Friday, May 15, 2009

Fiction Friday: Summer Girl

[Fiction] Friday Challenge for May 15th, 2009:

Four college bandmates who haven’t seen each other in years travel back to their former campus for a reunion.

Jason looked terrible – prematurely grey, wrinkled, over weight and still pretending to be young, beautiful and cool, when he’d never been any of them in the first place. The picture on Facebook had either been photoshopped or was a good ten years old.

Rob didn’t want to judge him, they had once been brothers in arms, if not friends in a weird musical kind of way, but he couldn’t help but stare into the face of what he may have become. Hanging onto a dream that died years ago.

The small talk dragged on as the three of them tried to find common friends, common incidents – anything in common to talk about. Anything but the band.

“Fuck – this is so middle aged,” Jason said, with an over exaggerated sweep of his arm. They were sitting in the Coffee Club on the Queen Street Mall. “When did we ever have a band meeting in a café. I remember getting together in that fucking dive you lived in Robbo – up there on Petri Terrace. Flagons of port and goon. Pissing the old ladies off next door jamming until all hours. Man – those were the days. Now we’re doing lattes. There must be somewhere open at 10am for a beer.”

“You really think that going into a bar at 10am in the morning is a good idea when Julez is a recovering alcoholic.”
“Shit Julez. Sorry man. I had no idea.”
“It’s cool.”

Jason’s phone went off, blaring “We Are the Champions” and he picked it up.
“Yeah babe, sure. Yeah yeah. I’ll pick you up later on.”

Julia grabbed his hand under the table and squeezed it. He could feel her rubbing the indent in his finger from the wedding band.
“Sure. Later babe.”

He tossed the mobile across the table and lent back in his chair. “She’s a babe. Leg’s up to here and just 23 years old. Half your age and add seven years. That’s the formula I go by.”

Julia shot a look sideways at Rob – he’d seen it before. Rob pulled his mobile out of his pocket and sat the brand new iPhone next to Jason’s battered Nokia, as a waitress stopped at their table.

“I’ll have a corona? You don’t mind do you Julez honey?”
“Go right ahead. I’ll have a macchiato please.”
“What the fuck is that?”

Rob looked down at his watch.
“Make that two.”
Zac was meant to have joined them fifteen minutes late. Julia squeezed his hand and forced a smile that looked all wrong on her face.

“So you guys together again. That’s sweet. That’ll knock Zac’s socks off.” Julia pulled her hand out from under the table. “You know I never understood Julez – why’d you knock me back .. I mean first Zac, then Rob, then back to Zac.”

Rob’s chair squealed as he pushed back.
“I’m not sitting here and listening to your shit Jason. You know what – I’m sorry you didn’t get to be a big rock star, or movie star and you haven’t managed to find the next big someone -“
“Rob!” Julia reached out and grabbed him on the arm. “This is tough on all of us. Sit down.”

Rob stared down at her and then across to Jason, lowering himself back in his seat looking as if at any moment he would just stalk off.
“Cool it Robbo – I was out of line. I was always pissed that she did everyone in the band except me.”

He reached across the table to shake, but Rob didn’t move.
“Shake his hand,” Julia said, forcing a smile that didn’t suit her face. ‘We’ll drink our coffees-“
“Beer!”
“We’ll drink our drinks by which time Zac will be here.”

They sat in silence until the waitress brought their drinks. Jason took a long swig of the beer – draining almost half of it before he slammed it back down on the table.
“Hair of the dog man. Gotta do it!” He winked at Julia and Rob rolled his eyes. “I gotta say I never thought I’d see us all sitting around shooting the breeze. Hell if it weren’t for you ringing Julia I would never have come along.”

“You Julia?” Rob looked at Julia and then to Jason. “Isn’t this something you sorted out Jason?”
Jason shrugged his shoulders.“Shit no! This is lady luck here’s idea. Get us all together.”
“But you rang me and told me about the Battle of the Bands.”
“Battle of the bands – what the hell are you talking about?” Jason said, picking up his beer, letting it linger on his bottom lip. “Has your brain gone to mush with all the techno shit you do?”

Rob leaned forward. “You rang me a month ago and told me UQ were having a battle of bands reunion.”
“No way man. This is the first time I’m talking to you since the band split.”
“Actually since you were doing stand up down in the Valley.”
“Fuck yeah – I’d forgotten about that.” He took another swig of beer. “I couldn’t care less if I never saw the hairy motherfucker again. He promised he’d take me with him to Sydney when the band split – going to make it big. Fuckwit lied.”
“You knew he was planning on busting the band up?”
“Fuck yeah – he wanted to go to Sydney. Said he’d need a good drummer.”

“Did you steal them?” The chair screech backwards again, followed by Jason’s. “You stole my songs. You had a key to my place? You did it so Zac would take you to Sydney with him. And he doubled dealed you.”
“I didn’t know anything about your fucking songs Robbo. I didn’t steal them.” But neither Rob or Julia were convinced.
“You knew they were good, you knew they were destined to make us famous. All you wanted was to be famous. So you stole my songs.”

The table fell to the side as Jason lurched across the table, grabbing for his shirt.

“Stop it,” Julia yelled, forcing herself between them, where the table had been.
“And as for you. Zac fucked you to break the band up. And you couldn’t wait to spread your legs for him. He was right when he said it would be easy.”

Julia slapped him. “You take that back!” Tears stung her eyes. “It didn’t happen that way.”
“Of course it did.”
“I was drunk.”
“Weren’t you always.”

Rob held Julia back, putting his arms around her.
“Fuck off Jason. You’re a waste of space.”

“Is there a problem here?” Rob turned to face the manager. “It’s all good. He’s just leaving.”
Jason spat on the ground and picked his wallet and mobile up from among the broken crockery and the smashed salt and pepper shakers.

Kate Bush’s Wuthering Height’s soared from Julia’s hand bag, lying on the ground. She broke free from Rob and riffled through to find it. The screen came up with ONE MISSED CALL. ZAC. It beeped and she accessed her message bank. When she stood up, clutching her bag and her mobile she saw Rob handing the manager and fifty dollar bill and picking his iPhone up from the mess on the ground.

“Let’s go,” Rob said. He took her arm firmly and led her out the door, into the cool morning air. She shook free and stood blocking his way.
“It’s not what you think it is.”
“Who called me?”
“A friend of mine. I had to make it look like I wasn’t the one organising it or else you wouldn’t have come.”
“I only came because Jason – whoever – said you were going to be here.” Rob shook his head. “At least it explains why you had no gear in your room last night.”

Julia hooked her arm through his and towed him into the flow of the Mall.
“If I called and said Zac wanted to see you-“
“I wouldn’t have come. Not even for you. He screwed me. I can’t forgive the prick for what he did.”
“You never sued.”
“I had no evidence those songs were mine. I can’t believe Jason stole my songs and gave them to Zac. Explains why he was so damn cagey around me back then.”

They walked on in silence.
“I admit I lied to get you here.”
“And Jason?”
“He’s beside the point. I needed him to make it look like a band reunion. Zac felt bad about lying to him, using him, he wanted to say sorry – but it was you he wanted to see.”
“I don’t understand Julez. Are you saying you’re in contact with Zac?”

Julia looked away.
“You are?”
“I’ve always been in contact with him. He got me my first singing job in London. You’ve got no idea how it was when I got there Rob. His star was rising and -”
"He stole the song I wrote for you. You are Summer Girl. And all these years he's sung it. Made a name for himself with it."

Rob pushed her hand away and started to walk fast. Julia grabbed at him.
“Twenty years with no word from you but all the time you had Zac.”
“I ran away for 20 years and I’m not letting you run away now. This is important.”
“Were you sleeping with him?”
“Last night it didn’t matter to you what happened between Zac and I and now it does.”
“So you did.”
“You’re putting words in my mouth.”
“I’m over this Julez. Go back to London, go back to wherever just get the hell out of my life.”

“He’s dying,” Julia called as Rob strode off. “Zac’s got pancreatic cancer and he’s not going to last the month out.”

Rob stopped but didn’t turn around.
“He was coming this morning to sign the rights of Summer Girl and all the other songs to you. He wanted to do what was right. When he dies you’ll own the copyright of all your songs and all of his … and the royalties that come with it.”
“I don t believe you.”

Julia stuck her hand in her bag and pulled out some folded papers, tapping Rob on the shoulder with them.
“He just brokered a deal with Coke. A multi-million dollar deal.”
“I don’t want his money.”
“You’re money actually.”
“I said I don’t want the money. I don’t need the money.”
“But you want your song back – don’t you.”

“You say he’s dying?”
“They wouldn’t let him out of hospital to come this morning. He wanted to do it in person – but –“
“He sent you as his messenger. Always the go between. Saint Julez of the Arseholes.”
“Don’t be a stubborn bastard. Don’t let your pride get in the way of granting a dying man his last wish.”

Julia pulled a small card from her bag and handed it to Rob.
“Go to him. Go make things right. Then you and I can try and make things right between us."

The prequel to this story is Only My Heart Calling. Decided it was too long to post as the one story.

2 comments:

Annie Evett said...

wow didn't see that one coming. good flow of conversation - naturalistic. welcome back to FF!

William said...

Think this is your first post I've read. Good work. I enjoyed reading this. Very natural conversation (something I have to work on).