It had been nearly six months since the shooting, so things had died off the news, almost as if it had never happened. She stayed driven, wrapped in music gigs to ward off the paranoia about Montgomery. Why had she never been located and detained for questioning? How good was the FBI if they couldn’t find her? She guessed she wasn’t top priority and began to doubt they were even looking for her anymore.
When she couldn’t fight thoughts of Montgomery, vodka usually did the trick. Or she would try to write her songs. She would never admit the songs were deeply personal, inspired by living in exile and missing Terrence and Sam.
Matthew Roswell had gotten her access to a week-long recording space at Royal Studios, an historic sound stage open 24 hours.
“What do you mean make a demo record. Just like that?” she asked, with delight, hoping beyond hope that he wasn’t full of shit.
“Nina anyone can make a CD it’s the recording equipment rental that matters but we’re in luck. An artist owes me money, so gave me his space for the week,” Matthew said.
She had a picture in her mind of a glassed-in soundproof booth, with a large jazz age microphone and those large headphones you had to hold onto, with both hands as you sang with your eyes closed.
The studio on Willie Mitchell Street had orange walls and purple shag carpet. Eunice, Matthew and two other loaned musicians worked on nine tracks she had written. It was surreal.
“Okay track four was great. Let’s do it one more time a beat slower,” the one guy said, into his microphone from outside the booth.
“Maybe you don’t have enough confidence to sing songs you wrote yourself,” Matthew said, the prick.
She was insulted. She heard Mike Watts’ voice in her mind, “Come on beautiful, you already know how to do this. Sing from your core!”
“Come down to the beach. Feel the salt on your skin, the sun on your face…”
After the first song was in the can as they say, Matthew kissed her on the mouth. It was the first time he had made a move on her which she’d found refreshing.
“I’m changing the key,” Matthew said.
“Are you saying I don’t have range?” she demanded. Nina was forthright. She hadn’t grasped the fine line between assertive and aggressive.
“You want the truth? You don’t have range but you can hit high notes cold. When you sing low your voice cracks. Most singers can’t get up to the high notes like you. Don’t worry we’ll choose songs for your range,” Matthew said.
“But Matt I want to do my own songs,” Eunice said.
The cliché too good to be true crept its way into the studio. One night Matthew seemed uncharacteristically insecure or paranoid like a boy who’d lost his puppy. She overheard him on his phone begging for a drop off or pick up or something. He was frantic.
She clued in it was a drug thing. He must have been high the entire time she’d known him since he was extremely agitated now. It was like the expression, I didn’t know you drank until I saw you sober, her mother would say.
Within less than an hour he was back to his usual arrogance making her think he must have scored when she wasn’t looking.
After that Eunice started to notice Memphis music types, had a penchant for cocaine. Snorting coke was a status symbol, like an elite badge of honor. Back home heroin was high-end over crack or meth but anything smoked from glass pipe or needle to vein was derelict street junk.
Knowing Matthew was all over the place and not always in the best frame of mind, she soldiered on with her demo. She always kept her eye on her own prize.
On what should have been their final session, she and Matthew stayed well past studio time having drinks. The session musicians had gone, so she allowed Matthew to tinker with one of her songs. It was regrettable, as she watched him destroy the song with his drunken mixing.
He started to make moves on her but with her relative sobriety she easily foresaw his sneaky inebriated behavior, so kept two steps ahead of him. Thankfully she had the wherewithal to lock herself in a little hostel room, available to musicians for rest between long recording sessions.
She had been careless in managing his expectations of her staying late, so wasn’t too upset he came on to her. She had only agreed to stay, so she could get her hot little hands on the demo tape. Of course she was also attractive enough that anyone would want to seduce her, so that aspect also fed her.
When the musicians returned the next morning, the song was recorded. She remembered how sickly hung-over she was, “Can you boys see an axe sticking out of my head? Trust me it’s there. What did we do? I taste scotch but I don’t remember drinking it,” Eunice said. She was hung-over but played it up a little to stay on Matthew’s good side. Still don’t have my demo tape!
Over the course of a week, Matthew didn’t let up making moves on her. She neither wanted to lead him on nor make him angry. She responded to his kiss but jumped like a spooked colt every time he laid one on her. She wasn’t overly concerned he’d figure it out since she pegged him high most of the time anyways.
“Matthew, what does a girl have to do, to get a copy of her own demo recording?” Eunice asked.
“It’s still getting equalized,” he said.
After the umpteenth time, she decided to leave it alone. She hated pestering anyone for anything.
Matthew’s communication became sporadic then dried up altogether, so she suspected personal drug problems had gotten the best of him. Those who knew him said he’d gone AWOL and was likely on a bender that could go for months. Too bad, she had lost a good contact.
Losing faith in the music business, Eunice shelved her recording ambitions for the time being. She felt foolish about the entire thing. Waves of embarrassment would pass over whenever she thought about the recording sessions and how bad the demo tapes likely were. She never did find out how many of her demo songs were actually recorded. Who are you kidding Eunice?
Luckily she had kept her singing gig with the bar band.
After Matthew had kissed her at Royal Studio, she’d had trouble blocking Montgomery memories out of her mind. Perhaps Matthew’s cold kiss broke the seal, unlocked the door that kept Sam out of her mind. Sam’s kisses were warm and tender. She had known him from his awkward teens up to the mastermind behind more than one orgasm.
Sam inadvertently taught her never again to ask, “What is an orgasm?”