No, But If You Hum a Few Bars, Part 1

Characters: Yoshino Marina, Sea Change (Eddie Kriechbaum, Brenda Mawarra, Paul Maxwell)

Trying to keep herself calm, Yoshino Marina approached the observation room. It was here, Kriechbaum had told her, that his band met.

His band. That wanted her for a singer. Yoshino was still trying to get her mind around the idea and her courage screwed up to try. She’d waited in the next corridor for a few minutes, to make sure she wouldn’t be too early, but she couldn’t put the thing off any more. It was time. With a deep breath, she stepped through the door.

Kriechbaum and two others were there, all with instruments in hand. She recognized another of the Storm Squadron pilots, and the squadron’s chief mechanic.

Kriechbaum was the first to notice her. “Hi!” he called. “Come on over. Welcome to Sea Change.” He met her halfway across the large room and made introductions before they had completed the trip back.

“This is Brenda Mawarra, our drummer,” he said, pointing to the tawny-haired woman kneeling amongst a variety of instruments.

“I prefer the term ‘percussionist,’ actually,” she said, with a tone that suggested it was a joke of long standing. “G’day, Yoshino. Good to see you.”

“And this is Paul Maxwell, our bassist and songwriter.” A tall man stood up from behind his music stand, flipped a long, greying ponytail over his shoulder, and bowed.

“Hello, Yoshino-san,” he said. “Looking forward to hearing you.”

She managed a nervous smile. “I’m going to do my best,” she said. She looked from one band member to another, unsure what to do next.

“I guess it would be way too much to ask if you have an audition piece,” Eddie said. “Any particular kind of music you like?”

“A lot,” she admitted. “The song you heard me singing earlier was from an old television show.”

“I have an idea,” Maxwell said. “Come over here and have a look at this,” and he turned the music stand toward her, revealing that it was a device that looked like a hybrid between a music stand and a datapad.

“This is remarkable,” she said as she looked at it. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.”

“It’s a bit of a hack job,” he said with a smile. “Eddie calls it ‘the jukebox.’ Made it myself. It’s got our whole music catalog in it, so you could look through and see if there’s anything you recognize. Failing that, we can jack in a data crystal and rip the score from your show, so we can play some accompaniment for you.”

Yoshino didn’t respond immediately, as she used the device’s controls to electronically riffle through pages and pages of sheet music. Bits of melody and fragments of lyrics danced across her eyes. She paused at one. “What’s this about — ‘the big lake, it’s said, never gives up her dead’?”

“Ah,” Maxwell replied. “‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’. It’s a story about a shipwreck, almost three hundred years ago.”

“Paul’s our storyteller,” Kriechbaum put in. “If you ask him nicely, he might even tell you about some of the stuff he’s written since we got to Abbai.”

“Still working on it, really,” he began, pausing as he saw Yoshino’s face. Her eyes had widened in recognition. “Find something, Yoshino-san?”

Slowly, she nodded, her expression reverent. “Billie Holliday,” she said. “I love the blues. I know this song.”

Maxwell looked over her shoulder, then out at his bandmates. “You guys up for ‘God Bless the Child’?”

“You betcha,” said Brenda.

Copyright (c) 2001 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.

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