3. Three Cool Cats

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Three cool cats,
A-hung on the corner in a beat up car,
Splitting up a nip of candy bar,
Talking all about how sharp they are,
These three cool cats.

George Harrison.

It seems odd to think of a time when I didn't know that name. I hardly know where to begin - how to tell you. I know you might hate me. You might not - no, you probably will not understand why I did the things I did. Sometimes I wish I could take it all back. If I had the chance, would I do things differently? Hind sight is twenty-twenty vision. I can only tell you the truth, and you will need to make of it what you will. 

So where to start? I can almost hear what George would say. 'Spit it out then, Han. This side of Christmas, eh?' I suppose I must start at the beginning, although even now the memory of it makes me cringe! What a way to meet the love of your life...

* * *

February 1960

'It's fine, Hannah,' Minnie said, exasperated. 'What's the matter with it?' 

'It's just... it's just it's not like any of the other clubs.' I peeped through the crack in the red velour curtains. Outside our 'audience' awaited. There was definitely something 'off' about it. The room was about half full. It was dark and stuffy. Smoke hung in the air in a thin cloud, purple in the dull lighting. The audience were almost all - no, actually it was, entirely men. That was strange, wasn't it? Why wouldn't there be women in the crowd? No one out there even had a girlfriend with them.

I was about to mention this to Minnie when Ralph, the club owner rounded the corner. 'That's what you're wearing?' he said looking us both up and down. 

'Um, yeah,' Minnie said. We looked at each other. We hadn't really given our costume much thought, other than matching black dresses with white collars. I'd thought they looked quite smart but it obviously didn't meet with Ralph's approval. 

'You will need costumes,' he continued, shaking his head. 'See how it goes tonight. Next time, costumes. Listen for your cue.' 

He disappeared towards the stage. I frowned at Minnie. 'Are you sure this is...'

'What?' She cut me off. 'Our big break? Perhaps not, but it's all experience, isn't it?'

'Gentlemen!' I heard Ralph's voice bellow from the stage. 'A special treat for you tonight! Please welcome Minerva and her sister, Scarlett singing live!'

'Scarlett?' I said to Minnie.

She shrugged, 'Ralph said it would be more showbiz sounding.' Well, that was one way of putting it.

To this day I don't know if Minnie knew what that club was or whether she'd got confused, got her wires crossed like she claimed. It wouldn't surprise me if it was part of some sort of scheme she'd cooked up.

We stepped out onto the stage, red and blue lights glaring in my eyes. The audience gave us a half hearted round of applause, and a couple wolf whistled. Unlike other stages we'd been on, it was actually possible to see quite a lot of the audience, right to the back of the room - not in much details, but enough. It was a bit unnerving. Usually the bright stage lights stopped you from seeing much further than the first couple of rows.

I cast around for the band. I thought they would be on the stage with us, or behind us perhaps. Instead they were sitting in a small space to the left of the stage. Three older looking blokes, one on piano, one on drums and one with a guitar.  

'Have they got our music?' I asked Minnie. 

'Well of course they do,' she snapped. 

And so the 'band' started - but it wasn't the rock and roll number I was expecting. 

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