Stardom — some love it, some not so much



Keith-&-LesliKeith said, “We all saw it coming. Just not this soon.’ Helen came in breathless only nowhere near as pleased as Sam. In fact, she was mad. “Damn!” Took a breath. “Some stupid fool grabbed fistful of my hair and wouldn’t let go. I actually had to hit her. Punched the dumb cow’s lights out!”

Luis got a charge out of that and began breaking into hysterics. She silenced with him a look that seemed to shrivel his vocal cords. Then, raising her finger to her lips, muttered, “Broke a damn nail.”

Lola sashayed in. “Hey, that is some scene out there.”

Changes would have to be made — sooner than anticipated. Helen’s bus was going to have to start parking practically at the stage door so she could be rushed inside across the shortest distance and not run a gauntlet of grabbing hands. A portable barricade would have to be set up, ringed by security, and she was going to need bodyguards.

She pitched an unholy fit when that became undeniably clear, and for the first time, Keith could tell she had actual regrets about being successful. She loved reaching the public and enjoyed being around people — particularly those who appreciated how wonderful she was.

But this was something she hadn’t quite reckoned on — them reaching back. Like some sort of crazed, mindlessly grasping monster. It was kind of sad, because Keith could see the pained look in her eyes as she understood it was impossible to have it both ways. You can’t be the apple of everybody’s eye and expect to not get bit.

She was going to miss something so simple as walking around anywhere she pleased like anyone else.  Even when she wasn’t at work it’d eventually catch up with her. She’d have to start living like other superstars. In one of those fancy-dance, gated communities. Do her socializing at this exclusive restaurant, that exclusive club, the whole nine.

Which went against her grain: Helen was no snob. Well, life’s tough and she’d have to get over it — all the way to the bank.

That night, Helen didn’t hold forth with quite her accustomed enthusiasm. Not for the first couple numbers. Then, out of frustration, began throwing herself into it and sounded better than ever. Sam had a ball all night and it showed in every bit of the abandon, fueling an over-the-top performance.

Keith wanted to be on hand next time an interviewer asked Helen how she liked the way her career was progressing. Poor woman had to get back on the bus the same way she got off it. Under heavy guard. Keith, Luis, and Luis’ pickup for the night — who absolutely delighted in all the hubbub — climbed onto the bus with no difficulty. Enjoy the personal peace and relative quiet, he thought, while it lasts.

The three sat around, having a friendly drink or two. When the other two started making eyes at each other, Keith called Sam’s bus. “You guys still up?”

“Sure are!” Sam hollered back. She wasn’t just up. The kid was revved.

“Good. I’ll be right over.”

“Faith, put something on. Keith’s coming over.”

“What for?” he heard in the background.

“Wrong response. You understand me?”

“Sorry.” Samantha hung up. Keith grabbed his brand new Ricky and went to jam with Sam. And Sherry if she was up for it.

It was a bigger space. Even a little bit nicer. But then, it was designed to sleep and otherwise accommodate three. “Hey, y’all.”

Faith was considerably more civil than she’d been a minute ago. “Hi, Keith.”

Sherry smiled. “Hey, fella. Good show.”


Sam was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, grinning like a Cheshire cat. “Man, did we kick butt or did or we kick butt?!”

“Uh,” he answered, “offhand, I’d say yeah, we kicked butt.”

“The Cisco Kid didn’t come, too?”

“He’s…” Keith rolled his eyes…“busy.”


Next week: Tour wrap-up and after-party

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