Well, they liked her drumming enough to ask her back for a real practice. At the audition
Maxine thought she had played really well. She had started playing when
everyone else had started, and finished at the same time as well and kept good
time. She had even put in a few well-timed accents as she picked up on the feel
of the songs. She was really happy. Dad had been impressed as well.
“Now look, Maxine.” Dad always began his serious speeches in such a way and so, to keep in
his good books, Maxine always assured him she was looking. “I know you
are really keen to play with these guys. And I know they are a lot older than
you.” Yes, Dad, get on with it. Whatever! “But I am going to let you
help these guys out in their time of need...” Big grin. “…because I think it’ll
be good for you as a drummer.” Of course it will! “Now I have had a good long
chat to John and he seems like a very reasonable young man. The others are ok,
too. But John, I like him. He has assured me he’ll look out for you. Says he’s
got a younger sister very similar to your age. So I trust him. I just need to
convince Mum…” That’s bound to involve an argument or two. “… and everything’ll
Practice times had been arranged and Dad had
insisted that it would have to be straight after school and not in the evening.
This had seemed to cause a bit of a problem with John and the other band
members and Maxine wondered why when none of them actually worked (except for
John, who had a part time job somewhere).
She soon found out why.
When she arrived for her first practice on Monday straight after school she knocked at
the door. No one answered. She knocked again. And again. What? These guys said
they would definitely be here. How slack! She picked up her school bag and
began to walk out of the property.
“Oi! Come on in,” a voice called.
It was John. He was looking a bit the worse for wear but Maxine didn’t want to look too
closely at him. She still felt slightly in awe of these “big people” who had
allowed her, just a kid, into their secret world. Even though she hated to
admit it to herself, she thought this was the coolest thing. Little old her had
been chosen by these genuinely cool people to play drums with them. She was
buzzing. She hadn’t told any of her school friends this. She liked to have some
secrets and her drumming wasn’t one of the things she shared much with her
She followed John in and again it hit her. The smell. Stale air, dampness, old socks,
grease, cigarette smoke and a hundred other smells she didn’t even have names
“Sorry about that. We were up a bit late last night,” John muttered as he led Maxine down
the passage. She looked at him more closely and realised he had been asleep.
His hair was all messed up at the back. She could see his shoulder bones
sticking out under his t-shirt. He really did have terrible posture. She
followed him into the front room.
Maxine looked at the table. Noise was offering her what looked like the remnants of
last night’s dinner – now cold, hard fish and chips. He was tucking in
enthusiastically – cigarette in one hand and what looked like flat cola in the
“Ah yes .... grease, salt, sugar and nicotine,” said Noise to no one in particular. “You
can’t beat that for breakfast, now can you?”
She grimaced—obviously. Was he trying to gross her out? She decided he wasn’t
because he seemed instantly to have forgotten about her.
“We’ve got some ice cream, if you want, Maxine.” John was looking apologetic.
“No thanks. I’ve got some extra tomato sandwiches for afternoon tea.” She winced inwardly
as she realised this must have sounded so uncool. She winced again as she
realised she was worried about being cool.
“Tomatoes, eh? I’d kill for a tomato right now. Or an apple. Or a mandarin. Mandarins…”
Noise went on dramatically without looking up. “Some thing fresh, something
clean.” He seemed lost in some private nightmare, then he coughed violently,
drank some flat cola, took one final drag on his cigarette and dropped the butt
into an empty can on the table. Maxine shuddered. Noise, who was dressed in
exactly the same way as he had been the other day, was acting in a most
peculiar way. He had been so polite on Sunday when she and her Dad had visited
for the audition.
Suddenly some thumping and banging deep within the house interrupted her thoughts. It
sounded like a big Pro Wrestling match was advancing from somewhere towards
them. The door crashed open.
Dooby, who was also wearing the same clothes as the other day, barged into the room, sat
down and collapsed headfirst onto the table. Noise’s chips flew into the air.
Empty cans rolled over, their contents dribbling onto the floor. Dooby grabbed
the only upright can, shook it to see that it contained something and then took
a swig from the remaining liquid. He quickly spat it straight out again.
“Jeez, Noise! How many times have I told you not to put your bloody butts into beer cans.”
“Sorry, mate,” said Noise who didn’t seem concerned. “But that was Coke.” He was
picking chips off the floor and stuffing them into his mouth. Dooby just sat
there, arms outstretched and head rolling around on the table. He was groaning
like he had toothache.
“Here you go mate.” John handed him a steaming cup of coffee.
“John, I love you mate. I’d marry if you weren’t a bloke. Honest.” John looked away,
shaking his head.
“You want one?” He was addressing Maxine and pointing at the coffee.
“Could I have some Milo?”
“Yeah, sure thing.”
Maxine was quietly laughing to herself. These guys, except for John, were behaving like
maniacs. They had all been reasonably normal when she and her Dad had last been
here. She was now guessing that had all been a show for Dad. She glanced at
John to see what he was doing. He looked so sad and worried. He quickly turned
away from her gaze and carried on making something behind the bench.
Obviously these guys had been busy and stayed up last night. They had just woken up and
were having some kind of breakfast – at 3.30 in the afternoon! She drank her
Milo and looked around the room, which she hadn’t really paid much attention to
before. It was a large room with a split-level. The band gear was on one side.
In the lower central area was the couch and chairs. At the back of the room was
the kitchen area behind a high bench. The carpet was a fluffy white sort of
thing, which was now heavily stained and worn. On the walls were large plaster
swirls painted brown. The room looked
out through some sliding doors onto a patio and heavily overgrown garden.
Maxine was glad this was not her house. She hated it.
She finished her drink and realised that she had been there for thirty minutes and nothing
yet had happened. Noise had finished eating and was now picking something off
his hand. Dooby was upright and gazing blankly ahead of him. And John was still
shuffling around in the kitchen.
“Um, do you think we should start practicing?” she ventured quietly.
“Yes, the young lady is right,” said Dooby with mock gravity. “Action stations boys”.
Suddenly it was all on. Dooby was full of energy getting the others organised. They got
their amplifiers turned on, instruments ready and plugged in and Dooby was just
about to count them in.
“Sorry, which song are we playing?” said Maxine.
“Oh, you just listen first time through. Then join in when you feel ready,” said John.
Then the battle began. John was thumping away on the bass guitar, Noise making a big
noise on guitar and Dooby screaming away out front.
At the end of two hours Maxine had learnt four songs. Her arms, legs and hands ached and
her ears were feeling a bit funny. She had to play so loud even to hear herself
over the music. But she was happy. All those years of reading music and doing
the exercises had been useful. Even though she hadn’t ever doubted her ability
she was surprised how well she had fitted in. She thought she had played really
well and had even made a few suggestions that she thought had improved the
songs. John had nodded with approval when he heard the improvements while they
were playing. Noise had just kept his head down, his legs planted firmly apart,
and played away. He seemed to be enjoying himself.
Dooby was the strange one. He hadn’t talked to her all afternoon. No “hello” or “goodbye”
even. And when she had caught him looking at her, there was something not quite
right about the way he looked. It was a nasty look. That guy definitely had
problems. She decided then and there that she was going to play drums for
Munga! (at least for the next couple of weeks) and that this Dooby guy was not
going to stop her from enjoying herself.
These thoughts were swirling around in Maxine’s head as she left the flat. But they
were interrupted by a friendly female voice.
“Hi Sweetie.” It was Chaz. She was standing on the footpath just outside that flat
smiling kindly at Maxine. She, too, was wearing exactly the same clothes as the
other day. Exactly.
“How are things?”
“ How was the practice?”
“So you’re going to come back tomorrow then?”
“Poor you! The stink is incredible in there. I don’t know how those guys can live like
that. Actually, I try not to stay round too much. Dooby’s such a maniac. Oh
well, see you tomorrow, then, Sweetie.” And she wandered towards the house
carrying what looked like a bag full of groceries.
Well at least she was friendly today. On the day of the audition she had been almost
unfriendly, hardly saying anything and just watching. However, today she seemed
really nice. If she was round during the practices Maxine wouldn’t feel so
lonely. At least she could talk. John seemed like a nice guy but he was hard
going and so quiet.