Monday, March 15, 2010

Palms and Pockets Chapter 12: Being Better

Palms and Pockets

by Paul Diaz

Chapter 12: Being Better

It was a bright Saturday morning and Anne closed her eyes and let the sunshine caress her face. She took a deep breath and smiled, she was going to have her first date today and she was excited. Walking along the neighborhood she stopped by John’s home and saw the young man stepping out of the door.

“Hey John” she said. “Hello Anne, you look lovely today” he replied. “Do you think Charles would like this dress?” Anne asked. “If he was gay he might like it” John replied and the two started laughing. “You know I didn’t mean it that way” she told him. “Yes I know and I was just kidding. Anyway before he gets the chance let me say that dress is pretty because you are wearing it. Whatever you wear will look good because its you” John told her.

Anne smiled and pinched his arm and the two began to walk side by side. “So where are you going today?” she asked. “I cant tell you” the young man replied and grinned. “John! Tell me where you are going!” she insisted and grabbed hold of his arm. “I am sorry I just cant” John said and Anne started to frown. “I wont let go of you until you tell me” she threatened.

“Really? I don’t think Charles would like me tagging around on your date” he told her. “I don’t care, you have to tell me or else I really am not going to let you go” Anne replied. John started to laugh and the young woman held on tighter and looked at him. “I am going to the library” John told her. “Liar! Tell me the truth” she said.

“Why do you need to know where I am going to anyway?” he asked. “I want to know everything you do, I want to know where you are all the time, and I want to know if you are okay” Anne replied and those words touched the young man’s heart. “Why?” he uttered and the young woman leaned on his arm and exhaled. “I don’t know. I just want to I guess” she told him.

“I am going to Rick’s house. I didn’t want to be idle so i might as well join them” John said. “Would you like to go hiking with me today instead?” Anne asked and for a moment the young man was happy but he didn’t want pity. “You already said no when I asked and you have a date to go to. You have been so excited and even prepared for this day so you have to go” he replied.

“John, he is a good guy. He reminds me so much of you at times” Anne said as they began to walk again. John started to feel much pain as Anne kept talking about Charles. He wished her to stop but until they reached the school gate it was all about him. “Well I do hope you enjoy your date” John said. “You seem so sad all of a sudden” Anne noticed. “Don’t be silly, I am happy for you” he lied and forced a smile on his face.

Thirty minutes later John arrived at his friend’s house. He could hear his friend’s voices inside the garage so he quickly entered. “Johnny boy!!!” Rick shouted as everyone was happy to see him. “We were just talking about you” Kevin told him. “Oh yeah? About what?” John asked. “Why you changed your mind” Jeremy uttered and Rick shook his head.

“Hey it doesn’t matter what made him change his mind okay? Come on lets get him up to speed” Rick told them. “Is it because Charles joined the contest?” Kevin asked. “Yeah we saw him place his name on the list” Jeremy added. “Hey come look John we shined your drums, come on take out your sticks and give them a try” Rick said as he signaled the two to shut up.

“Yes its because of Charles” John said and the three looked at him. “I am sorry guys, I know I am being selfish but its true. Yesterday Anne told me that he joined the contest and he sings well” he added. “Yep he does and I think he is going to win” a female voice said and standing by the door was Rick’s younger sister, Raven.

“But John, me and my friends are rooting for him” she said and winked at John prompting the young man to smile at her. “Rooting for John? Is there a contest between you two?” Kevin asked and the young man laughed. “It’s a girl thing” John said and Raven nodded. “What girl thing? How come John knows about it and we don’t. Did you cross over John?” Jeremy asked and everybody laughed.

“And why the hell are you rooting for Charles when you shoot be rooting for John?” Rick asked. Raven played with her hair and rolled her eyes, “You wouldn’t understand even if I tell you. John, you know my reason right?” she replied. “Well I do but I am sorry I think we are going to win” John told her. The young girl pouted and raised an eyebrow, “Its alright, if you fall I will be waiting” she teased and got out of the garage.

“What was that all about?” Rick asked and John grinned. “Your sister likes me” he replied. “Geez we already know that for a long time. She even learned how to play the drums because of you and she is quite good I should say. What I am asking is that contest thingy” Rick clarified.

“It’s a girl thing so lets not talk about that. I don’t want Charles to win, he may sing well and have her drooling but I want to top that. I want us to be better to steal the limelight away from him. If he is that good then I want us to perform right after him so he could not enjoy the spotlight, we are going to steal it from him right away!” John angrily said and his friends were surprised.

“And how the hell are we going to do that?” Rick asked and John stood up and took out his drum sticks. “Two girls have already said that Charles is good, and we know Raven, she knows how to appreciate talent. She told us we suck and we didn’t listen to her before” Jeremy said and they all laughed.

“Guys we have a week to do this. I really need this badly” John said as he knelt on the floor. “Please guys help me out. Anne keeps talking about him which makes me feel useless. I want to be better than him, I just cant let him win” John pleaded. His friends saw the seriousness in his eyes and they could see he really wanted to win Anne back.

“Get up stupid, we got your back” Jeremy said. “Yeah and I have an idea of how to win” Kevin said so all eyes were on him. “Spill the beans dude, tell us” Rick egged him. “Well if we want to win we cant let Rick do all the singing. We three have to learn to sing” he told them.

“Are you crazy? I have a loud voice but I cant sing” John said. “Same here, we cant win by making the crowd laugh you know. That is a talent show and the winner is decided based on talent” Jeremy said.

“Yes I know and I was serious about the singing” Kevin replied and the three laughed. “Guys I think he is really serious” Rick said. “The whole school knows we suck, they might think we joined to make them laugh. You said you want to be better? So we show them they are wrong. The odds are against us which is good, they don’t expect much from us. If we ask to go after Charles I am sure they wont mind. This is the power of the underdogs” Kevin explained.

“Youre right. We have the element of surprise on our side. I know when they see us they would all be laughing. And if we perform well then I can imagine their jaws dropping in awe” Jeremy said. “Yeah and we hit them harder and when its all over we attain redemption” Rick added.

“Can we really learn to sing in one week? We still have to master the musical piece” John asked. “Don’t worry about the music, its an easy song. Rick is the main vocalist, we three just need to back him up. We need to blend with his voice so we really don’t need to learn to sing well, just for our performance song” Kevin told them.

“What song is it anyway?” Rick asked and Kevin took out his i-pod and played it. In an Instant John liked it, he quickly played imaginary drums as they all smiled and nodded. As the song ended everyone was pumped up and all looked at Rick. “So master teach us” John told him and his friend laughed. “I think we are going to need some help” Rick replied.

The four practiced the whole day under Raven’s watch and she didn’t like what she heard. “Guys you have no problem with the instruments, it’s the voice!” she yelled and the four laughed. “We cant perform miracles, don’t expect us to sing well in a day’s time” John said.

“Well if you want to win then you should or else you can sing that way and you end up in my arms” she teased and Rick shook his head. “We need more help” he said. “Who can help us?” Kevin asked and they all looked at John.

“Yeah its okay, you can call her” he told them. “Are you sure?” Jeremy asked. “Call who?” Raven interrupted. “Who else but the one who won two years ago, Sarah” Rick replied and his sister frowned. “Oh she is going to get a lot of bitch slapping if you call her here” Raven said and John smiled at her. “Hey, me and Sarah are okay now. She was the one who told me about the girl thing” he said.

“Well I am not okay with her being here” Raven countered. “We really need her” Rick said. “Fine, call her tomorrow and I will make sure I am not here” his sister replied. Rick and the others knew they needed Raven so they all looked at John and winked at him. John smiled and laughed a bit and began to clear his throat. “Raven, I would like you to be here too” he uttered and immediately the young girl smiled and looked at John. “You mean that?” she asked and the three carefully looked at their friend.

“Yes, I need you here” John said and Raven giggled and headed towards the door. “Okay John, for you I will…I have to do some stuff. See you tomorrow” she said as she left the garage. “Whew! Good job man” Rick said. “Hey you made me do something bad, your sister might think that I am…you know” John told him.

“Relax, in times of need we all have to resort to all means necessary to get the job done” Rick explained and everyone laughed. “Hey guys I don’t know how to thank you but if you need me to do something I will” John said. “This isn’t about you only. We too want to be better. We are seniors and we don’t want to be remembered as those fools who embarrassed themselves during a talent show” Jeremy said.

“We are not doing this for you alone but we are doing this for ourselves too. But since you are so dramatic your reason trumps ours” Jeremy said and again everyone laughed.

The following day practice continued but Sarah was already with them. Raven kept fixing her red hair and everyone noticed that she was intimidated by Sarah’s presence. After one round of practice the guys looked at the two ladies and they immediately shook their heads.

“Rick can sing so you can seat down first. The three of you we have to hear you sing the song individually” Sarah said and the three laughed. “Kevin we start with you” she added and everyone saw that she was serious. “I cant sing that good” Kevin replied.

“Don’t worry we are not expecting much” Sarah told him so the young man placed down his guitar and started to sing. Everyone was surprised to hear him sing, he was not out of tune and he did have a good singing voice. “Wow, you can sing, your only problem is you are scared and shy. Jeremy youre next” Sarah said and the bass man stood in front and belted.

John felt so low hearing his friend’s voice because it happened that Jeremy too could sing but like Kevin he was just shy. “You two are impostors, you just have to work on your confidence. And now you John” Sarah said and the young man giggled. “I don’t think so” he said.

“And you would just let him win like that?” Raven asked and Sarah nodded. “If they are shy, I admittedly I have no talent in singing” John told them. “I don’t believe that, everyone can sing. What did you call me here for then?” Sarah countered and John took a deep breath and stood up.

With his two hands in his pocket the young man tried his best to sing. The three guys started to laugh but Raven and Sarah glared at them. After a few lines John bowed his head and stopped singing, “I can just play the drums, I don’t want to put everyone down” he softly said.

“Do it from the top but this time be serious!” Sarah snapped. “I already did my best” John countered. “You were holding back! Sing with your true voice” she insisted and everyone looked at her. “This is my true voice” John said. “You called me here to help you guys out and when I say you are holding back then you are holding back!” Sarah shouted and the young man started to tremble.

“Are you ashamed that they would laugh at you when they hear your true singing voice?” she asked and the more curious the others got. John nodded his head and started to tap his feet, “Sing us your favorite song, even just a verse but with your real singing voice” Sarah told him.

John looked at his friends one by one and then took a deep breath and turned around. Everyone started shaking their heads but Sarah asked them to keep quiet as John began singing.

Sarah smiled as the others had their jaws dropped in disbelief. They now understood why John was embarrassed, he had a high pitch singing voice similar to late King of Pop. Nevertheless they were still amazed and listened on as he finished the song.

“If you have found someone new, he better be good to you. Coz if he doesn’t, I’ll be there” John ended and bowed his head. There was silence inside the garage and they saw John’s shoulders shaking. The three guys stood up and wanted to go to him but Sarah stopped them. “He wouldn’t want you guys to see him like that” she whispered.

She pulled Raven’s hand and the two of them approached John and stood in front of him. The young man tried to hid his face but the two ladies hugged him and let him cry on their shoulders.

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