Chapter 63:     The Band

ART writes--

Pokey was more or less living with us now, since Adam had invited him 
to and we had given him permission to set up his genuine Indian teepee 
in the Mother Meadow.  It was summer and he would rather sleep out 
there than in one of our guest rooms.  His life had changed since he 
no longer wasted it by getting drunk, but he had not yet found a new 
direction or a job.

So he and Adam had plenty of time to practice playing music together, 
having overtaken the rarely-used IPR Bigfoot Lab (Mead Hall) as their 
club house and practice locale.  Melly was keeping her old upright piano 
out there and sometimes she would join them and play along, but there was 
no structure as to when or how often.  We were thankful they rehearsed 
away from the house because mostly they seemed to be confused about what 
kind of music to play. Adam was trying to convince Pokey that they could 
become a professional band but Pokey was only in it for the fun.  
"Besides," he complained, "without a good bass player we won't ever have 
much of a sound." 
  
One summer day Melly brought Lissandra Cunnings out to the Hacienda to 
go riding.  Lissandra had been reluctant to come, assuming that we all 
disliked her for how she had treated Adam throughout their school 
careers, but Melly assured her that we were all grateful for her help 
in the case against Peter Sinsley and that she was welcome.

The plan had been that Elaine would go riding with the girls.  But 
Elaine was caught up in a project, so she prodded Adam and Pokey into 
going along with the girls instead.  The two guys agreed at once.  

Lissandra was obviously not completely comfortable with the situation, 
but was willing to try, even speaking semi-civilly to Adam (although 
she seemed to find it awkward to call him "Adam" after all the years 
of calling him impolite names back in school).  Adam was also formally 
polite to her, but no more than that.  Melly bubbled perhaps a bit too 
much.  Pokey kept gawking at beautiful Lissandra with lust in his eyes, 
but was far too shy to say anything to her.

Three horses were saddled, Melly rode Stormalong, Lissandra borrowed 
Starmist and Pokey was perched on Old Thunderhoof.  Adam had no 
horse, of course, going on foot.  Off they all went, following the 
power line road up into the hills.

Pokey rode Old Thunderhoof, the slowest and easiest horse, because 
although a bona fide Indian brave, he was not an experienced rider.  
He had always been afraid of horses.  He had ridden with us a few 
times, once we managed to convince him that the horses would not 
eat him.  But he had still not learned to post properly and he was 
rattled when the horse trotted.

Lissandra was a fairly adept rider, having been an enthusiast when 
younger, so she rode up beside Pokey and told him how to post.

"You've got to use your legs like springs," she said.

"I-I-I a-a-a,-m." he stuttered.

"No, like this," she said, half-standing in the stirrups, "so that your 
rear just gently pats the saddle when it comes up."

I may have mentioned before how Lissandra probably had the most popular 
female rear-end in Monroe, so Pokey stared at Lissandra's tightly blue-
jeaned butt being patted by the rising and falling saddle and almost 
fell off his horse.  Fortunately, Adam came up between them, easily 
trotting along with the horses and steadied Pokey with one hand.

Lissandra was almost as unsettled as Pokey when she was startled to see 
Adam pull up beside her, his head level with her own, effortlessly 
keeping pace with the trotting horse she rode.  So Adam put a hand out 
to steady her too.

Surprised or embarrassed at the contact, Lissandra's head whipped 
around, black hair flying.  She cocked an eyebrow at Adam, then gave 
her horse the command to run.

Starmist, Elaine's big white jumper, was the fastest horse we had.  He was 
always ready to run, usually having to be held back and slowed down.  
Lissandra and horse charged ahead, leaving Adam and Pokey behind.

"Catch her, bro," Pokey shouted, "show her what you can do."

But Adam only paced alongside his friend, saying, "Not worth the 
effort."

Lissandra slowed down enough to let Melly catch up with her, so the 
girls rode ahead, the guys behind.


They all stopped beside a creek that crossed the power-line road. The horses drank and the riders rested their saddle-sore bottoms. Adam and Pokey were carrying on their conversation about starting a band. "I dunno, kemo sabe," Pokey was saying, "it's fun to play together, but getting up in front of a lot of people..." "You've done it before," Adam said. "Yeah, but it's just as hard to do it every time. It doesn't get easier. I don't feel I'm that good." "Well I do," Adam insisted, "you've got the rhythm I want. It's a Bigfoot/Indian thing, trust me." Melly decided to expand the conversation to the whole group. "Addy's trying to get me to play piano too. He thinks we'd be magic together." "I don't think that," Adam insisted, "I know it. I can hear it in my head." "Well, that's it then. We'll record your head and just pretend to play." Melly turned to her silent friend to pull her into the conversation, "How about you, Liss? You want to be in our band?" Lissandra hesitated, obviously reluctant to intrude in their band fantasies, then shrugged, "I don't play... well, not any real instrument, anyway." "How about ooo-wa backgrounds?" Pokey suggested, eager to say something to her, anything. "I can't sing." She was beginning to sound embarrassed. "Okay Liss," Adam said, "we know your talents don't end at being gorgeous. Come on, what's the not real instrument you DO play?" Lissandra took that as a compliment and an invitation to fantasize about the band. So she finally said, "I used to play a washtub bass sometimes at summer camp, but it was only for fun." "Hey, fun is good!" Pokey exclaimed, as if it was all settled. "And I can dance," Lissandra added, much more confidently. "What kind of dance?" Adam asked, sounding actually interested. "All sorts. Modern dance. Did ballet as a kid." Melly spoke up, "You should see her belly dance!" "Man, I'd love to!" Pokey said. "Yeah. Show us your belly dance, Liss," Melly insisted. "What, here? I can't, there's no music..." She stopped suddenly because the sound of a Greek bouzouki was coming out of Adam's mouth. "Bwaddleeeyaa..." Lissandra was struck by the authenticity of the sound. Pokey picked up two stones from the creek and began to tap them together in a persuasive rhythm, just as startling as the sounds Adam was making. All of them experienced a potential thrill from the magic so simple as rhythm. "My God, listen!" Lissandra said to Melly, "it really does sound like belly dancing music!" "Dance, then," Melly said and meant it. "Okay...if you dance with me." Melly was about to say "But I can't..." when she realized that she could. The rhythm was right there, enticing her. "...okay!" The two girls stood up and faced each other, Lissandra assumed a pose and Melly copied it. They nodded their heads to the rhythm and were about to start. "Hey," Pokey objected, "where's the bellies?" Lissandra was wearing a flannel man's shirt, which she unbuttoned and tied in a knot under her breasts, showing her midriff. Melly had on a baggy sweater, which she tried to roll up, but it kept unrolling as she danced and threw her off. Lissandra, however, got into it. Adam was mouthing the sounds, the clings and clangs of exotic instruments; Pokey rattling off a rather amazing pattern of clicks and clacks that sparkled in her ears. She closed her eyes and let her body go where it wanted to. Now, I didn't see it, was only told about it later, but it does seem that Lissandra could do a mean belly dance. Melly tried to keep up, but soon had to step back to watch in awe, clapping her hands in time to the dance. But Lissandra didn't wait for her, she was lost in the music and the motion and the moment. When it ended, everyone was flushed with the feeling of having had a transcendent experience. And they looked around, as if surprised to see that they were still beside a creek in the woods, horses drinking water, flies buzzing, occasional bird chirping and not one musical instrument around for miles. "Whew! That was totally cool!" Lissandra said, breathing hard. "You guys are RILLY GOOD!" "Hey, I've always liked Greek music," Adam admitted with a shrug. "That was really nice dancing too," Pokey said, "made ME horny anyway." "See what I mean?" Adam said, "I've been saying there's magic to be accessed here between us." "I think you're right, Freakfoot," Lissandra agreed, finally feeling relaxed with the group.
As they rode back home, Melly and Lissandra moved on ahead of the guys again. Eventually they talked about Adam. "You know, I thought it was just teenage dream-junk those guys were talking: hey man, let's be a band because we're so cool. But after that...not just hearing it, but being totally pulled into it like that, I mean RILLY!" "Playing piano with Adam has always been fun," Melly said, "maybe we could become a band, who knows?" "I wouldn't blame you," Lissandra said, perhaps a bit wistfully. "You want to join too?" Lissandra did not answer that. "You know, I can you see why you like being around him," Lissandra said, carefully, "even if it's not quite the relationship you wanted." Melly just nodded, not wanting to get into that. "I'd like this too," Lissandra admitted. "I mean, not just HIM, it's everything--his folks, where he lives, the horses, his music, it's all so...nice." "Well good, you can come again." "Oh, but, I don't want to horn in on your scene. It's you and him, I don't think you need another girl around." "Pokey seems to think so." "Yeah well, he's a horny one, all right. But I don't think he's..." "No, I didn't think so either," Melly let her off the hook. "Actually, I've never looked at Pokey as a...a guy. He's always been a..." "A screw-up and a drunk Indian," Melly finished that sentence too. "Yeah, well, yeah. But when he was playing those...those ROCKS...he was actually...uh...pretty sexy just then. It was the first time I'd ever thought I'd like to be friends with him." "To tell the truth, Pokey has changed. Mainly because he's not an alcoholic any more, which is a Totally Major Improvement! Adam cast a magical shaman spell on him to stop drinking and it worked! So now I like being friends with Pokey too." "What, Freakfoot's some kind of a witch doctor now? How can that be?" "Oh...forget I said that. Maybe I can tell you about it later, but not just yet." "Oooo, secret and mysterious. Which is cool, I guess." "So how about Addy," Melly asked, "you think he's sexy too?" "Yeah, I guess, like a HORSE can be sexy. But not--I mean, he rilly IS totally a Wookie." "Yeah, I know. Sigh. But ever since puberty I've wanted to deflower him anyway." "You can't, Mel. Just can't." "I could. He can't." "Well, that's lucky for you, kid. I mean, I can rilly understand how you could love him--he IS pretty loveable, actually. But..." Lissandra looked back at Adam and Pokey, the comparatively tiny Indian riding a pretty big horse with a monstrous Bigfoot strolling beside him, them talking face to face in modern American English. She felt her reality either being threatened or expanding, but couldn't tell which. "He's even bigger than he was in school and...a lot harder. God, what a bod, he looks stronger than the HORSE!" Lissandra asked Melly directly, "doesn't his HUMONGOUSness scare you at all? Melly smiled a little, shook her head a little, shrugged a little. "He just makes me feel part of that bigness." "Maybe so, if he loves you," Lissandra granted, "but ol' Freakfoot's got no reason to love me."
It was evening by the time they reached home, where they were delighted to discover that there was a hot Mexican dinner waiting for them. They were hungry and silly and laughed a lot. Even Lissandra. "Y'know, I usually need a few drinks in me to get silly like this," Lissandra admitted. But nobody was drinking alcohol, it had simply been a nice day and now it was a nice evening. After the dinner we all ended up in the living room, collapsed in the sofas. Lissandra noticed several musical instruments leaning against the upright piano over in the corner of the room and said, "Adam, Pokey, that music today was...well, I can't get it out of my head... uh...how about playing something now?" As if on cue, Adam took up his oversized guitar and Pokey put a set of tom-toms between his knees. But their professionalism vaporized into "Well what're we gonna play?" Then the usual "I dunno's" and "how-does- that-song-go?". They started a song or two, but it fell apart. Sounding good, but the energy to keep it coherent faltered. Whatever had been happening out on the trail was not happening now. "We're missing something critical here," Adam complained, then turned to Lissandra, "I think we need you, Liss. You said you can play a washtub bass?" "Oh, I used to diddle around with one when I was a kid. You know: a broomstick and some string, but that's hardly..." Adam and Melly shared an astounded glance and then laughed together. "I don't believe this!" Melly said. Adam jumped up to leave the room, saying, "I'll be right back." The Divine Bass had been one of Doug's party toys years before, back when we would all drink wine, sing-along and toot kazoos together just for fun. Ever the genius of absurd design, Doug had developed his perfect bass sound from a hand-crafted thin-paneled wooden box with a wonderful hollow THUMP to it, a wooden shaft hinged to the top panel and some nylon rope. It had been forgotten in the shed for years. As Adam retrieved it Lissandra was trying to protest, "...hey, it's been too long since..." But once it was set down in front of her she considered the odd design for a second, was amused enough to chuckle, tried one THUMP and was sold. She clamped the box between her knees, instinctively pivoting the shaft and plunking the rope and had a workable bass riff right away. "Well AW-RIGHT," she said, "let's get it ON!" "Now we need some sorcery," Adam said, "our haka is all scattered. Pokey: say a magic word." "Uh...horses!" Already sitting at the piano, Melly took over instantly, playing chords everyone recognized: Ghost Riders in the Sky. Pokey found the beat, Adam's guitar glided in between piano and drums, Lissandra's bass glued them all together and they were off and rolling. Adam started singing, "An old cowpoke went riding on one dark and windy day..." It was not the first time Lissandra heard Adam sing, he'd performed in school events and talent shows, but it was the first time she'd been physically inside the music. It sounded good, RILLY good. Then she realized that she sounded just as good as the others--it was RILLY magic! Playing without thinking, everything vibrating, even herself. She closed her eyes and when the chorus came she could hear her own voice harmonizing with everyone else, "yippie-yi-yaaaay, yippie- yi-yohhhh"... She could sing after all. Adam went to the next level, ad-libbing his own lyrics: They could be beings of cobalt Or of hot magnesium, They blaze across the sky in sudden Brightness when they come. They're searching out the Universe To find out what is true, They're only passing by above To pick up some more crew. Yippie-yi-yaaaay, Yippie-yi-yohhhh, Ghost Starships in the Sky... No one wanted to stop, the choruses went on and on, as if they were chanting a mantra. When the song finally had to end they each had a feeling of withdrawal, a readjustment to reality. "Whoo-eee, what drug have you guys slipped to me?" Lissandra joked, "I was feeling totally high." "That was haka," Adam explained, "life-force. And you slipped it to yourself." They played music until late in the night. Melly drove herself and Lissandra home to their apartment. Pokey went out to his teepee. Adam sat alone strumming a classical piece on the guitar when I came into the living room. He seemed to be lost in thought. "Well, you're actually beginning to sound like a band," I mentioned. "Yeah. I think it's about to gel for us all. " "Lissandra too?" "I think so. Something came together differently today, maybe it was Lissandra. We could use a bass player anyway." He told me about her belly-dancing in the woods, how he'd been impressed. "So are you and she friends now?" I asked, curious. "Oh, I dunno. Maybe. She's Melly's friend now, so I guess we've GOT to be friends. Besides, I want her in the band." "Well, as I remember it, she wasn't very nice to you way back when. Do you bear a grudge?" "Nah, she was just young and stupid back then, same as me," Adam shrugged. He seemed to have said enough, but then went on, "it's just that I remember what a CRUSH I had on her back then, even when she was being mean." "Feeling twinges?" I asked. Adam didn't say anything. He can't lie, so when he doesn't want to answer a question, he simply doesn't. "Well, she IS a pretty girl," I teased him, "and if she is also being NICE as well..." "No, I don't want Lissandra," Adam informed me, "I love Melly and that's frustrating enough. Why should I need another girl I also can't have?"
But Lissandra had definitely arrived back into Adam's life. She became part of the band and was soon indispensable to their music. It just so happened that she was between jobs and had time for music. Of course, music could not be the only thing in life for those young people, it was also a nice warm summer. So they all went out to Naked Lake together. At first Pokey was quite excited about finally getting to see Lissandra naked, perhaps Adam was too, he didn't say. (I would have been, she is SUCH a sexy girl.) Of course, Melly was just as sexy, but they'd seen her before (which made her old stuff). But as always, after 10 minutes of nudity everyone is old stuff and they could all just relax. When they returned from the lake we had yet another social evening, did a barbeque, a few drinks (which Pokey had no problem with). After dinner Adam made an announcement to Lissandra: "Liss, as you've probably discovered by now, we're a bit of a secret society here. We want you to join us, which means that you'll have to know the secret, but first I need your promise to keep it." There was no argument about that, it had to be Adam's decision who may be told about the Nokhontli. Lissandra seemed taken by surprise, "Uhhh...okay, I'm interested, sure, but how can I promise to keep secrets when I don't know what they're about? I mean, if you guys are evil terrorists..." "Just evil," Pokey informed her, "hardly terrorists at all." "Just go ahead and promise, Liss," Melly said, "no one's out to fool you and Addy can hear what you mean." "Okay, sure, I totally promise not to blab. I just hope it's something rilly scandalous." So Adam told Lissandra a short version about his six months among the Nokhontli, each of us getting excited and butting in to comment every now and then. Lissandra went from amused skepticism to qualified wonder and finally insisted upon listening to every word of the two hours of narration Adam had recorded in the secret archive on our office computer. Pokey was amused to see her going through the same transformation to belief as he had a few weeks before. It was late by the time Lissandra was done listening. Elaine and I had gone to bed, the other kids saw a little TV to pass the time since they didn't want to play music without Lissandra. She finally came into the living room and went straight to Adam, who was leaning back on our super squatch-sized sofa with a sleeping Melly snuggled in his left arm. Lissandra flopped into the curl of his free arm, looking stunned and saying nothing for a long time. Then she turned to him and said, "Okay, Freakfoot, look me right in the eyes and tell me all of this is TRUE." Adam did so and she nodded, pondered, then nodded and said, "Okay, just wanted to make sure." After that she kept nodding until Melly took her upstairs to the guest room. It was decided that Melly would share her bed with Lissandra because she seemed shell-shocked. But in the morning everyone was fine and they held the first official meeting of the band.
We were all gathered in the kitchen for breakfast; the four kids, Elaine and myself, scrambled eggs and bacon, hash browns, toast, orange juice and coffee. Did I leave anything out? Oh, yes, and a feeling of being very comfortable together, all of us. Adam spoke up, "All right everybody, we need to talk about our band." "You really think we ARE a band?" Melly wondered, still unsure this was serious business. "I hope so, because I want it to be the four of us. We fit together, the haka flows between us and I believe in each of you. But you've all got to want it too, or it won't work. So we need some definition of intent." "Oh, are we going to sign contracts now?" Lissandra asked sarcastically, her old self again. "The spoken word is better for me," Adam stated with an Orator's perspective. "So I'm going to trust you all with my deepest secret." "Oh Shit, more secrets!" Lissandra kidded, "I just barely survived the last set!" "Shush, Liss," Melly commanded, "I want to hear this. Are you finally going to tell us about Your Vision, Addy?" "Nothing final about it, I can only reveal so much at a time if I want it to come true." "Oh yeah, the Dream Vision you had while studying magic at Aket," Pokey got excited, "lay it on us, bro!" "In four months our little band is going to achieve an overwhelming media success. I need you all to believe that because it's going to cost us a lot of time and effort to do it." The others, including myself, looked at him with various degrees of acceptance and amusement. Melly may have heard some of it before. Pokey had a respect for visions. Lissandra, well... "Yeah, sounds crazy, I know," Adam admitted, "but I'm pretty certain that it's going to happen. We're going to make a hit record, star in world-popular videos, there'll be lots of money, but all of that will only be a means to achieve something far more important." Lissandra rolled her eyes, "Oh wait, let me guess: World Peace?" "You've been reading my Vision," Adam said. "Addy, does this have something to do with the Nokhon Negotiator project?" Melly asked. "Yes, of course, but that'll come further along. First we've got to establish ourselves in the media world and we'll do that via this band." "Isn't there a better way to do that?" Lissandra asked, "I mean, we're not that good! Besides, you're already the Biggest Media Bigfoot in the world." "This band is how it happens," Adam shrugged, "it's not my plan or decision..." "...but your Spirit Vision! Cool, bro, I get it," Pokey said. "All right, Addy, we'll try to respect that," Melly agreed, "So tell us what happens in Your Vision, as much as you can." "I've been given no precise specifics, but I do know that we do a concert of original songs in some large hall, a big audience, television coverage, it becomes magic, haka flows, coincidences happen, it goes mega...and that's pretty much what I've got for now." "Do you really expect us to believe this Vision stuff, Freakfoot?" "I need you to believe it, Liss, or it may never happen." "I dunno, seems pretty flakey to me, I mean, come ON: Visions?" "May I try to convince you?" Adam asked. "Sure, take your best shot, Freakfoot. Convince me." "All right, Lissandra: do you believe that I tell the truth?" "Well...sure, I guess. I mean, you never lie--so you say." "Then, Lissandra Cunnings, you DO believe in my Vision." Lissandra was wearing her usual smart-alec grin as she looked into Adam's eyes, challenging his authority to tell her what she believed. But her grin vanished as her mouth fell open, her eyes widening in amazement. Then she closed them. "Don't you, Liss?" Adam asked. She opened her eyes, sarcastic smile replaced by an expression of respect. "Yes Freakfoot, of course I believe. I mean, how could I not?"
They rehearsed for an hour without ever really making any music, but had fun anyway. There was a lot of kidding about Adam's oh-so optimistic Vision, especially the part about an "overwhelming media success". Adam never got ruffled, he was happy they were even trying. About noon they took a break and all the kids took the van out to Naked Lake again. And that became most of their summer social life: out to The Lake in the days, playing music in the evenings.

Chapter 64

Adam out of Eden