John saw the resemblance straight away. The small girl before him was a spitting image of Maxine only smaller and dressed more fashionably.
“Hi, my name is April. You must be John. I’m Maxine’s sister. She’s your drummer. Now listen to this....”
John listened in amazement as April outlined a weird and wonderful plan of how they would be playing at The Powerhaus at midnight on Friday so they must come quietly to her place at around ten pm to collect Maxine. They just had to find the string that would be in the letterbox and keep pulling it till Maxine came. Then after it was all over, say at 1.30ish, they must bring Maxine back very quietly and pull the other string that would be in the letterbox at this time. In the meantime April would be using her special skills to cover for Maxine while she was playing. And if everything all went smoothly, there may be other opportunities for Maxine to play with them. But if anything went wrong and they didn’t follow her instructions—.
“Yeah, then what’s gonna happen,” asked a bemused John.
“I’ll tell my Mum about all this,” replied a straight faced April, “and she’ll waste you.”
John had only met Maxine’s mum once and for a short time but he did have to admit that she did have some scary potential.
“Trust me. Maxine’ll be okay.”
“Yeah? How can you say that? You taking her out late at night and to a pub where there will be drunk adults.”
“Well, we don’t have to take her. I thought she wanted to play.”
“She does. And you need her.”
“Okay. I know. So I’ll look after her.”
“Okay. So how will I know you’ll look after her?”
The conversation was getting weird. John was finding it hard going talking to a small girl who was behaving like an over protective father.
“I dunno... I ... I’ll look after her like she’s my little sister,” John blurted out.
“Good,” said April. She seemed satisfied. “Have you got a little sister?”
“What’s her name?”
John waited for more but April seemed to have stopped her rapid-fire interrogation.
“Well, then Maxine’ll come round Thursday night for one final practice. So get the band ready.”
April then marched purposefully off leaving John standing on the doorstep feeling highly bemused. Firstly, he couldn’t believe it. Did this mean they would be able to play properly? He knew he had been right to not give up hope. He felt like jumping for joy. But then the feeling was short lived.
The worrying kicked in yet again. John, you are ridiculous. You are putting your trust in a ten-year-old. She’s only ten and she thinks she capable of organising some masterful escape and tricking her parents—with string. How was this supposed to work with string in a letterbox? He’d have to wait and find out on the night—that’s if he was going to go through with the dumb plan. And you are going against the wishes of a girl’s parents—and that girl’s a minor. If you get caught you’ll get pummelled by her dad, mashed by her mum, and put in prison by the police.
But on the other hand, if you don’t do this you may as well kiss goodbye to a career as a rock n roll type person and say hello to a boring job doing something mindless.
He was still contemplating all the possibilities when Dooby and Noise came home from wherever they had been. They were continuing the racket they had been making from the morning, which involved a game of scrag with an empty tin can.
“Yo, Dude. ‘Sup? Hey, you’ll never guess who we saw in town.” Dooby slumped down into a chair.
“No, who?” said John trying to sound as unconcerned as he could.
“Phil and Meg.”
“From Spadasco,” added Noise. John tried to look interested.
“They were asking how the gig was gonna go on Friday if we don’t have a drummer. By the way how is our drummer?”
“Sweet,” replied John without hesitation. “It’s all go. We’ll have a run through on Thursday night. Just finalise the songs. That sort of thing. See. I told you everything would be alright. You just have to have some faith sometimes.”
“Sweet” was the response from both Dooby and Noise. That was it? They didn’t even ask for the drummer by name or how they were or what state of mind they were in or what mental anguish John had had to go through to get to this point. He had suffered miserably over the past week or so trying to act positive for Dooby and Noises’ benefit so they would believe that everything was all right. This acting was so hard. He had felt like telling them the cold hard truth and saying the gig was off because they didn’t have a drummer but when the time came he had actually found it easy to say what he had just said. The word “Sweet” had just popped into his mind and had been the easiest thing in the world to say. He’d made it sound so natural too. Maybe he would become a good liar. However, he was boiling inside. He just resented the fact that they did not seem to care or worry about the issue as much as he did. And they would never know the internal debate he had had. To those guys, especially Dooby, everything was just “Sweet” all the time as though they didn’t have a care in the world. And if things weren’t “sweet” they were “stink”. They were still kids in adult bodies and they didn’t want to take responsibility for anything. They never worried about basics, like food, rent, transport, organising stuff like gigs and the like. John did all that. Leave it to John—he’ll sort it all out. Yah, for John. John! John! John John!
John tried hard to console himself that he was the real leader and without him everything would fall to pieces.