“Okay, short straw goes down there and asks…pleads …grovels!” Dooby was grinning fiendishly. So was Noise. John wasn’t. He was deadly serious even though he allowed himself to participate in Dooby’s childish games. He looked over at Chaz. She was in a foul mood, staring out of the window angrily.
John knew he shouldn’t even be doing this. It was against everything he felt. And he knew that when he pulled the short straw he wouldn’t be able to do it anyway. Dooby and Noise already pulled their straws but hadn’t shown them yet. John pulled a straw. It looked very short.
“Oh yeah! You da man, John,” said Noise dancing around.
“John, mate, bad luck.” Dooby put his arm around John’s shoulder and consoled him with mock seriousness.
“I can’t do it.”
“Maaaate.” Dooby put extra emphasis on the word and looked at John. John knew that look well. It meant “you have to do it cos no one else will”.
The job was fairly straightforward in itself. Go down to Maxine’s place and convince her Dad that Maxine had to be their drummer for at least one more gig because, on the strength of the High School gig, they had got a gig next Friday night at a pub way down in the city centre. It was a chance to get a big break. If the band could do this then they could establish themselves and get a following. Then who knows what could happen after that.
It all seemed very simple. The only problem was that John had this funny little, hard to describe niggly “thing” that lingered in the background of his thoughts. It only appeared when he thought about asking a twelve-year-old to go play drums in a pub. He realised he was recognising his conscience.
Unfortunately John had other feelings as well. He wanted to play at the pub so badly. He was desperate. But just because he was desperate should he drag a twelve-year old into his dreams of fame? Was that irresponsible? What was he going to do?
He sighed at how “adult” he was becoming. He thought that if Mr Harrison, sorry, Bill, knew of his own personal conflict at involving Maxine in Munga!’s plans for world domination then he, Bill, would allow Maxine to play with them. John’s logic for this was that anyone who was capable of understanding such a moral dilemma must be a trustworthy guy and therefore deserved a break.
“C’mon John. Going to a pub is not going to kill her. The worst thing that can happen is that someone might spill beer on her. If that’s the case we can just wash her clothes for her.” Dooby sounded very reasonable and convincing. Noise was in the background chanting “John! John! John!” and doing one-man Mexican waves.
John was unconvinced.
“You’ve never washed anyone’s clothes in your life – least of all your own.”
“Oooh, John, that hurts,” said Dooby in a mock hurt tone. Noise continued chanting. Chaz grunted.
“Shut up, Noise!” John couldn’t think.
“John! John! John!” Noise continued chanting at a whisper.
“Plus, what about the legality of it. You can’t have a twelve-year-old in a pub. The manager would say no and the police would arrest us. And pubs are dangerous places. People and alcohol just don’t mix. Look what happened to Keith.”
Dooby put on his super smooth radio DJ voice. “John, my son, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Law’s were made to be broken. Where is your sense of challenge? And other such clichés.”
John understood what Dooby was saying but knew he had more ethics than Dooby. He looked over at Chaz. She was also against the whole idea of taking Maxine as their drummer for the pub gig. She hadn’t offered any other options. She had just stated it was a bad idea. Why? It seemed like the same pattern was developing. Dooby was excited, happy, positive. She was down. And she had been down since the High School gig when Dooby had come off that with an amazing high. If the gig had gone badly, John was sure that she would be happy now. Anyway, when John thought about it, Chaz had been responsible for turning Dooby on to the idea of having a twelve-year-old as a drummer for Munga! Now the whole thing was backfiring on her. Had she wanted the stunt to fail and kill the band? In fact now the opposite was happening. Munga!’s fortunes were dramatically improving.
John knew what he had to do.
“Okay! I’ll go and see Maxine’s folks tonight.”
“Oh yeah! You da man!” recited Noise again. He and Dooby high-fived.
Chaz remained quiet, her silence enough to know that John had angered her further.
He trudged out of the door, his shoulders stooped even more and glancing round one final time as he left the room he saw Dooby and Noise dancing while Chaz glared out into darkness.