UN VA CA SHUN
“Mommm.” Brenda’s whine in the kitchen was plain enough. Sitting at the kitchen table I was thinking of the same thing. Mom had announced to my sister and me the family wouldn’t be going to Bennet Springs this year. The place was a favorite for sis and me since our family reunions had been held there for the past three years. We got to meet with all our cousins. Sis and the girls would form up as a girl group and the boys had their own boy cousin pack. My uncles and aunts were nothing more than big kids themselves as all their problems and responsibilities were left behind for a few days.
“Where are we going this year?” I figured it would be some place to look at the trees, the desert, or the mountains. As long as my cousins were there, I’d manage to survive my parent’s idea of a fun family trip.
“Brenda, Sierra, set the table. dinner is almost ready.” Mom answered as she stirred the gravy.
Sis was reaching for the plates in the cabinet; I was headed for the silverware drawer.
“We aren’t going anywhere.” She finished with the gravy.
Sis and I both halted in mid reach. “What…,What.” We both echoed.
“Your father and I decided all the effort we put in planning for a vacation, packing, the traveling, the expense, and cleaning up the house, the yard after we return isn’t worth it. This year we are going to relax at home. Take in a few movies, go to some ball games, picnic in the park, have a barbecue in the back yard. Just relax at home for the summer.”
“Ball games? Mom, are you serious? The ballgames in this town are little league and high school.” What I tactfully didn’t say was going to the movies with my parents was the same as getting a tattoo on my forehead saying I was a dweeb.
Sis, being the smarter one didn’t say anything. She was already plotting a summer of meeting with her three girlfriends practicing as a band, malls, and boys.
Me, not having two working brain cells when I got depressed, pushed the hot button issue with my next comment. “If we aren’t going anywhere, I want a Jericho Ranger Station.”
Mom had finished ladling the gravy into a bowl to sit on the table. Slowly she placed the skillet back on the stove. My two working brain cells told me I had stepped over the line and to run. When mom got really really mad she slowed down. My feet didn’t co-operate with the run command from my tiny little brain.
Slowly mom turned around, her laser eyes burning holes into my eyes and into my brain. “Sierra, you will not waste your life and spend your summer sitting in front of a video screen playing games.”
“But there isn’t anything else to do in this crappy town.” Nail number two I drove into my own summer of coming hell.
“Brenda, isn’t complaining.”
“Of course she isn’t complaining. She’s a girl. Girls have things they can do boys don’t.” Nail number three I put in the lid of my impending doom.
“Then I suggest you get with your sister and do some of the things she does. I believe you will find it isn’t all mindless female fluff.”
“Pal around with my sister and her dorky friends? You gotta be kidding! Girls are dumber than dirt. Has Brenda told you about the band several of them are forming up? I heard better sounds from fingernails on the chalkboard.” Nail number four just went home in the corner of my casket for the summer.
I honestly believed my mother strangled baby kittens for fun before she married dad. She gave me this predator look as she smiled sweetly. The look and the smile together would scare Halloween goblins if they had seen it. “Brenda, your father is in the den, ask him to come to the table. Dinner is ready.”
My problem was I was a male. Males have NEVER understood how devious, cunning, smart, sly, and underhanded the female mind works. From the beginning in time, females have always let men think males are the superior and more intelligent gender. It proves just how stupid we can be. Men will never be able to out think the female of our species.
Supper was a quiet peaceful meal of pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and corn. Mom was the last to sit down and get food on her plate. Mom was always last to sit down and get food.
She was spooning gravy over her potatoes. “Mark, I think the flower beds in front could use a little more mulch. I’m getting some weeds coming up now and then.”
Dad nodded in agreement after he chewed up and swallowed the bite of pork chop he had put in his mouth. “Sounds right, I’ll pick up some at the garden center tomorrow. You want to go and see what kind of plants they have?”
“I’d love to. Might pick up some paint, brushes, rollers and masking tape at the same time. The trim around the house is needing a fresh coat.”
“Yep, it’s starting to fade a little. What do you think if we go to a lighter brown this time? That dark brown fades pretty fast. Probably should start checking prices on washing machines too. I’m sure washing machines aren’t supposed to growl. I heard ours growling last week when you put that heavy load of jeans in it.”
They even talked about checking the guttering, the roof, and maybe changing out the dryer. Then their discussion moved to replacing the living room couch with the money they would save by not going on a summer vacation. All boring and not once did they mention a new gaming set or getting rid of our old fifty five inch TV and getting a bigger one. There was no doubt dad expected me to help out with some of the gardening, painting, and mowing. That was besides mom always asking me to take my clothes to my room after she washed and folded them. I had to make my bed, and take out the trash. Sis did those things too but she was a girl. Girls are supposed to do them things. It’s their job. My whole summer looked like crap as far as I was concerned.
Everyday the next three days only drove home how good girls have it compared to boys. Brenda was gone before breakfast. No doubt to go to the mall and boy shop. Dad and I painted the trim in the front of the house. I helped carry bags of mulch to the flowerbeds. Then I helped him and mom spread it out just so. I didn’t even get a chance to play video games when they went to the store. I had to mow the yard. And sis, was probably with her friends at the mall.
It was the fourth day, I had walked into the house after helping dad finish painting the trim on the backside. Mom and sis were discussing something in my parent’s bedroom.
“Mom, all of us are from the high school band. We blend which is saying a lot if you have ever heard any garage bands.”
“You’re good I’ll give you that. Your problem is you have a hole in pushing out the notes. He can fill that hole. Mr. Christi used him to do exactly that in the high school band. You have an excellent ear for music and a beautiful voice. You know what I’m saying is true.”
“Mom…, he’s stubborn and lazy. He does what he has to in order to get by. We filled up our time slots for the whole summer after you said our vacation was canceled. I won’t have him come in when he wants. I hope to get some scouts to look us over. I don’t expect to ever be a big name or top money. All any of us want is to have fun with this as long as we can. The girls will marry, have families, kids, grow old and maybe when we are all in the retirement home we can entertain there until they kick us out.”
The next morning Brenda had already left the house when I approached mom to borrow the car.
She gave me that look and I knew I was in for a grilling. Mom strangled baby kittens for fun before she married dad. I just knew it. “Sierra?”
Every question she wanted answered was in that one word. “I figured I’d drive over to Patty’s place and listen to the girls. I heard you and sis talking yesterday. I’ll stay out of sight and listen to what they manage to do with their instruments. Sis isn’t the only one with a decent voice, Patty, and Lorrie can also sing.”
“I know you. You aren’t doing this out of the kindness of your heart. What’s in it for you.”
“Jeeze mom, I offer to do something for sis without asking for something in return and you gig me. Am I really that bad of a son? I heard you and sis talking about me yesterday. I lay awake half the night wondering if I really was that person? The truth is, I am but I’m going to try and change.”
Mom nodded. She wasn’t agreeing but willing to accept I was going to try. “If you don’t mind, I’ll drive.”
“To make sure I’m not there to run them down and tell them their efforts stink?”
“Yes.” Mom always was direct.
“I deserved that. Okay, let’s go. They will have their instruments tuned up and the music picked out they want to practice on today.”
Mom parked a block away in case the girls had the garage door up. We could hear them as soon as we got out of the car. I motioned for mom to wait as I listened. Brenda was the lone vocalist. She was behind the beat. Speaking of beat, they were using a synthesizer to fill in the drum section. Lorrie was their drummer, where was she? Patty was their bass guitar and she was off a quarter beat. Mitcha was their violinist; she was the only one in sync with the beat.
Looking at mom, I shook my head. “I said I wouldn’t bad mouth them, but mom…, they are terrible. I wouldn’t hire them to play in a dog kennel with the dogs accompanying them. Each of them are doing their own thing.”
Mom thought about it for a few seconds. “They are bad. If we go down there can you give them constructive criticism instead of just telling them they are off key?”
“Yes, I promise I’m going to be a better son, a better brother than what I have been.”
“Okay, get in the car and I’ll drive down.”
“I’ll walk. I want to listen to what they are doing and how the acrostics change as I get closer.”
The girls started another song and the tempo was wrong. They didn’t reset the drum beat and it was too slow for this song. They were better than this. What had happened to them?
They noticed when mom drove up in front. They faltered and then tried to catch back up. They were bad before and turned into terrible now. Was this how they were going to perform in front of an audience? They were high school band members for god’s sake. They performed in front of huge crowds. Something was terribly wrong.
When they saw me the notes kinda drained away. The only thing still going was that stupid synthesizer. I walked into the garage and switched it off. Looking back at the girls they were all focused on me.
“What’s it to you?” Mitcha almost snarled it out. “You’re not wanted here. Go back to your video games.”
Mom had walked into the garage. “We stopped by to listen to some music. Girls, Sierra and I have been parked down the block listening. Your timing is off. What is the problem?”
“Lorrie’s parents moved to Seattle. Lorrie is gone.” Mitcha wiped at a tear.
I knew Lorrie and Mitcha were an item. I didn’t realize how close of an item they were. I pointed to Lorrie’s drum set back in the corner. “She didn’t take her set?”
“It was a sudden offer in her dad’s company. They lost one of their executives in an accident, her dad was given the position at four times the money he was making. They would make sure their home here was sold for a fair price, offered him a better home there at way below market price, and would move them. She didn’t have time to come after her drums. She would send for the set when they got settled in.” Mitcha wiped at some more tears.
Walking over to the drum set I started moving them out to the middle of the garage.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing! Stay away from Lorrie’s drums!:” Mitcha was glaring at me.
I didn’t stop as I was arranging the set. “Mitcha, I’m not Lorrie but I can play the drums. If you’ll let me, I’ll try and give you girls a beat you can lean into and get on tempo. I know you don’t like me. You don’t need to in order to understand what I heard down the street was not what your girls are capable of. Put your hate aside for a little and focus on nothing but your songs and your music. There are ten thousand screaming fans out there waiting for you girls to step up to the center stage and give them some of the best live music they ever heard.”
The drums were set up, I rolled through a drum beat to make sure they were still solid. Most people never realize a drum can get out of tune the same as any other instrument. It was a go. I fired up the bass, the snares, the cymbals with a solid up and then down rolling drum beat rocking the whole neighborhood for four minutes and then settled into a steady beat with the right tempo for the last song the girls tried to play. I kept it up for over two minutes before they decided that was their intro. They came online, on time, in perfect sync with the beat. The girls weren’t only good, they were damn good. They would never be top billing. They would be the best the majority of the population in this town ever heard from a live band.
Mom stood off to the side listening for a little while. She nodded in agreement, gave me a smile, and indicated she was leaving. I nodded back as I held onto the beat. Don’t let distractions tear the song apart. It was what live bands had to contend with and overcome to be good. I knew the girls were good. Lorrie leaving had tossed them a curve ball.
The girls needed more backup to their band. Four members was thin. Lorrie left them with only three which was basically no longer a band but a trio or group. I had some girls in mind who could fill that void. Now if Sis and the others agreed, they would have their all girl band that could rock our part of the world. And…, provided the girls I’m thinking of join in.
Sis and the others stayed after it all morning and well after lunch without taking a break. They knew they were rocking the beat. Most of those songs I joined in harmonizing with Mitcha., Patty, or Sis as each took her turn as lead singer. I didn’t have a mike and their backs were to me. With our instruments adding to the music I knew I wouldn’t be heard.
Three times the police drove by. The officer would motion for us to turn down the volume and then give us a thumbs up as he smiled and drove away. I wondered if he was sitting down at the end of the block listening?
A little after two the girls called it quits. They were hot, thirsty, and their fingers were getting sore. I yelled at sis before she put her guitar away. “WIPE OUT!”
Brenda looked at the others, back at me and nodded okay.
For the past couple hours neighbors had been opening up their garage doors sitting up their lawn chairs in their garage and listening to the girls. Now they were coming to stand in front of the garage as Brenda and I finished up with Wipe Out.
“One last one, okay? We will rock you.” I motioned to all the people out in front of the garage. “We need your help with this one. Please join in as this is our last song for today.”
Starting in with the beat, The girls and the majority of the people all joined in. Everyone had big smiles on their faces. Brenda did all of us proud on the guitar.
Standing up, I bowed to all the people out front. “Ladies and gentlemen thank you for coming and helping out with our last song. We couldn’t have done it without you. You’ve been a great audience and again thank you for your help.”
The crowd started leaving, Mitcha and the girls were looking at each other and smiling ear to ear knowing they had nailed it today. As the crowd thinned out there was the policeman writing something in a book. I figured we were fined for noise.
He came in and handed me the ticket. “I don’t remember ever having a better more fun day. You kids are great. Thanks for the entertainment.”
“Uh…, yeah, okay.” I glanced at the ticket.
His eyes were dancing as he smiled, turned, and left.
Looking down at the ticket there weren’t any fines listed. He had written on it. Next time pull a block party permit if you’re going to entertain the neighborhood.
Patty’s mom, Rachel came into the garage with a pitcher of ice tea and plastic cups. “I figured everyone could use a drink.”
“Yes:” “I could” “I’m so hot” “Thank you Mrs. Webb.”
“Sierra, did I call you Mr. Loyd? We aren’t formal around here. Leave off the titles or it’s Rachel.”
“Sierra, what did I just say?”
Rachel laughed as she shook her head. “Okay, you’ll grow into it if you hang around with the girls long enough.”
“Okay, that’s enough. Girls are you through for the day? You need to put all your instruments back off to the side so Nick can get his car in when he gets home.”
“We will, and thanks for the ice tea.” Brenda was pouring herself a second cup.
“You girls sounded good today. I think all the neighbors noticed. Do you think you can move the entertainment around a little since you seem to have found yourselves?”
Patty giggled. “Mom means she’s a little over entertained for awhile. Mitcha, how about your parents house?”
Mitcha shook her head. “We have some really crabby neighbors. They complain every time dad gets out the mower, the edger, or they think he left his car idle in the driveway too long. They call the police and complain every day or two. There is nothing they or we can do about them.”
Everyone turned to look at Brenda. “Okay, I guess turn about is fair. We been driving Rachel crazy for weeks, I guess it’s mom’s turn.”
Rachel reached out and gave Brenda a hug. “Hon, you girls haven’t been that bad and today you really rocked the block. I wouldn’t mind keeping you but I’m guessing we might end up with some crabby neighbors too if we don’t give them a break.”
“We’ll pick up the instruments later if that is alright with you, Rachel?” Looking at the other girls, Brenda got nods of agreement.
“What about Lorrie’s drum set? Will you be able to find a place for it until she comes back or have it shipped?”
Brenda glanced at the drum set. “Ummm, Mitcha, call Lorrie and see if she wants it put in storage or we can use it if we get a drummer. Maybe our new drummer will want to buy it if we find one that is.”
Rachel looked at me and then each of the girls. “I thought you had a drummer? That wasn’t a machine playing the drums.”
The girls hesitated.
“They are an all girl band Mrs Webb. I only stopped by to talk to Brenda for a minute and kinda got carried away thinking I could play the drums since they weren’t being used.”
She looked doubtful. “I see or I don’t see. There is a hard and fast rule this has to be an all girl band? All your events are going to be held in a Nun’s convent? You’re playing in a girl’s dormitory? You’re in competition with all girl bands from across the country for that elusive million dollar prize?”
She shook her head. “No…, I don’t see. Brenda, you girls have never sang and played better. Trust me on this since I started out with you girls in our garage since day one. Your brother brought all three of you together in a cohesive group for the first time since you started. Lorrie is better than good. Your brother beat her hands down twice over. You never congealed with Lorrie. With Sierra you never got off the tempo, never missed a note. As little attention as everyone pays to the drummer sitting at the back, they are the heart beat of every song as they are the key to the rhythm the song must be played.”
Patty looked kind of embarrassed. “Mom played in a professional band while she was in college and for a short time there after. She played the guitar, bass fiddle, fiddle, and the drums, and was their lead vocalist. Daddy said she was their Girl Friday filling in all the spots when one of the others was sick or too drunk to play.”
“Thank you Patty. I believe Nick and Patty embellish the story every time they tell it but yes I was in a professional band. Of all the instruments I played, I felt the drummer was the one key player in every band. Girls, give it serious consideration.”
Rachel watched as they all piled into Brenda’s van and pulled out of the driveway. She gathered up empty and not empty cups hoping they would return and pick up the instruments still in the middle of the garage before Nick got home. For the first time in a long time she felt like she wanted back up on stage. Listening to Sierra play the drums today had put an itch in her emotions that needed scratching and relief. She looked over at the drum set wondering? Could she? Should she? She lowered the garaged door. The neighbors heard someone trying to playing on the drums. They weren’t bad but they weren’t that good either. Couldn’t be the boy who was playing earlier. Had to be someone else. They needed practice.
On the road Sis looked at me in the rear view mirror. “We’re going for burgers and fries. You can come with us or I’ll drop you off at home.”
“What about the instruments? Rachel wanted them out of the garage.”
“We’ll go pick everything up after we stop for lunch.”
“I’ll stick with you. Lorrie’s drum set is high end and needs to be broken down a certain way so it doesn’t get damaged. I helped Mr. Christi do that so I know how it’s done. Also it won’t all fit in your van. You’ll need to make two trips.”
“Swing by my house after we grab a bite to eat. I can bring mom’s van over.” Mitcha was looking at Sis to see if she agreed.
“That will work.” Sis gave Mitcha a quick glance.
An hour later as we were loading the instruments, Mitcha called Lorrie and they talked for the forty minutes it took the rest of us to get the instruments loaded in the vans. She was looking at the drum set in the back of her mother’s van. “Lorrie said to sell it if we can. Her dad’s company offered to buy her a new set since hers didn’t get shipped with the rest of the household goods.”
I doubted Lorrie would get another set. She never was that enthusiastic about the drums after she talked her parents into buying them. I bet she conveniently forgot to tell anyone where her set was when the moving company came in to pack everything up.
Back at our house, I helped set up the amps and get a mike check. The girls were using high end personal wireless mikes. Lorrie’s drum set was unpacked from the back of Mitcha’s van and put in the corner of the garage. I started to unload Mitcha’s amp and guitar.
“No, leave it. I have a few things I want to do before I set up again.” She was closing up the back door as I moved back.
“Okay.” I hadn’t heard anything wrong when we were at Patty’s house. Maybe she wanted to restring it and get new strings broke in before they played their first gig coming up in four days on Saturday at the Library. It seemed strange to have the girls rock a library which is supposed to be quiet for reading but seems as if the fate of life has a sense of humor. Those who manage the library figured the girl band would draw attention to an institution many people no longer think of in our digital age.
I hoped it worked out for both the girls and the library. Mom had kept me informed what Sis was doing even though at the time it totally pissed me off she was having fun playing while I was working with dad on the house. The girls had signed on with the Library Committee to do a freebie for the exposure and their first public performance.
Wednesday morning I rolled out of bed. When I opened my door I heard crying coming from the kitchen. Heading that direction, I stopped as I entered the kitchen. Sis had her head down on her arms, on the kitchen table, bawling her heart out. Mom was standing beside her with her hand on her back.
I gave mom a ‘what gives’ look.
“Your sister called Mitcha this morning to see if they could start practice around nine. It seems after talking to Lorrie yesterday Mitcha was invited to visit Lorrie for the summer. She had already accepted the invite yesterday and didn’t tell anyone before the girls picked up their instruments. Patty and your sister are the only two left in the band. It fell apart before it ever got started.”
“SIERRA, YOUR LANGUAGE!” Mom was glaring at me.
“Well, it’s true.” I may have been jealous of sis getting out of helping fix up the house but she didn’t deserve this. I knew she had her heart set on making this dream come true even if only for a short time. She had talked about having a girl band since she was seven years old. She had a taste of it and her dream had been yanked away.
“Don’t let her go out in the garage. She probably feels like destroying every instrument out there. I know some girls, I’ll make some calls.”
It was over two hours later I was searching through the house for mom and sis. I found them out on the back porch sitting in the glider. Sis had her head in momma’s lap and mom was stroking her hair.
“Sis, I asked four girls to see if they want to help out in your band. Beth Ann is bass fiddle, mandolin, trombone, trumpet and several other instruments. Linda Don is steel guitar, dubro, flute, harpsichord, Hurdy Gurdy, and the banjo. Roshel Adams is electric guitar. Ashley Williams is keyboard. They all drive and promised to be here in an hour or so with their instruments.”
Mom was staring at me. Sis had sit up and was doing the same thing. She finally found her voice. “How…?”
“I helped Mr. Christi with a lot of the members of the band. Most of the kids are multi talented where they can play more than the instrument they are using in the band. These girls are better than good and they can blend into a cohesive group in a day or two. Linda Don and Ashley have beautiful voices and can sing lead on many songs that fit their style. All of them harmonize with other singers.”
“You wanted a girl band but your problem is you picked your friends instead of those with the best talent. Your friends aren’t much friends if they skip out on you when you need them. Lorrie had a choice just as Mitcha did. She could have stayed with Mitcha instead of moving for the summer. They both bailed as far as I'm concerned.”
I held out my hand to sis. “Come on, we need to get set up and get the drums in place. None of the girls have a drum set. We need to do some tests before they get here.”
As sis took my hand and stood up, I looked at mom. “Lunch, pizza will work, lots of liquids as I’m going to give all of them a real workout on vocals. They have only…,”
Mom was grinning ear to ear as she shook her head. “Where did the aliens stash my son and who are you?”
“They have three days to blend together as a band. Their performance on Saturday might is a freebie but they are going to play like it was Carnegie Hall if I have anything to do with it. Sis and Patty are good, so are the girls coming. They still need time to find their places.”
Leading sis toward the garage I remembered what a policeman had told me. I was wearing the same jeans from yesterday and found the note in my back pocket. I handed it to mom. “Make a call, get a permit for the next three days. We are going to make some music and rock the neighborhood. Better pay up front for a permit than later for a fine. Call the library and get their committee to call in for the permit for you. Public service, free entertainment and all that. I’m positive they will have enough pull with the mayor and the politics of this town to grease it through. See if they have a place for future practice after this week. I bet the neighbors will be entertained out after Friday and start complaining.”
Mom was shaking her head as she looked at me. Maybe she didn’t kill baby kittens for fun before she married dad?
An hour later I was still getting the drum set arraigned. Beth Ann, was the last one to arrive. Those who arrived earlier were busy visiting and setting up their own instruments. Roshel and Beth Ann were from the Charger High School band. I introduced all the girls to each other. Being band members they all had heard of one another even if they weren’t close friends.
I introduced myself to the girls. “I was Mr. Christi’s assistant and I know all of you. Because of my job, I studied each one of you on your strength and weakness even though two of you were not in our high school. I hope none of you take this the wrong way as it was part of my job to dig into your history to check your talent and skills. All of you are exceptionally gifted. This may sound like your band teacher but it’s still true even out here in public life. What you put into this is what you will receive back. My business with this band was to help my sister after several of her friends bailed out on her. It isn’t she wouldn’t have gladly accepted all you girls into the band when it first formed but the truth is, she was in band and not part of the leadership. She never gave any thought to seeking the best talent in the bands.”
Looking at Patty, I gave her a smile. “Patty, that is not a slight on your talents. You’re good and I believe a very important part of bringing this band together. I’m positive Mitcha and Lorrie are happy doing what ever it is they are doing and I wish them well.”
Rubbing my hands together I looked over the faces looking back. “Ladies, I listened to all of you tuning up. We are almost on key. Linda Don, you need to give a little more squeeze to the G string on your guitar. I called everyone I knew hunting a drummer. None of the girls I knew who can provide what this band must have are available. Until Brenda comes up with a drummer I’ll fill that void. Ladies, you have three days to blend into a million dollar band. Make it happen.”
Sitting down behind the drums, I nodded. “Too Good to be True in the style of Eden’s Edge. Linda Don, I expect those sliding notes to talk to me. Lead us into it…, now.”
We didn’t do the song any justice. It wasn’t terrible but it was bad. They all knew it. For our first song together and half the girls didn’t even know the song, it was okay. They did better than good. Sometimes, the effort counts more than the actual doing as everyone knew it would get better.
We played until six shutting down only long enough to eat and to keep everyone in liquids. All the girls were great on harmony and would only get better with practice. Roshel had a powerful voice. There were several songs I knew of she would make her own. Ashley had a high soprano. There was no doubt the girl could shatter crystal glass. There were several Celtic and Viking songs that would fit her like a glove. Brenda was going to have to expand her band concept from hard rock to encompass almost every genre of music for her dream of making a viable all girl band come true.
The only fly in the ointment at the time was we needed a girl drummer. Small details can make or break a band or dreams.
Thursday and Friday we started at ten and finished at six both days. Mom had that permit and those were the hours we were allowed. Which was more than enough. The girls were beat at the end of each day and their fingers were sore.
Friday evening instructions were given before they packed up their instruments. “Saturday morning you need to be set up and ready by ten A.M. I’ve been on the phone with the library people everyday. The committee promised a tent and stage will be set up out front. The street will be closed off. Food venders will be set up at each end of the block. Each of you get a free meal ticket good for thirty dollars cashable at any of the venders. Besides the appreciation from the audience it is the only pay you will receive. Mom and dad will bring four large ice chests with water and drinks. Everyone stay refreshed. Patty, Beth Ann your moms called me and said they were bringing food.”
Taking a deep breath I looked at the girls. “What I have to say next may not set well with any of you. I’m sorry to be bringing it up so late. The Library Committee was promised an all girl band. They have sent out flyers and advertised the heck out of this on TV, radio, newspapers, and the supermarket flyers. Yesterday I had to promise them an all girl band or they were calling in the backup band, The Panthers. After failing to produce, this band would never get another chance at any public event this city had to offer. Not only that but the negative publicity would crash it before it ever got started.”
Looking at sis I gave her a crooked smile. “We’ve always fought like brother and sister. I have zero desire to do what must be done except I do love you even if you are a stinky smelly girl. Yesterday I called Kendra and asked if she could change me into a girl for a day if we didn’t find a drummer for your group by this evening.”
Sis’s mouth dropped open as her eyes got as big as egg whites. The other girls weren’t doing a whole lot better. She started to say something.
I held up my hand. “Tomorrow, The Morning Glories, an all girl band, are going to perform for the Library and all citizens who wish to stop by and be entertained by the best live musical group they will ever hear or see. If any of you wish to pull out and not be a part of this, I understand. I hope if you leave no hard feelings. I know there will be as you will feel you have been deceived and put in all this effort for a lie.”
“I’m sorry.” I turned to go back into the house.
“Sierra, wait.” Sis walked up and took my hand. She turned to look at the other girls. My brother brought us all together and has been the drummer from the beginning. He understands music better than Mr. Christi who I think is the best music teacher ever. He has corrected our mistakes, encouraged us, made us better than what we could ever be without his help. Never once did he say we stank which we all know we did that first day.”
She glanced at me and then back at the girls. “Are we all in this together or do we quit now? This is the once in a lifetime opportunity for each and every one of us. It won’t ever happen again. In seventy years when you’re telling stories to the grandkids about what you did back when you were young, are you going to say, I was in a band…, for three days. Or are you going to say, I was in a band for the summer. Or possibly even longer if this works out for us.”
The five girls looked at one another and then surged forward. Brenda and I were swallowed in a group hug.”
Kendra was one of those confusing persons. I wasn’t sure she was a girl or a male. At a community play I had seen her in a dress, heels, jewelry, her long straight raven black hair glistening. She was the prettiest female there. The problem is, I had also seen him in a dress suit, tie, and I swear he had a thin mustache. If he still had all that hair it was tucked up under that fedora hat he wore. He was the best looking man in that committee arts meeting.
Kendra was active in a lot of different places. She helped prep the actors and actresses in the community plays. She worked with our college in the arts department. Where I first heard of her and met her, she was helping set up a movie shot of a parade. Our high school band was marching down the street as part of the parade. I helped Mr. Christi organize our band in the order the movie people wanted them. The movie people wanted the players matched as to height not instruments, and the girls on the side closest to the cameras as we marched by.
It was my only introduction as to how movies are faked to please the script and the director, not imitate real life. Our efforts never made the movie as we ended up on the cutting room floor. The agency was kind enough to send to the band department what they had shot of the band. There were four different views. One camera was street level. One was what I would call second story view looking down. The third one was overhead as we marched under the camera. The fourth one was an active car chase as it ended half a block away A shoot out began and the band was marching in the background oblivious to the event because of the music downing out the noise of the fire fight.
The movie went straight to DVD. I didn’t buy a disk but a lot of the other kids did. The ones who bought it said the only good acting never made it into the movie. Of course they meant the high school band. That was the time I learned Kendra did a lot of acting in the movies herself. She was what the movie people call an extra. She never made the credits but if one knew who and what to look for she was there in the background. Sometimes picking up fifteen to twenty minutes of screen time.
The couple of DVDs I had where she was in the movie I couldn’t believe it was the same person. In one she was the sexy seductress in the background. In the other he was one of the hit men for the mafia. Absolutely unbelievable it was the same person. The other unbelievable part was her voice matched whatever persona she was acting. I didn’t think the girl was human. I really didn’t know her and the only reason I called was for advice. If anyone could change me into a girl for the band, she would know who could do the magic.
The band wrapped up practice by six. I had the discussion with the girls after that. By Six fifteen I was in dad’s car headed over to meet Kendra and some of her friends in the community theater building. I was told to meet her at the back door. Three women were waiting outside alone as I pulled into the back lot. I kinda had an idea which one was Kendra but not wanting to stick my foot in my mouth I stopped a couple feet from them after I had walked up. “Kendra?”
The lady wearing sneakers, jeans, and a Woodstock tee shirt held out her hand. “That would be me.”
“I gripped her hand without pumping it. “Nice to meet you. You probably already figured out I’m Sierra since I’m the one who is supposed to meet you here.”
A smile touched her lips. “I was leaning in that direction. How well do you wish to present as a female?”
That stopped me. “I’m a male in an all girl band. As hard as I tried I didn’t find any girl drummers to fit in with what my sister had dreamed of since she was a little girl. I want her to have her dream. For tomorrow at least.”
“And then?” She waited.
“If the band gets as much exposure as I know they will, they have a tentative this coming Friday and Saturday for the grand opening of the new boat dealership. The band will net sixteen thousand for the two days. It’s grueling for them to play most of a whole day but close to what we are already doing in practice. The girls are not only good, they are dedicated and tough. I’m proud of them, every single one of them and not because it’s my sister’s band.”
“My question still stands. How long are you in for and how far are you willing to go to be a girl in an all girl band?”
“I’m in it for the long haul. I guess I’m the undeclared manager for now. I’ve been organizing the music and got the girls playing well together. If I could find a girl drummer who knew her stuff and was willing to join a beginner’s band I’d step back in a heartbeat. You see the problem don’t you? She has to be not only good but top of her class. Then she has to be willing to go to the bottom of the up and coming bands and do most of all of it for free or almost free. In other words, I’m looking for a miracle.
“Sierra, I want a black and white answer, not a generalization about what you aren’t finding. How far are you willing to go and how deep do you want to get into being a girl.”
“Kendra, I’ve never done this kind of thing before. I’ve never even wore any of my sister’s clothes. It’s hard to put into words. The girls got this far. I don’t want to disappoint them. I guess I want to look as much like a real girl as you can make me. It will probably have to be for the whole summer.”
She looked at the other two women and sighed. “I’m not going with I guess, I want, nor probably. You’re either sure and positive or I hand you a blouse and a skirt and tell you we’re done.”
“I’m positive but I’m afraid of looking like a boy trying to look like a girl.”
“Okay, I’ll accept that. Sierra, when we are finished with you, no one will ever think you are a boy trying to look like a girl. Come on inside. Time is of the essence. We need days and you gave us hours. The looks we can handle. The mannerisms, you and your girls will have to fill in yourselves. There is more to being a woman than just clothes and makeup. It is what she is inside that counts even more than the clothes. You’ve seen women wearing pants, shirt, work boots working like a man. Yet the instant you lay eyes on her there is no doubt in your mind that is a woman and not a man. Your girls will need to turn you into a woman on the inside. If they are as dedicated as you say, they will be your best critics and your best teachers.”
I made it home by six A.M. set the clock for eight and fell into bed. As strange as everything felt, I was out like a light. The little electric alarm was buzzing its little heart out. Brenda was pounding on my door. “Sierra, get out of bed, shut off the alarm, and get it together. We have to be set up by ten. Mom dropped some pop ups in the toaster. Come on, move it bro.”
Pushing up out of bed I hesitated. If this was what girls went through, I was going to shoot myself before the summer was over. Standing up I brushed down my skirt and headed to the bathroom. No one was in the hall as I made the trip and completed the necessities. Kendra told me not to wash my face or I’d need to do the makeup all over again. I sure wanted to splash cold water on my face to help get my eyes balls lubricated but I passed.
Brenda was on the left side of the kitchen, mom on the right, and daddy was sitting at the table when I walked in. Sis had seen me out of the corner of her eye and turned her head to get a good look. “Who are y…” She slapped her hand over her mouth as her eyes turned to two egg whites and stared.
Mom had turned to look, smiled at the new girl, stopped, blinked, blinked some more and her mouth fell open.
Dad looked up at Sis and mom, turned to look at what they were both staring at. Smiled and motioned to a chair as he was used to Brenda’s friends running in and out of the house. “I don’t think I’ve met you before. You one of the girls in the band? My daughter tells me four new ones have joined, Have you eaten yet? My wife is fixing pop ups for the kids. You’re welcome to join us. Pull up a chair.”
“Thank you, you’re very kind. I do believe I’ll have one of those pop ups if it is okay with your wife.” I moved up to the table by one of the chairs and had yet to sit down. The voice was one Kendra coached me into finding and I practiced most of the night I was there. Female voices rise and fall in pitch. Because I knew music scales it was easy to get an understanding what Kendra was teaching me. My voice never was a, me Tarzan you Jane masculine voice. To find my female voice I dropped an octave and went lyrical in my speech. Kendra told me some girls worked for years to find their voice while I found mine in less than an hour. Even better, I didn’t have to work at it as it came naturally.
Mom was about to go into hysterical giggling fits while sis still hadn’t closed her mouth or stopped staring.
Dad took a bite of his pop up and swallowed after chewing it up. “What instrument in the band do you play? You did say you were in my daughter’s band didn’t you?”
“No sir, I didn’t but yes I am in her band. I’m at the back of the group.” I pulled back the chair, cupped my skirt behind my legs with my hands and sit down.
“Back of the band? Don’t sell yourself short. From what Brenda tells me all you girls are really good. I’m only catching part of your entertainment by the time I come home in the evening. I think you’re being modest as it all sounded good to me.” He was steadily working on eating his pop up.
Mom set a plate with a pop up on it and a glass of milk in front of me. “Did you bring your makeup kit with you? You’ll need to repair your lipstick after eating.”
“Oh yes Ma’am, I was warned I wasn’t to ever go anywhere without my purse and makeup. It’s a woman’s curse to need to look good at all times when out in public. Is it not?”
That did it for mom. She whirled around, leaned over the kitchen sink and was shaking as she was laughing and trying to hold it in.
Mom losing it caused sis to lose it. She turned around, put her arm over mom’s shoulder and was haw hawing as she tried to reign it in.
Dad looked over at me. “I don’t know what got into both of them. They aren’t like this. I hope you don’t think badly of our family.”
THAT remark wiped mom and sis both out. They were both cackling no longer trying to hold it in.
Dad looked at them and back at me, not sure what to say now.
I was holding my own even if I was grinning ear to ear like a fool. “No Sir, I don’t think I could think badly of your family. If I did, I’d have to think badly of myself.” I choked down a snicker and coughed.
Mom finally got it under control. She turned around to study me still snickering off and on. “Dear, I know I should remember your name.”
“Yes Ma’am, I don’t believe I mentioned it before. I always liked the mystique of the name Nadia.”
Mom rolled in her lip and held onto it with her teeth to keep from laughing again. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “Yes dear, that’s a very nice name. And you are in my daughter’s band are you not?”
“Oh yes Ma’am. You wouldn’t believe what I went through to be in your daughter’s band.”
Mom eyed me critically. “Do you feel it is worth it?”
“For your daughter to achieve the dream she always had since she was a little girl? Most definitely, Ma’am. Everyone who has a dream should be able to touch the star where dreams come true, don’t you think?”
Mom got serious. “I do think. Nadia, What is your special dream?”
“I guess, your daughter’s dream and mine are almost the same. I want to write and teach music. I believe music fills an important part in all of us. I believe those who learn to play and live music are better happier people whether they live it, do it part time, or do it for a short time as they are growing up.” I looked at sis. She was wiping tears from her eyes.
I pushed back from the table, stood up still holding onto my pop tart. “We need to get going. It is going to take some time to set up the instruments. I have a full drum set to install and it will take the longest.”
Brenda grabbed a pop tart, walked over, took my hand and led me from the kitchen.
Mark watched them leave and then looked at his wife. “I thought Sierra was their drummer? She never did say what she played. I guess it’s a trumpet or something simple? She meant she would have time to help Sierra set up the drums?”
Donna shook her head as she smiled. “We’ll find out what she does when we take the ice chests and drinks out there, won’t we.”
“I really don’t remember seeing her before and I thought I had seen all the new girls.” Mark screwed up his mouth trying to pull in a picture of where that girl fit in the band. Nothing came to mind.
Brenda had rented a U Haul trailer Friday and a couple dozen padding blankets. It was hooked up to her van. The girls had loaded everything into it after I left yesterday. It only took twenty minutes to get to the Library. The street was barricaded off.
After sis pulled up in front of the barricades I got out and walked up to the man guarding it. “We are the band, or actually two members of the band. We have all the instruments in the trailer. We need to drive down to the stage to unload and set up.”
“Let’s see your pass.” He held out his hand.
“We don’t have a pass. All our contact has been via phone. Would you like to look in the trailer at all the instruments.”
“Everyone who is part of the Library Reader’s Party was issued a pass. If you don’t have a pass I can’t let you through.” He straightened up and hitched up his belt with the gun, handcuffs, and all the other things guards hang on their belts.
This wasn’t the first uncooperative guard I had ever dealt with. Working with the band I had run into others. I looked at his name tag. “Mr. Becks, you either let us in to set up or there isn’t going to be a Library Party. We are that Event.”
“No pass, then you don’t pass. Are we clear?” He tugged on his belt again.
“Hope I find someone on the other end a whole lot smarter than you.” I reached down for my phone. It wasn’t there. It was in my purse which was in the van.
He smirked, “Lose something, Miss?”
“Yes, my patience. Don’t worry, I’ll have it returned as soon as I make a call.” I headed for the van.
After picking up my phone, I started scrolling through the numbers. I found the one I was looking for. I pushed the button for the phone to dial the number.
“Mrs. Wright, this is one of the members of the Morning Glories and we seem to have a small problem. One of your guards won’t let us in to set up our instruments.”
“Show him your pass.”
“Ma’am, all our contact was by phone. We weren’t ever issued a pass.”
“Oh…, Oh I see. Yes, of course. What is the guard’s name?”
“Mr. Becks is the man I’ve been trying to talk into letting us by.”
“Let me talk to him.”
“Yes Ma’am, hold one minute. I need to walk back over where he is at.”
I put the phone on speaker and held it up as I closed in to the guard. “Mr. Becks, Mrs. Wright would like to speak to you.”
“Who’s Mrs. Wright?”
“One of the organizers of this event. If you would let the young lady and the rest of the band through I’m sure all of us would appreciate it.” Came back over the phone.
“Lady, I don’t know you, and they ain’t got no pass. They ain’t going through without a pass.”
“Mr. Becks, due to the nature of the situation they weren’t issued a pass. Now if you would please let them through all of us would be most happy.” Came from my phone.
“Lady, no pass means no pass. Are we clear?”
“Miss, what did you say your name was?” My phone repeated to us.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t give it. I’m Nadia, I’m the drummer for the Morning Glories. I believe your committee was corresponding with Sierra Loyd to set all this up.”
“Yes, that’s right. Is he there?”
“No Ma’am, he was delayed do to other matters this morning. I’m positive he will be here as soon as possible.”
“Stay put. I’ll make a phone call.” There was silence as she went off line.
It didn’t take long, three to five minutes a big guy came out of the library building carrying a coffee cup and wearing storm clouds over his head. He headed straight for us. “Ned, just what the fuck do you think you’re doing! I got a call you are holding up the band that is going to be the focal point of entertainment today.”
Becks pointed at me and then the van sis was sitting in. “They ain’t got no pass.”
“Did you check to see what they had in the trailer? NO you didn’t. Do they look like terrorists fixing to put a bomb in the middle of this shebang?”
The big guy looked at me. “She doesn’t look like a terrorist.” He looked at my sister. “Nope, no terrorist there either.”
He pulled back the barricade. “Go on kids, get going. Are there any more of you who don’t have a pass?”
“Yes Sir, five more. They won’t be driving in. All our instruments are in this trailer.”
He looked over at Becks. “Repeat after me. This is a free event. Everyone is allowed in even if they don’t have a pass.”
Becks glared daggers at me for getting him chewed out. “Vehicles coming in need a pass.”
“NED!” He shook his head. “Kids, go.”
Brenda started the van and slowly pulled down behind the platform. I walked down and got there as we both met at the back of the trailer. “I wish we had some muscle to move all this gear up on stage.”
“I can arrange that.” Came from behind us.
The rest of our band members waked up beside the trailer as they had come in from the other end of the street from where we entered. Each one of them looked stage ready as they were all dressed for wow. Even if their talent as musicians didn’t sizzle the audience their looks most certainly would. They were all staring at me.
I gave a little wave. “Hi, I’m Nadia, your drummer.”
They all looked stunned but accepting. “Hi, Nadia” came from each of them.
The guy that had offered to help put his fingers in his mouth and gave out a shrill whistle. He waved his hand and pointed to the trailer. “Guys, want to make Brownie Points with the girls? Need a little help moving something up on the stage.”
“Our musical instruments.” Brenda unlocked the trailer and swung the doors open.
Ten enthusiastic looking young men had gathered round. I put my arm across the doorway. “Guys, these are high priced delicate instruments. Two of those guitars are worth over nine thousand…, each. The Tama Star Maple drum set cost over fourteen thousand. The Yamaha Modus key board cost over thirteen thousand. “
Looking at each individual I gave a slight smile. “Please be gentle and caring with each piece you are handling. None of us can afford to replace anything if something gets damaged. Our lives are tied in with those instruments. And if you don’t damage any of it, I promise you will hear some of the best live music you will ever experience in your lifetime no matter how old you get. You’ll remember this one musical event even if you go to a hundred others.”
That was when I remembered Kendra’s tee shirt. “You may have heard your parents mention Woodstock was the event of a lifetime. This can be your Woodstock, a once in a lifetime chance to see a happening. Please be careful with the instruments.” I backed up from the door. Yet close enough to supervise how they moved the blankets and picked up the instruments.
“Brenda, Patty, Ashley, go up on the stage and show these really careful movers where to set the instruments. Beth, up in the trailer to move the blanket pads and show these gentlemen where and how to pick up the instruments. Roshel, Linda, make sure when these fine caring men step out of the trailer they are holding those instruments in the right way.”
Every single one of those young men understood without a doubt they were moving something very valuable and important to the girls. One uh oh was going to erase any Brownie Point they could ever hope to have with them.
One of them was muttering as he stepped out of the trailer carrying a guitar case. “I never saw a ten thousand dollar guitar before.”
The other one behind him was carrying an amp. “Yeah you have. You just never knew it.”
“All they are is wood and strings. What makes it so valuable?” He was walking up the stage steps with it.
“Probably the name. They also have a lot of electronics in them now. A lot of that cost is this amplifier I’m carrying. Probably has more computer power in it than that first astronaut shuttle they sent to the moon.”
I was thinking how right that young man was.
The guys were careful and we were getting close to ready as we finished setting up when an older man walked over to Linda and Patty. “We have the sound system ready for you.”
“Sound system?” They both turned around to look back at me.
He noticed. “You must be the organizer for this bunch. We have the sound system set up.” Another man came across the stage with a couple mikes on pedestals. He put them down a couple feet apart.
We had our own sound system but…, I moved out from behind the drum set. “Let’s run a test. Motioning for Ashley I pointed to the right mike. “Break the crystal.”
She nodded in agreement as she walked over to the mike. I moved the other mike clear across to the other side of the stage and motioned for Beth. “Get your violin, The second part of Sing.”
Beth uncased her violin and walked over to the left mike while I moved around to the drums. Ashley gave a nod and I started in with the beat. Beth picked up the notes and Ashley began with her pure high soprano. God, that girl could reach high notes humans weren’t meant to.
Everyone out there stopped and was looking around. What was going on? It sounded like something from an opera. Was that the girls who had been setting up on stage or a recording? The impedance from the mikes and the speakers started giving feedback. The squawk and roar from the speakers drowned out Ashley until their audio technicians shut everything down.
Ashley and Beth were smiling ear to ear as they turned to look at me. “I believe you broke their sound system. Thank you for the test ladies.”
The sound man came storming across the stage. “What the hell did you just do!”
Walking out to meet him I shrugged. “We were testing your sound system. Correct me if I’m wrong but you have a lot of excess wiring coiled up from your right hand speaker laying on top of a lot of coiled up wire from your left hand speaker. I believe you achieved electrical conductance as one coil fed into the other coil until it overloaded your system. My advice is to never get your wires close to one another and never lay coils on top of one another.”
He glared at me. “What the hell does a little girl know about sound systems?”
“Oh nothing much except I helped set up and operate one of the best sound systems this state ever had.” I figured our high school did have the best in the state. They should have, they paid a ton of money for it.
“Fuck you, bitch! You fried my system. No one is going to be happy when the speakers who are giving speeches today find out they don’t have any mikes.”
“Oh, I think we can help out there.” I pointed to the voice mike I had on my head. “We’ll let them use our systems. And mister…, you ever cuss me out like that ever again I’ll report you to the people who organize these events.”
He grinned, honest to god he grinned. “Fuck you again, bitch. I have a year contract. You think you’re somebody because you can come out here and play a few lousy songs? I never heard of this shitty group and I know them all. I have set up the sound system for everyone of them. The Morning Pussies? Hah, nothing but a bunch of retards from daddy’s garage.”
The rest of the girls looked shocked, disgusted. They had never run into this kind of abuse before. I was sorry they were getting initiated so early in the game. It happens as there are those kind of people out there who think women are lower than man’s best friend, his dog.
“Have you had your say?”
“You bet your sweet ass I have. And I’m going to be laughing my ass off when the crowd starts leaving when that other bitch starts screeching into the mike.”
“Thank you for your honest opinion. If you would kindly remove your…, from the stage we need to make sure all our instruments are still in tune so we can do our screeching as you call it.”
He turned and walked away muttering loud enough for everyone to hear. “Stupid bitches.”
Motioning all the girls over, I looked at each one making eye to eye contact. “He’s an obnoxious bastard isn’t he. Don’t let it rattle you. Be professional and understanding as his kind are out there. I was hoping we wouldn’t run into one of them and yet on our very first public show he had to be there too. Get into the music, let it sooth your emotions.”
I started whistling. Everyone moved back to their instruments, slipped on their mikes, and waited to make sure everyone was ready. I stopped whistling, nodded and began whistling again. Each girl picked it up and joined in playing. When it was time for the vocals they all joined in on that also. I guess this was our tune up. The girls were harmonizing perfectly, they were with the rhythm and beat in perfect sync. I know it was a laid back song to get them to relax and forget the jerk but my god were they good! I felt chills run up and down my spine. This was their moment in life. I prayed nothing took this from them and they had good memories of the band for the rest of their lives.
Most everyone out there stopped to listen and then returned to finish their jobs. A lot of them were singing along to the song. I bet not a single one of them consciously understood the sound coming out of our system was a hundred times better than that cheap sound system that horse’s butt had set up.
The girls were relaxed and back on track. They were more than ready. “Okay, everyone, take a break. Mom and dad aren’t here yet with the coolers so find water where ever you can. I’m staying here to make sure no one messes with our system. Brenda, if you find bottled water please bring me back a bottle. Call our parents and if they are close all of you can head over to where they parked and help carry the ice chests back.”
Looking at my watch I noticed we were closing in on ten. We didn’t have to start off exactly at ten. “It’s twelve to ten so try and make it back at least in fifteen minutes or so. We don’t have Prima Donna status yet, that is coming. We can still push the times around a little. Now go.”
The ugly guy kept poking his head up over the stage and looking at me. I figured he was dying to come up and break something. I pointed at my phone as I yelled at him. “It takes pictures too.”
He ducked back out of sight. I was glad everything we had was on top the stage and not behind it or under it. I phoned my sis. “Did you get everything that guy was saying when he had diarrhea of the mouth?”
“Yes, everything. Why?”
“I’m sending you a phone number. Send it to that number.”
“Who is it?”
“Lance Sharp. He is one of the members of the mayor’s city promotional teams. I want them to see what kind of guy they hired to set up their sound systems when they promote events for the city. And sis, be and sure and tell him this happened while the Morning Glories were trying to set up in front of the library.”
“He’ll want to know who the girl was the guy was cussing.”
“I figured as much. It can’t be helped. It is what it is. Make sure you tell him my name is Nadia. It’s Nadia Loyd if he wants the full name.”
“…., are you sure?”
“I’m positive. Sis, that guy has been back and I’m positive if I wasn’t here he would be up here destroying our equipment. I have pics of him glaring at me from the edge of the stage. Send your video and then I’ll send my pics. Mine won’t mean anything unless they follow yours.”
“Sierra…, Nadia, I’m afraid for you.”
“Sis, I’m good.
“Okay, send me the number and I’ll do what you asked.”
“Love you, sis.”
“Oh, by the way, mom and dad are here. They have one of those little rolling garden wagons and the ice chests are stacked on it. The girls already lightened the load from one of the chests.”
“Great, we’ll have to make sure the chests are in sight at all times. I made an enemy out here and he isn’t going to go away peacefully. No one drinks from a bottle if the seal has been broken. If anyone puts their bottle down unfinished don’t go back and drink out of it again if you haven’t had it between your legs all that time. Okay, love you, mom, and dad. Give everyone the heads up so I don’t have to repeat it here. Gotta go. Love you.”
Twelve minutes later the six girls climbed the steps back up to the stage carrying three ice chests. Mom followed them up, came around to the side and motioned for me to stand up. She walked up and hugged me giving me an air kiss. “Didn’t want to mess up your makeup. Your dad still hasn’t figured it out. I bet he gets a clue when you start playing. Sis told me you are going to start in a couple minutes. We brought umbrellas and lawn chairs. We’ll find a choice spot out front to listen to the best live band in the whole world.”
“Well they are good but I’m not going to call them the best in the world…, yet.”
Mom laughed, “That’s okay, I will. Are they up to a full day of playing?”
“We’ll have lots of breaks and then there are speeches the library people give. They have some authors who come up and give some readings from their published works. With all the people who want to speak, we’ll have about four hours total of playing. I can guarantee you a very boring day if you and dad stick around.”
Mom pulled me into a hug again. “Nadia, I can not imagine being around you could get boring. I’m ready to hear some really good music. What’s up first?”
“Brenda is going with Rolling in the Deep sung the way Marina Dalmas sings it. The song is carried by the vocals and the beat. Sis really nails it.”
“Give us a chance to get out front. Dad and I will set up after your sister sings her song.”
“Okay, love you momma.”
“I love you too, Sweetie.”
Moments later mom and dad had moved out front pulling their little garden cart with the umbrella, lawn chairs, and ice chest. The girls were taking short glances in my direction. “Is everyone ready?”
They all nodded in agreement. “Ashley, it’s your lead in. When ever you’re ready.”
Ashley started in with the heavy string cords on the electronic keyboard. Six beats later Brenda began singing. Nineteen seconds later I came in with the bass drum and a body shaking beat. The other girls blended in real softly in the background. This was truly a vocalist song and was carried by the singer. Sis nailed that puppy.
There was only sixty or seventy people out front but they were rocking with the song. Our intro was accepted by everyone there. Well, almost everyone there. I was positive Mr. Ugly wasn’t a happy camper.
Our next song was The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I wanted the band to appeal to all generations not just a sliver of society. After that one Ashley stepped up and did Orinoco Flow. We didn’t have a full orchestra pushing behind her but we did have the best musicians to ever touch an instrument. I was positive our audience now belonged to us. They weren’t going to leave no matter what as they had no idea what was coming next. Beth followed Ashley with Eye of the Tiger. I loved it because it has a heavy beat and again the singer is the one who makes the song. Roshel was up with I Need A Hero. I think that girl’s vocal cords go all the way to her toes. She belted that one out better than Bonnie Taylor.
By now the crowd had grown to over three hundred with more pouring in. Billy Maddox who was supposedly MC for this finally made it up on stage. He looked around for a microphone. I pointed to a wireless hand held by the keyboard.
He picked it up and was talking into it. “Does this thing work?”
“It does now.” Ashley responded as she turned it on via her keyboard.
“Testing. Testing, one, two, three.” Boomed out over the crowd from the huge speakers we had setting at each corner of the stage.
Billy looked at it and then the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our first Library Readers Party. We hope you are enjoying the music from these fine young ladies behind me. I know I have been even though I haven’t been here until just a couple minutes ago. But I have a good excuse. Flat tire and it took the repair people fifty minutes before they arrived. Then it took another forty minutes for them to find a special tool to unlock the lug nuts. It seems my car doesn’t have normal nuts.”
Everyone in the audience laughed at his joke.
“As I was saying about the music these talented youngsters are playing. For all you who wish to call family and friends who haven’t found out yet. Their music is being picked up and rebroadcast by KVCO radio station. He pointed to the back of the crowd. We also have the TV station KOKO picking up our Library Party. And no disrespect because I mentioned them last, our MidTown News paper is covering our Library Party. Be sure and pick up a copy for your reading pleasure tomorrow and of course every day.”
The girls turned to look at me. I held up my hands. No one mentioned any of this to me and I wasn’t smart enough to ask. I guess if the city was pushing this event it stood to reason they would be asking the news media to cover it. Duhh!
“And now we have one of our own home town authors Missy Dugger to give us a short reading of her published novel The Shadow Knight. Please give a round of applause to Mrs. Dugger.”
Missy had come on stage earlier and now stepped up beside Billy. He handed her the mike.
I hesitated about giving the girls the break sign. If those TV cameras were focused on all of us it would give the wrong impression for us to take a break while Mrs. Dugger was promoting her book.
Billy walked to the back of the stage and I motioned him over. “The girls need a break.”
He looked like he didn’t understand why I mentioned it.
I pointed toward Mrs. Dugger. “The TV cameras, what will it look like if we walk off stage now?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, the cameras will be focused in on her or panning the audience. They won’t see anything back here. The crew knows what is going on. You start moving around and they will pan the audience so none of you show up as leaving.”
“Thanks, Billy.” I stood up and gave the girls the break sign. They headed for the stairs and the bathroom. At least we had library bathroom privileges. The crowd out front were going to be using the porta potties set up at each end of the block.
“Billy, can you get security up here to watch our equipment? I’ve had some threats and destroyed instruments is not something we can afford.”
He looked surprised. “You think someone would come up here in front of a couple hundred people and destroy your equipment?”
“I know someone could without anyone knowing what they were doing. Those couple hundred people have no idea how delicate all this equipment is or how easily it is damaged.”
“I’ll make the call.” He stepped off to the side and immediately was talking to someone on his phone.
Couple of minutes he returned. “Link Ranes is coming to make sure your equipment stays safe. Anyone in particular he should be watching?”
“Your sound man is really pissed at me. His equipment fried first thing and he is blaming the girls for his problems. Me in particular. He was cussing me out this morning. He was coming by every little bit after that to see if we had left our equipment unguarded. I’ve been here the whole time.”
A policeman came up the steps. His name tag was Ranes. He had to be the man Billy called. Billy motioned him over. “This lady claims Harold Holmes has been threatening the girls and eyeing their equipment. Make sure he doesn’t get close to any of it.”
Ranes nodded. “Holmes is bad seed. I’ve told you people before you need to find a different sound crew.”
“He has a contract”
“Is it worth it, putting up with things like this? Sometimes the smartest business is one where you cut your loses and move on.”
Billy motioned for me to leave. “Go take your break. Missy will be there another fifteen minutes. I’ll do my spill promoting the library for another six. You and the other girls will be up anytime after. I’d cut my speech and every speaker for the rest of the day if I could to hear you girls sing and play. I haven’t heard you sing yet. When do you?”
“I’m one of the background singers. Support only, not someone you want to hear as lead.”
Billy shook his head. “You have a beautiful interesting voice. I bet you have just as interesting musical voice. Is that what you call it when someone sings? I’d love to hear you sing and I’m betting so would twenty thousand other people.”
“Thank you for the compliment but it isn’t happening. I’m strictly support.” I headed for the stairs and the bathroom.
Billy watched her walk into the library. “That girl can sing, I just know it. I bet she is as talented as any of the other girls. I could listen to any of them sing all day every day.”
Ranes nodded in agreement. “They are good. Better than anyone else I have ever heard. The way they handle those musical instruments of theirs, just listening to them is pure pleasure. You did say the TV and radio was recording them didn’t you?”
“I didn’t but yes they are. Why? You aren’t thinking CD are you?”
“Of course I’m thinking CD. I’d buy every CD they put out. I bet everyone out there listening would do the same.”
“Legals. The TV and radio can’t cut a CD from what they are recording. They haven’t the rights to the music. Their only right is they can rebroadcast as many times as they want but that is it.”
“Copying the music from the TV or the radio would be useless. Those kids are hitting notes not on the scale and certainly wouldn’t come through some broadcast to ninety percent of the radios and TVs. The girl on the steel guitar must have been practicing while still in her mother’s womb. She makes that thing talk and sing all on it’s own. The other girls aren’t running second fiddle to any musician out there. Nor are they running second to any singer. They are putting out those songs better than the originals. Their drummer…, I hope she cuts lose before they finish up. That girl is holding back. I can feel it in my bones.”
Footsteps coming up the stair caused both men to turn and look. Ranes was the first to speak. “Harold, what do you need up here?”
“I left some of my equipment and am going to pick it up since Billy isn’t using it.” Harold was eyeing the keyboard, that would be the easiest to break or put a foot in the violin parked in its holding chair.
Ranes moved over in front of him stopping Harold on the stairs. “Tell me exactly what equipment up here is yours?”
“uh, I’ll need to look. A couple microphones and a splitter along with a reverb. I see one of them. It’s over by that keyboard.” He pointed off toward the floor in back of the keyboard.
Billy closed in. “We’ll wait for the girls to come back and see if they agree you have any of those items on this stage.”
Harold tried to push himself up on the stage. Ranes put his hand on Harold’s chest. “Harold, you put that foot up here and I’ll arrest you.”
“ARREST ME! FOR WHAT!”
“For assaulting a police officer.”
Out on the TV platform the crew was yelling at the station controller. “Go to break! Go to break!”
The radio jockey was telling his controller the same thing. “We need to go to break NOW!”
Missy was holding the mic out wondering how to turn it off.
Harold didn’t know when to quit. Might have something to do with all that weed he had smoked over the years. “YOU FUCKING PUSSY LOVER! THOSE GIRLS FRIED MY SOUND SYSTEM! I OWE THEM BIG TIME!”
In as soft and calm voice as he could muster, Ranes had to ask. “And how did they fry your sound system?”
“THAT STUPID BITCH SANG INTO THE MICROPHONE!”
Both Link and Billy were dying trying to not laugh. Billy was gasping air. Link was clinching his teeth and making small snorting sounds. It took many many long seconds for Link to finally think he could talk without laughing.
“HarOld…, snort…, you neEEd…, to…, snort…, leave.” Link brought his fist up to his mouth and coughed into it thinking he was going to pee in his pants if Harold didn’t leave.
“FINE! THIS ISN’T OVER BY A LONG SHOT! I’LL FIND WHERE THEY STORE THEIR INSTRUMENTS AND BURN THE PLACE DOWN!” He turned and stormed back down the stairs.
The laughter both men had been holding back was gone like a snowflake in July. Nothing like threats of violence to sober one up. Link looked over at Billy, I have all that on body cam. I’ll turn it over to my Captain and he can run it by the DA.”
“Make sure that psycho isn’t able to carry through his threats. One or more of those girls end up hurt or dead I’ll never forgive either of us.”
Missy came back and handed the mic to Billy. “That was a little more excitement than I normally like when I’m giving a reading hoping to sell a few more books. I didn’t finish, but I am finished if you get the drift.”
“Understood and sorry about the interruption, Mrs. Dugger.”
“Yes okay then. Make sure that man doesn’t get close to any of the girls.”
“We’ll do our best, Mrs. Dugger.” Billy glanced over at Link.
The girls pretty well controlled the bathroom when I arrived. There were two other women in there talking to the girls. “You girls are the best musicians I have ever heard. How long have you been playing?”
Patty looked at the others and everyone was smiling. “Not very long. We have a great bandleader. Well two great bandleaders.” She looked at Brenda and then me.
Kendra had coaxed me in how to handle a bathroom. I headed for an empty stall admitting to myself I was scared out of my wits and trying desperately not to show it.
“I love the variety of songs you are playing. And your singing, I would have sold my soul to sing as well as you girls do. All of you show so much talent you’re unbelievable. I wish I had brought a notepad and got everyone’s signature. Maybe later? You’re going to be famous. Well today you are famous. Everyone in the crowd is talking about how talented you girls are.”
Brenda looked at the others who gave nods of agreement. “Thank you Ma’am, your compliments are appreciated.”
“No, the Library Committee thanks you. I’m Marcella Wheeler, head of that committee. I’ve been bending the Mayor’s ear for the last ten minutes you ladies were on stage. He has been watching on TV. He has proposed several more city sponsored events he would love to have you ladies perform at.”
‘while they are new and unknown and he can get all the mileage out of them for free’ I was thinking to myself as I had been listening. My nerves finally relaxed enough I managed to take care of business.
Heading over to the lavatories to wash my hands I was doing my best to not look like a deer in the headlights.
“Touch up your lipstick.”
Brenda was standing beside me. “I didn’t bring my purse.”
She fished a tube out of her purse. “Use mine.”
Looking, I shook my head. “Wrong color.” It was a Fire Engine vivid red.
“Nadia, you’re smoking hot out there. The color will go with the fire you’re spreading across the stage.” Ashley and the others had formed a circle around behind me.
Hesitantly I took the lipstick, leaned into the mirror and did the best I knew how as Kendra had taught me. Retracting it back into the tube I capped it and handed it back to Brenda. “Thank you.”
“Girls, we have people to entertain.” Roshel walked over and held open the door.
Outside the bathroom another woman met Marcella. “Our sound man was threatening to do something to the girls or their instruments.”
My heart leapt into my throat. “Did he…”
“No, he was stopped before he could do anything. Security is going to be close by the rest of the day even though Mr. Holmes was seen leaving the area.”
Minutes later we were back on the stage. “Everyone take a drink of water whether you feel you need a drink or not. You’ve been working hard, using your voices a lot. Keep lubricated.”
The girls were giggling. Beth gave me a look. “Nadia, that is stay hydrated not lubricated. We aren’t machines.”
“Sorry, misuse of words but same idea. When you’re ready let’s give them Top Gun Danger Zone. Roshel it’s your song, make them feel it. Linda, we’ll do El Condor Pasa next. Is your flute unpacked? Beth Ann your mandolin is the lead in for that one. Brenda that is yours and Beth’s vocals. We’ll go classical with Love is Blue to keep the audience from putting us in a certain kind of band. Beth Ann, Promontory follows and we break for lunch.”
“Linda, did you bring your Hurdy Gurdy?”
“It’s in the trailer, why?”
“There is a TV crew out there along with radio and newspapers. After lunch I want each of you to showcase as much of your talents as we can before the day is up. Those watching won’t categorize us as a one trick pony band. We aren’t the sixties nor heavy metal. The Morning Glories are a brand new day band.”
“Beth Ann did you bring your trumpet?”
Beth looked around at the others and then back at me. “Okay, what am I playing?”
“I heard you play The Lonely Bull at one of the school events. Do you remember it?”
“Yes, you want me to get my trumpet I suppose.”
Beth Ann, Linda Don, a couple of Blue Grass songs with the banjo and violin or when you’re playing Blue Grass I guess it’s a fiddle? Anyway there are people out there who love and live Blue Grass. I want you two girls to give them some. During lunch think of what you’ll play.”
I laid out a list of songs for each of the girls to show off their individual talents. Of course with the other girls giving support they would prove to the whole world girls rock! We might only be seven members but I swear we sounded like twenty or more.
It was a long grueling day even with all the breaks tossed in. All of us were dragging by the time it came to an end and we had to break down the set and load everything back into the trailer. All our parents had stopped by off an on during the day. Each of us hinted it would be nice to have help getting everything back in the trailer. Several of the boys who helped out that morning offered to help again. We turned them down. There was no way we would let anyone pack that trailer besides ourselves. When loaded the trailer would be carrying over forty thousand dollars worth of musical equipment. Each piece was carefully packed and padded with a shipping blanket even if it was already in its own protective case.
The Morning Glories received a million dollars worth of free publicity that day and earned every single penny of it. After I pulled what amounted to an all nighter Friday night with Kendra and the ladies turning me into an acceptable girl; working our little tails off all day Saturday; I planned on sleeping until noon Sunday. Of course early the next morning before seven I received a call from Bob Marky of Marky Boat Sales confirming the Morning Glories were going to be playing for him this coming weekend. He was going to catch the promotion wave the city had done for the library and use us while we were a hot item on everyone’s lips.
“Yes, Mr. Marky, the Morning Glories will be there for your grand opening Friday and Saturday. You have arranged for a forty by forty tent haven’t you? And refreshments? Yes Sir, I did mention you would be responsible for refreshments. Sir, you scheduled us for two days Friday and Saturday nine to four, six hours each day with ten minute breaks every thirty minutes an hour for lunch. A stage wasn’t mentioned, however if we are up two or three feet above the pavement so all the crowd can see us you’ll get a lot more mileage out of our performance. Four of the girls aren’t that tall. No stage and those people three or four persons back in the crowd will hear the music but not be able to see who is singing or playing. The appeal of a live band is visual more than hearing what is being sung. Also if our speakers are up above the crowd those further back won’t have the music blocked by those up front.”
“You’ll consider it? Yes Mr. Marky it makes a huge difference in how the crowd enjoys the performance. Think of it like this. You go to the theater and they never open the curtains so you can’t see the actors. The curtains muffle the voices so you can’t really understand what they are saying. Would you enjoy the play?”
“Yes Sir, the very same idea. In a sense we are actors playing and singing.”
“Mr. Marky, before you hang up. I’ll be by Tuesday with a contract. What time can we meet?”
“Yes Sir, I do trust you. That isn’t the question though. Do you sell boats or high priced equipment without a contract? Surely you and the customer don’t agree on the price of a hundred thousand dollar boat and you let him pull it off the lot without a signed contract.”
“No Sir, this isn’t a hundred thousand dollar agreement.”
“No Sir, the girls and I are not coming if we don’t have a signed contract.”
“Mr. Marky, you can mention trust every other word but trust works better when it’s down on paper.”
“Thank you, I’ll see you Tuesday at two O’clock. And Mr. Marky, I trust you will be there if you want us to perform for your dealership. Yes Sir, I understand you have already spent a lot of money advertising us being at your grand opening. I suggest you keep that in mind on Tuesday and think of us like this, no contract no sale.”
“Yes Sir, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.” The connection was lost. Looking at the phone I was positive that guy planned on short sheeting us after we had done the two days for him. Verbal contracts are he said, she said, and he was the one holding the checkbook. I felt like sticking my finger down my throat. I was regretting the up coming performance. Come Tuesday if he didn’t show I wouldn’t need to regret it any longer because we wouldn’t be there.
Literally crawling out of bed I stood up and walked over to look in the mirror. What was looking back at me looked like death warmed over, dark circles under both eyes, and they looked hollow. Lights are on, no one is home. Mom helped me…, actually mom removed all my makeup last night, unzipped my dress, unlaced my corset, pulled off my sneakers and held me up as she pulled the sheet back on my bed. When she turned loose I fell into the bed. My body was in, my legs and feet weren’t. She hoisted my legs in and pulled the sheet up. I was out before she started removing makeup. By the time my body hit the bed I was gone.
Still staring at the stranger in the mirror, I cupped my breasts with my hands. They didn’t come off with the corset. Kendra’s girls did a lot of makeup magic on me. I was positive I wouldn’t be able to replicate it. One of the women worked at the Swan Beauty Parlor. She told me to start the morning out with her every day and she would teach me how to reapply the makeup while she did it for the first several times. There was a lot of blending of shades and over laying of colors to bring up my cheekbones, shape my chin, bring out my eyes among many other things.
Never again would I think mom and sis had it easy because they were girls. Being a girl meant no more jumping out of bed into jeans, tee shirt, sneakers and be ready to go anywhere. They made it look so easy I never understood being a female was a full time maintenance job. I shook my head as I stared at the stranger. “Suck it up little camper, you signed on for the duration. Your sister, all the girls, and your parents are counting on you to stay the course.”
Sighing and turning away from the mirror, I gave the strange girl the one finger salute as I headed for the potty and the bathtub in that order.
Remembering Sis had asked the girls what they would tell their grandkids later in life? Were they a three day band or a summer or longer band? I knew without a doubt we were summer or longer. I laughed as I gave Sis’s question some thought. What was my answer going to be when my grandkids asked me what I did growing up? I’d start off with, “Well…, you ain’t going to believe me but…”
I knew what I was doing wasn’t only for my sister. In an odd way our dreams were tied together. She wanted a band and I wanted to be in music. By tying our dreams together we both achieved what we always wanted. Something that might have never happen if we had tried to go it alone.
Mitcha and Lorrie had caught several news articles on cable about the Morning Glories. Sunday Mitcha called Brenda and said she was coming back to be part of the band. Sis told her no. She had pulled out when we needed her and it was too late now as she was no longer needed as a member.
“I recognized your brother playing the drums. He might be dressed as a girl, he’s still a boy. Either you let me return to the band or I’ll tell the tabloids the Morning Glories are a fake as you are using a boy for your drummer.”
Brenda got instant hot but held it in check. “Go ahead. Sierra has already been exposed. There was an incident on the stage before we even began. It was reported to the Mayor. Then the jerk returned and pushed it until criminal charges were filed against him. Everyone wanted to know everything about Nadia because she was the one his anger was directed at. Sierra told them she was born a boy and left it at that. The news picked it up from there and ran with it claiming she was trans gendered. Except for a few jerks everyone is cool with who she is. Even if she is my brother, I’m jealous. She’s a prettier girl than any of the rest of us. I heard the majority of the people don’t believe she ever was a boy. They think it’s all a promotional gimmick.
“Screw you, Brenda. Lorrie wants her drum set back. She recognized it from the pictures. She never gave you permission to use it.”
“If I recall, you told me she said to sell it. We had it appraised by two different dealers. They said it was worth six tops. Lorrie didn’t handle it with care since her daddy paid for it. I’ll have Nadia send Lorrie a money order for seven thousand if she’s agreeable. It’s worth that much to Nadia because she’s already familiar with how it is arranged. By the way, how did you enjoy my sister on the drums? She beats Lorrie hands down without even trying.”
The phone went quiet as Brenda heard Lorrie and Mitcha talking in the background. “Lorrie said she wouldn’t take less than ten for the drums.”
“Tell her to come and get them. They aren’t worth it.”
“She said to ship it to her.”
“That so ain’t happening. We parted friends and then you two try and pull this after threatening to out my sister? I’m so happy you two left and I found out what kind of friends you really are before the band became known. Lorrie can come and get the drums or she can accept a money order. Let me know what you decide.” Brenda closed the connection.
Three hours later Brenda’s phone rang, Lorrie’s name showing up. Brenda answered and decided to keep it civil. “Hello.”
“Brenda, tell your sister I’ll accept the apprised value of six for the drums. I was listening when Mitcha called. You’re right, your sister can play those drums like no one else can or ever will. I’m jealous too. I’m jealous she’s so damn good on those drums. I will imagine myself playing those drums from now on every time I hear the Morning Glories play. I’ll regret until the day I die daddy moved and I left with him. My problem is one as old as mankind. We never miss what we have until we no longer have it. I wish you and all the girls the best. I know you’re going places, I can feel it in my bones. You, me, Patty, Kitcha would never have made that trip. We weren’t that good.”
Brenda wiped back a couple tears. “Thanks for the up beat Lorrie. I’ll let Nadia know she bought your drums. Anytime you’re close by where we are playing, stop and join in. I’ll let everyone know you were one of the original Morning Glories. I’m positive Nadia will let you play your drums again.”
“She’s welcome too if she can control her temper. I won’t put up with any bad mouthing on the stage.”
“You always did have a big forgiving heart. Love you Kid O, knock their socks off and become a big star for Mitcha and me.
By the time I wandered into the kitchen mom, dad, and sis already had breakfast and was discussing the show the band had put on yesterday. I was wearing jeans and a tee shirt. The breasts Kendra and the ladies had glued on were very realistic with very perky nipples. The tee shirt only emphasized all of that.
Mom shook her head as she held up her hand in a stop fashion. “Nadia, march your butt right back to your room and put on a bra. That kind of look is not acceptable in this house. I’ll accept you aren’t totally clued in as to how a young lady should dress and act. You may wear jeans and tee after you learn how to act as a lady. Until then you will dress appropriately for a young eighteen year old who was brought up with social skills.”
“One of the discussions at the table this morning was about you. You teach Brenda and the girls how to be the best band to ever pick up an instrument. Your sister and the girls are going to teach you how to be a lady.”
A moan involuntarily escaped. “You and Kendra talked yesterday didn’t you!”
“Your dad and I met the amazing lady at the library party while you girls were playing. She said she was very impressed with the talent up on that stage. If you and the girls are interested she will get the band a contract doing the music for animated movies. She told me music is added to the finished animation. She had no doubt the band could do that. If you girls agree she would have you over to her home where she has a studio.”
“Sierra…, Nadia, I believe that lady is a godsend for you and the girls. There were over a dozen people she had brought with her to watch what you girls were capable of. I recognized four of them. Joan Annor is president of the college. Sue Blackman is head of the state arts department. Alice Sheridan is head of the state tourist department. Henry Melborn is the governor’s political adviser.”
Mom pointed toward the door. “Go! Get decently dressed, then we will discuss what kind of future the band might have. Brenda go help your sister.”
“MOOMMMMMM!” Sis and I both whined as we headed to my bedroom.
We were in the hallway when we heard mom talking to dad. “Met up with Patty’s mom Rachel Webb out at the kid’s party. She asked me if I had ever played an instrument or in a band?
Sis and I stopped to listen to this conversation which interested us both.
“I told her I had played in a college band at one time and we had toured several surrounding states but we fell apart when we graduated from college.”
“Rachel was in a band herself. After watching the kids the bug kind of bit both of us again. I know three other women our age who were in a band and Rachel knows four. We contacted them yesterday. Four of them were out at the party watching the kids. They were immediately onboard in joining a band. Two of the others we contacted by phone. They were watching on TV and agreed they want to give it a try. The kids enthusiasm has spread to all of us. Can’t call it a comeback because none of our bands were ever that good to start with. Evelyn owns a music store. She is going to let us try out in her store with her instruments. We’ll rent for the summer if we decide to go ahead with forming up. We already have a name for the group. The Faded Roses.”
Sis looked at me with a smile a mile wide. Then she hip bumped me as she silently screamed, YES!
“I hope Sierra…, Nadia has time to coach us too. She has a gift for bringing music into balanced harmony from many different musicians. She brings out the best talent in everyone.”
Sis nodded in agreement. My fat head swelled up ten sizes with mom’s compliment.
“She has a job already making Brenda’s girls sound like no other band anyone has ever heard. The range of songs they were playing had to please everyone there. The almost unbelievable fact was those girls played those songs even better than the original artists. I imagine she would help if you ask. Donna, don’t spread her too thin. She’s your child and she would do anything you asked. Despite being a prodigy with music, she’s still human. I was afraid she over did it yesterday. After we came home she looked totally exhausted. I know you put her to bed. Whether it’s Sierra or Nadia or Brenda, I love those kids with all my heart as I know you do. Honey, be careful with their lives. No matter how mature they act, they have a lifetime ahead of them to learn not to push their bodies too hard until it’s too late to fix what went wrong.”
Grabbing sis’s hand, I pulled her into my bedroom, turned and shut the door. “If our mother’s start up their own group they are going to need help. Daddy is right, I can’t help them and keep your group polished at the same time.”
“That is, if both the bands are practicing in different places at different times.”
Sis was staring trying to figure out where I was going with this.
“This is yours and the girls call. I’ll do whatever you decide. What if we bring both bands together for practice? Music is music and the heart of music is the harmony of all sounds each one is creating. I believe it will be beneficial to both parties. We aren’t in completion with one another and playing in a group is synchronizing and harmonizing one’s notes with the others in the group. Nothing will change when we go out to play for a club, restaurant, business, or civic function. It will still be us and the girls.”
Sis was silent while she gave it some thought. “We might even be scheduled for more things if we use both bands together time to time. Remember mom mentioned Kendra might find us a job adding music to animation films? Mom’s eight and our seven together really will sound like an orchestra if need be.”
She was laughing as she backed up and spread her arms out. “Who would have thought two days ago The Morning Glories and The Faded Roses were going to ROCK THE WORLD!”
Sis walked over to my closet, lifted a Royal blue dress off a hanger. She collected the corset I had on yesterday as she passed by my dresser. She laid both out on my bed and pointed.
Covering my face with my hands, I shook my head. “oooo maannnn, I wish I had been born a boy instead of a girl and didn’t have to put up with things like that.”
“Come on, get dressed and I’ll help you with your makeup. It won’t be close to what Kendra did for you Friday night. I want to watch next time she does your makeup. What she managed was pure magic.”
“Don’t I know it. She’s an actress. I guess she has learned a lot from the artists who make up the actors. I didn’t expect her to help Friday night. All I wanted was to be presentable. I owe her big time. Don’t know how I’ll ever pay her and the other two ladies.”
Sis looked at my breasts. “Did she say how much those cost?”
“Not really. She said she had a payment plan. I looked it up and as close as I can figure the high end ones, which I seem to have, run close to a thousand dollars give or take. The corset, close to four to six hundred. And the makeup, I haven’t a clue.”
Brenda slowly shook her head. “You didn’t ask what her make over was going to cost before you had it done?”
“Sis, I ran into a time crunch. I couldn’t find a drummer for your band. I didn’t know Kendra except by reputation. I only had a few hours to turn from an ugly boy into a swan so that Library Committee didn’t black list the Morning Glories.”
Looking at what Sis laid out on the bed, I licked my lips. “I guess…, No Kendra asked me if I was positive and I said I was. She also told me I was going to need a lot of help and support from all the girls if I was going to be believable as a girl myself. Sis, I need yours, mom’s, and all the girls help. I’ll do everything I can to make sure the Morning Glories and now the Faded Roses be the best they can. All of you have a more difficult job than I do. You have to turn a duck into a swan every single day until the swan is no longer a duck. Is it a deal?”
I held out my hand toward her.
Sis closed in and wrapped her arms around my neck. “Girls hug, boys shake hands. It isn’t a hard and fast rule but it holds most the time.”
Putting my arms around sis, I hugged her back. “I’ll take that as lesson number one.”
She backed up and headed for my closet again. “Because you’re our drummer, you get to wear sneakers most of the time when we’re playing. For those very important meetings, interviews, and photo ops you will be wearing heels the same as all the rest of us.” She backed out of the closet holding stilettos pumps with a four inch heel.
“Dare I ask how all this got in my closet? I may have lost my mind but I believe I would remember hanging dresses in my closet and putting high heels on the shelf.”
Brenda giggled as she put the heels on my bed. “Blame Kendra and mom. Kendra gave mom your sizes and told her you had to be full time girl until it was in your blood and no longer make believe. After that you could be whatever you wanted whether it was boy or girl. Which ever one you were, no one would have any doubt.”
“So that is how she does it.”
“Does what?” Sis questioned.
“Becomes a woman or a man and there is no doubt. I believe with all my heart Kendra is the greatest actress ever born. If I’m half the actor…”
“Actress” Sis corrected me.
“If I’m half the actress she is I’ll be lucky.”
“Didn’t you tell us everyone is best at something? You’re the best drummer and the best music director I know. Don’t get greedy. It’s okay to let Kendra be the best actress.”
She pointed at the clothes on the bed. “Enough procrastinating. Ditch the tee shirt and the jeans and become the second best actress.”
“And no whining.” Brenda picked up the corset and waited for me to ditch my clothes.
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