You Can't Break Out
All characters, etc, property of Hasbro
Yogurt tastes bloody awful, especially the way Americans make it. You Yanks feel the need to turn everything into sweets! Blimey, you lot would eat chocolate cake for dinner, if you could figure out how to deep fry it! (Don't send me any recipes, thank you).
I'd prefer to not have me taste buds assaulted with globs of sticky sweet fruit slop, but me doctor keeps reminding me it helps keep me lady bits healthy, and that's the last place I need an aggro, believe me!
I gagged on me yogurt while enjoying brunch on the patio at Caffe Venezio, as I grew annoyed watching me old mate Stormer happily pack her face with the stuff. "They've got the best yogurt in Beverly Hills," she chirped.
"Oh, it's divine, luv," I enthused, as I gritted me teeth.
She rearranged the daisy in her hair, and smiled at me as her sunglasses slipped down her nose. "I don't get back to the city often, so it's nice to indulge myself once I'm here, you know?"
"Oh, of course," I nodded.
Stormer and her little dolly bird had a place up in Wine Country, with flowers, and gardens, and all that lovely rot. Me, I'd spent the last twenty years in L.A.-I guess I need a touch of smog in me life.
Things had been brilliantly smoggy lately, not that I felt like chatting about it with Stormer. I had something else on me mind.
"All right, luv. You're her best mate—what's Roxy on about? Why'd she call a board meeting?" I tapped the table with me nails.
Stormer sat her cup down. Even behind her specs, I could see the worry lines around her eyes crinkle. "I honestly don't know. She won't tell me."
"Well, she's gotta have some big reason. Bloody hell, I've never called a board meeting, much less our resident scholar, Rox!"
Stormer removed her sunglasses and gave me the look of annoyance I'd wanted. I needed to make sure I wasn't the only one who was concerned.
She sighed as she rested her cheek in her palm. "I asked her, several times. This morning, I called her and asked again. She just won't tell me."
I shook me head as I licked me spoon. "It's dosh, luv. Has to be."
Stormer shifted around in her chair. "She wouldn't do that."
"She's never been good with money, Stormer. This wouldn't be the first time we've had to advance her."
Me old band mate grew agitated. "She wouldn't go to the trouble of calling a board meeting! All she'd have to…" Stormer trailed off and dipped her spoon back into her yogurt.
I tried to hide the little grin I get when I figure something out. "You've been giving her money."
Stormer avoided me eyes as she ran her fingers along her gold necklace. "Yeah," she muttered. "Now and then."
"Bloody hell," I whispered to myself. I pictured her setting out thousands of bowls of cream for every stray cat in Napa Valley.
"Just a few times," she added. "She's been ripped off once or twice. I keep telling her she needs a good manager, but she's just so proud. She tries to convince me she has enough street smarts to deal with anyone."
I took a quick sip of tea as I asked, "And Emily? How's she feel about Miss Charity?"
Stormer brushed her fringe from her eyes as she looked down. "She wasn't happy about it. I…I haven't told her, the last couple times."
That made me perk up. "Indeed?" I whistled, "Blimey."
"It's Roxy. I have to help her," she protested. "And it's my money."
I gave a dry chuckle and thought back to me own failed marriage. "It's my money," never seemed to have the effect I intended, that's for sure.
Stormer breathed out a small whimper. "I only help her when she needs a little extra to tide her over."
I tapped her against the ankle with the toe of me black Manolo. "Stormer," I hissed through me teeth, "You know what Roxy spends her brass on!"
Stormer pouted her red lips as she glared at me. "Jetta," she whispered, "I don't wanna talk about this here!"
We settled into dreary small talk about her recording sessions and me daughter's second grade talent show for the next half hour. I tossed the remains of the yogurt into the street-dish, spoon, and all.
We always held our meetings in a bloody huge room in Pizzazz's dad's office building, with more chairs around the giant conference table than I had in me whole house (and it's not like I did poorly for meself, thank you—I'm ruddy well rich, just not rolling in it like our Fearless Leader, or Little Miss Songwriting Royalties).
After our brunch, Stormer and I had faffed around a bit before heading over to the Gabor building. We were the first to arrive, so I parked meself in me usual seat at the foot of the table. Stormer took her seat in the big chair in the middle facing the window, opposite Roxy's seat.
No need to tell you who sits at the head.
I propped me feet on the table, glanced up at the massive chandelier, and asked Stormer, "Right, so are we gonna talk or not?"
"I don't know what you mean."
I sat up. "Don't play dim, luv. I wanna know how you justify giving our old mate money when you know what she might spend it on." I nearly raised me voice, but the walls and rugs combined to make even a whisper sound loud.
Stormer sighed and sank into her chair. "She's clean, Jetta. Don't think I don't ask her, 'cause I do." I heard her make that little weepy gasp she does with her throat. "She called me a couple months ago, out of the blue, to tell me she was fifteen years sober."
"And you believed her?"
She mustered a smile. "She wouldn't lie to me. Not to me."
I've never been able to resist the urge to pop balloons. "She's a misfit, luv." (And don't say anything about me spelling—I left it lowercase on purpose. It's called "art," duckies. You Yanks can talk to me about spelling when you put the "u" back in "colour" and "flavour"!)
Stormer didn't reply.
A few minutes later, Stormer's manager (a short bloke with a wig, that's all I bloody remember about him) came in and took a seat next to her. Me own manager, Clive Cooper, joined us a couple minutes after that.
I'd hired Clive about three years earlier, after me Andy took off with that twat, Luna Dark. Clive was dishy, and clever, and from back home. I kept him around for a while, even though he wasn't as good in the sack as he proved to be at taking care of me money. (He was a bit too good at looking after me dosh, but that's another story).
After a few minutes of tuning out while Clive and Stormer's manager discussed some dull contract issue, the instigator of our little meeting arrived.
Seeing Roxy's a bit like stepping out of the TARDIS and finding meself twenty years in the past—at least until I notice her wrinkles. I cringe when I see what a berk I look like in pictures of us in our Misfits' days, but Roxy still dresses and makes up the same as she always has. She looks a right saddo, if you ask me, but she's always been bit of a loony, so don't tell her I said that. I'd like to keep me teeth, thank you.
The one thing out of the ordinary was the attaché case she carried. I'd never known her to bring anything to a board meeting besides her cheerful self and the occasional wobbler (Oh, excuse me, I'm told that might be a little too obscure for you Yanks. It means "tantrum." Happy now?)
Stormer rushed over to give Roxy a hug, which Rox didn't look too thrilled about. Can't say I blame her. Since the band split, Stormer's become almost as touchy-feely as the Sunday school teacher me mum used to warn me about.
"Hey, Roxy, so what's all this about?" I asked her, as I leaned back far enough in me chair to see them upside-down.
She turned to Stormer and told her, "I'd rather wait till Pizzazz is here." Stormer nodded, and patted her on the shoulder.
We didn't have long to wait. Beyond the head of the table, the bloody huge double doors swung open with a flourish. Pizzazz's lawyers, managers, and accountants filed in, two by two, until the men had filled the dozen chairs that flanked the grand, high-backed leather chair at the head.
Finally, Miss La Dee Da herself strutted her way into the room in a charcoal business suit, her green hair pinned into a bun.
"All right, kiddies," she declared with her Cheshire Cat grin as she took her seat, "Shall we call this meeting to order? Time is money, ladies."
Bloody hell, she's me best mate, but taking control of her father's business, even though it was only nominally, had made her go a bit barmy, and I didn't mind telling her so. But you try to make Pizzazz listen!
"Now, let's see." Pizzazz shuffled a stack of papers and cleared her throat. "Well, it looks like Roxy has called this meeting. Roxy, if you have new business, would care to address the board now?"
Roxy's eyes darted to Stormer, and then down to me, as if I ruddy well knew what to do. Finally, she stood, opened her attaché and pulled out a haphazardly arranged stack of lined notebook paper. "Um, right. Well, I've got some ideas that I wanna run by you guys." She began shuffling through the pages. "Hang on a minute."
Pizzazz tented her fingers. "Roxy, I'm not impressed by your lack of preparation. I suggest you get to the point."
"Yeah, yeah, hold your horses."
"Come on, Roxy," I blurted out. "Whatever you've got there, it can't possibly be the bleedin' Magna Carta! Just tell us what you want to say."
"All right, all right!" she growled. She picked up a piece of paper and started reading aloud slowly: "There is still a big demand for the Misfits, as many people are now nos-tal-gic for us and our sound."
Pizzazz tossed her head back. "Christ, not the fucking reunion tour nonsense again!"
I straightened up in me seat, ready to remind Roxy that I had a seven year-old at home, and, even though me Bett could be a cheeky little bugger, I couldn't bear to be away from her for weeks at a time.
But I didn't have to. Stormer softly spoke up. "Roxy, I loved being in the band, and you're all my closest friends, but it's not something I can ever go back to. I'm sorry."
Roxy looked down at her hands and nodded. "I knew you'd say that. I mean, I hoped you might feel differently, but…" She picked up some photocopied sheets from her attaché and passed them around the table.
When my copy reached me, I read the heading: "Licensing Agreement For a Traveling Entertainment Company." I only needed to see a few lines to realize Roxy hadn't put this together by herself.
"What's all this, then?" I asked aloud.
Clive leaned over to me and spoke quietly, "It looks like she wants to licence the 'Misfits' name for a separate group."
I managed to blurt out, "Fuck!" which no one seemed to notice.
At the head of the table, Pizzazz's lot circled around and whispered to her. Her shriek of "WHAT?" soon filled the air.
Roxy, apparently oblivious to the clanger she'd dropped, stood and stared at her notes as she began reading again: "There is great marketing potential in sending a new Misfits group-" She stopped, flipped to the next page, and continued: "out on tour, as well as much pro-mo-ti-on-al value."
The only thing which surprised me more than Roxy's daft idea was the bloomin' banging sound that erupted and nearly scared me out of me knickers.
"Hang on, Pizzazz—where'd you get the gavel?" I called out.
She grinned. "My godfather was a judge." She turned to Roxy and cooed, "Roxy, could you please explain your idea again?" Her voice began to grow more venomous with each word. "I've been informed that you want us to hire a buncha nobodies and send them out on the road pretending to be us. But that couldn't be right, could it?"
I glanced over at Stormer. She stared at her hands, saying nothing.
Roxy tossed her pages onto the table. "Look, let me be straight with you guys. I wanna get us back together…but I guess I'm the only one. There's shitloads of money to be made, just waiting for us…but you guys aren't interested. Well, this is the best solution for all of us. I can go out there and be a Misfit again, do what I'm good at, and make us all tons of cash, and you three can stay home, sit on your asses and count it all!"
Our Roxy's not exactly the most brilliant negotiator.
We sat in silence for donkey's years, before Pizzazz declared, "That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard!"
I tried to inject a bit of reason into the conversation: "Roxy, where're you going to find anyone who can play like us?"
She shrugged. "There's lots of good musicians out there. You should see some of the videos our fans post online."
Pizzazz began howling with laughter. "A goddamned tribute band? Roxy, you've lost your tiny little mind!" One of her lackeys leaned over to tell her something. She barked, "Shut up!" then pointed at Roxy. "So help me God, if you get up on stage with some drag queen in a green wig and try and pass yourself off as the Misfits, I swear-"
"Stormer!" Roxy suddenly shouted. "Tell 'em it's a good idea, Stormer. This'll make everybody happy." She stared across the table, willing Stormer to speak.
Stormer's manager whispered into her ear. She shook her head as she stared at her hands. "Roxy," she whispered, before repeating aloud, "Roxy, this is just…this is beneath us. It's beneath you."
You know when you see a car crash, and it's bloody awful, but you just can't look away? That's what the next few minutes were like.
Roxy sank into her seat. "This'll be great, Stormer. I know it will. I need this."
Stormer finally looked up at her. "We worked so hard to be the best. We went out on top. Let's not ruin that."
Roxy tapped her pages against the table, before she tossed the pile at Stormer. "Who gives a fuck about going out on top? I never wanted to break up. You took it all from me!"
Clive leaned over and whispered, "This business plan actually makes a good deal of sense."
"Hush, wanker!" I growled at him.
Stormer shook her head and began blubbering. "We can't just sit here and rehash the past over and over. It's not my fault you refuse to move on with your life."
Pizzazz rapped the table with her gavel. "All right, Roxy, you pissed me off, and you made Stormer cry. Satisfied?"
Roxy folded her arms and cocked her head back. "I want a vote."
"Bloody ridiculous!" I shouted, but Pizzazz held up her hand.
"All right, if Roxy wants a vote, we'll give her one. Is there a quorum?"
"Please, just get on with it," Roxy muttered, as she rubbed her temples.
Pizzazz smirked. "Fine. All in favor?"
Roxy raised her hand.
Pizzazz's hand shot up. I gave Roxy a quick glance before raising mine as well.
Roxy stared at Stormer.
Stormer looked up at Roxy and spoke, gently, deliberately. "Roxy, I will always help you, however I can…but this? This won't help. I'm sorry." She raised her arm, high and straight.
Pizzazz banged her fucking gavel again. "The nays have it! All right, let's get out of-"
"Wait! Not yet!" Roxy pounded her fist on the table. "Look, I hoped I wouldn't have to…I wish you'd given me a chance to convince you."
I leaned over to Clive. "What's she planning?" I whispered.
"You're the one who knows her, luv."
Roxy pulled out her cell phone and dialed.
"We already said no!" Pizzazz snorted. "I don't know what makes you think I like being jerked around-"
"Yeah," Roxy told the voice on the other end. "You were right. Come on in." She flipped her phone shut. Fuck me, the girl had tears in her eyes.
"I don't feel I have any choice, guys," she sighed. "I didn't want it to come to this."
The door swung open behind me. I spun me chair around and looked up to see him. His hair was gray, and close-cropped, with a short beard to match. But there was no mistaking his cold, hard eyes, or the sneer on his ruddy lips.
I heard the shriek behind me, as Pizzazz bellowed, "ERRR-IIIC!"
Eric Raymond glanced down and me and smiled. "Nice to see you again, Jetta."
I'd have kicked the git in the bollocks if he'd been standing closer.
He walked over to Stormer and put a hand on her shoulder; she recoiled, and slapped it away. "Always a pleasure, Mary," he snarled.
Finally, he strode to the head of the table. Before she knew what had happened, he grabbed Pizzazz's hand, jerked it towards him, and planted a big wet kiss on it.
Pizzazz screamed and gave him a few wallops with her gavel in return, before her lackeys grabbed her and reminded her battery's still illegal.
"Still as charming as ever, Pizzazz," he chuckled, before heading to the other side of the table and taking a seat next to a mortified looking Roxy.
"Roxy, what's he doing here?" Stormer pleaded.
I spoke up: "Yeah, Rox, you better have a bloody good explanation for bringing that rubbish in!"
Roxy stared at her lap as she declared in a monotone, "Eric's my manager."
Pizzazz jumped to her feet and pointed her long, manicured finger at her. "You're crazy! It took us years to get him out of our lives! How dare you bring him back?"
"You've really snapped round the bend, you have!" I added.
"You know you can't trust him," Stormer told her. "What did he tell you? How did he trick you?"
"Ladies, ladies," Eric laughed, as he straightened his tie. "Roxy came to me for help, and I was only too happy to oblige. After all, the Misfits were my first big success, and you all still mean so much to me."
I dug me nails into the armrests. "Come over here, Eric, and I'll show you how much you mean to me!"
Eric turned to Pizzazz. "You actually gave her a seat on the board? I'm sure some beans on toast would've been enough to keep her happy."
"You ruddy Yank, I'll-" Clive gripped me arm and pulled me back into me seat, where I fumed. (I admit, I do love beans on toast).
"Eric," Pizzazz growled as she waved her gavel at him, "whatever you're trying to pull, you can forget it." She gestured to the toadies who surrounded her. "My legal team will make sure of that."
"Oh, really?" Eric smirked. "Roxy, why don't you tell the others of our little arrangement?"
Roxy sighed. "If you don't agree to license the name to me, I'll sell my share of Misfits Music to Eric."
That's when all bloomin' hell broke loose.
For the next minute, Pizzazz, Stormer and I let Roxy have it, as we demanded to know how she could betray us like that. I tell you, I made some threats to ol' Box o' Rox that I'm not too proud of.
Not a dicky bird from her in reply.
"Look, let me make it clear to you," Eric declared. "If you don't want me attending your meetings and sharing a quarter of the profits, you'll agree to Roxy's terms."
"You put these ideas in her head!" Stormer shouted. "Don't listen to him Roxy; he's just using you!"
"Hey, she's a big girl. She's the one who came to me, and she agreed this plan would work." He grinned at Pizzazz. "And it will work, won't it? Unless you'd prefer I become a regular presence in your lives again. How is Stephen, anyway? In high school now, I'm guessing?" He snickered. "Does he look like me?"
Pizzazz shrieked with rage. But I sank in me chair, because it was the shriek I hated most—the one she makes when she's beaten.
She grabbed the stack of papers in front of her and tossed them to the floor, then kicked her chair over, sending her underlings scurrying. "Goddamn it! All right, Roxy-you win! On one condition: that man is not allowed to have any contact with this company again! And don't think I won't get it in fucking writing, understand?"
Eric brushed his collar. "As Roxy's manager, I stand to earn substantial profits either way. Your terms are accepted, Pizzazz dear."
"Hang about!" I shouted, "Stormer and me still vote no, and it's gotta be a majority to pass." I gave Eric a grin. "So, suck on that one, luv."
He leaned back in his chair. "Ah, now's the fun part. Which of you cracks first? You've already seen that Pizzazz doesn't want me here. Which of you is weaker?" He smiled at Stormer. "Is it you, sweet, caring Stormer?"
Stormer folded her arms. "Not today. I'm not gonna let you use my best friend." She smiled at Roxy, who stared at her own hands.
Eric focused on me. "Perhaps it's you then, Jetta? What can we offer you to change your mind?"
"You've got nowt I want, mate!" I snorted, knowing full well there were only so many quid I could pass up before giving in.
"Well," he grinned, "I don't have anything else planned today. I can afford to wait."
Roxy pushed away from the table. "Ugh, I need to use the can." She held her head as she stumbled past me and left the conference room.
Pizzazz pulled herself to her feet. "I'm gonna have a word with her!"
Stormer held up her hands. "No, it should be me. She'll listen to me. She's got to."
I don't know what made me mad enough to say what I said next. "No, let me talk to her. I think I can persuade her."
As I stepped to the door, I hear Eric bark out, "As her manager, I should be present at any business related discussion!"
I flashed me fist at him. "Back off, if you know what's good for you!"
Eric slumped into his chair.
I found Roxy in the loo, washing her face and spying herself in the mirror. I heard her muttering "Fuck, fuck, fuck…."
"Care to bring Riot in next?" She jerked her head back when she heard me and tried to look away. "Or have you managed to find Jem? Why not bring back everyone who made our lives miserable?"
She grabbed some paper towels from the dispenser and wiped her hands dry. "You wouldn't listen to me. None of you would, not even…none of you listened."
"Fine, ducky, I'm listening." I held up me hands. "You've got me full attention. What do you want to say?"
She shook her head, over and over. In a flash, she ripped a mirror from the wall and smashed it to the floor. I nearly took to me heels and fled, before I heard her yell out, "You're all so goddamn smart! I wish I could make you understand that I can't…I can't do anything else with my life. I'm not smart like the rest of you."
I tapped me toe against the tile as I kicked a shard of the mirror away from me. "Bloody hell, Rox—I didn't even finish me O-levels!"
She shrugged. "See, I don't even know what you're talking about!"
I tried taking a step back without her noticing. "Look, I didn't exactly join a group because of me love of music—I just needed to make a few bob, and I didn't have the grades to go to uni or anything."
"But you're smart. You've got a nice, big house. You don't let people rip you off. I…" she turned away, and softly added, "the bank foreclosed on me. Eric said that means I have to move out of my house. Is that true?"
"Bloody hell, Rox, I'm no lawyer, but I know you should check with one instead of just listening to whatever Eric fuckin' Raymond tells you!"
She wiped her eyes. "See! That's what's so stupid! If I had to go back to the streets, I could survive, but contracts? Business? I just don't get it, Jetta! I can't…" She leaned against the sink, as her head drooped. "I used to have you guys to rely on. I can't take care of myself. I'm a failure."
I stepped across the broken glass and put a hand on her shoulder. "Rox, be honest with me. Have you been messing around with-?"
"For God's sake, I'm not on drugs! I don't do that shit anymore! Don't you get it? I don't have to be on drugs to fuck my life up!"
"Calm down, yeah?" I patted her back and brushed some of her bleach blonde fringe from her eyes. "Look, you didn't tell us things had got so shambolic. We'll all help you, mate. I promise. Even ol' 'Zazz. But what we can't do is make it 1988 again. We've got other things on our plates." I dropped me voice to its gentlest tone. "I've got a little girl at home, and she bloody needs me."
"I know," she muttered, and repeated it thrice. "You have a kid. Pizzazz has a kid. I bet even if Stormer…" Roxy turned away and began pounding her fist against the wall.
This was the last thing I expected to chin-wag with Roxy about. "You know…it might not be too late. If, that's what you want."
Bloody hell, I wished Stormer was there instead of me!
Roxy balled up her fists and turned to me, her breaths heavy. "I never told anyone this—not even Stormer. I know she'd want me to talk about it, and all my feelings, and I don't wanna ever…" She started to wobble as she blurted out, "Something really bad happened, when I was a little kid, and…and he hurt…and a few years ago, the doctor said I can't…I can't…"
I pulled me old mate into a hug and let her cry her heart out on me shoulder.
A thought crossed me mind. When I couldn't unthink it, I cursed meself for being a softy.
I felt thirty-four eyes on me the moment I spoke up. Everyone in the conference room turned to see what I'd say.
Everyone but Roxy.
"Right," I mumbled, as I cleared me throat. "I'm changing me vote."
I glanced at Stormer. She buried her face in her hands.
I glanced at Eric. He grinned like the cat that ate the bloody canary.
I glanced at Roxy. She wiped away the last tracks of her tears.
Pizzazz slammed her gavel down. "Fine, the vote passes—unless Stormer would like to make it unanimous?"
Stormer shook her head as she stared at the table.
Pizzazz rapped the bloomin' gavel against the table, thrice. "Vote passes, three to one." She pointed at Eric. "Now, you—you get the hell out of here! I swear to God, Eric, if you so much as breathe on my father's building again, I'll have you shot!"
Eric chuckled softly. "Pizzazz, my dear, it's always a pleasure doing business with you." He nodded towards Roxy. "You've done your friend here a tremendous favor."
At that, Stormer jumped to her feet, pushed past her manager, and bolted from the room. Roxy called out, "Wait! Stormer! Come back!" Eric tried to pull her back into her seat, but she shoved him aside and ran to the door. "Stormer! I'm sorry!" She legged it into the hall, and I saw neither hide nor hair of either one for the rest of the day.
"Well, as amusing as this has been, I should probably be on my way." Eric gathered up his kit and began shaking hands with anyone who wasn't Pizzazz or me.
For once, he showed a bit of sense and avoided us both.
As he turned to leave he called out, "My best to your father, Pizzazz, assuming he still remembers me—or anyone!"
The gavel smashed against the door, a split-second after Eric closed it behind him.
"A fucking cunt, he is!" I grumbled.
Pizzazz jumped to her feet and, ever so demurely, screamed, "OUT! EVERYBODY OUT! NOW!"
The only time I've seen a group of men run faster was when Seb Coe won gold at the Olympics, and the pub round the corner from me parents' flat gave out free pints! (Me dad sprained his ankle, and me mum and I had to carry him home).
Since I knew Pizzazz couldn't have meant that li'l ol' me was included in that "EVERYBODY," I parked me arse down on the table in front of her. She looked to have a gasket or two ready to blow, but nothing I hadn't seen before.
"Jetta, what are you still doing here?" she moaned.
"Well, I'm not about to clear off and leave you here alone after all that rot, am I?"
I saw her smile, though she tried to hide it.
"Don't let him get under your skin, luv," I told her. "Don't give that bloody muppet the satisfaction."
"I hate him," Pizzazz growled. "I wish I'd never laid eyes on him."
"Too right. I'm sure there are plenty of things you regret laying on him."
I'm the only one who can get away with that kind of cheek around her, so it'd be wasteful not to take advantage, right?
She snorted. "Ugh, you can say that again." She leaned back and raised her non-existent eyebrow at me. "What'd she say to you?"
"Who?" I played dumb.
She rolled her eyes at me. "Roxy. What'd she say to get you to change your vote?"
I shrugged. "Sorry, luv—that's private. You'll have to ask her yourself."
Pizzazz tapped her chin as she gave a sly smile. "Oh? It must be something extra juicy, then?"
I shook me head and dropped me voice. "Lay off it, mate. The rubbish she's been through is worse than you or me could imagine."
She smirked. "Worse than all the nonsense she put us through when she was fucked up on drugs?"
"Yeah," I answered, without hesitation.
Pizzazz folded her arms and harrumphed, before switching the subject. "Can you believe the nerve of that man? Mocking Daddy's illness? I swear, if I see him again-!"
"Luv, he's always been a tosser, and he always will be." I tried to avoid looking in her eyes. I knew no matter how much she hated the bloke, she'd always fancy him, at least a bit.
Puts me off me dinner, it does.
"Jetta," she sighed, as she studied her nails. "Did we do the right thing?"
In all the years I'd known Pizzazz, I'd never heard her ask that. I didn't realize the bird could even think in terms of "right things" and "wrong things."
"Sod it, I don't know." I told her. "Bloody hell, sometimes, it's either do something or do nothing, right? Maybe 'something' will help her. It's worth a shot, I suppose."
"She's so selfish," Pizzazz growled.
I smiled. "She's a Misfit. It's what we do, innit?" (See, that time, I intentionally capitalized it! Art, duckies—art!)
About a year later, I'd dropped me Bett off with her dad for the weekend, and I decided to drive up to Tahoe for a bit of a piss up, and maybe drop a few bob on the roulette wheel in the meantime. Oh, and get recognized—can't forget that!
As I headed into town, I saw a bloody big billboard, declaring, "Tonight Only: The Fabulous Misfits!"
This I had to see.
Within an hour, I'd checked into the Moondust Casino and bought meself a ticket for the show.
I suppose I could have cadged one from Rox, but I didn't want her to know I was watching.
I took a seat at a table near stage left, while wearing a decidedly un-glamorous jumper and sweatpants, and me hair in a ponytail. So much for being recognized…
After a dreadful opening set by the re-united Limp Lizards (funny enough, I think it was all the original members!), I heard the familiar intro to "Takin' It All," and Roxy ran out on stage with two birds I'd never seen before in me life. One had green hair, and looked a bit like Pizzazz, if you ignored that she was half a foot too short. The blue haired girl playing keytar appeared to have Stormer's appetite, but lacked the amazing calorie-burning metabolism I've always envied Stormer for.
The faux-Pizzazz had trouble staying on pitch. To be fair, that was sometimes true of the real article, but this girl lacked the imposing stage presence to make up for it. (And anyone cracking jokes about me own singing, you can piss off! I know I'm not much cop on vocals—that's why I kept a bloomin' sax in me mouth!)
But there was no excuse for the faux-Stormer. She bloody well fluffed notes left and right, a level of incompetence the real Stormer simply wasn't capable of. (Indeed, I heard Rox fired that "Stormer" soon after).
There wasn't a faux-me up there, and I didn't know whether to feel hurt or chuffed by that.
Finally, there was Roxy. As I watched her sling her bass around the stage, or climb up behind the drums and bang away, I felt such a bloody strange mix of emotions: pride, that me mate was still the natural on stage she'd always been; embarrassment, to see her up there with those knobs; anger, to know that getting up there and being a Misfit seemed to be the only thing that makes her happy…the only thing that makes her forget the memory of what some monster did to her.
And, to be honest, I felt a twinge of jealousy. As I watched her, I remembered the great times we used to have on stage…in the studio…at the clubs…at the mansion.
Me best mates.
But it wasn't 1988 anymore…
Overall, the show was pretty bad. The band, other than Roxy, was terrible, and the acoustics were worse. But let me tell you, Yanks: I bloody well clapped and cheered through the whole thing. That was me old mate up there, you know?
"Nice show, luv. You should sack the bass player, though."
Roxy's mouth dropped when she recognized me, as she scrawled her signature on an album cover some bald git who smelled like bacon handed her. "Jetta?" Her cheeks grew red. "I didn't know you were gonna be here."
"Oh, neither did I until a few hours ago." I sat down next to her, as she waved off the security guard who stood ready to toss me out on me arse. "Bloody good show, Yank."
"You really think so?"
"Of course, ducky!"
She grinned. "Yeah, it felt great. I know we must've kicked ass!"
If there's one thing I can ruddy well rely on, it's that Roxy will always believe what she wants to.
"Tell you what," she smiled. "Why don't we hit the bar? I'll introduce you to Maxine and Julie."
"Oh, smashing!" I enthused, as I tried not to grit me teeth.
"Great, let's go." She turned to the line of autograph seekers. "Ok, you jerks can get lost!"
As the crowd grumbled, and Roxy flashed her fists and yelled for them to shut up, I saw a woman near the stage, dressed in a thick coat and a floppy hat.
It took a moment for me to notice the daisy sticking out from under the brim.
I tried to wave to her, but when she saw us, she turned and disappeared into the crowd.
"Hey Jetta, you coming?" Roxy called out.
"Yeah," I replied, softly, before calling out, "Keep your knickers on, Yank!"
Roxy grinned. "Keep that up, and I'll make you pay for your drinks, Brit!"
"Typical American hospitality!" I let her take me arm as she showed me round. For one night, it was old times again. We got bloody well pissed before the evening was through, and we woke up in gaol the next morning. Sodding public nudity laws!
(Special thanks to my friend and beta tester, AllieGee).