Since the beginning of time, people have wanted to be known for something. For singing or acting; they wanted to shine and have their fifteen minutes of fame. It’s hard to tell the real from the fake; the truths in the lies. They put in writing their success for the money and because they think their lives are superior. Fame isn’t all it’s said to be. Do you want to know my story? Here it is.
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I jumped off my front stoop. Sixteen years old with my trusty guitar on my back and twenty bucks in my back pocket. The sun shone brightly and it welcomed you outside. It was a wonderful first day out of school for the summer. As I walked down the sidewalk, my thoughts moved towards the past school year. Sophomore year meant the beginning of the new me. I discovered my true friends and my guitar. The guitar altered my life. It became me escape and my freedom.
I rounded the corner where the convention store sat. I waved to Mr. Johnson, who owned the store. I continued down Thirty-fourth Street. At the corner of thirty-fourth and main, I saw Jason, twilling his drum sticks; Mikey with his bass guitar in hand; and Jo. She was our voice. We weren’t really a real band, but we loved to just mess around on the corner. “Hey guys!” I said with a smile and a wave.
“Yo! That guitar tuned?” Jason said with a hug. Jo gave me a hug, too, and since Mikey had his bass, we just did our little handshake.
“Yeah, of course.” I took the guitar case from around my neck and opened it. I slipped my shoulder strap over my head and took my pick from among the strings.
“Good deal.” Jason sat down. He placed his drum pad on his lap. Even though he had an awesome drum set at home, he used his drum pads while we played on that corner.
I strummed my strings and let the sound fade out. Jason shook his head. “Ready guys?”
“Wait!” Everyone looked at Jo, “What are we singing?” she inquired.
“Yeah, we can’t all just start playing something different,” Mikey said with a smile. He pushed his hand through his hair as he talked. Then he realized that he messed up his spikes and scurried to fix them. I chuckled under my breath. Mikey always did things like that.
“How about the song Roxy wrote?” Jason looked up at me. “Got it with you?”
I shook my head, “Nah. It’s a work in progress anyway. It’s no good.”
Jason opened his mouth to give me the you’re-too-good-to-say-you’re-no-good speech, but Jo jumped in, “What about ‘Shape Shifter‘?”
“Sounds good to me,” I beamed at Jo in thanks and she nodded back.
“Ready?” We nodded to Mikey. “Count it off, Jason.”
“’Kay. One, two, a one two three four,” We started to play
We stood and played on that street for most of the afternoon. People threw change in my guitar case they walked by, like that always do; just a little change here and there. When we were done for the day, we crowded around my black guitar case and counted the loose change.
“Sweet! Twenty bucks!” exclaimed Mikey when we finished counting. “What are we gonna do with it?”
We all looked and it. Together we smiled and said, “Cheese fries!” We gathered our money and our instruments and crossed the street. Around the corner was Tara’s. Tara’s had the most astounding cheese fries. The fries were always cooked just right and the cheese was liquefied on top. My friends and I went there almost everyday. We couldn’t resist Tara’s cheese fries. The waitresses all knew us by name and when we walked in, they would hand us four cokes and put an order in for two family cheese fries. Living in a small town was superb.
Jason and Jo sat next to each other in the booth and Mikey and I sat across from them. Jennie was working tonight. She was in her thirties and talked although she worked in a cafe from the fifties. “How ya all doing tonight?”
“Great!” exclaimed Mikey
“That's nice, sweetie pie. Just the cheese fries tonight, folks?”
“Yup,” Jason flashed a huge smile.
“Okay, baby cakes,” Jennie turned and strutted back to behind the counter, where she picked up a magazine and started to gnaw on and blow bubbles with her gum.
“That Jennie is something,” Jason said then took a sip of his coke.
“Yeah, something awfully strange!” Mikey said with a laugh.
Jason shrugged. “Not strange, just different, she is.”
I shook me head. “Yeah. Do we know anyone different like that?”
“What are you implying, Miss. Roxy?” Jason asked.
“Oh, nothing,” I said with a wave of my hand. “So, what are we doing tomorrow?”
“Are we planning something?” Mikey asked.
Jo shook her head. “He, have you guys heard about the new karaoke place?”
“Oh, yeah!” Jason beamed, “It opened last week.”
“We should do that tomorrow,” Jo remarked.
“Why not tonight?” I added. “Then we can catch a movie tomorrow afternoon.”
“Movie, what?” Mikey asked with confusion in his voice.
“Yeah! Good idea, Rox!” Jo smile broadly.
Jason said, “Good. Karaoke tonight, movie tomorrow. Should I drive?”
Mikey scratched his head, “Drive where?”
“Who else has a license, Jay?” I asked with a smirk.
“Oh yeah! ‘Kay, then.” Right then, Jennie came over with our cheese fries and we dug in. We were there the rest of the day, just hanging out and talking and joking. It was a good day.
Jason honked from outside. I ran my brush through my hair one last time and placed my money in my back pocket. With that, I was down the stairs and out the door. I pulled open the door behind the driver’s seat of Jason’s old ford and hopped in. Jason loathed that car. It was a used car and it had been in a collision before he had bought it, therefore the two door are the passenger side were a queasy kind of lifeless gray color. The rest of the vehicle was a bright green. Jason never could save up enough money to paint the car. The seats were very worn in, which made them exceptionally comfortable. Made of cloth, the seats were cherry with innumerable stains here and there. Sometimes the radio didn’t work. The old speakers, which Jason had replaced a few weeks before, were painful to listen to. Jason absolutely hated that automobile.
The engine groaned lowly as Jason pulled off of my street. Mikey was in the back with Jo and me at in the passenger seat. ”Where’s this place again?” Jason inquired at the first stop light.
Jo thought for a moment. “Fifty second and west.”
“All right.” The light turned green and Jason hit the gas. The car stalled, which wasn’t uncommon. “Come on. Piece of...come on,” Jason pleaded with his car. He revved the engine and car went with a jump. Jason mumbled something under his breath. Jo and I rolled our eyes and smirked at each other. The car behaved the rest of the way to the karaoke place.
The restaurant was pleasant. It had a street-in-the-1910’s look with lanterns all over the place. The stage wasn’t anything more then a raised platform with a microphone standing in the middle and a monitor, for the lyrics, facing it. The hostess led us a table in the middle of the back of the room. Looking around, the place almost looked abandon. There were a few tables of teens just hanging around. The looked familiar and properly went to my school, just in a different grade. A few tables in front of us sat a family of four. They all had fire red hair except for the baby, who had none. The two adults were deliberating about the world and the baby and little girl, about five, were playing. Among the front tables sat an older man by himself. He looked about in his thirties.
“What do you guys want to eat tonight?” asked our waitress as she pushed her auburn hair behind her slim shoulders. Although she smiled brightly, you could see the exhaustion of a night’s hard work in her midnight eyes.
Jason answered, “We’ll have four cokes to drink and two order of fries mozzarella sticks.”
“All right then,” she jotted down our order. “That booklet,” she motioned to the middle of the table, “has a list of songs that you can pick to sing on the karaoke stage,” she motioned to the little platform. “Just pick a song, and go up to the front. Tell the guy up there what number the song is, and he’ll set you up.”
“Cool!” Jo squealed as she reached for the booklet and started to flip through the pages.
“Thanks,” Jason added and with that, the waitress went over to the family with red hair’s table and took their orders.
“Hey Roxy!” Jo poked me in the arm.
“Look, Roxy, look!”
“Look,” Jo pushed the karaoke book into my face. I pushed it down and looked at the song she was pointing to. It was called ‘Climb Every Mountain.’ “You sing this song so magnificently!” Jo smiled broadly.
“She better. She took half of the school year making it perfect for the musical,” Mikey reminded her. “Every where we’d go, Roxy would be singing that song.”
Jason smirked, “Funny. She made such a good nun!”
“Shush, you!” I reached across the table and playfully hit Jason.
“Sing it, Rox,” Jo blurted out.
“Huh? No way! You’re the singer; I’ll stick to the guitar, thank you very much.”
“Oh, come on, please!” Jo begged.
“I’m not a...”
“Oh, yes you are.” Jo stood up and pulled my arm. I looked and Jason and Mikey as she pulled me towards the karaoke stage. They just kind of laughed and waved at me.
Jo tapped the man behind the counter on the shoulder. “Excuse me, can you play number one ninety-two?”
“Yeah,” the man moved his black hand threw the rows of CD’s, reading the labels as he went. Finally, be picked out one of the CD cases, opened it, and inserted the CD into the machine beside him. He nodded, “Go ahead on the stage now. What’s your name?”
Jo pointed to me, “She’s singing, and her name in Roxy.” She pushed me towards the stage. I sighed and climb the two steps that lead the raised area. I walked to the middle of the midnight platform and stopped at the microphone. Sighing, I gazed out at the endless tables that was the audience. I could hear a baby crying and everyone talking.
A voice came over the speakers, “Now, for your listening pleasure, Roxy singing ‘Climb Every Mountain’”
The music began. It was a slow song with a melancholy beat. The words came up on the screen in front of me, although I didn’t need them. I sighed softly and began the sing. The noise around me faded out and the room in front of me faded into one big pitch-black space. Even the lights from the lanterns that were against the wall seemed to flicker. I just sang. It is the purest thing I know how to do and it set me free. I couldn’t tell anyone if I had messed up during my song because I simply floated from my body and lazily watched myself from above. I sand purely from heart, and I realize now that that’s the only way to sing. I held my last note longer then the music and then was snapped back into my body and back to earth. I heard lots of applause from the darkness of the room and I took a little bow and walked off the stage and back to my friends.
“Jeez, sometimes I think you’re a better singer then me!” Jo smiled.
“Yeah, you’ll be up there by the end of the night, don’t worry.”
Jo blushed, “No.” She was right, she never got up there.
The waitress came with our food and we happily ate it and talked about what we were going to do this summer. We were in the middle of our meal and I was helping Jo pick out a song to sing when the older man from among the front tables walked over to us.
He turned to me and said, “Picking out another song to sing?”
Mikey, Jason, Jo, and I looked up. It took me a second to answer. “Actually, Jo,” I nodded my head towards my friend, “is picking out a song to sing.”
“Ah. Have you ever thought about singing professionally?” The man never glanced at Jo. I saw her face drop out of the corner of my eyes.
“Actually, that’s Jo’s...”
“I’m not offering your friend Jo manager, I’m offering you. Tomas R. Kindler,” the man gave a little bow.
I sat stunned for a moment. I looked at him and finally answered, “Roxy. I’m not much of a singer, though.”
Tomas laughed. “Not a singer, huh? I wish I could have recorded you up there. You’re amazing.” I started to shake my head when Mr. Kindler raised his hand. “Okay then. Here’s my card, Miss. Roxy.” He handed me a white business card. “Call me when you want to work out something.” With that, he walked away.
I stared after him for a second. Then I looked back at Mikey and Jason. They appeared dumbfounded. Jo looked very upset.
“I don’t know Jo,” I said the next afternoon. It’s your dream.”
“You have a chance to live a rock star’s life! Don’t you want that?” Jo laid stomach down on my bed. I sat on my desk chair with my back to the desk and my cordless phone in my hand.
“I don’t know. You’re supposed to be in the spotlight and I’m supposed to be in your band. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
“Oh please,” Jo rolled her eyes. “You have the chance to be somebody! You could be a great.”
“I don’t know. And live home?”
“God Rox,” Jo sat up and faced up from the edge of my bed. “Look around. There’s nothing here. NOTHING! It’s a little town where no one is every important. You could be important. You could mean something.”
“And if I fail?”
“Who cares? You come back home and your friends will still stand on a street corner with you. You’ll still be the greatest singer in this little hick town.”
“Second greatest,” I smiled.
Jo looked down, “Just call. It’s just a call.”
I sighed. “All right.” I took the business card from my desktop and dialed the number on it.
“Hello, Tomas Kindler's office. How may I direct your call?” The secretary on the other line asked.
“Hi, um, I met Mr. Kindler last night and...”
“Are you Roxy?”
“I’ll put you’re call right through. One second.”
The secretary put me on hold and no more then thirty seconds later Tomas Kindler picked up. “I must say, Roxy, I thought it would be a little longer before you called.”
I smiled, “I decided to take you up on your offer.”
“I figured you would. I need some information. Age?”
I heard keys being typed, “Are your parents okay with this?”
“My parents don’t care what I do. Their sign anything, if you need it.”
“Hum,” Mr. Kindler paused. Then he gave me the address of his office and asked me to go there at four o’clock. I agreed and we got off the phone.
“So?” Jo asked with excitement.
“I need to go to his office at four. It’s in walking distance.” I replied.
“It’s three, I’ll go and let you get ready.” Jo got up.
“You don’t have to.”
Jo shook her head, “It’s okay.” I gave her a hug and she went out the door. I moved to my closet and picked out an outfit to wear.
Within the weeks that follow, Mr. Kindler made me look, and act, like a pop diva. I went to some of my first voice lessons and learned tons of dance moves. Everything else went on hold, even my friends. They seemed to understand. I’d wake up at three o’clock and get home at eleven, simply exhausted. Two weeks into training, Tomas handed me music to my own songs; songs that were to be put onto my future CD. Four weeks after that, all the fast songs were choreographed and I could sing all the songs perfectly. A week after that, I was at the airport, on my way to Orlando, Florida.
“Oh, I’m going to miss you so much!” Jo flung her arms around my neck.
I hugged her back. “You know I’m going to miss you, too”
“It won’t be the same without you.” Jason hugged me next. “We need a guitarist, now.” I beamed at him.
“I’ll miss you.” I said as I pulled out of the hug.
I turned to Mikey and before I could put my arms out, I was in his. “I’m going to miss you too much, “ he whispered in my ear. He loosened his grip enough so he could see into my eyes. “Promise me something.”
“Promise me that you won’t change. Never change.” His sad eyes looked deep into mine.
“Mikey,” I said with a laugh.
“Promise,” he begged.
“Okay, I promise.” Mikey pulled me back into his chest. I heard his heart pounding deep in it. Mikey held me close like that for a full minute before I pulled out of it. He looked as if he was going to cry, but never did.
“Time to go,” Tomas pulled at my arm. I picked up my bag and followed him onto the ramp. I turned around one last time to wave to my friends. Jo’s checks were tear streaked and Jason stood behind her with his arm wrapped tightly around her shoulders. Jason smiled sadly and Jo waved with a little movement of her hand as another tear rolled down her check. Mikey had one hand in his jean pants. His other hand gave a short wave and dropped to his side. I stared at them for a moment and memorized the scene before Tomas pulled me onto the plane.
The tiny light faded as the plane rose into the clouds. I thought about my promise to Mikey and laughed a little. I thought that nothing could change me, not even money. Was I ever wrong.
Most everyone knows the story of my success. I went on tour with one of the most popular pop groups of the time and my single exploded. A month after going on tour, my album was put out and it broke every record of the time, and still holds them. Millions loved me and my face was everywhere. I didn’t have time for anything, not even the four most important people in the world. Jo and Jason would always be leaving messages on my cell phone. After a month, Mikey had given up on that. Two years went by before I went back home. Naturally, I called Mikey, Jason, and Jo and we all got together.
“Roxy!” Jo hugged me. “I missed you so much!”
I hugged her back, “Yea, I missed you, too.”
Jason was happy to see me, too. He showed me the repairs he had made with the car. It was looking almost has good as new. Mikey, on the other hand, gave me only a quick hug and barley mumbled hi.
“You in the mood for cheese fries?” Jason asked excitedly as we went into Tara’s.
“I’m actually on a diet,” I answered. The place looked small. Jennie was our waitress again.
“Wow, if it’s not little Roxy,” she smiled and threw her gum out. I sat next to Jo and across from Jason. When she thought I was looking away, she quickly fixed her hair. She smiled, “Cheese fries?”
“Yeah, one family order,” Jason said, then looked my way.
“And a salad,” I said.
“Whatever you want, honey.” Jennie walked away and began whispering behind the counter with the other waitresses.
“How does it feel to be home?” Jason asked.
“It’s smaller then I remember,” I bluntly replied.
“You’ve been gone for two years. It hasn’t changed,” Mikey said. He looked me in the eye and it sent a chill down my spine.
Jo smiled, “She’s been busy.”
“To busy to call?” Mikey asked bluntly.
I rolled my eyes, “Like you called, Mike.”
“I gave up on you. You never called back. Every day for a month all I got was your stupid voice mail!” Mikey stood up.
“Sorry for having a job,” I replied.
“It’s not a job; it’s your life. It’s you, now. Your friends used to be the most important thing in the world!”
I stood up, fear boiling in my blood now, “True friends are still important to me.”
Mikey shook his head, “True friends call each other. True friends make time for each other.”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Make it sound like a chore, why don’t you? Do you care?”
“Of course I do!”
Mikey’s eyes began to water, but a tear never dropped down his cute face. His checks were red with hurt and anger. He stared at me for a minute. “You broke your promise,” he said to me, then turned to Jason, “Lets go. She has more important things to do anyway.”
Mikey turned and started for the door. Jason got up. He looked as mad as Mikey, “He’s right, and you know it,” and with that, he headed out the door.
Jo got up. She looked at me and a tear ran down her face. She never said anything, just left. Mikey held the door open for her then turned back to me. “You didn’t just brake one promise, you broke friendships,” he said sadly and calmly and then he turned around. I saw him wipe his eyes as he let himself out.
I stared after them for a second, then realized everyone in Tara’s was staring at me. I pulled out my cell phone and called my limo. I told my driver to pick me up immediately then went outside. It had started to rain and I shivered. You broke friendships. The words and Mikey’s voice ran over her mind as she climbed into the limo. A tear ran down my check. He was right.
I haven't talked to any of them since. Four years have gone by, and I sometimes cry myself to sleep at night thinking of that horrible night. The last I heard of them, Jo and Jason had gone to the senor prom together. Jason crashed his car and it was totaled. He got a brand new one, but my mom said he was very upset about it. Funny, I thought he hated that stupid car. I tried to call Mikey, left a few messages before his dad picked up. He said Mikey never wanted to talk to me again. So, for those who want to live the glamour life, stay in your small towns. You may amount to more being a nobody.