And Then There Was Eight
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Amanda stared at her notebook as her World History teacher droned on. She glanced at Andrew sitting in the front. He seemed bored as ever. She looked at Alyson, twirling her hair while doing something in her notebook.
Amanda thought about joining UTurn. She heard rumors they were looking for two more people to join the band. At the same time, she knew she would be forced to sing and dance to pop songs. At least she’ll might be able to keep her rocker look, based off their live TV performances. Still, it wouldn’t be the same. Plus, it would be very awkward to be in the same band as her ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend. She still wasn’t sure what the status was between Amanda and Andrew. They rarely interacted. It would change completely if she joined UTurn.
Her mind turned to Derrick. She looked at the randomness she wrote in her notebook:
He acts high and mighty
Wanting to destroy everything in his path
What is he on?
Anything other than weed
She wasn’t sure what was going through her former bandmate’s mind. Who in their right mind would kick everyone out over wanting to capture the world’s attention? No, The Pushers were over, so why not join UTurn?
The bell rang. Amanda got up from her desk, ready to go talk to Andrew and Alyson. She wanted to speak to them, but her feet were stuck to the granite floor. The couple were walking away, talking to each other. She was scared to talk to the royal power couple.
“Amanda, meet me in the a/v club room.”
She got the random text, taking her out of that mindset. She didn’t recognize the number. Lunch was coming up. She could see what was going on for a little bit. Besides, she wasn’t crazy about eating a mediocre sandwich.
Amanda walked up to the A/V Club room. She noticed Derrick was staring at the door, so she asked, “Why are you here?”
He glared at her as he replied, “I got some text to meet someone here.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I got the same text myself.”
“Who would even text us?”
“Glad you asked!” some guy said as he opened the door.
“Ethan?” Amanda asked, shocked by his entrance.
“It was I who texted you two!” he exclaimed.
Derrick said flatly, “You’re talking like some cartoon villain.”
Ethan rolled his eyes. “Look, I texted you two because I have a plan for you.”
“Is this about UTurn?” Derrick asked. “If so, we want no part in it.”
Amanda turned to face her former bandmate. She asked out of irritation, “Who you calling ‘we’?”
Derrick replied with a raised eyebrow, “You and me?”
“Who are you to tell me not to join UTurn?”
“Wait, you actually want to join?”
Ethan chuckled, “Well, at least part of my work is done.”
Derrick said to Amanda sternly, “You’re not joining that fucking band.”
She said with determination in her voice, “Watch me.”
Amanda stormed through the halls. She finally got the push she needed to make this happen. She let Derrick control everyone, now she wasn’t going to let him do that.
She marched up to the lunch line, grabbed a sandwich, paid for it, and went straight towards the UTurn table. Amanda slammed the food down on the table, startling everyone. She said boldly, “I’m joining UTurn.”
Amanda noticed everyone staring at her, seemingly shocked by such a move. Andrew asked, “What happened to The Pushers?”
“Derrick kicked all of us out for stupid reasons. Now, am I in or not?”
Everyone stared at Alyson, who was still staring at Amanda. Alyson grew a sly smirk on her face, and said, “Sign my contract, and you’ll be in?”
Amanda asked, “Wait, what contract?”
Alyson dug in her pink messenger bag, pulled out a sheet of paper and a pen. “Read it, sign it, and weep.”
Amanda read the form, which said to take the band seriously. It also said that Alyson will not remove anyone from the band, unless they do something absolutely awful. Amanda looked up, and asked, “Why are you making me sign this?”
Alyson replied, “I’m the one who formed this band. I have the final say in everything. Just ask Andrew.”
Andrew sheepishly chimed in, “I had to sign a similar contract, and here I am.”
Amanda sighed as she signed the contract, handed it back to Alyson afterwards. Alyson said, “We have a band meeting with our manager after school. The meeting starts at six since our other bandmate will have to travel from Worcester.”
Amanda asked, “So do I sit here now?”
Alyson grabbed a chair from another table, dragged it Amanda. She sat down, already not liking any of this.
“Aly,” Andrew began, “can I talk to you in private?”
Alyson leaned on the lockers. She wasn’t sure what Andrew wanted to tell her, so she asked, “So what did you want to tell me?”
He asked back, “Are you sure about having Amanda join UTurn? I mean, she is my ex.”
“We both know she can sing. She told us her old band had just been demolished by that activist guy. I’m not surprised, though.”
“Yeah, but she’s my ex. How would you feel if I recruited my ex-boyfriend to the band?”
Alyson raised an eyebrow. “Is he joining us?”
Andrew shook his head. “I didn’t ask him. Besides, it wouldn’t work. He’s stuck in Chicago. It’s too long of a drive to Boston. Plus, he’s a senior at his school. We’re all still sophomores.”
Alyson nodded her head. She didn’t think how this would make Andrew feel. Sure, she knew her boyfriend was long over his two exes. She was caught up on trying to find two more people to join the band that she completely forgot about the potential awkwardness that’ll ensue. Then again, she knew Amanda had actual talent. No auditions were needed for her. It wouldn’t hurt to have Andrew’s ex-boyfriend joining either, but that would make things even more awkward.
Andrew continued, “Look, if you want Amanda in the band, that’s fine. I agree, she has talent. But we can’t be adding more exes. We already have your ex-boyfriend in the band. We don’t need to another ex, no matter how talented they are.”
Alyson looked at him. “Are you scared to face your ex-boyfriend?”
He sighed as he looked away. Alyson added as she rubbed his arm, “Look, you’ll be attending the Tony Awards next month with us tagging along. You’ll have to face him sooner or later.”
“What if he doesn’t approve of you?”
“I’m not his problem, and he’s not yours either. Besides, didn’t you say he was okay with you being bi?”
“Kind of, but I don’t know.”
“Andrew, I’m here. If he says something bad about your sexuality, or about me being your girlfriend, I’ll defend you. I won’t let anyone insult my man.”
Andrew smiled, though he seemed nervous. Alyson knew he was still coming to terms as an open bisexual. She held his hand, hoping that’ll comfort him in some way. It would take a while, but it was better to not rush things.
Derrick sat in his classroom, staring at the clock on the wall. He was ready to rush out of the school. He wasn’t sure what his next step was. His band was dismantled; and Amanda had joined a pop group filled with jocks and cheerleaders. Maybe he could find new members, but where? Maybe people attending East Boston High? As if they would want to work with a guy who attended a rich kid’s school.
“I kno a weed dealer. Meet me in the parking garage.”
Derrick stared at the text on his phone. Since when did that slacker get into weed? Then again, he wouldn’t be surprised if Ethan liked that sort of stuff. He seemed lazy enough to veg out on the couch watching some stupid comedy on TV.
Derrick wasn’t out of weed, but he could use an extra stash. He knew it was illegal, but he didn’t care. He just needed something to ease his mind temporarily.
The bell rang for the last time, letting Derrick rush out of the classroom. He jogged up into the parking garage of the school. He noticed Ethan leaning on Derrick’s car, a vehicle that was given to him by his older brother before he left for the Iraq War; before he was killed on the battlefield.
Derrick asked, “Don’t you have your own car?”
Ethan raised an eyebrow. “I just turned sixteen on Saturday. I don’t start my driving lessons until this summer.”
Derrick rolled his eyes. “So I’m driving?”
“I’ll tell you where to go.”
Derrick got inside the car with Ethan in the passenger side. He drove out, asking, “So where do we meet this dealer?”
Ethan gave him some instructions. The address seemed a bit familiar. Derrick knew the location was near the Berklee Music school. The area was flooded with music anything. Maybe it was a college student that was a weed dealer.
“Park in the parking lot,” Ethan told him as they arrived at the place. It was a lot that was home to a professional building with numerous store fronts. There were no stores; all of them held various businesses, including MOB Entertainment.
Derrick asked, “Isn’t your dad a cop or something?”
“Police chief, but yeah.”
“So wouldn’t we get in trouble with him?”
“Just park in the lot.”
Derrick did just that. He noticed a few cars in the parked there, including Andrew’s car. He noticed someone was in the car. Derrick looked at Ethan, who gave a smirk that made his skin crawl.
“Enter the doors of MOB Entertainment,” he said to Derrick. “Join UTurn, or I’ll report you to my dad of your weed stuff.”
Derrick’s eyes widened at this statement. He exclaimed, “You can’t do that!”
“You said it yourself that my dad’s a cop.”
Derrick demanded, “Why do you want me in UTurn so badly?”
“I have my reasons. Look, do you want to be thrown in juvvie? Be kicked out of Beacon Hill? Why are you going to our school anyway?”
Derrick stared at him, shocked and speechless of this action. It was like the neighborhood kids in East Boston. He would see their dirty sneers and stares whenever he wore his uniform. They made snide remarks, telling him he didn’t belong in Eastie. Now Ethan was making similar remarks, something he never received from the rich kids of one of the richest parts of Boston.
Ethan asked, “Your band is gone now. Amanda has joined UTurn. Let UTurn absorb The Pushers. Make your parents proud by doing this.”
Derrick looked at the doors that had the sign “MOB Entertainment” above it. He didn’t want to do this. The last thing he wanted was to join a band filled with preppy rich kids. Did he have a choice? He could fight for his right to use weed in his everyday life, but it could put everyone, including himself, in trouble. Or he could keep everyone, and himself, safe. It would mean he would have to sing and dance. Knowing Andrew and Alyson, they would probably bully him to become someone he was not. Maybe if he stood his ground, maybe those two preps will be willing to work on a compromise.
Derrick had to make a choice. Get in trouble with the law? Or become a part of something he vehemently resisted for years?