Driving over to their next audition, Mr. Ken received a phone call. It was another band asking if they were too late to audition. Ken looked at his two teen companions to see if they were interested in listening to another band that night. They agreed to do it since there was no school the next day. Mr. Thomas gave the phone to Ryan who got the particulars and made arrangements for a late audition.
The drive to the next band took over 45 minutes. Traffic was out and about for some reason and it added to the time. When they arrived, they saw a group of kids waiting outside for them. Getting out of the truck the kids came over and began talking all at the same time. It appeared there was no one in charge. A bad sign for sure!
"Ok, ok, hold on there guys. I'm Mr. Thomas from Three Finger Cove and we are looking to audition a band named Sticky Fingers for the Teen's New Year's Eve dance. Are you the guys we came to hear?"
"Yea, that's us," answered a boy who wasn't more than 14 years old. "I called early this morning and we've been waiting all day."
"Yeah, what took you so long? We got tired of waiting and we almost went home," spoke out another boy.
"Let's see, who is Mr. Parkington? It was he whom I talked to this morning and set up 5 PM this evening for the audition," asked Mr. Ken.
"I'm Lewis Parkington," replied the first boy. "I must have written down the time wrong. I hope you won't hold that against us."
"Ok, guys, when can we get started? We'd like to listen to four or five songs. We won't make any decision until late tomorrow on which band we will choose, since we are auditioning four bands. Are you ready? Let's go then," Mr. Ken spoke directly at Lewis
Lewis led them into the garage and the four boys took up their instruments. The band began to play and it was obvious from the start they didn't have what the trio was looking for. It was obvious the four boys had worked hard to get where they were, but they needed a leader. They needed someone who would keep them in line and make them into a good band. The boys were only 13 and 14 years old and with time and practice they could be very good. The trio listened intently and gave the boys the same courtesy they gave the other two bands tonight.
When the group finished, they all began shouting out questions about the gig. Mr. Thomas had to hold up his hands for almost two minutes before the four boys stopped talking. Collin and Ryan for their part had a rough time holding in their laughter at the boys' immaturity and antics.
"Boys, please, I need just one person to be the spokesperson of the group," began Mr. Ken. "Since Lewis was the person who called me ... I will talk to him. You can all listen in but it is he who I will address. If you have any questions you need to trust Lewis here to ask them first or whisper to him what to ask. I'll tell you this. No employer wants four people making decisions for the group. You boys need to choose one of you to speak on behalf of the group. And it should be someone who can talk easily with adults as they are the ones who will be hiring you most of the time. OK, Lewis ... your on what can I answer for you?"
"Well, mister, I don't even know your name. I forgot to ask. And I didn't even introduce my friends here. I guess we screwed up, didn't we? We've been practicing very hard. You should have heard us last summer. Anyway, I guess we didn't get the gig did we?"
"Boys, I am not the person who will be deciding who will be hiring you this time. And, by the way, I am Ken Thomas and this here is Collin and Ryan. They are the ones who will be choosing the band for the Cove's Teen New Year's Eve Dance. I just get to pay the bill," and everyone laughed at hearing that last statement.
"Lewis," spoke Ryan. "We have listened to two bands tonight competing for the gig. We have one more to go tonight before we can choose the winning band, sometime tomorrow. You guys played fairly good and have a chance. Mr. Thomas has your phone number and we will call you tomorrow with our decision. And guys ... even if you are not picked, you need to stay together as a group. I bet you are all 7th and 8th graders and by the time you get to high school your band can be real good and will be competing for the school dances. We need to get to the next band, but you all need to congratulate each other for doing this tonight. I bet we hear of you guys by the summer but you got to stay together and continue to practice. There are going to be lots of dances and you'll get your fair share of gigs ... but you have to be good to get them. Ok, we'll call Lewis tomorrow. Bye for now."
Lucky for the three music seekers the next and last audition was closer to home. Ryan had entered the information into the GPS device before leaving Lewis' house and read out the directions to their next destination to Mr. Ken as he drove the big King Ranch truck. Traffic had died down by then and the travel time was only about 30 minutes to their next stop.
Mr. Ken pulled the 4-door truck up to the curb in front of the house which surprisingly was located in the subdivision across from the Cove. It was luckily some blocks across from the Estate and thus the shooting that occurred over a month ago.
Ryan, as it seemed to be his job, got out of the truck and rang the doorbell. An older woman answered the door and Mr. Ken and Collin could see an animated conversation was taking place. A few minutes later, the woman closed the door and Ryan came back to the two in the truck.
"So what happened, Ryan?" asked Collin.
"Well, it seems that the person who called wanting to audition for the dance is not at home right now. The lady said her son was over at his band mates house, practicing. She said he must have given me his home phone number but actually they are a couple of blocks away from here. She asked if we could wait while she called him," Ryan related to his two companions.
While they waited out in the truck, they saw a teenaged boy came running up to the house and go directly inside only to come immediately out and head for the truck.
"Oh ... oh, ahh," the out of breathe teen began, "I'm sorry I ... I gave you the wrong phone ... phone number and address. I wasn't ... wasn't thinking when I called. We usually practice at my place, here, but I was ... was over at Skeeter's and I should have given you his information. I hope that won't hurt us from trying out for the dance?"
The three looked at one another with questioning eyes when Collin said, "We should give them their chance. Sure he messed up, but he also called us late and we agreed to listen to them. And besides, the more bands we have to choose from, the best chance we have of identifying the better of them all and having a successful New Year's Eve dance. So my vote is to tell them that we'll listen to them."
Ryan looked over to his Big Bro and Ken just shrugged his shoulders. He then looked to Collin and then to the lad waiting at the trucks window. "OK! I agree," Ryan said. We did say we'd listen to your audition, and since we are already here there is no reason not to give you an opportunity to play for us at the Cove's Teen New Year's Eve Dance. So where do we go from here?" finished Ryan.
"It is just over in the next block. You can follow me as I walk there. That will give me time to catch my breath by then. By the way, my name is Michael, Michael Braxton. My dad's a school teacher at the high school. Ok, I'll start walking while you turn around and then turn left at the end of the street and then turn left again. Just listen to where the noise is coming out of the garage if you get there before me. That is where we are headed," said Michael as he then began to walk up the street.
Mr. Ken turned the truck around and slowly followed the young teenager as he walked at a good pace over to where he left his band waiting for him to return with the people looking for a dance band.
Arriving at the garage, Michael opened the door and three more teenagers came out waiting for the truck to stop. Ryan got out first and went over to one of the teens and began talking to her.
"Cheri, I didn't know you played in a band," offered Ryan to a very pretty young lady.
"Yep, I've been playing guitar for quite some time now and I even sing," the girl replied to Ryan. "What are you doing here?" she asked Ryan in return.
By then Mr. Ken and Collin came up and Ryan introduced the young girl to them. "Mr. Ken, Collin, I want to you meet a friend of mine. Her name is Cheri and we have some of the same classes together at school. Cheri, this here is Mr. Thomas, he owns Three Finger Cove and this other dude is Collin. Who are the other two members of your band? We've already met Michael," Ryan finished.
"Well, first of all it isn't MY band. I'm just the guitar player and singer. Michael here is actually the band master, hehe. He drives us to 'drink, figuratively that is. This is Shelley. She plays the drums and is totally awesome with them. That standing over there is Richard. You can see he's on the keyboard. He can sing and play bass guitar, too. Michael sings and plays lead and bass at times. He and I switch out when it is time for me to sing and then I lead. And you still haven't answered me why you are here."
"Well, Mr. Ken here is having a Teen New Year's Eve Party at the Cove and we are out helping pick the band which will perform," replied Ryan.
"But what do you have to do with Three Finger Cove? I know it is just you and your mom. You've never said anything about living over there," persisted the girl.
"Well, it's a long story to try to tell you right now. I can see that Mr. Ken is anxious to hear you all play. What say you guys set up and play a few short songs for us? Afterwards you and I can maybe exchange cell numbers and talk about it later. You guys and gals just about ready?" he asked trying to speed things up. Ryan, along with Mr. Ken and Collin, then stepped back to the curb so they wouldn't get blown out by the loud music.
The two guys and two girls played for about fifteen minutes and went through a number of sets of songs and switches showing their versatility. The three observers were again totally impressed with the ability of the band before them. The looks they gave each other said volumes and they all knew it would be a difficult decision, come tomorrow, to make between the groups, the Ramblin' Rockers, and these people who they have yet to hear their band's name.
"Thank you all so very much for that great performance," spoke Mr. Thomas to the group. "By the way, how did you know we were looking for a band for New Year's Eve? And how did you get my cell phone number?"
Cheri spoke up and told him that her friend Abby had told her. She went on to say she didn't think the others would want to give up that special night to play so she hadn't really mentioned it to them until earlier today. Then, when they all said they'd love to play and get some needed exposure, they made me get the phone number to call. She added that Abby gave her Ryan's home number and she called there and got his cell phone number from Mrs. Taylor after she begged her for it.
"Ok, that sounds good to me," announced Mr. Ken. "So, what do you call your group? It would be good to know if you are selected to play New Year's Eve night. And who is the band's spokesperson, too? I only want to deal with one person who can speak for the group. Also, if you are selected ... I will provide the lighting and platform. But be aware, it will be up to you to bring your instruments and set them up and tear it all down at the end of the night. The gig will begin at 8:30 New Year's Eve night and end at 12:30 the next morning.
"Additionally, since you all seemed to be under eighteen and can't be out without a parent or guardian that late, you will have to make arrangements for your own transportation and of course chaperons. Will that be a problem for any of you if you are selected? Let us know now, or at least by ten AM tomorrow morning because we have to make our selection and let the winning group know and get the contracts signed and more. If you are selected but can't fulfill those obligations, then you, well let's just say I wouldn't be very happy. Ok, who is your leader and what do we call you?" finished Mr. Ken.
The four teenagers looked around at each other and then Michael spoke up and said, "I guess I'll be the spokesperson for our group. I made the initial phone call and got you to come and listen to us tonight. Do any of you have a problem with that?" he asked of his fellow band mates. Seeing a positive nod from all three he finished by saying, "We call ourselves, Two by Two. That is the word Two and then the letter 'X' and then another Two (Two X Two) since there are two guys and two gals. I am glad we had the opportunity to audition for you. We've been practicing and playing together for about sixteen months now and we felt it was time for us to get out there and see if we were any good. I know we all hope you will pick us for the Teen dance."
"Michael," began Mr. Thomas, "your group performed very well. But Ryan here and Collin are the ones who will make the decision." Then looking around the teens and stopping to look at Cheri he added, "And to answer the opening question of how Ryan knows me, well Ryan works for me taking care of my boats and dock and my lake beach. He is also my 'Lil Bro' Collin's best friend. I am treating them and about 80 of their best friends that night to a little New Year's Eve Teen Dance and they want to offer the 'best' band they can find for that night. We now, or should I say they now, have their work cut out for them as we have seen some remarkable groups tonight. Ryan will call you sometime after twelve noon tomorrow. Do any of you have any questions?"
Not getting any questions from the group, Two X Two, the three headed for the truck. But before he took three steps Ryan was pulled aside by Cheri who whispered something in his ear while at the same time handing him a small piece of paper. Collin saw what happened and smiled at his friend when he saw Ryan blush from the peck he got on his cheek as he turned back to load back into the front seat.
The day turned out to be a long one for all three men from Three Finger Cove. The young teens in particular never knew how hard it was to be a 'business man' who had to do interviews of potential employees and make executive decisions that could affect how others viewed them.
On the way back to the Cove, the two teenagers asked Mr. Ken about what they now had to do and how to go about doing it. At first, the boys thought hiring a band to play for their dance would be fun and easy. But after they had to spend over six hours driving around in order to listen to four bands play, they realized they may be way over their heads. Then Collin's cell phone rang.
"Yeah it is kinda neat having this thing. Trouble is only a few people have my number."
"What? Yeah, I know I will but it will be another few weeks before I start school again."
By this time Ken and Ryan figured out Collin was talking to 'mom' Mary.
"Sure. I don't think Bro will have a problem with that. Ok, here he is," and Collin handed the phone to Ryan.
"Yeah, I don't mind. I think it is great you have a last minute date."
"Sure. He'll never know I am there!" and Ryan snickered some while looking over at Mr. Ken.
"Ok, I'll be good, or at least on sort of good behavior. Here mom, here's Bro."
"Hi Mary. Yea, I got the jist of that question, listening to the boys talking."
"Sure, you know that won't be a problem. He's been my Lil Bro for years now and is always welcome to spend the night."
"Now don't worry. He won't go hungry. And ... and what was that?"
"You're funny! Yes I promise not to try to boil any water. Your son won't starve tonight. Maybe I will make him fix dinner and see how well he can cook."
"Ha ha yourself. I bet if he was shown a few things he could fend for himself. What's he going to do when he goes off to college?"
"Ok, I'll try to teach him the basics. I'll call it, Not Starving in College 101. How's that?"
"Now don't worry about him. He's been here enough to know his way around. And besides, maybe I'll take them out for pizza."
"You know him staying tonight will really work out for the boys. You know they have to select the winning band to play at the Teen New Year's Eve Dance and after seeing four bands this afternoon their heads are now spinning over the responsibility they now have."
"Ok it is getting late and you need to get yourself ready for your date. Have fun and Ryan will stay with me and Collin until you call for him. How's that?"
"Now go and get ready. Have fun!"
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