You Can’t Count On Me

Last time on Soul To Body: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/just-what-i-needed/

His crossed arms answered her question before he spoke.

“Well, Violet doesn’t need to know you’re with me. I’ve never eaten here so, why don’t you order for us?

Mallory fidgeted with her hair, separating the blonde streaks from the auburn while smiling at the waitress who approached the table. He eyed the waitress’ right arm sleeve of tattoos

“We’ll have BLTs and sweet teas and I like your ink.”

The waitress smiled and mouthed thank you. He caught Mallory’s eyes shoot darts at the her then lighten when she looked at him.

“Mallory, I like tattoos. I have seven.”

She grinned and played with her hair again.

“Oh, I do too. I don’t have any but I like them. Tattoos are sexy, especially on men.”

The conversation was awkward. He watched her struggle to recover. She held her breath. He tried to save the moment because they hadn’t eaten, yet.

“I think you’d look great with some ink.”

Mallory exhaled and then gave a wide grin. She leaned forward, placing her elbows on the old, round metal table.

“I know this is really forward, and you’ll have to figure out someway to keep it from your daughter but my girlfriend at work has two tickets to the Counting Crows show.”

He squirmed in his chair and closed his eyes.

“Jake! Jake Hanna?”

He remembered the male voice calling his name in the Atlanta airport on the way home from the Mexican vacation where he met his late wife, Camille.

“Yeah, I’m Jake Hanna.”

He shuffled and looked at Camille, who put her hands on her curvy hips and raised her eyebrows.

“You’re famous Jake?”

He laughed and turned to the man.

“It’s me, Gary Boggs, from Smyth’s Olde Pub. I used to work there. I remember your band Boxer Ego. I heard you guys opened for Counting Crows then broke up. That sucks, man. What happened?”

Embarrassed he looked over his shoulder at Camille, who smirked, waiting for his explanation.

“Oh Gary, you know. Jimmy quit, Jody got married. Shoulda known we’ve never get far.”

Gary gave a blank look and shook his head. Camille began laughing. She walked over to Jake and whispered in his left ear.

“I don’t think your friend got the Bryan Adams song reference. Nice to know I fell in love with a musician in Mexico.”

He picked up his right hand and touched her face. They kissed by the baggage carousel.

“Jake, so, do you want to go to the concert?”

He opened his eyes and looked into Mallory’s anxious green eyes. His picked up his recently delivered sweet tea and swallowed a moderate amount.

“Yeah, I’ll go. You can count on me.”

This is a new episode of Soul To Body. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/soul-to-body/ This is also my answer to the StudioThirtyPlus prompt “she held her breath” and Write On Edge’s prompt of 450 words emphasizing dialogue – http://writeonedge.com/2012/04/red-writing-hood-prompt-more-than-words/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheRedDressClub+%28the+red+dress+club%3A%29

Today’s song is a spin on the band mentioned, Counting Crows, and Jake Hanna’s ironic statement “you can count on me” to Mallory. He doesn’t mean that. Here’s You Can’t Count On Me:

 

Animal I’ve Become

The symphonic crunch of guitars and drums bounced around the roof of the apartment building. An hour into band practice for Helene’s four woman group, Slipper Socks Medium, produced more perspiration than inspiration. Her gray Pittsburgh Pirates t-shirt was soaked with sweat from the August heat. She stopped strumming her electric guitar and turned to her band mates.

“Hey, let’s take a break. Sadie, you want to work on some lyrics and let the other two run make a booze and food run?”

Sadie placed her bass guitar on a metal stand and wiped strands of wet ginger hair from her mouth.

“Of course, Leney. But I have no cash, can you spot me a few bucks?”

Helene rolled her eyes, making no effort to hide her discontent with her own financial situation. She pulled her guitar strap over her head and glared at her rhythm guitar player and roommate, Darcy Bridges. Darcy knew the look well, so she sprang into action.

“I’ve got forty-three dollars. That’s should get us enough beer, maybe a small bottle of liquor for our lovely Leney, and some snacks.”

Darcy turned to the band’s drummer, Mara Vincent, who yelled.

“Darse, I can pitch in too. Don’t worry we’ll at least get through this day drunk.”

The two raven-haired players left the roof in mischievous giggles. Helene shook her head in disgust, walked over to the nearest wall and looked out into the sky. When she heard Darcy and Mara close the door to the stairs, she spoke.

“Sadie, you ever think there’s a better way to do this shit?”

She turned and watched Sadie approach in a cautious shuffle.

“What do you mean, Leney? You could never quit playing music, it’s your life.”

Helene pivoted and held her guitar in her sweat drenched right hand, unplugged, close to the roof’s eave.

“It’s been two and a half years since I moved to New York from Pittsburgh. I share an unlit apartment with a drug addict and several roaches. I had more money as a college student than I do as a musician. We can’t afford to cut our EP. No matter how cool you and I make our MySpace page or rock a club on a Friday night at 1am, we’re spinning our wheels. Sade, it just isn’t working.”

Tears formed from of her deep green eyes. She didn’t expect Sadie to have any answers or words of wisdom, she just wanted those words to be spoken. Sadie tried to comfort her. 

“Leney, you’re the core of this band. You’re our Robert Plant and Jimmy Page together. I’m broke too and this is our apartment roof we’re playing on, but I believe in you. Everyone we play with or around thinks you’re fucking amazing.”

Helene took the guitar away from the side of the roof and walked to Sadie. She threw her left arm around her and the two women embraced for several seconds. Helene forced a smile and tossed her long brown hair to let some sun shine on her tired face.

“Come on Sadie, let’s go write our own Stairway to Heaven.”

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ Obviously this is part of the beginning that I’m reworking. I’m loaning it to Write On Edge’s “Core” prompt. http://writeonedge.com/2012/04/red-writing-hood-prompt/

Today’s song isn’t Stairway. I’m not neither that predictable nor cheesy. I heard this song a few days ago and it reminded me of where my head is in writing this book and where Helene’s is with the band at this early point. It came out in 2007, a year before this story takes place so Helene would have been listening to it. Here’s Three Days’ Grace With Animal I’ve Become.

Never Let You Go

Last time on Soul To Body: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/100-word-song-of-lillies-and-remains/

He opened his eyes, releasing the memory of Camille and ending his long embrace with Violet. Violet ran upstairs and brought her homework down. For the first time in many months, he sat with his daughter on the same couch watching television while she did her school assignments. He flipped channels to a hockey game and slid into a more comfortable lounging position. Violet remarked.

“You should let the scruffy face grow. It makes you look more like a dad.”

He smiled and leaned over to kiss her forehead.

“Vi, I’m going to take a shower and get some stuff ready for work tomorrow. Should I wear a tie to my meeting, downtown?”

Tapping a number two pencil against her smooth chin, Violet answered.

“No. You look old in ties. Take out your off-white dress shirt but don’t iron it. That blue sports coat you wear all the time would match the shirt. Wear those nice jeans Gus and I bought you a few weeks ago. You’ll look younger and happier in that ensem. Your meeting people will pay attention to you more.”

He shook his head from side to side in agreement and grinned.

“What would I do without you and your Aunt?”

Without hesitation, Violet lowered her head to the textbook on her lap and shot back.

“Dress very poorly.”

An ache in his back made him cringe as he walked to the bathroom. Approaching his fortieth birthday, He noticed his body becoming more brittle. He felt his feet become cold as he reached the tiled floor. Turning on the shower, he caught his reflection in the fixtures and vanity slapped him. He grumbled to himself.

“I’ve aged five years in the past twelve months. “

He felt his cell phone in the left front pocket of his jeans as he pulled them off. Two text messages were in his inbox.

“Hey, it’s Mallory. I’m sorry if I came on strong. Hope you’re having a good night with Violet.”

“I’m working downtown, tomorrow. You mentioned you were too. I can have lunch at 12:30.”

He felt a wave of confidence wash over him. Now naked, he examined himself in the mirror. He saw good things and bad things. He saw needs and loneliness. With the phone still in his left hand, he smirked at his reflection and texted Mallory.

“I’ll meet you at Smyth’s Olde Pub at 12:30 if you don’t tell anyone, especially Facebook.”

She answered immediately.

“”I promise. Can’t wait to see you.”

He grimaced at the guilt pangs, ran his right hand over his face stubble and looked away.

“Mallory, you’re going to get four days of scruff and a female approved wardrobe. Hope you’re ready.”

He chuckled at his bravado and stepped into the warm shower.

****blogger’s note*****

This is a new story episode of Soul To Body a out Violet, her deceased mom Camille, and the man they love. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/soul-to-body/ This is linked to the writing prompt “makeover” by Write On Edge: http://writeonedge.com/2012/04/red-writing-hood-makeover-2/

Music is great but it’s also weird. I woke up with Never Let You Go by Third Eye Blind playing in my head. I only like, maybe, three of their songs. But this was so muse-like that I scrapped my original post and reworked something for Vi and her dad. The lyrics are perfect for this entry, because Mallory, that girl is like a sunburn. Here’s Third Eye Blind, a excelent description on our grieving dad.

What I’ve Done

Last time with Helene Troy:  http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/ballofconfusion/

They found a side door leading into a stairwell. Helene placed her bottle of whiskey on a metal step as the door closed with a thud. The sound bounced off old black metal pipes. Helene noticed Xander’s deep, dark eyes never left her face.

“Helene you’re so talented. People in the crowd were in awe of you.”

Helene ignored the compliments. She wanted to forget it all.

“Xander, you texted me how good of a kisser you were. Prove it.”

He smiled and stepped to within a few inches of her glistening face. She could feel his nervous energy so she moved in. The kiss was slow. She liked his full lips and easy style. She pulled away and admired him.

“You’re good, Xander. Don’t stop.”

As their mouths moved over each other again, the door opened. It was Dawn. 

“I’m so sorry, Helene!”

Helene sighed and removed her hands from Xander’s hips. She picked up the bottle from the stairs and took a drink.

“The Golden Apples’ manager is desperate to talk to you. He said it was major so I told him I thought I knew where you might be. Hell, I’d take him in here too.”

Her flirty comment and awkward laugh made Xander smile. Helene wasn’t amused. She looked at Xander and mouthed “forgive me”. He shrugged his shoulders and said “Go.” She leaned in for another kiss then let go of his scruffy face and followed Dawn through a maze of hallways and club patrons. The Golden Apples were moments from taking the stage. Dawn pointed toward the manager, then took her place next to the stage to watch her boyfriend play guitar. Helene met the manager behind a stack of equipment bins.

“What?”

Her annoyed glare and subsequent swig of alcohol didn’t faze him. He pointed to a set of stairs and shouted over the crowd.

“Hand me the Jack Daniels and walk up there! Two reps from Matador Records are in an office anxious to speak to you! I’ll join the conversation after the Apples play a couple of songs!”

Helene froze. She thought about Sadie, Mara, and even Darcy. Nothing made sense.

“I can’t talk to them without the band!”

The manager shook his head in disapproval.

“They want you! Don’t be stupid, Helene!”

She thought about her conversation with Jackson in the bathroom, grit her teeth and spat back at him.

“You really are the devil!”

The manager took the bottle from her left hand and pointed to the stairs. Helene felt a war rage between her heart and her mind. Now, she had to face the casualties of that battle. She walked past the manager and felt her fear descrease each stair she ascended.

****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ It is in response to my friends at Write on Edge:

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThis week we asked you to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time someone crossed a line, legally or ethically. You could have explored vigilante justice or another sort of line crossing. We hope you enjoyed exploring the motivation of your character and possibly the consequences of his or her actions as you put your piece together. Cam wrote about justice at sea in The Fallen Woman. Remember, the word limit was 450 words, so link up and read as many links as you can.

Today’s song is perfect in emotion, time period, lyrics and feel for the story and Helene’s frame of mind. Here’s Linkin Park’s What I’ve Done:

The Hand That Feeds

Last time with Helene: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/sick-girl/ & http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/dancing-barefoot/

Helene walked into a long hallway lit with an eerie yellow hue. Several roadies slapped her on the back and shouted words of encouragement. As she strode toward the women’s bathroom, the club’s poor backstage lighting flickered. She blinked and a sad picture of her older sister, Phoebe, flashed through her mind. Phoebe’s gaunt face, tracked arms and lying eyes were haunting. Helene focused and saw Darcy look away then walk inside the bathroom. The silence that had come between them was thicker than ice. Helene muttered to herself.

“Pheebs and Darse are the same person now. I can’t talk to either one of them. Damned drugs.”

Helene heard a female shriek and felt a large hand on her left shoulder.

“Hey Jackson, did I made you proud?”

Before he could answer, the owner of the leather halter Helene was wearing, shouted.

“Oh my god, Helene! That was the greatest! You totally ruled that stage!”

Helene smiled at Dawn. Jackson leaned into her right ear.

“You killed it, gorgeous. Now, let things work out. You deserve success.”

Helene turned and forced another smile to both of them. They responded to her ambivalent expression, in unison.

“What’s wrong?”

She pointed at the door Darcy just entered.

“I really need to pee and I really need a drink. But I can’t go in there.”

Jackson perfected his posture. His large frame shadowed Helene and Dawn.

“Dawn, get her a bottle of Jack on The Golden Apples tab. Helene, the dude’s bathroom is hell. It’s an all who enters, abandons all hope deal, you know?”

Helene laughed at Jackson’s bungling of Dante’s quote and followed her big friend inside. Jackson announced “get out, lady with an emergency in here!”

She chuckled at Jackson calling her a lady and apologized to each of the three guys who adjusted their flies and left the bathroom with awkward glances. Jackson stood at the door like a prison guard and smirked at Helene. She took her position inside the stall.

“Okay, gorgeous, tell me why you’re so sour? I heard you told Mara to fuck off. That’s cool. She’s a pain in the ass. But you were awesome out there. Your vocals and guitar playing were the best I’ve ever heard. “

She rolled her eyes and sighed. Jackson was her friend. That warranted an explanation.

“Well, if my count is right, this is the ninth time you’ve heard me pee. That means you have to keep everything I say a secret.”

Jackson’s laugh echoed through the room.

“Helene, this is like a shrink’s office. If I tell anyone anything, I lose my license to ever hear you piss again.”

She flushed and kicked open the dingy, graffitied stall door. The noise bounced off of the pipes and walls like a gunshot.

“Jackson, I have to stay with Slipper Socks Medium til December because I signed a contract with your asshole manager. But, I’d rather go play Vegas with fucking Celine Dion than be with this band, right now.”

****blogger’s note****

There’s a lot going on here. This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of it, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ This is also my response to For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, kgwaite challenged me with “The silence that had come between them was thicker than ice.” and I challenged dailyshorts with “They loved each other with superfluous force.” I also took on the challenge from Write On Edge:

abandon all hope ye who enter here, boondock saints, Write on Edge, Dante's Inferno

According to Dante, the gates of hell are inscribed “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Let that inscription lead, but not necessarily define, your piece for Friday’s link-up. 500 words or less.

I had a hard time with today’s song because of editing. I went with something because of lyrical content and emotional feel. Here’s Nine Inch Nails’s The Hand That Feeds. You’ll agree if you listen to the words, loudly.

Money Means Nothing

“You’ve got to stop your crying, right now! This is business!”

Tears mixed with sweat as I ran my hands over my face and stared into the serious eyes of my lawyer. He was right. The anguish I was expressing was ill-suited for the meanness  in the next room.

“Can ya’ll just give me a minute alone?”

My attorney and the mediator assigned to my divorce case left, angry. I closed the door behind them and turned off the light. I needed peace and the darkness felt right. I ignored their grumbles, kneeled down, pressed my feet against the bottom of the door and asked for hope. Actually,  I begged for hope. I don’t remember the exact words in my pathetic prayer, but there was a line about making sure I never was motivated by money to do anything. The quest for stuff, that thirst for greed, has turned the mother of my child into something unrecognizable. I even had relatives showing the same faces. As I composed myself and let the misery workers back inside, I said something to myself that I’ll never forget.

“Money means nothing.”

Over the next two years I turned down two job opportunities that would have meant higher pay. They would have ruined my relationship with my now eight-year-old daughter and prevented me from meeting my wife and other two girls. I stopped haranguing loved ones about not saving or spending frivolously or buying too much for the kids at Christmas. I felt the change in my life that started six years earlier.

I make good money at a job I’m fortunate to have. Yet, as I write, I have less money than ever. Bills, debts, life and many more things have depleted finances. But I’m happy.

Last night, after a serious discussion with my wife about our money problems, we sat down together to get our minds off trouble. My teenage daughter, whose modus operandi is staying in her room, came downstairs and stayed with us for three hours. We laughed, watched bad shows, and shared the ridiculousness of our lives. I may have even stolen a few hugs and kisses from the teenager. As we prepared for bed, I walked to the back porch and turned off the light. The sudden darkness reminded me of that day in the courthouse mediation room. I smiled, wiped an unexpected tear, and said “money means nothing”.

I hope I’m right.

This week, we asked you to share a memoir featuring hope, expressed in 400 words or less.

Nancy wrote a Prayer for Her Son, using Tina Fey as inspiration.

We can’t wait to read. Consider the spirit of yesterday’s post about constructive critique—and take a risk and try giving some feedback to your fellow writers. Remember, kindness first.

Today’s song is meant to be ironic and of course emotional. I’m very angst-ridden and in turmoil right now so Nirvana hits me just right. Here’s The Money Will Roll Right In.

Born of Frustration

Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac. This is for you.

James was brawny and tall, 6″4″, with a coif of long blonde hair that layered over his impressive head and shoulders. I couldn’t stand looking at him, well, at least in the way everyone else beheld him. I felt like a little boy, a pipsqueak of nothing. No matter what I said, tried, did, played, or wrote, it fell at his feet like broken arrows in a bad television western. I was too young to understand that James was a moment in time not an era of accomplishment. We were early twenty-somethings trying to figure out if screwing or doing or brewing was the way to be men. He called me by my last name, an insult that kept me in a place, my pathetic place, of insecure discontent that walled much more anxiety that I already experienced through my own disordered brain. Women tossed their bodies at James, he’d treat most of them with groupie indifference, work when he wanted, and get away with things that would’ve crushed my reputation. I would get lost in plotting, scheming, and pontificating how I would make the idiots around me see how I was smarter and more interesting than him. Nothing ever worked. Instead of getting attention or, God forbid, poetic justice on the smug lug, my words and thoughts would wander like smoke trailing into my nether region of envy, born of frustration. Time showed James peaked, back then. He was only what he was in front of everyone’s face. My 5’8″ brown-haired twitch of motor-mouth, dark moods, grunge clothed, music lyric spouting, notebook writing stress ball was a work in progress. I was minor league to his major league. But looks fade, people change, things move, thoughts matriculate. I used to see James as this Goliath and me this pathetic David, slingshot unarmed, a fool’s view. Years have a way of evening scores while maturity and gravity laugh at them over lunch, something grilled and diet, of course. Cheers, James. Hope you’re well.

*****blogger’s note****

In celebration of one of the truest artists in history, Jack Kerouac,  and a nod to three prompts; StudioThirtyPlus’ “Envy” http://www.studiothirtyplus.com/forum/topic/249/page/1#2469 , Trifecta Writing’s “Trail”  http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2012/03/trifecta-week-eighteen.html#comment-form, and Write on Edge’s “This week we’d like you to write about a time you found yourself comparing yourself, unfavorably, with someone else. Focus on how the comparison affected you, negatively or positively.”  http://writeonedge.com/2012/03/remembered-comparisons-hurt/ I wrote in the unstructured, stream of conscience style of the late beat superstar. It’s a great day to celebrate being a writer.

Today’s song is a distant memory. This is something emo and dumb and almost forgotten that I listened to during my time of comparision to someone else. Here’s James – Born of Frustration.

Me and Bobby McGee

Previously with Soul to Body: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/leavethepieces/

Violet chatted with Mallory near the gas pumps while he paid for their sandwiches. He watched Violet, through smudged windows, laughing with her acquaintance of less than thirty minutes. His dark, sad eyes caught a familiar image next to the candy bars and chapstick. It was a Janis Joplin Greatest Hits CD. The cashier appeared from a back room carrying dollar bills and loose change. Wearing dirty, blue coveralls and a red University of Georgia baseball cap, the attendant’s tooth-challenged grin widened as his customer spoke.

“I’d like to get this CD so take another five dollars out of that.”

Violet and Mallory walked into the station as he took his white sack full of sandwiches and cokes. He tried to hide the CD in the back waistband of his jeans.

“Dad, you got me a surprise didn’t you?”

He looked at the red gas can in Violet’s left hand then turned to Mallory.

“If my daughter talked you into the mindset of not driving us back to our car, I’d understand.”

Mallory pulled long strands of striking red hair around her ears and chuckled.

“Violet’s great. Apparently my niece plays volleyball for a rival high school. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw each other at a game, soon.”

He smiled and led the three of them toward the door. The CD fell out of his jeans. The awkward clunking sound startled everyone. Mallory picked it up and remarked.

“I love Janis. I’ve been known to wail Me and Bobby McGee in the car. I pick up cool stuff like this at random too.”

Neither he nor Violet responded. As they reached Mallory’s car, Violet leaned into him.

“I loved when mom sang that song to you on your birthdays. Now we can hear it all the time.”

 ****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of Soul To Body about sixteen-year-old Violet and her widowed father. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/soul-to-body/ 

In honor of Davy Jones and the other artists who enhance our lives, this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt draws inspiration from music. http://writeonedge.com/2012/03/red-writing-hood-1-songs-the-week-you-were-born/

Go to This Day In Music, and discover what was number 1 on the charts in the United States, England or Australia the day you or your character was born, or any other special day in your/their life, if you prefer.

Listen to the song(s) and let it inspire you. In 300 words or less.

Violet’s dad was born in March 1971, when Me and Bobby McGee topped the charts.

Here’s the inspiration, written by the legendary Kris Kristofferson and immortalized by the late great Janis Joplin

No I In Threesome

Last time with Helene Troy: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/lipstickandbruise/

“It was a rainy night in Düsseldorf . I was trapped between need and want. The hotel bed said do it, the hotel phone said don’t.”

Helene sang into the microphone and bent the strings of her electric guitar. It was one of her favorite melodies. Her mind settled on the original writer of the tune, Ramona Gallery, and she wanted to talk to her. The manager uncrossed his arms and motioned for her to stop.

“Helene, fine. It’s been World War 3 in here so let’s work this out. You can have Düsseldorf Rain, if I can have Interpol’s Threesome. “

She nodded her head yes and turned to Sadie and Mara to continue the song but they were standing and stretching. After two hours, everyone wanted a break. No one spoke. Tension breathed between them. Helene walked past everyone and tried to send Ramona a text.

“Shitty day. Love to talk.”

Helene gripped the phone in her left hand and stared across the street at a taco stand. Her stomach growled. As she crossed the street, her phone vibrated and she answered with enthusiasm.

“Hey you!”

It was Xander. She had sent the text to the wrong person.

“Hey back, Helene. I’m shocked you texted. I thought you were pissed at me. Am i still invited to your show, tonight?”

Helene pulled the phone from her the side of her head and thought about how wretched the situation would be if Xander was in the crowd and Ramona showed. Desperate for something positive, she responded with kindness.

“Yeah, Xander. It would be great if you came. Can I call you later?”

She heard bustling in the background. His nervousness when they talked seemed so comfortable.

“Absolutely, Helene. Listen, be yourself tonight. Just show everyone your awesome talent and have fun, okay?”

It was something she wanted to hear from Ramona. After saying goodbye, she turned and saw Mara and Sadie standing thirty feet apart on the sidewalk talking on their phones.

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ This handles two prompts. One from Write on Edge: http://writeonedge.com/2012/02/red-writing-hood-69/ “It was a rainy night in Dusseldorf” and another from Trifecta http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/ “wretched”.

This song is mentioned in the story and acts as a theme for this 333 word installment. Here’s Interpol’s haunting ode, No I In Threesome.

Slither

Last time with Helene Troy: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/fell-in-love-with-a-girl/

The thickness of the air outside followed Helene inside the loft. As her fingers recoiled from blistering through the song, she felt the uneasiness of the room.

“You’re late, damn it!”

The manager’s voice boomed from several feet away. Helene didn’t answer. She gripped her guitar with trepidation and turned toward Sadie and Mara. They sat with their instruments slack-jawed but refusing eye contact with Helene.

“I’m sorry for being so late. I had some stuff come up but I’m here and definitely ready.”

Their tandem silence startled Helene. After a few seconds, Mara pushed herself away from her drum kit.

“Yeah, you were stealing Darcy’s apartment and fucking your rockstar girlfriend! How dare we be bothered by an hour long wait?”

Mara wasn’t usually sarcastic. She was a tell it like it is woman. Helene looked at Sadie and saw no quarter in Sadie’s hard stare. Helene felt like fighting.

“We were being evicted! You try living with a druggie that doesn’t pay the bills! And, who I fuck is none of your business!”

Helene stomped to her backpack and retrieved her notebook, still clutching the plugged-in electric guitar. She returned their scowls and placed her notes on a music stand.

“Now, are we going to rock out or gossip like little bitches? Your call, girls! But, Make it now, ’cause tonight’s a big deal!”

Helene looked up at the manager, standing a few feet away with his arms crossing, shaking his head in disgust. Helene smirked and mouthed “asshole” at him. She lowered her voice.

“I want to start tonight’s set with that wicked version of Slither, Sadie and I came up with. It’ll build tension, then we’ll explode on the crowd after a minute or so.”

Sadie stared at her sneakers and plucked the opening baseline. Mara rolled her eyes, sat back down behind her kit and played the low percussion rumble. Helene absorbed their pressure and strummed the growling guitar chords.

****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ This ia a touch over 300 words based on the prompt from Write On Edge:

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodWe asked you to use a Gandhi quote to inspire you to throw a little conflict at your characters in the name of strong plot development.

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.
Mahatma Gandhi

The word limit was 300. Please link up but only if you did the prompt. Remember to visit as many linkups as possible in the spirit of building a strong community.

There’s plenty of conflict here as Helene begins pushing her band away.

Today’s song comes from the story. I think this song really is all about conflict and tension building. Slash is great on guitar here. Play it loud. Velvet Revolver’s Slither: