“Tell you what,” Eddie said. “We’ll play it through and record it on the juke. Then we’ll play back the juke while you sing.”
“I can listen to you, then you can listen to me?” Yoshino asked.
“Exactly!” Eddie grinned disarmingly as Yoshino nodded. She sat down on the deck as the trio went through a quick warm up, then launched into the song.
For the first minute or so, Yoshino barely heard it as she fought down fear. You’ve never sung for anyone else before. There’s no way you can do this. They’ll all laugh at you. She lowered her head, clenching one fist.
Then suddenly, she had another thought, in a voice she couldn’t quite place. You’ve always wanted to do something like this. And LISTEN.
She lifted her head, beginning to pay attention to the music. It washed across her like the wind that heralds a typhoon. She recalled the words.
"The strong gets more While the weak ones fade Empty pockets don't Ever make the grade ..." 1
This is your story. It’s the planet’s story. You can tell it.
Yoshino kept listening.
With a final flourish from the keyboards, the song at last came to an end, and Yoshino applauded as best she could. “That was wonderful,” she said.
“Be even better with you in the mix,” Eddie said. “Ready?”
Tell them the story. Tell them all who you really are.
She stood up. “I’m ready.”
“Just give me the nod, I’ve got the music cued,” Paul told her.
Yoshino took a deep breath, then nodded to him.
Her voice, still a little hesitant, was barely audible for the song’s first few lines, but it picked up strength quickly. As he listened, Paul found himself looking at his hands, seeing the faded tracery of old scars across the fingertips. He wondered why for a moment, then he understood.
She’s singing, and she MEANS it. Like it was her life on the line. Just like I did, that night.
"And rich relation may give you Crust of bread and such You can help yourself But don't take too much..." 2
As the song progressed, Eddie’s grin got wider and wider, until he could barely contain himself from bouncing up and down. His were the loudest cheers as Yoshino finished, but those of Brenda and Paul were not too far behind.
“Good on ya, lady!” Brenda cried, slapping Yoshino on the back. “You got my vote.”
“And mine,” Paul added with a gentle smile.
“That makes it unanimous,” Eddie said. “If you want it, you’re in.”
Yoshino took several breaths before answering. “Yes,” she said at last. “I think I do.”
“Great!” This time Eddie did bounce on the deck — once. He looked at the others, blushing a little. “What shall we work on now?”
Two hours later, it was time to start packing up, an activity everyone took with a little regret. “Any other business before we call it a night?” Eddie asked.
“I have some,” Paul said. “I was planetside yesterday and found it. If this can’t get Darquin to jam with us, nothing will.”
“You found an ax?” Eddie asked.
“Oh man, did I. This old Abbai craftsman, he got a custom order but his client skipped. So he really needs a buyer.”
“What’s it look like?” Brenda asked.
“It’s a perfect replica of a Les Paul Studio Gothic. They stopped making the originals 250 years back. The Abbai who made it had never done a human instrument before, but you couldn’t tell from that. It’s gorgeous, wicked gorgeous.”
Eddie whistled. “Did you try it?”
“Plays like a dream,” Paul nodded. “I’d keep it myself if the Chief doesn’t take it, but I’m positive he would.”
“Three thousand credits.”
Brenda visibly winced. “Well, the Rangers do cover our bed and chow…”
“It’s only a thousand apiece,” Eddie said, “split three ways.”
“Seven hundred fifty, split four ways,” Yoshino added quietly. “If I’m part of the band, I should contribute too.”
“Why not?” Paul said. “Besides, we can really help this Abbai at the same time. I don’t think he’s made a decent sale in months.”
“Let’s go for it, then,” Brenda said at last. “You’re right, Paul. If this doesn’t get the Chief on board, there’s nothing that will.”
The next day, the following message appeared for Darquin:
Chief: Yeah, it's me again. Would a look at a wicked gorgeous ax tempt you into meeting us? You wouldn't believe what we found. Observation deck 3, 1930 tonight. Cheers, Eddie Kriechbaum and Sea Change
Copyright (c) 2001 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.
1 “God Bless the Child,” by Billie Holliday and Arthur Herzog Jr.
2 As above.