Danny Part 7 - Chapter 22


Chapter 22
by Roberta J. Cabot

This is a story about Daniel, a guy with a unique talent and an even more unique problem: A great singing voice and the looks of his gorgeous sister. And how he, his family and friends deal with it. And, after he's gone on TV in his female DJ persona, the charismatic and sexy radio celebrity Robin a.k.a. the Nighthawk, and hosted a radio-TV program promoting the band called Unlimited Bandwidth, whose lead singer is his other persona, Dannie, the talented and sexy teen pop singer, he finds his life fragmenting more and more. It's enough to make anyone schizophrenic. Still, life goes on, though a little more strained for our intrepid hero (or is it heroine?), as he starts confronting Dannie's and Robin's fans.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Relaunch

***** (Danny) *****

The KRPX camera guy was a little creepy, but lots of people seem to be... extra attentive when they're around me. Courtesy of my 'mones, again, I suppose. Dammit...

Sally made an idle comment that maybe I should report him or something. After all, he was old enough to be my dad. I said never mind and that he was probably harmless.

After doing an extra-long call in radio show, Tracey and I decided to wrap it up since we were already inching close to our allotted fourth hour. Sally had said her goodbyes about an hour before, and it was just me that had to say goodbye to the fans. In fact, Mrs. Piper and the rest of the office staff (except for the radio engineers), had gone home already.

Most of the callers complained about our show not being on TV anymore but I explained that the arrangement between our radio station and the TV station was just for the concert. Most asked if there'll be more of that but I didn't know the answer.

But like my other call-in shows, this one was super-fun, and with Sally in there, and Tracey making the occassional jokes and quips, this one was by far the best. The fact that it followed the pre-show and the concert show probably had a lot to do with it and, looking at everything afterwards, I wouldn't mind doing something like this again.

After more than four hours in front of the mic, I definitely needed a long bathroom break. I didn't want to leave the booth unmanned so I was back quickly. But it seemed that it was unnecessary to rush - a lot of commercials were still left over to play (and Tracey took care of it), and that was what was being played on air as I came back in.

"Dennis still not in?" I said into the intercom.

"Oops, I better get him," Tracey said and left to fetch him.

Per the office's DJ rules, I sat down and waited for my reliever to take over for me. I didn't have long to wait, though, so I didn't need to do anything.

"Thanks, kid," Dennis said as he bustled in and sat down. "I got this. You go home and get some shuteye."

"Thanks, Dennis. Seeya later."

As I was about to follow Sally out of the booth, Dennis touched my arm.

"Oh, and Danny... I mean 'Robin…'"


"Good work tonight."

I grinned. "Thanks, man."

Dennis gave me a friendly sock on the shoulder and shooed me out of the booth, smiling. "Go on, you J.D. Leave, already."

I laughed. "I'm going, I'm going! And I'm a DJ, not a JD!"

- - - - -

***** (Danny) *****

The following Monday, I turned over the last of my time cards I was required to turn in to the school counselor's office. I had accumulated more than enough hours that I had more than fulfilled all my extracurricular requirements. So, as far as the school was concerned, I was done.

Of course, just because I've fulfilled my extracurricular requirements didn't mean I had to stop being a DJ.

After I dropped off the cards and was walking to class with my guys and Danielle's gang (by now, this had become our regular morning routine), I looked around. Everyone was openly saying hi to us - the generally acknowledged geek gang in school. What's happening to the world? Were we suddenly transported to the Twilight Zone or something? But truthfully, I didn't care so long as I had Nikki with me. And, truth be told, there were more girls starting to look me over, too - after all, if Nikki was my girl now, there must be something to me, right? Heheh.

But despite Nikki being there, I was feeling grumpy. Mom and Dad told us over breakfast this morning that we might not be able to visit our maternal grandmother Rosemary, or Nana Marie, or just mhamo, in Belfast.

The original plan was that our family and Mom's brother's family would share the cost and stay in Ireland for a couple of weeks. But Uncle Nathan said he couldn't get away. Mom said that it might just be they couldn't afford the trip, and Uncle Nathan just didn't want to admit it.

Dad said that, with the cash settlement from the pharmaceutical company, and because they didn't need to save for our college fund anymore, they could actually pay for both families. Mom said she'll find a way to tell her brother this in some polite way that saves face, and would let us know as soon as she can.

That was great, but I was still grumpy at the thought that we might not see Nan or get to go to Ireland. It was our first time to see mom's home country, and meet our grandmother and cousins face-to-face. Mom and Uncle Nathan always had fun stories about the Cassidys, and Danielle and I have had lots of phone calls and Skype calls with them. Nan was totally adorable, especially with her cute Irish brogue. Good thing she and the whole Cassidy Clan was fully fluent in English. I wasn't sure if the Irish were fluent in English in general. It may just be my family. (Hey, sue me - I haven't been to Ireland before!) It's like we knew her already, and we so, so wanted to see her.

Anyway, my mind switched back to school stuff, and started to wonder if me and my buds were still the social pariahs that we used to be. You know - the usual.

Well, truthfully, though, I don't know what our social status was now that Danielle and her friends were part of our gang. Or maybe we're part of theirs. Anyway, we weren't exactly at the bottom of the totem pole anymore. Still, it was a little out of character for everyone to go out of their way to say hi to us. Or more appropriately to Betsy.

Then I had an 'aha!' moment - the TV show! People saw Betsy in the TV show! Good for Bets. She deserved some attention. Clearly delighted, Betsy said 'hi' back, giggled and preened a bit. One little Freshman girl even asked for her autograph.

But it made me worry. Is the jig up? Have people guessed? People seemed to be glancing over at Danielle and me an awful lot. Mostly Danielle, actually.

I looked over the ones who came up to say hi, most of them girls that knew Danielle, and I noticed them sporting scarves or other similar things tied to bangles, bracelets and wristbands. I chuckled when I saw one of the more sporty girls wearing silk hankies threaded through those Livestrong silicon wristbands, or maybe they were those Nike energy bands (it's old news so the girl probably hasn't heard the truth about the bands, and about Lance Armstrong...)

Anyway, seems Danielle's gimmick ideas were starting to pay dividends. She and I gave each other one of those significant, semi-psychic looks of recognition. She smiled delightedly. I just stuck my tongue out at her, which just made her laugh.

I also noticed that most of the girls were wearing similar hair styles this morning - they had their hair in long, loose curls, with a long curling lock hanging over the left eye, which most of them kept pushing daintily away with the back of their hand. If it bothered them so much, why didn't they just pin it back or cut it off altogether?

Danielle sidled up to me and elbowed me in the ribs. "What'd I tell you?" she half-whispered to me. "Pretty soon, your scarf thing will be as legendary as Snuggies, iPhones, Facebook, Jennifer Lawrence and even Jennifer Aniston's do!"

"You think?" I said sarcastically, eyes wide with mock excitement.

"Sure! And look at that!" She pointed to the lockers we were passing, and I followed her gesture. "You're a genius, Danny!"

She was pointing at a bunch of girls, the type I used to be so intimidated by - the type that looked and acted like Danielle and her girlfriends - confident and intimidatingly pretty in their sexy clothes, so shiny and coiffed and so unattainable. Or at least I used to be intimidated by them until Danielle and Nikki and the others became regular fixtures around the gang.

Anyway, these girls were leaning against their lockers chatting, all of them sporting bright, pastel-colored bangles on their wrists, with shiny silk, chiffon, lace or satin scarves or handkerchiefs tied to them. I thought that was what Danielle was referring to until I noticed that they were all wearing the same hairstyle - the big curls, with one curl over the left eye. I recognized one of the girls, and I was pretty sure she had a short-cut pageboy-style do last week. Given how long it was now, she was probably wearing a wig or maybe hair extensions. Could be Danielle was referring to the hair?

And then, the tallest among them, a blonde (probably the leader or something), used the back of her left hand to push away her overhanging lock of hair, and moments later, the others did the same gesture with their own locks of hair. Like it was a... Wait...

My mind flashed back to when we watched the show on Tracey's big, flat-screen TV at her place, and I recalled seeing me involuntarily make the same gesture several times when I was wearing the extra-long red wig Joanne styled. Oh boy...

"How'd you ever thought of making that move?" Danielle asked. "And I thought my scarf thing was brilliant."

I sighed and just shrugged nervously.

And then I looked at the girls and noticed Drew and Mel with scarves tied around their wrists. And Drew now had a lock of her suddenly-long hair hanging over her left eye.

"What!" Drew said, and glared at me.

"Nothing!" I said.

- - - - -

***** (Danny) *****

We reached my classroom, which was the signal for the gang to break up and go to his or her own class. As usual, Nikki gave me a big kiss before she went, which made everyone go "oooh!"

Morgan and I walked in (we shared the same homeroom) and sat at our customary places.

The classroom was a little crowded so Mr. Wilson was having a hard time controlling the class - one of the teachers took a few weeks off because of an emergency appendectomy or some other not-so-deadly condition, but she would be out for at least a month so a substitute teacher was assigned to her classes. However, at the new teacher's request, a few of her more difficult students were temporarily farmed out to the more seasoned teachers, which included our own Mr. Wilson - Mr. Wilson had a reputation among the teachers for being an instructor with a firm hand.

So our class now had a handful of new classmates. Unfortunately, one of the temporary transferees was Tom Hennessy.

"So," one of the guys said as we sat down, "I hear you guys are pretty tight with Betsy Haley." He had a muffled, snuffly kind of voice. He had the cold that everyone seemed to have nowadays. Flu season and all.

"Huh?" Morgan said succinctly.

"You know? Betsey Haley? The hot, sexy violinist for Unlimited Bandwidth?"

"Funny," I said. "Most of us know her as the class president."

"Shut up," the guy said, turning to me. "No one's talking to you. Urk!" The guy stopped short, flailed around a bit and pulled at his collar as he tried to get a breath in despite his collar being pulled back tight against his Adam's apple. Mr. Wilson was conveniently writing something on the board and didn't notice anything.

Tom Hennessy leaned forward as he tightened his grip on the back of the guy's shirt.

"Now, be nice, okay?" he said into the guy's ear. "Otherwise, I just might have to hurt you." The guy nodded frantically.

After a moment, Tom let go, and the guy let out a ragged breath. He jumped up and turned around, ready to fight, but when he saw it was Hennessy, he turned around again and meekly sat back down.

Mr. Wilson took notice. "What is it, son?" he asked.

"Ummm... nothing, sir."

"Thanks, Tom," I said, a little lost for words.

Tom just nodded sagely, silently. For the rest of the class, he sat quietly like a sphinx, eyes forward and listening to Mr. Wilson attentively. I still didn't know how to read the guy, ever since that flower incident a while ago. Actually, I sort of preferred Tom being the bully. At least that way I knew what to expect.

As the class progressed, most of us got involved in school stuff, and I sort of forgot about Tom. Truth was, it didn't really register that he was around anymore until after class.

English was the usual. The class wasn't rowdy as in other classes, but most of the people's minds were mostly on last night's program and were pretty excited to talk about it. Mr. Wilson didn't shush us kids much, and as we went though the day's lesson, we could hear a lot of whispered talk about the show swirling around the room. I again noticed a lot of the girls wearing bracelets and bangles with the scarves, and many of the guys were wearing blazers in either electric blue or electric green, and some of them wearing tie-dyed t-shirts underneath. Felt like I was in a John Hughes revival. I caught Mr. Wilson's eye when he noticed me noticing everyone. He smiled at me and shrugged, and gamely tried to continue on with the class. Wonder what that was about?

Anyway, seems like Unlimited Bandwidth was a hit in school. Hope that this is the extent of it. Otherwise, if this escalates further, we, or rather, I, may be found out.

When we stood up after class and turned around to leave, I noticed Tom again. "Oh, hey, man," I said.

"Dude," he said, nodded and left.

I looked at Morgan. "What's with him?" I asked.

Morgan just shrugged. "Who knows. Let's get outa here."

Same problem all throughout the day, especially during lunch. There were a lot of people quoting me from last night, and there was a big clot of people near one corner of the cafeteria. Apparently, there was this nerdy-looking girl who brought her guitar to school, and it was the spitting image of my acoustic guitar... ummm, I mean Dannie-the-singer's guitar. So I eavesdropped a bit, and it turned out the girl's guitar was a RockrGrrl guitar.

Some of the more geeky guys were asking her to play some stuff and she played the refrain from one of the four songs from the concert - it was an arrangement that allowed her to play the music from the Meja song all by herself. She sang the song as well - quite competently, in fact.

"It's funny how circumstances take control, taking you places with your mind and soul," she sang.

And, one of the girls standing around sort of sang and harmonized with her. "Like springtime makes me feel better, taking me higher, feeding my fantasy. And it feels so good!"

"Yeah, it feels so good!"

Then they harmonized again.

"Giving you luxury. It comes naturally. So, baby, don't thank me - I thank you. And it's plain to see who's giving you luxury."

I had to smile at the scene. Everyone was enjoying themselves and, what the heck, if what I did gives someone a moment to be other than what she usually had to look forward to, I'm happy.

"What she had to look forward to..."

That made me think of things, and where I was now. Was I even nerdy anymore? Ever since I started high school, it was a label that I thought I wouldn't be able to escape. But with everything that's happened, I wasn't that anymore, I think. If so, then why wasn't I happy? I think I was, especially now, but I wasn't sure.

Nikki and the other girls walked into the cafeteria. She waved and I gestured to our table. She nodded and they got in line with the others.

Looking at Nikki as she chatted with our friends while getting some lunch, I couldn't get over how pretty she was. That made me think. And, I guess I was happy. I went over and held her tray for her. She leaned over and gave me a kiss. Well, that's why I offered to carry her tray, after all.

If I was happy, then what was I missing?

Danielle caught my eye.

"Hey, Dan! Mrs. P wants to meet up tonight at her office. You game?"

"I guess? Should I be worried?"

"Probably not. Hold on, I'll text Tracey and say we can make it tonight."

"Okay. Be sure to text mom as well." I tried to snatch some of her fries but she slapped my hand away. I looked at her tray as well as the others - Mel's, Joanne's Drew's and Nikki's trays only had salads and half a sandwich, as usual (although Nikki's also had a big banana boat full of fries which, I'm sure, was for me), but Danielle's had enough for three people. Same as mine, actually, but I'm able to take care of both Nikki's and my trays.

We went back to our table, and the entire gang was there for a change. Naturally, the topic of discussion was the show. As expected, everyone wanted to know about Sally. We couldn't talk as freely as we wanted because of all the kids, but we could talk well enough.

Befitting my current status as the newest media sensation, I was superciliously casual about it until Morgan jokingly hit me on top of my head, and Nikki started giving him the evil eye…

"Unlimited Bandwidth is definitely a hit!" Mickey said enthusiastically. "I heard that some people have posted clips from the TV show online, and they're trending!"

"Yeah!" Mel said. "I heard the same thing, too. Who has a phone?"

Everyone pulled their phones out and googled "Unlimited Bandwidth" and "Evolution Concert," and they got several hits on youtube.

"Look at this one from the concert," Joanne said, showing me her phone. "It's already up to a thousand hits, and it's not even ten minutes up!"

"How about this one from the TV interview," Jerry said, "it's almost at fifty thousand!"

"Which one's that?" Joanne asked excitedly.

"The Paul McCartney song with Betsy!" Joanne looked to Bets. "No wonder…"

Mel giggled. "You guys are a hit! Have Janet and the others said anything, Danny?"

"Haven't had a chance to talk to them since Saturday," I told Mel.

"I'm sure they're pretty excited about it all," Nikki said.

"I'm sure they are, but they're probably feeling pressured just about now."


"Instant fame has its drawbacks. Just look at Betsy."

Betsy gave me a razzberry.

But Morgan gave me a funny look. He and Danielle were the best at catching my moods. "What's wrong, Danny?"

I sighed. "It's nothing, Morgan."

"Is it because they don't know it's you…"

"No! … it's not that. I don't mind that people don't know. I prefer it, in fact. I guess it's because we got some bad news this morning: we might not be able to go to Ireland this year..."

Morgan shook his head. He knew me so well.

"It's not just that," he said. "What is it? Really."

I shrugged helplessly. "I guess I just wish that all this hiding wasn't needed… all these kids talking about Dannie and Robin, and I'm just here. I feel like a fake. Like a liar."

I pointed to the girl that had the guitar earlier - she was just walking out of the cafeteria with a bunch of other people.

"See that girl with the guitar?" I asked. "She was playing our Meja song, and she was having a great time with a bunch of other girls. Just singing. And I wanted to join in and have fun, too. But I couldn't, of course…"

Danielle reached out and held my hand. "Everything will work itself out, Danny. You'll see. We'll find a way eventually, and you won't need to hide."

I sighed again.

"So," Mike said, breaking the silence for a while, laughing and doing his best dirty-old-man imitation, "Tell us again about Talia and Sally. Are they as hot face-to-face as they are on TV? Mweheheheh…"

Drew hit him on the head. Not really hard. It was more for show, and for a laugh. Everyone knew that he was just trying to change the mood. Sometimes we take Mike for granted. But he's not as clueless as he wants people to think he is, and I was grateful to have him as one of my buds. My friends are great.

- - - - -

***** (Danny) *****

After classes, Danielle and I left the gang and drove on to Mrs. Piper's office. When we arrived, Tracey was already there.

Danielle and I gave her hugs and we shook hands with Mrs. Piper.

"So." Mrs. Piper said as she gestured for us to get comfortable, "how are things?" She brought out a couple of caramel macchiatos and handed them to us. Tracey already had hers. I smiled and nodded my thanks.

"Well," Danielle giggled, "nothing much since Saturday, Mrs. P. How are things with you since Saturday?" She grinned. "Anything new?"

"Actually, there is," she grinned as well, appreciating Danielle's gentle humor. "Folks from KRPX and I met over lunch yesterday afternoon. On the success of the show last Saturday, I made a decision on something I've been contemplating. The formal launch of the FM station will be happening within the month, maybe in two weeks' time. Since we moved to this new place, the station has been on test FM broadcast, simultaneously broadcasting with our AM station. In a couple of weeks, however, we need to formally launch the FM station. By that time, we'll have ALL our licenses and permits from the government."

"How can you do test broadcasts without the paperwork?"

"Temporary permits from the FCC."

"Ahhh," Danielle said. "So, what's the decision you had to make, Mrs. P?"

"Well, my dear," Mrs. Piper said, "I wanted to make a big splash with the formal launch, and I finally came up with an idea - we'll be partnering with KRPX again, and doing what we did last Saturday, but this time to cover our own live concert! I've block-timed over an hour on the station two Saturdays from now, and we'll do a simultaneous broadcast through both our AM and FM stations, as well as KRPX TV.

"Now - what I need from you is to help conceptualize and plan the entire thing. Our station's salespeople are coming in a little while as well as some people from KRPX, and I got a few people from PiperCorp's promotions team arriving soon, and Talia, Sally, Harry and all the other on-board guys will be coming in as well. It's all hands on deck tonight. Otherwise, we won't make the schedule."

"But, Mrs. Piper…" I pointed to myself.

"Ahh. That's not a problem. Tracey will bring you two over to our place. Tracey has our living room fully wired, and I'll tell everyone you'll be dialling in via Google Hangouts, and we'll be teleconferencing."


"All you have to do is to switch off the video on your side so all we'll get here is just the audio."

"How sure are you that no one can hack out a video feed?"

Tracey giggled. "Oh, I know a way. It's a very complicated procedure. What you do is you tape a piece of paper over the webcam…"

The three of us laughed while Mrs. Piper just smiled and shook her head indulgently.

"Anyway," Mrs. P continued, "I'll definitely need your inputs. The meeting may last all night. I'll smoothen it out with your folks and tell them you'll be sleeping over at my place if we go overtime."

"But we didn't come prepared for an overnight…" Danielle said.

"I'll take care of it. I do own my own department store, you know. Tracey will take you to the department store. Get whatever you need for a sleepover. Get some takeout for dinner at the food court, too, and then go on to our place. I'll start as soon as the others arrive, and you guys catch up when you're set."

"Well… okay."

"Good. Now, scoot. The others will be here soon and we don't want them to catch you here."

So we scooted.

to be continued...


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