Thursday, November 4, 2010

spare scene

So I wrote this little scene but I don't think it'll wind up in the manuscript, because it doesn't advance the plot.  Worse, it repeats a point I've already made, but it seemed to make sense for the characters to talk about it.  It's long for a blog post, but I like the scene, so I'm using it here.

It takes place in the band's house.  Timo {short for Timoteo} was one of Neal's kids, all of whom were murdered by his former gang.  The throne is the padded seat drummers use.
All that drum and cymbal noise! Who could be banging around on Sandy’s kit? --or was it his own kit? Neal strode to the music room but stopped in the doorway. Sandy sat behind his kit, next to Allison on another throne, wavy blonde hair just touching her shoulders. He talked about musical scales as he clicked the hi-hats.

She’d been running around with her brother earlier. Now she wore the biggest smile Neal had ever seen on a kid. Holding a pair of sticks that were too big for her hands, she kept reaching for one of the cymbals. Sandy put a hand on her arm and kept talking. She glanced at him, then reached for a cymbal.

Leave it to Sandy to get all practical with a kid who just wanted to have fun.

Neal went a few steps closer. “Let the kid smash away. Don’t hold back another potential drummer.”

Her brown eyes widened at him then she leaned toward Sandy. Damn, was she afraid?

“Allison,” Sandy said, “have you said hi to Neal?”

She clutched the sticks in one hand and grabbed his shirt with the other, then leaned her face into him.

Sandy looked up at Neal. “She’s like this with everybody new. Once she warms up to you, though, she’s like Velcro.”

Timo used to be like that . . . he’d be, what, three or four now? Would have been, anyway. Neal pushed his hands into his pockets.

Allison peered at him though she still clung to Sandy. “Hi. I’m eight. And a half.”

“Wow. I’m almost twenty. What do you think of that?”

“Oh, that’s nothing. Uncle Sandy is thirty!”

Sandy glanced at the ceiling.

Neal laughed. “Yeah, he’s got me beat. Do you know how to play drums?”

She smiled and sat up. “Uncle’s going to teach me. He said he’d teach me when I turned eight, but I’m almost nine now.”

“Hey,” he said to Sandy, “never break a promise to a kid. Especially one you’re related to--her parents know where you live. Where’s your nephew? I expected him to be the one wanting to play.”

“He’s bonding with Brian over baseball. I guess Allison’s been talking about this a lot, but something always got in the way.”

“Well that’s a pretty shi -- flimsy excuse. If you don’t turn her into a drummer, she might latch onto keyboards, and how would that look?”

Sandy grinned. “Yeah, well, you’ve got a point.” He looked at Neal for a few seconds, then stood. “Hey, I’ve got to do something, why don’t you sit with her for a bit?”

“Me? Why? No no, she’s your niece.” Neal backed toward the door.

Allison frowned at them. “Somebody has to teach me.”

“Go on.” Sandy tossed his sticks at Neal and turned to Allison. “Hon, Neal will show you a little. I won’t be gone long.” He dashed out.

She settled herself on the throne, erased the frown, and pointed to the hi-hats. “How do those work? I couldn’t see what Uncle did to move them.”

Fixating on cymbals already; yeah, she was Sandy’s relative. Neal rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn’t even spent that much time with his own kids, how was he supposed to know what to do? He shuffled over and eased onto the other throne. “Well, there’s a pedal here, and you press it to move the cymbals.”

He demonstrated. Her eyes lit up. “Ooo! I want to do that.”

Neal let her take his seat. She clicked away then started tapping on them with the sticks.

After a couple of minutes, she didn’t show any sign of quitting. Maybe you had to be eight to get that big a kick out of just hi-hats. Or maybe being related to Sandy was enough. “Okay, you got the hang of that. Did you know that drummers move their arms and legs separately from each other?”

She beamed a smile at him. “Yeah, I watched Uncle before, and some of his friends. It looks hard.”

“It can be, when you first try it. But there’s a secret that helps. Sandy must be waiting for the right time to tell you.”  She probably hadn’t seen a metronome.

Her eyes grew round. “What secret?”

“Oh, if Sandy didn’t tell you, I don’t think I should.” He sat and tapped on a floor tom gently.

She reached toward him and touched his necklace. “Pretty. Why do you wear that?”

Ah, shit. Tell the truth or take the easy way out? He put the sticks down. “It reminds me of my daughter. She’s not around anymore and sometimes I miss her. Don’t ask where she went. I won’t see her anymore, is the important part.” That was mostly true. It reminded him of all his kids, really.

Allison studied the little letter on its chain as if thinking hard about what he’d said. “I can’t tell what it is. How does it remind you of her?”

“It’s a letter I, the same letter her name started with. Isabel. But I called her Chabela most of the time.” He slipped it under his shirt. “That’s enough about that, all right?”

“I’m sorry it makes you sad.” Her face was so open and honest. Did she get that from Sandy too, or were little kids like that anyway? Probably most kids were sincere before the world fucked them up.

“Well, never mind. If you really want to learn drumming, you should ask Sandy to get you your own kit. Then you could practice anytime at home.”

Her eyes got huge again. “Ooo! But Mommy and Daddy might not like that. They say drums are loud. But I like loud.”

“I do too. That’s kind of the point of drums. I bet if you asked, they’d agree to let you have a kit.”

She scooted her throne over until it bumped up against his. She shouldered closer and grinned at him.

Damn, I think I just reached the Velcro stage.

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