“He needs two weeks off.”
Larry Brown’s raised eyebrows almost reached his hairline and his mouth dropped open. “You’re kidding.”
“Not kidding.” DeWayne sat in the chair across from Brown’s desk, one leg crossed over the other and gave his head a slight shake. “I’d say it’s pretty damn serious.”
“How serious are we talking, here?”
He dropped his leg and leaned forward. “Larry, the kid needs a rest. Hell, he’s only eighteen years old.”
“Yeah, but the young heal fast.”
“He’s been going strong for almost a year. No one can keep up with that schedule. You’re killing him.”
“Come on.” Brown pulled at his earlobe as he shook his head. “That’s an exaggeration and you know it.”
DeWayne narrowed his eyes. He wasn’t going to give Brown the satisfaction of giving in. Rob was tired. And after the episode with his brother in the dressing room last month, he was sure the boy
was about to crack. He hadn’t been the same since then and his performances were showing the effects.
“You do realize he was a minor when you signed him.”
Brown frowned and leaned back in his chair. “Oh, so you're going to pull the age card on me, huh?”
“If I have to.”
“He’s booked solid until the end of the tour. What am I supposed to do? Cancel all his gigs and refund the ticket money? If I did that, DeWayne, Rob would be through. And so would we.”
“There could be worse things,” DeWayne said.
“Yeah?” Larry got up from his desk and came around to sit in the chair next to DeWayne. “Not for me. See, there’s a little bit of a hiccup in Rob’s contract that I forgot to mention.”
“Hiccup,” DeWayne repeated. “Do I even want to hear this?”
“You probably should. It’s an important hiccup.”
“Let me have it.” DeWayne heaved a deep sigh and waited for the shoe to drop. And drop it did.
“I didn’t sign Rob under a Capitol Records contract.”
DeWayne’s eyebrows shot up and he sat forward. “Are you telling me you fucked the kid over?”
“Well, no. Well, not exactly.”
“And what’s not exactly supposed to mean?”
“I couldn’t get Capitol to move on a new artist with no experience. But after Rob did the demo, he blew me away and I couldn’t let him get loose. I knew he was going to make it someday and be worth
“And your eyes glistened with dollar signs, I’ll bet.”
Brown lowered his head and stared at the floor. “You make me sound like a criminal.”
“That’s because you are one.” DeWayne stood and paced the room. “So, tell me the entire story, from the beginning. And don’t,” he turned on his heel and pointed a finger at Brown, “leave anything
“Okay, okay,” Brown said, holding his hands up. “I got you.
“When I first met him, he was green, and I mean really green. But I liked him from the start and when I heard him sing the idea started forming. I’d always tossed the idea around of starting my own
company and get out from under Capitol. When Rob walked into my office, and Capitol refused to sign him, he became my first recording artist under One Step Productions.”
Brown held up his hands at the expression on DeWayne’s face. “It’s all legit, D, I swear to God. The company was started with an artist, all the Copywrite notices and contracts are solid. The
publishing company is the same name and I combined them so that I can sign singers and writers.
“Rob Star is my first artist. And believe me, I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
“Don’t give me that sugar and spice bullshit. Rob’s an asset and nothing more.”
“See, you’re wrong there. It’s more than that.”
“How much more? A few million dollars more?”
Brown shook his head. “No. But if Capitol Records finds out that I’ve been working both sides of the fence, they’ll sue my ass, Robs, and One Step Productions. We won’t have anything left. How much
do you like this job, D?”
DeWayne suddenly remembered Rob asking him that same question when he still worked at the hospital. Back then he had shrugged and said, “It’s a job.” But that didn’t apply anymore. This was
more than a job. He took care of Rob, made sure he stayed safe. Over the past few months, DeWayne came to care a lot about him. He felt the camaraderie and friendship they shared was very important
and he would kill anyone that tried to ruin it. Even Larry Brown.
“So how do we fix this?” DeWayne asked. “Rob can’t possibly go on like he has been, Larry. He won’t make it.”
Brown ran his hands through his salt and pepper hair. “Give me a few days. I’ll think of something.”
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