Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Superstar-Chapter 26

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Chapter 26: Mama

“He is fucking impossible, Ma. How the hell did you put up with him? I don’t get it, Ma. I went over there to tell him about the band, just trying to be friendly, but he can’t be so he just fucks it up. I want to love him, Ma. I really do, but it’s like he wants me to hate him.”
Terry knelt at his mothers’ grave, tears staining his cheeks. He could almost feel his mom’s arms around him, comforting him. Terry knew it wasn’t real, that Belinda wasn’t there, but talking to her about what was going on always helped him focus on dealing with the problem and find a solution, almost like she was there telling him how to take care of it.
“On a lighter note…” Terry began as he wiped his eyes, “Groove entered Avant Groove in a Battle of the Bands contest. It starts in a couple of weeks. This is the first time we’ve entered in one of these. Eric and I usually resist doing that, but the band is starting to get frustrated. We’re a really good band, Ma, and we want to do this for a living.”
Terry paused for a moment. “Okay, technically, we do make a living at this, but we want to make a life out of it, Ma. We wanna be like all the groups we admired coming up. That’s the main reason we entered the contest, so we can start to do just that.”
He hung his head for a moment. When he looked up, there was a bright fire burning behind his eyes, a palpable determination barely held in check.
“I can’t be like him, Ma. I can’t. I can’t spend my life being a failure, Ma. I won’t.” The fire inside him died to embers and Terry’s face softened into a mask of sadness.
“Dominique’s going to leave, Ma. Eric had a gutbuzz about her, A bad one. He believes that she’s looking for a chance to get famous and she’ll be out like a shot when that happens.” Terry stood up and brushed the grass from his knees of his pants.
“Deep down, I think he may be right. When we told the group about the contest, it seemed like Dom was there, but she wasn’t, like she was focusing past me on something only she could see. I don’t know; maybe I’m projecting.” Terry looked through the leaves in the tree and saw the sky in mottled patches.

“I hope I am.” He muttered to himself.

(c)2014 Courtney and W.L. Sherrod

Monday, September 22, 2014

Superstar-Chapter 25

Hello, All! Here's another installment of Superstar. Almost done with the first half of the book and about to start on the second half with a goal to finish the entire first draft by the end of the year. If anyone has any notes or suggestions please send them to wesleylsherrod@gmail.com or leave comments here on the blog...
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Chapter 25: The Words Get in the Way

            Terry made his way through the living room. There was a threadbare furniture set that had once been a nice shade of beige and wood paneling on the wall that had seen better days. There were empty bottles of whiskey on the table and a plate of half-eaten food. The T.V. was off. He moved into the kitchen and things were just as messy there: Dishes piled up in the sink, food stains on the countertop and a garbage can overflowing with refuse. Terry shook his head and looked at the refrigerator. It was bare except for a picture that Terry had drawn back in third grade of him, his mom and Carl. It made his heart ache a little, remembering what he’d lost and thinking of his…father living like this.
            He went to the door leading downstairs and paused at the threshold.
Music swirled around him, runs of notes and phrasing that sounded eerily like his, but not as confident, more hesitant. Terry closed his eyes against the sudden rush of tears. He remembered when he was a little kid and his father would play. Terry could sit and listen to him for hours. The music drew him down the stairs.
He stopped at the bottom and looked at something he hadn’t seen in for a very long while: His father sitting and playing the piano. His eyes were closed and he looked…happy. The familiar lines of anger and bitterness smoothed out and Carl looked a lot like Terry remembered him from childhood, before his mom died. He wanted it to last for a little while longer, but he knew he was going to have to break the spell.
Carl jerked like he’d woken up from a deep sleep. He looked around, bug eyed until his eyes rested on Terry. Emotions flowed across Carl’s face like mercury: happiness, pride, bitterness and anger. Terry felt his heart break a little more.
“What do you want?” Carl growled.
“Nothing really. Wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“Well, you saw. You can go now.”
Terry sighed. “I also came to tell you that my band is in a talent contest.”
Carl scoffed and poured a finger of whiskey and scarfed it down. “You ain’t gonna win, so why bother?”
Terry ignored the comment, took a deep breath and counted to ten. “Was that one of yours?”
“Of course. I do have talent. Where do you think you got it from?”
Terry shook his head. “It sounded good.”
“’Good’? My stuff is better than ‘good’,” Carl snapped. “Back in my day, my worst was better than some people’s best.”
“Yeah, but we’re not back in your day, Carl.”
Carl got in Terry’s face and bellowed, “You wanna test me, punk? Huh?”
Terry didn’t answer. He just looked at Carl and let the anger inside him fill his eyes. Carl gazed back for a few moments, but found that he couldn’t continue to look. He cast his eyes down and backed away. Terry quietly turned and walked out to his car.
Moments later, Carl rushed to his front door to catch Terry before he left, but he only saw Terry’s Sunbird pulling away down the street. The one thing Carl wanted was to get married and raise a family. The only thing he succeeded in doing was pushing his family away. He was alone again. Naturally.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Superstar-Chapter 24

Hey, Everyone! Hadn't been posting since, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to move and my computer is back up and I'm able to post again. Speaking of which...Enjoy! As always, Like me on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter...

Chapter 24: Papa

“What the hell am I doing here?”  Terry thought as he came to a stop at a house on 99th and Racine.
The house wasn’t the most beautiful one on the street: Beige aluminum siding that had seen better days, windowsills painted a dark brown and a rickety porch swing that looked like it couldn’t hold human weight anymore.
In contrast, the grass was cut, the bushes trimmed and there were some roses blooming under the front window.
Terry got out of the car and walked towards the front door. It seemed to him that the house somehow stood in isolation from all of the other houses in the area, as if it were daring someone to come and try to integrate it into the rest of the neighborhood.
It reminded Terry of his father.
Memories crashed against Terry’s mind like waves. He felt like he was drowning as all of it came back to him; the arguments, the loneliness, fear, confusion and anger. One memory loomed above all the others; one that had defined Terry’s life up to now no matter how far away he went: The day his father threw him out of the house.
It happened during the summer after his junior year at Morgan Park High School. On most nights, Terry gigged with a band in the south Loop.  He was too young, but his talent got him over and he was able to scratch out a living that way. This was good for Terry, since his father, Carl, wasn’t giving up any loot. Strangely enough, Terry thought, if his father knew about his late night gigs or how he was playing the piano downstairs, Carl would’ve beat Terry within an inch of his life.
Carl, for some reason, didn’t want Terry to play music of any kind, with any instrument. This immutable law came down after Carl taught Terry a song on the piano and Terry learned it and played it better than Carl did. There were no more lessons after that.
On this particular night, Terry wasn’t playing a gig and he was just waiting for Carl to leave for work so he could get some practice time in on the piano. Once Carl left, Terry waited to make sure Carl was gone then he rushed downstairs. Once there, he warmed up, ran through some chords and settled down to play. Terry was so engrossed in the music, he didn’t hear Carl come back in the house. When Carl’s fist slammed into the side of his head like a freight train, Terry picked up on it.
Carl Mosley stood six feet five inches tall and built solid and lean. He hadn’t gone soft in the middle like most men his age. His hazel eyes focused on Terry. Anger vibrated from him and his face twisted into a snarl as he asked Terry, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Picking myself up from the floor after you put me there, Terry thought.
Terry didn’t understand why Carl was trippin’. His mom told him that Carl used to play in a band before he was born. Terry thought his father would be proud that his son wanted to follow in his footsteps. Obviously not.  
 “Playing the piano.” Terry finally answered.
“And what did I tell you about that?”
“That I wasn’t allowed to touch or even look at the piano.”
“Then why are you disobeying me in my damn house?” Carl spat.
“Because I love music; I love it and I’m gonna play it.”
Carl hit Terry again, knocking him into the piano. Terry’s head swam as he tried to get his bearings, but Carl grabbed the front his shirt and growled, “Boy, don’t you see I‘m tryin’ to protect you? You can’t make no livin’ playin’ some damn music! You need to get your head outta the clouds and into the books, boy!”
Normally, Terry would’ve backed down and said what Carl wanted to hear so things would go back to normal and he could do what it was he wanted to do anyway. This time he couldn’t. Something inside him, some grain of discontent crystallized into something hard and unyielding. Terry didn’t care if Carl beat him to bloody and bruised mass of flesh, he wasn’t going to knuckle under anymore.
“I can make a living at music, Dad. I already do.”
“I said I already make a living playing music.” Terry got up from the floor. He was a little shaky and his face was starting to bruise, but he didn’t care. “You can’t stop me, Dad. Music is all I wanna do and you can’t stop me.”
Wistful sadness slipped quicksilver across Carl’s face. Terry thought he might’ve imagined it because Carl’s face held an icy calm and his eyes were burned with a certainty Terry had never seen before.
“Well, if that’s the way you feel, I guess I can’t change your mind.” Carl said placidly.
Terry looked at him with ill concealed confusion. All this time, Carl had tried to keep Terry from having anything to do with music and now because he stood up to him, Carl had changed his mind? Something wasn’t right and Terry felt the other shoe was about to drop.
“So…what are you saying?” Terry inquired.
“I’m saying I’m done fighting you. If you want to mess your life up tryin’ to be some famous muthafuckin’ musician, you can.” Carl walked up to him and from inches away spoke the words that would shatter Terry’s world for years to come: “But not here. Get the fuck outta my house.”
Carl turned on his heel and walked back upstairs. Before he closed the door, he told Terry not to be here when he got back.
The door closed and it vibrated in Terry’s head. He couldn’t move because he couldn’t believe that what had just happened was real. It couldn’t be.
He heard the car go down the driveway to the street and pull away. His head and his back hurt and his left eye was beginning to puff up. Terry felt disconnected from everything, as if he were moving through a clear liquid that slowed everything down. Through the shock and encroaching fear, he had the presence of mind to call Eric and ask if he could stay with him for a while.
In short order, Eric and his father came and helped Terry move the belongings he could carry out of the house.
As they drove away, Terry held his guitar in his arms, knowing that from that moment on, no matter what he did, he would no longer feel as certain as he had before and that the world was no longer a safe place.
In the present, Terry stood at the front door of his father’s house and felt his heart rising into his throat. He didn’t know how Carl would react to seeing him. He might just tell him to get the hell out for all Terry knew. He was about to turn and walk away when he heard music. He thought it was a piano, but as he listened closer, he recognized his father’s piano. That meant Carl was playing. Terry thought Carl wasn’t going to play anymore, but obviously, he was wrong.

Terry took a deep breath and opened the door. If his father was playing, then maybe he’d be in a good mood to talk. There was only one way to find out.

(c)2014 Courtney & W.L. Sherrod