Street Posse starts the first leg of their Live Free Tour in infamous New York City. Sammy walks onto the stage with a ‘take no prisoners’ swagger. He finds a prairie leg taps to drums and a steel guitar. Laser lights meld across the elaborate set, bathing everything it touches with well-chosen theatrical effects. Grips prepare backstage and on top of steel framework surrounding a well-cabled stage. Huge, ear blowing speakers shoot out noise pollution to wash over a salivating audience. Some teenagers, who think they will live forever, absorb the noise like they are living sponges, while Heavy Metal loving mid-lifers dot the crowd in other places, dawning earrings, in ‘the day’ tattoos and metal chains about blue jeaned waists.
The new Sammy finds it mind boggling how music spans different generations and brings them together in space and time. The band he most enjoys is the Rolling Stones. The stones gathered quite a bit of moss over the years, but they kept on rolling out records. Cledus often listens to Sammy’s stash of albums. In his time, a face like Mick Jagger’s would have been attached to an outlaw; yet in the modern world Cledus finds himself in, beautiful models and famous singers gravitate to him like he is made of steel and they are glossy magnets.
Even though Cledus grows tired of the whole groupie scene, he knows he is still obligated to keep up an image. So…He plays the game, knowing what side of the stage he receives the amps from. He is not all that happy with his life—at times. Sure, he is rich, famous, and never completely alone. At the same time, Cledus is one of the loneliest men on the face of the earth. Often…he comes to question every woman’s motives, and he often wonders if he is loved or just being played?
He is not aware that Belinda walks with child. Once she tells him, the balance of order will shift. If she has any doubts about Cledus being an imposter, she can force a court order and demand a fresh blood test. In this scenario, Cledus Beaumont’s world could crumble, like a make-shift house of cards with a die-cast car rolling through the basement. The outlaw is no dummy. He knows the odds will increase with Belinda being a model; she will not have the look forever and requires support for ‘the child’.
The drummer of Street Posse is the happiest member of the band. He plays the drums flawlessly, although drunk most of the time. The drumsticks feel like loud feathers in his wiry hands. His hair is often drawn back into a ponytail, to keep it out of his eyes.
Street posse sings to another packed house, tours the Statue of Liberty and Coney Island, and re-enters their elaborate tour bus. Cledus discovers little excitement in the toils of music stardom on the road. The new Sammy retires to his room sweaty, winded, and wanting a cold shower. Alone. He does not desire a shower with two others, who crazily stuff themselves inside the cubicle with him, neither of whom wishes to scratch his dry back.
What a bordello I run! Cledus thinks. And he laughs.
“Can I wash your pecker?” Asks one woman.
“I need a hit!” Says another.
“Please,” Cledus returns.
This is something to tell the grandkids about. One woman thinks, as she uses her mouth to polish the idol’s uncircumcised member. Cledus feels another woman’s fingernails slide across his bare shoulder blades.
“You could do that for a while, g’hal.”
The woman on her knees offers a smile.
“What yu does?”
She stops what she is doing to answer him. “I’m a secretary.”
“I can tell by the attention to detail.”
“You flatter me so. Will you sing me a song?”
I just sang for—like—two hours.
The icon’s voice changes as the woman’s right hand forcefully makes a point.
“Watch the family jewels!”
“I just had to touch them.”
“Too tired to play?”
The woman gives him her best pouty face.
“At least let me towel you dry.”
Cledus Beaumont does not fit her. In fact, he is surprised at her subservient nature, and it reminds him of old times. He knows it is a feminine nature he may call back and try to make a fist of his own.
Georgia is up all night at the hospital. The absolute worst thing is looking into the doctors’ dejected faces and eyes that speak larger volumes than their words. Sometime, around nine-thirty, Tawny opens her eyes and speaks Georgia’s name. Color returns to the child’s gentle cheeks.
“Mommy, when can we go home?” The child asks her mother.
Tears streak and dart across Georgia’s face. She grasps her daughter’s small hand.
Once both are home again, the mother is left with an eerie sensation. She thinks it all happened too fast. So much so, Georgia wonders if she dreamt the entire experience. Tawny is back at her little drawing desk, a few hours after being released from the hospital, and smiling as if she is better for having gone through the experience. This strange transformation does not make Georgia feel any less uneasy.
“Are you feeling ok, dear?”
The woman digests this response, and she cannot help but feel like a human pinball waiting for a large jackpot or a hidden trap door to define the next fifty years. A giant smiling Big Top Clown, positioned in the center of a surrounding digital read-out, tips a brown tufted hat her way.
After an initial letter exchange, others flow from two Internet hearts like each discovers a long lost, missing piece. Larry has no explanation as to why Tina is brought into his realm, or what he has done to deserve such a sweet gift. Each new letter confirms the woman’s old-fashioned claim, solidifies inherent trust, and causes their temporary separation to help Larry’s heart grow fonder. Tina came across so many jerks, she wonders if she will give a decent man a chance—when and if he crosses her path? The woman’s question is quickly answered by some sort of bizarre web fate. It is as if, through sizzle mail, some computer mogul helps drop a strange, new, refreshing man into her lap. Deep down in Tina’s gut, she knows she will be all the better for it.
The first real test is when Larry offers the woman his phone number. She calls in order to hear his voice—for the first time. It is awkward. But talking on the phone becomes easy, addicting, and fun; ultimately, both their phone miles escalate, and their hearts grow deeply fonder. Intermittently, both potential mates turn back to the Internet and a nostalgic fondness of repeating the initial electronic connection. The Internet works as a fueling channel, while talking on the phone mimics a verbal dance. Both know it won’t be long before a live meeting, which will make or break the open connection. Reality has its own way with the couple. The later the assigned date, the cheaper a round-trip ticket will be. Tina wants to be courted, and this will only happen if Larry offers to fly out and see her.
After the plans are laid, friends and relatives toss them a lifetime of doubts. Both man and woman feel a spiritual connection. They both consider the meeting a minor formality, one to impress the naysayers and relatives. Tina has Larry’s picture inside her wallet. She looks at it every night before turning in for bed. Venus cannot wait to hold his hand, look into his eyes, or see facial reactions to her voice. She had already read over his criminal record and hadn’t found any red flags. She wonders if it is a mistake, when she tells Larry she ran a background check on him. But her suitor doesn’t think it an invasion of his privacy. Instead, Larry Quintana falls romantically in love with the person on the other side of the old-fashioned words. It also helps that Tina is easy on his eyes.
Tina’s mother flips out over her daughter falling in love with a (total) stranger, hundreds of miles away. She cannot help but think of some reality show offering instant marriage.
“Tina, what if this guy is some wacko?”
Tina looks into her mother’s eyes and replies, “What if he’s not?”
Her stepfather made it a joke at the local watering hole.
“So…Bill, your daughter have a boyfriend?”
“Yeah…Some guy she met on the Internet.”
None of these thoughts a drink failed to vanquish, when Bill tilted a large mug to his mouth.
Larry calls and books a flight to Denver…Thus solidifying a first meeting. He knows eight months will seem like an eternity. He hopes it will be worth a multitude of firsts. First kiss, first hug, or a first real look into the future. Neither prospect considers another, because neither believes such a complete mate will ever cross their path again.
Larry does not believe the tail man’s account of the hornet attack. He does not want to believe such a thing could happen to someone’s grandma. He picks up the newspaper and reads about how the duct-tape was used, and goosebumps arise. He looks over at Tina’s picture, resting at the corner of his large desk, and wonders how happy will we become? In the back of his mind, he knows his own parents were married for forty-nine years, before his father passed away. In life, monogamy was a tough act to follow; it was an unwritten act of marriage setting a hard precedence for an adult bachelor or unmarried mistress, especially when divorce offered easy answers to a complicated and often self-sabotaging entity.
Deep down, Larry knows Tina is the woman he has looked for half his adult life, but he had yet to find. He thinks as he walks. Someday… she will be the one to bear me more children. She will be the one person to form a lasting bond with. She will eventually be the one that will make my parents’ proud. Larry knows he can only fill the remaining eight months with work, an obsession with Sammy Moore, and a lasting hope for a better tomorrow.