/book/28818/family-girl-blogs
To see Bobbie's old Working Girl Blogs, click this link:  http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/book/19261/working-girl-blogs 

Okay, I'll admit *I* am a reaaaaaly slow writer at times so am .

not one with any right to whine or beg but ...

please pretty please with icecream on top could you post more of Danny?

Though I'll take another chapter of Sheppard Moon.

I'll be ever so greatful...

John grovel's while making adorable baby animal eyes that can melt the hardest heart.

-- sniffle --

John in Wauwatosa

John in Wauwatosa

Danny

Hi there

was reading onme of your other stories and came across this gem of a story, i am a slowish reader and its taken me nearly a couple of days.

Well done on your stories and keep wriing and let us know when pt 7 is ready, i am eager to read it

Samantha

Danny & the Nighthalk

Renee_Heart2's picture

Firt of all the pic dosn't do her justice she is WAY to old to be Dany :) now with that out of the way I don't think that Mrs. Piper is gong to get Danielle to let her to diclose who the "Nighthalk Really isshe loves her brother WAY too much for that no amount of money would do it eather as it could go to people descovering who Danni in the band really is & THAT wouldn't go well for Mrs. Piper pipercorp or anyone involved in giving that info out espicaly if they sighned the NDA!!!

I think for Danny's sake he/she might as well become Danni for good then she wouldn't have to hide whats between her legs & the pain accociated with it when he has to go out in girl mode. It will be easear on her.

The interviews well glad that kind of went well. Things could have went a LOT worse. The tepm brunet hair die helped.

I'm glad that Tracy has friends now & Even though she is TG she has some true friends.

I look to find out what June's problem is I have a feeling that its the popularity of Danni & thinking that she is the lead singer & guitarest whe its really June. THen again it could be just her time of month.

THis is a great story look foward to more.

Love Samantha Renee Heart

What a ride!!

Aljan Darkmoon's picture

Hi!

Found your story a few days ago (someone mentioned it in a 'favorite reads' thread), and I've been catching up on it ever since. Goodness! It all leaves me feeling soooo...... commercial!! It's like I've been to all these great malls, restaurants, concerts and everything, these past few days, instead of glued to my computer—and I haven't had to pull out my credit card even once! :)

Thanks for the ride! It's been really fun, so far. Thanks also for all the nifty brand names and product info, so that I could follow along and picture just exactly what Dannie and posse are driving, wearing, talking on, typing on, geeking on, making music on, listening to, singing, and playing! My closet is starting to look sooo yesterday, I really must get out more!

So, keep writing! :) And stay real, 'kay? Love you, bye-bye! :D

Fashion Fever Boutique

Interviews x2

Renee_Heart2's picture

I love this story I thought I commented on this story when I read it shortly after you posted it. Danny has his/her hands full. I hope things workout soon for him/her & that SHE decides to stay a SHE as it is easier that way. Now an interview with the band & now as the Nighthawk I wish her luck with all of this.

Love Samantha Renee Heart

The web grows ever more tangled

Podracer's picture

And enjoyable too :o) Thanks! I look forward to more threads being added.

Did everyone notice that Harry was "going to be subbing for him"?

"Reach for the sun."

Great story

Very enjoyable. I hope to see a part 7 sometime as it would be a shame to leave it unfinished.

Thank you
Joanna

Great story

zulu mack's picture

Please can I have some more Danny riveting

Total agreement

I have to agree with other comments, this story really needs to be continued. Of all the unfinished stories I have read on this and other sites this more than any other deserves to be finished in my opinion.
As for Bobbie claiming to be an amateur writer, well that must just be a speed thing because there's nothing amateur about the quality of writing or storytelling. Please write more for us all to enjoy.

5 years & no update

it's been 5 year and no new parts being posted i have read this story over 100 times it never gets old but we need some new parts to reed

Bobbie popped up

Podracer's picture

to say hi just recently, which turned me back once again to read "Danny". I enjoyed it just as much as I did before, and still wonder how he and the posse make it through the fun and complications of their music, media and teen life.

"Reach for the sun."

Oh Gee,

Hypatia Littlewings's picture

Ran out of Danny/Dannie!

Just found this.
Nice story!!
*looks around for more*
>i< ..:::

Bobbie, this is even better

Bobbie, this is even better than your "Topshelf for Dumdums". Seriously, I can't wait for the next installment.
Hugs,
Karen

Seven years after posting I

Seven years after posting I usually don't comment, but there are exceptions. This story is the exception. Wow, tremendous imagination Bobbie. Your post chapter comments are as good as the story ! I'm soooo hooked girl. I like this story so much, I'm commenting twice.

Karen

can't help but wonder...

bobbie-c's picture

I've been saying this for the longest time, I know, but I'm gonna be continuing this story. I won't give a schedule anymore given I've not been able to keep to any schedule, but I will continue Danny's story. You can bet on that.

One spoiler, though - Danny's and Drew's worlds are gonna come together. Where, when and how? Well, that's for me to know and you to find out. lol

Question: what did you mean about my post-chapter comments?

Thanks, and seeya!

 
bobbysig-pink.png

To read my old Working Girl Blogs, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/book/19261/working-girl-blogs
To read all of my blogs, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/blog/bobbie-c
To read my stories in BCTS, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/book/14775/roberta-j-cabot
To see my profile and know more about me, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/user/bobbie-c
           

More Danny

Podracer's picture

Would be just brilliant when you get the urge to create it <3
Like Karen, I also like the personal touch you bring to the page along with the story, tidbits, announcements and replies to comments. It's like attending a book signing but staying for a genuine chat.

"Reach for the sun."

:-)

bobbie-c's picture

Thank you kindly, Podracer. :-)

 
bobbysig-pink.png

To read my old Working Girl Blogs, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/book/19261/working-girl-blogs
To read all of my blogs, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/blog/bobbie-c
To read my stories in BCTS, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/book/14775/roberta-j-cabot
To see my profile and know more about me, click this link -
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/user/bobbie-c
           

I''m happy that this is in

crash's picture

I''m happy that this is in the stacks here. I do some random mining from time to time and occasionally find real gems like this one. Thanks for doing this one. I'll read the rest of your stuff next. One tiny thing. Hardly worth mentioning. Would you be willing to throw in "crossdressing" as one of the keywords or themes?

You're awesome and I love this work.

Your friend
Crash

Too much publicity? Maybe?

Jamie Lee's picture

The band has gather a real good following, and not so good from a few, in a real short period of time. And as with these types of bands, people want to know more about each individual member.

But sometimes, as has happened in the past, someone goes to far and the result is deadly for a member of that band.

Many have expressed a particular interest in Danny(ie) and some may be very unhealthy--think about the girl who made her way to the dressing room

Now that Dannie's face has been shown on TV, and his last name was mentioned, he may have trouble at his school, even though they plan on saying it was actually Dannielle.

They haven't thought this out fully, because they have no plan in place if someone asks Danielle to sign something or take part in some school function. And if they try the substituting Danny for Danielle, someone is likely to spot the switch and it will hit the fan.

These folks have thought short term in trying to keep Danny's identity secret, but as June said, his identity will eventually become known. And when that happens there better be a bodyguard around when it's learned that he has breasts. And no story about his condition is going to cool the jets of those set out to get him.

Also, Danielle finally has what she's always wanted, a twin sister. For all intense and purposes Danny is dead and Dannie is alive--except in Danny's mind.

Others have feelings too.

Well personally I think you ae a witch...

as in a Wiccan type not the insult type. You keep coming up with enchanting chapters and keep my lardy old fat arse up until 1am or later even when I have to be up early the next morning for a doctors appointment. ~SIGH~ Maybe one day you will throw me a break and write something that is merely good. Well one can only hope. Great chapter. ^_^ T.

I am a Proud mostly Native American woman. I am bi-polar. I am married, and mother to three boys. I hope we can be friends.