Katie had eased the door barely ajar, just enough to eavesdrop on Keith’s heated exchange with Samantha. When Keith responded to the kid’s last comment — “I’m not doing it” — Katie hurriedly retreated back into the engineering booth, dazed. “He fired her,” she announced. “Helen St. James is on her way over.
“Here?” Carl sat up. “He what? Get the f—”
“Swear. The brat is history. You gonna tell them?” She indicated the irritated, thoroughly aggravated musicians.
“Nope. He can do that. Just tell ’em something to make ’em stick around. If I know that cat, he’s still got a card up his sleeve. Keith is not going to let this day go to waste. Not with what he’s paying the studio.”
Katie hit the intercom. “Guys, hang in there just another little bit.” She heard back grousing and grumbling. “How about lunch on Keith’s expense account?” Everybody was for that.
Carl smiled. “Good thinking.”
For the meantime, Katie let them divvy up a six-pack of St. Paulie Girl and look over a takeout menu for the Chinese food joint around the corner. When Keith came in, he didn’t look the least bit happy. Went to the telephone and punched up a number. Presently said in a fairly sour tone, “Hey, hot stuff. You have to bail me out.”
He cupped the receiver. “Katie, Carl, gimme a minute will y’?” They split. Not 10 minutes later, he summoned them in, a smile on his face. “The kid’s not coming back. “Helen St. James is going to finish the session. Let’s get these guys some lunch and—”
“Way ahead of you,” Katie chirped. “They’re ordering Chinese.”
“Yeah, well, Helen loves Italian. So, please tell me—”
He didn’t get to finish the sentence before Katie handed him an Italian menu. “Cool beans. Let’s get her some spaghetti and meatballs. A bunch of garlic bread.” He looked at Katie. “Before she gets here.”
The general mood brightened. A lot. With chatter.
Keith felt bad for the kid. Word would get around quick that she’d blown the gig. On the other hand, she was young enough to eventually come back from it. Hopefully, she wasn’t too headstrong to learn from it. If she was truly lucky, she’d realized Mensah had stuck his nose in — along with something else — where it didn’t belong. He also swore that he didn’t care how Helen loved the guy’s bass playing. The guy had proven himself to be a dog with fleas.
Keith relaxed and reflected that right now he’d be happy to never argue with another woman the rest of his life. And still wondered whether Helen St. James was married.
Next week: St. James lays down a winner
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
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