“Every Step of the Way” Chapter 1 “Door Into Summer” (Starter)

Author note:
I wrote this as a VERY short story in 1987 and placed it in the city of Carmel, CA.
Well, I decided to ramp it back and place it back in the town I lived in when it was conceived: Papillion, Nebraska.
The concept is sort of like “Come Back to Texas”, but with a high school freshman vibe.

And yes, Sharon tolerates them due to all of them being in the same class since Kindergarten.

Those Band Geeks:
Rob Garrison—main vocals, percussion
Gehn McKinney- rhythm guitar, backing vocal/trombone
Elliot Myers- lead guitar/tuba
Shigeru "Gary" Nakamura-Windsynth/synclavier/bells
Sharon Hernandez-bass guitar, piano

I. Door Into Summer

With his fool’s gold stacked up all around him
From a killing in the market on the war.
The children left King Midas there, as they found him
In his counting house where nothing counts but more.
And he thought he heard the echoes of a penny whistle band.
And the laughter from a distance caravan
And the brightly painted line of circus wagons in the sand
Fading through the door into summer.

For most kids, summer means trips to Disney World, The Grand Canyon or maybe somewhere on another continent like touring Europe or seeing the rains down in Africa. However, for a band student it meant spending a week at band camp and the obligatory practices every weekend to make sure we would be ready for football season. Football season begat marching and marching required the senseless deaths of four consecutive pairs of eighty dollar tennis shoes.
Still cheaper than cheerleading or travel ball, but at least in those pursuits you don’t have have someone pacing like a drill Sargent yelling “Guide right!” Every five or six measures. “McKinney! Pick up your step and watch the bell height!”
I only nodded to the MBP—Marching Band Police—usually an upperclassman who, regardless of their intention to want to help, made one want to flip them off with both hands and empty their spit valve on their food at lunch. I played trombone.
No, I tolerated it.
Yes, but if I was asked to play it as a solo I would only play a bit of “sad trombone” and walk off the stage. I played the trombone because I was required to—as it was hard to march with a guitar and no one would seriously take my idea of playing on a float.
I tried a few times—even to the point of bringing in elaborate plans. They were written on the back of my music folder, but they were elaborate in their own special way.

So, instead of standing on a float, jamming out the national anthem on a float with my guitar aflame like Jimmy, I had to count steps in order to not jab my tromp one slide into the nether-regions of the person in front of me.
After practice I would slam my trombone into its case, take off my shoes and socks and lie in the grass. I didn’t care if the combined stench of my feet and sneakers could be considered a biological weapon of mass destruction—the blisters on my toes and soles screamed for mercy and I gave it to them.

“I’m buying you some ‘Oder-eaters’, McKinney!”
“Please do,” I replied while keeping my eyes closed.
“I’m also going to buy a gas mask.”
“It’d be kind of hard to play with that on, eh, El?”
“Fine, I’ll just use a clothespin.”

I heard a small ‘thud’ and Elliot sat down next to me.
I opened my eyes and turned to his direction. His tuba wedged in front of him.
“Why did we join marching band?”
“So we could use the practice room.”
“I mean, why doesn’t this high school have a jazz band? We have, like, a hundred-five plus band and some three billion football players. You’d think they’d have another outlet.”
“There’s always volleyball.”
“Maybe cheerleading?”
“I’ll just watch them.”
“You mean you’ll watch Sharon.”
“I would, but the second she saw me, there would be a sneaker hurtling towards my head.”
Elliot nodded.

Rob dragged his feet and a snare drum behind him. It was fortunate that Mr. Byrd, the band director, didn’t notice.

“Take this drum and throw it into the creek, please.”
“You’re doing a good job destroying it like that yourself,” El replied.
“No, I mean I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to have this thing over my neck.”
“You should have backed me up on the float thing,” I said as I sat up.
“Oh yeah, like the fire department did?”
“They would have loved the finale.”
“The flaming slide?”
“Yes,” I said as I raised my hand high.

Okay, picture it: I’m on my knees with a Fender high in the air as I play the last part of the banner and right at the end, where “brave” would be, I’d throw this heavy slide and have lighter fluid coming out of the end of the neck, connected to lighters as this multi-stream of fire cascades around me.

“It was a good design,” Gary replied as he walked by with his neck-mounted mini xylophone, or bells, as they were referred to. “Are we going to practice?”
“Can you play the bass line since Sharon’s at camp?”
“Gonna have to, I suppose.”
“The dead must rise,” I announced.

We marched like a small band of zombies back to the band room and stacked our equipment as carefully as as short order cook with a dozen eggs. The four of us then went into another room and closed the sound-proof door.

“Freedom!” Elliott shouted; his voice echoed off of the walls.

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This story is 970 words long.