All thoughts of Lucy left Rob’s mind as the alarm clock woke him from a deep sleep. He jumped out of bed, grabbed a hot shower, then made a strong pot of coffee. As he sat at the small table,
sipping the coffee and staring at the money that still lay in the middle, his thoughts turned to her.
Sure, he liked her. She was very pretty. Long auburn hair that fell halfway down her back, amber eyes that shimmered when she was excited and (he found out last night) flashed angrily when she was
mad. She was small, the top of her head only coming to his shoulder. He liked petite women. Something about them turned him on when he towered over them. Maybe it was a male chauvinist thing, or
maybe it was just the way his dad raised him.
He glanced at the clock over the sink, got up from the table, and placed the coffee cup on the sink. He wanted more coffee but refrained. The caffeine made him nervous. It also made him rush the
song when he sang. One cup would be enough. He needed to get dressed.
He stared in disappointment at the contents of his closet and dresser drawers. Instead of getting drunk and messing around with Lucy, he should have made a trip to the laundromat. There wasn't much
to choose from that was clean.
He had no choice but to wear the clothes he had worn the night before. They were clean when he had put them on. He hadn't worn them very long. He picked up the shirt and brought it to his nose,
sniffing at the armpits. Not too bad, but the shirt was heavy with the odor of cigarette smoke.
He returned to the kitchen and grabbed the bottle of Febreze that he kept in the cabinet under the sink, then he went back to the bedroom. He gave a healthy dose of Febreze to his jeans and shirt,
then sniffed them again. It was better, but they still needed a good wash.
Shrugging, he slipped into the shirt and jeans, then went into the bathroom to comb his hair. He grabbed his keys and left the apartment, catching the first bus to downtown Los Angeles.
The offices at Capitol Records were buzzing with activity. Rob wandered down the long hall to the last door, where he had met Larry Brown. With apprehension, he opened the door.
Julie was at her desk, typing on the computer. She turned at the sound of the door. When she saw him, she stood, and this time, there was a smile on her face. "Good morning, Rob," she said. "I'll
let Larry know you're here. Have a seat."
What a difference a day makes, he thought. And the prospect of a recording contract. If she was this nice to him already, it must be a good sign.
The inner door opened, and Brown stepped out, his hand extended. "Nice to see you again, Rob. Come on in." He held the door open. Julie was standing at Brown's desk, a steno pad in her hands.
"Have a seat," he said, then looked at Julie. "Would you make a list of things Rob needs, please Julie, headshots, etc.? We have the studio booked for ten o'clock this morning. Can you make sure
it's still available for that time? Thanks, sweetheart." After scratching the orders in her steno pad, she turned, closed the door quietly behind her as she left the office.
Rob was amazed at the efficiency of the company. This was not the entertainers' end. This was the professional end. The end where the wheels turned, and the money flowed, where a career was made or
broken. He couldn't help but be impressed. There was only one thing bothering him, and he had to voice it before this went any further.
"Yes, Larry, I just have one question?"
"Sure, Rob, what's on your mind?" He leaned back in his chair and held a match to the cigar he clutched in his hand.
Rob cleared his throat. "Well," he hesitated. "It seems that you're doing all of this planning. I mean, headshots, studio time. You don't even know if I can sing yet."
Brown sat forward in his chair. "Remember Drummond?"
"As much as I cannot stand the man, if he says you can sing, then you can sing."
"But I thought he brought others here."
"What happened to them?"
"They had no drive. Do you have drive, Rob?"
"That's about all I have," he answered sullenly.
"And do you believe that I've been in this business long enough that I can tell when a person is hungry?"
Rob stayed silent.
"Well, I have. And you're hungry, Rob. It's all over you."
"I think you're taking a huge chance on me."
Brown studied him quietly until the phone on his desk buzzed. Before he picked it up, he grinned at Rob. "Let me worry about that," he said. "You just worry about not screwing me over."
For some reason, the studio was not what Rob expected. He assumed they would be recording in the Capitol Records studio, but this studio was much smaller and off the beaten path. He
was tempted to ask Larry, but he didn't want to cause any problems.
The loud beat of a drum reached Rob's ears as Brown opened the door, ushering Rob inside.
Four studio musicians sat behind separate glass cubicles with their instruments. A keyboard player was tapping out a few notes. A bass player was picking up the rhythm of the keyboard player. In
another cubicle, a different musician was tuning up his guitar. The drummer had been hitting his bass drum with his foot. It was this last that Rob heard upon entering the studio.
He followed Brown past the musicians and into the recording booth. "I noticed you didn't bring a guitar. Drummond said you play."
"I play," Rob answered. "I didn't know what to expect, so I didn't bring it."
"No problem, there are plenty around here to choose from." Brown flipped a switch on the soundboard, and loud feedback squealed through the room. "Sorry about that, guys." He said into a
microphone. "Guys, this is Rob. We're demoing him today. He has some originals," he stopped and looked at Rob, his eyes questioning. Rob nodded. "that we're going to do. He'll give you the tune."
Brown clicked off the microphone. "These guys are the best in the business," he said. "All you have to do is play the tune and sing a few lines. Then they'll work it out. If it's not right, tell
them. We pay them very well, so don't take any bullshit."
Brown flipped back on the microphone. "We need an acoustic," he said.
Once Rob had the acoustic guitar, he sat down with the studio musicians and played one of his original songs. It was a soft ballad. He had chosen this one because it showed off his voice. Larry
told him to bring three songs. The other one he had written was a fast rock song that he knew he did well. The third one was in between the two.
Once he had finished, he set the guitar aside and waited. The guys fiddled with their instruments struck a few keys on the guitar and keyboard, and before Rob knew it, his song came to life. He was
amazed. It was as if they had picked the tune right out of his brain. The music sounded as it did in his head. He wanted to cry.
Brown took Rob back into the control booth and had him sit down. "What do you think?"
Rob shook his head. "I can't believe it," he said. "That's how I've always heard it in my head. But I only could play it on the guitar. These guys have my total respect."
"They're good," Brown agreed. "And they're expensive. But worth every dime. Are you ready to sing it?"
"About as ready as I'm going to get," Rob answered.
He was ushered back into the studio and given a pair of headphones. He placed them snugly on his head. He was still nervous, so he took several deep breaths to calm his heart.
Suddenly, Brown's voice came through the headphones. "Do you need to hear the music first?" he asked.
"No, I've got it, I think."
Brown laughed. "Okay, here you go."
The song he spent so many hours on, lost so many hours of sleep over, flowed into his ears. He closed his eyes. He felt like crying. Instead, he let the music fill him, and he started to sing.
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