The First Six
Friday, May 6, 2005
The halls filled with frames, accolades of current and previous acts. Album covers, photoshoots, golden records. Marcel O’Brien managed local acts, most of them became famous in both the US and Canada. They ranged from singers to actors, all of them making names for themselves.
Alyson Bauer, a blonde teenager who was turning sixteen in July, studied the achievements on each side of the hall. She couldn’t stand around; no, she was on a march, led by someone older than her. Alyson didn’t admire anything; instead, she felt a slight amount of intimidation. She glanced the people next to her, her friends from school. They were UTurn, a pop group she formed who won the regional TV singing competition, New England’s Teen Superstar.
Alyson; Andrew Hawthorne; Justin Harrison; Bailey Richardson; and Stacie Morales were all heading to the meeting. The person leading them was one of Marcel’s secretaries. It was the first meeting UTurn was having a signed group. Well, they were about to be signed, but still.
Alyson said to Andrew, who was her boyfriend, “We’re finally getting signed.”
He smiled as he held her hand, “Yeah, we are.”
She smiled back, though she couldn’t help but feel nervous. It was a big change in her life; but she was determined to make this happen. She, and her bandmates, needed that contract.
The five-piece act sat down in the boardroom with white walls and one blinded window. Marcel laid out folders to each member. He began: “So today I’ll be signing you to PopTown Records. After you fill out the paperwork, we’ll begin to talk members.”
Alyson lifted through the package. The forms already had the signatures of her parents; most likely reluctantly giving consent to this project. She attempted to read the forms, but the writing was small and long. She could feel the pressure to hurry up, she signed every form. She glanced up to see almost everyone was done, except Andrew.
“Andrew?” Marcel asked.
“I’m reading the forms,” he said.
“Well, I need you to finish up once so we can begin.”
Andrew sighed, clearly frustrated with being rushed. He quickly signed the papers, handing them to Marcel. Alyson followed suit, along with everyone else.
Marcel continued, “So I do have your sixth member. Her name is Riley Brown. You probably remember her from the competition. She was originally part of the semi-finalists; but had to drop due to her parents’ wishes. Now she’ll be joining the band. She was one of those who auditioned for the ‘secret band project.’ She’s from Worcester, so she’ll be here tomorrow.”
Alyson asked, “But we can also look for two more people on our own, right?”
“You can, but you have two weeks to make that happen. One more guy, and one more girl. You can hold auditions or ask your friends. I don’t care; but I will take over if you don’t find anyone.”
“I don’t trust Marcel,” Andrew said as he stared at his laptop to Justin. He had some homework that needed to be done.
“He was trying to rush you,” Justin said.
“I know. I hope he doesn’t have anything up his sleeve. He already doesn’t like the fact that I chose to be openly bi.”
As Andrew started typing on the Pages app on his MacBook, he got a notification from his browser. He checked to see it was from MySpace. He was listening to some music on one of the profiles when he got the notification. He checked on his account to see someone familiar had made a comment.
Hey, Andrew. You probably don’t remember me. It’s Blake. I just wanted to congratulate you on your Tony nomination and your win on that New England teen search. The performances were all over YouTube and MySpace. So yeah, I just wanted to say that.
Andrew couldn’t believe his ex-boyfriend had found him on MySpace. Maybe the guy was missing him? Maybe he thought he’d have a chance with Andrew again? Andrew wasn’t sure. A part of him wanted to message him back, but should he? Was it wrong to get answers when he was already seeing someone else? It wasn’t like he wanted to be back with Blake. He was over him, happy with Alyson.
He clicked on Blake’s profile, attempting to resist exploring his page as he aimed for the direct messaging button. He wrote: “Hey, Blake. Thanks for the congrats. Just one question: How did you find my profile?”
Andrew waited for a response. As he went back to his homework, he got a notification. He checked to see it was Blake answering him back. “Hi, Andrew. I was just curious if you had a MySpace page. You look great, btw.”
He felt his face warming up; no, he had a girlfriend now. Or maybe he could join the band? No, he needed to put his foot down, so he messaged back: “Just so you know, I’m taken now. We’re not getting back together.”
With that, he closed out the browser and shut the laptop screen. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. He could feel guilt creeping inside his body. He didn’t mean to shut Blake down so harshly, but he had. He didn’t want to lead him. It was over, and it needed to stay being over.
Stacie sat on her boyfriend’s lap during lunch on Monday. It was the first day of finding people to join the band. She wanted to touch his hair; but stopped short of having her hand hovering over his head. His hair was spiked all over the place, glistening in gel and mousse. She needed to butter him up, entice him to join UTurn. So she resorted to rubbing his back.
“So Nate,” she said in a seductive tone, “you know I just joined UTurn, right?”
“Yes?” he smirked, clearly loving the physical attention.
“Well, you know Alyson is a huge Connect8 fan. We need one more guy to join. Can you be that guy?”
Stacie leaned forward, getting ready to do a make-out session with him. Instead, she was slightly pushed away. Sixteen-year-old sophomore Nate Sanchez said, “Stacie, I can’t sing.”
She scoffed, “That’s what Andrew said, and look! He can sing!”
“Yeah, but that’s Andrew. He kept secrets from everyone.”
Stacie sighed, “That’s true. It would explain his hair.”
“Right. Me? I didn’t do any of this singing and dancing shit.”
“Maybe just sing one song for me?”
Stacie huffed as she got off his lap. She stormed off to the UTurn table in the cafeteria, plopping herself onto the chair. She told her bandmates, “Nate isn’t joining.”
Andrew sighed, “Maybe we should do an audition.”
Alyson said, “I guess we can try doing that, but I got some business to attend to before we set that up.”
Stacie raised an eyebrow. “What kind of business?”