Manage me, I'm a mess
Turn a page, I'm a book half unread
I wanna be laughed at, laughed with just because
I wanna feel weightless and that should be enough

Chapter 24 – How to Make Your D.I.Y. Band


Of course Dad was stark-raving furious about me leaving without his permission. He’d been clear about that when he called me this morning. And if it wasn’t for his precious Nate, he’d probably taken the first flight to LA to teach me some kick-butt lessons. I’d expected that. After some time, I’d made some effort to think ahead, scheme hard and hope for the best. That, I learned from my brother.

Speaking of the devil, my only consolation was that he was sly enough, cold enough, merciless enough, capable enough to look after Sarah for me. I knew he’d never hesitate to break Megan’s neck if she so much as ventured fifty feet near Sarah. Well, that was both comforting and disturbing at the same time. But it wasn’t like I had any choice.

“Sorry. Can we do that again?” I said on the mic, glancing up at Riley, my musical director. Tiredly, I pulled down the headphones from my ears and paced across the vocal booth.

Riley shifted on his seat behind the digital audio workstation in the control room. “Okay. Take five, Leon,” he replied from the other side of the glass panel. “Take five, guys,” he repeated on his microphone to the band in another stall adjacent to mine.

I breathed out and stretched. Focus, Leon. You have to do this.

In the live room, Jobs—CEO of Sonnet Records, a pale, skinny man in gray pin-striped suit and a military haircut—eyed at me coldly, crossing his thin arms over his chest. He’d given up to a lot of my demands. The grand press con and its all-out TV promotions. My request to have the world tour moved to October, instead of this month.  It had cost him much. Now I’d have to do my part of the bargain and record my carrier single—Insane. But it felt like something was missing. The more I listened to Nathan’s demo, the more I saw why.

The beat was too lively for the theme of the song which was well, about someone going insane about his unrequited love. The piano arrangement, unlike Freddy’s was too simple, too predictable. And the lead guitarist seemed like he was having a delusion that he was playing for Papa Roach. All of them were handpicked by Jobs to torture me and they were doing a great job.

Impatiently, Jobs tapped a finger on his Timex watch. Riley just sighed seeing that. It had just been a couple of minutes, nonetheless, the director was forced to call our attention. Jobs was God in this lair. And his time was too precious to waste on me. Time. That was exactly what I needed but couldn’t afford. I needed more time with Sarah, to tell her everything. Everything… About who I really am. Who I was. What was really happening. To break it to her gently.

“Positions, guys,” Riley half-heartedly barked, fumbling with the mixing console, giving a quick glance at the monitors. Again, the red recording light on top of the door frame flickered on and we were back on air.

The long-haired guitar dude did the intro, eventually accompanied by piano-geek. Drummer boy started a bit too excitedly. I closed my eyes and focused on my part. Focus.

I held your hands a thousand times before,

Had your smile but I wanted more…

Exasperatedly, I yanked the headphones away. “This isn’t working at all. Sorry, guys,” I turned to the band. The sound was so wrong. It wasn’t what how I envisioned everything. I could tell that Jobs and Riley weren’t pleased at all.

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