Helen raises hell

Keith-&-LesliHelen St. James didn’t understand the maxim “If it’s working, don’t fix it.” They got started and before long he’d had to throw her out, banish the star from her from own session. Everybody loved Helen — was crazy about the woman — which was why everyone was happy as hell to sign on for this quick jaunt out to the middle of nowhere.

But they also resigned themselves to her arduous method of rehearsing. Pausing to needlessly pick over every little thing. And have you play one line three different times, three different ways. Each.

Keith had put up with it because, like the rest of the guys, that was his girl. Not to mention, when she and the band hit the stage, walls would fly off of places.

“Helen,” he’d said. “Lemme talk to you for a second.”

“Sure.” He took her to the side while everyone looked at the two of them, confused. No one ever dared interrupt the great lady, never mind take her off into a corner.

Helen seemed fairly confused herself. Those gorgeous green eyes just about glaring beneath a knitted brow. Quietly, Keith said, “We need to tighten this up.”

“Yeah, well, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

“Baby girl, I don’t mean them. I mean you.”

Her eyebrows arched. “What?!”

“Shh.” he whispered. And lightly touching her elbow, escorted Helen out into the lobby. Mona looked over, then went back to her typing. “Let’s have ourselves a little sit-down.” Helen went along. They sat on something barely larger than a love seat. He calmly continued, “You know these guys. In fact, baby, you forced Samantha right down my throat.”

She frowned. “So?!” Mona looked up.

“Would you please, for God’s sake, keep your voice down? You’re my boss and it doesn’t look good for somebody when they get yelled at by the boss.”

Helen softened with an endearing smile. “Oh, honey, I’m not your—”

“Yep. That’s exactly what you are. More than ever before. Don’t forget, it was your bright idea to promote me to musical director.”

“Okay. What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Everything.” She didn’t get it. “Hold on to your seat belt.” She was growing impatient. “The way you rehearse is counterproductive.”

“It’s what!?”

Mona looked up. Keith tried to quiet Helen again. This time, she wasn’t going for it. “Who the hell do you think you are to come in and talk to me like I don’t know what I’m doing. Counterproductive! Let me tell you one thing…” She stopped. “Just what are you sitting there smiling about?”

“Because, Ms. St. James, I’m your musical director. Which means…okay, stay with me…that means I…” He paused as she scowled, uncomprehending. “It means I…direct…the…music.” He leaned back and quipped, “And, baby, you been around this business long enough to know.” He decided, since she’d got on a high horse, to rub her nose in this. “Otherwise, what in the hell you need a music director for?”

“You scoundrel!” By now Mona had stopped typing and doing filing. Helen lowered her voice, leaned into Keith. “Alright, let’s go back in. You run the rehearsal. And if it don’t sound dynamite at the end of the day…”

“Yeah, I know, you’ll fire me.”

“Oh, no. But, trust me, I’ll give you so much grief, by the time we get back from this gig, you will quit.” Then she winked and said, “Gimme a kiss.”

He kissed her cheek. They stood, stretched and, reaching hands around each other’s hips, went to go back in. Mona suddenly found something visibly productive to do.

In the studio, Keith grabbed his guitar, sipped a beer and, still adjusting his strap, said, “Just put the right notes in the right places. Y’all think y’ can do that?”


Next week: Keith visits the suburbs and his in-laws.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403. 
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