fiction

mutiny at the band house

I groan, anxiously tugging my ponytail. The “water-me” light on the grand piano is blinking red again. How inopportune. Yes, pianos need watering. Like plants. But the sink is in the kitchen, the kitchen is next to the house commons, Matt X is in the house commons, and Matt X doesn’t know that I’ve been practicing here. Not only is he partly deaf but he tends to tune out all actually good music unless he’s jamming over it on his guitar.

After a bad-country-song-turned-ringtone and some garbled hellos, Matt X’s voice goes off in the room over, clear as a shotgun in a church: “You’re leaving Krimp’s band?”

Matt X gets full of all this holy indignation if we call him anything else. The X means something to him, sort of historical, sort of family-related. We think. But we don’t say how stupid a lot of things Matt X does is because Matt X has muscles twice the size of Fezzik the Giant’s, thinks he’s better than us because he’s a dude, and besides that, gets the gigs. I have to remind myself of that when he swears daily to rip the keys right off my baby grand — which all the girls know is my precious child — simply because my dog barked in the night or I unplugged his hair straightener or something.

“Dude! Molly would be, like, totes cool with that.”

What would I totes be cool with, Matthew Weinenberger?

“You still play keys right?”

What electrical abomination is this? A keyboardist?

“Yeah. Imagine. That grand—-or any piano we can get at a venue really—-doesn’t have half the sounds your Nord does. If we doubled a little or even used some of your patches instead of her …”

Instead of my glorious grand piano with the real-string sounds that made Chopin cry?

“…old thing, we could dig a bit of piano band, know what I mean? We get more old-folk venues with Molls. Imagine—your synths could get us into—” here, Matt’s voice grew reverential, as if instead of shooting in church, he had knelt to pray—“Funky Buddha Lounge.”

Said lounge is a smoky old joint downtown where the hipster bands go to bob and wag their unwashed heads to their screeching-cats music. Matt X has always talks about it like it is Olympus, and him, the golden-haired guitar player in pursuit of godhood. Most of us, on the other hand, would rather not get lung cancer or pinched in the hind end by greasy men who had had five drinks too many. Besides, indie music gives us headaches, and we’re more suited for “old-folk venues.” Really, with a violin, cello, stand-up bass, piano, and a little of Matt’s untasteful acoustic guitar, could we possibly qualify for more than a five-piece ensemble?

“Yeah, you think you could get us in? Bob swore he knew someone, but it didn’t work out. They weren’t much into, you know, our type of music.”

“Our type” of music is the music of true gods, Matthew! I want to slam his phone into the jack, but we don’t have a landline; he is talking on his cell, and you lose some of the drama, hanging up an iPhone. Perhaps I could chuck it out the window.

“Penelope was trying out some sick beats on the bass the other day, but I don’t know. Her jam instinct isn’t so good…” He lowers his voice; I strain to hear. “…We might have to nix her for a real bassist.”

I sit up as straight as if someone stuck my ponytail in the wall socket. Let me get this straight: I am getting “synthed” out by an instrument that needed to be plugged in, and Penelope is going to be replaced by a dude who likely won’t know the Circle of Fifths from the Olympics rings. The universe suddenly feels vastly unfair in a whole new dimension of my existence.

“No, no, we have to keep Lila. She’s a looker. Stage props right? Elizabeth’ll have to go at that rate…” Matt says.

Blood pounding in my ears, I fling the doors open to the common room, poised to strike, fling phones, shout a string of very unladylike phrases into the phone at the cocky ex-Krimp keyboardist.

But as soon as I rush in, full of the rightness of all the evils I was about to commit, there’s a loud thunk.

Big thick Matthew Weinenberger and his straightened hair tumbles to the hardwood floor, unconscious. For now at least. His phone rattles to the ground.I kick it, shrieking, “Deal’s over, Philistine!”

Elizabeth, who has been practicing on the back porch, stands over Matt with her cello case, her massive chest puffed out in empress-like wounded dignity. Beethoven’s face beams fiercely from her bulky sweater.

“Uncultured swine,” she sniffs. “Let’s haul him out front before he comes to and call my brother. He’s in high school, but he gets in lots of fights and has arms bigger than Matthew’s head.”

“I suppose you may be our new manager,” I say. “You’re the quicker thinker.”

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