The 404: Part Two
I slouched angrily into Ms. Vladderly's Pretty Decent Living Allotments (because "apartment building" had recently been deemed "too common" by the proprietor herself) and stopped at the front desk. The great and powerful Eulalie Vladderly shifted in her once-swivel chair (it has long since given up all its hopes and dreams of spinning around and around rapidly and has sunk into the floor in a sad and pathetic depression) and looked at me critically.
I noticed that the eminent Chia landlady to whom I owe my monthly rent had tried to wear a necklace. It was wedged in between two rolls of fat, and it seemed to be just as good a way of keeping it on as a clasp, in her eyes. Whatever doesn't fit on normally, can be draped, she always says.
But this necklace, wedged between the fat as it was, interested me; she usually only wears her flowered mumu and a pair of sandals. Perhaps she was trying to shake things up? (Although, she can easily do that by just waddling around in an upper level of the building.)
"Any mail?" I asked, wearily.
"No, but your band buddies called. They want to meet this evening at 9 o'clock," she said, handing me a puce-colored post-it note. She also has some in other choice colors, including Medical Implement Pink and Intestine Grey, not to mention Sickly Hospital Green.
"Thank you, Ms. Vladderly," I croaked, and trudged up the creaky stairs to my apartment.
It was still as dirty and disorderly as I had left it this morning. I know it's not changing; I've given up on believing in the Laundry Elves and Pixie Maids (the patron spirits of worn out college students and disgruntled housewives) but I'm still not going to exert myself and actually clean my apartment.
I stuffed my briefcase under the bed, ripped the blankets off of it, and found a rotting banana skin, whereupon a colony of thriving mootix had established a totalitarianism government that was on the brink of rebellion by the up-and-coming socialist parasites (I could hear the cries of "A patch of banana skin for every insect!").
At least it's not a disembodied mutant Kau head.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I arrived at the Krelunk Theatre a few minutes after nine. My band-mates were all already there, warming up. Loris waved 'hi', and motioned to where my drum set sat, ready to be played. Vic and Pen were tuning their instruments; Uuvie and Xion were playing harmonies in their own little world.
Terrence came running up to me, holding a battered notebook. That's where he writes all the ideas for lyrics he has. His work is mostly sappy, really weird poetical phrases, talking about how a girl's eyes are "portals into the dungeons and dark of the world, but they're lovely black and gold, and she's a lovely girl" or odd stuff like that.
He wrote this one song about Xion (whom he's sort of infatuated with) which was pretty good, but he said he'd never actually let her see it, and I don't understand; she would have loved it! If you love someone, why ever not tell them?
"Bif! I think I might have come up with my most fantastically catchy, delightfully dreary and surprisingly uplifting lyrics yet!" Terrence sang out to me, waving his sad little notebook. That's another thing about him. He uses as many adjectives as he can think of.
"Oh, really? It's both dreary and uplifting?" I queried, smiling lopsidedly. I think only half of my person can actually laugh at him while the only half can only pity him. So my face compromises.
"That's why they're surprisingly uplifting!" he pointed out, smiling brightly. "You're such a wonderfully observant person, Bif. I like that; you get me. Most people rarely notice the deep, poignant and meaningful lyrics I write because they're silly and take the words only at their simple face value."
I nodded steadily. "Yeah, some people don't dig deep enough. Perhaps it's because their own personalities are so shallow they can't properly understand the depths to which your words dive."
Terrence looked at me, eyes glimmering and misty. "No matter how hard I tirelessly try, you never fail describing things precisely and perfectly the first go-around. I have to work and sweat at it." He sighed, looking at me with a great deal of respect and awe.
I blushed, but, being pink, it didn't show. It never really does. "Oh, shut up," I mumbled. Uuvie or Xion would have said, "Oh, you flatter me so!" but guys don't say things like that; we're more rude in our refusal of flattery. It shows how much we care.
"You really, sincerely do. But, do you want to read the delightful lyrics or not?" Terrence grinned, and held out the notebook. I took it from his hands, and looked at the page he had opened it to. His hands met in front of his small paunch, and fidgeted.
"Hmm. You're right. Very catchy. Oddly dreary. And somehow, uplifting," I admitted, reading his scribbles carefully. "Is this 'Jane' or 'June'?" I asked.
"Oh, it's 'June'. I don't know anyone named Jane! Why would I be writing about a 'Jane'?!" Terrence scoffed in a friendly manner. He's got a rule; never mention a name in a song if you don't know a person with that name, excepting when it's the only name that rhymes.
"Right. Well, I think I've got some ideas for polishing this. Maybe we can work it, then show it to Vic and Pen?"
Terrence smiled in relief and nodded, and we went to work.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Vic nodded slowly. "Interesting. I don't get the 'the rain have come and left their young behind' part, to be honest. Seems a bit... wussy."
I smiled enthusiastically. Whenever someone doesn't get something and tries to nicely veil a criticism of your work, just smile like you're insane and explain it to them really, really, really emphatically.
"It's talking about the raindrops and dew left over after the storm!" I nearly shouted. Terrence stood next to me nervously, and I was fidgeting with my drumsticks.
"But why? We're a rock band! Why're we being all poetical and wussy?!" exclaimed Pen, not as tactful as his brother. "I mean, the last song you guys put together was about pain and, an', an', blood."
Terrence squirmed, but I managed to appear as confident as a cucumber.
"Well, sometimes, you've gotta sing about nice stuff. After all, not everyone wants songs about... that stuff." My voice was as dry as a desert and crackled like petrified tissue paper.
"... Naw," said Pen.
"What he means is, if people want that stuff, they can listen to 'Petals and Ferns'," said Vic, referencing his sister's band, a poetic and easy-listening sort of music-making-machine. She played the piano and sang, and had a violinist, a guitarist and a cellist to back her up.
I flailed a bit. "Well, they're more a of a string quartet," I said, breathing still wracked. "We could do poems and have electr'c 'tars an' drums an' stuff!" I realized, in my desperation to get them to accept the lyrics, I was leaving out syllables and talking like a country person from rural Meridell! Oh well; anything for art. "We'd be hard rock, soft poetry, yeah?"
There was silence.
Xion spoke up. "I like it."
Uuvie nodded in agreement. "Yeah, 'Petals and Ferns' is a bit wimpy. We've got 'lectricity and make our instruments scream when theirs just sing and hum! We'd make poetry rock!"
Loris rolled her eyes.
"Pun not intended," Uuvie added defensively. "It really wasn't!" She paused, looking nervously around. "But it makes sense," she muttered.
Terrence smiled and sighed in relief. Vic and Pen usually give in to whatever the girls decide, and all the guys in the band feel similarly. There's no point in fighting against the girls, and besides, they're always right in the end anyways.
"Ok. We'll see what we can do with this poem," Vic said, smiling weakly.
"Fine," grumbled Pen.
Terrence nearly fainted with relief. I just grinned even more insanely.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
We were sitting around eating sandwiches while we figured out the harmonies for the basic melody that went with the lyrics Terrence and I wrote.
Loris was asking me about work.
"So, after you went to all that trouble to save the kadoatie, it bit you?"
"Yes," I said, swallowing my bite of chicken-salad sandwich. "Although it was fun to run along the conveyors, then be the hero at the end. No one else was adventurous and/or surefooted enough to do it."
"How fantastically valiant!" Terrence exclaimed through a mouthful of PB & J. "That was grandly plucky of you. Great petpet lover?"
"Oddly enough, no," I said, and finished my sandwich. "But how're we doing with the bass part?" I asked the group of more serious music writers and arrangers.
Xion smiled slightly. She never grins; apparently it's illegal or immoral for goths. "It's doing well. Nothing special, but it's still nice."
"Grand," I said, standing up and stretching out my back.
Loris didn't seem done with the work motif. "Anything interesting happen involving the ol' boss-man?"
I tried not to sound too unnatural. "Well, no, not really." I really didn't want to admit that Sloth was intending to come to our first concert.
"Of course it must've!" Uuvoie exclaimed, joining in. "That guy's insane; I don't think a single day could possibly pass without him doing something off-the-wall or saying something crazy!"
"Well... he did try and frighten me with a mask," I admitted. That was harmless enough.
"Oh? What type?" asked Xion, who enjoys terrifying, horrifying, and generally disgusting masks almost too much.
"Mutant Kau. Very realistic," I said, smiling widely. I had a conversation decoy.
"Ooh," everyone said, each one thinking of the way they'd most like to scare someone with such a mask.
"Did he comment on your shirt?" asked Loris, curiously. It felt like a grenade being dropped into the center of my brain.
I choked. "No!"
Everyone seemed to look into everyone else's eyes, and upon consensus, everyone reverted to school play-yard mentality and pounced at me, pinning me to the floor.
"Spit it out! What happened?!?" screamed Loris, who had managed to pin me down from directly above while everyone else was effectively holding a limb down.
I resisted for a good five minutes until Pen pinned my left hand behind my back.
"FINE! Sloth's knows about our concert, and he's coming!!" I screamed in terrible pain.
I was freed from the pain and fell to my knees, then was subjected to a number of piercing, shocked, upset, and horrified stares.
I was just thankful they didn't make it as far as noogies. Dear Fyora those things hurt!
To be continued...