Silver Lining


Last time with Helene Troy:

In a musician’s life, bad gigs are deaths. The aftermath is funereal. Helene Troy sat behind the bar, hiding herself from the dissatisfied audience and her musical hero in attendance, Ramona Gallery. She went over all of her mistakes in her head, as jack daniels and coke dulled her senses.

To save money, Helene’s band, Slipper Socks Medium, used a friend to mix sound. He was too busy leering at women to notice the microphones were turned up too high. The band sounded pitchy and out of sync. The new manager suggested popular cover songs. Helene ignored him and played mostly original material. The poor sound quality just angered the crowd. The saving grace of a lousy set was a rousing rendition of Led Zepplin’s Communication Breakdown that excited the masses and lyrically symbolized the night.

The manager collected the other band members, Sadie and Mara. They found Helene, swallowing the last of her whiskey. Helene put her left hand up to indicate she didn’t want a lecture. She got one anyway.

“I told you girls not to suck and you ignored me. So guess what, Slipper Socks Medium? For the next 3 months what I say goes or we tear up the contract right now.”

Sadie and Mara looked at Helene with dark wounded eyes. Sadie spoke first.

“We sounded like shit. We’ll be better next time. I thought we closed like rock stars!”

Helene slid her glass down the wooden bar top and pointed to the bartender for a drink to go. The manager shook his head at all three women and countered.

“There’s no way in hell I’m letting you all take the stage next week fronting The Golden Apples. You need set direction, a  professional sound engineer, and rehearsal time. This band starts tomorrow at the Soho studio. Figure out a time that works.”

Helene clenched her fists and her eyes twitched with ire.

“All 3 of us work nights and weekend days. We can practice Mondays through Thursday in the mornings. We need money for a new amp, a mixing board, and clothes.”

The manager nodded positively.

“The good news is, you cleared $335. I’ll go collect that cash and I’ll call you tomorrow afternoon, Helene. Don’t suck again, girls.”

Helene, Sadie and Mara looked each other and in unison responded sarcastically.

“We promise nothing.”

The manager walked away annoyed and found the bar owner to apologize. Sadie and Mara began worrying. Helene ignored them as she saw Ramona Gallery milling around the side entrance. Helene and Ramona walked toward each other, meeting in front of the stage. Ramona smiled. Helene looked away, embarrassed.

“You caught us on a bad night. I can’t believed you stayed. I’m so sorry Ramona.”

Ramona pulled her long straight red hair behind her ears and hugged Helene.

“Don’t be goofy, Leney. You rocked the set close. Your sound guy was staring at tits. I evil glared him a handful of times before he finally realized what was going on. You have a good chemistry with your players. I liked the originals a lot.”

Helene couldn’t speak. Just talking to Ramona was too unbelievable. Ramona looked at the plastic cup, half-full of whiskey and soda.

“Looks like my girl needs another couple of those. The White Room has better booze. Let’s go across the street and I’ll get you rolled into a cab properly in a couple of hours.”

Helene smiled , showing every tooth she had.

“It’s been a crazy last few days. I feel like I’m living in a cage.”

Sadie called out to Helene.

“Hey, we’ll get the equipment! Meet us over at Mara’s apartment tomorrow morning.”

Helene raised her left hand and waved goodbye. She pulled her wet, brown bangs away from her face and downed the last drink of whiskey. Ramona put her arm around Helene and whispered.

“I love the new tattoo. Now, shake it off. It happens. There’s a silver lining Leney. Trust me, I know why the caged bird sings. Because she has to. Let’s go get drunk and tell lies.”

Helene and Ramona laughed as they walked out of the Drunk Rhino bar.

****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the story so far here:

This is my response to the IndieInk challenge  from K. Syrah of  “Why does the caged bird sing?” My challenge went to Kevin Wilkes with “write a 500 words from the viewpoint of a fed up, stressed out superhero.”

Today’s song is Rilo Kiley’s Silver Lining. Lyrically it doesn’t quite match but feel of the song is good for the story. It’s a late night, relaxed, what the heck just happened kind of tuner. Here’s 2007’s Silver Lining by Rilo Kiley.