AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE 4a (S/J, prefilm)
- 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
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
"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
"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
They never came up with anything else.
Continued directly in part 4b....
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