The Phone Call
FLASHBACK-Saturday, December 4, 2004
The crowd cheered and clapped. It was somewhat crammed inside the TV studios. The two hosts announced the act to perform next, shading their name changes at the same time.
The act got up on stage, lip-syncing one of their songs on their album… if one could call it an album. Some of them looked awkward, while the rest seemed like they had done this for years. The crowd, on the other hand, seemed into it, though they only screamed for some of the members.
The vibe from the act was off, like something was not right. Sure, they all put out smiles and such for the crowd, but none of it was real.
Once the song had ended, and the hosts announced another act, the group walked off the stage. For one of them, he looked back at the crowd. He could feel the end was near. He wished he could stay longer, but he couldn’t. The moment he walked into the halls was the moment where everything fell silent.
PRESENT DAY-Monday, May 9, 2005
“And this here is the campus library,” the university tour guide announced to the crowd of potential students. “Shall we go inside?”
Seventeen-year-old Alex Tredinnick watched everyone agree to this plan. As everyone went inside, he kept his sunglasses and his baseball cap on. It was a disguise. He was not in the mood to write autographs and answer questions. He was sure most of these people were juniorConnect fans.
He remembered the final days of juniorConnect, also known as Connect8. The landscape in British music was changing. Co-ed pop groups had all but died out, with the exception of Liberty X. Everyone in his age group preferred their rock music with blimps of Girls Aloud, Sugababes, and the occasional Raven Steele.
He remembered the meetings he and his bandmates had with their former manager, Seth Farland, or lack thereof on his end. The plans for a second series of Dare2Dream were cancelled. Plans for an actual third album of Connect8 was put to end. Most of the members were over doing the juniorConnect stuff, including the two leaders of the band, Caleb Williams and Faye Underwood.
Alex, on the other hand, wasn’t sure what to do. On one hand, he got the opportunity to pursue a career he dreamed to have: Being a choreographer. Sure, he loved singing and acting, but dance was his passion. It was something he loved doing since he was small child back in his hometown of Penzance.
The other part of him was scared. He was back at zero, starting over as a normal person. His life as a teen celebrity with the toothy grins and smooth dance moves were over. No screaming fans, no bodyguards, no TV cameras. Sure, he was part of a dance troupe in London, but it wasn’t juniorConnect.
“You, the lad in the hat,” the tour guide addressed him. “You still with us?”
Alex looked around, realizing he must’ve zoned out for a while. He noticed the other teens staring at him. He cleared his throat, hoping he could slightly change his voice.
“Yeah,” he said in a somewhat deeper voice compared to his normal light-weight voice, “I’m still here.”
“Why don’t you take off your sunglasses? We’re inside a building.”
“Erm, I’m fine.”
Alex look down at his drawstring backpack he was given earlier by the tour guide. He didn’t want to see the other’s stares and glares. He already heard their mutters: “He probably had too much to drink last night.” “Maybe he drank this morning.”
Well, I did drink last night, but I’m not hungover.
Alex continued to follow everyone, trying to seem invisible as possible. London Met may not be a place he wanted to go to. The only degree he would only be able to pursue was theatre and performance. He would have to go elsewhere to major in dance. Still, he wanted to check out the options that was laid out for him in London.
Alex stared at a paper he printed out as he sat in the subway. He kept his sunglasses and hat on as he studied a campus map of a performing arts college. It was a school that made a name for itself. He knew he and his parents had money saved up for his first year at a university. His earnings as a juniorConnect member where in his bank account that was opened for him when he was ten. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
He felt his phone buzzing inside his jeans. He pulled it out of his front pocket, staring at the front screen. “Seth Farland” was calling him. Why? The last time that man’s people tried to contact him was back in January. He received voicemails, begging him to call back.
Alex rolled his eyes as he flipped open his phone. He asked with irritation in his voice, “What is it, Seth?”
“Alex!” the man greeted him excitedly. “It’s about time you’ve answered your phone!”
“Just tell me why you’re calling me.”
“Are you busy today or tomorrow?”
“I need you to come to my office immediately.”
“But why? Why do you need me back in your office?”
Alex sighed. “Okay, when do you need me to come in?
“Tomorrow morning at ten?”
“Fine, I’ll show up.”
“Perfect! We’ll see you tomorrow morning!”
Alex’s blue eyes widened behind his sunglasses. “Wait, who’s we?”
The line cut off, clearly ending the strange call. Alex took off his hat, revealing his dark brown hair fried from his straightener and drowned in gel. He ran his hand through its sticky, cooked mess.
Alex had another college tour that morning, followed by rehearsals with his dance troupe. He would need to check his schedule. He might have to ditch the college tour, something he didn’t want to do. Then again, Seth seemed quite adamant on holding a meeting with Alex and whoever.
Was it a solo contract? Sure, he can sing, but he was nothing compared to his former bandmates, Caleb Williams and Jerrod Briggs. He was mainly the dancer of juniorConnect. He was as popular as Caleb with almost the same amount of fangirls, and an unusually large amount of guys who were thirsty for him.
Alex never quite understood that. What made him so appealing to guys? The guys didn’t just want to be him; they wanted him. The whole thing made him feel uncomfortable. What made him even more uneasy were both the fanfiction that paired him with Caleb; and the gay rumors swirling online.
Alex put his hat back on as he slouched on the subway seat. Maybe a part of him wanted to disappear, but he was too scared to let that happen. Deep down, he knew he belonged on the stage and behind as a dancer and a choreographer.
He wasn’t sure what his future might look like; and that was something he could not shake off.