Chapter 75:     Business

ART writes-- 

It has been two weeks since Adam left Monroe to confront his Adversary, 
out there among the Nokhontli.  He told us he would probably be gone at 
least until the next Full Moon, so we are not especially worried yet.  But 
a little, yes.  Actually, we have all been so busy ever since then that 
there has been little time to worry about him or anything else than what 
is going on here. 

The day after he left we announced that Adam would be "away" for a while 
and hoped that all those journalists and photographers would just relax and 
go home for a while.  But all that did was set off an explosion of rumors 
and suppositions for the media world to have fun with.

Melly had stayed away for "three days of feeling sorry for myself," as she 
put it, until Lissandra called her at Doug's house.

"Okay, Mel-girl, Freakfoot has gone off on his quest to Squatchland so the 
coast is clear: now get the lead out of your ass and come help deal with 
all this.  We've got interviews and meetings galore and I can't do it 
without you!"

"You're sure Addy's gone for a while?"

"Yeah, he said to tell you he needed to be at the next Kha-rat, after that 
he wasn't sure.  He also videoed a Power of Attorney giving you authority 
to speak for him, pretty much putting you in charge of all Squatch & 
Friends business."

"ME?  Oh God, I don't want... can't... oh, never mind, I'm coming.  Be 
there right away." 

Melly was amazed to see how many cars and TV-vans were lined up on Old Pipe 
Line Road at our driveway gate, which was locked to keep them out.  But 
nothing was stopping anyone from coming in to the house on foot, which was 
surrounded by a big crowd of journalists and businessmen waiting their turn 
to meet with Squatch & Friends.  

Melly had to park far away and walk in just like everybody else. She almost 
made it to the house before being recognized--hey, that's HER!--and was 
mobbed by journalists sticking microphones in her face, asking questions 
she was not ready to answer.  Like: "What REALLY happened that night?"  

Melly handled it well, excused herself politely, promised she would get 
back to them in about 15 minutes and squeezed past into the front door, 
using her own key and having to insist that the entire crowd did not 
squeeze into the house along with her.  

We were all gathered in the house office, where we already had equipment for 
business with IPR and various news services: two computers, faxes, multiple 
phone lines.  It had now become S&F Central Headquarters. 

Elaine was opening envelopes and packages specially delivered by the patient 
efforts of our old friend Dave the Hippie Mailman.  I was processing hundreds 
of e-mails stacked up on the computer, offering only short responses, mostly 
stalling.  Lissandra was talking on two phones at once.  But we all dropped 
everything and jumped up to give Melly welcome-home hugs.

We were happy to see her looking as good as she did.  I had secretly dreaded 
that she would resemble a train wreck, but she seemed on top of things again, 
bright-eyed and beautiful as always.  Excited, even.

"It's pretty extreme out there," she told us, "all those reporters are frantic 
for their own exclusive headline story, but at least nobody was deliberately 

"Welcome to Media Hell," Lissandra said while muffling her phone, "it's been 
like this for three days.  Good thing you finally showed up to take over!"

"ME?" Melly wailed in protest, but Lissandra had already jumped back to her 
ongoing conversation, even as the other telephone rang, which she simply 
handed to Melly.  

Melly found herself talking with some studio executive in Hollywood (he 
said) who wanted to secure the movie rights to...well, something, anything.  
She told him to "Contact our manager", recited Si Bintzen's telephone number 
and hung up.  But it rang again immediately, so Melly pulled out the plug.

"Can't Si handle all this? he's supposed to be our manager."

"He IS handling it," I told her, "his Seattle office is just as swamped, 
he's had to hire two new secretaries.  But you kids still have to decide 
how you want to play it, because this is about your own lives, about just 
how deeply involved you really want to get; making commitments to appear 
on TV talk shows, doing more concerts..." 

Putting down the phone at last Lissandra interrupted, "And merchandising! I 
just got an offer," she laughed "I mean, Squatch & Friends as Mattel Power 
Figures?"  Everybody got a chuckle out of that.

But right back to business, I told Melly, "Si Bintzen has, in fact, been 
desperately trying to get us all gathered for a meeting with some music 
industry people in Seattle."

"But we've sort of had to sit and wait for you to finally show up, Mel," 
Lissandra teased, "since you've got Freakfoot's say in whatever we decide 
to do."

"Oh great!  Addy had to dump this on me just when he and I are in the 
middle of our worst crisis ever."

"Yes, well, you control half the interest, so that effectively puts you 
legally in charge of S&F.  Can you handle it?" I asked, still uncertain how 
badly damaged she was.

"Oh well, I guess I'd BETTER!" she said with a chipper shrug, "I can't let 
everybody down just because of what happened to me the other night. Besides, 
I know that what we're going to do now is way bigger than any of our own 
personal problems."  

"Way to go, Fearless Leader," Lissandra cheered.

But Melly was not ready to smile yet, she took on the look of a zealot 
instead.  "No, not me, it's still Addy because he already told us where 
all this is headed..."

The phone rang again, but this time it was Lissandra who pulled the plug 
and said, "So we're still following Freakfoot's Magical Sha-haka Vision?"

" keeps on coming true!" Melly insisted, "Not just the concert, but 
the rest of it too-- the important part!"

"Yeah, yeah, I've noticed that too." Lissandra confirmed.

"Call Si Bintzen," Melly commanded with suddenly very convincing authority, 
"let's arrange that meeting tonight if we can.  Where's Pokey?"

"Still in Bellingham, visiting that girl Maki."

"Let's get him back here.  Now I've got to go satisfy all those reporters 
out there so that they go away."

Lissandra let the obvious "satisfy" gag go unspoken, "Know what you're going 
to say?"

"Oh yeah, I do.  And what not to say."

Melly had always been good at talking to the Press and she gave them just enough star personality and good quotes to send most of the journalists rushing off to post their stories before deadline. She also posed prettily for the photographers until they too suddenly had somewhere else to be. The crowd finally began to thin out. Being the daughter of a movie star had put Melly in the media spotlight at an early age and being the maybe/maybe-not girl friend of the world's only recognized Bigfoot had well prepared her for nosy questions and insinuating questions. The tabloids were always seeking potential scandals and she had always confounded them with cheery none-of-your-business answers, neither denying nor admitting anything and yet titillating them with suggestive "maybe"s. Which was all the tabloids really wanted anyway, so they too were satisfied and went off to dream up some innuendos that might sell lots of copies of their scandal rag. It was a game and Melly played it well. And she did so while dispensing very little actual information. She told the truth: that no decisions or deals had been made as yet, but that we would be meeting with the record industry. That Adam was away and currently incommunicado, so we didn't know more than anyone else. As for whether it was true that all the band members were having Free Sex with each other, she left them with her old favorite "Wouldn't you like to know?"
Pokey was already on his way back from Bellingham when Lissandra called him. Maki had summer-quarter exams to finish, so she was busy. He was also aware that things were cooking at our place--which he had seen on TV News--although he was not certain of what use he could be to us in the current situation. "You're one-fourth of Squatch & Friends, we have some decisions to make." When he arrived on his scooter he saw that the media crowd had dissipated, but there were still a few newspaper reporters parked out on Pipe Line Road, who jumped to interview the now-famous drummer of Squatch and Friends. Pokey had been essentially incognito in Bellingham, but even so a couple of local reporters had recognized and cornered him for interviews, so he was warmed up to the experience and said all the right things, mainly: "I dunno what's going on, I've been away." Since he'd been gone for two nights we all assumed that he'd had a very nice date with pretty young Maki Yoshido. He said he did, but was shy about any details. We could see that he looked happy and had not been drinking, which was really all we needed to know. We had contacted Si Bintzen early in the day and the meeting was already arranged for 7:00 PM that same evening. We were to meet at Sweet Silence Sound Studio in Seattle, where we could listen to the latest remixes of the concert. Also because there would be some important music industry folk coming and Si's office was too small and shabby to impress anyone. Elaine and I went to the meeting with the kids, since we were almost as involved as they were in this phase of the Squatch & Friends project. I could say that I wanted to offer some adult input to the decision-making process, but really just didn't want to miss out on it. The "kids" were all over 21 years old now and I got the feeling that Melly was going to be better at this business than I ever would. The van was still damaged, the side-door Adam had kicked to pieces during his berserker episode lying crumpled on the floor. Pokey suggested we take the Squatchmobil with the top down just for fun, but it was too hard to control a car customized for a Bigfoot-sized driver. So all five of us crowded into Elaine's station wagon and drove to Seattle. The recording studio was in a run-down looking building in the industrial part of South Seattle. Elaine and I had to share a bad memory, since this was not far from where Adam had been kidnapped at the age of five. Inside the building, however, everything was modernized for a high-tech recording studio with several large well-lit rooms branching off. Our meeting was being held in the largest locale, with buffet table and big wide flatscreen for displaying videos. It looked professional, at least. Si Bintzen had become the band's manager almost by default because he and I had been acquaintances at college and he believed in the band. I liked him, he was a nice guy, but I was not quite sure of how good a manager he really was. He'd been working in the music business for years but still had that shabby little one-man office, never having handled anything as big as Squatch & Friends was turning out to be. I had mentioned those doubts to Melly, but she shook her head and spoke with absolute confidence, "Adam hears when people speak true and he said Si was the right man. His decision and mine." Amen. Si was already there waiting for us. There was also a sound technician, a young computer whiz and a dignified-looking man in a business suit from Seattle-First Bank. No journalists. We were waiting for two executives from Songmonger Records to arrive so that the meeting could actually begin. In the meantime there was an opulent smorgasbord and drinks to generate a social atmosphere. Si was frantically enthusiastic about all the news coverage we had been generating, "My god, a smash hit concert followed by a heroic battle against ANOTHER BIGFOOT is pretty good PR, but coupled with his disappearance from the public eye--obviously going back to the Sasquatches to FINISH the battle --wow, that's EPIC publicity you just can't buy for any amount of money!" When the two suits from Songmonger arrived the meeting went as planned. Si introduced everyone and gave a resume of where things stood for Squatch & Friends, business-wise. "I first checked Adam out at Pelosa's one night, having seen an ad in the Everett Herald and remembered that he was Art's foster son, the only "tame Bigfoot" in the world, etc. I was interested in seeing just what a Singing Sasquatch could do and he was...okay. Good voice, techniques, budding talent. But I figured that it was mostly the sasquatch gimmick that made him marketable. That's what I was interested in, I admit it. I never really expected the performance he gave that night!" "None of us did," I agreed. "Liss and Pokey and I'd been rehearsing with him for months and we were surprised too," Melly admitted. "And to think," Si went on, "the video recording we have of the entire concert is just a FLUKE, it wasn't supposed to happen! All that equipment was there for Chrome Pie and they just happened to do a test of you guys, then decided to keep recording, all of it. It's top quality sound, we've already done the finished mix, now all we have to do is make a good cover, burn a zillion CDs and we've got a hit record on autopilot!" "What about piracy?" one of the Executives asked, wearing a frown. "Looks as if the entire concert has already been posted on You Tube, there are millions of pirate mp3's whizzing all over the Internet. Is there any market left for us to actually SELL any CD's?" Si had an answer to that: "Almost everything on Internet was recorded on cell-phone cameras, hand-held out in the audience the night of that concert. Sound and picture quality all crap, but the PR effect is phenomenal: we already have a planet full of fans, all waiting for our professionally produced CD, soon to be followed by a 2-disk DVD of the video coverage now being processed." "And you assume it will sell?" the Executive asked. "Are you kidding?" Si said. "Listen!" he commanded. The room filled up with the finished mix of "I Like To Run", supercharged by high-tech electronics feeding a state-of-the-art 10-loudspeaker system. Loud, but not too loud. For me, it was like being right back at the Paramount Northwest that night, except that the sound was better. All that raw energy was right in our faces, including the erotic beat, hitting slightly lower. When the music stopped everyone staggered to catch their balance again. We had all been dancing, even the suits. Those of us attached to band had been singing at the tops of our voices. Turned on all over again. "Holy fucking shit!" said the dignified Executive, "that WILL sell!" "Sure, it'll sell," Si agreed, "even if it was lousy, a Singing Sasquatch would sell. But this--this will make history!" "And money!" the other Executive predicted happily. "And fifty-six percent of that money," Melly interrupted with a surprisingly authoritative voice, "is to be channeled into a specific project that we members of Squatch & Friends will be administering. We are establishing a Foundation, the purpose of which shall be announced later. You'll need to calculate than into your profit margins." "Fifty-six percent? Are you crazy?" Both executives speaking in simul-sync, "Why would we do that?" "Because otherwise you will not have the option of distributing our music," said Queen Melly. "Everyone here, listen up: none of this is fluke nor coincidence, this is Magic. Adam had a Vision about all this and just keeps coming true." "A Vision? Do you expect us to..." "You heard the song, was it Magic or not?" The executive tried to deny it, but couldn't. "Well, yeah, I guess, depends how you define magic." "Fifty-six percent defines it quite well," Melly finished. Long live the Queen!
Si had wanted to produce the record himself, he had access to the necessary equipment, but there were already too many commercial interests involved. The digital camera recordings belonged to Seattle's Channel 5 TV, who had only intended to shoot Chrome Pie but ended up taping everything. They, in turn, had to cooperate with Si, who was representing Squatch & Company, etc etc. But we had nothing to complain about, the CD had obviously been a labor of love for everyone involved. They all felt that this was something special, a modern Abbey Road and ended up doing a beautiful job of producing it. The cover was a photo Elaine had taken of the band on stage that night with our new super-megapixel digital camera, purchased just for that concert. We had front row seats and I'd taken about a hundred shots of our kids playing music up on stage. I figured that was enough, but Elaine wanted a turn too. The one picture she took just happened to capture Adam and Melly leaning all the way into the music, soul-mate eyes locked onto one another's. Pokey just behind and between them, arms raised high for a wild-yet-controlled bash upon his drums, his own eyes ecstatic. Lissandra caught in the middle of dancing around her thump-box, twisting in a way that just happen to display both her beautifully sculptured face and her equally sculptured butt, about sexy as hell (and sex sells!). A lucky picture, everybody perfect: the magnificent Singing Sasquatch, the noble Indian brave, the salt & pepper set of two overwhelmingly appealing young women. The CD ended up being entitled "Squatch & Friends, Live in Concert", as if they were already a famous band. Si had suggested the under text, "with Adam Leroy Forest, the Singing Sasquatch", but we all voted that down as corny advertising. Everyone knew who Adam was anyway. There was enough material recorded for at least 2 CD's, between Adam's own songs and Chrome Pie jams, but this first album was only Adam's 13 original songs, plus a jam with Chrome Pie as "guest artists". Chrome Pie's own new album was being simultaneously produced and also featured Squatch & Company as their "guests" on one cut. A third album of them all jamming together was already being mixed down, although it wouldn't be released until later on in the year, probably Christmas. The entire concert was to be televised next summer, a year after the concert. The DVD would be released six months before. Internet would continue pumping out goodwill and free advertising.
Ten days after the meeting in Seattle I was driving into Monroe with the radio on when I heard the music and voice of my foster son on KZAM FM, singing "I Like To Run". I cranked up the volume. I'd heard it many times before, but it was still a thrill to hear it on a public radio station. "I Like to Run" had been an Internet hit for weeks, now it had finally come to the commercial media. Now it was making money. Soon it was playing at least once an hour on every FM station. Then videos of various selections from the concert showed up on MTV. The runaway train was on its way. There was already a hungry market for non-concert videos of those same songs, flashy big production numbers with professional dancers and special effects. A veritable mob of music video producers were clamoring to pitch their concepts: they had ideas, they had passion and they even had funding. But we had no Squatch. There was absolutely no point to a S&F music video without Adam, those projects had to be put off until he returned. But even without Adam, the rest of the band were in the position of becoming stars. They were especially popular in Monroe, of course, where the locals had watched them grow up and experienced local concerts, but suddenly almost everyone in the entire USA also knew who they were. Adam might have overshadowed them if he had been around, being the biggest star--in every way--but while he was so mysteriously gone again the other kids became the hottest new stars available. Melly was already well established as a media darling and hot babe, daughter of Sally Rathers, childhood playmate of the Monroe Bigfoot, seen on TV playing piano and singing along with Adam for their high school talent show. All those nude paparazzi photos from Naked Lake illegally posted on Internet (which will probably be floating around forever, even though they were supposed to be removed because Melly had been underage at the time) were simply more free PR and so on. Now with Squatch & Friends, Melly Wielson was a star by default. Lissandra Cunnings was new to the media spotlight, but they were glad to welcome her. Exotically beautiful, racially interesting, sexy and sassy with a clever and quotable wit, an absurdly good figure and more than a hint of bad girl attitude that gave her image some edge. But best of all in the eyes of the entertainment industry: those two girls were hotter than hot as a set. Contrasting Blond and Latina, each more beautiful than the other and more than double sexy together. There was also that fascinating rumor that they played more than music with their pet Bigfoot. Sex sells and these two babes could be a profitable product. Melly was somewhat indignant about that marketing concept, while Lissandra, our resident bad girl, was mostly amused by it. Pokey found himself becoming a celebrity as well, although nowhere near as sought after as the girls. He soon came to prefer it that way after seeing how the publicity machine hounded them. "Hey, I'm just a little Indian brave, what do you expect?" He was a hero among other Indians, which he appreciated. He did mention that he had been getting a surprising number of sexual propositions, which should certainly count for something, but only seemed to frustrate him. "Why couldn't I get all these offers BEFORE I got a girl friend? Where were all these horny women back when I needed them?" For someone who had become an overnight success and had finally found love, Pokey did not seem to be enjoying himself very much. We all assumed it had something to do with his looming alcoholism, of course, although he was apparently still not drinking. He was obviously struggling against a constant craving and it was hard. We still had not met his new girl friend, Maki, whom he would visit up north in Bellingham on weekends, nor was he telling us much about her. We wondered if the romance was working out or not, but he wasn't volunteering information about that. All three of them had been doing local radio and TV interviews during the first two weeks, but interest levels had to dwindle since Adam was still missing and they could say nothing about where he was or when he'd return. Nor could they promote their next musical event without consulting him. The only thing left was small talk. When they got an invitation to "The Evening Show" in Los Angeles, perhaps the most prestigious small-talk-show on national television, they had to decide if they really wanted to subject themselves to that without Adam along for the interview. They turned it down. None of them needed the money, they had each received a sizeable advance to live on until the actual profits from music sales began to show up. Melly had always had money, but for Lissandra and Pokey it was a new situation. They hardly knew what to do with it. They insisted upon contributing to the household expenses so that they could feel comfortable about living “for free” with us while waiting for Adam to come back. Elaine and I accepted that the kids symbolically paid us for food and lodging, just to keep them happy, although as active participants and investors in the whole S&F venture, we had also been advanced a large sum of money we hardly needed. Mainly, we wanted them to stay--we loved having them live with us; we were family. Lissandra had discarded that apartment she rarely visited, since she was here doing business in the days and staying with Melly in Adam's room at night. Pokey had a notion of getting a sports car, but was afraid that it would drive him right into the flashy lifestyle he was struggling to avoid. (It was a miracle that Pokey still had a driver's license, probably because he had never dared to own a car and had learned to sneak around silently with his scooter when drunk.) So he was still living in his teepee out in the Mother Meadow; he loved being there, money could only ruin that. Actually, now that money was coming in none of us wanted to get caught up in it. The band and the music had never been about gaining personal wealth, it had been about friendship--oh, let's go ahead and call it Love--and a strong belief in Adam's Vision, which predicted that they would generate a lot of money for a certain noble cause. Yes, we have been quiet about that aspect of it because it must remain secret until the proper time. That's how Magic works: just like business.
Another invitation to "The Evening Show" arrived, this time more emphatic. That is to say, offering more money. If not all three of them, at least the girls, who were insulted that Pokey was no longer invited. "And what are WE supposed to do without either of the guys?" Melly grumbled, "be hot?" That offer too was turned down. They were, in fact, all becoming less involved in the music aspect of their partnership. Si Bintzen was handling the complex business details, so the wheeling and dealing they could do without Adam's presence had been done. They could not promise any concerts without him. They did try to practice music together a few times, but all felt that the Magic was missing. The three of them were also now becoming involved in that "certain noble cause", spending a lot of telephone time, contacting various US Government agencies. Pokey was often away, visiting Indian Reservations and talking with tribal elders. Sorry to be so cryptic about this, it shall be explained later, but not yet. Doug Wielson was spending more time with us, he and Melly had found each other again. Elaine and I were also happy to be friends with him again, but we usually refrained from talking about the good old days, which always reminded us of Sally. He was, in fact, also becoming involved in our secret project, eager to participate in his daughter's life and intrigued by Adam's Vision. When the third invitation to "The Evening Show" came, suggesting that Melly come to L.A. alone, it was Doug who said, "Do it!" "Why should I?" Melly scoffed, "S&F doesn't need any more publicity and I'm not interested in doing small talk in front of the whole world just because some Hollywood agents have an idea that I might be promotable as their next commodity." "Wow, HARSH perspective, Melody Ann. And so political! What about having FUN once in a while?" "I do have fun," she countered, frowning sternly. "Yeah? Last, when?" Melly and Lissandra exchanged glances and giggled, though neither mentioned what had been fun. Doug caught that (well, we all did, there aren't a lot of secrets in this house), he rolled his eyes, laughed and shrugged. "No, I mean real fun. Get out in the world and have an adventure! Go to Hollywood, be a movie star, get laid! You and Lissandra, they want both of you. I mean, get a life!" "I have work to do," she grumbled. "Yes, you're nothing but business. But Daddy's here now and I've got a grip on what you're trying to do, which I admire and respect--so let me do it for you, at least for a little while. Take a break! Do the Evening Show." "Why us?" Melly asked, "This is all about Adam's music, it should be ADAM up there talking to live TV audiences, he's the Orator, not me. I haven't done anything to deserve all this attention. I'm just another pretty face with a famous mother, in the right place at the right time." "Maybe so, but that IS how it always works, isn't it?" Elaine reminded her, "would you really hate to be a TV star for one night?" "Oh, I'm sure it COULD be fun, but I'm scared. They'll want me to play and sing or say witty things on nationwide TV and I'll be a flop." "You're good at all those things, Melly, I can't imagine you flopping," Elaine insisted. "All right, what I'm really scared of is the interview: they'll start asking certain questions about Adam, like: is there really a Squatchland? How much should I blab about that? Adam doesn't want us to tell about the Nokhontli yet." "But it was Adam who started the Squatchland mythos." "Right, but how far was he planning on taking it? As pop-fiction, or a gradual revealing of the truth? Are the Nokhontli still a secret, or what? He should be the one to develop that, not me." "Well, if they ask you that, just tell the truth: that Adam talked about it, but you've never seen any such place as Squatchland and don't know if he was kidding or not. Keep it a mystery, make a game out of it. After all, you don't really know." "Are you kidding? I've met Dagrolyt and his Adversary--and the Syssk!--I DO know. But even that's not as bad as if they ask about my personal... no, my SEX life with Adam and you know they will!" "No one is going ask a thing like that on live television," I assured her.

Chapter 76

Adam out of Eden