Authors: Ann Lister
PUBLISHERS NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.
SHEET MUSIC - A Rock 'n' Roll Love Story
Copyright © 2009 by Ann Lister. All rights reserved.
FIRST PRINTING – March 2009
FIRST E-BOOK EDITION – October 2009
HARDCOVER EDITION – October 2010
EPUB E-BOOK EDITION – October 2011
This is for Bob. For being there to see the dream come true and for pushing me when I needed it most.
And to all my family and friends who supported me and suffered through my writers angst to see this project completed.
And a very special thank you to Frank Sledd for his dedicated work and guidance throughout this process. Without you, this dream never would have been realized.
I thank you all.
With another long work shift behind her, Annie Logan made her way home. She wanted nothing more than to quit her waitress job at the local diner and be a full-time musician. Playing guitar and singing back-up vocals with her band, White Rush, was all she ever dreamed. Every spare moment she had was spent expanding her singing resume or booking more club gigs. All they needed was one good break. That was her daily mantra and the only thing that kept her afloat.
At thirty-two, Annie was growing impatient waiting for that break. Physically, she had never looked better. She had let her golden blond hair grow long, below her shoulders, and she exercised whenever she could to maintain her feminine curves. Her piercing blue eyes never expressed the exhaustion she felt, but emotionally, she was drained.
It had been six months since her last boyfriend had crushed her spirit and nearly three years since her divorce. Both experiences made her stronger but it had been a journey to get past the hurt and deception of both men. It didn’t help matters that her ex-husband, Gary, was the lead singer and guitarist in her band.
Annie lived in a small, suburban town forty minutes west of Boston and east of nothing, where the population was nil and everyone knew the other’s business. She had come to this town at the age of fifteen to live with an aunt, after her parents and younger brother were killed in a car accident. Annie was the lone survivor in the car. Two years later, tragedy stuck again when her aunt died of cancer; leaving Annie virtually on her own.
Growing up in a household with an alcoholic and verbally abusive father, Annie never had a sense of family or belonging. Her father made it his mission to keep Annie’s self-esteem in the gutter, never supporting her budding interest in music. He went out of his way to belittle her dreams. The more he demeaned Annie, the deeper she emotionally retreated to a self-imposed exile where music became the one consistent thread of her life. Music was the only thing that gave her real happiness and satisfaction.
She was considered a music geek at the high school in her aunt’s town, and painfully shy. Even still, she tried out and won a spot in the jazz band. Gary Logan was also part of the jazz band and became her one and only friend. Their friendship quickly blossomed until Annie and Gary were inseparable.
Annie moved into Gary’s parents home after her aunt died and the summer after graduation they were married. It was him and her against the world. They shared the same dreams, aspirations, and the band they founded together. But as soon as their band began to gather local recognition, their relationship started to unravel.
Gary quickly developed an ego that thrived on the constant affirmations and the attention from the female fans that followed them week after week. Too many times to count, Annie caught Gary cheating with the groupies. At first she ignored his unfaithfulness, hoping he would get it out of his system. But time only made it worse and impossible for her to ignore. Finally, after a decade of being together, she filed for divorce.
Putting aside their hurt feelings and petty indifferences, they somehow managed to find common ground. They had to, if they wanted to keep their band together; which they both did. It was not easy working together. Each day brought new struggles and bigger egos. The qualities that Annie once admired in Gary she now hated. The only bond they continued to share was their mutual love for their band and their drive for success.
She stopped briefly at the end of her driveway and opened her mail box. Inside she found one overstuffed envelope, with a return address she did not recognize. Tucking it under her arm, she continued up the driveway toward the back of a large, white Colonial house where she had been renting an apartment since her divorce. The apartment consisted of three small rooms and a bathroom. It wasn’t much but it was all she could afford. The back yard was long, narrow and very private, with an in-ground pool that the owners allowed her to use during the summer months. The rest of the house remained occupied by the owners when they were home, which was not very often.
Annie collapsed into the soft pillows on her couch and quickly dismissed the notion of catching a catnap. If she fell asleep now, she would never wake up before she had to leave for their gig that night. Instead she studied the envelope she held in her hands and then cracked open the sticky seal with her index finger. In one swift motion, the contents spilled into her lap. Her eye’s caught the colorful, bold typeface on the letterhead that read: Bostonian Promotions.
“Oh, my God,” she screamed and lurched from the couch, sending the letter and the envelope contents to the floor, as if it had burned her hands. Tears immediately pooled in her eyes as she dropped to her knees and attempted to collect all the pages of paper and the official looking letterhead.
Congratulations and thank you for entering our recent contest: Battle of the Massachusetts Bands! Your band has been selected as one of five talented semi-finalist bands to appear LIVE along with the legendary band:
In honor of their 20 years together, each of the five members of Thrust, have chosen to sponsor one of the five semi-finalist bands in a 4-6 week jamming session in preparation of the final band play-off battle. The winning band from the contest will perform as opening act for Thrust during their upcoming Fall concert tour.
Your band sponsor will be, Michael Wade, lead guitarist and vocalist for Thrust. A representative from Bostonian Promotions will notify you with further details and arrange a meeting between your band and Michael Wade. If you have any questions, or need additional information, please feel free to contract us.
Again, we congratulate you!
Annie ran to the phone and nervously punched in a phone number. After three rings the receiver picked up.
“Buzz!” Annie screamed.
“Annie, is that you? What’s the problem?” Buzz answered.
Buzz was the drummer of White Rush, and one of Annie’s closest friends. He was someone she felt comfortable to confide the details of her life. Short, with thin blond hair, Buzz had a heart of gold and looked upon Annie as his sister.
“Remember that Battle of the Band contest I submitted our demo video?” Annie asked.
“We got picked!”
“I’m coming over,” Buzz replied in disbelief and then the phone line went dead. Fifteen minutes later his van was pulling into Annie’s driveway.
Buzz read through the material three times before he would believe it and then called the information phone number to confirm the good news. It was all true.
“I can’t believe it!” Buzz screeched. “Michael Wade is coming to meet us?”
“White Rush, live and on stage with Thrust!” Annie echoed. “I can see the marquee now!”
Annie and Buzz danced, arms entwined, around her tiny living room. Like excited children, they were yelling at the tops of their lungs.
“We’re IN, Baby!” We’re in!” Buzz hollered.
Then Annie stopped dancing, the smile from her face slowly fading.
“How will we tell Gary about this?” she asked Buzz. “You know he didn’t want me to send in our demo tape. He even threatened to kick me out of the band if I did.”
“Yeah, but that was before we got PICKED, baby!”
Buzz and Annie picked up their keyboard player, Ivory, before they headed to the gig. Ivory was a tall, black man, who spent most of his free time getting high. His talent was good for the band but his drug habits spelled trouble. The rest of the band had gotten clean years ago, except for Annie who had never ventured down that road.
“Hey, Ivory,” Annie yelled into the hollowness of the back of the van. Ivory’s head was already enveloped in a thick ring of smoke from a newly sparked joint. “Do you remember that Battle of the Band contest I entered our band?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“We’re in,” Buzz blurted before Annie could answer.
“Motha Fucka!” A wide, thin smile curled Ivory’s lips as he exhaled smoke from his nostrils like a dragon. “That’s cool.”
Annie glanced over at Buzz. “That was easy,” she teased. “One down, one to go, and the one that’s left is the ball buster.”
“It’s not going to be as bad as you think it will be. Gary’s not that much of a hard ass. You’ll see. We’ll tell him tonight after the gig.” Buzz patted Annie’s forearm and continued to drive into the city of Worcester. Taking a left onto Green Street, the club was in sight. “The place looks pretty packed tonight,” he commented, double parking the van in front of Sir Morgan’s Cove. “I’ll let you two out here and go find a place to park.”
Sir Morgan’s Cove did not look like much on the outside but inside it was a different story. No one would have guessed at this very club, back in the 1980’s Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones kicked off a world concert tour. A wall of memorabilia depicts the event with autographed photographs of each band member. Now, over a decade later, the club still attracts the best of the local talent. Several times a month, White Rush were the headliners.
The club was full to capacity when Annie and Ivory pushed their way in toward the stage. Gary was already on stage setting up the microphones. Gary lived in Worcester and often showed up at their gigs early to set-up the stage according to his specifications. As usual, Ivory headed for the bar to get himself a drink before he went on stage.
Dark and smoky, the club seemed to take on a life of its own. Annie loved the energy that flowed up toward her on stage and the fact that she was sharing the same stage Mick Jagger had once pranced across only heightened the mystique of the club. The bright lights blocked most of the audience faces from her view and smeared their images to a blur. But she could feel them, always inching closer to her, begging her to sing. That is what she fed from and it kept her coming back week after week. No drug was as powerful as that.
Tonight she wore her tight satin pants with a white half shirt, exposing her firm breasts. Her hair she left to hang, curled slightly on the ends, bangs nearly covering her deep blue eyes. On her feet she wore black leather boots to give her a bit more height beside the guys.
Gary barely noticed that she had arrived and continued to run the necessary cables across the stage.
“Did Buzz and Ivory come with you?” Gary asked.
“Yeah. Looks like we’ll have a good gig tonight. The crowd is ready to rock,” Annie replied, wondering when she should break the good news to Gary. Carefully breaking good news to anyone lacked all logic. But Gary was hardly the logical kind of guy. Timing was everything whenever you had something to tell Gary and now clearly was not the time.