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  • Minisinoo
    An Accidental Interception of Fate 4 Salt & Pepper Minisinoo http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/aiof4.html (with images) Note: Again, these Berkeley chapters
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2002
      An Accidental Interception of Fate 4
      Salt & Pepper
      http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/aiof4.html (with images)

      Note: Again, these 'Berkeley chapters' owe a great deal to Judy Hsu.
      All errors are my own. The quotation comes from Martin Luther King's
      "Out of Segregation's Long Night: an Interpretation of a Racial
      Crisis," The Churchman, February, 1958. Information on the SR-71
      comes from Colonel Richard H. Graham's book about it.


      "So -� what do we got?" Scott plopped down on the floor of the music
      room in the basement of their Unit Three dining hall, and looked up
      at EJ, sitting on the piano bench. The piano was the small room's
      only furniture, besides the carpet.

      "Three drummers who don't know the meaning of 'dynamics,'" EJ said
      now, "two who can't hold a rhythm, one who was three hours late for
      the audition and, well, The Surfer Dude."

      "Christ." Scott dropped back, arms out to his side in a symbolic
      cruciform of musical suffering. His amplifier hummed in his ear,
      ready, waiting. "We've got no band if we've got no drummer. Anybody
      else answer the ad?"

      "Yeah, but that guy's not coming to audition until tomorrow."

      "Damn." Scott sat up and pushed his glasses firmly onto his nose.
      "Then help me carry my equipment back over to our room and let's go
      eat." EJ did as asked, picking up the bass and its stand while Scott
      hauled the amplifier.

      Scott's bass equipment had been shipped to him at Jean's insistence.
      He hadn't wanted to put anyone out at the mansion by asking them to
      box it up and pay to have it shipped, but Jean, and Warren, had
      argued that there was no reason for him to wait until Thanksgiving,
      or even Christmas. Both agreed that Scott worried too much about the
      cost of things -� shipping the equipment was negligible for
      Worthington �- but at least Jean understood that being beholden to
      people made Scott feel weak, and ashamed. "It's nothing, Scott.
      Really. We boxed it up with Hank's help, then Warren called UPS to
      come and get it, and that was that."

      "It's over a hundred bucks to ship that stuff! That amp's heavy!"

      "Pocket change for him," she'd said. Scott had snorted on the other
      end of the phone line, and she'd added, "Look, boy-o, Warren wanted
      to send it to you. Let him and say thanks. A hundred dollars is no
      more of an imposition for him than it would be for you to spend a
      dollar to buy a friend a cup of coffee."

      So Scott now had his gear, and he and EJ had begun serious work
      towards a band. EJ had been writing music for years, and had a gift
      for both lyrics and composition, yet his compositions lacked a
      certain edge. Scott himself had no talent for producing original
      work of his own, but he could listen to what EJ had produced and,
      when he added his own touch here and there, something happened �-
      some chemical reaction of melody and rhythm.

      Rather like their entire experience as roommates.

      "Yo! Hot chick alert at five o'clock."

      Scott attempted to look without quite looking as he and EJ made their
      way through the dining hall service, but as was often the case, his
      lack of full peripheral vision hobbled him. "Man, the only hot chick
      I see is the one in the dumplings."

      "Denim skirt, white shirt, on your right."

      "Oh. Yeah. I'd say she's, um . . . an eight, maybe?"

      "Eight-point-five. Dig those legs."

      "You're a certified leg man, Eeej."

      "We won't comment on what you are, Slim-boy."

      Scott just laughed and loaded on the macaroni and cheese. EJ eyed
      his plate. "You're gonna die from a heart attack before you're
      fifty, eating like that. Besides, how do you stomach that stuff?
      Takes like dead rubber coated in wax."

      Licking a stray bit of cheese off his finger, Scott shrugged. "Food
      is food."

      EJ shook his head, wondering if his roommate's taste buds might have
      suffered from the same malady that had rendered him light-sensitive.
      EJ himself had picked up a cup of fruit, a salad, some bread and
      baked fish, while Scott had death by cholesterol in macaroni and
      cheese, buttered mash potatoes, steak and gravy, and cornbread.

      At least living with Summers didn't mean he had to eat like him. EJ
      was still trying to figure out how anyone who inhaled a high-carb
      diet like that could be as thin as Summers was. For that matter,
      there were a lot of things about his roommate that baffled EJ.

      Food acquired, EJ led them out to the dining area and parked them at
      a table with some of their dorm neighbors, of the opposite sex.
      "Evenin', ladies." He grinned and seated himself amid the five
      girls, who made quick room for him. Then he kicked out a chair for
      Summers, who was hanging back. "Siddown, slim-boy." A month into
      the semester, EJ had simply stopped asking his roommate if he wanted
      to eat with this group or that -� Summers' inevitable reply was 'no'
      �- and had begun joining whatever table looked likely to welcome
      them, or had space. It was easier to get forgiveness than
      permission. And when maneuvered into it, Summers usually acquiesced.
      And enjoyed himself, too.

      It was those damn glasses, EJ was certain. Summers hadn't had them
      that long, apparently. EJ had seen a few pictures of him, from high
      school. No glasses. Yet now he had them, and he never, ever took
      them off unless it was to replace them with goggles, and even then,
      he'd hide his eyes with a hand as he did so. "Extreme light
      sensitivity" he'd explained, their very first night. Even a 10-watt
      nightlight on his unprotected eyes caused unbearable pain, and EJ
      wasn't sure what to make of that, but Summers had all the medical
      paperwork, and had filed with the Disabled Students Program, so what
      did EJ know? Summers was a year older, going on nineteen instead of
      eighteen, and though he was from San Diego, he'd been out in New York
      for a year at what sounded like some kind of rehab institute. He'd
      been blind for a while, too, he'd said once, and EJ wondered how well
      he saw even now, since he still had some blind-man habits. He'd
      ordered his clothing precisely, and tended to keep shoes and other
      objects out of the walkway, even if the rest of his side of the dorm
      looked like a tornado had hit it. Occasionally, he walked into the
      edges of things, as if he hadn't noticed where an object ended, but
      the side-blinders might account for that.

      All this, EJ had gathered from a combination of careful observation
      and well-placed, apparently innocent questions. Growing up, he'd
      observed his father or mother casually interview church members at
      meetings or Bible studies or Wednesday Night Supper, and then later
      assemble the puzzle pieces one at a time to get the big picture. It
      took patience. Now, the more pieces that EJ acquired, the more
      curious he grew about Scott Summers. He concluded that, light
      sensitivity aside, his roommate must have something seriously wrong
      with his eyes, serious enough that Scott wouldn't allow anyone else
      to see them, and EJ wondered what manner of mutilation he'd suffered,
      and how bad it looked. It had to be something like that, EJ decided,
      or why would a previously popular, good-looking guy now get as
      twitchy in crowds as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking

      A girl at his father's church had been burned badly as a child. Come
      summer, she suddenly ceased attending parties or youth group
      activities, lest she be forced into a situation that would require
      her to reveal the bright pink scar tissue on her back and bare legs.
      Marred forever, and terrified of rejection. It had taken EJ two
      years of coaxing before Diane had let him see her in shorts.

      "So, how goes the drummer search?" one of the girls asked while
      picking all the raisins out of a muffin. Her name was Phoebe. Her
      mother was Japanese and her father American, and she'd come out on
      the best end of both bargains. EJ could get lost in black eyes like

      Summers glanced at EJ, but pointed his fork at Phoebe. "How does she
      know about our drummer search?"

      "The whole dorm knows about your drummer search," one of the other
      girls said, wrinkling her nose at him like a flirting bunny.

      "I been advertising," EJ explained.

      "Great," Summers muttered, and EJ could almost see him roll his eyes
      behind the shades. "Our proto-band is dorm gossip."

      "Not gossip, man. Marketing."

      "It's more exciting than the non-existent Big-C UFO," said
      bunny-nose. Her real name was Elizabeth 'Call me Liz' �- but no one

      "Man, won't that *die*?" Summers asked no one in particular.

      EJ just chuckled. "Ain't no UFO, ladies. Just some Stanford dumbass
      with a red light. He figures he can tie Berkeley tail in a knot."

      "It was over two *months* ago," Summers said.

      "Yeah, but no one ever figured it out." Phoebe spoke in a low,
      Nimoyesque tone and wove her head from side to side, like an asp
      before biting, "History's Mysteries, y'know?" Then she wiggled her
      fingers and giggled. "Or in this case, Berkeley's Mysteries." She
      took a sip from her Sobe Green Tea. "I wonder what it really was?"

      "Who cares?" Summers said together with EJ's "Standford guys." They
      looked at each other, and grinned. Conversation branched from there,
      and now that he'd been drawn out of his shell, Scott participated
      readily enough. Perhaps he'd simply surrendered to the inevitable,
      but after supper -� it being a Saturday -� Phoebe suggested they go
      out to cruise Telegraph Avenue, and it didn't take much arm bending
      to convince Summers to tag along.

      "So, you're the guys looking for a drummer?"

      "Uh -� yeah. We are," said the white boy, who was wearing shades
      even indoors in the basement. A Joe Cool Wannabe, and the bass
      player, to boot. Figured.

      "*You're* Lee Forrester?" the black boy asked. He was tall, well
      muscled, and sat at the piano. "And how'd you get in here without a
      dorm key?"

      "Some guys saw me walking up with the drum and opened the door. And
      yeah, I'm Lee. You got a problem with that?"

      "Uh, no. I just thought, from your e-mail �- "

      "You saw 'Lee' at the bottom, knew I was a drummer, and assumed I was
      a guy. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and the last time
      I checked, I had tits underneath it."

      The black boy snorted, half in shock, half in laughter, and the white
      boy's eyebrows had shot up over the top of his glasses. Lee
      Forrester deposited her bass drum on the carpet of the Unit Three
      music room. "You guys wanna help me unload my van, or stand around
      gaping like idiots?"

      Exchanging a glance, they followed her upstairs to unload the van.

      In truth, from the time she'd realized that her taste in pastimes ran
      to classically male pursuits -� from Hot Wheels at seven, to baseball
      at twelve, to joining the high school drum corps as a teen -� Lee
      Forrester had made a fine art of shocking the male of the species.
      She went out of her way sometimes to keep her gender ambiguous until
      she deemed it time for a revelation. Hence, when she'd contacted
      this band's organizer -� apparently the black guy -� she'd said
      nothing to dissuade him from thinking she was another guy. She found
      it enlightening, to gauge reactions when she showed up in skimpy
      shorts and a crop top. These two had been surprised, but they were
      recovering well enough. That boded well.

      Auditions went both ways, after all.

      Later, EJ and Scott consulted over coffee. "So," EJ began.


      "Do we have a drummer?"

      "Well, she can keep a rhythm, and she understands dynamics �- "

      " -� and she can play a double-bass trap set, man!"

      "But can we live with the acid tongue?"

      "Hey, I live with yours, slim-boy." EJ laughed, but then grew
      serious. "You mind having a chick in the band?"

      "No. Do you?"


      Their denial, of course, was more a matter of saying what they were
      supposed to say rather than what they actually felt. Neither had
      ever been in a mixed-gender band before, and weren't too sure what to
      expect. But this was Berkeley, and it was the �90s, and Women in
      rock music had become blas�. "Okay," EJ said finally, "We'll offer
      her the spot."

      "Assuming she'll take it. I don't know if she liked us."

      "Oh, she liked you, slim-boy. She was checking out your ass every
      time you turned your back"

      Summers blushed, in part because he'd had to restrain himself from
      checking out the curve of her bust under her t-shirt, especially when
      she'd started to sweat from the exertion of drumming. He wasn't sure
      what to make of being attracted to a fellow band member.

      "So what are we going to call it?" EJ asked.

      "Call what?" Scott's mind had still been fixated on images of Lee
      Forrester's bustline.

      "The *band*, man."

      "Oh. I dunno. You're the ringleader, EJ. What d'you want to call

      Silence again for a few minutes. "I been thinking on that, actually.
      How �bout 'Soapbox.' I mean, a lot of what I write, the lyrics �- "

      "They're a soapbox, all right!" Summers laughed. "But what kind of
      name is 'Soapbox'?"

      "Easy to remember."

      "All right, all right. I guess it'll do till we come up with
      something else."

      They never came up with anything else.


      Continued directly in part 4b....

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