Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 11: Talk of the Town
Part 3: Let’s Make a Deal (Revision 2)
Part 3: Let’s Make a Deal (Revision 2)
26 september 2014.
lunch, library. “Okay,” says Jennifer, “now that we’re away from the crowds for a bit, let’s plan our little thing tonight.”
“So are we going out?” asks Polly.
“No, Pizza Mafia’s giving us free pizzas to celebrate its delivery girl’s victory in the song war, so no need. We want to get’em there by eight, so make sure to get there by then.”
One of the librarians on duty, a cute college boy, asks, “Videogames?”
“Movies.” Jennifer winks.
“Aw, darn.” The girls laugh.
“So who’s got the guest list?”
Shira languidly waves a piece of paper in her hand. “There’s one more name I wanna add to it.”
“I hope it’s not anyone compromising.”
“No. I made her swear. She’ll spend the night with us if I help take care of her, well, problem.”
“I hope it won’t interfere with our schedule.”
“You can come join us if you want. Brandi’s taking care of the arrangements.”
“Shira Thomas, please come to the office,” says the receptionist over the school PA. “There’s someone who wants to see you as soon as possible.”
Shira swears under her breath. She gets up from her seat, takes a deep breath and then lets it out, takes on the calm she needs for potential battle with Falconer, and silently heads for the door. Jennifer gets up to join her at the door. Everybody’s eyes are on the two as they go through the door; nobody says a word.
lunch, hallway. “So what’s this all about?” asks Jennifer once the door closes behind them.
“Knowing the administration as well as we do,” replies Shira, “our so-called friends in the police would be as good a guess as any.”
As Shira and Jennifer walk together down the hall like the Wild Bunch heading for the arena, the few students stare at them as if they were condemned criminals. As they pass the library, their little krewe gains a third member as Brandi insists on walking on Shira’s other side. “If you’re in trouble, love, I’ve gotta be there to vouch for you. You’re too important to me.”
Shira winks. “Thanks.”
Side by side, black brown white, the three of them walk together toward the Principal’s Office with the utter determination of gunslingers headed for the duelling ground, as intimidating as they are beautiful. Even the meanest of the In Kids know better than to Challenge them when they’re on a mission. They stride down the hall and pass through the cafeteria till they reach their destination. They look at each other when they find a small and enthusiastic crowd gathered there.
“Looks almost like a celebrity decided to alight here,” says Jennifer.
“Hmmm,” muses Shira. “I hardly see any white kids there. I’m guessing it can’t be the cops.” Shira goes into the crowd saying, “’Scuse me, ’scuse me, got business here, lemme through.”
One black boy gets in front of him, points at her, and says incredulously, “It’s you?!” The whole crowd surrounds Shira and emits a mass squee as if she were the celebrity.
Annoyed, Shira raises her voice. “Will you guys let me in? That means you especially, Kwame Jamal.”
“Okay.” Kwame Jones scurries out of the way. Shira gestures to Jennifer and Brandi, and slips into the door to find—
Shira stands in front of him, paralyzed, her eyes wide open and staring at the big black man in a three-piece tweed power suit, matching beret, dozens of white and yellow gold chains, and mirrorshades. Brandi and Jennifer stare at each other in shock.
“Who is this?” asks Brandi.
“Only the hottest rap, hip-hop, and R&B producer in the entire Fashion-Industrial Complex, and he’s got the bling bling bling to prove it.” She goes in. Jennifer holds the door for Brandi and gestures for her to go. Brandi goes in, and Jennifer follows.
lunch, principal’s office. Shira walks up to Jayzus as the kids lucky enough to get a view through the door watch with silent expectancy. The producer holds out his hand. Shira shakes it.
Jayzus takes a long drag from his cigar and blows smoke rings. “I been hearin’ great things about you, Shira Thomas. Or is that Loca Fantoma?”
“So you’ve been watching me on MyTube?”
“That ain’t the least of it. Several of my fans here sent videos of your performance last night. You was absolutely killin’. I knew what I had to do.”
“Sign me to a big contract.”
“That’s why I’m here.”
Shira stares at Jayzus for a minute. Then she paces excitedly back and forth, looking at the hip-hop kids in the hallway, who want her to sign; then at Jennifer, who silently begs her not to sign; and back and forth. She musters up reasons why she shouldn’t sign, then she turns back to Jayzus and takes a deep breath.
“Yeah, I know I’m good enough and hot enough to make it huge. I know you’re a good enough producer to make everything work. I can see myself worshipped by millions. I’ll be set for life, with big mansions in California and the Caribbean, and Swiss bank accounts, and full divahood in the Fashion Élite, with beautiful male Mexican sex slaves and all the latest sexbot models...” She takes another deep breath and lets it out. “But I’m afraid I’ll have to turn you down.”
In unison, all the hip-hop kids outside the office yell, “Noooooo!” They beg and plead her to sign. Jayzus gestures them to shut up. They fall silent.
He asks, “So why are you turning down one of the greatest contracts in the industry?”
Shira raises her finger and paces. “Well, for one, the boyz and bitchz in the ’hood would see me as you selling them out just so you can sell records to suburban white girls who squee over Minty Fresh. That deep in the underground, they consider your name a dirty word. Second, I come with political baggage and might bring a little of my mother’s and my troubles with the Law to you, and you don’t want that. Third, I have a significant other of the same gender, which makes me sexually incorrect, and that definitely does not play well at all in the African Diaspora, or just plain America for that matter. Fourth, I’d lose my street cred if I were to sign; I’d lose all respect from the Style Underground for selling myself out to the hated Fashion-Industrial Complex, and some Stylers consider me a bit too mercenary already. Last but not least, I prefer to retain complete creative control over my own works rather than lose it to anybody else, so I won’t have to suffer my dad and Aunt Willa’s trauma from their long battle to get their music away from the record companies, pre-Melodia. So that’s why, as much as I want that money, I’ve decided to turn your offer down.”
Jayzus stares at Shira with cold anger. “I guarantee you’ll regret it.”
Shira stares back, confident in her choice. “No I won’t. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to doing my own thing. Good day.” She turns toward the door and leaves. Jennifer and Brandi follow. The disappointed crowd makes way for them to pass. Jayzus stares at Shira without blinking until she passes through the crowd, turns back toward the cafeteria, and disappears from view.
Kwame runs after Shira into the hallway, and demands, “Why the hell did you turn down Jayzus? If I was you, I’d sign in a New York minute!”
Annoyed, Shira turns to him. “Why would I wanna go trendomatic and lose my Style? It’s like losing my soul.” She turns from him and walks away.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.