2010-09-15: Almost Famous



Date: September 15, 2010


Fifteen minutes goes a long way.

"Almost Famous"

15 Minutes Karaoke Bar

The evening is in full swing. Food, drink - especially drink; liquid courage is an essential part of the formula - and music, or what passes for music on a good day. Actually, the soloist among the wobble-legged guys currently up on stage is doing all right, though the rest of them definitely have more enthusiasm than actual talent:

I don't want to nitpick, Tom, but is this really your plan?
Spend your whole life locked inside a mall?
Maybe that's okay for now, but someday you'll be out of food and guns
Then you'll have to make the call

Randall is sitting near the front of the audience, listening appreciatively. His eyes are on Portia, though, as they wait for their own turn… with a sparky intensity that people might recognize as romantic tension, if they weren't busy watching the floor show instead.

Does Portia herself even notice it? Perhaps… or perhaps not. She watches the guys on stage, a slight smile on her features, though it's mostly a nervous look. There's always some nervousness from her any time she takes a stage. She's pretty sure that's normal. "You know, I always wonder if they decide to bar you from karaoke places once you get famous and they realize you're a good singer… intimidate too many people or something."

Evette walks into the area and pauses. The stage is given a small smirk as she shakes her head. Of course, she finds a karaoke bar. The woman eyes her phone and begins typing on it as she walks to the bar. "I'll take a Malibu and Pineapple." Sultry tones leave her lips as she orders the drink and passes over her identification. The woman then allows the blues of her eyes to scan the crowd. They fall on the people on stage, giving a slight wince at a bad note. Then to the couple waiting. It is on them, that her eyes hold reading the tension.

"Only if they do realize. Didn't the Beatles use to sneak into places wearing masks so they could jam without any pressure?" Randall shrugs, leaning back in his seat. "Of course, first we have to get famous, then we can really worry about it." Or not; maybe bigger venues and recording studios would turn out to be plenty for them. It'd certainly be plenty for him, considering that this whole thing wasn't anywhere near his radar until a couple months ago.

"I dunno how I'd feel with people screaming that loudly for me, so you probably better not start acting like Ringo Starr or John Lennon or something." Portia points out. "We just have to make sure we don't become too regular at a place or they might get suspicious of just how good we are." She insists with a grin. Confidence, it seems, is not something she's lacking at the moment.

Evette pulls out a pair of sunglasses to don onto her face. The brand is the only thing of notice. The woman is currently dressed in a pair of designer jeans and a t-shirt. That shirt has the Ramones across the front of it. When her drink is purchased she finds a place up front and props her feet up on one of the free chairs. A deep sigh leaving her lips as she shakes free her long tresses. That phone? It still has her attention.

"Yeah, there's lots of reasons not to want to imitate Lennon too closely," Randall muses. Like Mark David Chapman, for one. And then it's their turn to go up, as the zombie backup singers finish up their last chorus, take a few bows and shamble off, stage right. He lets Portia take the lead, but stays close behind her so they don't get accidentally separated in the crowd.

Portia makes her way towards the stage, checking to make sure Randall is, indeed, right behind her. Wouldn't do to lose your singing partner like that! Climbing up onto the stage, she's glancing towards Randall once more. "So which one are we doing for sure?"

Points if it's a Beatles song! Evelyn just seems to be half-listening to the crowd around her. She has the feeling of one that's never really part of the world around her. Though as a new 'act' is brought to the stage she looks up. The flash of blue can be seen over designer glasses as she looks up the man and down the girl. Interesting.

Two years ago, Randall was in much the same boat as the zombies, enthusiastic but untrained. Three months ago, he'd jammed with Portia often enough to show some visible improvement. And by now? Well, when you take someone driven by belief, and give him something to believe in, sometimes it goes places that no one would ever have predicted.

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

The girl had been practicing this stuff as soon as she realized she had talent in it, which was a good number of years ago at least. So while Randall's been taking things seriously for a few months, Portia's been doing the same for a few years. And Portia's quite fond of The Beatles.

Dear Prudence, open up your eyes
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies
The wind is low, the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence, won't you open up your eyes?

Evette looks up a bit more and then looks around the area. It seems that everyone is staring at the duo. A soft hmm of consideration leaves her lips before she types more on her phone. Then another phone is brought out and set on the table. This one must be her personal one.

The voices on stage join together for the chorus, in a dreamy sort of repeition - there's no other way to do it, after all - and remain together for the next set of lyrics. Randall turns toward Portia, reaching his hands out to hers, and—

Dear Prudence, let me see you smile
Dear Prudence, like a little child
The clouds will be a daisy chain
So let me see you smile again
Dear Prudence, won't you let me see you smile?

It's cheesy. And maybe she's blushing. But Portia is definitely smiling at this point. Really, it's hard not to. She moves, taking Randall's hand, watching him for a moment as they continue the song before her eyes quickly flicker towards the audience again. Cheesy or not, she does know how to sing pretty damn well.

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

Evette watches the audience a bit more as they are not getting boo'ed off stage. It could be these are the ones to look out for. The book of songs is offered to her table and Eve laughs lightly and shakes her head. "Je chante seulement en francais." Those words are given with an apologetic smile before she goes back to her drink.

The clock is still ticking, and they haven't moved on yet… but the audience doesn't seem to mind, some of them are applauding, even. The manager's brow is strained a little, but hey, if it gets people in a good mood then they'll buy more rounds, and that's worth giving them a little slack on the prize thing.

After a bit, Randall clears his throat and waves back to the crowd, forcing himself to focus as the next song comes up. A good bit peppier, as the opening instrumental line alone is enough to make clear.

They're doing good so far. Portia grins over towards Randall, then back towards the audience, offering them a warm wave and a cheerful look. She seems a lot more comfortable now, and she glances back towards Randall before turning towards the crowd again. She takes in a breath, and begins singing.

Evette is part of the crowd. The working crowd. One can bet that she has her boss lo-jacked and is counting his REM cycle or something. Her hand then moves to type more messages on the phone before she looks up to this more lively number.

And so the set runs its course. The familiar "Sharp Dressed Man" gives way to a more eclectic number:

See the constellation ride across the sky
No cigar, no lady on his arm
Just a guy made of dots and lines
Just a guy made of dots and lines

A couple of the zombies scratch their heads at that one. "I think this is, like, 90s music." "Is it any good?" "I don't know."

The duo finishes up with something or other that doesn't even have real words, just syllables strung together for musical effect. It's only in the catalog at all because someone on staff was being a smart-ass that day, but it works anyway; as they reach the bridge, the countdown clock finally runs out, and another ragged cheer goes up from the crowd.

Portia's grinning most of the rest of the time. But she looks back towards Randall as they finish the set, managing the full fifteen minutes just fine. She grins. And grins. Gee, she looks happy. It's kind of like a badge of honor. She peers back over towards Randall.

On the bright side, she doesn't appear to need to get drunk with them on stage. On the not-so-bright side… Ring Ring. Evette answers the phone she's been typing on. "Bonsoir.." She listens and lifts a brow, "Non, il dort. Nous parlerons demain. Au revoir." She then looks back and offers a few claps for the couple on stage.

Randall waves again, then impulsively pulls Portia into a hug long enough to spin her in a quick little half-circle before setting her down again. (One of the zombies shouts something, but it's lost in the hubbub; another of his buddies leans over and punches him in the shoulder.) Then they head down for a much-needed breather, passing by a blonde wearing plaid and jeans and a ten-gallon hat as she makes her way up the steps for her own shot.

Portia hugs Randall back, laughing as she's spun, and she carefully makes her way down off the stage, being careful not to inadvertently slip and fall. She glances towards Randall. "Were you nervous? That was great!" Her gaze shifts, looking about the crowd and taking in everyone she hadn't fully been able to see while she was on stage.

Evette stares in horror as she sees the plaid. "Oh girl…" Then her hand comes up. "Tequila." Eve watches the couple for a few moments and then offers. "You guys were pretty good up there. One might think you were professional." The glasses are lowered just a bit so she can peer over them.

"I'm always nervous," says Randall, reaching for the edge of a nearby table for a second to help keep his balance. "Thanks! We're working on it, actually! The studio's in the middle of some red tape, but just the fact that they're trying in the first place--" Again he looks to Portia as he tells the story, content dancing on endorphins to be second fiddle to the glowing starlet.

The girl is beaming, and she nods towards Evette as she notes the two. "It's kind of a dream." Portia says, giving the woman a smile. "We're certainly trying. I'm going to Julliard right now, so… I'm not polished, but… we've got attention." She lets out a long breath. "I think I need some water after all that."

Evette nods her head to that bit of information. "Well red tape is hard to get through sometimes." Her lips curve upwards as she looks over the little act. "So you are going to be waiting until you finish with college then, oui?" The tequila comes as the woman takes the stage. "Please do not let her sing that achy breaky song.."

Randall winces, looking back. "I hope not." Some of the audience likes Miley (or the Dixie Chicks, or whatever she's covering) just fine; others take it as an opportunity to, yeah, go get some fresh drinks. He's pushed forward, taking the opportunity to sneak his arms round his partner's waist again from behind. "Maybe for some of it, but— recording an album? Hell no, we're doing it as soon as we've got songs and a studio! Strike while the iron's hot and all that."

"Studio stuff's easy… you can always do another take if you don't like it. Public performance is much harder, that's where it takes practice." Portia notes, studying Evette. "Are you from France, then? I studied abroad there when I was fourteen. It's where I started really getting a love for music."

"Non, not really. My mother is French." Evette offers lightly to that. "I was born in California, not very interesting I fear." She indicates the chairs at her table. "How long have you two been singing together?" She looks at her phone as it goes off. There is a small mutter about hoping someone likes their sleep.

Randall nods to Evette, pulling out each of the chairs in turn and easing into the second. "About a year now, I think? I was doing more with backing instruments at first, but something just… clicked, I guess. I don't have the words for it." But there's the sense of an instinctive understanding that goes beyond them.

"Nothing wrong with California," Portia protests, moving to slide into a chair at the table. "Yeah, a year, I think. I dunno, time sort of gets away from me about these things. I'd really have to think…" She smiles broadly over at Randall. "I think you just got the hang of things and got bolder. Confidence will do that to you."

Evette looks between the couple thoughtfully and then looks back towards the stage again. There is soft wince to the music starting. Her blue eyes then fall back to them. "Well you sing well. There is a definite connection between you two. One can almost feel it off of the stage. It helps if you like each other to work together." Her hand wraps around the tequila shot. She brings her hand up to her lips to lap lightly on it. The salt placed there. "So are you a couple?"

And there's that question again. There are connections between them on multiple levels… some of which have gone more smoothly than others. "It's— complicated," Randall offers, after a sidelong glance. "But we're… heading in that direction, I think." He isn't so much looking directly at Portia, more at a spot right next to her.

Portia's cheeks flush, her gaze turning abruptly back to Randall but not catching his gaze. She looks back to Evette, not adding anything on the subject of coupledom. "It does help to enjoy working together. A lot of bands and things group up because they want to become famous and play music, but don't necessarily take personal connection into account, or how they work with others.

Evette watches with distant eyes. It is almost like the emotion won't stay in them as she watches between them a bit more. No clue to her thoughts. Then her eyes move towards her work phone silently. The salt licked before she takes the shot. It is followed by the wedge of the lime and a wince. "I agree." The alcohol making her breathless. "It is hard to work with people that are.." She trails off and gives Randall a smile. "Complicated sums up my entire life."

Randall is avoiding the alcohol for the time being. That's another tricky thing they've run across before, and not one he's in a hurry to tangle with again. "Someone you've had your own eye on, sounds like?" he asks Evette. It's just a guess, but even if it turns out to be wrong, maybe it'll get her to open up a little. And take the spotlight off of them, in so doing.

"Not to pry or anything," Portia adds onto Randall's question, offering a tiny smile. "Although it sounds like you've got more than one area of complication. Which is unfortunate. But… sometimes complicated is good. Complicated people can be more fun."

Evette gives a full laugh to that. In fact, she even looks startled to the fact she laughed. "Honey, the only man I see and will see for the next few monthes is my boss." Her lips curve to that. "So I don't think I have a man to put my eye on." Her hair is shaken behind her shoulder. "Life is made of complications. It is the fire that forges us."

Randall turns his chair around, crossing his arms over the top and resting his chin on them. "Sounds like a good way to burn out, if you ask me. Not that you want to stretch yourself too thin, but everyone needs some amount of variety, you know?"

Portia nods. "It also sounds like you're a bit of a workaholic. It's good to get out and do things for fun. Maybe hobbies or something. I'm lucky because my school and job are fun… although I don't know for sure that it's a job yet because I haven't gotten paid to be a musician. But still!"

Evette thinks that over for a long moment. "Well I enjoy it. I .. it is just there is someone that is.." She thinks it over for a few moments and goes silent. "I enjoy my job. I am driven and ambitious, it is just my employer and I have different… goals." She leaves it there and orders another drink. "Like I'm drinking and he's sleeping. He might be the wise one this time."

Well, sleeping sounds like a harmless enough activity, unless it goes on for way too long or something. If the boss is asleep at the wheel— "Do I want to know who it is?" Randall asks, content to keep her going and gloss over his own recent history of troubles.

"Well, find a way to compromise? Maybe there's something in the middle that will allow you both to get along better and not compromise whatever it is that you want out of it." Portia suggests. "And sleeping's overrated!"

"I just want him to listen." Evelyn looks at Portia as if the girl will understand. Down with men and all that. "He just.." She sighs lightly. "He has all this potential and I just feel like he's making stupid choices. I mean I'm not here to consult on his life, but I know my job. He doesn't let me do it. He just claims he knows better and dismisses me. It's like… hell I don't know. How do you befriend someone who so obviously hates you?" That has her ordering another round. "It's not like I can flirt with him or show up half naked." The thought causes a moment of amusement to sparkle in her eyes before she shakes her head. "What about you two when you don't get along? Though you are a bit more personal."

Randall scratches his head. "Good question. But if he really hated you, wouldn't he just fire you?" And— crap, she did go and turn the subject back on them, after all. Apparently she hasn't drunk enough to lose track of such things very easily. "There was a triangle," he murmurs, still keeping his explanation pretty vague. "There isn't any more."

Portia nods a little, pursing her lips as she seems to focus on the situation. "Well, maybe he just doesn't respect you enough. Maybe you need to prove yourself a worthy employee, that you can be trusted and that you know your job. If he's not fully letting you do it… try to find smaller things you can do to build that trust? Maybe then he'll listen. I'm sure it's not that he hates you. Perhaps he has personal issues and is just frustrated. Plus if you're continuously nice to someone who hates you they start wondering why you're being so damn nice." She blinks after a moment. Ah, the triangle. Portia rubs the back of her neck, perhaps a little awkwardly. "We fight. It usually ended up with me leaving him alone for weeks at a time. That's mostly, though, because I have a tendency to run off and hide when I get hurt. I'm not very assertive."

Evette studies both of them. Ooooh triangle. "He wouldn't fire me this late in the.. well let's just say I'm sure he's counting down until the contract runs out." There that second shot of tequila is taken. Her eyes peer over the sunglasses again at them. "I'm pretty… assertive. I have problems showing when there is emotion involved or weakness." Her lips curve into an indulgent smile. "Triangles. If you want something, you just take it or attempt to." There is a thought to that.

Sometimes, all it takes is a few choice words in the right place. Without any alcohol involved, either. Randall doesn't answer Evette directly, but he does lean over and whisper something to Portia, just as the singer on stage gears up for her last number.

"Aw, don't be so sure. Just try and compromise or something. I'm sure he doesn't hate you." Portia insists, helpfully. "Yeah, assertiveness can be hard in situations with emotion." Then there's a slight whisper in her ear, and the young woman is blushing. Clearly the whisper had an effect. "A-Ah, yes. Assertiveness. I'm okay when it comes to something that doesn't involve my feelings… so I get what you're saying. I just can't jump right out and take what I want when it's something I care about. Especially if it's complicated." Her eyes flicker to Randall, then her voice lowers and she leans in to whisper something into his ear.

Evette looks between the two whispering and slides up to her feet. She's slightly unsteady, slightly. "Well it was good meeting you. I hope to hear you sing again." She pulls out her card to hand it over to them. Drunk public relations at it's finest. However, it explains the sunglasses. "I'm going to grab another shot and.. I don't know wander or something I think. You guys look like you are getting close to cozy time."

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