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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 38: Takano 25
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The week went as anticipated. Tommy told Missus Billings that she planned to go out Friday night with some of the local girls she had met, and Mister Billings made a point of paying in on Thursday, so she had more cash than she had expected. She thought she might open a bank account, but decided that it was probably more trouble than she could manage, as she did not have anything useful for I.D.
They also managed to get to the club without incident. Tommy had never ridden a train before, and it was something of an experience crossing the bridge. She was wearing her new jacket over her party dress, with her sneakers on her feet and her dress sandals in a small paper bag until they got there. Dot had done her makeup for her, so she looked a bit older than her age, which Peg said would give her more confidence getting in the door.
Johnny Angel was, as far as Tommy could tell, everything promised. The rest of the band was adequate; she had the impression that they were lucky to have the drummer. His drumming was technically impressive, but also innovative, seeming to borrow from drummers Tommy knew were still in the future here. She was enjoying the music, and realizing that she’d missed supper she bought an overpriced ham and cheese sandwich to go with her overpriced citrus soda.
As she relaxed at the table, suddenly she had that feeling--the feeling she had had when the strange woman in the red robe appeared in the park. Looking around for her, she realized that the feeling was pointing at the drummer. As she stared at him (not unusual, really--a lot of the audience was staring at him, as he was the real attraction here) she was pretty sure he looked right at her and winked.
He winked at her.
That was foolish, she thought. Of course he didn’t wink at her. He was older than her father, older than Mister Billings. He was a sure-to-be-famous musician. He wouldn’t wink at a sixteen-year-old girl in the audience. Yet a few minutes later as he looked her direction again, it seemed that he smiled at her.
He probably smiled at a lot of the audience. She shouldn’t think it was personal.
Then the band took a break, and while the others went backstage carrying drinks, he stepped down into the audience and walked straight toward her.
“May I sit?” he said, indicating an empty chair at their table.
The group seemed a bit awed, but Clark (he and Jimmy were the two boys who had crowded into Peg’s car with them) found his voice and said, “Sure. Golly. Pleased to meet you, Mister Angel.”
“Call me Johnny. You are?”
“I’m Clark; this is Dot, Peggy, Jimmy, and Tommy.”
“Tommy?” he said. “An American nickname for a Japanese name, yes?”
“Tomiko,” she said. “But I was born in America, and only visited Japan once.”
“I could tell that you’ve done some, let’s call it, interesting traveling. I’ve done some traveling like that, too, and would love to compare notes.”
What was it about this guy? It was that same feeling she had toward the woman, and he talked about interesting travels as if he knew something about where she had been.
“I’d like that,” she said, “but I’ve got to stick with my friends and catch a train back to Jersey.”
“Come backstage after the show,” he said, picking up a napkin and pulling a pen from a pocket, “and I’ll give you all a ride across the bridge if you miss the train. Let’s see--Tommy, and Clark, and Jimmy,” he said while writing down their names, “do you guys know Superman? Never mind. And--refresh my memory?”
“Lois and Lana,” Peg quipped, and the others laughed. “No,” she continued, “Kidding. I’m Peg, and this is Dot.”
“Right. Peg,” he said as he wrote, “and Dot.” He handed the napkin to Tommy. “Show this to the bouncer, he’ll let you back.”
In addition to their names, it said “Backstage Pass”, and was signed “Johnny Angel”.
“I’d better get back. Joe likes to do a pep talk of sorts during the break, and go over the set list for the next set. See you after?”
The overawed quintet gave various inarticulate approvals as the drummer returned backstage by way of the stage.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #365: Characters Travel. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: