26 Sep 2009 @ 10:15 AM 

Chapter 8

Chapin and Shawn were just getting ready to go in the stage entrance at Metro when a voice called out from behind them.


They both turned around to see Skeet emerging from the limo.  He was dressed in his usual black jeans, and a dark blue wool sailor’s coat he had picked up on a tour of Scandinavia.  The hint of a yellow shirt poked out around the collar and he was wearing black leather boots.

“Skeets!” Shawn shouted back.    Skeet approached Shawn and they gave each other a big hug.  “Man, I am jonesin’ for some poker!  Does the game start back up this week?”

“You know it!  Tuesday night as usual.”  Skeet said, although his eyes were on Chapin the entire time.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I should introduce….”  Skeet cut him off.

“Ms. Hannigan.  It’s great to see you again,” Skeet said in an almost shy voice.

“Wait.  You two know each other?”

“I was just about to ask you the same thing, Shawno,” Skeet said turning his attention temporarily away from Chapin.

“Hello again!  But please, don’t call me ‘Ms.’.  It’s like puttin’ and elevator in an outhouse.  Just don’t belong.  I’m just Chapin.”   Skeet and Chapin’s eyes met, then they both burst into laughter.   “Now you’re not gonna hold my fumbling over obscure lines from old movies against me, are you?”  Again they roared with laughter but the joke completely escaped Shawn which was starting to bother him.  He prided himself on his sense of humor and if a joke escaped him, he took it personally.

Skeet noticed Shawn’s confusion and winked at him and smiled.  They turned and headed toward to stage door.  “This is a great surprise,” Skeet said to Chapin.  “I’d expected to see this old road dog here,” he said, slapping Shawn on the back.  “but I didn’t know you were working this gig.  How do you know Shawno?”

“Well, short acquaintance, long story.”  Chapin said.

“I helped her hide a body!” Shawno burst out with pride.

Skeet glanced back and forth between them with a puzzled look on his face.

“Part of that long story thing I was talking about.”

Shawn knocked on the door, which opened after what seemed to Chapin to be an abnormally long time.  A very large man with more piercings than Chapin could count stood blocking the doorway.  He wore a leather jacket and a Sex Pistols t-shirt that had obviously seen better days.

“Shawn Gordon,” he said.  “I’m hosting this shindig!”

The door guard checked his list, handed him a badge to hang around his neck, and allowed Shawn through the door.

“Skeet!” he said.  “Go on in, man.”

Chapin began to walk through the door way but the burly man blocked her.

“And you would be…?”  He looked down at her quite menacingly and she took a step back.

“Chapin Hannigan.  Jazz Journal magazine.  I should be on the press list.”

“No press allowed until an hour before show time.  Sorry.  You’ll have to wait.”  He seemed to grow even larger in the door way.

“It’s cool.  She’s with me, Carl,” Skeet spoke up.  The guard looked at Chapin then looked back at Skeet.

“You sure, man?  You know how Barney gets if I let in folks before the appointed time.”  He looked at Chapin with a slight grin.  He seemed oddly proud of himself that he had actually used a three syllable word in a sentence.

Skeet reached over and took Chapin’s hand.  He smiled at her shyly.  She met his eyes and smiled back.

“Yup.  Definitely sure.”

“A’ight then.”  He fished out a blue badge for Skeet.  He began trying to fish a yellow badge out of the web of lanyards that hung next to him.

“Come on, Carl,” Skeet said, his voice trailing off.  “Give her the musician’s creds.”

The guard paused, scratched his head and eyed both of them somewhat suspiciously.  He returned to the badges, fished out a blue one and reluctantly handed it to her.  She put it around her neck, grabbed Skeet’s hand again and they almost skipped through the door.

The hallway was dark and it took a few minutes for their eyes to adjust.  The only thought in Chapin’s head was that Skeet was still holding her hand, and she really hoped it wasn’t just part of the rouse to get her in a little early.  She had been smitten with him when she first laid eyes on him at the interview and the more they had talked, the more attracted she had become, but she had tried to remain professional.  And now he was holding her hand!

Skeet glanced over at Chapin.  “Let’s see what kind of trouble we can get into,” he said with a wry grin.

The passed a door way with the door about three fourths closed with some wonderful acoustic guitar and harmony vocals pouring out.  Skeet paused to listen.

“Five years and there’s no doubt that I’m burnt out, I’ve had enough…So now boss man, here’s my two weeks, I’ll make it short and sweet, so listen up,” Skeet began to harmonize with the voices coming out of the room.   He heard the voices swell with excitement.

“I could work my life away, but why?  I’ve got things to do before I die.” Skeet smiled at Chapin and burst the door open just as the chorus rolled around and drug her in behind him.

“There’s got to be something more, got to be more than this.  I need a little less hard times.  I need a little more bliss.” Two women sat on chairs in the middle of the room, each playing a guitar and now, suddenly, with huge smiles on their faces.  The blonde had a very girl next door look and sported a pair of overalls while the brunette had a real rebel look with a tattoo visible on her left forearm. Skeet sat down on the end of the couch situated just across from them and pulled Chapin down beside him.  An acoustic guitar was sitting on a stand in arms reach.  He grabbed it and immediately began to play, still harmonizing perfectly.

She was a little disappointed that he had replaced her hand with the guitar but she was amazed at the beautiful music that they were producing.  She noticed her foot beginning to tap along.  They finished out the song and they all erupted with laughter, Chapin clapping in approval.  The brunette jumped up and gave him a huge hug.

“Skeet!  It has been too damn long!” she exclaimed.  The blonde stood up and gave him a hug too.

“Oh man, have I missed that kinda stuff!”

“Well come back on the road with us and you’ll get it every night again!”, the blonde said with a giggle.  “The music, I mean, of course.”

Skeet giggled and looked back at Chapin.  It dawned on him that his manners were eluding him.

“Oh man!  I’m sorry.  He pointed gently at the blonde and began with introductions.  “Emily Sailiers,” he pointed to the brunette.  “Amy Ray,” he then turned his hand to Chapin in much the same motion that “Barkers Beauties” had introduced a showcase on the “Price Is Right.”    “Chapin Hannigan.”

“Howdy!” Emily remarked, followed by a “Pleasure” from Amy.

“Chapin,” he said finishing the introductions.  “The Indigo Girls”

“The pleasure is mine!” remarked Chapin.

“So Skeet, this one is finally making an honest man outta ya?” Amy joked.

“Naw, but the nights still young!”, Skeet said with a huge smile, glancing back at Chapin.   She began to blush.  “Where is everyone?  The jamming usually centers around where ever you guys decide to light.”  He turned to Chapin.  “Wherever these two are is usually the center of activity.”  He turned back to Amy and Emily.  “Where’s the boys?”

“We’re doing this one solo.  The band’s getting a night off in Charlotte tonight.  We’re catching a flight back in the morning,” Emily said, steadily noodling on the guitar as she spoke.

“The first time I saw you guys…I don’t think I ever told you this story…. it was just the two of you.  I was on tour with Belinda Carlisle and Pat Torpey and I were out carousing after a show in Atlanta and somehow we ended up in Athens, quite a bit lit…” Skeet paused and looked at Chapin.  “This is all off the record, right?” he said with a grin.

“I think this whole day is gonna be off the record.  Now finish your story!” she said, touching his shoulder lightly.

“So we were wandering around after a show in Atlanta and wandered in to a little joint called the ‘Uptown Lounge’ where you guys were playing.”

“Wait a minute,” Amy said as if a light bulb had just turned on in her brain.  “Y’all are the drum and bass guy!”  Emily and Amy sat up straight and exchanged surprised looks.  They leaned back in their chairs and simultaneously, in very mock slurred drunken speech said “Ju guys are greeaaaaat!  But chewed beeeee eeeeeven better wit drums and a bass.”

Skeet placed his face in his palm.  “Yea…that was us.”

“You know, that still comes up every once and a while and we just chuckle like hell over it.  You played with us for 6 months and I never realized that was you!” Emily said.

Skeet made an overt attempt to change the subject.  “And on that note, let’s play one more, then we gotta go find Brian.”

“Brian’s running around here somewhere.  I saw him a few minutes before y’all walked in.  He was talking to a bald guy,” Amy remarked.

“Shawn?” Chapin asked.

“Didn’t know him.  Maybe,” Amy responded.

“You know, Amy.  I’m not supposed to tell you but Brian has the biggest crush on you.”

“Damn, girl!  You get all the good ones fawning over you!” Emily giggled.

“Skeet, he knows I’m a lesbian, right?  I mean…” Amy asked with a hint of concern.

“Yea.  I’m pretty sure he does.  He just has a thing for cool chicks with tattoos.”  Skeet chuckled.

They jammed on one more song and Skeet put the guitar back on the stand, gave each one a hug and promised he’d be back later.  He offered his hand to Chapin to politely help her up off the couch which she accepted and refused to relinquish.

They headed out the door and proceeded down the hall.  Skeet stopped and spoke to numerous people and had to introduce Chapin on at least eight separate occasions.  As they walked along Chapin could see they were approaching another crowd of people.  She glanced to her right and noticed a large room that appeared not to be occupied.  As they passed, she pulled Skeet’s arm hard and forced him into the room.  Before he could even regain his balance, she pushed the door closed, sandwiched his face between her palms and kissed him.  The kiss caught Skeet completely off guard, but he responded almost instantly which made her kiss him even more passionately.

Slowly their lips parted and their eyes began to open.  She looked in his eyes and then dropped her gaze.  “I’m sorry.  I…I…don’t know why I did that, but…”  She couldn’t find the words.  She looked up at him and he smiled which gave her the courage to continue.  “I…I’ve been wanting to do that since about half way through our interview. “

“Well, I hope you figure it out soon so we can do it again,” Skeet said with a wry smile.  She leaned in and kissed him again, but this time it was much gentler.  As their lips parted, he leaned in and kissed her yet again wrapping his arms around her waist and holding on as if his life depended on it.

The door swung open and Brian flew in the room.  “Skeet, the guys from…”  He stopped cold as he took in the scene.  “Umm…yea…well…come find me when you guys are done, ok?”

“You got it,B,” Skeet said almost without removing his lips from Chapin’s.  “I’ll be right there.”

“Ummm….yea….ok….”  Brian closed the door behind him and was very careful not to let it slam.

Chapin turned away from Skeet and began to walk away.  A flirty, almost devilish smile crossed her face.  “You know, I’m not normally this easy.” She said, walking toward the center of the room where a grand piano sat.

“Oh…I didn’t think you’re EASY.  I think I would have said ‘a confident woman who goes for what she wants’?

“Ok, let’s go with that one,” she said as she sat down at the piano.  Skeet sat next to her and much to his surprise, she placed her hands on the keys and a beautiful version of “Georgia On My Mind” filled the room, as if it had been trapped in the piano and Chapin was somehow magically able to release it.

Skeet sat stunned, listening to the music and watching the beautiful woman who was producing it, and remembering how wonderful it was to kiss her only a minute before.  As she played, a magnificiently high, soulful, soprano voice came from the hallway behind the closed door.

Georgia!   Geoooooggggggiaaaa!  The whole day long.  It’s that old sweet sooooong.  That keeps Georgiaaaa on my miiiiiiiind!”

Chapin and Skeet had been in their own little world together, but both looked up and saw the outline of a slightly heavy set black woman enter the room.  They both recognized her instantly and goose bumps covered their arms, as well as any arms of any people in ear shot.  And ear shot would be a long way.  Chapin marveled at the volume the woman was putting out.

As they approached the end of the verse, Chapin’s mind all of a sudden reminded her that she was sitting there accompanying Patti LaBelle and the nerves grabbed her.  At the end of the verse, she played a simple ending and stopped.  She had hoped she wouldn’t hyperventilate before she could bring the piece to some logical confusion and not have to face the embarrassment.

“Patti Golden Pipes!” Skeet exclaimed.

“Now Skeeter boy, I ain’t seen you in forever and a day.  Let momma take a look at ya.”  She looked him up and down.  “Nope…nope…ain’t right. “  Skeet’s face showed the surprise.  Patti walked over to Chapin and stood her up from the piano bench and moved her next to Skeet.  Chapin was speechless and became a rag doll in Patti’s hands.  She stood stiffly next to Skeet, but Patti let out a “hmmmppph” and walked over, put their hands together, looked again, then gently leaned Chapin’s head onto Skeet’s should.  She looked one last time.  “That’s it.  Now it’s right.  I swear, mama got to do everything around here.”

Skeet and Patti burst out laughing and hugged.  Chapin stood like a statue.

“Ok Skeeter.  Who is she?  I can already tell she’s something special but you know you should introduce us!”

“Yes Maam, Miss Patti!” Skeet said with a mock salute.  “Miss Patti LaBelle, Miss Chapin Hannigan”

“Well it’s nice to meet you, baby.  Y’all together, right?  If ya not, ya should be and that’s what I got to say about that.”

“Umm…let’s just say things are looking promising?” Skeet said, glancing at Chapin who was still rigidly in awe.

Chapin suddenly became very aware that she wasn’t saying anything and she probably should be.  “It’s nice to meet you!  I’m Chapin.”

“Yea, I just told her that.”  Skeet said with a grin.

“Ain’t no need to be nervous around me, baby.  Miss Patti is just Miss Patti and that’s all there is to it.  You play some good piano girl.  But can you make it swing a little more for me?”

Chapin again became suddenly aware that there was conversation going on that she was somehow supposed to be a part of.  “Umm…swing?”

“Let mama show ya, baby,” Patti said as she settled down on the bench.  She began playing the same song with a much more swing vibe to it.  “Now you try it, baby.”

Chapin swallowed hard.  She was about to sit down and play in front of PATTI FREAKING LaBELLE!   At the direction of PATTI FREAKING LaBELLE!  It was all she could do to move away from Skeet’s arms but one foot went in front of the other and she made it to the bench.  Her fears of hyperventilation set in again.  It was all too much of a roller coaster for one day.  First her mom, then Jack, then Shawn, then Skeet and the kiss and now PATTI FREAKING LaBELLE.

Skeet leaned in close and whispered softly in her ear.  “Just go with it.  You’re fine.”

She looked down at the keys and began to play trying to ‘swing it more’ as Patti had instructed.  Patti began to snap her finger with the beat.  “Yea, that’s it, baby.  I can work with THAT.”  Patti began to sing again.  Skeet thought the sound was angelic, although maybe he was a little biased.  He had known Patti for a number of years and even though he had toured with her, they had more of a big sister, little brother relationship.  He thought she had one of the prettiest, and yet most powerful voices in the business.  On top of that, she was being accompanied by the beautiful woman that he had just been kissing and he had no idea until 5 minutes ago that she could play an instrument.

The door opened quietly and Brian slipped in, followed by Amy and Emily and a whole host of musicians, roadies and anyone else who could hear the magic sound.  They all listened in amazement at the performance Patti and Chapin gave.  The air was electric!

Patti hit the last note, Chapin hit a little ending flourish and the room erupted with applause.   Chapin turned more shades of red than she cared to count.

Amy leaned into Skeet.  “You didn’t tell us she could play!  We would have had her jamming with us before. “

Skeet leaned back.  “Would you believe I didn’t know she could play until five minutes ago?”

“Son, no wonder you never got married.  You need to pay a little more attention to the details of your ladies life,” Amy said and slugged him in the arm.

“But she’s…I mean, I…”  He relented.  “You’re right.  I’ll remember from now on.  Scout’s honor,” he said and raised three fingers into a Boy Scout sign.  He set his eyes on Chapin, who was still awestruck from being in Patti’s presence and said quietly.  “I think I need to learn everything I can.”

As for Chapin, she was having the afternoon of her life.  She had reconnected with a guy she thought was the most interesting, handsome man she thought she had ever met.  She had kissed him more passionately than she had kissed anyone in recent memory and he had returned her affections.  She was getting to spend the day and the evening with him while meeting a veritable plethora of music legends.  The fact that she didn’t know much about some of them didn’t make a whole lot of difference to her.  On top of all that, she had just accompanied the great Patti LaBelle and received a standing ovation from a group of the most talented musicians in the industry.  All this before three o’clock.  How could this day get any better?

“I think you should go make sure that WWLH is going to be properly represented at this event.  I don’t think I should have to do everything myself.  And I TOLD you to change that t-shirt.  If you value your job you will stop bucking me!”  The voice whispered softly into Shawn’s ear.  He hadn’t expected Jack to be attending nor had he noticed him entering the room.  It took him for a complete start, but he tried to play it off.

“Jack!” he said mockingly.  “Wasn’t expecting to see you here.  Are you sure the station will be able to get along without you?  I mean, Britney may show her ‘giner on the internets again and who would be there to make sure “Hit Me Baby One More Time” was played back to back for 12 hours?  By the way, I was talking to Chapin and, I gotta tell ya, you are one sick bastard!”

Jack’s tone turned quiet, serious and cold.  He grabbed Shawn by the shoulder, squeezing firmly and leaned in close.  “You don’t need to worry about the station.  I’ve got it handled.  My advice to you is to keep your nose out of my personal life.  It could lead, at the very least, to unemployment.”

A look of concern crossed Chapin’s face. She had noticed Jack across the room and he had shot her a big, toothy grin.  She thought he always looked like he was stoned when he tried to smile.  She paused for a moment, not sure what to do, but decided that moving toward Skeet was the best bet so she began heading in his direction.  Simultaneously, Jack made his way across the room and stepped in front of her.

“I’m sorry you had to leave before we finished talking.  Maybe we can find a quiet place and finish talking now,” Jack said.

“I’m pretty sure I was done.  I thought I made things pretty clear.  Now I would appreciate it if you would just leave me alone. “  Jack put his arm around Chapin’s back and squeezed firmly.

“Well it would only be polite to finish our conversation, now wouldn’t it?” Jack said in a much lower, forceful tone.

Skeet walked over, somewhat oblivious to what was going on.  “Hi!  Skeet Seaton.  Not sure I’ve had the pleasure,” he said, offering a hand.  “You’re a friend of Chapin’s?”

Chapin attempted to move away, but Jack pulled her in tight.  The smile left Skeet’s face and he looked back and forth between Chapin and Jack.

“Why yes!  “She’s my girlfriend,” Jack announced with a proud smile.

Skeet looked at Chapin not knowing what to say.  His mind was running on overload.  Could the girl that he had been so smitten with, who seemed to have really been into him too, have a boyfriend?

“That’s bullshit Jack and you know it! Chapin sparked.  She looked at Skeet with a pleading in her eyes that echoed in her voice.  “We’ve been broken up for eight months.”

She tried again to move away but Jack pulled her even closer and smiled at Skeet.  “Our schedules have been keeping us apart.  Something we have decided to work on.  It will take some commitment, be we both know we can work through it.

A meaty hand fell over Jack’s shoulder from the opposite side that Chapin was standing on.  The hand firmly grabbed his neck and pulled him away from Chapin’s side.  Jack turned with a start and looked down and was staring straight at a Black Sabbath t-shirt.

“Now Jack,” Shawn start with a condescending smile.  “Aren’t you playing in your own little dream world a bit too much these days?  I was at the office when Chapin told you, apparently not for the first time, that you are pimple on the rear end of progress, the boil in her life that just won’t go away.  Shawn tightened his grasp and Brian slowly but firmly wedged himself between Jack and Chapin, crossed his arms and stared at Jack.  While Jack was taller than Shawn, Brian stood six foot three and could be very intimidating when he wanted to.

“Don’t make me fucking lance you right here, Mr. Boil,” Brian said.  Shawn had given Brian a real quick run down on Jack.

“Now Brian, I’m sure Mr. Palero is fairly reasonable…for a psychopath.  I think he’s probably bored with this place by now and would much rather be at home playing with his Troll Doll collection.  Right Jack?” said Shawn.

“You see Skeet, Mr. Palero has spent the last eight months harassing Ms. Hannigan in some…” Brian turned his gaze to Jack.  “…really, really sick ways,” his tone becoming more disgusted as he talked.  Chapin took this opportunity to move closer to Skeet and he, stepped slightly in front of her as if he was positioning himself, if only symbolically, between Jack and Chapin.

“Well, if Ms. Hannigan would prefer that you leave,” he said and looked at Chapin, who nodded in agreement.  “Then it would probably be best if you leave.”

“Translation:  Beat it, Jackass,” Shawn piped in.

“Look, I AM the manager of the radio station that is helping to sponsor this event and I won’t…”Brian cut him off.

“I believe you need to beat it, Tito.”

“The name is Jack Palero and I will not be treated in such…”  Brian looked across the room to see Carl, the doorman, enter the room, walking with a purpose.  “…a manner by a bunch of low life slugs!” Jack finished.

Carl walked up to them and towered over everyone, including Brian.  He looked down menacingly at Jack then turned to Brian.  “Is there a problem here Bri?  I was told there might be a problem.” Carl glanced back at Jack.  “I LOVE to fix problems.”

“Mr. Palero need some help finding the door,” said Brian.

“He missed his nappy time and that gets him really confused and grumpy. He needs to leave but he seems lost.  Can you help him out, big guy?” Shawn said, his neck craned almost straight up to see Carl’s face.

“Oh I’d be happy to!” Carl said, his grin widening with each passing syllable.  “All right, come on, little fella.”

“Chapin!  Tell him you want me to stay!  For God’s sake!  Hasn’t this little rouse gone on long enough?”  Jack pleaded.  “Thorpe!  Tell him who I am.  I’ll have your job for this.  I will make sure none of you ever work in music again.”  Jack began to bellow louder and louder.

Carl grabbed Jack by the collar and an arm, lifted him onto his tip toes and began to move him toward the stage door.  “Come on, little fella,” Carl repeated as if he had never uttered the words before, but his laughter becoming more and more audible as they moved.

Skeet surveyed Shawn, Brian and Chapin.  “Somebody wanna tell me what’s going on?”  He fixed his gaze on Chapin.  “You have a boyfriend?  I don’t understand.”

“No, no,” Chapin exclaimed.

“I can vouch for that, Skeet.  He’s my boss and he has this….ummm…psycho thing for her.  Really!  I don’t think he’s all there upstairs, you know what I mean?”

Skeet looked confused.

“Let me explain…” Chapin began, and with that she launched into a short history of the relationship, the break up, Jack’s pestering since then, Thanksgiving at her parents and the incident at the radio station earlier in the day, with Shawn adding his usual colorful commentary to the final incident that had occurred earlier in the day.

When she finished, Skeet stood there, mouth agape, stunned.  “Wow.”  It was all he could muster.  “Are you ok?”

She looked at him and smiled softly.  I hope I am now.” She reached across and took his hand.

“All right you two.  Get a room for the mushy crap!” Shawn joked.

Skeet squeezed her hand tight and leaned in a little closer.

“Do you think he’s really gonna fire you?”Chapin asked Shawn.

“I doubt it, but I hope he does.  I’m getting tired of that shit anyway!”  he said with a smile.

“Hot damn!” Skeet exclaimed.  Chapin shot him a confused look.  “I keep telling you to come and be the lead engineer at the studio.  You are wasting away as a DJ. With your talent, I could keep my  place booked constantly.”  Skeet meant it too.  He was always on Shawn to come work for him.  He thought then he might actually be able to turn his studio into a profitable enterprise instead of a basically self sufficient play ground.

“At this rate, I may have to take you up on that, Skeet.

“Whenever you want, just say the word.  We can do this!”  Skeet turned to Chapin.  “This guy is a genius in the studio.  He’s been the engineer on all of my solo albums!”  he said with an exuberant, proud smile, but then a puzzled look crossed his face.  “He broke into your apartment and rearranged your closet?”

“Dude, seriously!” Shawn began, then placed his index finger by his temple spun it and began to whistle.  “Sometimes his synapses really don’t fire quite right.”

Brian brought the conversation back to the event at hand.  “Skeet we gotta sound check you and Pat and the guys pretty soon. They wanna sound check some other acts and they gotta get you slackers done first.”

“Two seconds and I’m there.  Wait.  I tell you what.”  He turned to Chapin.  “Just come with me.  It won’t take long.”

“You think I wasn’t following you?  Lead on.  I’m not going far,” Chapin said, squeezing his hand gently.


Get Chapter 8 in a pdf file.

Posted By: Lans
Last Edit: 29 Aug 2009 @ 11:58 AM

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