So, how long have you been playing?
The band, with the notable exception of Bessie, were sitting at a table in the cafeteria during lunch the Monday after the show. It turned out Bessie went to a school across town. How she found out about their band, her motives, everything excluding her name and singing ability was a mystery that Melody wanted to solve. Dave, sitting across the table from her, was more readily available.
I said, How long have you been playing?'
Don't know what you're talking about.
Scott looked up from his tray of slob, not interested in eating it.
What are you two talking about?
Scott, I have no idea. Melody is interrogating me when we should be scrutinizing our performance!
Don't change the subject, Dave. I saw what I saw.
I bet your glasses were coated with grease or something. I don't know what you do with your free time.
Moving on, Andro, give us a break down of the crowd's reaction.
Pray tell, what crowd would that be Sir Dave?
Dude, there was, like, that one guy.
I think that was the bartender, Scott said, resting his head on a propped arm.
Be that as that may, we did have an audience. It's not as if we drove them out. Andro, what was it? Good? Bad?
I thought it went well, considering. Melody, accustomed to getting booed off stage, was happy with being allowed to finish the set.
Someone of my standing is used to enthusiastic accolade and standing ovations. True, most people did not walk out after the first song; they were stunned into watching us until the end. However, we were a curiosity at most.
Dave slapped the table, rattling trays and bottles perched on top of it. Good, that's exactly what we want. Need I remind you what our goal is?
We have a goal?
No clue, dude.
Something about bananas?
I didn't think so, Dave said smugly. We got the crowd we want, so we need to improve our stage presence.
We should probably start with improving our songs, Melody said.
I concur, therein lies the heart of the matter!
You guys are no helpokay, Mark!
We're going to take a little field trip.
You three, Dave said, waving a dismissive hand, if you're hell bent on destroying all I have done so far, just head to my house and practice.
What about Mark? Scott asked. I don't want to be the only one stuck doing drills.
Mark's the bassist. No one cares. A student at a nearby table heard and turned around angrily.
Wanna say that again, bro?
Not really. Anyway, I'll fill you in on the details after school, Mark. The bell rang. See you guys later.
Scott left his untouched meal on the table and added his Later to the chorus chasing Dave's skipping form out of the cafeteria. He started to head to his next class but felt someone tug on his sleeve. It was Melody, determination in her eyes.
We're going over the rudiments this afternoon.
I'll explain when I show you. I'll meet you and Andro out front. See you!
Scott raised his arm. Yeah. This drum thing was starting to grow on him. He wondered how far he could take it. Catching the double entendre, he decided to think of something else.
Bessie walked out of the girl's bathroom, patting her hands dry on her skirt. She walked down the hallway to return to her last class of the day. She didn't notice the footsteps carefully masked by her own until it was too late. A hand snaked over her should and covered her mouth while another hooked around her right arm. A second person grabbed her other arm and they began dragging her backwards. She kicked and flailed, her screams muffled by the hand. The halls were empty, there was no one to see her final moments. Her eyes spun wildly, tearing up. The kidnappers dragged her into a closet that reeked of cleaning supplies. The door closed and the light flickered on. She was released and she scoured the shelves in front of her for something, anything to defend herself with. Someone tapped her shoulder and she spun around, screaming and swinging a dust rag in front of her closed eyes.
Triple B. She pried one eye open, wondering who would laugh in a situation like this. Calm down, it's us!
Dave? She opened her eyes fully. Mark? Tears poured out of Bessie's eyes, spoiling her relieved expression. I thought someone was going to starve me in the bottom of a well and then use my skin to make a female-skin jacket.
Dude, like, who would do that?
I don't know! Bessie cried over Dave's guffaws. Anyway, she continued, wiping her eyes with a sleeve, what're you doing here?
Put this on, dude, Mark said, handing her a ski mask.
Bessie, calm thyself. There is something here we must acquire at all costs. When do the last classes end?
I don't know, half an hour?
What about clubs?
Um, five I think.
Can you lead us to the AV club's lair?
Stop asking questions. Can you take us there, yes or no?
Dave smiled. Great. Now we play the waiting game.
Bessie found herself leading Mark and Dave towards the AV club in the abandoned school, hugging the walls and peering cautiously around corners. She was shaking, but swallowed her cowardice.
Nice, is the door locked? She tried the handle and it turned. The door squeaked open an inch.
No. I-it looks like no one's inside.
Okay. I'll go in first. Mark, you follow me. Do a tumble or something cool like that. Bessie, you keep guard.
Bessie let Dave and Mark past, Mark rolling clumsily. She scoured the halls, knuckles white from clutching the edge of the door.
Mark! She heard Dave whisper. Check the closet.
Roger that, man. She heard another door opening. Dude, is this it?
My god, it's beautiful.
Down the hall Bessie saw a dimmed flashlight turn a corner.
Oh my god, oh my god, someone's coming!
Grab it Mark! Let's get the hell out of here!
There's no time! Bessie whimpered. We're doomed!
Dave grabbed her arm and pulled her into the classroom. We're taking the window.
Mark was already standing outside, holding their spoils. Dave went first, then turned around to help Bessie squeeze through. Putting a hand to her bruised stomach, she looked over her shoulder. The security guard passed by the class room without looking inside. Bessie sighed in relief and looked back at her friends.
Our salvation. Run, Bessie! Run as if your chubby life depended on it!
Scott's legs were killing him. He tried to keep his heels down on the pedals, then he lifted them for a moment of relief. After a while his thighs would start to ache so he put them down again. It was an endless, torturous cycle.
It's still sounding choppy. You need to make each hit flow together. One and two and three and four, okay? And remember, it's right, left, right, right, left, right, left, left.
Andronicus cleared his throat. Melody, my dear gentlewoman, I am not one to be kept waiting. He held up a piece of paper. I demand you listen to my recitation. I believe this ballad will put us on the map!
Melody rubbed her temples then pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. Fine. Scott, keep at it. If you get sick of the paradiddles
Seriously, is that a word? Are you making this up just to annoy me?
you can go back to doing single and double rolls. You have something you want to share, Andro? You really should be practicing too.
Andonicus sniffed. I have spoken with my mother and she has agreed to pay for lessons out of the family coffers. I shall become a virtuoso within the year! Back to the matter at hand. He shook the paper in her face. It ismy opus.
Let's just get this over with.
Well, then, he said, clearing his throat. Excuse me.
The lands are barren, empty and black The wars of ages past, the hardened tack The orgy of lies, the web of deceit I stand and cry, silent My broken kingdom at my feet. The birds have all flown From my sacred home The statues of worship Sold for bitter turnips Yet, still, I stand tall! Oblivious to the fall
A ring from Melody's pocket interrupted his soliloquy. Hm? Sorry, Andro, I need to take this. She pulled her phone out. It was a blocked number. Wondering who it could be, she answered.
Hello? Who is this? Scott stopped hitting the snare and looked up. He watched Melody's eyes widen. What do you want?
The door leading to the house opening and Cassandra, Dave's doppelganger, stuck her head into the garage. What's going on?
Goodness, it's Dave Jr. again. Andronicus tilted his head in acknowledgement.
I told you I'm a girl!
Shh, Melody said, putting a finger to her lips, I'm trying to hear. Sorry, could you say that again? They watched in silence as Melody nodded grimly. Her eyes narrowed and her mouth formed a smirk.
Got it. We'll be there. She hung up and put the phone back into her pocket.
So, who was it?
Melody looked at Scott, still smirking. Get back to practice.
Dave burst into his garage, followed by Mark and Bessie.
You guys got it?
Sure did, Dave replied, patting Mark on the shoulder.
Got what? Lemme see!
Oh, hey Cass. Didn't see you there. You're a very small person easily dwarfed by rabbits.
Shut up, lemme seeeeeeeeeeee!
Whoa, chill little Dave dude, Mark said, fending her off.
I told you I'm a girl!
Dave, we got some new, Melody said wickedly, handing Andronicus his corrected lyrics. Grant called with an offer.
That douchebag from the Aluminum Cans? Scott asked from behind his drums. Cassie squealed at their name.
No way! You guys know them? Take me too! I wanna see them!
Yeah, apparently they want us to open for them again this Saturday.
Dave let out an animalistic roar that made his band mates and sister cover their ears. THIS IS ROUND TWO! He pulled something swiftly out of his back pocket and threw it at Scott. It whistled past his head and thudded into the wall behind him. Looking back, he saw a Bowie knife embedded in the wood, quivering. Bessie gasped.
HOLY SHIT! Andronicus and Mark shouted in unison.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!? Melody yelled, running over to Scott. Scott looked from the knife to Dave and back, jaw swinging freely.
Dave bent his knees and pointed into the distance. THIS SATURDAY, THE ALUMINUM CANS WILL BE CRUSHED!
The garage was silent for a few moments as the implications of Dave's statement sunk in. He looked at Scott expectantly.
Oh, uh Scott raised his drumsticks.
BA DUM TSH.