A Favour For A Favour By Michel Massicotte
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Tommy Goodman is the lead guitar player in a band who are about to shoot a video, and preparing for a music award show. But being a member of a regular family, he is obligated to help family and a neighbour, even it that means canceling the awards show. A moment like that could be devastating to a budding career, or is it?
A Favour For A Favour
Tommy stuffed the cable into case and shut it. He stood, imagining the guitar like it was part of his body, moving fingers along the neck to the cadence of his favourite song, the one they would play for the video.
“Yes, Helen,” his mother said, from the telephone in the kitchen. “I’ll see what I can do.”
His father stepped out of the main bedroom. “Ready to go Tommy?”
Tommy stopped his imaginary play long enough to raise his pick hand in an awkward gesture.
“I sure hope that means something nice.”
“You bet Pop. It means ‘you’re cool. Let’s move’.”
“You look ridiculous when you stand like that and play nothing!” René said, poking head out of her room.
“Shut up, dummy--!”
“Hey,” their father interrupted. “What did I say about the teasing?”
Renée stuck out her tongue before disappearing again.
“Big night, Tiger?” his father asked.
“Yep. We’re so close to something really big. I can feel it.”
“Good. I hope so. You put so much time and energy into that group. I really hope you won’t be disappointed.”
“No way, Pop,” Tommy said, gestures growing more extreme.
“Is that how you play your guitar?”
Tommy stopped to think, looking at his posture. “I don’t know.”
“Aren’t you afraid of breaking something? You looked to me like you were practicing for a sword fight.”
Tommy did the movements again and smiled. “I’m just really pumped.”
“Ok,” he answered with what seemed like a cautious smile. “Ready to go?”
“Yep.” Tommy almost banged case on the door on his way out.
He stood at his usual spot, to the right of Roy, their drummer. Tommy had never seen him twirl drumsticks so quickly.
“Crap!” Roy said before cursing more foulness after dropping the sticks.
Tommy plucked through the first two bars continuously, the best intro he thought he had ever composed.His attention was diverted temporarily to the director.Tommy had met him once before this day. The man wore a baseball cap which made his head and face resemble a camera as he pointed to Tommy and made hand gestures. He seemed worried, removing cap and reworking it on his head. Tommy dismissed any negative thoughts and focused on the music.
“Hey, Strums. You need to chill,” Virgil, the singer, told him as he and entourage approached the stage. “We ain’t starting for another fifteen.”
“I just don’t want to blow it Verge.”
“Blow it? How could you do that? You wrote the thing. You know it better than anyone. Besides, you’re not playing it for real anyway. So what’s the panic?”
“I don’t know. It’s just one of those times when I want everything perfect.”
Virgil laughed.“Whatever, Strums. Just don’t get to the point where your head explodes.”
“Clear the stage please,” the director called. “More lights and other equipment have to be set up.”
Tommy frowned as he moved, handling his guitar gingerly as he side-stepped technicians on his way off the stage.
The camera felt too close for his comfort as the operator moved slowly around to face him. He looked at it not knowing what to do and lost his place in the song. He guessed they were three or four bars past the main ‘riff’, which meant his solo would start soon.He looked at his fingers, preparing for it, though he was not sure why the taped version of the song was so off. He jumped back, enjoying the moment, and slammed his head into something which felt sharp and hard.
“Cut!” he heard before becoming dizzy. Nausea took hold quickly and he felt weak. Voices echoed before he collapsed to his knees and flopped sideways. Something hit his cheek.
Tommy sauntered in, lugging case as though it were a burden. He touched the growing lump on his cheek, hoping it would not be noticeable, and walked slowly to the kitchen.
His mother waved at him with one hand, the other held the telephone receiver.
In four laboured moves Tommy grabbed jug of milk from the refrigerator, turned and reached for a tall glass in the cupboard, and filled it.
“You’re not just going to leave it there, are you?” his father asked, pointing to the guitar case.
Tommy frowned, expecting sympathy.“No. Just give me a minute, Dad.”
His father frowned. “I guess you’re going to feel that for a while.”
Tommy hoped no one else had heard the comment. “Yah Dad. No problem.”
His father half-smiled before walking away.
His mother ended her conversation. “Renée, would you come here please?”
A large thump was heard followed by loud footsteps to the kitchen. Renée stood close to the doorway, and seemed to want to stay away from Tommy.
“I’ve got a job for you tomorrow.”
“But I didn’t want any.”
“This is called helping out your neighbour.”
Tommy smiled, waiting for the usual tantrum.
She looked sternly at her mother. “Fine. Whatever,” she blurted quickly before storming away, disappearing into her room and shutting the door.
Tommy walked home confidently, carrying guitar in case and stomping into the house, and banging the case on the floor.“I’m home!” He neglected to remove boots as he went into the kitchen and opened refrigerator door. He closed it, opened pantry door next to it, and searched, finding a king sized chocolate bar. He felt good ripping the package and gobbling half of it. “Is anyone here!” he said between chews.
Footsteps were heard rushing upstairs. “Shhhh! Keep it down!” his mother
Whispered loudly. “You’re sister’s sick!”
Her tone of voice felt like a reprimand. “Sorry.”
“Come here!” She ordered.
He sauntered to reach her.
She looked at the marks his boots were leaving on the floor, and at him as though not sure what to say. “I need you to do something for Renée.”
Tommy expected the worst. “Whatever it is, can it wait until tomorrow? Me and the guys are playing tonight.”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry Tommy. You’ve got to take your sister’s place tonight.”
“You know, babysitting.”
“What! Babysitting! But we’ve got a serious gig tonight. I mean, we’re on TV!”
“This is one of those times when family comes before your interests,” she said, sounding desperate. “I’m very sorry, but your band will have to wait another day.”
He felt betrayed. “I can’t believe it! We’re supposed to be playing the awards show tonight! This gig could be the biggest night of our life and I’ve got to babysit!”
His mother stayed quiet, looking at him intensely.
“Not fair!” he mumbled, storming away.
He approached the door to a big house, imagining it was leading to the office of a famous music producer, wanting to meet with him to sign a recording contract. He had to think of something to cheer himself up.
He raised pick hand to touch doorbell when the door opened. A young girl in pajamas walked from behind the door into the open and smiled, showing a full set of tracks and elastics. Tommy ignored them thinking of the song he would have played in an hour had things been different.
“Mom! Tommy’s here!”
He untied runners and left them at the door.
“Thank you sweetie!” Mrs. Archer called from upstairs.
She appeared from another room and walked down casually, red gown flowing to ankles.“Thank you for taking your sister’s place on such short notice.”
He forced a smile and nodded. He wanted to explode but remained silent.
“Come with me. I want to show you what you get for doing this for us.”
The comment was unexpected.
She led him to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. “Take whatever you want. There’s some leftover pizza, cola, juice, pudding cups, etcetera.” She closed the door. “We should be back home by or twelve.”
“You can also watch TV. We’ve got satellite and cable.”
The comment tickled him.“Wow! That’s a lot.”
“OK,” she answered, smiling. “Frank will be here in a few minutes to pick me up, and Rachel is getting ready for bed, so you’ll have plenty of peace and quiet.”
She headed for the stairs.
Tommy stood by, waiting and wanting to be alone.
He slumped on the couch, not hungry or thirsty for anything. He stared at the television flipping through stations, not interested in any show in particular.
Anything related to music videos were painful to watch tonight, though that was the only thing of interest when not playing guitar in the band. He thought of turning to the awards show, but seeing another band in their spot would be absolute torture. He looked up, wondering why life had become so cruel.
Two silver disks were mounted on a board and displayed on the mantle.
Tommy stood for a closer look. The disks were silver replicas of popular singles released the year before, and awarded to Mr. Archer for his involvement in producing the popular songs for two different bands. Names of other people included Director Sam Richards, Studio Engineer Julian McNeill, and Promoter David Laroche. Family pictures between the disks were of Mrs. Archer, a silverhaired man Tommy assumed was Mr. Archer and Rachel.
“I wonder,” Tommy said quietly. Her grabbed the remote and flipped to the awards show.
The audience was seen and heard clapping, and cameras followed three men walking onto the stage and to the microphone, Mr. Archer leading them.
“Oh my god!” In addition to recognizing Mr. Archer, Tommy was stunned at seeing the man with the baseball cap.
“Thank you, this is a great honour,” Mr. Archer stated. “This demonstrates what happens when you get the best people in the industry working for you…” he continued.
Tommy felt his cell vibrating and playing his favourite tune, but was too stunned to want to answer.
“…I would also like to thank Tommy Goodman. He would have been here playing with his band this evening, but instead he’s doing us a favour by babysitting our daughter.”
The audience laughed.
Sam Richards smiled, nodded, touched baseball cap and nudged his way to the microphone. “And I hope he’s recovered from the other day, ‘causes we’ve got a deadline to meet.”
The audience laughed and clapped as Mr. Archer took award and led the three men off the stage.
Tommy shut the television and sat motionless, his cell vibrating and playing his tune constantly.