“What was I thinking?” Rodan said, as he leaned against the wall near the entrance to the stage. The little hallway was crowded with props, speakers, and other equipment that a stage manager should have found better places to store. But they never seemed to.
Rodan was about 20, give or take, with long brown hair, pale skin, and he was fancifully tattooed. He had snakebite piercings in his lower lip, and his face was partly covered by his long brown locks. He wore a series of leather and metal bracelets on his right wrist, that were all crowded together at his wrist. He wore an old, dark t-shirt with rips and tears that revealed patches of his lean physique underneath, and old blue jeans. He kind of looked like he’d come from a Nirvana concert. He had that look about him that said “artist” or slacker – perhaps even a bit of both? He was also rather pretty, and he got sidelong dreamy-eyed looks from some of the other contestants and staff when they skirted by.
“You were thinking maybe you liked a challenge,” a voice said from the shadows intoned. Rodan started and glanced in the direction of the voice, as a figure stepped into the dim lighting of the hall. He was probably in his early 30s, tall and lean, with black hair that had a sheen to it, like silk, and a handsome face. His cheekbones were high and sharp, and he had a narrow face, with a piercing in his left eyebrow and at his earlobes. He wore a necklace that was tight and low on his neck, with a little silver pendant that had some inscription that was hard to read from a distance. Perhaps it was in Latin?
The man wore leather pants, black and shiny, and a deep blue silk waist coat, over a white billowy armed shirt, and he had tall black boots on that came nearly to his knees. He had an old brown leather messenger bag slung over one shoulder, and he had this smile on his lips, like he knew something that Rodan didn’t.
“Of course I like a challenge, but this?“ He held up the ukulele and gave it a dubious glance, then looked back at the flamboyantly dressed man. “This is more like a suicide note – written in the blood of innocents.”
“That didn’t make a lot of sense, but obviously you thought you had a shot at winning this contest, or you wouldn’t have agreed?” The tall man arched a brow, and his dark blue eyes seemed to pick up the light and sparkle gently with little silver flashes. It gave Rodan a shiver just looking at the man.
“It makes plenty of sense, if you think about it. I’m bloody going to go out there and bloody make a fool out of myself. A ukulele! I mean come on.. I shouldn’t have taken the bet.. and by the way.. who the hell are you, mister? “ Rodan’s eyebrows knit together, as he stuck the little instrument under one arm, and put his hands on his hips, squaring away with the taller man.
“I’m Julian Frost,” the black haired agent said with a little bow at the waist. He straightened and continued. “I’m a talent scout for Elfland Media. And I’m here to see who has balls enough to go out there and kill a performance, and be the next sensation for my company to promote.“ He gestured at the stage down the short hall, and smiled. “So far, I haven’t seen much in the way of true talent – not much more than karaoke level performances at best.”
Rodan shook his head and laughed, “You sharks are always lurking around, ready to wave a bit of paper and promises of the stars and the moon, aren’t you?”
Julian shrugged. “Oh I’m sure there have been sharp deals done before, where the artist was unwary, or had more talent for music than business sense – and those unfortunate creatures do get taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. But I assure you, my company doesn’t operate that way. They say there’s no such thing as bad press, but if you get a reputation of sleaze and slime, it does leave a stain, and we aren’t about that. Anyway, you’re up next, aren’t you?”
Rodan sighed and glanced at Mr Frost, and then shrugged, “I guess it doesn’t really matter, does it? But yes I am up next. I’ll go out there and do my little thing, and then I’ll go to the bar later and tie one on.”
Frost smiled and shrugged. “It will only matter to ME if you do well enough to hold my attention. So far, you have the skepticism of a lawyer, and the ability to whine like a school kid that found out the snow day didn’t happen because it rained instead of snowed.”
Rodan stuck his tongue out, and flipped Frost the bird, before he heard his named called from the stage door. “RODAN! You’re UP!” the stage manager shouted.
“Break a leg,” Frost said with an amused smile on his lips and a wave of his hand.
Rodan huffed, took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, then strutted out onto the stage with a strange resignation or confidence .. maybe both. Frost’s eyes glinted in the halflight of the stage hallway, and stepped around to watch the stage through the doorway. He saw Rodan standing in front of the microphone, as he raised the ukulele, and started to strum it, and then..
And then Rodan seemed to transform right there. He started to play that little stringed instrument like someone that had played it all his life. And his voice was rough, and strong, and emotional, and it smote the air with fire and pride, and love and honor, and the audience gasped and swayed with the tune that he played, and to the sound of his voice. It was like he was channeling the spirits of the best of dead musicians, or else the boy was just that good. Frost was nearly spellbound, as he listened. And he had his little recorder going the whole time, to capture the performance.
At the end of the performance, the boy stopped, and bowed his head. The crowd was silent for a moment, and then they all stood, and clapped and whistled and cheered, and even the rival contestants were on their feet in the bullpen at the foot of the stage, clapping and cheering his praises. The crowd was deafening for a while, before Rodan raised his head to gaze out at the ovation. He had this strange smile on his lips, like he couldn’t believe the reaction. But he took a bow, and then another, and raises his hands up and waved at the crowd, his cheeks reddening with the flush of the adulation.
He waves again at the crowd, said, in a soft voice into the mic, “Thank you.. you’re too kind, “ before he turned and strode off the stage. The crowd still was applauding. Frost smiled at the young man as he came through the doorway, and clapped him on the shoulder. “That was magnificent, my boy. We need to talk. “
Rodan looked almost stunned. But when Frost said that, the young man frowned and handed him the ukulele and said, “Here.. Keep it. You’ll get more out of that, then you will me.”
Rodan stalked towards the exit to the alley, and pushed out through the door. There were reporters and media personalities clustered at the bottom of the stairs, pointing cameras and microphones and shouting questions up at the boy, as he emerged. Rodan held up a hand, and tried to block the spot lights front his eyes. The babble of all those questions at once was almost like a physical blow to him, as he staggered backwards towards the stage entrance he’d just exited.
Frost came out frowned, then stepped in front of the reporters. “I’m afraid you can’t talk to him right now. He’s just had the performance of a lifetime, and he’s not ready to talk to the press. “ With that, Frost snapped his fingers, and suddenly, every light, electronic gadget, and cell phone went dead. The streetlights even went out. Frost grabbed Rodan’s wrist and led him quickly through the now-mostly-blind and confused crowd. He got him through, and then out to the main street, and led him to his car, a Mercedes, and bundled him in the passenger side. Frost ran around to the driver’s side and leapt in, and gunned the engine to life.
He peeled out, just as the lights all came back on in the alley and buzzed down the street to a diner, “The Blue Star”.
“Where the hell,” Rodan finally said, as he blinked around, and looked out the window.. “The Blue Star?”
Frost pulled in to a parking spot, and shut off the engine in the diner’s parking lot. “Yeah.. I figured you knew this place.. you look a little shook up. But.. I know you don’t trust me, or anything.. So.. Ok, you had best get moving. “
Frost reached over and pushed the door open, reaching over Rodan to do that.
“Wait – WAIT. Why are you trying to help me, when I just basically spit in your face?” Rodan frowned and seemed a bit embarrassed by his behavior, but he wasn’t about to back down.
Frost tilted his head, and the lengths of his silken black hair shifted with a soft sigh against his shoulder. “Look kid, this is a hard business, and there are a lot of dicks out there. You have real talent, and I wish you’d let me convince you to sign with my firm. I’m not going to try to hoodwink or trick you. You may not believe me, but that’s how I roll. “
Rodan frowned and pursed his lips, and sighed, and then he started to get out of the car. He paused, and looked back at the handsome agent, and gave him a long shrewd look. “Ok give me one of your cards.. but I’m not promising anything. I just want to know why you really helped me.“
Frost slipped his fingers into his waistcoat pocket, and pulled out an ivory card with bold black lettering, with gold leaf “Elfland Media”, like some forest surrounding a musical note. He held it out to the young pretty musician.
“If you want to hear what my pitch is, you’ll take this card. Maybe you’ll call, maybe you won’t. It’s simple as that. But why I helped you – I’m not going to let those vultures, those media whores, pick over your bones when you just had one of the most excellent break out performances of your young life.“
Rodan took the card, and smiled, as he slipped it into a pocket of his jeans and nodded. “Maybe I will,” he said, as he shut the car door. He looked in and waved at the agent, before turning and sauntering towards the diner, his long brown hair shimmering in the streetlight.
“Maybe you will, my boy. We have a lot of music to make together. “ Frost said that and waved, then pulled out in a flash and was gone.
Rodan glanced over his shoulder, watching the car pull out, and then was gone way too fast. He blinked and shook his head. “Yeah.. Maybe I will. “
Story by: Dehrynn Shepherd.
Hair- CATWA HAIR WokeUp (Store)
Shirt- N-Uno – Tom Top (MOM)
Jeans- not so bad . NYL jeans (Store)
Bracelet- **RE** Primal Bracelet (MOM)
Hair pin- Manryou Birabira Kanzashi (CCB)
Ukulele- C L A Vv. Spring Ukulele Gacha (kustom9)
*Bolson / Tattoo – Mikhail (TMD)
Petals- E.V.E Petals and Hearts Paths (Enchanment)