Smurdnunoc: Part Three
Big Apple Recording Studios
“Cut! Cut! CUT!”
Lennert turned away from the microphone, sighing and massaging his temples in frustration. “This isn’t working out,” he grumbled. “You guys just aren’t feeling the music! It’s almost like none of you have even touched an instrument before!”
A few days had passed since the auditions in the certain green Pteri’s garage. Lennert, desperate to get their album recorded as quickly as possible, had booked them time in a studio downtown. And that’s where “the band” found itself now – in a small, cramped recording studio. The recording room’s walls were heavy with red padding and the floors thick with similar carpeting, with a single window in one wall where the mixer in the control booth could look through to the “artists” (that word being used in its loosest sense here), and vice-versa.
“Yeah!” Hawkins snapped back at Lennert’s accusations. “That’s because I really haven’t ever touched an instrument before, much less been in a recording studio! And by the way,” the green Kyrii continued, motioning to the three steel basins in front of him with one of the two mallets he held in either paw. “What the heck are these things, anyways?”
“They’re steel drums!” Lennert replied, annoyed that Hawkins didn’t even know the name of an instrument he hadn’t even known existed two hours ago. “They’re drums and they’re made of steel! Thus, the name!”
Hawkins frowned. “Well gee, how observant of you!” the Kyrii replied sarcastically. “But how am I supposed to play them? They just look like a bunch of bowls with dents in them!”
Indeed, that’s exactly what they looked like – not that that’s what they were, mind you. They were, in fact, actual steel drums. Unfortunately, actual steel drums just happen to actually look like actual bowls with dents in them.
Lennert shrugged. “I dunno, you’re the steel drum player! Why are you asking me?”
“Umm, question!” The yellow Krawk, who was standing just off to the side holding a small, wooden ukulele, raised his claw. “Yeah, why do I have to play this little thing instead of my regular guitar?”
“Because!” Lennert replied exasperatedly, looking to face the Krawk. “This is an island band – thus, we need island instruments! A regular guitar is not island band material! A ukulele is!”
The Krawk blinked. “...Well, okay... But, I just think I’d be more comfortable with my regular guitar. You know, what with being more used to it and all...” The Krawk spoke slowly and carefully, similar to the Pteri, except for that the Krawk was actually just confused and genuinely not sure what to say.
“Look, it’s just like your regular guitar!” Lennert replied. “Just play it like you normally would!”
“Yeah, it’s really not at all...” the Krawk pressed slowly. “What, with the lacking of the two extra strings and the whole being-two-thirds-shorter thing...”
“I just wanna take this moment to say that, personally, I’m very happy with my instrument!” the certain green Pteri announced from somewhere near the back of the studio, holding up his silver metal triangle with glee.
“Yeah, see?” Lennert said to the two complainers, pointing at the Pteri. “He’s not complaining about his instruments!”
“He plays the triangle!” Hawkins shouted, motioning to the Pteri with his mallets. “It only plays one note!”
Lennert opened his mouth to respond, but just as he did, the door to the control booth opened up and a yellow Zafara – the technician – stepped in.
“Hey guys, I was back there in the booth listening to you all and I was just wondering if you all planned on doing this for a while or what, because I was thinking about going to get some lunch.”
“No!” Lennert protested immediately, a final tone in his voice. “No, we paid for this session and I wanna get some work done! Now come on, guys! Let’s take this anger – this raw emotion we’re feeling –” he balled his wings up into fists to symbolize the anger that everyone was supposed to feel”—and turn it into music!”
“Lennert,” Hawkins responded, “how’re we supposed to turn anger and annoyance into calm, soothing island music?”
The Lenny gave a shrug. “I dunno, you’re the musician! Work with it!” He turned back to the technician. “You – back in the booth! We haven’t yet begun to create!”
The technician sighed. “At this rate, I’m never gonna get to eat my tigersquash salad sandwich...” he muttered, turning and going back into the control booth.
Lennert turned back to his three other bandmates. “Alright boys, let’s get to work! Hawkins, count us off!”
Hawkins scowled in reply. “No.”
“Hawkins, come on!” Lennert whined. “You’re the drummer! You have to count us off!”
The Kyrii kept up his scowl. “No.”
“Fine!” Hawkins sighed. “Lennert, I hate you,” he said. “It's times like these that you just get me so...” He gave another sigh of resignation. “Whatever.” Raising the stick ends of his mallets in the air, he clicked them together as he counted off unenthusiastically: “One, two, three, four...”
A few blocks away...
At just that moment, no more than three or four city blocks away, two Rukis – one starry, one white – were hurrying down the sidewalk, passing restaurants and other buildings as they went. The starry one led the way, power-walking with a certain air of quickness and desperation as he went; the white one trailed just behind him, trying to keep up with his boss.
“I can’t believe it!” the starry Ruki ranted aloud to his assistant, his moans full of concern and worry. “I just can’t believe it! HOW could I forget her birthday?! And her, of all! How could I forget!? Oh, I’m the worst father in the world!” he cried.
“Oh, please don’t worry about it, sir!” the white Ruki tried to reassure from behind, redoubling his steps and rushing to try and keep up with his boss. “I’m sure you’re not the first father to ever forget about his daughter’s birthday! I’ll bet King Coltzan forgot his daughter’s birthday once or twice himself!”
The starry Ruki in front paused at a crosswalk, waiting for the traffic of Eyrie-drawn carriages and Uni-riding pets to finish before crossing. “Pultz, you don’t understand!” the starry one exclaimed, turning to face his cohort, his face long and creased with worry and distress. “I had one job for this party – find some kind of entertainment! A band, a clown, some kind of dancing circus act, anything! And I couldn’t even do that much! Pultz, if I fail at this one little thing, my daughter will hate me forever! I don’t wanna be one of those fathers that, you know... fails!”
The cross-walk light turned green and, with the traffic now at a pause, the two Rukis made their way across the street to the next block.
“Don’t worry, sir!” Pultz said, trying to comfort his boss. “I’m sure we’ll find someone soon! I mean, how hard can it be to find some kind of performer in this town?”
“We’ve only got four hours!” The starry Ruki stopped and spun back on his assistant. “I don’t know how we’re going to find anything in four hours!” Turning back around again, he continued making his way anxiously down the sidewalk. “All I know is, we’re hiring the first band we come across, no matter how bad they are!”
And with that, the pair continued making their way down the street, desperate to find any kind of musical act they could, no matter how much they may’ve only been in it for the award.
(Gee, I hope the foreshadowing there wasn’t too obvious...)
Outside Big Apple Recording Studios...
Things had not been going well for the budding musicians. This was evidenced by the fact that, at this very moment, Hawkins was storming out of the studio, carrying a full (steel) drum case in each paw and a third one strapped onto his back.
He burst out through the doors and went to make a left down the sidewalk. As he did, Lennert, hot on the Kyrii’s heels, came running out just behind his roommate.
“Hawkins, wait! Where’re you going?”
Hawkins spun back on the Lenny, a look of exasperated annoyance on his green face. “Lennert, this is stupid! It’s after noon and I’m hungry! I’m taking a break to go get some lunch and that’s just all there is to it!”
“Oh, come on, Hawkins!” Lennert begged, his face pleading more than his voice. “Just ten minutes more, I promise! We’re making such great progress!” At that point, the certain green Pteri and the yellow Krawk emerged from the doors behind Lennert, both of them carrying their respective triangle and ukulele and looking a bit confused at having caught the scene in mid-point.
“Progress?!” Hawkins shouted. “Lennert, you have no idea what you’re doing! You can’t write music and you can’t sing! All you’re doing is saying ‘Wiki’, ‘Waki’, and ‘Loo’ over and over again in different orders!”
Lennert stared back blankly. “...What’s your point?”
Hawkins was just about to tackle Lennert and beat him to a pulp with his steel drums when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Spinning around, Hawkins found himself face-to-face with a middle-aged starry Ruki. The Ruki had a nervous, agitated look about him; crease lines of worry were drawn all across his face.
“Excuse me,” the Ruki asked, his eyes wide and anxious. “Hey, you guys wouldn’t happen to be a band, would you?” He nodded at the steel drum set Hawkins was carrying.
Hawkins made to answer, but before he could—
“Why yes! Yes we are!” came Lennert’s cheery, gleeful response from behind.
“Oh, thank GOODNESS!” the Ruki breathed in relief, now looking past Hawkins towards Lennert, some of the stress and worry in his eyes ebbing back. “Okay, look, I need you guys to come to this address”—He pulled out a small piece of paper and a pen, quickly scribbled down an address, and, walking over to Lennert, shoved the note into the Lenny’s wing—“at about four o’ clock this afternoon. I’ll pay you all when you get there. Show up and I’ll make it worth your all’s while, I promise.” He spoke quickly and formally, as a creature who had places to go and not enough time to get there.
“I... wait, hold on!” Hawkins stammered. “Are you hiring us for a gig?!”
The Ruki turned to Hawkins. “Well, yeah, that’s what usually happens to bands, isn’t it? People hire you to play gigs? I don’t care how good you guys are or what kind of music you play. You’re a band and you have instruments. That’s all I’m concerned about.” He turned again and started off back down the sidewalk in the direction he’d come from. Glancing back over his shoulder at the band: “Four o’ clock – don’t forget!”
And he walked off down the street, the white Ruki (who, throughout the whole exchange, had said nothing), following in tow.
Turning to Lennert, Hawkins saw a Lenny with a wide, goofy smile staring back at him.
“No,” Hawkins refused flatly. “No way. We’re not doing this, Lennert. We don’t even know how to play! We don’t have time to practice!”
Lennert’s grin seemed to grow wider. “Well then, I guess we should get back to practicing right away, eh? If we have to skip lunch to be ready, well...” He shrugged and, with a light skip in his step, turned and headed off back into the recording studio.
Hawkins looked to the Krawk and certain green Pteri who were standing off to the side. “Well? Can I get a little help here?!”
The Krawk shrugged. “Hey, a gig’s a gig!” And he turned and followed Lennert inside.
Turning to the Pteri, Hawkins scowled. The Pteri simply gave a weak, nervous laugh in return before turning and following the other two inside.
Hawkins, now standing on the sidewalk alone, simply shook his head and sighed to himself. “I hate music...” he muttered.
To be continued...