Keith laughed too. But admitted, “I’m gettin’ tired. Helen’s gonna have to get him his own vehicle.”
“Yeah. A rolling babe magnet all to himself with a sign on the door, ‘round the clock. If this bus is a rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’.” And guffawed.
She was in some kind of state, seriously buzzed, probably enough booze in her to float a battleship and still wired on adrenaline from having played a killer gig. The way she was going, there was a strong chance none of them, except maybe Faith if she was tired enough, were going to get any sleep before the sun came up. “That’s the Rickenbacker, huh?” she asked of Keith’s guitar.
“Can I try it?”
“You wanna play my Martin?”
“You kiddin’? Been meaning to get me one for the longest.”
“You know,” Sherry said, “If you two want to be alone with each other’s instruments, you can get a room or somethin’.” Sam and Keith laughed. Sam wasn’t as strong on guitar as she was on piano, but she was pretty good. They started riffing and Sherry plugged into her amp. Sam gave Keith back his guitar and moved to her keys. She sang, they played, and the place rocked.
Faith’s mood didn’t take long to brighten. Despite how things had gone, she did like Keith, loved watching and listening to him play. Sherry loved watching her. And Samantha. Everybody had a good time.
As he’d anticipated, it went on and on. And on. With a break now and then to refill drinks and talk about what a gas it was being in, as Sam put it, “the baddest band in the land. Any land. USA, Canada or anyplace else!”
By daylight, the girls didn’t so much go to sleep as crawl into their beds and pass out. Keith went back to his bus and did exactly the same thing.
Last stop. Sound check, show and then blow town. Luis, Faith and Sherry would pile into Sam’s bus — Keith would love to be a fly on the wall for that, the other busses being returned. Helen and Sam would go on to L.A., Lola back to Vegas. He’d grab the first thing with wings and be home fast as modern transportation permitted.
First, though, the tour after-party of after-parties. Celebrating the band’s official initial outing, which had been — except for the fiasco on Boston Common, and even that went well for the fans — a raging success. It was also the release of UTC’s debut DVD, a double-disc filmed in concert, mixed and mastered in progress on the fly. With the requisite bonus feature, the videos for the singles.
Since Alena’s company had footed the bill, she and Helen did the picking and choosing of performances. Except everyone insisted not a note would be included from Boston. Helen had absolutely no argument with that.
Lola and Sherry were just busting their buttons that with the CD they were now publicly part of the band, getting famous right along with everybody else. Faith, too, grinned wrist to wrist, reading her assistant engineer credit in the liner notes. Everyone was looking at a pay-bump from royalties.
The soiree was held in a decked-out conference hall of some incredibly swanky hotel. Faith’s and Sherry’s eyes were wide as saucers. “I could get used to this,” said Sherry. “Real easy.”
“Me too,” said Faith, realizing for good and all she’d better make permanent peace with having lost any shot at Keith.
“You’d better,” their friend-in-common said. “You’re movin’ up in life. And just think…” She gave Keith sloppy wet kiss on the cheek. “We owe it all to this gentlemanly gentleman listening to my demo.”
He wiped his face on the back of his hand. “I am never gonna live that down.”
Every media outlet of consequence had been invited. And, not wanting to cross, Alena showed up. So had some Canadian celebrities and few fast-laners who simply happened to be in town, or close enough to make a special trip.
Helen had made sure to call up Clark Johnson. Who walked in looking good as new money. And, to Keith’s unabashed glee, Sophie Okonedo. He wanted to take a run at her but didn’t think Lesli’d understand. Settled for an autograph.
A huge flat-screen played the DVD, soundtrack playing through state-of-the-art speakers. Hard liquor and beer flowed like water. There was discreet stepping into a side room, where the DVD also played, for aromatic recreation. Yeah, it was a blowout.
Keith wished Lesli could’ve been there. But, what the hell, nobody had dragged along their friends or family. He’d see her when he got home. If she didn’t pull another vanishing act.
Next week: Keith and Helen look ahead.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.