2007-03-20: The First Gig


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Summary: Jane returns to Jack's bar, plays her first solid New York City gig, is a success, and has telephonic issues on her breaks.

Date It Happened: March 20, 2007

An Unmarked Nuclear Warhead Walks Into A Bar

Den of Inquity, Brooklyn, NYC

The door is opened and she arrives, ready to play. Jane's face shows confusion mixing with hope and incredulity for some moments on stepping in to look around and remember the conversation held here less than a day before. It's as if she's still working in some way to wrap her mind around it all, part of the woman's brain still says Jack and Peter are in some shared hallucination, but the rest of her thinks it all makes sense. There are so many emotions connected to it all, from a dawning sense of having been violated by lost memories and false addiction to pride at being a warrior of sorts with her ordeal as a trial by fire, a badge of honor.

But it's short lived, as time to play is approaching. A deep breath is drawn and released, she steps forward to speak with whomever is present at this time.
Jack's still on duty, and looking a bit the worse for wear. Though he's got on a fresh button-down and slacks, he's otherwise rumpled and has another day's stubble on his face. Ahh, another night passed out in the office. Laid out in front of him are three shot glasses, each with an egg yolk, a bit of liquid, and a dash of red powder in them. The Irishman regard the shots distatefully, and seems relieved at the distraction when Jane arrives. "Lady-o! Good to see you. C'mon up and wet your whistle. I have something for you."

Around them, things are just starting to pick up in the Den. The after-work crowd is in full swing, and people waiting for a pool table to open are sipping beers at the bar or perched at tables. The barflies are just starting to trickle in as well, their predatory eyes searching out potential marks for the evening.
She chuckles, crossing the room to meet the man who gave her the gig. "Evening, Jack." It takes just seconds to stride across, heeled boots tapping on the floor as she walks, and Jane leans against the bar next to him. One hand sets down a nearly empty Starbucks vessel which held some form of coffee beverage. "Good to see you too." She surveys the gathering crowd.

"I've got juice and soda, as per the lady's request." Jack reaches under the bar and quickly produces a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, showing off a bit of his old-fashion Irish hospitality. "Take what you like and I'll make a note of it so's I can keep in on hand. I also have this." He pulls a white envelope from his pocket and slides it across the bar. Prudently, he lowers his voice before explaining. "That's twelve hundred even, for your first four nights."

A grin flashes, she takes and stashes the envelope, sliding it down into her pants where no one could steal it without directly accosting her in a noticeable way. The only acknowledgment of its contents are that and a nod of understanding. "Thanks for the drinks. And I might on occasion indulge in a little alcohol now that I know I can safely do so." There's an edginess settling over her, perhaps both from shifting into guitar playing game face and the emotional effects of recent experiences and shared stories. A rubber band is pulled out; her hair is drawn into a ponytail and secured with it.

Jack nods easily and returns his attention to the shots layed out in front of him before replying. "Happy to, lady-o. Part o' the job, and all." Then, with a grimace, he slams all three shots down in fast succession. For a long moment he looks green around the gills and on the verge of popping. Then, slowly, he lets out a pent-up breath and his complexion begins to resume its usual shade. "Oooh. That was a close one."

She watches, wincing a bit at the way he looks after downing the shots. "Hangover, Jack?" Jane makes a mental note to not stand so close in the future if she knows he's been drinking the night before, if she sees those glasses with concoction out in front of him. Eyes sweep the interior, and she asks "Where's good to set up? I think the first tune's going to be a guitarized Sinatra piece." A playful grin is tossed his way.

Jack mock-frowns at his new guitar player. He can't keep it together though, and a rueful smile spreads across his face. "Yeah. I'll feel better shortly, though. There's little that a low ball won't cure," he gestures to the glasses as he speaks. "As for where to play, you can set up there, in the front." Now he waves to one of the bar's few open spaces, a few yards to the side of the door and directly in front of the windows that face the street.

"Good spot," she remarks, "in view to the outside, seeing me helps to draw people in." Jane nods toward where he indicates, and glances back at the man. "Now, the folks here might not be much on Sinatra, but the one I've got is really popular in this city, and the way I play it…" It's back, that calm confidence she displays when speaking of her craft. Showtime approaches, she heads toward the chosen zone and sets her gear down there.

His business concluded, Jack's brave facade melts away. With a moment to himself, he presses a hand to his lips a mightily resists the urge to spew up the foul concoction he just swallowed. Fortunately, he's able to win the battle for now. Sighing, he's leaning back to catch his breath when a knot of customers wander up and start shouting drink orders. "No rest for the wicked," he murmurs.

The case is opened, her guitar comes out, followed by the portable amp. Jane plugs in and sets about tuning up, wanting to make sure all's ready before starting in earnest. While doing so she faces the street and watches people outside. It takes just a few minutes to go through that process, then she turns to the interior and clears her throat. "Evening, folks," the performer greets, "I'm the Brunette Canary, and we're gonna have some fun, yeah?" Only a second passes before the instrument sounds out a familiar tune, and shortly after her voice joins in. "Start spreadin' the news, I'm leaving today…"

For Jack's part, there's little for him to do at this hour but pour shots, crack beers, wipe up spills, and empty ashtrays. Standard bartender fare. Normally he'd be drinking by now as well, but it's obvious that he's still feeling a trifle delicate. When Jane strikes up, the buzzing crowd noise fads to a background hum. For the first time since it opened, the Den has live music. Though the patrons range from twentysomethings to round, pot-bellied middle-aged men, the crowd seems more older than younger, and the tune is well received.

"… right through the very heart of it, New York, New York. I want to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep, and find I'm queen of the hill, top of the heap…" Jane scans the crowd as she performs, seeking to make eye contact here and there, creating the impression she's playing to them all individually at some point in time. She permits herself a quiet smile at the reaction. "… These little town blues, are melting away. I'll make a brand new start of it - in old New York. If I can make it here, Ill make it anywhere. It's up to you - New York, New York."

Let's face it, everybody loves Sinatra, and even moreso when it's a hometown song. By now every eye and ear in the house in on Jane. More than one patron comes up to toss something in her case. Sometimes it jingles, sometimes it folds, but all seem grateful for a little music to brighten a day which might otherwise have been drab and dreary. Here and there, frowns turn into smiles, and all chatter has ceased. When one of the pool players approaches Jack for another pitcher, the man is silenced with a hiss.

Her expression grows in confidence as the song is well received, and the smile widens while continuing it. Jane knew it could be a risk to play Sinatra in a guitar style, but she'd gambled on it being accepted by the simple fact of its connection with the city. Approaching the end, the part with the final New York line, her voice rises in volume and simply belts it out. The pitch is pure soprano, in key with the guitar. "… it's up to you, New York, New York…. Newwww York!"

When the song finishes, all of the Den is silent for a long, ponderous moment. Then, as one, every patron present bursts into applause. Some of the more excited (or inebriated) whoop and hollar, and more people press close to give an offering to the case. Behind the bar, Jack grins, obviously satisfied. This should work out fine.

Shifting her guitar to the side, Jane bows deeply to the applauding audience. It's clear to her now this should always be the opening number in her first set of any appearance here. Paying homage to the city. When she straightens, eyes sweep the crowd and setttle on Jack, she gives him a grin of triumph. A fist is raised into the air, then fingers settle back on the instrument in readiness to play another, while she waits for the audience to be ready.

Time passes as she plays for the crowd here at the Den of Iniquity, her songs being mostly classic rock of a harder edge, with a few ballads thrown in and a scattering of newer music. As 8:30 pm approaches, she goes on break and her phone rings. Jane pulls it from a pocket and answers the device, placing one hand against her other ear. "Hello?" she speaks into it, then listens. A short time passes, and she speaks again. "Hello. Is anyone on the line?" This time there's a response, it seems, because her next words are "Hey, girl. How's going?" From there, over the next string of minutes, Jane speaks with whoever is on the other end, seemingly trying to calm and soothe whoever it is. It takes about five minutes, during which she glances at Jack a few times, and when it;s over she approaches the man, looking puzzled.

As the night progresses, more and more customers have been drawn into the Den by the sight and sound of Jane playing just inside the window. Jack has been working his ass off trying to keep up with drink orders, and has just recently enforced a 'beers and shots only' policy. When Jane makes her approach he shrugs off a fistful of patrons to attend to her. "Hey. You ok? Looks like you had bad news on the line."

Her head tilts, and she replies "Hailey wants me to tell you she says hello, Jack." Jane reaches for one of her sodas and holds it up so note can be made of it, and continues "She was just looking for a little girl talk, maybe big sister stuff, and I told her I was doing a gig here." Looking around, the guitarist remarks "Great audience, they're really rolling in." Pride shows on her features, the woman is clearly beyond jazzed.

Jack bobs an agreeable nod at the mention of his new young protege. "She's a good kid. A little on the jumpy side, though." When the conversation strays to the crowd he grins crookedly. "Yeah. Awesome, isn't it? It's been ages since I saw the place this busy. Even Saint Paddy's Day was a flop compared to this."

Not knowing how much Jack knows about Hailien, and not wanting to expose anyone without her consent, Jane just nods. There's no mention of the girl being on YouTube doing… unusual things. She lets her eyes wander the crowd for a time as the soda is opened and partly consumed, a smile showing between drinks. "I'm just good, is all." A few moments later she pushes a bit away from the bar and goes to resume playing. "Break's over."

Jack nods again, understanding the drive to keep working and making money all-too-well. "Don't let me stop you," he replies. The next instant, the persistant wave of customers has consumed his attention, and he's back to pouring long lines of shots and filling pitcher after pitcher of beer. However, when Jane crosses the room to start playing again, there's a perceptible quieting in the ambient noise. And this is before she's picked up her guitar.

Pick it up she does, the sounds caused to come from it over the next block of time being similar to the prior block. There's some Doors, a bit of Metallica, Guns n' Roses, Beatles, ZZ Top, one called the Zoo by Scorpions chosen for its New York reference, and for softer fare a bit of Billy Joel. New York State Of Mind. Jane's mindful of her audience in this way, including things she believes will connect with simple home city pride. From there it's back to the harder edge. AC/DC, Van Halen… Two to three hours have gone by before she stops again and releases her hair from the ponytail, turning her head to shake it out.

When Jane steps away from her second set the crows roars, claps, pounds beer bottles on tables, and exibits nearly every other form of uncouth congratulations known to man. Tips are flowing as fast as the beer, and more than one patron waves, smiles, or offers a quiet compliment in hope of gaining the lady musician's favor. Those who don't are in search of refills, and Jack is more than happy to oblige. He's started pouring shots of whiskey by the dozen, and opened beers are snagged from the bar almost as fast as he can replace them.

She shifts the guitar around behind her and takes a deep bow, then straightens to close her eyes and listen to the audience reaction. A wide grin spreads across her face, Jane's ecstatic to have such success at her first solid New York gig. It's a moment she just has to share, and so she pulls her phone out and dials a number. When it's picked up on the other end, Jane sounds excited. "Elena. Jane here. The gig's going great! I led off with New York, New York, and they loved it." She pauses to listen for a reply, and deflates. "Oh." Her eyes check the number she dialed, and the woman reads it over the line. Pausing again, she listens. "Weird," she comments a few seconds later. "Night, Zac." Fingers end the call and immediately dial the number again. This time she seems to become annoyed that a prank is being played on her, comments about knowing some place, and fumes about 5309 being part of a famous tune, that she isn't stupid. Finally she simply ends the call and pockets the phone on her way to the bar.

Though enthusiasm is at an all time high, enough customers have wandered off at this point that Jack is able to take a break of his own. One hand is wrapped loosely around a glass of bourbon, and a half-finished cigarette dangles from the other. Despite the fast that he's served hundreds of drinks tonight, he looks cheerier than he has in days. The ebb and flow of happy, satisfied humans is easy to get caught up in. On Jane's way to the bar he gives her a double thumbs-up, then grabs her another soda and opens it. "That was /bloody/ brilliant," he chortles. "Can I keep you?"

Taking the soda, and still fuming a bit, Jane chuckles. "You already did, I think." She pats her jeans in a certain spot, and closes her eyes. "Pranksters. I tried to call a girlfriend and gush about all this, how well it went, but someone else has Elena's phone. Tried to claim I got his number, ending in 5309, instead. Like I wouldn't spot that as a joke. Twice, Jack, twice the dude did this." She takes a long drink.

"Eh? Sounds like a wanker to me. I wonder what he's doing with Scrappy's phone?" Jack muses. As always, he's a tiny bit overprotective of the young Elena, no matter how capable she may be. After a moment he shrugs his broad, sloping shoulders. "Strange, though."

"Scrappy?" That name doesn't mean anything to her, and Jane's puzzled, not sure they're talking about the same Elena, but thinking they might be, since he did come to Starbucks when the latina was working that day. "Told me he was at a bookstore in the East Village. I might roll by on the way home, it's sort of on the way to Greenwich Village." More of her soda is consumed, she runs a hand through her hair slowly.

Jack bobs an agreeable nod in response to the bookstore referrence. "That'll be Enlightenment Books. Neat place, you should definately check it out." He tosses back a gulp of his bourbon, then wipes his mouth on his sleeve and takes a long draw of his cigarette. "The owner's name is Cass. She's not Evolved, but she's sympathetic. A solid lady and an able friend. You can trust her just as well as you can me, if not more."

Jane quirks a smile at the mention of Cass and the store name. Her voice lowers, she speaks so only he can hear her. "I've been there. It was where I had my first… experience. She and I were talking to a girl named Rose, and a man went by with his dog. The dog got away, and he blew a whistle…" She trails off, certain Jack can get the idea without her elaborating on it. "Of course, I haven't told her what it actually turned out to be. At the time I thought I had a brain tumor or something."

Jack grins widely. "No such luck, Jane. You're stuck being a freak," Though his voice is quiet, it's still audible enough to be laces with warm, unmocking humor, taking the edge off of the 'f' word. "Cass is good people, though. She's been brave to take up arms and try to help people like us with no thought o' reward for herself."

"Yeah," she replies, chuckling. "I figured that out a day or so later when I shattered a street lamp in Times Square by screaming after another damned dog whistle, and duplicated it on a bottle." Jane finishes her soda and pulls out the phone again, commenting "Maybe I'll try her again instead of going by at this hour." And fingers dial a number.

Jack snorts into his glass as he polishes off the last of his bourbon, then slides the glass aside. After taking one last drag he stubs his cigarette out, then goes back about the business of serving customers. Now that the pace isn't quite so frantic, the occasional martini, Long Island, or rum and cola finds its way into the mix.

The phone, after dialing, is held to her ear. Jane listens to it ring a few times, then thinks better of it, apparently. She lowers and closes it, ending the attempted call with no answer being received. "Elena might be asleep by now anyway, I'll try her tomorrow, maybe. I just wanted to share a bit of this, you know?" Her eyes settle on Jack while she speaks. "It was a big moment for me, tonight."

"I'm glad I could be a part of it," Jack responds honestly. "You've brought in more than enough business to make this arrangement worth my while. I think your first night's goin' off smashingly." As he speaks, the Irishman loads a half-dozen beers on a round tray and shoves them over to a man with a handlebar moustache and a smoothly shaved head. "There. Carry 'em yerself."

"Thanks," she replies sincerely. "It's good for me, staying busy, this is an all around win. You make money, I make money, and I get to focus on something other than fog and things that I can't change. The conflicting stories and the whirlwind of thoughts in my head." Jane reaches for another soda, stating "It's been close to four hours. But I might be persuaded to do another set."

Jack considers this for a moment, then shakes his head. "I'm a man of my word. Three hundred dollars for four hours. You've more than earned your keep tonight, and I'll not ask more of ye. Take your ease, and do it with my assurance that you can play here anytime you like." He quickly shakes up a gimlet and slides it across to one of the barflies.

Smiling, she steps away from the bar and turns to face him. "See you next time, Jack." Boots tap on the floor as she crosses. On reaching the guitar case, Jane collects the money in it and places it all in a bank bag, then pulls the envelope out of her jeans to go with it. Her guitar goes in after, then the portable amp. Case and backpack then go over her shoulders and she steps out, headed for the nearest subway station and a return to Manhattan.

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