Something was scratching Scott's face. He pried his eyes open, the dim light outlining strands of mouse brown hair. Warm, sausage-scented breath filled his nostrils as the apparition spoke.
"I think he's awake now!"
Scott blinked to clear his vision and propped himself up on one elbow. The back of his head throbbed at the motion. He gingerly placed a grit covered hand on it. The unfamiliar person straightened and took a step back. Scott looked around to ascertain his surroundings. He was lying on the hood of a dusty Honda. He was in Dave's garage. Again.
Dave, Melody and Andronicus were standing a few feet away in a corner, talking in loud voices. None of them seemed overly concerned with regards to Scott's wellbeing. It took the seemingly normal brown haired guy several tries to get their attention. He kept looking back at Scott with a worried and guilt ridden expression. He held a neon orange Frisbee in one hand and was shaking it emphatically at Scott's, for lack of a better word, friends.
"You guys! Your friend's awake! Hello?"
Dave looked away from Andronicus and towards Scott. Upon seeing Scott conscious he giddily flashed his teeth.
"Dude! You woke up!"
"That's what I've been saying," the stranger replied, spinning the Frisbee by its rim around one finger.
Andronicus and Melody glanced at Scott briefly. Uninterested, they returned to whatever debate they were having.
Still dizzy, Scott used his hands to steady himself fully.
"Yeah, my head's killing me. What happened?"
Dave walked over and stood in front of him. He clapped Scott on the shoulder, making him wince. The stranger frowned and slightly raised a hand, intending to pull Dave back. Scott shook his head; it would be an exercise in futility.
"Mark beaned you with a Frisbee, man. I've never see anyone go down like that."
"The guy who rolled you here in a wheel barrow."
The stranger smiled at waved at Scott.
"Hey," Scott replied.
"Hey," mimicked Dave.
Mark walked over to Scott and Dave, guilt painting his face once more.
"Dude, I'm totally sorry about hitting you. It was, like, an accident."
"It's cool, I'm fine now. I think," Scott added dubiously.
Dave gave Mark and Scott and odd look of accomplishment. His hand tightened on Scott's shoulder. Scott tried to pull of Dave's hand but it was going nowhere. Scott felt his brain jostling around his skull as Dave pushed him back and forth.
"Well, well, well. It looks like you owe Scott one, Mark."
Mark looked toward his shoes, shuffling awkwardly. A few seconds passed and he looked back up again to meet Scott's eyes.
"I will, like, seriously do anything to make it up to you."
Scott knew where this was going.
"I said it's fine, don't even worry about it."
"No!" Dave reached over and took Mark's arm. "You must make amends."
"What can I do?"
Dave smirked at Scott and gave him a conspicuous wink.
"Join our band."
Mark's furrowed eyebrows abandoned their struggle and rose in surprise.
"You have a band?"
"Sure do," Dave said. "I think you'd fit in perfectly."
"Don't insult him, Dave," Scott said. Mark looked at him, confused.
"Ignore Scott. His mind must be a little muddled after the incident."
"Really? I said we should take him to the hospital."
Dave laughed, "He'll be fine. If you join the band, that is."
Scott hoped Mark wasn't the kind to be so easily and weakly manipulated.
"Those are to completely unrelated thi"
"You mean," began Mark slowly, "if I join the band"
"You're his only hope for recovery, Mark," Dave affirmed. "Iweuh, Scott needs you!"
"You don't even have to, like, ask me twice. Dude, I'm totally in!"
Scott couldn't believe what he was hearing. Now he would have to contend with two idiots, Melody and Andronicus aside. Dave called the two over; Scott imagined he saw a pleased aura pulsing around him. Dave's fingers were still sinking into his shoulder. After being briefed on Dave's new acquisition, Melody pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose, eyes flashing.
"So, Mark, can you play any instruments."
"Uh, no. But," he said, brightening, "my brother's in drum corps. I could ask him for some stuff."
"Alright!" Dave's bellow echoed in the small garage.
"That's good," Melody said. "So we have my trumpet, Dave's xylophone, Mark's drums and the bass I borrowed from school. Oh, I also got an amp for it."
"What bass?" Scott inquired, looking around.
Melody motioned towards a wall. "Over there."
Scott moved towards a curved shaped. As he got closer he noticed the cream-colored paint on the body was mostly worn off, the wood grains standing out. The neck had a dull shine obscured by years of dust and grit. The three strings looked brittle and near breaking. It was, in short, a piece of shit.
"It looks like a piece of shit," Scott said.
"Yeah, I know," Melody said matter-of-factly. "It's been in the orchestra's storage room for years. Someone needs to clean it up and restring it." Andronicus walked over to the battered base, curious.
"How does it work?"
He lifted the E string away from the fretboard and immediately let it snap back, unused to the tension. He yelped and jump backwards, covering the left side of his face with a hand. The bass was now down to two strings. His other hand formed a fist and he raised it menacingly.
"You cursed device! I shall have my revenge!"
"Be more careful," Melody said.
Dave released Scott and approached Andronicus.
"Don't worry, Andro," Dave cooed.
"An actor's face is his most precious possession!"
"I know, I know," Dave replied. "You won't have to touch the scary bass again."
"I have no intention of doing so!" Andronicus retreated further, going behind Scott to place the car between himself and the dilapidated instrument.
Melody looked around the garage. "Do any of you know how to deal with this?"
Scott hesitated, reluctant to reveal any personal information. The silence stretched no one willing to admit ignorance or offer help. Scott sighed.
"I might be able to do something." Everyone looked at him, hopeful and astounded. "My dad plays guitar."
Dave hurried over and tossed his blonde hair in excitement.
"Really? Why didn't you tell us before?"
"Scott, do you think you could get us a guitar too?"
"Man I'm hungry."
"Weren't we supposed to have an audition?" Andronicus came out from behind the Honda. "We've already been here for half an hour; I'd like to get it done today."
Dave clapped his hands together to claim everyone's attention.
"Fine. Scott's gonna take the bass and wheel barrow to get repaired."
"Yeah, and you're also getting a guitar from your dad."
"I still have to ask him. I don't know if he'll just give one to me."
Dave gave him a hard stare that was spoiled by his effort to frown. "You. Are. Going. To. Get. A. Guitar."
Scott regarded Dave incredulously and kept his mouth shut.
"Time for the audition. Mark, Scott, stand back. Magic is about to happen. You wanna go first Melody?"
Andronicus cleared his throat. "Excuse me, I believe I should be the first to go. You do expect me to lead this band, correct?"
"Yes, of course," said Dave, giving Andronicus a curtsy. "It's a good thing you kept your costume on."
"This," Andronicus said, plucking his purple cape and rearranging his crown, "Is not a costume. It is a way of life. May I begin?"
Andronicus shooed Scott off the car and to the far wall. Mark joined him and the group stood close together, all eyes on the actor. Andronicus threw back his cape and approached the car. Placing a foot on the bumper he clawed his right hand and thrust it upward, addressing the garage door in an imperial voice.
"To be or not to be, that is the"
"Amazing! Beautiful oration!" Dave clapped loudly. Andronicus stared at him with a deathly glare.
"I wasn't finished yet."
"Your prowess is evident. I don't need to see anymore. Welcome to the band." Andronicus let his chin fall to his chest and took a calming breath. Over his back Scott could see someone peeking through the garage window. It looked like the chubby girl he had seen at school earlier. He blinked and she was gone.
"Melody, your turn."
Melody, her antique trumpet with a startling new mouthpiece in her hands, switched places with Andronicus. Leaning against the wall, arms crossed and pouting, he was a prince in perfect form. This close Scott had a good view of his softly curled black hair, the roots of which appeared orange.
Halfway between the car and her audience Melody stopped, facing the latter. She took a deep breath and raised the trumpet to her lips. A long, shaky and obnoxiously loud note blared out. Dave was the only one who didn't cover his ears.
"Perfect!" He screamed, the pitch clashing horrible with the trumpet. Melody stopped, lowered the trumpet and breathed heavily.
"Was I good?"
"Melody," Dave said in a serious tone, "You are exactly what we need."
"Her parents must have been insane to give her that name," Scott mumbled. Mark overheard and bit off a giggle.
Melody smiled broadly and walked back toward the group. Her hazel eyes glinted in the murky light. Scott wondered if she was plotting something, though he couldn't imagine what. Maybe this was just her opportunity to shine.
"Good job everyone. Scott, do you think you can take care of whatever it was we asked you to take care of by the end of the week?"
"I can try, I guess."
"Awesome. The wheel barrow's out front."
"Thanks," Scott said, the sarcasm going above Dave's head. He walked over to the bass and gingerly picked it up by the neck, his other hand snaking around to grip the side of the body. He held the remaining strings down and hoped they wouldn't break. Mark stood nervously near Dave, Frisbee held absentmindedly, not knowing what to do as the others made ready to leave. Andronicus lead the charge, throwing the garage's side door open and exiting with his head held high. Melody followed close behind, the trumpet case hitting her knees. Scott looked at Dave and Mark, cautiously cradling the bass.
"So, do I have to audition too?" Mark asked.
Scott carried the bass outside. The wheel barrow was overturned on the front lawn. Scott kicked it upright with is foot and set the worn instrument gently inside. He doubted it could get any more damaged but opted to go at a slow pace anyway. He wasn't in a rush to get home. Something rushed passed his head as he made his way down the block. Mark had thrown the Frisbee and was chasing it down the street. Catching it, he yelled back at Scott.
"Oh, yeah, dude. I'm on the ultimate Frisbee team!"
"Something like that exists?" Scott said to himself.
"You should totally come to one of our games sometime."
Mark was looking past Scott. Scott turned around at saw Dave waving with both arms.
"See you at school!" Dave's powerful shout rebounded down the block.
Scott pressed onward, thinking about the conversation he would have with his father and ruing the long journey home.