Completely AU - rated M.
This is a complete one-shot.
Summary: This fan fiction is about Noah Puckerman, Finn Hudson and Mike Chang, and follows their friendship from their earliest days at school and growing up through the depression era of the 1930's, WW2 and everything else in between until their old age.
Authors Note: Welcome, to my first attempt at a non-Finchel focused story. Puck, Finn and Mike are the main characters, who are straight just in case anyone was expecting a sexy bromance. I own nothing but the plot, OC characters, and even though I proofread my work numerous times before posting, any mistakes that slip through. The song lyrics used are not mine either, I am just borrowing them.
I have tried to write this story as if it were a live TV interview re-counted by an 86-year-old Noah Puckerman. So, I really hope that's how it reads.
I hope you enjoy it enough to leave nice reviews, thanks for reading.
As always this is for our handsome Canadian and the happy, loving and hugely talented future that could have been….
**Keep on drumming**
"I CAN STILL REMEMBER WHEN I WAS JUST A KID
WHEN FRIENDS WERE FRIENDS FOREVER
AND WHAT YOU SAID WAS WHAT YOU DID" Lyrics from Blood on Blood by Bon Jovi.
Present time-Summer of 2011, Studios of CAB5 – TV Network, New York City:
"Howdy folks, Thanks for tuning in to another episode of 'Who's got the beat?' I'm Shem Casseley, and I gotta tell you that I'm extra stoked to do the show today because we've got a real treat for y'all. To our great honor we have with us in the studio one of the best guitarists and song writers of the 20th century.
Also in recognition of the 20th anniversary of his anthology album going multiplatinum, and the release last month of his top selling biography titled, 'Sticks, strings an' sax'.
He has agreed to talk to us about his life, in and outside of the music world and what inspired him to write his songs. Not to mention how he maintained the frantic pace of a touring rock star well into his 70's. Only slowing down to focus mainly on writing and producing in the last 10 years
However, he has promised that he and his band will play for us. So, without any further yakking from me, it is my great pleasure to introduce the only original founding member of BLOOD BROTHERS still playing… the one and only Noah Puckerman, or Puck as he is better known…."
The loud applause and yelling from the studio crowd, precede the slightly stooped, but still fit looking 86-year-old man, dressed in dark jeans and boots, a white button-up collared shirt and black leather jacket. As he makes his way onto the stage he raises his hands, both badly disfigured by arthritis and many long years wrapped around his guitar, to wave at them before reaching out to shake his host's hand in both of his own.
His words raspy but jovial Puck responds, "Hey man, thanks Shem, 'tis a pleasure to be here, can I just say the bathrooms in these new TV studios are outta this world, what's with the self flushing john and the butt washer? Next there'll be a machine to unzip ya damned fly, jeez a guy doesn't have to do anything, spose it saves time though huh! But I did notice plenty of closets just in case a hott babe wanders past and takes pity on an old dude. HA, HA."
Wiggling his eyebrows Puck sends a cheeky wink at the camera
Through his chuckles, Shem says with awe "Aw, come on man I bet the ladies still find you hott, I know for a fact my Granny Joan, thinks you've still got IT…, and she told me if I don't get an autograph or a photo of you for her, she said she's gonna cut me outta her will, and just quietly I'm really hoping she'll leave me her place on Nantucket Island dude. So yeah..." Shrugging his shoulders at his guest Shem then sends him a smile.
Puck emits a loud booming laugh, and immediately scribbles his name on a 6x4 inch color photo from the pile next to him, trying to wipe the tears of laughter off his cheeks before they soak into his neatly trimmed silver streaked goatee.
"Well I can't let that happen can I!" he says handing over the paper then taking a drink from the glass of water on the table next to his elbow.
A picture of the front cover of his book is flashed up on the big screen behind them, causing Puck to raise his hazel eyes, and a look of nostalgia overtake his face at the image of the golden saxophone and shiny black acoustic guitar with a white, 6-pointed Jewish star of David on the body leaning against a yellow drum kit. The bolded words Strings, Sticks an' Sax, in a semicircle over the top.
The slide-show then moves slowly through numerous grainy black and white and color photographs, starting with a grade school aged Puck standing in between a slim Asian kid with glasses and a messy haired kid smiling a beaming gap-toothed grin, is of the same kids a few years later this time dressed in Christmas themed clothes standing around a piano, a couple more of them as teenagers in fancy clothes one a lot taller than the other two, the next few showing the three guys in army uniforms. Then two of them in graduation gowns, a biker jacket wearing Puck with his arms around their shoulders looking as proud as punch, a couple of wedding photos, one of a very tall man beaming brightly, his arms around his tiny brunette bride, the other fellow smiling just as wide in a similar position holding onto his stunning black-haired Native American princess. In both wedding photos Puck is looking at his buddies with a look that screams fear.
The next few are of a young Puck with his Mom and little brother, and then just Puck and his brother whose black mortarboard is sitting at a jaunty angle atop Puck's shaved head on what is obviously the younger Puckerman's college graduation day. The last couple are of a much older Puck with a cardboard birthday hat jammed on his head making a goofy face at the camera surrounded by beautiful dimpled, dark haired children all trying to blow the candles on a cake out at the same time, and one of a late middle aged Puck, holding the award for best music artist surrounded by his much younger band mates, a very tall scruffy- haired guy holding a pair of red drumsticks over his head, a goofy lop-sided dimpled grin on his face, his other arm resting over the shoulder of his darker skinned band-mate whose dark almond shaped eyes were crinkled in laughter, and long black hair in twin braids resting on his chest. The words under the picture 'Hudson, Chang and the Puckerone, still rockin baby!'
Shem looks mystified at the last picture before he presses the remote to pause the slide show.
His tone questioning Shem says, "Puck, man, I know you have said that your band was just you Finn Hudson and Mike Chang but dude…, those guys in the photo are too young, unless they've found the fountain of youth or were locked in ice for 70 years like Captain America or something, they can't be the same guys from way-back even though they are clones of Mike and Finn …"
Trying to control his laughter Puck can only shake his head in amusement. "They aren't Shem, sure their names are Hudson and Chang, but they are Finn and Mike's grandson's, so let me introduce them to you all and can I just say they are both as cool and talented as their granddaddies'. Everyone please welcome Nate Hudson and Ash Chang."
The audience clap and whistle loudly, as the guys walk onto the studio set, both taking turns to give Puck a strong hug before smiling and waving at the crowd of young girls closest to the front, as Shem un-pauses the slide show allowing the photos to continue to play automatically. He shakes both Nate and Ash's hands before they move to chairs placed either side of Puck, Shem spends a few minutes talking with them before he asks Puck another couple of questions.
Puck's face takes on a reflective expression and his tone becomes somewhat shy and humbled as he says.
"Before I start I want to thank you all for being interested enough in my life story to buy this book." Smiling Puck runs a hand over his close-cropped hair and turns serious, clearing his throat before seemingly losing himself in his past, and as he speaks the studio audience is silent.
"Ok, well let's see, as Shem has just said Blood Brothers was just me, Finn Hudson and Mike Chang in the early days, till they got all college educated and respectable and settled down and shit with proper jobs, and wives who tied a leash 'round their dicks. But long before we were making a name with our music, we were brothers in every sense of the word…"
Opening chapter of Puck's book:
My name is Noah Aaron Puckerman, but since I was about 11 and became the man of the family, I have preferred people called me Puck, it was in my mind more badass and grown-up. There have only been a handful of people who have ever called me Noah, but more about them later.
I have heard people say the first day of school is the beginning of a kid's journey in life, (besides the being born bit), teaching them how to count and read and shit like that, but in my experience, it was more about what true friendship and love is, and having someone next to you who knew exactly what you were going through, helping you to learn how to deal with whatever crap life threw at you, not judging you, just accepting you for who and what you are.
I 'spose, some people have it easy and don't have to do much to get by, eating their escargots and oysters with truffle butter and pate` de foie gras on fancy bread, and having maids and nanny's. Their names on the waitin' lists at ivy league colleges the minute they were born, unlimited bank accounts and fancy cars. Enjoyin' all the privileges and perks money can buy but never having their parents around coz, they'd put on their 'upstanding member of society hats', and spent all their time on different committees or company boards and such, or hosting fancy parties and over-priced dinners for charity and the whole bit, telling themselves they are helping the under-privileged. While someone else is being paid to look after their kids. But at the same time cursing loudly and threatening to fire their underpaid and overworked housekeepers, if their newspaper isn't picked up on time or their ice bucket is empty.
While others, have gotta fight every step of the whole fucking way! Now you might think I'd be jealous of rich folks like that, but in all honesty, I don't give rats ass about them…, though I suppose in hindsight, I should give them some credit, for giving me the kick in the guts I needed to get out of my 'poor person' mind set and make something of myself for me and my family to look back on, and be proud of the name Puckerman.
Though none of it would have been possible without the two best friends any guy could ever dream about having…, no let me rephrase that, not best friends, but brothers' maybe not by birth, but brothers' nonetheless… Blood Brothers'…
I remember it like it was yesterday… September 3, 1931, The first day of the school year. It was a cold Fall day, but the trees were changing from their normal green to varied shades of red, orange and yellow and the bright colors made the dirty plank clad walls of the houses and grimy red brick office towers and buildings look a little prettier.
I was starting in the first grade, my Mom walked me up to the gate of Bridge Street elementary school in the lower east side, holding tight to my hand, trying at the same time, with her other hand to keep the pram my baby brother was in on a straight path. Cussing every time, the wobbly wheel bounced over a crack in the sidewalk. 'Coz, when the pram bounced, Jake would wake up and I know Mom didn't get much sleep the night before coz he was sick. So, she wanted him to get as much sleep as possible but not having anyone to leave him with she had to bring him.
When we got in the school yard I was watching all the other kids, some were lucky to have new clothes and shoes. I looked down at my old and scuffed boots remembering how Mom had spent ages the night before putting wax on 'em and rubbin' like crazy with a rag trying to get them to shine, and patched my pants so good it was hard to see the holes in the knees. I noticed the toes of my boots were dusty from our walk, so trying to stay steady on one leg I quickly rubbed my foot on the back of my pants then did the same with the other foot. Clamped tightly in my other hand was my lunch bag Mom packed a sandwich, and an orange, which was a real treat! Mrs. Johansson, one of the ladies she does ironing for had some spare and thought I might like one for school and told Mom to give some to Jake coz it would help make his cold better.
After a little while a tall man who Mom said was the teacher, rang the shiny, heavy looking bell he was carrying letting us know class was about to start.
Mom bent down a little to give me a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek and said in a teary voice, "Be good sweetheart and have fun I will be there at 3 o'clock to pick you up so make sure to wait at the gate for me alright?"
I nodded and waved at Jake who had woken up, hoping he would let Mom have a rest before she had to deliver all the clothes she ironed for other folks.
I told her I would an' that when I was growed up I would make lotsa money, so she wouldn't have to work so hard all the time. See, I never knew if my old man would be there, but me and Mom and Jake were ok we had each other. She gave me another kiss and waved as she pushed the pram out the gate.
The teacher rang his bell again and waved everyone into the classroom.
"All right children find a seat please and we will begin." He says smiling at us.
He waited a few minutes until all us kids were in a seat, the class had mixed grades coz some kids were a lot bigger and seemed to know each other. I found a table right in the front and sat next to a skinny kid with black horn-rimmed glasses, who was holding on for dear life to a little bag with dragons and flowers of some kind all over it, on my other side the kid was just as small and skinny but with goofy dimples and pasty white skin which made the freckles across his nose show up even more.
"Good morning children, my name is Mr. Schuester and I am your teacher, now in our class we have students of all grades from 1 through 6, but firstly I will call attendance, so when I say your name please raise your hand, especially our new class members that way I can put a face to a name all right? Now let's start."
He called name after name nodding and smiling as each kid raised their hand.
The kid next to me with the glasses was called Michael Chang Jnr, the one on my other side was called Finn Hudson.
At lunchtime on that first day, me Finn and Michael sat under the tree near our room. We stuck together seeing we were the only boys in the first grade, there was some girls too, but they just gave us a funny look and sat by themselves. We didn't talk a whole lot, just asked what the other had to eat.
"I got cheese an' bread an' orange an' a raisin cookie" I said.
As he pulled a little tin out of his flower bag Michael said shyly "I got rice and barbeque pork and some dumplings."
Me and Finn watched in wonder as he held two little wooden sticks 'tween his fingers an' scooped his food into his mouth without dropping a single grain of rice.
"I gots meatloaf and ketchup an' I fink Mom put some cinnamon pound cake an' a apple too." Finn says licking his lips and smiling.
We nodded at each other and just ate our food, I was real hungry it seemed like forever since my oatmeal at breakfast.
After lunch we had playtime, Mr. Schuester had left a basket of balls and hoops and horse-shoes and stuff outside our classroom for us to play with.
Finn saw a football, looked at Mike and I, then asked if we wanted to throw it around. We both said "yes", then just as we were heading to the grass Finn is knocked over and the ball grabbed away from him by one of the bigger kids I think was called Tobias Cannon.
"Hey pip-squeak, gimme that pig skin, youse babies don't get to play with the big kid's stuff, you 'sposed to play wit da tiddly-winks an' hoops an' knucklebones, ha, ha."
Once he got up off the ground Finn said in a shaky voice, "H-hey, we so can play with the ball Mr. Schuester said so…".
Me and Michael watched as Finn dusted his hands off, and was trying not to look at his knee which we could see was bleeding. The bigger kid and his buddies were moving closer to Finn slammin' their fists into their other hands. Tobias started to push Finn, making him stumble. I know I was scared so I reckoned Finn musta been as well, but instead of running away me and Michael moved closer to Finn and stood next to him letting this bully know that we weren't gonna be his punchin' bags.
"Why don'tca pick on someone your own size…" I said holding up my closed fists ready to sock him one.
"Why you little…" Tobias spat out and went all red in the face.
"You can't tell us what to do, you ain't the teacher" Finn says a bit more nervously than before.
The bigger kids kept coming and one of them pushed Finn again, me and Michael stood each side of Finn, holding onto his shirt and trying to pull him back, even though this kid and his buddies were in the sixth grade and scared the shit outa us we weren't gonna let him push us around, but in saying that we sure were happy when we heard.
"Tobias, Walter, Gino, Alfred, the bell is about to ring so I think you should go and get ready to line up for class, and leave the first graders', alone don't you?" Inside I was happy that Mr, Schuester turned up. "Are you alright Finn? I can see your knee is bleeding come on I will clean it up for you and put a bandage over it."
Looking at Michael and me as he put his hand on Finn's shoulder he said, "I am proud of you two for standing by your friend Finn when those bigger boys were being nasty, I will think up a good punishment for when they least expect it, though from now on perhaps you three should stay close to where I am at least for this year, as Tobias Cannon and his friends will be in a different school next year thank goodness."
The rest of that first week was good, we did some counting and started to learn our ABC, Mr Schuester was pleased when me, Michael and Finn already knew how to write our names even if it was pretty untidy, and then on Friday after lunch, we did what Mr. Schuester called Music Apresican (I later found out it was called music appreciation) but whatever, (well all of us except Tobias Cannon, Walter Clarke, Gino De'landro and Alfred Mossley, they got to spend the time beating the chalk board dusters and checking the ink-wells on every desk, cleaning the fire grate and re-stocking the wood box from the pile out back, as well as cleaning the classroom windows and sweeping the floor).
Mr. Schue, wheeled out a big wooden box, opened it and started to tell us what each instrument was called and showed us how to use it. Then we got to have a go at playing them.
It was a fun afternoon I tried a French horn but thought the noise I made sounded like a tug boat in the harbour, then a triangle and a flute but decided they was too boring. But right at the bottom I found a ukulele, and laughed at the tiny size before I held it and started to pick at the strings like Mr. S showed me. It was great fun and for some reason it felt right and comfortable.
I stopped 'playing' after a few minutes and looked at Michael and Finn, laughing when a red faced, and puffy cheeked Finn was trying to blow into a trumpet but sounded like someone let loose a fart, then he tried the violin, I was not sure what was worse, 'cos it squealed like someone sat on a sack of cats. He finally settled on the bongo drums.
Michael picked up the shakers but put them down lickty-split saying they were babies' toys, then after having a go at the tambourine he got hold of the saxophone and got some sweet sounds from the thing.
"Man-oh-man, you boys have a natural talent for those instruments, are you sure you have never played them before?"
"No!" we all said at the same time.
We just shook our heads at his question, wondering why he was so excited an' carrying on like we were the cat's pyjama's. Before long it was the end of the day and we packed everything back into the box, tidied our desks and waited for our Moms' to come get us.
By the time it was Christmas, me, Mike and Finn were best buddies, I started to call Michael, Mike (I told him Michael Chang Jnr made him sound like a stuffed shirt), and as it turned out we only lived a couple of blocks away from each other. My Mom and Finn's Mom had become good friends, and when Mrs. Mac, the lady that helped Mrs. H had to leave to look after her sister or something. My Mom started to work at their boarding house, which was great coz me and Finn would hang out after school and Mom had somewhere to leave Jake if he was sleeping or it was too cold and raining when she delivered all the ironing, Mrs. H was the bomb and when Mike was not helping his parents in their laundry he was there too.
By the time we were eight an' in the third grade us three guys were as close as real brothers, even though I thought this school thing was a bit lame, 'specially when it came to math, but I did not want to get into trouble, I went along with it, plus Finn and Mike seemed to enjoy it, I did like the reading an' writing bit though. Mr. S was a cool cat.
We had music lessons every Friday afternoon, and were getting really good with our instruments, Mr. S had managed to get hold of a guitar and a full set of drums he said his cousin played at the Jazz club owned by his Old man. But had to stop playing a while back, because he had an accident at his job in the newspaper printing house and couldn't play one handed.
He would give us and a couple of other kids' lessons after school and would play the piano, as well as teaching Mike to play at the same time he taught us to read music, and gave us songs to learn so at the end of the year we could put on a little concert for our parents.
Things were tough with the depression and all and us kids went without a lot of stuff, we heard stories about some business men who could not cope with losing everything and killed themselves, it happened to a couple of kids we knew from school and even though us folks did not have much we helped the families with what we could.
We made do with what we had, our parents still managed to give us a good life and really what more does a kid need than to know they are loved and food on the table. Mine and Finn's Moms' worked extra hard coz they were on their own. We helped by making a garden to grow vegetables at the back of Finn's place, and took a little wagon all over our neighbourhood collecting the horse and hen poop that the animals dropped everywhere and mixed with the dirt to make the garden grow better.
Then what we food we didn't use in the house we sold on our stall outside, (we even made the wooden stall outta bits of fence palings and stuff from the dump, an' after we painted it, it looked super fancy Mike painted 'home-grown good stuff' on it. We had all sorts of stuff, potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, onions, cabbage, corn. It changed depending on the season, in the summer we had strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes as well as flowers. Sometimes if our Mom's had extra sugar they would make jam or marmalade and pickles an' stuff an' we sold that too.
1936 when we were about 11, I came home from school to find Mom crying an' all sad, then suddenly angry and slamming her hand on the kitchen table then crying again. I was worried and started looking around our tiny apartment for Jake hoping he was okay.
"Mom what is the matter, where is Jake?"
"Oh Noah, Jacob is at the Hudson's, but I am so sorry sweetheart to tell you that your father, Simon Puckerman has died. I do not suppose you remember him much as was not around a lot while you were growing up, but I had a visit from the police today, and they told me that he had been running a gambling hall and speakeasy in Chicago, under another name. But was shot dead last week by an angry punter who swore that Simon was running crooked games. Also, the police said that he had promised to marry some night club singer called Honey Kat, who he had been living in sin with ever since he walked out that day supposedly to go to his job at the railway yard. I am so very sorry honey that you have not had a good role model in your father, but I have done my best with you boys and hope you will be better than that."
I stood still for a moment trying to let the things Mom just told me sink into my brain, I wasn't really that upset about my dad, mostly because I did not really know him, and Jake did not know him at all, see he left before Jake was born but I swore to myself I would take care of Mom and Jake and when I was a grown man, not be like him and just up and leave my family.
"Mom please don't be sad we will be okay you me and Jake, and you have done really good as our Mom and we love you, and I promise that when I am a big man and get a job, you will not havta work so hard! So, how about I make you a nice cup of tea yeah?"
Mom just burst in tears again but this time she hugged me so tight and kept saying what a good boy I was and how she knew I would be a good man and how proud she was that me and Jake were turning out to be so much better.
After Mom told me about my father, was when me Finn and Mike made a pledge to always be there for the others. It was summer vacation and we were working in our garden, when we just started talking about things and the subject of our fathers came up, I told about mine and Finn said that his dad had died in a freak work accident at the ship yards, when he was 4. His Mom worked hard in their boarding house and was always making sure the men that lived there were clean and did not cuss or drink too much booze, but there was always some old busy body who made nasty comments about her running a 'house of ill repute.' whatever that was, no one was sick the men that lived there were always fit and healthy and in their free time would help us with our garden or play football or make up the bases for baseball games. A couple of them were pretty good musicians too and helped us with our playing and how to put the words we scribbled down in tatty dog-eared note-books to music.
Mike would never say anything much against other folks, but got angry sometimes and said that even though his whole family had been born in America, and his family worked every daylight hour, running the local Chinese laundry and their little food stall at the markets, due to being Chinese they were treated like 3rd class citizens. He then said how his sister had been roughed up and nearly molested by a group of older fellows off their faces on booze, as she was on her way home from delivering some laundry one evening, and when their parents went to the police to report it nothing was done, the officer on the front desk who showed no interest said,
"Nobody would have seen or heard anything. Besides the police had more important things to be worrying about than one little girl who was most probably making up stories."
Thankfully Mae was alright, she just had a few bruises on her arms where they grabbed her and a split lip after the bastards slapped her around and of course she was very scared, she was only nine years old for shits sake. We were used to kids picking on us and putting our Mom's down. We had made friends with a couple of African-American kids Matt and Shane, and all of us would have a good time playin' football and the so called better folks did not like that, so we had to fight to protect ourselves. Most days we got home with bruised knuckles and the occasional busted lip received when we didn't move quick enough. But we couldn't see why the color of a person's skin or what part of town you lived in, should make a difference with who you made friends with. Everyone was doin' it hard just trying to make a livin'.
After we were set upon by a group of rich kids for in their words, 'making their street look untidy' when all we were doing was collecting bottles to sell back to the local soda-pop company, was when Mike, Finn and me, became true blood brothers. The fight was one sided as there were eight of them and only three of us. But we sure gave them spoilt bastards a run for their money. Then once back at Finn's place after we had calmed down a little and cleaned up our cuts and changed out of our torn and blood splattered shirts, we used his brand-new pen knife to cut our hands then pressed our palms together, so our blood mixed making us brothers and swore to always be there for the others! Just like in the adventure stories, Mr. Schue used to read in class.
Ever since, Mae was attacked, me and Finn always made sure one of us was around to walk with her specially as Mike was busy, so the next time the bullies tried to pick on her, they went home with a busted lip and a few teeth missing or a bloody nose, we even protected the younger kids at school and in our street too.
It was about the same time that Mike started to teach us Kung Fu, the Chinese martial art which was great not only for keeping fit, but it made us concentrate on our core strength and focused our minds, plus it gave the bullies one hell of a surprise when we let loose with a swift flying kick to their guts.
Anytime some smart assed rich kids thought it was a good idea to give us lip over playing in our little band or our families, they went away with their shirt pressed against their bloody nose. We were not going to let anyone, regardless of their bank balance tell us what we could do. We tried to keep all that stuff from our Moms', but it was not easy as Moms' have a habit of finding out anyway. But it made us feel good knowing we could protect others and even with the lectures we got from our Moms' for fighting, we knew they were proud of us for standing up for ourselves.
Thanks to Mike and Finn I started to show more interest in my lessons at school, surprising myself at how much I really did know and realising it was the only way I was gonna get out of the never-ending circle of worrying about money and where next months' rent was gonna come from. Plus, I reckoned my Mom deserved to take it easy as she got older, and I wanted Jake to be better and have an easier life and go to college and stuff.
Life was pretty much the same, now the depression was over things were starting to look up but only cos of the war in Europe, America was not involved yet but most people we heard talking, did not think it would be long before the United States joined. We had kept in touch with Mr. Schue and looked to him like a father figure and mentor and I gotta say the guy was one of the best I have ever met, he helped us in all sorts of ways, obviously not with money coz let's face it teachers did not earn great wads of dough and he had his own family to worry about.
But instead he got us gigs at his Uncle's club playing mainly jazz music, and helping us with our music and song writing. We also played the popular tunes and added our own little touches we even tried out the songs we wrote ourselves, the folks in the club seemed to like us which made Mr. Bowden (or Uncle Frank as he told us to call him) happy.
Mr. Schue also had a word with one of his old students Blaine Anderson, who ran the local gym and we spent as much time there as we could afford, mainly boxing and laying into the punching bag. Blaine was a great help with showing us how to fight proper and protect ourselves.
Without sounding too full of myself, the older we got I reckon we had all grown into extremely good-lookin' guys. Which as luck would have it, opened a few more doors and gave us the opportunity to make more money. Because after a while we were approached through contacts made at the club, to escort the daughters, nieces, etc of some of the wealthier club patrons to school proms, dances and high society gatherings, the only rule there was to be no making whoopee with the girls just escort them and pose for photographs which was very lucrative. Mike didn't get as many 'dates' as me and Finn, but people's views on Chinese folks was changing a little and there were some rich Chinese businessmen in New York, who had heard us play and obviously found out about our escort service.
I should say some of those little rich girls were very easy on the eye but were honestly not worth the bother of getting involved with, there was one in particular I remember that made my heart beat in double time and my Y fronts extra tight, till she opened her mouth….
'Coz, even with all the face paint and expensive clothes from Europe, and her blonde hair in the latest fancy style, her green eyes showed no warmth or feeling to anyone, her manner was straight up nasty, photographers even seemed scared of her, (and they were used to dealing with the high hats from Broadway and the popular moving picture cats). I was very glad that those nights with her were only the odd occasion. She made it crystal clear from the outset without me even saying anything, that there was no way she would ever in a million years lower her standards to agree to see me outside of these business arrangements. The thought had flittered across my mind about asking her on a date the first time I saw her, but soon fizzled out to nothing, though I always wondered why she got daddy to pay for an escort if she was so popular and perfect, but was not going to question it as the money was good. She kept throwin' 'come hither' looks at Finn but he never seemed to notice, which in my opinion was a good thing coz she would have driven my buddy mad with all her nagging and demands, I did notice on a couple of occasions that she would send any girl with Huddy a death glare. But Huddy as usual didn't notice just smiled his goofy side smile at everyone and got on with the job.
We were earning good money even though times were still tough, the thought crossed our minds that some of 'business men' maybe were involved in not so kosher deals as the depression didn't seem to cause them any problems, but we figured we'd take it while the going was good. We split our club money equally between the three of us and then gave half of our take to our parents.
When we were not playing at the club we were trying to get our own band noticed, we 'acquired using the five-finger discount special', ourinstruments from the trash cans of folks in the rich part of town, that their spoilt bratty, private school darlings, chucked away when they lost interest in playin', an' what we couldn't find there we found at the local dump. We got a drum set, a guitar and a saxophone, as well as other bits and things, that after we cleaned up we sold on. We played our music wherever and for whatever money we could, mostly at the pool halls or busking in the park and forgot about our shitty lives. We did get a coupla shots at school proms, we did our school's senior prom too an' got a pretty good response. The cash money for the gigs at our school was not as much as we asked for, only coz our principal Mr. Figgins, was as tight as a fish's ass an' carried on like the money was sposed to come from his own pocketbook, when we knew for a fact he spent any spare school money on ugly brass bird statues for his office.
After we split the cash, we promised ourselves that one day when we made the big time, we would be driving around in fancy cars and smart suits not having to worry about making a dollar last a month.
Towards the end of our senior year of high school Finn, had got hold of a fake ID from somewhere, and got me out of trouble when I got caught trying to buy a bottle of whiskey and still bein' underage. He walked into the bar after hearing the barman threatening to call the cops and yelling, "He wasn't gonna lose his licence on account of some punk wet behind the ears kid."
Finn towered over the angry red-faced barman and said in a deep voice that he musta dragged up from his toes,
"Sorry buddy, don't pay him no mind, he is my cousin from out of town and he is a little slow on the uptake if ya know what I mean, and must have misunderstood when I said I (pointing to himself) wanted to buy some whiskey to take for our clan get together. But he really is harmless, so how about I throw in an extra dollar on top of the price of a bottle of whiskey for his bothering you and we forget about the cops?"
The barkeep, once he had calmed down a bit looked Finn up and down and saw the bundle of greenbacks in his hand just nodded at him and said, pointing his thumb at me, "Yeah well, ya might wanna make sure the hillbilly stays in the woods pal or at least dont slip his leash ha, ha, coz next time I will call the cops."
Finn just smirks and nods his head in agreeance at the barkeep's words as the man passed the requested bottle over the bar top.
We laughed ourselves silly when we got outside, thinking the barman was the idiot, coz even though Finn was the tallest he was youngest and the most innocent looking of the three of us.
What we didn't say of course was the 'get together' was with a dame Mike knew of called Wanda, who after reading between the lines of his bumbling conversation said she could help us loose the 'big V' for two bucks fifty each. It was something we had been talking about for a while but did not know how to bring up the subject with, and approach girls without getting our face slapped or a kick in the privates, and of course we had no idea what to do anyway.
If I am being totally honest that was the scariest part of my teenage years. Coz when we got to the place out in Greenwich Village after the thirty-minute walk from home where this Wanda was waiting, the place looked like a scene from a horror film, it was in the meatpacking district and all the businesses around obviously dealt with butchering and shit, On the outside of the building there were meat hooks hanging from rails running along the walls and what looked like blood drops over the floor and splashed against the brick walls and man, the smell!
I said to the guys,
"Maybe we should come back another day?"
But Finn said, "N-no we are here now and… yeah well let's just do it man, how bad can it be? An' even if she ain't a looker…. Yeah lets …" he didn't finish his sentence just nodded his head and made his way towards the stairs.
I wasn't expecting this broad to be a choice bit of calico or nothin', but still, I was hopin' she wasn't too hard to look at… considerin' what we were going for. So, we kept going till we found the right place, well we figured it was due to the candles spluttering in the window and the bright red scarf flapping in the hot night breeze.
Climbing up the stairs, we kept passing the whiskey bottle back and forth thinking we shoulda got two bottles, so we had one for after, then once inside I was so glad I brought rubbers with me, but maybe I shoulda brought a paper bag as well, coz I am not gonna lie man, this broad was…, well what can I say without being an ass?
She was layin' on a sofa, swirlin' an ice-cube in a glass of sumthin' clear and humming along to a tune on the radio that was sitting on a wooden stool in the corner of the bare room, the only other furniture was a coupla hard wooden chairs, and the only light besides the small bits of candle was a dim bulb on the end of a frayed cord hanging from the ceiling.
She must have been at least thirty-five if she was a day, but maybe it was just the low lighting it was hard to tell; her hair was I think 'sposed to be blonde and when she smiled I realised my hair comb had more teeth. She was dressed in a shiny oriental design robe that was falling off one shoulder giving us a good view of her boob and hairy armpit. Then slowly she undid the tie on the robe, so her flabby belly and dark bushy lady-bit was now on full view, her suspender belt was attached to a pair of black stockings, and at the end of her long legs (which to be honest were the best bits) were a pair of high heeled shoes. Then when she spoke it made us all jump, her voice was rough like she smoked a pack of cigarettes a day.
"Hello boys, come on in and make yourselves comfortable, I am Wanda, now who is who and which one of you good looking fellows wants to go first? You did bring your money, right? I mean I am not running a charity and I have needs you know." She says as she refills her glass from the bottle of gin she pulls out from under her pillow.
I just looked at Mike and tried, through a hard glare to ask him what the hell had he got us into. He just shrugged his shoulders and sent Wanda a small smile, digging in his trouser pocket for his money, Finn doing the same before passing me the bottle, watching as I took a swig then reaching out for it and taking his own mouthful before passing the now half empty bottle to Mike.
She then started rubbing me through my pants till I was hard and ordering me to take my trousers off and bag it. (Which I didn't need tellin' twice to do). I couldn't look at Finn and Mike, without blushing I just wanted to get the deed done have some more whiskey and get outa there. I spose in hindsight we shoulda waited to lose our virginity with that one special girl… but at the time, and all the talk around town of the country going to war, the idea of settling down and finding the right one, was way, way in the future. I felt no attraction or even lust for Wanda, just the idea that I was now a real man. I don't really have too much to say about that night except as first times go, and obviously not having anything to compare it with, I spose it was good. We felt like creepers though, being in the same room while the others got with her, but it didn't seem to bother her, and we assumed she 'enjoyed' our fumbling attentions due to her loud moans and squeals.
Pretty sure Mike and Finn put that evening away in a locked box deep in the back of their mind and forgot about it too, coz we never spoke of it again and it wasn't till a good few years later they both found that one special girl, and when they did nothing would separate them, and they are happy and still together and as much in love as randy senior citizens, as they were back then as dewy eyed sexed up youngsters.
Wanda and our 'business date' was not something I wanted to remember even if she did have a good set of gams, but I was an eighteen-year- old virgin, and this woman was offering to take my boyhood away and turn me into a man for a coupla dollars. All I really remember (thanks to the constant slugs of booze) is her demanding the money upfront and then when we had all put our two bucks fifty in a heap on the bed she grabbed it and counting it carefully a couple of times, shoved it inside her little beaded bag that was tucked under her pillow.
By the end of 1943, we had graduated high school, all turned eighteen and enlisted in the United States Army. As America had entered World War 2 after the bombing of Pearl Harbour in early December. As expected our Mom's, were not happy at all and cried rivers when we told them, and every time they looked at us until the day we left for boot camp, but they knew they could not stop us. Because we were now…, in the eyes of the government at any rate, adults, we were not old enough to drink booze in a bar or to vote but we were old enough to be put in the position to kill or be killed fighting in a war in another part of the world.
The day we left home was cold and wet, we spent the time waiting for the bus making light hearted small talk and trying to comfort our Moms', but it was hard I was trying not to burst into tears every time Mom gripped my hand tighter. Jake was doing his best to pull Mom away when the bus finally arrived. The last thing of my civilian life I saw was my Mom watching the bus drive away hugging Jake so tightly I was surprised he had any air left. I knew he would look after her, but there was only so much he could do he is still only a school kid after all. Mrs H and Mike's family were the same all hugging and crying. I just prayed that we would come home. We didn't talk much on the trip, I 'spose every guy in the bus was feeling the same nervousness most of them were young like us, and anyway the damn bus was so noisy, any attempt at conversation was pointless.
Boot camp was tough, when we arrived anything from our civilian life besides our wallets was bagged up and shipped home Me, Finn and Mike didn't bring anything 'cept a photo of our families which was in our wallets and just a note-pad and a few envelopes. After our name had been marked off the register we were given a slip of paper with a number typed on it and from that day forward we were addressed by it not our first name. We were all told to assemble in this cold and drafty tin shed, and once our heads were shaved, we were all told to strip naked and line up, and were issued shirts, pants, boots, underwear and socks (which thankfully we were allowed to put on straight away Finn's trousers were way too short and he looked a sight but we were too nervous to laugh in case we got in trouble, they did eventually get him some longer ones though), as well as a canvas bag that everything had to be kept in, and folded in a precise way. We were also given a steel bucket filled with bathroom supplies and a sewing kit, for which we were charged I think about twenty-five dollars, which at the time seemed a hell of a lot.
Strangely enough, even knowing where we were going and what we would be expected to do and the fact we might die, well I did at any rate and I know both Mike and Finn had similar feelings, that boot camp and the army was just like growing up in our part of Manhattan, and having to fight every step of the way.
Training was tough and there wasn't one day we didn't get yelled at for not jumping high enough or making the hospital corners on our bunk sheets exact. Our bunkhouse had 16 fellows all sharing the small space, and they were all strangers, we tried to make friends but there wasn't a lot of time, anytime we did have to ourselves we spent trying to catch up on sleep. I was so glad to have Mike and Finn there we gave each other the strength to keep at it, and the support to master the hard bits of training.
Our days started around four thirty in the am, didn't matter what day of the week it was, or what the weather was like. Our DI or drill instructor was one mean motherfucker called sergeant Montgomery, his loud bellow was the first thing we heard in the morning and was the only thing we heard till evening mess call but then it was lights out anyway.
He was a veteran from world war 1, and on numerous occasions said (or bellowed), "I don't give a damn what color your skin is, if you are rich or poor, to me you are all the same and it is my job to turn you from little babies hangin' of ya Momma's titties into tough army soldiers worthy to wear the uniform of the United States of America, and I ain't gonna kiss your scraped knees better or read youse a bedtime story and make sure you get your favorite dinner at night."
After the first month, the ragging by sergeant Montgomery didn't bother us coz we showed him nothing he could say would get us down, and I think he started to respect us for our determination and the way we aced most of our training. We did come across jerks who thought they were better but when we got partnered with them for hand to hand combat they soon changed their attitudes, 'specially when we snuck in some of the Kung-Fu moves Mike taught us years before.
On our last day of boot camp sergeant Montgomery, caught us up, shook our hands and said in a somewhat friendly tone, "Puckerman, Chang, Hudson, I'm real proud of you boys and it would be a damn waste of my training if you got yourselves killed, so make sure you keep them pretty heads low and get them enemy bastards before they get our boys alright! Good luck."
We lost touch with each other after basic, as our orders took us to different parts of the war front, I was in Europe, and as far as I know Finn went to North Africa, and Mike the Pacific. We sent letters for a bit but as our units were always movin' it was hard for the mail to get to us. If I ever thought growing up in Manhattan during the depression was hard..., well let me just say war is the scariest and diabolically horrendous hell on earth! There was never a moments peace, what with grenades and missiles going off, guys crying in pain and loneliness, and being just plain scared every freaking second of the day and night. I'm not ashamed to say I cried most nights.
The first time I had to shoot a man, I was shaking like a damn leaf, but when the guy next to me who I only knew as Wayne, was hit and his blood splattered over my face and hands…, well it suddenly became real and I knew I had to shoot back or end up dead like him, it was as simple as that! So, I did, I aimed my rifle as steady as I could with my sweaty shaking hands and pressed the trigger and shot that nameless fellow who was probably only a green kid like me, and just as freaking scared….
The image of Wayne's dead wide eyes just staring at me, has stayed with me to this day.
I had no idea where Mike and Finn where or even if they were alive, I couldn't just pick up a telephone and call, I just hoped my brothers were doin' ok. It wasn't until 1945 when I saw them again. Our unit had come under heavy fire in France and the injured were being evacuated to a convalescent hospital in the English countryside just outside London.
I had been hit in the chest just under my right shoulder as well as some nasty shrapnel wounds to my legs. I remember after I came out of the operating theatre the pretty redheaded English nurse asking me my name, rank and serial number and such, I can still remember PUCKERMAN ND-PRIVATE-M369020-1. So, after answering her questions I asked cheekily,
"Will my injury stop me playin' my guitar 'coz ya know doll, I'm gonna be famous one day, so you'd better kiss me now before the rush." I puckered my lips hoping she would kiss me.
She just giggled through her blush and trying to stay professional said, "You solider, need to rest! But no, I do not think your injury will stop you playing but it will take quite a while to heal fully as the bullet ripped through muscle and damaged your shoulder blade, but Doctor Potter, will tell you more when he does his rounds in the morning, so for now just rest and don't worry about anything, just let us know if your pain level increases. Now is there anything else? As I have other patients to attend to before my shift finishes."
I was starting to panic a little and making to get out of my bed "B-but nurse I need to find out about my buddies, Finn Hudson and Mike Chang. I have no idea if they are even here, b-but I-I need to know anything p-please..."
Putting her little hands on my good shoulder and trying to push me back onto my pillow she says, "Alright private, calm down I will ask the red cross girls if they have any information, but I can't promise anything, now sleep, goodnight."
"T-thanks, that's all I'm askin' for doll, I just need to know my brothers are ok."
Little did I know when I shut my eyes on that cold grey English winter's day, that the dawn would bring with it the best news I'd had in ages. Because as I woke, the sound of American voices particularly ones with a very familiar Manhattan timbre, was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.
"…Mr. Schue…, first day of school standing up them bullies, and when Puck tried the trumpet and sounded like a farting tugboat? Ha, ha…"
"I seem to 'member Huddy squishin' that sack of cats. An' when you chucked away those baby shakers Changster, you shoulda seen your face man it was a picture…"
I opened my eyes fully then, focusing them on the best sights that made my tears fall unashamedly down my face coz, sitting next to me in a wheelchair and looking much too big for the thing was Finn Hudson, the left side of his body padded in thick bandages and his left leg in plaster from his thigh to his foot, I was childishly happy to see his goofy dimples smiling at me through his tears and next to him looking just the same was Mike Chang his head wrapped up and his right arm tapped across his chest, swiping at the constant flow of tears with his fingers under his black glasses.
"You two are surely a sight for sore eyes."
"Hey Puck, how you doin' man? Shit it is good to see ya," while he was talking, Finn was trying to wipe his eyes, but his tears were non-stop.
For most of that morning we caught the other up on what had happened and how we'd been since our last letters we didn't talk about battle action we'd seen or the guys we'd lost as it had been the same for all of us and so there was no need to go on about it, plus we didn't want to spoil our catching up with bad things. Finn told me news about our Moms', which was great as I'd not had a letter from my Mom for weeks. They were OK, and still managing to make a decent living, though mine was finding it hard to come to terms with the fact Jake was getting ready for his last couple of years in high school, and Mike's little sister Mae was apparently now dating some dude Mike knows nothing about.
We even sweet talked the ward sister into letting us be in the same ward. Finn was doing a lot better after being nearly blown to bits by a grenade, he had been here for a few weeks now but due to his injuries was done with the war and was being sent home, same as Mike but the word is the war was just about over thank heavens.
I wasn't surprized to hear that Finn and Mike had both been promoted to sergeant, I was a private first class, after being busted down from corporal due to my misuse of a base jeep during a 4th of July party, but hey what a night ha, ha.
When we returned from the war in 1945, we were still not able to legally (for another year) walk into a bar and buy booze, but on our first night home our Mom's wanted to have a celebration dinner, we said we would go out to get some wine and a few beers, so we went to the same bar as we did when we were eighteen but this time we were in uniform and the minute we walked through the door we were applauded and had drinks brought for us by strangers thankful for our service. Either the barman didn't recognize us from before or he just figured we were of age
Once Finn and Mike were fully recovered they chose to use their returned serviceman grants from the government to go to college, Finn chose law studies directed at helping the poorer folks and single mothers and widows, and Mike chose to be an ophthalmologist after seeing so many guys whose eyes had been damaged by flares, shrapnel and infection etc.
Mike and Finn headed off to college in New York in late 1946. I had no interest in going to school, so I started to pick up jobs as a long- haul trucker carting goods and whatever across the country, finally settling after a few years in Los Angeles, picking up gigs as a studio musician and extra in films and the new amazing world of television as well as advertising. Returning to NY and re-starting the band once Finn and Mike finished college. A few years of that was great and our band was popular and making both money and records, but it was getting hard to be together as Finn and Mike couldn't focus too much time on the band as they now had serious relationships and new careers to get off the ground.
I was sorry to not be able to meet up regularly with them but also understood that they had to put their families and careers before a music band, they still wrote songs and stuff when they could and were happy to pass them over to me, but I always made sure they got the proper recognition for their work and it was dammed good, no wonder Blood Brothers kept winning awards and was in the top 20 charts most weeks. I headed back to LA picking up my band again with new members and making it big, my brother Jake joined me after a while (he won a scholarship to UCLA for dance and the arts) and played keyboard and percussion till he graduated college.
I based myself at Mom's house in New York, but when away I lived out of hotels. Both Finn and Mike made a room in their homes just for me and all their kids called me Uncle Puck even though Finn's wife Rachel, always insisted the kids called me Uncle Noah. (She was one of only five people ever to call me Noah, my Mom Mrs. H, Chang seniors and my special lady were the others, everyone else I've met through the years has only ever called me Puck)
Finn and Mike met and married their soul mates and are still as happy as fairies in a glitter factory. Me on the other hand stayed single and continued my life of a rock star, but even though we all lived in different parts of the country we had an unspoken deal that we would be there for each other at a moment's notice.
I have always called Finn's wife Rachel, my American/Jewish princess 'cos she is obviously Jewish and about a foot shorter than Finn's giant assed six feet plus. But even though she is tiny she never lets anyone put anything over her and MAN! When she is angry everyone runs for their life. They met when Huddy went to hospital to get his appendix removed, she was his ward nurse and from the first time she looked at him and him at her, magic was made and well the rest is history.
One occasion that to this day still makes me cringe when I think about it was, Huddy's bucks' night we were so plastered I was amazed we could remember the right address to tell the cab driver and for the life of me I can't remember how a couple of pairs of sexy panties and silk stockings came to be tucked into Finn's shirt pocket and Babs 42-21-36 came to be written on his forehead in bright red lipstick.
Man! Rachel's face when she opened the front door to find me and Changster tryin' to hold up Huddy's giant body when we could hardly hold ourselves up, all Finn could do was form his face into a dorky lop-sided grin that showed his goofy dimples off, mumble some soppy love-struck words and try to press a sloppy kiss on her mouth.
Gee-wilikers, that took some explaining but in the end Rachel figured that Huddy hadn't been playing away from home and forgave him, but because she didn't want her parents to get mad if they found him in her bedroom he had to sleep on the sofa, me and Mike were in the den. But when she heard him throwing his guts up in the toilet she put on her cute little nurses' hat and spent the night looking after Huddy and both me and Mike.
Poor Finn was still a bit seedy two days later but managed to make it through their wedding without mucking up his vows or falling over when he trod on the glass.
Mike's Buck's night six months later was thankfully a little more subdued, we just went bowling and had a few beers.
Kimama, (Kim) Mike's beautiful Native American queen, was a teacher he met during his internship at a clinic working with the health department in Nevada. She looked like a vision when she walked down the aisle in her traditional wedding outfit. Their wedding was a combination of Chinese and Native American customs and foods.
Can I just add, that the girls my brothers married are both beautiful, intelligent ladies and it made me so very proud and happy to stand with them on their wedding days.
I had a hard time with PTSD after the war and went off the rails a little, (well more than a little) drinking and partying with other music people in LA and spreading my 'love' about, with no concern for myself or even the women really, it was just about trying to get rid of the pictures in my head. This went on for a couple of years and even when Finn and Mike flew to LA and tried to help me I just couldn't shake it, deep down I know they were only trying to help me but some part of me was jealous that they had their organized lives and loving wives to help them through their own integration back into normal society, while I was still single.
I thought I was happy with that lifestyle, and I was sort of, even with the PTSD, but my mind changed when I met a woman in one of the clubs the band was playing at and instantly fell in love.
Within a month my beautiful redheaded angel Gabby and I had and set up house in a little apartment a couple of streets back from Venice Beach in LA, things were perfect I was coping ok with my bouts of depression and anger, I'd stopped drinking so much and was focusing on my song writing again, the words were just pouring outta me like suddenly, the tap in my brain had blown a seal. I finally understood why Mike and Finn loved being married and what was so good about being in a serious relationship. But this happy carefree world I was lost in only lasted about a year before Gabby tried to change me and make me get a 'proper job' at her uncle's hardware store, which I did happily, but still played when I could and wrote songs, played gigs for parties and proms and at clubs, but as much as I tried the old 'Rock Star' life wouldn't let me settle down and after 2 years Gabby had obviously had enough.
I honestly didn't think our relationship was in too much trouble, but it obviously was, I came home from a tour to find her gone. The fact she walked out, made me think I wasn't meant to have a steady girl, and again felt envious of Mike and Finn. But I will readily admit to the fact that I'm too selfish and really am happy being on my own, I love Finn and Mike's kids like my own and spoil them rotten, and my brother Jake can give Mom grandbabies.
After another bout of playing around and booze filled days and nights I took to driving again, it seemed the road cleared my head and made me happy not being tied down to any one place and the inspiration for songs I got in the small towns and different people I met on my travels was fantastic.
My point of view on relationships changed and for the better thankfully a few years later, when I met a lady in a truck-stop somewhere on the highway between El Paso and San Antonio in Texas.
Rosemary, was a stunning brunette, and had me from the first glance across the crowed diner and the words "Hi Hun, Todays $3.00 special is coffee and apple pie."
It was love at first sight and within three months we were married after a weekend trip to Vegas, and so very happy it was at that moment I finally and truly understand what my brothers meant about soul-mates.( I did get hauled over the fire by Finn and Mike later for not telling them, so they could be with me, but neither Rosie or myself wanted a big fancy do and the fact we only decided that night at dinner, then got the minister out of bed at 2:am to marry us in his little chapel, I didn't really think my buddies would appreciate such a late and short notice call). We had so much in common being children of poor single mothers and feeling like something was missing in our lives, and even though she was about fifteen years my senior, we had so much fun but understood the other and knew when we needed space or when something bothered us. I was in awe really of just how fast I'd fallen and felt complete. But it was more like the music wove through our souls and tied us together! We wrote some beautiful love songs and ballads together and I knew then that the music was going to bind us for ever.
I discovered through our many late-night talks that she had been part of an award -winning song writing team. But when her first husband died10- years previous not leaving in his will any arrangement for her to access the rights or the royalties to the songs she had co-written, she was forced to take waitressing jobs and such to make ends meet.
She died suddenly from a heart attack about 4 years later. I was devastated and didn't know what to do. But I somehow managed to get through her funeral with Finn and Mike's help, and when I was packing her belongings up I found a box full of hand written songs, and a letter addressed to me written on our first anniversary saying that she was so very happy with me and was so glad I had walked into her diner that day, and that she wanted me to use my god given talent and make good use of the many songs she had written over the years under her own name Rosemary Norris, that she was never able to publish, she did get some out there with her first husband under the pseudonym, Chuck Tavner part of the well-known popular country & western song writing duo, Matt Rodeo & Chuck Tavner of the 1940's
I was a complete and utter mess and fell off the wagon again, I just packed up my stuff and took off for LA again causing my friends and family a lot of worry. I met a group of guys in a bar who talked me into checking out the drag racing event that was on at the Lions Drag strip out in Wilmington. Not sure whether it was the booze talking or my PTSD returning but I jumped at the chance to have a go. The first time I raced a car at super speed was such a rush and I needed more and more, it helped me not think about Rosie and how much I missed her. After a couple of months, I bought my own car, and felt like a king after every race, I was winning three out of every five races, with my winnings and my music was making a pretty decent living. Finn and Mike came out to visit every couple of months just to see how I was doing or, so they said but I know they were checking up on me and making sure I didn't do anything stupid. I know they were worried about my crazy life style again but like I told them the chicks and the booze help me and the racing is the biggest rush, but not to worry I'll be safe 'coz nothin' can hurt the Puckerone. I didn't tell them that I'd had a few close calls in the beginning, but all was good now.
I know they didn't believe me but the jealous side of me showed up again when I thought of them going home to their wives and kiddies and I didn't want to be reminded of what I didn't have. I'd blow up at them and throw their help back in their faces pushing them away and yelling at them to go home to their wives and kids and leave me the hell alone. But they would just nod sadly and tell me that they were there when I was ready to talk but to please just be safe as I was loved by a lot of people. Don't get me wrong I loved their wives and kids and would give my kidneys for any of them at a moment's notice, but sometimes the fact I'd lost my one love and couldn't have that, and let's face it how many times can a guy get lucky in love, made me a little crazy.
For months I was happy then my new car a silver Porche 550 Spyder started to have mysterious problems, but no one could figure out why as everything worked fine in tests. Then one day I was screaming along the track a two cars length in front of my closest competitor when suddenly I lost all control of the steering and 'coz I was going about 130-MPH, I spun into the side wall and in the blink of an eye my car was on fire, somehow, I managed to get out but not without injuries, both my legs were broken and covered in burns and my shoulder was dislocated from when I landed against the barrier, not to mention the broken ribs and concussion.
When I woke up I could hear from just outside my door, both Finn and Mike talking to who I assumed was my doctor and by the tone of their voice I could tell they were scared. I suddenly felt guilty, then when they walked in their faces looked as so they had aged twenty years they looked like they'd slept in their clothes, were both unshaven and bleary eyed and their hair looked like a briar patch.
"Fuck it all Puck do you have any idea how scared we've been this past week? Kim wanted to come with me but didn't want the kids to see you all smashed up." Mike managed to get out before composing himself.
"Didn't know what to think when that damn phone call came in, Rach is beside herself with worry and the kids are all over the place not sleeping and whatever, shit man! Not to mention your Mom is sick with worry." Finn continued to run his large hands through his hair and every so often would stop and hug his neck.
"I'm really sorry you guys, but after Rosie passed I lost it and didn't know what to do." There was nothing else I could say.
"Yeah well just promise us you won't do anything like this again, stick with your guitar man it's safer." Mike says with a soft thankful smile.
The two and a half months I spent in hospital seemed to drag coz everyday was the same, redress my burns and try physiotherapy on my shoulder, it got easier. Finn and Mike stayed in LA and came to visit every day, slowly I got better and was thinking it was time I went back to New York with Finn and stayed with Mom. I said as much to Finn when he came to collect me and even though he looked happy at that, I could tell there was something bugging him.
"Hey Huddy, what's up man, thought you'd be pleased I was coming back to the Big Apple so Mom and Nurse Bossy Berry could fuss over me. I have got some good stories to tell the kids about what happened…"
Finn smiles sadly and just hands me an envelope.
Once I opened it I nearly fell over it was from a lawyer representing a woman called Lacy Frenhold who was apparently trying to claim I was the father of her baby. Finn offered straight away to represent me but after reading the claim from this woman (who I can't even remember meeting, he didn't think the claim would hold up in court as the dates that I was supposed to have been with her didn't match. So, we went to court, but the Judge sensibly ruled in my favor when it was proven I couldn't be the father, because I was in the hospital. Apparently, the woman was from LA and was angry because her rich daddy had stopped her very generous allowance because she wanted to join a hippy commune instead of going to college. So, thinking she could use my well known public image to get what she wanted she made up her story. It turns out she wasn't even pregnant she used her sister's (who was pregnant) medical records as her proof.
After that I couldn't wait to leave LA
I relocated permanently to Mom's place in New York and reformed the band and it felt just like the old days, 'coz Nate and Ash have joined as drummer and saxophonist/keyboard. Now they have finished high school, Ash was accepted at his first choice Columbia for Linguistics and Nate also at Columbia for Archaeology. Both Finn and Mike were over the moon that their grandsons had chosen such interesting topics to study and were also lucky enough to be room-mates. It also meant that as Mike and Finn had retired Rachel and Kimm could spend more time together because the Changs had also relocated east.
Finn and Rachel's kids, Nick, Kristina and Aimee all lived close by which made them happy as they saw their grandkids on a regular basis. As were Mike and Kimm's kids Candyce, Karri-Ann and Matt were all only a few hours away from New York, making it easy for them to come visit. Mike and Finn were also thrilled that their grandsons inherited their talent for music as it skipped their fathers who couldn't play or sing a note and every time I heard them try I was taken back to our very first days of school when Huddy, Mike and I were trying out the instruments Mr Schuester showed us.
Blood Brothers reached the top of the charts and with it record sales, and for a few more years I continue to tour but by the time Nate and Ash are in their junior year of college, I figure that at 86 it's time I stopped altogether the late nights and after parties were just not me anymore, oh I still got plenty of offers from the ladies, but wasn't interested in any action, I just focused on writing and recording studio albums.
I was approached through my publicist to write a book recounting my life and the rise of the band, at first I thought it was a waste of time coz who would want to read about me, but after some serious pouting from my publicist Kerry, I folded and so began the saga of trying to put my life down on paper in black and white but once I got going it was just like writing a song, obviously the end result doesn't include every single thing I've ever done or person I've met or even deeply private personal things that had a major effect on me like my Mom's passing at age 92, or how proud I've always been that my little brother Jake put his own talent to good use and has become one of the best dancers and singers on Broadway. But it does cover to me, what I deem as important and life changing chapters in my life.
As I am trying to put the words together for the forward on my book, I stop for a minute and reflect on what a wild ride life has been, for a kid growing up through the hardships of the depression and world war 2 as well as everything else. I don't reckon I've come out of it too bad at all. But at the end of the day none of it would have been possible without the support and occasional slap around the head when I was acting like an idiot from two of the most important people in my life. Even though we aren't related by biology, we share the same blood and have been there for the other since we were six years old, and in my heart, that is sometimes just as important. Still not sure what I've done for them but I'm just so very thankful they let me stick around. So, in closing I want to dedicate this book to my brothers Finn Hudson and Mike Chang…
Present time-Studios of CAB5 TV- 2011
"Ok folks, like I said at the top of the program y'all are in for a real treat, because behind that curtain the boys from Blood Brothers are setting up and getting ready to play, so all you viewers at home and our lucky studio audience, let's give a great big CAB5 studio welcome to Puck and the boys…"
Amid the audience's squeals of delight at the prospect of a live show, Puck stands up and again shakes Shem's hand as he makes his way to the side of the stage where his guitar is waiting. He grins like a kid at the familiar beat signalling the start of one of their most popular songs, and once he has strapped on his favorite black Stratocaster he watches as the curtain slowly rises revealing his band mates on their instruments, only Puck thinks he has stepped into a freaking time machine because the tall dimpled drummer with his tongue sticking out the corner of his mouth, banging out the beat and the keyboard player backing up the music are not his normal 21- Year -old nephew/god sons, they're not Ash and Nate. They are…
Finn Hudson and Mike Chang.
Through his suddenly choked throat and wet eyes Puck can only mumble, "Holy Shit how… what are you guys doing here?
Instead of words Finn just points with one red drumstick to Puck's guitar and shouts, "Let's do it man."
Looking over to Mike with his wide smile and dark eyes glassy, Puck wipes his eyes and nods his head and within a second has joined in the music the smile on his face brighter than the studio lights and as he loses himself in the music the studio audience, including Rachel and Kim who are standing to the left of the curtain, as well their sons who are normally behind the instruments, are treated to a rare video on the screen of the same three guys way back when they were very much younger. Besides the fact the ones on stage were all eighty-six years old they were playing like they were in their twenties, never missing a beat the only difference was their voices were a little raspy.
"…now Finn, he's an up-town lawyer
Mike, he's a medicine man
And me I'm just a singer
In a long-haired rock and roll band
Through the years and miles between us
It's been a long and lonely ride
But if I got that call in the dead of night
I'd be right by your side
Blood on blood, blood on blood
Blood on blood
One on one
We'd still be standing
When all is said and done
Blood on blood
One on one
And I'll be here for you
Till kingdom come
Blood on blood
Blood on blood…"
As the music fades, the curtains close, and the lights dim leaving the stage dark, Shem thanks his audience for coming and hopes they enjoyed the special treat, and to make sure they tuned in next week when their special guests, the very lovely and talented Ms Mercedes Jones star of the newest West End production of Dream Girls and Tina C, from the Broadway hit Waitresses, will be visiting them in the studio.
The three men put down their instruments and get lost in their own world of friendship love and brotherhood, while their wives and sons stand by, happy proud tears streaming unchecked down their faces.
A/ N: Well what did you think? Please review.
This will be the last from me for 2017, so thanks for all the kind words and support of my writing this year and I'd like to wish all of you in fan fiction land a very happy and safe festive season. I look forward to giving you all more Finchel next year I have another 6 stories started so plenty more to come from our favourite couple.
My thoughts go out to all those affected by the terrible fires in California, a nasty reminder of what we went through 2 years ago, please stay safe.
Take care and remember to **Keep on Drumming**