Part 1, Chapter 9

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Vyola had been totally cool with the fact that when girlRulz walked on the stage in San Francisco that night, most of the festival crowd had never heard of them.  After all, they were an East Coast band that had just cut and dropped their first album. They had not even been signed for very long . So it was unsettling that when they walked off, everybody seemed to know their name, to know her name. The assault on her, as it was being called, made national news. It was strange to hear her name mentioned that way, to hear herself being called a victim of a crime. Her impulse was to play it down but it could not be done because she could not escape it. Cameras and cell phones recorded their hasty, frantic exit and it was on media outlets from cable to internet to TV. Mandi DVRed the footage and played it over and over.

At first it was completely jarring, like living it over again. Vyola watched herself crying, her face red with makeup running down it, leaning against Patience who held onto her protectively. Her face was also red but with anger and shiny with sweat. they were followed closely by Jjeni, who had her hands on their backs and shook her head at the reporters and crowd saying, "Not now. Please. Not now. Let us through."

She begged Mandi to shut it off.

Mandi rolled her eyes as if she were the teenager, "Vyola, please."

The girls were somber and quiet at first, but slowly it became easier to watch. Viola began to feel detached from it, as if she had played a part in a movie. They even began to joke about it.

"Patience, you look so pissed," Jjeni said, "Look at your face."

"I was – Vy ripped my fishnets when she fell on me."

"Oh nice," Vy threw her slipper at Patience, "like I had any choice."

"Girl, we have got to get you some waterproof mascara," Patience said as they watched a close up on Vyola's face on Youtube.

"No way," Vyola answered, "that crap is way too hard to get off. I feel like I'm gouging my own eyes out."

"Have you never heard of makeup wipes?"

"Those things don't work."

"Sure they do you. You just have to spring for the brand ones and not use the dollar store ones."

"I just use baby oil," Jjeni said.

"Eww," Patience and Vyola broke down laughing.

"It's not that bad," Jjeni said, "We could just glide off the stage on our faces."

"Wait, wait," Patience said waving her hand in the air, "here comes J-J."

She imitated Jjeni's soft, breathy voice, "Let us through. No comment."

"I love the way your voice sounds on audio, J-J," Vyola said, "You need to write yourself a song that highlights that. We can do a whole Marilyn Monroe, "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," thing with your voice."

"No thanks," Jjeni said, "I'll stay right behind my drums. I don't want to get pulled off stage."

Patience stood and pulled her robe down between her legs in her best Marilyn gets air blown up her skirt pose, "I'll just stay right behind my drums. No touching," she said in a breathless whisper with a sexy pout.

Jjeni threw a pillow at her. Patience caught it and lobbed it back. She sent Vyola's slipper sailing back to her, too. She walked over and sat on the bed in between them.

"Vy is right, J,"Patience said, "You have to sing on the new album."

"What a weird way for us to arrive at this conversation," Vyola said.

"I know," Patience said, " in an odd way, this has made me think about a lot of things."

"Are you really okay, Vyola?"

Vyola nodded, "I'm fine. Believe it or not, I actually hope they didn't hurt that guy. He just got a little over enthusiastic, that's all."

"Really? Because I hope they broke his neck," Patience swiped at her phone.

"Yeah, I don't know, Vy," Jjeni said, "He had no right to put his hands on you,"

"I know. And it was scary. But now that I'm looking back on it, it was probably no big deal."

There was a knock on the door. Mandi paused the television and they went back to looking for more videos of themselves on their phones.

They were totally absorbed in what they were doing until Mandi got loud.

"May I see some identification, please?"

Viola caught her breath and instantly felt queasy in the pit of her stomach. You didn't ask for ID from someone unless something was up.  Mandi reappeared, followed by two men in dark blue suits. One of the men was very tall and thin. His hair was salt and pepper and he was beginning to bald. He looked like a school teacher despite the formal attire. She figured he was around her dad's age. The other man was probably not more than ten years older than she was, but had a stern look to his green eyes and a short, military style haircut. The girls, usually not shy about their state of dress in front of anyone, sat up, closed their robes and straightened their shorts. Vyola wrapped her blanket around herself tightly.

"Ladies, this is Agent Weeks and Agent Laino of the F.B.I. They want to speak with you."

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