Attitude Adjustment

•January 7, 2014 • 2 Comments

I may catch some flack for this, but I’ve seen it so frequently the past few months I simply cannot stay silent anymore.

There are A LOT of professional (or aspiring to professional) musicians out there who need an attitude adjustment.  What am I talking about, you may ask?  Statements like the following:

“I’ve studied this instrument for ____ years.  I know best.”

“I didn’t spend all that time in school to play whole notes.”

“They don’t read music. How could they know what they want to hear?”

If you’re a musician who chooses to collaborate with others, you don’t have the right to criticize them unless they’ve validly done something stupid or ignorant.  There’s a story I heard a few years ago which happened during a recording session, where the composer freaked out because a melody they’d written was not played in the bassoon, like they wanted.  The conductor explained that it was out of the bassoon’s range, so the oboe took it instead.  The composer, livid, said, “Well, the computer can play it!”

Now, before you roll your eyes, consider that the bassoon falls into the class of instruments that MOST MUSICIANS don’t know how to write for, unless they play it.  (Heck, I don’t know the range of a bassoon. I’d have to look it up.) Others in this class are viola, English horn, saxophone, and contra-anything.  And the rule remains – just because it CAN be done, does not mean it SHOULD.

So, any of you who roll your eyes when you hear an ignorant statement like, “Well, the computer can play it!” instead of complaining about someone being stupid, EDUCATE them.  You don’t know anyone else’s musical background, and I can solidly say from experience that some of the most beautiful and interesting music I’ve heard came from people who don’t read music and don’t know “the rules.”  (Of course, if they choose to argue with you and live in their ignorance is bliss world, that’s their choice and you can’t help it.  Just smile and nod and keep their name in mind so you don’t work with them ever again.)

And for the record, there are very famous composers out there who couldn’t write a viola part for shit.  Tchaikovsky and Copland, I’m looking at you.  John Williams, too.

But there’s another side to this musician attitude adjustment.  Many of the people I work with are NOT of a classical nature, even if they play classical instruments.  If you play violin, for example, and decide that you want to play for rock bands, most of your playing career is going to be long, held notes.  All those hours perfecting Mendelssohn / Sibelius / Tchaikovsky / *insert commonly overplayed violin concerto here* definitely honed your skills and (hopefully) made you better, but can you count to a click track?  Can you follow a changing drum pattern or a new guitar riff?  Can you play without a key signature?  Can you improvise a solo?  If your answer to any of those is “No,” then I’m sorry to say you’re going to find it difficult to get along in the non-traditional music world.  And nobody cares that you won the concerto competition with the Brahms as a freshman.  It’s irrelevant to your current situation.

Musicians do not live in their own isolated bubble.  Very rarely do we perform anything by ourselves.  So not only do you have to keep your ego in check, you have to know how to work and blend with others.  How many of you eschewed chamber music in college because it took away from your solo practice time?  Guess how many musical skills you missed out on?  A rock band is just an amplified chamber ensemble.  Everyone has their own part, and if you mess up, you screw up the rest of the group’s sound.  You can mess up in a symphonic string section and nobody but you (and possibly your stand partner) will know.  

Additionally, when you choose to play parties or events, remember your audience.  One of my best friends has a story from her college days of a gig with the cello choir that frustrated the group because:

– They had to play in a small area and “didn’t have enough bow room”
– The audience wanted to hear familiar tunes, not the complicated, obscure stuff the cello choir wanted to play
– The audience barely listened because the cello choir were background music
– Nobody in the crowd acknowledged the “artistic integrity” of the cello choir

Now, this friend and I played in the same youth orchestra.  We played gigs and concerts where there was barely enough room to sit let alone play.  We played Christmas carols in a greenhouse, or outside (on Long Island, in December) and HAD FUN, because that’s what gigging and playing for the public is supposed to be – FUN.  

And I think that’s where many professional musicians need the biggest attitude adjustment.  Just because you went to school, have a particular degree, have played here and there for particular big names, if at some point there wasn’t an element of fun, you need to figure out why.  It’s not necessarily a “go home and re-evaluate your life” kind of thing, but it is something worth thinking about.  If you’ve lost the fun of music, you’ve lost the purpose of music.  It’s entertainment.  It’s expression.  It’s art.  There is no right or wrong, no absolute yes or no.  It’s all up for interpretation.

So instead of criticizing others for being less educated than you, or not knowing what your instrument is capable of, enjoy the experience of opening up someone’s mind to new knowledge, and allow the things THEY know to enter your mind as well.  Share your love of music in multiple ways.  But if all you can think of is, “I did all this work for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and they’re paying me next to nothing.  This is such a waste of my talent!” then please go get a day job and leave these gigs to people who will find the fun in them.  And check your ego at the door, because if all you’ve done to this point is practice in solitude, not even a McJob is going to employ you.

The Curse – Part 4

•September 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

It was early.  Too early.  Way too early to answer questions.  Hiding my lack of sleep keeps getting harder.  If only sleep aids worked.  I blink and pour a third cup of coffee for Alexia.  Poor girl had the earliest call time and was still with hair and makeup.  
    “Lookin’ good over here,” I hear Fabian let out a low whistle.  “You’re not nervous, are you?”  I turn and see him behind Alexia.  He winks at her reflection.
    “How are you so awake right now?” She wonders as she blinks her eyes, willing them to stay open.
    Fabian shrugs as a sly smile curls his lip.  “Adrenaline, I guess.  Been looking forward to making band announcements and get things rolling again.  Dmitri and I will do most of the talking, so you don’t have to worry.  But if it will help, I’ll sit next to you.” Fabian took hold of Alexia’s right hand.  “If there’s a question you don’t know how to answer, pinch me.”
    “Uh…okay…” Alexia stammers.  
    I hold back laughter as I approach.  “Stop flirting, Fabian,” I command as authoritatively as I can manage and avoid all possible eye contact with the bassist.  Not going to encourage him.  I hand Alexia her third coffee.  “Your vice?”
    She chuckles nervously.  “One of ‘em.”  I step away, but I notice her glance at the mirror to see if I had a reflection.  Why can’t she just trust me?
    The stylist releases Alexia from the chair and the four of us gather in the wings.  She peers around the corner to get a glimpse of the stage setup.  Fabian wraps an arm around her shoulders, presumably to keep her back.  
    “Seriously!” Alexia hisses.  “How are you so hyper right now?”
    Fabian grins devilishly.  “You’ll realize when the adrenaline hits you.”
    Murmurs from the crowd filter backstage.  Nichodemus and I make eye contact and nod.  “We three will go out first.  When the time is right, we’ll introduce you, Alexia.”  I quickly look her up and down.  “You look very nice.  Just take a deep breath.  You’ll be fine.”
    Our press coordinator gives us the go-ahead to step out on stage.  Fabian leads, flashing his winning smile.  Nichodemus gives a slight head nod and takes the furthest seat.  I look around the room and motion for Inferno to sit.  I read from the prepared sheet in front of me.  “Good morning to all of you.  We, Inferno, are glad that, after seven months of silence, we have news to share with you.  A few weeks ago, we decided to hold auditions for a new lead singer.  We searched for someone with a great voice, strong personality, and an ability to convey emotions with every inch of their soul.  We do not want this to be perceived as a replacement for our dear Angelique.  Ms. D’Arroyo was a singular beauty and talent whose life was extinguished way too early.  But we, as a band, decided it was best for both us and our fans if we continue to make the music we hold so dear to our hearts.”      
    Fabian continues.  “Our new vocalist is someone we have grown close to in the past few weeks, and we look forward to all we’ll be able to accomplish with this new voice at our helm.  I am happy to announce we have already returned to the studio and resumed work on our fourth album.  Our new vocalist understands the situation and challenge and has exceeded our expectations.  I would like for you all, the world, to meet the new vocalist of Inferno, Ms. Alexia Skylark.”
    Alexia enters, smiling kindly and sharing a small wave with the audience.  She takes the seat between Fabian and Nichodemus.  Immediately the press shuffle papers and make busy sounds.  Cameras flash like stage lights throughout the room.  Fabian speaks.  “Alexia is a college trained vocalist.  Mezzo-soprano, for those interested.  She’s been in musical theater throughout her life.  We welcome her with open arms to Inferno.”  He turns and smiles at Alexia, then turns back to the audience.  “We now open the forum to questions and comments.”
    A flurry of hands shoot into the air.  Calls of each of our names meld into one sound.  The press coordinator calls upon a raised hand.  The reporter stands.  “Nichodemus, we at ‘Music Daily’ want to express our heartfelt condolences to you.  How do you feel about someone else voicing Angelique’s words?”
    Alexia visibly tenses.  Nichodemus takes a breath and calmly answers, “I thank ‘Music Daily’ for your sympathy.  While it has been different with Alexia on vocals, I think Dmitri said it best earlier.  It was best that we continue to make music dear to our hearts.”  He pauses.  “Alexia is a fine vocalist and conveys the emotions of the songs well.  I believe Angel would be pleased.”  He sits back in his chair.
    Another question.  “Dmitri, how did you survive the accident?”
    I roll my eyes slightly.  “There was no calculated action.  Fate made the decision.”
    “Alexia, were you at all familiar with Inferno before you became the lead singer?”
    Alexia nods, grateful her first question is an easy one.  “My sister’s a huge Inferno fan, so I had a lot of knowledge about the band and their music.”
    “Dmitri, how long did it take all of you to get back to the studio?”
    I lean over to Fabian and whisper, “Cue the descent into stupid question land.” He nods as I answer, “We all dealt with our loss differently, so we each returned at a different time, with different reason.”
    Fabian adds, “When we needed to get back to work, we got back to work.  End of story.”  And that’s why I keep him around.
    “Alexia, which of the band members do you think is most attractive?”
    Caught off guard, Alexia blushes but laughs it off.  “How is that relevant to anything?  They’re my coworkers.”
    “Does that mean you’re into girls?”
    Alexia blinks.  Yes, they really ask this stuff.  “Irrelevant.  Believe whatever you want.  I’m here to sing, and that’s what I do.  Aren’t there more pertinent questions you can ask?”  Ooh, good answer.  I knew I made the right choice.
    “The three of us think Alexia’s sexy.  That’s all you need to know,” Fabian winks.  Light laughter releases the tension in the room.  I resist the urge to bang my head on the table.
    “What will this new album entail?  How much was done before the hiatus?”
    Oh, look.  A real question! “It was all written before Angelique’s passing,” I explain.  “We’d tracked some of it, but nothing was even close to completion.  This is a fresh start for us, and we’ve appropriately titled the album ‘Phoenix Rising.’ Of course, this title existed before the events of half a year ago, so perhaps Fate decided we needed a little more in the way of truth to the title.”
    “Alexia, what’s your favorite song off the new album?”
    Alexia smiles a genuine smile.  “All I can tell you is it was part of my audition.  It holds a lot of meaning for Dmitri, and I maintain hope that at some point I will be able to sing it the way he wants to hear it.”
    Nichodemus leans over to Alexia and whispers, “Good answer.”
    The press coordinator advises there is time for one last question.
    “Alexia, if you had to describe each of your bandmates in one short statement, what would it be?”
    Alexia hesitates.  “Wow, I’ve never really thought of that.”  She takes a moment to look at each of us in turn.  “Nick is a truly kind soul.  Fabian is a flirt with a heart of gold.  Dmitri is probably the most mysterious person I’ve ever met.”
    “Thank you, Inferno,” the coordinator motions for us to leave the stage.  She addresses the audience as we head back.
    Once out of earshot, Alexia blurts, “What was with that attractiveness question?”
    Fabian laughs.  “They’ll expect you to hook up with one of us, considering this band already had one relationship.  I guess they’re trying to predict who.”
    I shoot Fabian a warning glance.  Nichodemus doesn’t notice and adds, “I recognized that person from past pressers.  She’s with one of those teen magazines.”
    Fabian turns to the tall drummer.  “You handled that backwards, insensitive question very well, man.”
    “Thanks, Fabian,” Nichodemus nods.  “I prepared myself that they were going to ask something like that.  It was inevitable.”
    “So now it’s the photoshoot, then what?” Alexia wonders.
    I glance at my phone.  Right on schedule.  “I’ll probably head home afterwards.”
    Nichodemus says, “I will go home.  I didn’t sleep last night.”
    Fabian smirks.  “I’m going to get food.  You can join me if you like, Alexia.”
    Alexia looks at us, then directly at Fabian.  “Okay.  Works for me.”
    “Fabian,” I say, but my mind blanks.  I think.  “I have an idea for ‘The Darkness of the Broken Heart’ that will require your special talent.  Be around your studio later.”
    Fabian glares at me but says nothing.  Business before pleasure, he has to remember.

The Curse – Part 3

•August 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

(Author’s note: The subject matter in this part may make some people uncomfortable.)

***

The audition was the easy part.  Now, I had to fill Alexia in on the history of Inferno, the kind of image we need her to portray, exactly how much information she could share with Raven and when, and how I plan to utilize her sister.  Everyone in Inferno has some part to play, even the Safiru twins.  I also have to share my secret with Alexia.  In due time.
    I pace back and forth in my apartment, paper pad and pencil in hand, making a checklist of all the things I have to address during this meeting with Alexia.  Inferno’s formal announcement is only a few days away, and in addition to memorizing our history and songs, she has to be prepared for the barrage of questions, both legitimate and asinine, from the media.  “They never learn,” I muse as I scribble a few thoughts in the margin.  There’s a knock at the door.  I turn on the living room light, rest the paper and pencil on the coffee table, and welcome Alexia into my home.  “Thank you for meeting me here.  There’s much to figure out before you’re released into the world.”
    Alexia chuckles nervously.  I can already sense her brain on overload, probably from the project I gave her upon leaving the audition.  She now possesses all of the lyrics for the new album and knows which are my creation and which are Angelique’s.  Alexia is not allowed to change anything, but rather has to figure out what we thought during our compositional process.  I’m sure Raven was being more of a hinderance than a help, reminding Alexia that I like to speak in riddles.  Then I sense Alexia’s thoughts, just briefly.  She’s afraid of the press conference, afraid she’ll say something “wrong” according to my vision.  Well, that’s easy to prevent.  “Would you like anything to drink? Water? Wine?” I offer as Alexia hands me her coat.
    “Water, please,” Alexia says.  She looks around my barren apartment.  “Don’t you have any pictures, or decorations, or…stuff?”
    I grin slightly and hand Alexia a glass of water.  “I don’t spend much time here.  Besides, with the stark landscape the mind is free of distractions and can create its own visions.”  I motion  to the couch.  “Have a seat.”  I sit in the large chair to the side, pick up my pencil and paper, and cross my legs.  “Have you ever done a press conference before?”
    Alexia sips the water.  “Nope.”
    I nod.  “It will seem overwhelming.  Don’t worry about any questions except those directed towards you specifically.  Fabian and I will handle all the inevitable band-related inquiries.  Nick will most likely sit there quietly unless someone singles him out, which could happen.”  I scribble a note to myself.  “We’re approving which questions can be asked beforehand, so there shouldn’t be anything troubling.  However, I know you must have some questions on your mind, and I’d like to give you the chance to ask them.”
    Alexia furrowed her brow.  “I read all the fanclub magazines Raven owns, so I feel like I know the band pretty well.”
    I scoff.  “Those things.  Angel insisted upon them to make us closer to our fans’ images of us.  Personally, I despise them, but I guess they do provide a sort of comfort to our fans, especially in times of uncertainty like the past half year.”  I frown.  “You’ll learn enough about us as you would any other people you spend a lot of time around.  Do you know the band’s history?”
    Alexia nodded.  “Fabian dropped out of college to work in a recording studio after he and Nick started Inferno.  They found you during an open mic night at a local coffee shop and you joined right after one jam session with them.  Angelique was a model aspiring to a singing career, and it just happened that Fabian was the recording engineer for her demo session.  He snuck a copy of her demo for the rest of you to hear and Inferno collectively asked her to be lead singer.  She accepted.  Inferno recorded Ferocity in a month and Fabian got his boss to produce and release the album.  After two short local tours Inferno landed the opening spot for Dungeon Siege on their national tour.  That was six years ago.  I remember because Raven was a huge Dungeon Siege fan in high school.  After that show her Inferno obsession started and, well, has never left.”  I smiled slightly.  Alexia is a quick study.
    “Four songs from Ferocity were released as singles,” Alexia recites.  “Within the following year Inferno signed with a major label and released the second album, Shadow of the Sun, with another four singles that heavily rotated on radio with matching videos on television.  A world tour kept Inferno on the road for eighteen months.  The band took a short break after that.  You wrote songs, Fabian attended the girls’ high school graduation, and Nick and Angelique went public with their relationship.  Inferno announced the third album, Turned Away, then postponed it and switched labels after a contract dispute.  You re-evaluated the album and added the songs ‘Pressed My Luck’ and ‘Just Forget It All.’  There was some worry the latter was Angelique’s breakup song to Nick, but she insisted it was a message to their former label.  You insisted it was deeper than that, but Angelique did not counter.”
    I cocked my head to the side.  “What do you think?”
    Alexia’s eyes flashed.  “Me?  Well…” She took a deep breath.  “Did Angelique have a miscarriage?”
    I know I did not hide my surprise.  “How did you come up with that?”
    “The lyrics.  And the way Angelique sang.  There was a different pain in there than usual, like she missed something or someone, a person dear to her.”
    My lips curl in a very slight smile.  “Very good.  You are correct.  She hadn’t been far along, not out of the first trimester, but she attributed the stress of the label switch to losing the child.  That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the saying goes.”
    “What happened to her?” I can hear the hesitation in her voice.  Alexia is not sure she wants to know.
    I sigh and pull out a cigarette.  There had been no need since the incident to discuss what brought it about, since Nichodemus and Fabian knew.  I hadn’t given it much thought.  I gather my thoughts.  “A lot.  Angel had a lot of personal demons residing in her head, a lot of things she couldn’t let go but also couldn’t escape no matter how hard she tried.”  I light the cigarette, take a drag, and watch the tendrils of smoke rise up as I exhale.  “She was truly happy with Nick, got along famously with Fabian – some of the best friendly insulting banter I’ve ever seen – and had a brilliant imagination and way with words, as you’ve probably noticed.  She was wonderful to work with, never afraid to try anything.”  I pause and lose myself momentarily in a nicotine haze.  “Angel faced a lot of unnecessary adversity, and with the miscarriage she learned she could not bear children.  It was that day her outlook completely changed, and there was no getting her back.”
    The cigarette burns.  I release the ashes into the tray.  “It took a while to all set in.  Angel was fiercely determined.  She tried to fight her demons.  Releasing Turned Away and the following tour helped her for a while, but when we started working on this album she turned again.  Her songs were not as inspired as in the past, but she insisted they needed to be part of the album.  We eventually agreed that it would help her get back to her good side, but that was not the case.”  I stare into space for a moment.  “Tell me, Alexia, what do you think of the new song I had you try at your audition, ‘What I Learned That Night’?”
    Alexia blinks her dark eyes.  “It’s dark but resolute.  Like someone thought about the same things over and over, looking for different answers, but always came to the same conclusion.”
    I nod.  “Good.”  I sit for a moment.  “You two would have made good friends.”  I take another drag to calm my nerves.  “We never told the media the truth.  Even Rian and Sierra don’t know, and I’m sure Raven has no idea.  This stays in Inferno, and if you betray that I will fire you from the band.”  Alexia’s more nervous now.  “Angelique commit suicide.  She intentionally crashed her car.”  The glass of water almost slips from Alexia’s hand, but she catches it just in time.  “It takes a resolute soul to decide to take their own life,” I murmur and extinguish the cigarette.  “It shows conviction, determination.”
    Alexia glares.  “Are you telling me suicide is brave?”
    I shake my head slowly.  “It’s not as simple as that.  Nothing can be as simple as that.  What makes it so complicated is what also makes it so – how should I put this – noble is the word I keep thinking, but not the one I want…” I tap the pencil on my pad of paper.
    Alexia watches my movements carefully.  Silence fills the room.  She quietly asks, “Do you think you should have died instead of Angelique?”
    I stop and sit very still, letting Alexia’s question hang in the air.  I’m not sure I know the answer to this.  Well, I do know the answer.  I’m not sure I’m ready to admit it yet.  Almost there.  “No.”  I rest the pencil on the pad, light another cigarette, take a drag, and meet Alexia’s dark eyes.  I know she can see my cold, grey eyes wobble as I fight back tears.  “I often wonder how the situation could have been avoided in the first place, but knowing what I know, I know that was impossible.  Should I have saved her?  Maybe, but what right do I have to deny her the death she wanted?  It’s not my place to make that decision.  If anything, it would be incredibly selfish of me to deny her what she wanted just so the band didn’t fall apart.  Nothing lasts forever, as much as we want to believe it does.  Forever is just a span of time that the living are aware of.”  I study the burning cigarette, watching the paper char away.  It felt good to get this out.  I couldn’t express it to Fabian or Nichodemus.  They were too deep in their own grief.  “I chose in that last moment not to save her.  Does that mean I am guilty of letting her die?  Or does it make me less brave that I did not use my ability?  Should I have denied her what she desired just because I have that power?  What good does that do?  It only prolongs the inevitable.”
    Alexia’s voice turns dark.  “So you went with her because you knew you could save her, but when the time came you decided not to.  So what purpose did you serve other than potentially making her responsible for a murder-suicide?”  I can feel her accusatory stare burning into me, but I refuse to meet her eyes.  “Did you ever think that you both could have died?  How would Fabian and Nick have taken that, to lose both of you?”    
    I finally turn my tearstained cheeks to her.  “It’s not that simple,” I manage to choke out.  I heave a slow sigh.  “I can read people’s emotions.  I know all of you better than you know yourselves.  I knew what Angel felt, what was going on in her head, what she couldn’t escape from.  I saw her logic behind her actions.  Had I saved her, she would have had to live with all those thoughts for eternity.”
    “But you just said ‘forever is just a span of time’,” Alexia counters.
    “That the living are aware of,” I correct and put out the cigarette.  “Had I saved Angel, she would have been immortal.  I am a vampire, Alexia.  The only way I could have saved her was to turn her into a vampire, too.  And then where would we be?  She’d be stuck for eternity with her internal pain, and she’d end up seeing everyone she loves pass before her eyes.  She’d have to watch Nick age and eventually die, unless I turned him, too.  This is why it’s not that simple.  There were severe consequences and future pain if I saved Angelique that night.  Angel wanted to die.  She wanted things to be over and done with.  I went to save her and hesitated.  Why would I refuse her wish and, in turn, place her into a hell from which she’d never escape?  Her death brings others pain.  I can’t lie, it pains me, too.  But now she’s at peace.”
    Alexia stares at me.  I sigh and twirl the pencil between my fingers.  “That is the truth behind ‘What I Learned That Night’, my dear Alexia.  I learned that, even with my ability to save someone, I had no right to.  I had to choose to let Angel kill herself and accept that I shouldn’t stop her.  That night haunts me.  I hear every sound.  I still see the wreckage, I even smell her perfume and blood mixed with the trees surrounding us and the exhaust and gas from the car.  Every time I close my eyes to sleep it replays.  The sounds resonate in my ears.”  I pause and stare straight into Alexia’s eyes.  “If you are willing to go to that part of your mind and experience that desperation, the song will have its sound, but I completely understand if you choose not to.  This is why I wanted an actress.  Any normal person would either not be able to give these words a soul, or it would drive them mad.”
    Alexia blinks and remains silent.  I nod.  “And I’ve put your mind into overload.” I switch my crossed legs and adjust the pad’s balance on my lap.  “We should discuss the press conference.  You’ll need to create an on-stage image.  I’ll have you go shopping with Rian and Sierra tomorrow before they go back to school.  Raven can tag along, but she will not be allowed at the press event.”
    “You’re a VAMPIRE?” Alexia finally manages to ask.
    I nod.  “We’ll have to figure out the logistics for the photo shoot afterwards, too.”
    “You’re a VAMPIRE?” Alexia repeats, darker.
    “That’s not something you’re allowed to share with anyone,” I glare.  “Fabian and Nick know, now you know, and you’re the only ones.  Even Rian and Sierra do not know.  Needless to say, you can’t tell Raven.”
    “But I’ve seen you eat actual food!”
    I sigh.  “Yes, I eat actual food, and quite enjoy it, too.  I go to the doctor for nightly transfusions, which I have to admit is less messy than hunting for my dinner.  You’ll need to remember that for when we tour.  Luckily, we’ve always managed to keep the media and FoFs off the tour bus.  The last thing we need is them wondering about all the medical equipment and worrying over our health.”
    “There are pictures of you,” Alexia tries to process the information versus the lore she’s heard over the years.  “Live shots.  How?”
    “I have my ways.”  This is why I hate this conversation.  Too many questions.  “You will have to trust in the fact that, aside from Inferno band members and immediate managers, I’ve been able to keep my secret for hundreds of years.  It’s why Inferno works independently.  We manage and do everything ourselves.  Yes, we have a management team, but they merely set up what we decide to do.  I know, someday, I will have to let Rian in on the secret, if she can prove that she’s not going to be completely controlling and headstrong when she interns with the management.  If she can prove that to me, she will have proven herself.  I know she’d keep the secret well from her twin.”  I glance at the clock.  “Can we get back to planning now?  You’ll have enough to focus on for the press conference.”

The Curse – Part 2

•July 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

It’s weird to enter the rehearsal space.  I can hear the melodies of rehearsals past as I turn on the lights.  Angelique’s soul is here, not in a haunting way, just reminiscent.  We four are the original members of Inferno.  There have been no others in our ten year history, no others before Angelique or I joined.  Angel had been the last puzzle piece added, and at just the right time.  I look at the posters and pictures that adorn our space.  I take down the calendar, frozen to the month of April, and switch it to October.  A new schedule will be necessary if this audition proves to be what I hope.
Alexia’s resume and performance videos are stellar, and my bandmates agree.  I want to just give her the position, honestly.  She’s what I want to see front Inferno.  But all three opinions count, and Alexia is free to turn us down.  Though, I don’t think Raven would let her.  As much as FoFs annoy me, Raven will be a positive influence on Alexia.
I did not notice Nichodemus load in.  With news of the audition he’d taken his kit out for maintenance, since he obviously hadn’t been here in a while.  I nod in his direction as he screws the top of the hi-hat into place and adjusts the throne.  A few test stomps remind me to put in my earplugs right before the minute long run of sixteenth notes starts from the bass drums.  Nichodemus settles into the cacophony with a run through of all his cymbals and toms, adding in a snare roll and finishing with a crash cymbal flourish.  He may not have played in here in a while, but he was not out of shape.  Good.
Two tall girls enter the rehearsal studio, one with short, fluffy, honey blonde hair, the other long dark hair dyed with blue streaks all tied up in a ponytail.  Rian and Sierra, respectively, Fabian’s younger twin sisters.  Sierra’s dark ponytail streamed behind her as she flew at the drums, squealing, “NIIIIIIIIIICK!”
The girls grew up with Inferno, and knew Nichodemus even before the band’s inception, as he and Fabian had been best friends since junior high school.  I remember Rian and Sierra backstage at Inferno concerts when they were just twelve or so.  Angelique always referred to Sierra as her “little sister”, and Rian shadowed our manager often.  When she learns to control her temper, I’ll allow her to intern with our management, but she still has a long way to go.
Nichodemus catches Sierra and chuckles slightly.  “Hi, Sierra.”  He turns to Rian.  “Hello, Rian.”
Rian stands with her usual air of dignity.  “Hello, Nichodemus.  It’s good to see you behind the kit again.  Do you remember the songs?”
“Don’t mind her,” Sierra quickly interjects.  “She’s just being herself.”
Nichodemus nods.  “So Fabian brought you two to watch the audition.  Guess school’s out for a holiday?”
Rian nods.  “Yes, we’re home for the week.  Sierra’s been bugging Fabian non-stop to see you guys and meet the prospective vocalist.  I have to admit, I’m curious what she looks like and how she sounds.”
“NickNickNickNickNick,” Sierra taps the drummer’s shoulder with the palm of her hand.  “I made a bunch of new drawings during the semester.  I framed one for you to decorate your place, but the rest could be possible cover art for the next album, if you guys want.”
“And she almost failed chemistry because of it,” Rian quips.
Sierra sticks out her tongue.  “I was going to fail chemistry when I signed up for it.  I needed a science class and that’s what fit my schedule!”
Rian huffs and opens her mouth to speak when Fabian bursts in.  “Is Alexia here yet?”  He looks at Nichodemus.  “Sierra, we’re going to need him for rehearsal.  Besides, you’ll have a lot to talk about with Alexia’s sister, Raven.  She may just be a bigger Inferno fan than you.”
Rian rolls her eyes.  “Oh dear God.”
Fabian glares at his sister.  “You can go home, Rian.  We won’t miss you.  You’re never going to be Inferno’s manager if you continue on the way you are.”  Rian stares.  Fabian snorts.  “I’d like to see you keep this up when Dmitri’s here.”  Nice to know they noticed me.  I keep quiet.
Sierra laughs.  “Dmitri’ll take the stick out of your ass and beat you with it, Ry.”
Rian rolls her eyes and leaves the room.  Fabian shakes his head.  “She has to learn SOON that she can’t act like that and expect to get anywhere in this business.”
Sierra wanders to her brother.  “Oh, they’ve already started telling her so at school.  She got thrown out of a Biz Club meeting and ended up having to ‘discuss’ the situation with the department head.” Sierra looks at Fabian’s equipment.  “Anything I can help you with?”
“Set up the vocal mic,” I state from my corner of anonymity.  “Alexia’s about your height.”
Sierra blinks her aquamarine eyes – the three siblings share that trait – then attacks me in a hug.  “Hi, Dmitri!  Have you been there this whole time? I didn’t mean to ignore you!”
Peppy and kind, as always.  “It’s fine.  Better Rian doesn’t know I’m around so I can see just what she does.  Please set up the mic.  Then if you could go pick up some water, that would be nice.”
Sierra salutes and goes about her orders.  Fabian walks over to the drum kit and asks Nichodemus, “How’re you doin’, man?”
Nichodemus nods.  “Okay.  It does feel oddly comforting to be back here, back behind the kit.  I’ve prepared myself that it’s going to sound weird, but that’s to be expected, right?”
Fabian pats his best friend on the shoulder.  “It’s going to be a difficult session for all of us, Nick.  We’re all in the same boat.  If you need a break, just call one and take it.  We’ll understand.”
“Which songs did Alexia say she’s auditioning with?” Nichodemus stretches his long arms over his head.
Fabian smirks as he plugs in and tunes his bass.  “Well, she wants to start with ‘Just Forget It All’.  I figure if she can nail that one, we should probably take her.  Gotta be one of the deeper songs we’ve got.  Though the next album may get us pegged as emo.”
Nichodemus nods somberly.
“Hello?” Alexia enters the rehearsal space slowly, Raven wide-eyed and giddily bouncing behind.  “Okay, I am in the right place.”
Nichodemus approaches the Skylark sisters.  “I’m sorry I did not introduce myself when we last met.  I’m Nichodemus Arlington, drummer for Inferno.  You may call me Nick.”  He extends his hand.
Alexia accepts his handshake.  “Hello, Nick.  I’m Alexia Skylark and this is my sister, Raven.  I have to ask, is your name from -”
“Yes,” Nichodemus nods.  “I was born the same year as the movie The Secret of NIMH which my parents love and thought I’d grow into a wise person if they named me Nichodemus.  Unfortunately, they didn’t think of the length of the name I’d carry with me for life, but c’est la vie.”
Sierra taps Nichodemus on the arm.  “Do you want anything? I’m headed to the store for water.”  She turns to the girls.  “Hi, I’m Sierra Safiru, Fabian’s sister.  The nice one,” she adds with a silly grin.  Alexia chuckles and introduces herself.  Sierra takes out her phone to make a list.  “Would you like anything from the deli, Alexia?”
Nichodemus decides.  “Vodka.”
Sierra shakes her head.  “Nope, still not old enough to buy liquor, Nick.”
“I’ll be fine with water,” Alexia says.  She turns to Raven.  “You want anything, Ray?”
Raven shakes herself out of an apparent fangirl daze.  “Um, can I go with you, Sierra?”
Fabian grins.  “That’s a good idea.  I’m curious which of you is the bigger Inferno fan.”
Sierra and Raven exchange glances.  Raven appears a little sheepish, as though she did not want to have her self-proclaimed number one fan status challenged.  Sierra smiles. “It will be nice to have another sibling fan in the bunch.  Rian’s too self-important to admit she’s a fan.” She turns to Alexia.  “Rian’s my twin sister.  You’ll meet her soon enough.  She’s a bitch.”
“Am not!” Rian defends as she re-enters the room.  “Things just need to be done and said in a certain way, and I take the initiative to say it.  No problem with that.” She crosses her arms over her chest.
“Rian, why don’t you go with them,” Fabian suggests.  “Pick out dinner for us all.” He adds in a mocking tone, “You can be in charge of the budget,” and winks.
Rian glares.  “Don’t patronize me, Fabian.”
That’s my cue.  “Then how about you go and learn to be nice?” I order.  Rian spins to see me and her aquamarine eyes grow wide.  I hold her stunned gaze.  “How many times do I have to tell you, Rian, that I will not allow you to manage or even intern with our management until you improve your people skills?  Now keep Sierra and Raven company and make friends.”  I point to the door.
Rian leaves wordlessly.  Sierra giggles, then follows.  “C’mon, Raven!”
Raven looks at Inferno, looks at Alexia, grins from ear to ear and bounces after Sierra.
I shake my head as I unpack my guitar.  “I asked you not to bring them, Fabian.”
Fabian shrugs.  “They’re home for the week.  Mom called me and told me to at least bring Sierra to get her out of the house.  Then Rian started being Rian and Mom threw her into my evening responsibility, too.  They’ll be fine.  I think having Raven here will help.  I can see her and Sierra teaming up and getting Rian to loosen up a bit.”
I sigh and tune my guitar.  “Everything set? Levels good?”
Alexia steps behind the microphone.  “I haven’t checked yet.” Fabian races to the board and quickly remedies the situation.
I turn to Alexia.  “You want to start with ‘Just Forget It All’, correct?”
Alexia nods.  “I’m ready when you are.”
Nichodemus counts off and the song envelops the room.  I watch Alexia’s movements and stage presence.  She closes her eyes momentarily to focus her thoughts, then lets the lyrics cry out from her heart as she opens her eyes.  She looks at each of us in turn as she sings and I follow her gaze.  Nichodemus’s eyes glisten with tears.  Fabian catches her gaze and nods in affirmation.  I play steadily and stoically, pretending not to notice Alexia looking for my approval.  I do approve, though.  She’s exactly what I thought she’d be.
Alexia continues to give her all up to the final note.  I let the sustain on my guitar ring until I feel like cutting it off.  Once the sound chokes, we all turn to Alexia.  She studies each of our expressions then asks, “Well?”
I contemplate for a moment.  Alexia’s the right fit, I know it already, but I want to challenge her.  “You also wanted to do ‘History’s Weakness.’”  Alexia nods.  I switch my effects and give a quick nod to Nichodemus, who counts off.  Fabian’s bass rumbles like thunder along with Nichodemus’s quick feet.  Alexia takes a breath and lets the lyrics fly from her soul; fast and energetic, pumping like an adrenaline fueled heartbeat.  We finish in a flourish.
Fabian cheers.  “What a rush!  Been a while since we did that one.  Glad my fingers remember it.”  He winks.
I pull out my pad of paper.  Now for the true test.  “We’ve been working on this.  Read it with us.” I hand the pad to Alexia.  “Here’s your part.” I play the mournful melody as Alexia reads over the lyrics.  I play it again, watching her line up the phrases and syllables.  “Got it?”
She nods.  “This is deep.”
I shrug.  “Do with it what you feel.  It’s a work in progress.”
“Just cue me when to start singing,” Alexia commands.
I nod and start the melody.  The drums and bass enter after a full eight bar phrase, turning the somber sound a bit rougher.  There’s pain, confusion, and indecision.  I cue Alexia.
“A lifetime’s contemplation / Momentary hesitation / To see the future as / You relive the past / Temporary resignation.”  A brief melodic interlude separates the verses.  “Thoughts wander in the moonlight / In the heart, something’s not right / One swift motion and / The darkness will descend / Admit defeat to end the fight.”  A solid chord from Fabian and I initiates the chorus.  “Eternity awaits / Give yourself up to Fate / For what I learned that night / What I learned that night / Strength and weakness commiserate.”
The drums stop abruptly.  We all turn to see Nichodemus doubled over his kit, shoulders heaving in sobs.  “I’m sorry,” he eventually mumbles.  He quickly passes his forearm over his eyes to wipe away the tears.  “That was good, Alexia.”
Alexia turns to Fabian, then to me.  Fabian and I look at each other, look back to Nichodemus, then focus on Alexia.  Guess it’s up to me to be the first voice.  “It’s a start.  I vote yes.” Fabian nods in agreement.  Nichodemus gives a quiet, “Yup.”
The door bursts open as Raven and Sierra bound in cheering.  Rian shuffles behind with her arms full of groceries.  Sierra jumps on Alexia and hugs her.  “You sounded so good! Your voice is beautiful!  Raven is awesome! I love my Inferno family!”
Fabian peels his sister off the newly appointed singer.  “Alright, alright, calm down, Sierra.  You know the rules.  No attacking the band members during business hours.”
Sierra giggles and races over to Raven, who stands motionless and starry-eyed staring at the band.
Alexia looks at her sister.  “You okay there, Ray?”
Raven nods.  “My sister… My sister is the lead singer of Inferno…” she whispers.
Sierra grins.  “It’s going to take a few moments to set in.  We’ll set up dinner in the meantime.”

The Curse – Part 1

•July 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

It’s been six months.  I’m glad I have my own doctors who know about my conditions and were not amazed or suspicious that I healed quickly.  Well, physically healed quickly.  Sleep eludes me.  That’s probably why I’ve been able to compose so much.  I missed my guitar while my hands were broken, but the moment they healed the instrument was back and, while my fingers had lost strength they had not lost their knowledge.  Daily practice built back their might.
    A melody found its way into my fingers a few weeks ago.  Lyrics formulated with it, though that has always been more difficult for me so they’re not quite right yet.  I charted out the skeleton of this new song and, when the time was right, invited Fabian and Nichodemus over to work on it.
    Fabian and I had been working rather diligently since my hands mended.  Most of our new album was written prior to the incident, but very little had been recorded.  I consider this a blessing since we don’t have to figure out how to finish Angelique’s vocals.  We keep reviewing the songs and revising where we can, where Nichodemus will allow.  He refuses to let us change much on Angelique’s songs
    The doorbell rings and I find Fabian on the other side, bass slung over his shoulder.  He takes one look at me and says, “Didn’t sleep again?”
    I shake my head.  “That obvious?”
    Fabian enters, puts his bass on the couch, and begins to unpack.  “Your eyes have gone from stone grey to red.  Good thing there are no photo shoots soon.”
    I sit on the opposite sofa and pick up my acoustic guitar. “There are programs to fix that,” I counter.  Fabian has a tendency to be snarky, but since the incident those moments are few and far between.  I hope he stays that way.  
    As Fabian tunes I hand him the chart for the newest song.  He studies it for a moment then says, “And exactly what does that mean?”
    I sigh and toss my long, white-blonde hair over my shoulder.  “It’s not up to you to understand the inner workings of my mind, Fabian.  Just make a bass line that fits it.”
    Fabian’s aquamarine eyes flare with frustration.  “Shed some light on the subject.  If I don’t know what the song’s about, how do I make a worthy bass line?”
    I scoff and strum the opening chords on my guitar.  “Feel it.”  I start the mournful melody.  Fabian rolls his eyes as he rests his bass strap on his shoulder and begins to jam, turning the mournful melody into an almost death metal riff.  I nod.  That is a better sound, a better idea.  Things flow nicely when Fabian just shuts up and does his thing.  I listen, then sigh and stop.  “That’s a little too rough, though.  I like the edge, but it needs to be softer.”
    Fabian shrugs.  “So we’ll get Nick to soften it with the drums.  Use brushes or something.”
    “If he comes back.”  I light a cigarette.
    Fabian releases his bass from his grasp and sets it on the couch.  “He’ll come back.  Nick’s always been a reliable guy.  Besides, it’s been six months.”
    I gaze out the window into the night.  “I still feel terrible.  I could have done something.  If I hadn’t hesitated, I could have saved her.”
    “Shoulda, woulda, coulda,” Fabian brushes off my sentiment.  I sense my self-pity rubbing salt in Fabian’s own open wounds.  Fabian puts his hand behind his head, careful not to crush any of the spikes gelled into his short black hair, and rests against the back of the couch.  “There’s a lot we each could have done to save Angelique.  Nick tried.  I tried.  You tried, too, Dmitri.”
    I sigh through a puff of smoke.  “I suppose.”  I set aside my acoustic guitar and head to the kitchen.  “Let’s see if Nick appears tonight.  Maybe we can get something ready to track at your studio in the coming days.”
    Fabian sighs.  “You know he returned the ring today, right?”
    I stop.  “No, I was not aware.”  I pour some water and take a long sip.  Either this is a step towards healing for Nichodemus, or a further dive into depression.  I hope for the former.  “You want a drink?”
    Fabian looks over.  “That’s not a bad idea.  Let’s pick up Nick and go to the club.”
    I raise an eyebrow.  Fabian raises an eyebrow back.  I decide to spare myself an argument and simply agree.  “Call him.  I’ll drive.”  
    Admittedly, I agree only so I can evaluate Nichodemus.  One glance at him will tell me more than he ever will.  Our drummer is not talkative to begin with, and when something troubles him it can be weeks before he says anything.  Sometimes Fabian can get Nichodemus to express himself in words.  Sometimes.
    As Nichodemus gets in the car, I remind myself that neither of them has ever been through anything like this before.  These are new feelings, new emotions, new thoughts.  I try to remember back to my first experience with a close person’s death, but Fabian and Nichodemus converse and I decide to listen to them instead.  Nothing interesting.
    The club is crowded but not uncomfortably so.  “This is our first outing since her passing,” I realize aloud.  My bandmates nod and we order a round of vodka and cranberry juice, her favorite drink.
    It’s not long before Fabian starts dancing.  To his credit, he is good, and the ladies like him, which only encourages him.  Sure enough, a group of girls join him.  “Must he always make an exhibition of himself?”
    Nichodemus turns his olive green eyes away from the dance floor display.  “As long as I’ve known him.  It’s just what Fabian does.  You should expect random acts of stripping by now, Dmitri.”
    I shake my head in fake disappointment.  “Didn’t we count how many times he intentionally lost clothing on stage one tour?” I recall, but Nichodemus downs his drink in one gulp, pulls his shoulder length black hair into a ponytail, and leans back in his chair.  I catch his one thought:  Why? Why did I let them talk me into this?  He heads to the bar and returns with another drink and asks, “Why is this album so important, Dmitri?  Why do you and Fabian want to sit in the studio for hours on end and work on it?”
    I glance at Nichodemus slightly, also making sure Fabian hasn’t gotten himself in trouble.  I’ve lost sight of the bassist.  “I think we’ll all feel better once we release an album.  We can still use some of Angel’s songs, since she fought so hard to get them on there.”
    “But who can sing them with the feeling she put into them?” Nichodemus counters.
    I shrug.  “That, my dear Nick, is why we must find someone who can act.  Someone who is capable of feigning the emotions for the good of the song.”
    Nichodemus’s fist clenches.  “You can’t do that to her!  You can’t let someone else pretend to know what she felt when she wrote her songs!”
    “Calm down, Nick,” I wave my hand nonchalantly.
    “I won’t calm down,” Nichodemus insists.  “I won’t let her become simply a part of history.”
    “Nobody can become history when their memory lives with you for eternity.” I sip my vodka and cranberry juice.
    A sweaty and content Fabian saunters over to our table, his shirt draped over his left shoulder.  “Not bad if I do say so myself, my friends.”  He waves a wad of money in front of his chest before stuffing it in his pocket.  He turns to Nichodemus as he puts his shirt back on.  “What’s wrong with you?”
    Nichodemus raises an eyebrow to imply “Do you have to ask?” as he attempts to sip his empty drink.
    “I annoyed him,” I offer as an excuse.
    Fabian scoffs.  “Try dancing with some girls, Nick.  It’ll help you feel better.”
    “No it won’t,” Nichodemus states flatly.
    Fabian takes Nichodemus by the wrist and exclaims, “Yes, it will!”  He pulls the tall drummer from his seat and drags him to the dance floor.  Nichodemus tries to escape as I hear Fabian say, “You’re not getting out of this one, Nick.  No chance in Hell.”  I chuckle.  They can be so amusing.
    I watch them enter the dance floor.  One girl, dark haired and average height, notices my bandmates and flails her arms.  The wavy brown haired girl next to her stops dancing, and they have a conversation.  Both of them look towards my companions.  I study the one with wavy hair.  Definitely marketable.  She’s a performer; I can see it in the way she dances.  And of course, she gets Fabian’s attention.  I sigh.  Yup, she’s Fabian’s type.  He joins her dance.  The dark haired girl is upset, but Nichodemus puts a hand on her shoulder.  They make eye contact, he asks her something  – probably if she wants a drink – she nods, and he leads her to the bar.  Well, this is interesting.  I smooth my white blonde hair.  Soon I shall introduce myself.
    I wait until Nichodemus loses the girl’s interest, which sadly does not take long in his state.  The girl looks over at Fabian.  Ah, she likes him.  I approach and say, “He’s not what he appears.”  My voice startles her.  She turns quickly, studies me a moment, and blinks.  I slide effortlessly into the chair beside her and set my glass on the table.  “Fabian.  He’s not the person you think he is.”  The girl grins.  “I am Dmitri Romanisk.”  I extend my hand.  “Whom do I have the pleasure of meeting?”
    She takes a breath to keep her composure.  “I’m Raven Skylark.  I – I know who you all are.  I love Inferno.  You’re my favorite band.”  She takes another deep breath.  “I’ve been a fan since your tour with Dungeon Siege.  It was while I was in high school.  You all blew me away that night.  I’m your number one fan.  Guaranteed.”
    I gently take her hand and kiss the back of it.  “Thank you, Raven.  It is always nice to meet a fan, especially one who can stay composed around us.  We are mere mortals, after all.”  She wants so badly to jump up and cheer and run around, I can tell.
    Nichodemus scoffs, though, and awkwardly walks away.  Raven follows him with her eyes.  “He’s in bad shape.  Worse than I imagined.  Is he going to be okay?  Are you going to continue as Inferno, even if Nichodemus leaves?”
    I sigh.  Typical fan worries, but she does have a point.  “There are some things not worth questioning.  Just allow them to cross your path and see where Fate takes you.”  I have a reputation among the media and the fans for speaking in riddles.  It is not something I do intentionally, I just simply want them to figure things out for themselves.  Sometimes patience and trust are neglected, which is very unfortunate.  My eyes wander back to Fabian and the girl Raven spoke to.  “Do you know that girl who has Fabian hypnotized?”
    Raven glances over and rolls her dark brown eyes.  “That’s my sister, Alexia.  I love her dearly, but she always gets the hot guys’ attention.  When I saw Fabian stripping I couldn’t believe I was here at the same time as him.  Then he and Nichodemus were on the dance floor and I hoped they would come over so Alexia started dancing and made eye contact and Fabian just started dancing with her.  Nichodemus offered to buy me a drink, which was really nice of him and it’s a very tasty watermelon margarita, but Fabian’s my favorite in Inferno and I really want to dance with him.”
    This is what I get for talking with a Fan of Fabian – the FoFs, as Nick and I call them –  but there is a chemistry brewing between him and Alexia.  Raven’s jealousy tickles my tongue with its bitter presence.  I stand.  “You deserve a proper introduction.”  I take Raven’s hand and lead the starry eyed fangirl to her sister and my bassist.  Fabian glances over and stops dancing, no doubt surprised I’ve entered the floor voluntarily.  I gently push Raven forward.  “This, Fabian, is Raven Skylark, the sister of Alexia here.  Would you dance with her?  I need to speak with Alexia.”  Before Fabian can respond, I pull Alexia away and leave the stunned bassist in the overly excited but harmless hands of a FoF.  
    “Speak with me?” Alexia questions as I pull out a chair for her then take a seat beside.  “Who are you?  Well, I mean, I know you’re one of the Inferno guys because of Raven, but-”
    “I’m Dmitri Romanisk, guitarist of Inferno.”  I introduce myself with a simple handshake.  “Tell me, Alexia, are you a performer?”  
    She’s caught off guard.  Her gaze meets mine.  She and her sister have the same eyes.  “I am,” Alexia finally says.  “I studied musical theater for years.”
    “So you can sing and act,” I note.  “Want to sing for Inferno?”
    Alexia raises a pierced eyebrow.  “Just like that?  No need for a resume, for references, for any idea of my background or reputation?  I could suck for all you know!”
    I curl my lip into a small, amused smile.  “But you wouldn’t ask all those questions and be professional if you did suck, now would you?  You still have to audition and come in studio with us so we can hear your voice, but with Raven as your sister you’re at a distinct advantage.”  I pull out a card to our rehearsal space.  “Come to this studio in two weeks with three Inferno songs prepared.  See how deep into Angelique’s mind you can get and what you can express.”
    Alexia scoffs.  “So you want an Angelique clone, not me.”
    “Don’t be so hasty,” I state calmly.  “I wrote the lyrics.  Angel interpreted.”
    “But wouldn’t you then want my interpretation?”  
    “Angel already interpreted those songs, so they already have life,” I explain.  “I want to see how much of that life you can inherit, how much of it you can embody, and then we can talk about how you would sing it.  The voice has changed, but the source of thinking remains the same.”  She stares blankly at me.  “Your current response means you’re over-analyzing the situation.  Think less, feel more.  Listen to the music, listen to the lyrics, and see how much your heart absorbs.  I’ll see you in two weeks.  Excuse me, please.”  I spot Nichodemus ordering yet another drink.  I lost count of how many he already had, but I knew it was too many.  I make my way over and convince the bartender to give him a watered down cranberry juice instead.  
    My eyes follow Alexia as she attempts to get Raven away from Fabian.  She shows the card I gave her.  Fabian understands.  He heads back to Nichodemus and myself despite Raven’s cries.  Alexia says something that seems to placate the FoF and the two of them leave.  “It’s about time we get Nichodemus home,” I tell Fabian.  He does not argue.
    Fabian waits until we return to my apartment, Nichodemus safely tucked in his own bed in his own place, before asking, “You’re really sure you want to audition Alexia?”
    “Of course,” I state.  “You’ll behave yourself, won’t you?”
    Fabian gives a non-committal smirk.  “We’ll see.”

The Curse (Introduction)

•July 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

    So fast.  The heat, the smell, the airbag pop.  Why can I still smell the perfume, blood, and gasoline? How could I let that happen?  Of all people, I know better.  But that’s just it.  I made the choice, therefore I must live with the decision.  Amazing how one moment, one judgment, can change everything one knows.  But it is better off this way.  Easier, no, but better in the long run.  Had I done what I planned, there would have been more complications in the future than one would like.  And it would not have solved anything.  There was no cure for those ailments.  
    Unfortunate, that.  She was brilliant, beautiful, intelligent, musical, charming, and a truly good soul.  What plagued her was beyond anyone’s ability to cure.  I don’t believe she wanted a cure, though.  Had I acted, gone through with my plan, it would have created a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  No, that’s not right.  The problem was going to be permanent, but the solution I could provide was not really a solution.  Not for her, at least.
    I need a cigarette.
    That’s when I hear them.  They speak quietly, but I hear the pain.  Only two voices.  They didn’t bring the girls.  Do I awaken?   Honestly, I don’t know how long I’ve been out.  They will know.  They will tell me.  And Nick is going to be very angry.  Or maybe upset?  Frustrated?  These painkillers cloud my senses.  At least Nick has Fabian to lean on, as he has for a long time.  Best friends, coping with tragedy.  They let me into their world.  The least I can do is explain myself.  
    I open my eyes to the blinding florescent lighting of my hospital room, Fabian to my left, Nichodemus on the right.  Both tower over my bed.  I study them for a moment.  Whatever medicine my doctor prescribed blocks my intuition.  Maybe that’s for the better.  I’m sure they’ll tell me their thoughts soon enough.
    Fabian leans a little closer.  I could see the bags under his bloodshot aquamarine eyes.  “Dmitri?  Are you awake?”
    I try to nod and discover a brace around my neck.  “Awake, yes.  Cognizant, not entirely.”
    “You’re heavily medicated,” Fabian ran a hand through his black spiked hair, a habit I’m sure he’s grown unconscious of.  “I’m amazed you survived.”
    I meet his gaze.  “You know very well it would take more than that to kill me.  That’s why I went with her in the first place.”  I turn my gaze to Nichodemus, trying to conjure the most heartfelt thing I could say to him.  All that comes out is a simple, sincere, but wholly cliche, “I’m sorry I couldn’t save her, Nick.”
    Nichodemus nods.  He stares at the wall for a beat, then a small, tear-choked voice I barely recognize as his whispers, “I know.”  He steps away and sits in a chair slightly too short for his exceptionally tall body, elbows resting on thighs and head resting on clasped hands.  “I know.”
    As Nichodemus mourns, Fabian fills me in on the details.  I’ve been out for a week.  The shocked fanbase sent a large bouquet of flowers to our management office with cards offering sympathy and wishes for my speedy recovery.  Reporters from music magazines hounded the office for updates about my condition and any news as to when the band will return from hiatus.  They want to know the status of the new album.
    I stop listening to remind myself that I made the right decision.  Angelique was not happy in this life.  She would have had more issues had I saved her and not let her complete her goal.  Stupid to call it that, a goal.  The goal should have been to work through it all and come back stronger.  But there were things she could not defeat.  Stresses and setbacks she could not forgive.  She just let it pile up inside her.  
    I feel the tears slide down my cheeks.  Angelique is gone, and I have to live with that for the rest of my life.  At least I know what to do next.

Fiction!

•July 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Been a long time since I posted.  Not having regular internet access will do that.

I’ve been working on a music-related story, a work of fiction from my random mind.  As I complete sections, I will post them here for reading and feedback purposes.  It has been a long time since I wrote something completely original (my last I completed in 2000!) so feedback is greatly appreciated and encouraged.

I hope you enjoy! I still have a rather large backlog of non-fiction drafts to post when I get around to it, and probably more to come.  But for now, some works of fiction.