Saturday, March 8, 2008

Writing Photo Contest: Warhol 2 3 4

The three of them sat in the office trying to be cool. One wall housed silver, gold and platinum albums from the time before downloads. The opposite wall was home to their replacements, ‘the MP3’, the new symbol of prestige in the music business. They all tried not to be awed at the throng of awards or the fact they had made it into Wainright’s actual office. Pipe dreams were just that, fantasy. You were never really meant to be dumped by the swell onto the beach of reality. Yet they were in the office of one of the largest music distributors in South East Asia and the US.

Dylan glanced sideways at Lilly. She sat with one leg tucked under her bum and hidden in the bunch of black material that formed a skirt. He and Morgan had thankfully persuaded to ditch her ever-present gum in the shiny bin in the lobby. She was instead nibbling on her lower lip, her heavily made up eyes lowered and counting the fibres in the carpet. He was the only one who called her by her newly acquired stage name, Lil Sian, in the hope that it would somehow give him traction or credence with her. Every time he attempted to get close, she just gave him the smouldering cold shoulder and said she wasn’t interested in boys.

Morgan was reading the gold albums and MP3s, imagining all the famous bands that had sat in the same position, as they were now poised. Dylan was tapping the CD case against his knuckles, in a way that made Morgan even more nervous than he already was. Morgan tossed his sister a quick smile that slid in under her thick mascara encrusted lashes. She gave him a barely perceptible nod. He knew it was her way of saying, ‘yeah, I’m shitting myself too.’

Morgan mused that Dylan was the only one who didn’t outwardly appear nervous, though a few minutes before, as he’d been relieving himself at the company urinal downstairs, he’d heard Dylan hurling in the toilet. Now butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth and he was practising his best warm and accommodating smile. He could talk under wet concrete and had developed a talent for being able selling anything to anyone. If Dylan couldn’t get this guy interested in their venture then his pitch, that was meant to follow, would be useless.

“Greetings kiddos,” gushed the music exec as he entered the room, with the arrogant self-possession of one used to making people wait.

Before taking to his huge leather chair, he went around to shake their hands with false enthusiasm, garrulous about what a pleasure it was to have them here. He managed to plant a syrupy staged kiss on Lilly’s rouged cheek. He was so quick, Lilly was caught completely off guard and was unable to move just out of kissing distance. She rolled her eyes, as soon as the exec turned his back and Morgan shot her a look that said ‘Don’t stick your fingers down your throat and carry on – please!’

The three of them took their seats quickly, as the exec finally assumed centre stage behind the huge black laminate desk, more tacky than flashy or chic. ‘Just like him’ thought Dylan as he smiled broadly back across the table
“Thanks for seeing us today Mr Wainright,” fawned Dylan, handing over the CD. He wanted to add ‘you old loser, washed up, sell out muso that you are,’ but he refrained, keeping his best smile on his dial.

“This is very interesting you three. You call yourselves –”
“The Maudlin Lillies,” finished Dylan smoothly. “We’re an electro punk funk outfit.”
“Hmmmm,” Wainright mused, with obvious apathy, studying the CD he held in his hand.
“This is Morgan Evett, our guitarist,” Dylan began, attempting to feed the former enthusiasm and avoiding his usual tendency to be verbose and talk things up, “and Lil Sian, our base player and I’m Dylan Harris. I’m vocals and do all the electronic stuff including our sound engineering. We all write and compose.”

“Lil Sian,” Wainright repeated, each syllable coming out in a strangled, sexually frustrated manner that made Lilly feel as though he was mentally undressing her there, right there in front of her brother and best friend.
Lilly glared back at him, amped at base ferocity in accordance with her promise that she would behave. She did not want it on her head that she’d blown it for them.

He looked at the CD cover in his hand. The four squares of Andy Warholesque photos of three kids.
‘Right now,” Wainright began, putting on his best business voice, “I don’t have to tell you kids that this stuff is all really yesterday – this guff about CDs. It’s so the zeros that it would be like suicide for us to touch this stuff. You get what I mean? Ya?”
“I don’t think that you understand us Mr Wainright,” intervened Dylan, still grinning his dazzling smile, determined not to be undermined by Wainright’s business slick. “We’re not looking for someone to produce – just a large company to distribute for us. We’ve done our checking carefully Mr Wainright and we chose your company.”

“I’m flattered. Really I am.”
Morgan gritted his teeth but said nothing, ignoring what his Mum said about grinding his teeth. Lilly clenched and unclenched her fists under the black ruffles in her lap at the pointed condescension.

“I’m sure you are sir,” mollified Dylan, making sure the he was leaning forwards in his chair to emphasis his point, intensifying his smile and laying his palms skywards on the desk.
“But kids, I’m making myself really clear. We wouldn’t touch this kind of thing with a ten foot pole, even if you are handing it all up to us on a platter. We have standards.”

“And so do we,” blustered Lilly standing up, as the boys’ faces dropped and ashened. “You seem to think that we need you, but we don’t.”
Morgan, ignoring her outburst and her pissed off, hands-on-hips stance, leapt in with his pitch.
“Mr Wainright – sir. I’ve done my research and I believe that there is a retro music movement on the rise. The music consumer is sick of the anonymity and disassociation of music downloads. They want something tangible, something they can hold in their hands. The average Jo Blow wants to buy an entire album, he wants cover artwork, he -”
“He want this artwork?” Wainright cut off, holding up the CD dramatically and concluding it with a dramatic “Pah-lease.”

“Dylan Llewellyn,” cooed a voice close by, snapping him out of his reverie and back into the room of their album launch.

In front of him hung the huge banner style poster of the three of them in their Warhol squares. The numbers ‘2..3...4’ blazed in monochrome at the bottom, with ‘The Maudlin Lillies’ in smaller print beneath. He sighed and let the final vestiges of that morning with Wainright go.

In the poster Morgan, aged four, looked like an innocent little rabbit frozen in the headlights of a car. Moments later he may have been caught on film actually smiling at the camera. On the other side was little Lilly, pulling away with a fledgling smile that could have gone either way – to a full blown pout or a dazzling cheeky monkey grin. The Mums said she was cranky with being squashed and wanted to slide off the seat. And then there was himself, not even looking at the camera. Even at three he was more interested in the touch screen that was running the photo booth than anything the Mums could have been barking at him.

He couldn’t remember the Warhol exhibition that there were at, but the Mums had told the story so many times that he thought he remembered it. All he could picture, with any certainty from that day, was chasing the huge floating, silver foil pillows in the “Silver Clouds Installation” and the Mums continually telling them not to grab the corners.

Apparently it had taken serious womanhandling to squish the three of them into booth, lots of patience as they were forcefully ushered into the camera’s range, and then goaded to smile. The irony being to him that none of them were smiling. It seemed so iconic now to him, that there were already really obvious signs of each of their adult characteristics, even that early on.

“Dylan Llewellyn,” came her voice again and he was completely present.
“Lilly,” he breathed, realising that it was the first time in years that she had called him by her childhood name for him. He steeled himself, waiting for the brutal rebut that was undoubtedly about to crash from her mouth and flatten him yet again.

“So much for us being commercial musical suicide,” Dylan observed brashly, “look at all the people here,” gesturing with grandiose sweep of his hand.
He tried not to think that the Mums had probably stacked the guest list and that there were really more people here than there should be. All these people gave the impression that they were popular.
“We couldn’t fail. With your gift of the gab and Morgan’s entrepreneurial skills of research.”
“And your sass not to eat shit from music execs,” Dylan winked.
She blushed, which seemed so out of character for her.
“And we’re not too bad musically,” Lilly added, poking him playfully in the ribs.
“Sorry to break up the party, we’re up guys,” interrupted Morgan, flinging an arm around each of them and breaking their moment,

It was a revolution of all things music that was occurring as Morgan, Lilly and Dylan took the stage to launch the first music CD in more than seven years. A music journalist in the front row, was already mentally headlining The Maudlin Lillies in the first print copy of the music street press in years. “Success by Numbers” she’d decided, scribbling it into her small notebook, having given up her Blackberry on principal.

A flash exploded beside her and in that moment the three childhood friends were immortalised for a second time. Standing on stage staring blankly out at the crowd, was the 24 year old Morgan. A moment later the euphoria hit him and a smile erupted across his face. Lilly, aged 22, strapped to her blood red base guitar coyly snuck a look across the stage to Dylan. He had his eyes lowered away from the crowd, to his console, his attention on the computer screens of his electronic equipment.

Two, three, four … the vampish costume designer, the shy gourmet businessman and the verbose games guru took their place in music history.

Vote here for this entry or to check out other entries.
Kudos to my darling partner Dave for his editorial input and patience!! We make a great teal darling.


Kerri Witt said...

Clever :)

RJC said...

Captivating. Enjoyed the use of retrospectivity. Reflection can often hold the reader's attention better than personal drama. But a combination of both............!

Mar-G said...

Well-written and I enjoyed reading it :)