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Chapter 6

Storyteller

The Continuing Adventures of Meet The Blacks

Read Chapter: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The next morning was colder than usual. Winter’s comin’. If we tour it’ll have to be in the spring. We’ll have to record a proper CD. The hype from the show would only last so long. Jett pondered all these thoughts as he locked the front door of his walk-up to grab some milk from the corner store. Just as he rounded the final corner for home he saw something moving in the alley. Let’s be more specific. It was a large cardboard box moving to and fro. The wind was strong this morning. But hold on. There’s no wind. Not yet. Jett made his way to the box and lifted the flaps. A small mutt with the saddest big brown eyes and shivering like the dickens. Abandoned in the cold. Why did people always abandon their unwanted pets when conditions made it impossible for the poor things to survive on their own? Well, and why abandon them in the first place? There was an SPCA in every city. Just own up and say you can’t do it anymore. He grabbed the little fella from the box and tucked him under his warm coat. And the milk? Probably still next to the empty box. Jett climbed the three steps, unlocked his front door and let the puppy loose.

Darla was just grabbing the morning mail when the Fedex truck pulled up. The old man in uniform jumped out with a slim parcel in hand and walked up to her. “Are you Beaverdell?” “No,” Darla said, smiling now. “Do I look like a Beaverdell?” They both smiled now. He laughed and said, “Young lady I don’t what a Beaverdell’s supposed to look like. Could you sign for it?”

Beav was just coming out of the jam room when she closed the front door. “Hey Beav, this package just came for you.” She shyly handed it to him. “Wow, thank’s hon, he replied. Can you grab me those scissors from the counter? Thanks.” They sat at the table together and opened the package. When the contents were revealed they giggled like school kids. Whoa! Wow! Ah! Rusty came around the corner, kissed Darla on the cheek and gave her beautiful ass a nice squeeze as he said it. “Morning hon. What going on in here? Sounds like the two of you are planning a bank heist.” “Show him Beav,” was Darla’s reply. From behind his back Beav produced an i-pad. “Holy shit, Beav, was that from the Astrid woman?” Rusty was astounded. For the first time Beaverdell read the note attached, aloud he said: “Beaverdell, hope this finds you okay. We must talk. Tap the FaceTime icon when you’ve got the band all together. That way we can all talk.” Below that? Why a little ol’ red heart with an arrow through it. Beav had the note in his shirt pocket in seconds.

Here’s a sight to see. Jett trying to pick up the empty whiskey bottles while the tiny mutt is dragging them out of the bag. Not really sure who’s winning this game. Now that he’s warmed up, the pup’s getting more active by the minute. It dawned on Jett that the poor fella was probably starving. Jett’s kitchen wasn’t really puppy friendly. Then he thought of an idea. He grabbed a carton of chicken broth from his pantry and poured the contents into a saucepan, then heating it on the stove. The pup watched intently, head cocked to one side. When it had boiled, Jett poured the contents into a large bowl and put it into the fridge for a minute. Then he pulled out the bowl and dipped his finger into it. Perfect. Not too hot. He placed the bowl on the floor and the puppy approached it curiously. “Go on, boy.” Something in the man’s tone said it was okay so the puppy dug in. “Yeah, you like that huh? It’s not much but it should hold you ’till we get you to the shelter.” The puppy’s tail wagged. He knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

Rhett had just hung up from talking to Beav. He was surprised by the updates he was getting. And he returned the favour by surprised Beav with updates of his own. He then phoned Jett. Jett picked up on the first ring. “Hey bro, I’m sorry I’ve been out of the picture for the last week or so.” “Never mind that, have you heard what’s happening?” Rhett asked. “Yeah,” Jett replied, “Beaverdell was speaking to some talent promoter or something in LA. A lady named Astrid —” he trailed off. Rhett now. “Yeah, but there’s more. Much more. The tape is now everywhere across the US. Jett, they’re playing it six or seven times a day. Every station, everywhere.” “Whoa” was Jett’s reply. Both he and John Wayne at the same time. “And that Astrid woman wants to talk to all of us on the I-pad.” “I-pad?” Jett asked. Rhett now. “Haven’t spoken to Beav yet this morning?” “Uh, not yet.” Jett’s reply. Then Rhett again. “Okay, I’m on my way to the band house. I’ll phone Beav and let him know I spoke to you. I’ll see you in an hour or so. Bye.” And with that, Rhett was gone.

Jett hung up and looked at the puppy. What to do. An idea. Jett bounded down the stairs to the studio level and then opened the door to his basement equipment room. He left the door open just in case the puppy tried to follow. Although his place was a three step walk up, there were four floors to the home. A lot of work for a puppy. He found an old leather belt. One of those thin cowboy belts you’d see from the sixties. He cut the belt in half and then grabbed a nail. He punched the nail through the soft leather with a hammer. Then grabbed an awl, working at the holes. Sometimes you’ve just gotta give it your awl. He noticed the puppy had made it down the stairs. Too bad. We’re done here. He climbed back up the stairs, puppy following behind. Up to the top floor now and his bedroom closet. An old leather tie he picked up at the Sally Ann. When he first got it home he had wondered why he bought it. He climbed back down the stairs to the living room as the puppy reached the top step of the upper level. Okay, back down. The pup turned around to follow.

Ten minutes later they were on their way to the van. The puppy had a new collar and a very fashionable leather leash. A new leash on life. “C’mon boy, we’re going visiting. It’s time you met your uncles.” Yes, Jett had decided he was going to keep the little guy. He would get him his shots, adopt him, whatever was necessary. A nice bowl. And oh, a proper collar. And leash. “And then we’ll take you shopping for food.” He was no pug, just a mangy young pup. But he’d been up and down those stairs on his own. Then the Duke’s voice. You’d better watch your step, Buster. He had still lied to Wendy but only half as much now. Buster the pug had a new identity. Buster the pup. Just a computer typo. Pup not pug. Against all the cosmic odds in the universe he scored a point. Off in a corner of the sky, the star of destiny grew.

When the band had finally assembled and after all the hugs, backslappings, greetings, say hello to my little friend .. a few seconds of awkwardness between Rhett and Darla ensued. Rusty had called him. Rhett didn’t really see a problem there. She was a nice girl and all. But. So a cautious truce was formed. He hugged her. “Good to see you, Darla.” Darla. “Likewise, Rhett.” Darla had never been to a band meeting before so she faded back while the band gathered around the kitchen table, close to the i-pad resting in front of Beav. “Ready, everyone?” Like the beginning of Ballroom Blitz by Sweet. Yeah, Uh-huh, Sure, even a tiny yelp from Buster. Laughs all around. “Let’s go.” And with that Beav tapped the FaceTime icon. Seconds later Astrid was on the screen and LA wasn’t that far away any more.

The rest of the band was quiet while she and Beav chatted. Then she asked to meet everyone in the band. “Beaverdell, be good and let me meet them.” So the i-pad was handed around. Counter-clockwise around the table; Dusty Black, Bass Guitar. Rhett Black, Drums. Jett Black, Singer. Then Jett extended his arm over in Darla’s direction and motioned for her to grab it. The small pup jumped for it and promptly landed on his belly. Darla moved forward. “Darla Reeves, I’m the —.” All of a sudden ten different positions were shouted out. “Seamstress” “Publicist” “Set Designer” and so forth. Then Astrid spoke back to her. “I know Darling, you’re the one they can’t live without.” “Who’s next?” Darla passed the i-pad to Rusty; Rusty Black, Lead Guitar. And then the i-pad ended up back in Beaverdell’s hands. “ Ah Beaverdell. Hey, where’s the fat one?” Beav was turning red when Darla reached around Rusty and snatched the i-pad from Beav’s hand. “Hey, listen you, he’s not fat. There’s just more of him to love!” When they were eye to eye on the screen Astrid winked at her and said “I know, honey.” They both burst out laughing and Astrid said “Be a doll and hand me back to that Beaverdell fellow.” When it was decided that Jett and Beaverdell should handle the show from here on in, the others went off towards the jam room. They could be heard congratulating Darla on her new jobs.

Beaverdell talked to her a bit longer while Jett took Buster out for a pee. When they came back in Jett asked Beaverdell what he thought. Beav was impressed. He had done some research on her. Checked out her area code, then cell number, then the business itself. All legit. Mentioned on CD covers. Artists would like to thank. And big people. Towards the end of the call she got all excited. And then she started in earnest.Don’t sign with anyone else. Don’t release anything new. Take all your old pictures down from Facebook. Delete all your links. Delete all your songs from other sites. Don’t sign with anyone else. I’ll be there in a week. With contracts. With tour dates. With cheques. Don’t sign with anyone else. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Write. Record. Don’t sign with anyone else. “She wants to chat with you and I privately. Tomorrow if possible.” “Sure, Jett replied. You know I’m always by your side in this, Beaverdell. We should probably do it at my place. You, me and Buster. I’ve got a bit of clean-up to do tonight but nothing major.” They firmed things up and went in the jam room. To see the four others sitting on the couch as if in detention. Three Blacks and a Reeves. Guilty as charged. Jett cleared his throat. “I’ve got a few new tunes for you guys to hear.” And they were off, Darla with Buster in her arms, twirling to the music.

There was one new song that really stood out in Darla’s mind. Of the three new ones anyway. The other songs? Well they were already classics in her mind. Certified. She’d seen the DVD at least fifty times now. She couldn’t remember the name. It was about 11:30 when Rusty started slowing down. His hands were still tender and he’d been trying hard to keep up for the last ten minutes or so. He stopped playing. The band stopped playing. Then Rhett shouting from behind the kit, “C’mon guys, Take The Man Down one more time.” “That’s it!” Darla shouted, “that’s the song you should record next!” Well, the rehearsal was over at that point and the whole band gathered around her. Rusty had been rescued. She had saved her Jesus picture guy. Then Rhett. “Do you think I should wear suspenders? All the other drummers are wearing them.” She could have kissed him for that. So the six band members, mascot in tow, came up with a plan.

When midnight rolled around, Jett was at the door saying good-night to Beaverdell. “Okay, so let’s meet tomorrow around one. Want me to pick you up?” “Naw,” Beaverdell said, “I’ll get Rusty to drive me over.” Jett left then, with Buster bounding behind him, fashionable leash dragging along. When they got to the van, John Wayne spoke aloud. “Let’s go rescue you some grub and head on back to the Hacienda.”

Astrid sat back and watched the DVD one more time. And for the third time tonight she focused solely on the fat guy. Sorry, she reminded herself. Beaverdell. He had told her about the hat. No Beaverdell hat. No Beaverdell Lou. Just him. Beaverdell. Heavenly. And he was way more handsome on the I-pad. Charming. Intelligent. She was going through her checklist now. Exciting, cute, muscular. She stopped there. A moment later the word was no longer on her checklist. Funny old world.

At 3:00 am the house was asleep. Darla started straightening things up earlier but the three housemates made her sit and watch them work. Rhett had left earlier. And more recently, Jett. And now. Silence. Dusty awoke to a vibrating cellphone on his night table. “Hello?” quietly. “Is this a Mr. Dustin Black?” “Yes, who’s this?” “This is the Regional Hospital calling, do you know a Mr. Joe Adams?” “Mr. Black —?” The phone was buried under a pillow and blankets as he scurried to dress. Dusty was up and out the door in record time. He wrote a hurried note on his way out and grabbed Rusty’s keys. On the way he kept repeating “Let me be on time, please let me be on time.”

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