Written by Ella Muyot
Billy froze on the spot, like a deer caught in the headlights. Nate. He was so distracted by the excitement of getting into BIMM that he completely forgot about Nate not getting in and the fact that he didn’t know Billy had even auditioned. He felt a sudden pang of guilt for keeping this secret from him – another secret as a matter of fact. And, as if he needed another reminder from his guilty conscience, his mobile started to ring… it was Molly.
“Hi Billy!” She chimed cheerfully.
“Molly.” Billy grumbled.
“Just wanted to say congrats again for getting the place at BIMM! Got my text?” She asked slyly.
“Yes, I did and please, don’t tell Nate. I’m being serious Molly. You saw him this morning. He’ll do what he did to that bass drum to my head.”
“Why would I want you to get hurt Billy? You know how much you mean to me.”
“Um, okay…” There was an awkward silence. “Look, thanks. I’ve gotta go. ..” He was eager to get off the line.
“Not so quick Mister.” She interrupted. “There’s a party tomorrow night at my friend Lucy’s and I don’t really feel like turning up on my own.”
He sighed heavily. “Listen Mol, I’ve told you before. You’re fifteen, I’m seventeen and what happened at Rachel’s can’t happen again. You’re my best mate’s sister, right? Please Molly, let’s just be friends.”
“Oh, really? Friends eh?” She paused. “I don’t want to be ‘just’ friends, I already have enough friends and you’re more special than that to me Billy. Besides, he might not be your best mate if he knows how you’ve let him down, gone behind his back. If you want me to keep your secrets, you have to keep me happy. Got it?” Her girly, high pitched voice morphed into something more threatening and serious.
Billy could do nothing but grit his teeth together in annoyance. “Fine.” He reluctantly replied.
“Coolness. Pick me up at 8 then, yeah?”
“Can’t wait.” He ended the phone call and suddenly a wave of despair washed over him. He slumped down on the kitchen floor, resting his elbows on his knees, rubbing his temples in a fast circular motion like a rubber on paper, as if he could erase his mistakes. How he wished it was only that simple.
Felicity Daniels hadn’t always had an easy life. She was a middle child in a family of seven, all cramped into a small council house in Hackney. Having Nate, escaping the mayhem of her over crowded childhood had seemed like a way out to her. She moved to Brighton with a musician, fat lot of good that did her. He buggered off when he realised that babies were endless dirty nappies and screaming and she never saw him again. But, she vowed to herself that she would spend every single minute of her living breath loving and nurturing her baby, in a way that she had never been loved and nurtured herself. She would cherish him and make him her world, which is exactly what she did. That was why, watching him suffer now, watching him unable to cope with the rejection, was eating her up inside.
“I just don’t understand how they turned him down!” She said for the hundredth time to her husband as she changed into a pink pair of Juicy Couture sweats. “He’s so talented and he doesn’t deserve this, Simon, he really doesn’t! Isn’t there anything you can do?”
Simon Daniels watched his wife as she zipped up the matching top over her beautifully sculpted breasts. Worth every penny they’d been, he thought to himself. She came across to him and pecked him on the cheek, leaving a smear of lip gloss on his cheek.
“There must be something we can do?” she whispered breathily.
He shrugged and caught her round the waist. It was hardly possible that she had teenagers; she looked no more than thirty.
“I’m sure we’ll think of something,” he said, “Although I should really have words with the Principal. We gave them the company’s latest recording software gratis and I thought that he and I had an understanding. That’s exclusive stuff! I was expecting an acceptance at the least, maybe even a scholarship for that lot.”
Felicity nuzzled into his neck. “Don’t you have any contacts honey?” she murmured.
“Well, I know one or two of the tutors who go to the club so I could always pop down this afternoon, watch a couple of gigs, see who’s about. If they’re there I can chat them up maybe?”
She pulled back and smiled at him. “Would you? Really?”
“Yeah. If Nate didn’t shine at the audition it’s not his fault. Something went wrong. Obviously a little push is still needed. I’ll ring the Principal as well and put out feelers to see what else the college needs that we can donate.”
Felicity stood straight and smoothed the velour over her chest. “Thank you, honey. I just hate seeing him like that you know?”
Quietly tiptoeing away from the door of his parents’ bedroom, Nate made his way towards the end of the hall and into his bedroom. He flung himself on the bed and stared up the blank white ceiling. Shutting his eyes tightly so that he could see white spots twinkling against his eyelids, like the stars he used to in dark cloudless skies on nights when his real dad would take him camping. He began to replay the conversation he had just overheard in his head.
Stepdad. The company’s latest software. Favour. BIMM. Acceptance. Rejection. Mum.
For the majority of his life, Nate knew that he’d had it all handed to him on a golden platter: getting great grades with personal tutors, charming his way into becoming the captain of the football team with his mum on the side-lines at every match, buying girls with expensive dates – everything he’d done had been easy – all except for music. Playing the guitar was the best thing he’d ever achieved and he’d always reckoned he was pretty good at it – it had always seemed effortless. Now however he wondered if he was really as good as he’d always believed. In fact, he wondered if he was even any good at all?
Nate dragged himself off his bed and onto his red leather swivel chair. He pulled open the top drawer of his desk and took out a medium-sized leather bound book with the letter N etched on the front in gold; a present he had been given by his dad. Turning to a fresh white blank page, he scribbled the title ‘Song Lyrics’ and, thinking hard, he began to write…
Moments later, his trance was abruptly broken by a loud rap and the door was flung open. He hastily closed the book and shoved it under a pile of guitar song books. Billy walked in.
“Yeah… yeah fine.” Nate replied unconvincingly.
“Well, look, I knew you probably needed something to take your mind off things so I thought, why not get started on recruiting for the band?” He sat on the edge of the desk and smirked. “Get ourselves some new members, some real Peaches? Whaddya think?”
Nate couldn’t help but laugh. That was why he loved having Billy around, he was always so upbeat, so damn optimistic about life even when it’s falling like a pile of rubble.
“You’re on,” Nate said. “Where do we start?”
Nate wanted instant responses and it had been two days since they created the page on Facebook for the auditions with nothing to show for it. He was beginning to get edgy.
“Calm down mate, it’ll be fine,” Billy encouraged as they strolled along the prom at Brighton.
“Calm down? We’ve got three likes so far two of them are from you and one from me. Plus a series of the most ridiculous comments posted on our wall and you want me to calm down?!”
“Well, I kinda like the one asking to be a groupie…”
“That was from Shaun!”
“We’ve gotta do something Billy, speed things up a bit. How about we advertise?”
“Nice idea, but that takes serious wonga and we haven’t got any.”
Nate was scrolling down the posts, or lack of them on his new iPhone. “Oh great, here’s another one from Dylan… large lady sings Adele … badly. God, this is so… so…”
“Yeah… that as well.” Nate stopped and looked down at the beach. He leant against the metal barrier on the pavement and watched the antics on the stony beach. Small crowds of people swarmed over the pebbles, in and out of the sea. He saw a tall dark haired man laughing freely as he helped his little boy to fly a batman kite, a woman wearing a strapless white bikini propped on her towel reading a paperback and a couple having a spat through clenched teeth and false smiles whilst their little girl with soft blonde curls played on the rug beside them.
“Nate? Helloooooo? Earth to Nate?” Billy nudged him.
“Yeah, sorry mate.” He turned to Billy. “Look, clearly we got do something. If we advertise we could attract a much more professional bunch. We could hold auditions in the gig house down the road?”
“But Nate, like I said, that’s gonna cost loads mate.”
“Don’t worry man, I’ve got it all covered. Trust me. I can cover the costs; you don’t have to worry about it at all. You just do the research, we’ll write the ad together and we’re off, yeah?”
“Yeah, sure,” Billy mumbled. He turned away. Oh God, he thought, another weight added to his guilt-and-debt-for-Nate-pile. One of these days he could just see the whole thing come crashing down. He only hoped it wasn’t too soon.
“Here you go, Andrés.” Alexia, the gig house manager handed him a stack of posters as he walked into work that afternoon. “Put these up around the place and if we have any left, just give it to the other restaurants yeah?”
“Sure thing, boss; anything for you.” Andrés replied, flirting outrageously as he took off his black leather jacket, showing off his toned and tattooed arms.
Rolling her eyes at him, she started to head out the entrance way. “Alright, I’ll see you at tonight’s gig then yeah?”
“Will be here, boss.” He winked.
He flicked through the different posters, numerous designs splashed on each one, making them eye-catching. Most of them were advertising themed nights at the gig house, however, there was one that captured his attention. It was a, “We Want You” poster for an all-male-indie band audition.
The idea of being in a band sparked his interest. It’d be a laugh and the ladies sure love guys in a band. He thought. And frankly, he could play the violin like a boss. Taking one of the posters, he folded it neatly and shoved it in the back pocket of his black skinny jeans. Getting out the stapler and tossing on his Bose headphones, he started listening to Arcade Fire’s latest new album and began his task.
Andrés entered the basement, his dad’s music studio and their “cave”. The room had been renovated so that it was one hundred per cent soundproofed and painted pitch black, its presence accentuated by the stage lights hanging from the ceiling. He remembered sneaking down here when he was younger, always scared that there would be a sudden power cut and that he’d be swallowed up by the darkness. But he’d forced himself to be brave because he liked this room; it was filled with all the jazz instruments you could think of: a baby grand piano, a drum kit, saxophones, trombones, clarinets and guitars.
One time, when he was quite young, his dad had found him strumming what looked like a very small guitar – it was the only instrument light enough for him to carry. He let go of it straight away in the fear that he’d get told off, but his dad had sat down on the floor next to him and handed him a stick with thin strings of hair attached alongside it.
“Andrés, this is a bow and that is a violin.” He pointed to the small guitar. “This is how it’s played.” He said softly.
He remembered that day as the first time his dad played for him and the day he fell in love with the violin.
“Hola chico!” His dad, Carlos, smiled at him. “Hey, how was your day?”
Andrés walked towards where his dad was polishing the wind instruments.
“Not too bad.” He paused as he took out the poster for the band auditions from his back pocket and handed it to his dad. “Saw this today at work. I think I might try out for it.”
Carlos frowned lightly as he read through the poster, hints of wrinkles forming on his forehead. He let out a scoff and laughed. “Chico, why would you want to be in some amateur band? You’re too good for this.”
“I think it’d be a good experience. You never know, they could be really good.”
“Trust me Andrés, I’ve come across so many seventeen year olds who are ‘totally’ committed to being in a band, have a fight about whose name gets to be first on the list and break up before they even make it to their first performance. You’re better off playing solo or finding a band with more mature guys. Si?”
“Hmm, I guess. It was just a thought anyways.” Andres shrugged and turned away. It was more than a thought, but he wasn’t going to tell his dad that. At least not just yet.
It was Saturday afternoon, Billy had just finished counting up a day’s worth of busking money and was about to start packing up the small drum kit that he’d bought second-hand from a car boot sale. He had experimented with a few new sounds during the day and he was content with the eighty two pounds that he had just bagged. Not bad for a day’s work, he thought.
As he bent over to start loading up the two cymbals, three snare drums and foot pedal in his camping rucksack, he was distracted by a pair of black strapped sandals that stopped front of him, toenails painted in a bright pink colour and that familiar overwhelming smell of perfume. Oh no. Closing his eyes and preparing himself to look up, he heard that annoyingly-enthusiastic-high-pitched voice.
“Hey Molly.” He continued to pack his stuff.
“I saw you play earlier! You were like, so totally amazing!” She stooped down to his level. The pungent smell of her perfume became stronger as she got closer, forcing him to breathe through his mouth.
“Molly, you said that earlier when you walked past about four times.”
“Well, I just had to keep going back to this shop because I kept forgetting the stuff I wanted to buy. Do you like my new haircut?”
“Great.” He said without even looking at her.
Unimpressed by his reaction, Molly stood up and crossed her arms angrily, just like a spoiled child told that she couldn’t have ice cream before dinner. Taking out her mobile from her small Paul’s Boutique bag, she pretended to dial a number.
“What are you doing?” Billy asked.
“Thought I’d call Nate. Tell him the good news about you and BIMM. After all, you’re supposed be, like, best friends.” Her voice was full of menace.
“Cut it out, Mol,” Billy snapped. “I already came with you to that stupid party. What more do you want?”
“You could be, like, just a little bit nicer to me.” She said innocently. “I mean, look at all what Nate’s done for you and your band. What a way of thanking him by stealing his place in BIMM, isn’t it?”
Billy felt his stomach turn; guilt flying like butterflies. “Alright, alright. Just don’t say anything.”
“Of course, babe.” She winked and leant in to kiss him on the cheek. “I’ll see you around.”
As she walked away he crouched down again on the floor and tidied up. He caught a glance of his reflection on the scratched metal sides of his snare drums and saw a pattern of red lipstick staining his cheek.