I knew they would ‘take steps’ if they heard that we intended to play the kind of music Danny had opened our eyes to. When I mean take steps, I mean the kind like the wide receiver hears when the quarterback tosses the ball a bit too high and the receiver makes the unconscious decision to protect his ribs instead of catching the ball, the foot fall of impending doom. Dad’s music tastes didn’t stray very far beyond nineteen seventy five, a little Bob Seger, a little J. Geils. Freeze frame, was the death knoll for my Dad’s interest in music, the top forty dirge of a great blues band. I bought him “Live blow your face out” one Christmas. Twenty years later it’s like ‘Angel is a centerfold’ is the only song the band ever played.
Of course, Danny was back at the Core the very next weekend. He even asked why I hadn’t phoned Shannon. I saw the little red chevette drive by a few times. I figured it had to run low on gas some day. Time is on my side, yes it is.
We talked in earnest about the singing problem. Danny said flat out that Kurt wouldn’t cut it and I had to agree. He had a decent voice, nothing to write home about, but had a memory like a sieve.
He had even greater doubts about Howard. We had all listened to Howard mumble, often under his breath, when he couldn’t find the right key or when one of us had caused the problem. Howard couldn’t even talk, could we really believe he could sing?
So I stood in the kitchen leaning on a mop that I was supposed to be pushing listening to the pop and crackle of my mom’s a.m. radio. CKLW pumping out yesterdays hits from hi atop the avocado green fridge. Fleetwood Mac was playing, Stevie Nicks singing something unintelligible between melodic slurs and a.m. crackle.
A grinchish smile split my face. I had an idea. I had a wonderful, awful idea. Now just to make it work, which as a rule is the worst part. After all, how many really good ideas have gone into the circular file because everyone was too chicken shit to try it, instead of some half ass idea that had been done in a half ass way once or twice before?
I click through Danny’s phone number, plastering a smile on my face, like Mr. Fowler, the business teacher always says, “when you’re doing business do business with a smile on your face.”
“Hey Danny, I’ve got a great idea,” cringing I think of every pitch man with a stupid idea that has said that same phrase. “Why don’t we ask Shona Maggio to sing in the band?”
Crypt like silence.
Stevie Nicks mumbles her way through another six bars.
“Can she sing?” he asks, as though it really matters. She could stand there like Josey’s extra pussy cat, thumping a tambourine and smile, and I think she would cause a sensation. The best part is that somewhere in my recollection I think she used to sing in the Church choir at Holy Name. Hey, maybe she can sing.
“Tell ya what,” Danny says, “You ask her to audition and we’ll see what we think.”
It would give me an excuse to call her. My stomach began to twitch at the very thought of it.
Stevie Nicks had given way to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
“Okay, deal. I’ll give her a call.”
“You get right on that Ed. See ya.”
“Even the losers get lucky sometimes...” Tom encouraged me through the hiss of the cheap cream coloured radio.
Shona’s number, or a close approximation to it, was easy to come buy. Her father, Vincent Maggio, sold real estate and must’ve been fairly good at it, because somewhere he’d picked up the nickname “the closer”. Closer, loser, interesting how similar those two words are. It was as though all he had to do was go out and throw nine strikes.
Just keep making good pitches.
He sponsored a little league team every year. He’d get his picture taken with them. He had a warm endearing smile full of brilliance and earnestness and soft Mocha brown eyes. Shona had inherited both, her eyes likes chocolates for the soul. Win or lose he’d put the picture on a few billboards in town, especially the one on University near the hospital.
“Put the Closer on YOUR team.” with the phone number in red letters bigger than me.
I dialed the first five numbers before my stomach corkscrewed and I hung up.
After a deep breath I got all seven.
“Vincent Maggio’s office,” a young sounding feminine assistant replied.
“Um.... excuse me, but I’d like to speak to Shona Maggio... his daughter...Um”
It had never occurred to me that his was an office number.
“Who is this?” she asked.
Frozen like a deer about to dip his lip in a stream hearing the snap of a twig.
Or was that a gun cocking?
I remember when Kevin Myers got his bell rung running into the goal post without his helmet on during a pick up game. He hit it so hard that he couldn’t remember his name. It was like that, sort of; a concussion of the heart.
“Ed, ...Ed Larsen, from school.”
God, I sound like a right basket case.
“Oh, Hi Ed. Can I call you right back? I’m not supposed to use Dad’s phone, okay?”
“Uh, Ed. What’s your number?”
I recite, with some hesitation my phone number.
I tried not to watch the phone, my mother’s pot watching theory being put to a cross platform test. Time slowed to near glacial proportions. Seconds stretched to their limits then the big red hand that seemed to move so smoothly before lurched to the next little hash mark.
From a health consideration it was probably a good thing that she was going to call me back, or at least said she was. My heart was thumping so hard that I though it might put a hole right through the skin.
It sunk in as I watched the kitchen phone not ring, that she had recognized my name. As I willed the phone to ring again I could be flushed with that small encouragement. The thought of her knowing me, without a lengthy explanation of who and what I was, set my heart through the forty meter hurdles. The track meet in my chest started again at the sound of the phone ringing like a starters pistol. I false started lingering towards the phone, but stopping short. I relaxed then determined that I would pick it up on the fourth ring.
On the second ring I picked it up.
“Hey, is Kevin there?”
It was Dane.
NO! She was trying to call right now. At this very instance she is dialing the numbers, her white, French polished nails dancing over the numbers. As I listened to Dane and his lame request for my brother so they could no doubt drone on incessantly about some car engine, I could only think, in sheer horror, that Shona was even now getting a busy signal.
If I had divulged that I was waiting on a call Dane could care less and probably take more time just to be a dick. Which he was, God rest his soul. If I hung up he’d only call back.
I did the only thing I could. It was the only reasonable response under such extraordinary circumstances.
“Nope, he’s down at the garage I think. Bye.”
The phone did not ring.
On the Avocado green fridge is a to do list, held by a magnet shaped like a little smiley face sun. A black and yellow Valium like grin, placid and peaceful stares back at me. On the list of things were: buy eggs, hem pants. I wanted very badly to write:
Dane must die.
The phone rings. Runners sprint from the blocks, their feet like the beat of my heart.
“Oh, Hi Shona.”
Silence, awkward and long.
“So, Ed. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“Well, see, there’s this band that I’m in and we need a singer. I remember that you sang back in church. Would you like to come over on Saturday and maybe sing with us?”
“I don’t know,” she hesitates.
“Look, I live on Cameron ave near University. We’ll be jamming from about one O’clock. If you want come on over, that would be cool. “
“Okay, I’ll think about it. Thanks Ed.”
“See you Saturday, I guess...”
Friday I made parole, the core incident was thirteen days behind me and I was a new man, turned over a new leaf. Honest Warden. With my impending release, the day already had some festiveness to it. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. Visions of Shona danced in my head. It was like Christmas Eve, without ever having to wrap one lousy present or eat any of Aunt Louise’s fruit cake.
I tried in vain to remind myself that it was only a maybe, a possibility, an opportunity perhaps, but no certainty. A Christmas eve where you think of all the naughty shit you’ve pulled over the last year and think on the lump of coal that might be waiting on ya.
I woke up at seven thirty, something I hadn’t done on purpose since I was eight years old, eating Cheerios with Kevin and watching Scooby Doo in our super hero P. J.’s. He was spidey and I was Batman. We would get up early and eat cereal and cookies liking the run of the house while Mom and Dad slept. Sometimes we would take a look a the newsprint schedule on the side of the fridge and try and figure out when Dad would take us to see the tiger’s play again. All my friends were Blue Jay fans, around my house that would be branded heresy.
If I had to pick a best year, 1984 would have to be up there. My Dad walked around on clouds that whole summer. His Tiger’s, always stressing the possessive, started 35 -5 best first forty in major league history.
The batting order was dubbed the lumber company. They just smelled like victory. He promised to take Kevin and me to a game. Kevin wanted to see the Whitesox or the Blue Jays. I wanted to see the Cleveland Indians.
We sat arguing through the entire mystery, Fred and Velma piecing it all together as we flicked cheerio’s at one another. Dad, unshaven and bleary eyed shushed us just as the villain exclaimed “if it hadn’t been for those damn kids.”
“Damn kids alright...” Dad agreed.
We were all in the garage early Saturday, Danny strumming and screwing around with the amps and Kurt leaning in to see what he was doing. Howard was sitting around plunking out a few riffs. He was trying really hard to wrap his pudgy fingers around a particularly long and winding solo. It was tying his fingers in knots.
I was pretty much useless, distracted as I was hoping that she would show, keeping a keen eye on the slit of light at the bottom of the garage door, hoping beyond hope to see her ankles.
It was just a maybe. I tried to remind myself. Soften the blow with a little fluffing of the pillow. I listened to Howard pound out the notes the riff slowly unknotting itself into a primal baseline beat. He began to grin again. It seemed that anything was possible, just not very likely.
I saw a pair of white nikes, a red swoosh, waiting turning and coming back. Everyone wore Nikes, but they weren’t Kevin’s big size eleven clod hoppers. These were tiny, delicate feet, soft of step.
They could only be hers.
Then a blinding light filled the garage, silhouetting her form, disguising her identity. Pupils dilating, chords dying against the rattle of door chains, distortion heralds her entrance.
Danny and Kurt tried to be unsurprised, nonchalant , turning their backs to the amp eye brows raised.
Howard, just sort of leered in lip hanging silence.
“Hi Shona,” I stammered, “I wasn’t sure if you’d show.”
She just smiled that ten thousand dollar, orthodontic enhanced measured in Megawatts smile. “What did you want me to sing?”
I shot Danny a glance.
“I don’t know is there something we both know?” he asked.
“Well, What do you think Danny?” I asked.
She gave him one of those electric smiles. He shifted his head slightly, and you could almost hear the dynamic shifting with it, the slide of his hair to one side like the deck chairs sliding across the deck of the Titanic. The glare from his eyes was iceberg cold.
“Let’s take a smoke break,” he said and since he was the only one who smoked, he walked out.
I followed, leaving Kurt and Howard to fend for themselves. She was a thorn between two buds, though they might never bloom like a couple of shrinking violets. I followed Danny and although the situation was becoming a bit thorny I thought Danny was being a prick.
“What the fuck, Danny?” I said.
“What the fuck yourself! I didn’t really think you’d ask her!”
“Shit, man. I told you I would.”
“Ya, well, you said you’d call Shannon too. She’s been calling me and asking for your number.” He sighed and lit a smoke. He drew and deep breath and I thought the smoke might come out his ears.
“Well, I don’t know what the fuck to do with her,” he said flicking the ashes on to the concrete. “If we dump her they’ll crucify us at school. I know I’m not supposed to give a shit but guess what.... I thought this would get them off my back y’know. What if she can’t sing!? Did you ever think of that? Or were you just thinking with Biggus Dickus?”
“But what if she can, huh? She could be the answer. Kurt can’t sing. Howard can’t sing. Fuck, I have a hard enough time playing the drums let alone trying to sing at the same time. I’m telling ya... she could be it!”
“Well, I’m telling you one thing. She fucking better be, cause now we’re stuck with her. Rain or Shine.”
We were the only ones outside, Danny puffing on his smoke slow boiling and I trying to settle him down. Then we heard an “attention K-mart shoppers” feed back squelch as either Kurt or Howard, most likely Kurt, pulled down the hand held mike.
She began to sing, kind of hesitant at first, a capella.
“You were meant for me and I..... was meant for you.”
Her voice filled my heart so that for a moment I thought that maybe Jewel was right and that she was meant for me. Her voice was like satin, smooth and cool, vibrating through us partially distorted on the cheap ass speakers that Kurt was still trying to completely figure out. Her voice sounded like the truth, which in the end is all that a lie can aspire to be, but when she sung to us, “I was meant for you...” It was the worst kind of lie, the kind that you believe in because you want it so much to be the truth. The kind that even when the shake the ugly truth in your face you still just don’t want to let this go, just from the beauty of it.
Kurt joined in about fifteen bars later and Danny turned to me, the twisted metal wires bent around where teeth should be in what could only be converted into a shit eating grin.
“Lot, you are a fucking genius...” he said then flung his butt into the concrete in front of his fathers garage doors, then went back inside.
I listened to her sing just a little bit longer then turned my face to the November sun and gave what my Dad liked to call the Alan Shepard Jr. prayer.
“Lord, please don’t let me fuck this up.”
Tamil Nadu Board which Conducts the Examination of Plus Two in Month of March. Supplementary Examination Conducts in month of Jun. TN +2 Model Paper 2021 TN DGE board Annually and Private and Regular Students Participate in Plus One & Plus Two Examination every year more than laks of students.ReplyDelete