Helen plans a big splash

Keith-&-Lesli“By all means, baby, eat in peace,” Helen St. James said when Keith complained about the interruption. “By all means.” And whisked everybody out of the dining room.

Keith thought on it a hot minute, then shelved the idea of singing, polishing off what was left of his breakfast.

Then, went to the hotel, packed, and caught a puddle-jumper back to Minneapolis. For a brief meet with Jeff Christensen, who lived in Stillwater, was recording there, and had called and asked Keith to back him up.

Anxious as Keith was to get back home, no way in hell would he pass on this. No one he knew had ever heard of Christensen using a second guitar. It’d be a quick couple hours at Winterland Studios. Then get in the wind, head back to the Apple.

Part of him wished he’d gone on with the tour. It was extended to Canada. They’d do a few club gigs while Helen shot an episode of a crime drama being directed by old hangout buddy, Clark Johnson, co-starring ultra hottie Sophie Okonedo. But, he had to get home. And get to the bottom of whatever it was that was bugging him about his woman.

Next afternoon, Christensen and Keith were in the studio. It went well. They had a ball, laying down tracks, munching chips and peanuts, sipping soda, talking shop and trading war stories.

Keith couldn’t get a flight out until the following night. So, he contented himself with being a tourist in downtown Minneapolis, going out to catch some air and wander around taking in the sights. Of this city he couldn’t stand for all its phony-ass, Minnesota-nice.

People as a matter of principle smiled in your face and stabbed you in the back. Keith had been caught unaware that way once and only once. Since then, he’d brought down more heavy New York City-style weight on these backwood yokels than they were ready to withstand. He still didn’t like the place.

On First Avenue, he headed east. Browsed over the posters in the windows of the clubs and bars. Bobbi Miller was going to be at The Fine Line next month. New Primitives a week later. Across the street and down a few doors, Zsamé Morgan, stage name simply Zsamé — Keith was crazy about her — was headlining at Sorceror’s.

Tonight, in a couple hours. Worked for him.

He went in to buy a ticket. Just his luck, she had sold the joint out. Well, there were ways around that. He’d go back to the hotel, call Scott and, like that, a ticket would magically appear — clubs always, sold out show or not, have a couple tickets squirreled away in case a big shot needed to be accommodated. And though Keith wasn’t what you could call an insider big shot, Scott was.

He flopped on the bed and got him on the line. Scott took care of the ticket and, before Keith could ring off, dropped some interesting news. Helen, it turned out, was pulling a power play. Not trusting to Keith’s mulling things over, she’d contacted his agent by email, then, when he didn’t get back to her fast enough, by phone.

“She doesn’t just want you to play guitar and sing backup, Keith. Helen has every intention, my man, of making a seriously big splash.”

“That’s news. How much bigger splash she gon’ make? The woman already famous as hell on television and in the movies. Not to mention moving into music. Do you know she done started wearing sunglasses? Everywhere?”

“Well, you might want to buy yourself a pair, too.” Scott then outlined the broad strokes of Helen’s plans. By the time he got done, Keith’s head was swimming.

Next week: Keith resists Helen’s power play.

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