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Story The Dead Girl Band
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  1. #1

    6 The Dead Girl Band

    It's been three years since I last posted in the members' story section. I have not been idle in real life tho' I can tell you that.

    In short: I've given up "God in his Mercy" for now. Yeah, it was a great idea but then real life came barging in that was the end.

    However, as a lover of a good conspiracy, mystery and Korean Dramas, I have am cooking up something completely different.

    THE DEAD GIRL BAND


    Per legal purposes: this is fiction. This is only fiction. Any resemblance to real people or events is purely conwinky-dink and I shall deny to my dying day that it was anything to do with any recent events in the world of Kpop.

    This is only a story.

    Synopsis:
    South Korea, Oct. 2020

    It has been ten years since the tragic accident that claimed the lives of two members of the Korea Pop group, "Quintet". Per their agreement with the management company, the three surviving members are together once again for the annual memorial concert where they honor the departed.

    The resident "bad girl" of the group, Suni, despises these enforced reunions of what people refer to as "The Dead Girl Band". She generally tunes out for the duration. But this time, someone catches her eye; a woman in the crowd who resembles one of her deceased band mates.

    The woman is older, a little heavier and is obviously mentally challenged but the resemblance is remarkable. A brief encounter with the woman shocks Suni into questioning everything she's ever known or has been told about the accident.

    Who really died that night and why? Suni will have to battle heaven and earth and even herself to find out what really happened to "The Dead Girl Band".

    The overture follows in the next post. I'll add to it as malfunctioning computer permits.
    "Why not stay awake now? Who wants to sleep now with so much happening, so much to see? Life used to be dull you see...and you don't have to sleep alone, you don't even have to sleep at all; and so, all you have to do is show the stick to the dog now and then and say, 'Thank God for nothing.'"

    Drusilla, "The UNVANQUISHED. William Faulkner

  2. #2

    THE DEAD GIRL BAND; OVERTURE

    Once upon a time, I loved October.

    That sounds like it should be the opening line to a song, doesn’t it? Yes, some incredibly dreary, drippy pop song that you’d play over and over the morning after the breakup.

    “Once upon a time, I loved October. But now, I’m watch the falling leaves, dying like our love, thinking of yooooooo….”

    Only in my version, it would be about pouring rain and breaking glass. It would speak of hope being destroyed, and pain as jagged as a bone tearing thru flesh.

    Namely, mine.

    Once I did start to write something like this down. In the long run, it might have been very therapeutic for me but I stopped. I’d realized that it was coming too close to breaking the vow I had made; never to speak about the events of a certain October.

    Anyone who had been involved, even remotely, was made to sign a contract promising complete silence on the matter. Under a choc-a-bloc of various penalties, we were to remain mum for the next seventy-five years. I supposed that they’d figured we’d all be dead by then. No, we didn’t sign it in blood. The way they carried on about it though, you’d think that they’d been passing out pins for the pricking.

    Given what we’d sacrificed up to that point, we should have used our blood for ink. That is, if we’d had any left to give.

    It occurs to me that you likely have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m told that I have a tendency to just come charging in, assuming you know what I mean, like delivering the punch line of a joke before the story.

    I suppose that it comes from having been well known. I hate to use the term “famous”. It smacks of an American movie or rock star. But I may as well accept it: for better or worse, in some parts of the world I am famous. The minute one hears my name, Song Suni-Bok, people know; oh, she was in that group: Quintet.

    And just like that, they remember October of 2010. They recall in detail the accident in which two of the members were killed and three of them lived. Or was it all of them were killed? Oh who can remember? But it was dreadful, just dreadful!


    Yes, it was dreadful. Especially for the ones who lived.
    I’m getting ahead of myself again. I’m sorry.

    Getting back about that October, we sealed ourselves to silence about it. We did it in the usual manner; pressing name seals to ink pad and then bearing down on the paper. In Korea you see, one uses a seal to sign documents. Your signature may change over your life time but a seal is forever.

    It had been almost three months since the accident. Cho Ivy, our leader, and Yu Oh , our manke or, the “baby” of the group were sitting up very straight in the fancy hard wood carved chairs on one side of the massive walnut conference table. Between them, I was also sitting up straight. Ramrod straight. Not from the effects of good posture but rather from the halo device I was entrapped in. That’s what comes from having an almost broken neck; you get to wear yourself in a metal sling for several months.

    This cold day in January marked the first time I’d been allowed out of the hospital. My good friend wondered why on earth they would put me thru such an ordeal. Why didn’t they just come to my bedside and conduct business?
    I agree; that would have been very nice but the business of the day was hush-hush. It wasn’t meant for the ears of a nurse or passerby. Besides, it was thought that fresh air, frigid as it was, might do me good.

    So there I sat, listening to the droning on of a pasty skinned lawyer in a three piece suit. My heart grew as cold as the bars and wires about my head as he went on; article this, section that, slowly flipping over the pages on the impossibly thick contract clutched in his hand.

    We were never to talk about the accident. Ever. The press wasn’t that big of a concern; our interviews were largely scripted and rehearsed anyway. It was our families’ friends and total strangers they were more worried about. Like the kind one would meet at a bar and get cozy and spill the beans with.

    Ok, fine. I had never been much for good small talk anyway, sober or tipsy.

    We were never to discuss it amongst ourselves. This struck me as stupid beyond belief. How could we not talk about it? We’d been thru, lived thru, something very few manage to walk away from. For my part, I still had a lot of questions. Ivy however bowed her head and nodded her consent. Oh followed suit. After an uncomfortable few seconds, I delivered the best nod my metal rigging would allow.

    Relieved by our acquiescence, the pasty one cracked the slimmest of smiles. He turned a page and began on what he obviously considered to be the happier part of his task.

    In exchange for our silence, each of us would receive what turned out to be a peculiar kind of freedom. First, we were free and clear of all debts owed the company. This in its self was huge.

    For those of you not familiar with the South Korean “Idol” system, it’s not unlike that of the movie studio “Star” system of what my friend terms the “Golden Age of Hollywood”. To be frank, after hearing him talk, it didn’t sound very golden to me. The only one making any decent gold were the studio heads. This is exactly the way it was and still is here.

    From the minute you cross the threshold of the studio Idol School, every lesson you take, meal you eat, uniform you put on and yes, every breath you draw is carefully charted and charged against the day you should become an “Idol”.
    Once you have achieved Idol status, you will not be idle. Every waking moment is calculated to the many ways you can make money for the company and pay them back for the vast sum it went into the making of you. Very few idols ever get free and clear of the amount said to be owed so that they can keep all their earnings.

    From here on out, a small amount of every recording sold would be coming to us. I think it’s roughly five cents. And that’s accounting for inflation.

    Second, we were given the beginning of personal financial freedom. Long white envelopes were solemnly pushed across the table to each of us in turn. Good manners decreed that we would not look at them right then and there. A section of the contract decreed that we would not show and compare our envelopes with one another. Given the level of jealously that pulsated thru our little group that was probably just as well.

    At that point, I would have loved to have grabbed my envelope, made my bow and lurched from the room and all of them forever more. As I said, our freedom was peculiar. We were about as free as June Bugs tied to strings. We were free to fly around, (in silence!), but we were anchored to the company and to each other by the month of October.

    In the middle of every October, for as long as would be deemed necessary, we were agreed to come back together and perform a memorial concert. Once the time came that one or more of us could no longer perform as expected, we would still be tethered to the venue. Videos would be played in our place followed by a meet and greet session with us live and in person.

    “…for so long as there is adequate demand and feasibility,” that part of the section concluded. Knowing our fans, that would likely be until death one or all of us did them part. As it was, we were already down by two.

    “This is the least that we can do for the late members of our little family,” Chairman Park intoned solemnly. His henchmen bowed their heads in sorrowful agreement. The chair next to me scraped back from the table. Ivy stood up. The youngest member followed suit as a good little sister should. That left me in the middle as always. The middle child, the fifth wheel, I was still seated and seemingly rebellious.

    As always.

    There was a painful pause. Oh, the youngest, glanced down at me, worry written all over her baby face. Ivy, the oldest, twisted her lips in consternation. Slowly, painfully, I gained my feet. It still hurt to stand. It hurt even more to see the reflection of only three of us in the glossy wood table top. There should have been two more, one on either side of me. It was for them that I stood and for them that I bowed while Ivy made the appropriate reply:

    “For the memory of Wang Annie and Kim K-lee, our late sisters in music, we pledge to give our all, Chairman! Thru us, Quintet will live forever!”

    As if pulled by strings, we bowed in unison. Good little trained seals were we!
    In reply, the Chairman bowed his head back to us.

    “Yes, yes,” he whispered as if over wrought with grief, “This group shall no more be broken. Never shall it be disbanded. You, the remaining members, shall have a place in our family at Zenith Productions forever.”

    I was surprised at that point that Ivy didn’t step back from the table and deliver the profound bow. This is where one gets on their knees and touches their head to the floor in reverence. It’s generally delivered to an elder or to someone to whom you owe your very life.

    Instead, she opted for another deep bow which Oh and I mimicked just one half beat behind. She told me later that she did this in consideration for my condition. The device I was wearing would have made such a move impossible for me if not dangerous.

    “Still,” she sniffed in her whiny way, “You could have at least tried. That would have made a powerful impression.”

    She might as well have said, “And maybe he would have given us even more money!” Knowing her so well, that’s exactly what she was thinking. I’m sure that the contents of her envelope was already nothing to sneeze at. Never the less, why stop at one sneeze when you could have three more?

    “You are right, Unnie,” I murmured. I bowed my apology. As I had hoped, the rods that poked up at my shoulders almost caught her. I was like a bull going after the matador. Her scolding waved like a red cape before me. Always the lightest on her feet, she nimbly skipped back just in time. I came up from my bow, an apologetic smile pasted on my lips.

    “Unnie! Did I almost get you? I am sorry!” I stepped up to deliver another bow and a possible blow but Oh came between us.

    “Unnies! We have all endured much today,” she stated the obvious. Turning to Ivy, she murmured how her nerves must remain calm. To me, she addressed the doctor’s warning not to exert myself. The slightest mishap could re-injure my neck, maybe even snap it apart this time.

    “We must all obey the doctors and help each other to get well,” she went on, “Our first October is only nine months away so we must become strong!”

    She was probably about to conclude with the highly annoying Korean manner of pumping one’s fist in the air while crying out, “Fighting!” One look at the blood in my eye killed the word at her lips. No need to tell me to fight; I was primed and ready. All I needed was a clanging bell and a small space; the better to impale a certain party.

    But fate was on her side that day. A nurse came to fetch me and we rode the elevator to the private parking by ourselves. Otherwise, there would have been two deep gouge marks in the walls and blood on the floor.

    Nine months later I was free of the halo device. I stood on a stage between the two other surviving members of “Quintet”. Images of the two girls who had died in the accident, Annie and K-lee, flashed up on the jumbo screen behind us. Somehow, their 2-d images seemed more real and present to me than the ones in flesh beside me. We were already becoming as strangers to one another.
    That was the first of my unfortunate Octobers.

    Once upon a time, I loved October.

    Yes, that could have been a song. To me though, it sounds more like the beginning of a story. For nine years, I’ve been keeping that story to myself. But the words have kept churning up inside of me. Like leaves coming up thru the brushes of a lawn sweeper, they keep coming and building as life keeps pushing and pushing. Finally, I can hold no more and like leaves in a full hopper, the words are spilling over the sides.

    I know that I’m not supposed to talk about this. Well, tough titty as that American friend of mine likes to say.

    As far as I’m concerned, after the events of this past tenth October, that contract is null and void. I’m talking about this no matter what the price.

    Tough titty.

    That’s what I should have said from the very beginning.
    __________________________________________________ __________

    Korean Terms:
    Unnie: affectionate yet respectful term for a female close to you in age yet older if even by one week.

    Manke: Baby of the family or group. Every KPop group seems to feature one. They are generally two to three years younger than the group leader. They're like a kid sister who gets to tag along. This way the demographic spread for the group can go wider.

    Also; in Asia, the surname goes first then the given name. For example, our main character, Song Suni Bok: in formal situations, she would be addressed as "Song" or "Ms. Song". Within the group it's "Unni Suni" or just "Suni".
    "Why not stay awake now? Who wants to sleep now with so much happening, so much to see? Life used to be dull you see...and you don't have to sleep alone, you don't even have to sleep at all; and so, all you have to do is show the stick to the dog now and then and say, 'Thank God for nothing.'"

    Drusilla, "The UNVANQUISHED. William Faulkner

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    The Last Frontier
    Posts
    1,515
    Wow, awesome beginning! Very happy you are writing again!!
    All that is gold does not glitter....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    On the Rock
    Posts
    725
    Great start. Really looking forward to more!

  5. #5

    6 THE DEAD GIRL BAND; Chap. 1

    The tenth unfortunate October started as predictable as ever. One week prior to the concert, the three of us met at a company rehearsal hall to go over the routines. They hadn’t varied much at all over the years. The muscle memory of every kick, every arm swing and facial pose was as such that we could do them in our sleep. Never the less, it was a monotony of:

    “Kick, turn, arms out,
    Kick, turn, pose, and pout.
    Sexy back, sexy back
    Look over shoulder,
    Back kick, skip…”

    Our choreography was never that thrilling or challenging to begin with. A critic once called our dancing the “epitome of Western country line dancing done K-pop style”. An American living in Korea blogged that our synchronized movements reminded him of something called a “Pom-Pom Squad” he grew up watching at ball games.

    I remember that review especially because one of the producers followed that blog and looked up the term. The next thing we knew, we were kitted out in tight sweaters, short skirts, and knee socks worn with platform heel athletic shoes. An American who had been a “Pom-Pom Girl” was hired to instruct us in the finer points of shaking our “poms” to music. And not just the ones in our hands.

    “Suni, Oh, K-lee…all of you! You need to sell it more!” the director called out, “You know, shake a little harder, like this!” He got up from his chair and bending from the waist, he shook his upper body most vigorously. He reminded me a dog shaking off bath water.

    Amused, we all followed suit. Oh even added some sound effects like that of a motor boat starting up. Then one by one, it hit us just what he wanted to see moving. Looking at one another it was obvious, thanks to our strict diets, we didn’t have much to jiggle. Annie was the only one who still had some chubby left on her chest. She got front and center of that particular shot by default.

    At the time, it was a lot of fun for us. It was even more fun for viewers of the resulting video. Who knew that shaking bunches of shredded plastic could be so sexy? Our views on YouTube shot thru the roof.

    Thanks be to K-lee’s God that we weren’t made to wear the outfits from that video on stage by that tenth anniversary October. That alone would have made me break the contract and flee the country. Singing the song was bad enough.

    As the character, “Hamlet”, would say, “Aye, there’s the rub.” The songs. We weren’t young girls any more. We were grown women. It seemed ludicrous to me if not damn right odd for the three of us to bop around the stage singing about how we’re shy and inexperienced.

    “I’m so shy, so shy,
    (I’ve dreamed of this moment)
    So shy, so shy, almost ready to cry
    But I love you, you know that I want you….”

    Almost every song of ours went on in that vein: we’re too young, we’re too scared, and how our parents will disown us if they knew that we even dreamed of Oppa. It was bad enough back then, dressed as quasi sluts, shaking everything we didn’t have while protesting our innocence. Ten years down the road, we had experience under our belts and a little more flesh in our bras. Still we sang about how we just couldn’t, wouldn’t dream of doing whatever with a man.

    The possibility of adding a new song or at least updating the existing ones was never thought of. This annual concert was not about us being seasoned and professional entertainers. This was about us being beloved icons of a time gone by. This was a celebration and memorial of two lives.

    And the suspension of ours.

    Sometimes it felt like I was caught in a dream where I’d watch myself from a distance. Someone else would be jumping and skipping about for me. I’d watch this woman from the sidelines in my head and every time I’d think, “How ridiculous is this? I feel embarrassed for her!”

    I never asked the others if they felt the same way. Oh always seemed to enjoy herself immensely. Her dimpled smile would pull from ear to ear. She was the manke of the group again, just as baby faced as always.

    Ivy put on her old role as leader as one would happily pull on their favorite pair of comfy jeans. This is where she belonged.

    Asking them if they didn’t find it a bit disconcerting, playing at being teenagers, would have exposed me as the odd man out. Again.

    The whole thing reminded me of this American movie I saw once; “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” The woman who plays Baby Jane goes around dressed as her ten year old self. She does all the cutesy pie crap with the big eyes and puffy cheeks like we were expected to do. I found the movie to be both hysterical and sobering all at once.

    For a while, I entertained fantasies of locking Oh and Ivy in a room and making them watch it too. I’d sit there with the remote in my hand, pause the film and point out over and over, “Don’t you see! This is where we’ll end up!”

    But they wouldn’t have seen. They were both on board with the crazy town train that the fans and Zenith were driving. I was the caboose, just bumping along behind everyone. Call me Blanche; I was in the damn chair for the long haul.

    At least, thank the Gods, we didn’t have to share a room any longer. For the first two years, they’d slapped us into our old dorm space at the Zenith Towers. It was meant to convey that it was just like old times. They’d even made little cut outs of cutesy cats with our names on them and put them on the door. Inside, cutesy animal name tags again denoted where to put our bags, hang our clothes, and put up our toothbrushes. They’d even gone and put names on the beds! It was like something out of Snow White! Here lies Dopey, Doc, and Grumpy.

    I’ll give you three guesses who was Grumpy.

    By the third unfortunate October, the thought of being shacked up with Ivy, even just for a few days, was enough to run me to despair. Desperation, I’m told, is the mother of invention, so I invented a snoring problem for myself. I got a doctor friend to write up a letter for me stating that due to my sleep apnea, I had to wear some kind of mask on my face. This would be hooked up to some machine that made a lot of noise. So sorry about this inconvenience for the other two!

    As I had hoped, Ivy had a fit. How could she, the lightest of sleepers, be expected to get her beauty rest with all that going on? By then, she was more than just the leader of our group, she was a talent manager with Zenith. What Ivy wanted, Ivy got and just like that, poof! She was out of the room.

    I actually had fun that time. Without her overbearing shadow, Oh was able to loosen up a bit and the two of us had a blast…or so I thought.

    The following year, Oh informed the handlers that she was still nursing her baby. She would have to bring the child along and was concerned this might cause discomfort to her “Unnie” so boop! That was the end of the dorm room. From there on out, we each got our own room in a hotel.

    Let me tell you; being able to eat as much greasy take-out as one likes in their own room is a delight. Add to that having a TV and a bubble bath and not having to share these things with others makes for heaven this side of the pale.

    We’d still have to see each other at rehearsal of course. Oh, Ivy, Ivy, Ivy. Icy, climbing Ivy. In the beginning, if the schedule read, “Rehearsal begins at eight AM, she’d be there at seven. There we’d find her; doing squats and lunges on the barre, sweat pouring over her smug face.

    “There you are, Sisters!” she would scold, “The day is half over and there you finally are!”

    Oh would apologize for having kept her waiting. She’d even thank her for correcting her. I’d deliver the most abbreviated of bows and mutter how she was an inspiration. All the while visions of throwing her from the roof top danced in my head.

    Five years on, she wasn’t quite so spry. She’d show up late the first day, always the first day, panting and going breathlessly on about how she’d been having to wrap up some lose ends at the office.

    “Trust me,” she’d say, fanning her face as the camera’s clicked, “Coming here for dance practice is a vacation for me! Especially getting to see my lovely friends again!”

    She’d put her arms around us at this point. Oh would simper and smirk while I bit the insides of my cheeks so hard I’d draw blood. “Lovely friends” my ass. The minute the press had been bowed to and ushered away, she’d go back to her bossy and taciturn self. She was the star; we were the backup and don’t anyone forget it!

    Here in the last few years, she’d calmed down a bit. One could almost say that she’d mellowed with age, the way some wines are supposed to do. Or rather, it was because of the wine that she had lightened up.

    Anymore it seemed, she’d have to be practically wheeled into rehearsal on a trolley cart and propped up. She’d stumble and mumble thru the motions while Oh and I did our best to pretend she wasn’t a little drunk.

    The first time she’d shown up like this; slurring her words and tripping over the floor, there’d been panic. How on the green earth was she going to hold up on stage? Should we even attempt this? Maybe now was the time to just do straight video.

    The press, used to coming in and doing their usual “Pre-reunion” piece, were held off until Ivy could be hustled from the room. Oh and I were told to sell the notion that Ivy was getting a bad cold and had to go home early.

    “We’re sure that she is sorry to have missed you!” Oh chirped out, “Ivy Unnie is working hard to get better!

    “Let us all pray that she recovers in time,” was the best I could offer. I meant that, from the bottom of my black heart. No way did I want to be front and center acting like an aging Baby Jane automaton. That was her job, sober or not.

    We needn’t have worried. Come dress rehearsal, as the managers and other stuffed suits held their collective bad breath, Ivy snapped to like a pro. I’ve heard how in the horse and buggy days in America, the fire departments used horse drawn wagons. The horses could be asleep on their feet but the minute they heard the bell, they were raring to go, even in old age. That was Ivy. The minute she felt the heat of the lights, heard the booming base beat of the music, she pulled up in the harness and took off.

    Now that we knew what to expect, we’d just walk thru the process with her. She’d get lost in her steps and blame one of us for messing her up. Or she’d go off on the musicians for being off the beat when it was a pre-recorded CD we were dancing to.

    We’d watch as she took swigs from a big bottle of water that no one else was allowed to touch. We’d wait as she went off to brush her teeth for the umpteenth time. Back at the hotel, I’d take a calendar out of the bottom of my suitcase and make a big ‘X” thru yet another day wasted.
    Oh, well.

    This one week, bothersome though it could be, is what’s paid for my real life. My agreeing to be here and go thru with this once a year has made the rest of the time passable.

    Being it was the tenth anniversary, we all knew that this concert would be bigger than usual. Zenith had started the rumor that this may be the LAST memorial concert ever. This wasn’t true of course but, as hoped, the show sold out. The rush to get in on this last tribute crashed the main ticket website. Scalpers were doing the happy dance in the streets as fans paid top dollar even for the nose bleed section just because this might be the last ever show.

    So far as I was concerned, they were all ten years too late for the last ever show.

    Ah, the fans. And not just any fans…we’re talking OUR fans. This is a whole different kettle of fish from any other kind. Over the years they’ve been called “Quin-heads” and “Quin-tards”, (yes, a bit insensitive I know, but that’s what I’ve read online), and just “Quinnies”. To the rest of the world on the World Wide Web, they’ve seemed a bit daft from day one. To Zenith Productions, they’ve been a gold mine.

    Every fall all across most of Asia and some parts of Europe, a decade’s old tune of ours goes to number one in digital sales. That song is “You’re Still Here.” Compared to our usual pink bubblegum fare, the piece stood out for us from day one. The melody was soulful and reflective. The lyrics conveyed a maturity we’d never shown before. The song spoke of an impending loss, and a horrible fear of “what will happen for the rest of my life, knowing that you won’t be here.”

    The words go on, battling back and forth between despair and fleeting moments of courage. In the end, the singer concludes,

    “I’m not alone, for the rest of my life;
    As long as I live, you’re still here.”

    The song was incredible in its simple strength. We all loved it from the get-go and were wild to be selected to sing lead on it. In the end, K-lee’s plaintive tone was considered the best to put it over. Ivy pretended not to care much. She was, after all, the leader and therefore should have been picked.

    “I can’t have them all,” she smiled like a good natured loser. She was even more considerate in her loss when the fans failed to take notice of what we all thought was the best number one break up song ever. It wasn’t the Quintet they were expecting. Quick! Another round of bubble gum!

    “You’re Still Here” was released in August as part of our “come-back” round. Two months later, K-lee was dead and the song rocketed to number one.

    Up to that point, the number one spot had eluded us. The closest we’d come to it was with the stupid song we shook our pom-poms to. In an interview, just days before the accident, K-lee expressed the hope that we’d hit the top spot before the end of the year.

    The fans made it happen.

    She’d also hoped that one day, Quintet would be known beyond Korea.
    Our fans re-posted our videos on social media worldwide. Done.

    Annie had expressed her wish that one day we might do a concert in the little village she’d come from. For the fifth anniversary of her passing, our fans petitioned Zenith to do just that. We all invaded the tiny hamlet and gave them a night to remember.

    I suppose that if K-lee and Annie had expressed a desire to see the two Koreas reunited, our fans would have made that happen too.

    I’m sorry. That sounded sarcastic, didn’t it? I didn’t mean for it to. I was, after all, the “sassy” one. Which is just a nice way of saying I was the snarky one. And that in turn is a nicer way of saying that I was the bitch of the band.

    Yes, it was so. In the beginning, the PR team didn’t know what to do with me. “Seems calculating” was one of the remarks written on my performance eval. “Suni! You’ve got to be warmer to the fans!” the manager would wail. Finally, not knowing what else to do, they gave out that I was simply “too cool to care.” I remember reading that bit in an advance copy of our first “fanzine”. I about choked on my spit laughing over it.

    I’d been called a lot of things in my time but “cool” had never been one of them.

    Never the less, the fans bought into it. They gave me even more respect that our leader. It became a game with them to see who could crack a smile out of me. I played along, pretending not to be impressed with anything they could say or do but deep inside, I was grinning from ear to ear.

    I was, for the first time in my life, “cool” and maybe even, dare I say it? Popular.

    I’m the first to tell you; in real life, I was not and am not cool, not even close. Yet Zenith held out the spoon filled with PR pabulum and the fans ate it up. After the accident, Zenith whipped up a new concoction; Quintet must not be allowed to be forgotten. The fans not only swallowed it, they added their own special dash of crazy to the mix.

    So far as they were concerned, that accident never happened.
    What happened on that chilly night in October 2010 was simply a bad dream that they could step out of. In their world, the clock got set back permanently by twenty-four hours and all five of us are alive and well. Like dolls in a doll house, they’ve placed us back in our dorm at Zenith Towers where we read fan email, shoot videos, and record music.

    In ten years’ time, we have never grown up. We’ve never moved on and done anything outside of the group and its fame. At the memorial concert, they don’t see three women in their thirties, they see five young girls.

    As you can see, we’ve been held back. And not just by our fans. If you go outside our fan base, you’ll find us just as stunted if not more so. To the rest of the world, we’re past tense. Oh yeah, they remember us; we’re that group with the dead girls in it. Yeah, some of the members died while on the road. It was one girl right? No, maybe it was four. Maybe all of them died, who knows? They’re not around anymore, they’re the dead girl band.

    I’m sure that for Ivy and Oh, it feels like they died that night. Certainly, their sense of self and their whole reason for being did.

    As crazy as she can make me, I’m not going to sit here and lie to you about Ivy’s ability. She was and, if she cleaned up, still could be a powerhouse of talent. It seemed to just ooze from her pores. From the time she could stand up and talk, she’d wanted nothing else than to be what you westerners would term a “Star!” In Korea, we call them “Idols”. That’s all Ivy ever wanted to be.

    The youngest of our group, Oh, had the makings of a great comedienne. Her impersonations were spot on. Her facial expressions were priceless. Following the inevitable and normal break up of Quintet, she could have written her own ticket with every K-drama production house in town.

    But just like that, it was all gone. All of the years of strain and sacrifice to rise to the top came clattering apart in the space of seconds.

    So you can see how this has shaped them in the last decade; the constant rubbing between the two rocks of:

    Quintet lives! No, they’re all dead. Quintet 4-ever! Who are you again? You did what? You do what now? A talent manager? You have kids?! Does not compute; you never grew up. Does not compute; I thought you were dead.

    Viewed thru that window, I can’t really blame Ivy for the self-medicating. I can see now why Oh picked the fast track to rich housewife and mother. These are the covers they’ve pulled over themselves to hide the hurt of never being able to be that person they’d planned and worked so hard for. In our culture, some would say that being famous was never their fate to begin with and that’s why the accident happened. Their fates just happened to collide with the fates of the two who died.

    What’s that? What was my fate?

    My fate was and is to be alone, floating in space as an invisible wraith. This was my punishment. Unlike Ivy and Oh, I didn’t work to be an “Idol” for the love of performing or the desire for fame. I had already gotten what I had gone there to get: vengeance.

    Perhaps it was because of my vengeful nature that I was spared. That night, three of us went into the world beyond this one. I was made to come back, very much against my will I might add. My fate was to bear the loss of the other two. And to wonder if it wasn’t all my fault somehow.

    Like always.

    I don’t want to go into that now if you don’t mind.

    Where was I? Oh yes, that tenth unfortunate October.
    "Why not stay awake now? Who wants to sleep now with so much happening, so much to see? Life used to be dull you see...and you don't have to sleep alone, you don't even have to sleep at all; and so, all you have to do is show the stick to the dog now and then and say, 'Thank God for nothing.'"

    Drusilla, "The UNVANQUISHED. William Faulkner

  6. #6
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    MOARRRRRR!!!!! please....

  7. #7
    Thank you for sharing your story with us.looking forward to more soon.
    Wayne

  8. #8

    6 CHAP 2 of THE DEAD GIRL BAND

    Dead Girl band Chap 2

    The tenth October started out as usual. We sweated thru the practice thing, faked grinned thru the PR thing, and generally avoided one another as much as time and conditions would permit.

    This year was a little different in that we were feted at a banquet in our honor at the corporate office. They had “Imperial Cuisine” catered in and damned if we didn’t sit in the same overly carved chairs at the same overly polished wood table that we’d sealed our lives away on almost a decade before.

    Afterwards, we trouped to a large rehearsal hall where the latest generation of Zenith talent waited to serenade us. Two boy groups and one girl group, all so tenderly young, took turns performing their latest hits. They were underfed and overly made up…and that included the boys. They all bowed and begged our support and we bowed back and wished them well.

    I wanted so badly to tell them, “RUN! Get the hell out of here while you still can!” but of course I didn’t. I just smiled my steely “let’s just get this the hell over with, ok?” smile I always wore for the week and enjoined them to “work hard”.

    Concert night came. It was a pleasant, warmish night with a moon up above. Usually it would be chilly. And usually it would be rainy or threating to be. I found myself wondering “what if”…what if the weather had been nicer on that night in 2010. What if the freeway had been dry and the sky brightly lit on that awful night ten years ago this very day?

    I snorted and shrugged to myself. Likely, we’d all be home at this moment, whatever home had turned out to be. Some of us might have been putting children to bed. A couple of us would have been going over work for the following day. Likely, we’d all have been married and getting dangerously close in age to being called “Ajumma” by shop clerks or strangers on a train.

    “Ajumma” or “Ma’am” as the westerners say, “Please, come take this seat! Welcome to our shop.”

    We all would have been turning into middle aged married women by now.

    And we all would have been alive…if only.

    Did Ivy or Oh ever have these same thoughts? I don’t know. They didn’t say and I
    didn’t ask. I was just there to do one thing: get it over with.

    As always, the adult me, the real me, checked out at in the darkened wings of the stage. Our entrance music would come on and I’d stand back and watch this older version of the girl they called “Suni” roll thru the motions.

    “Georgie, Porgie puddin’ pie
    You kissed all the girls
    But not I!”

    Plastic, performing Suni would roll her eyes in distress while aging, cynical me would roll my eyes and look again at the watch on the wrist in the back of my head.

    “Georgie, Porgie puddin’ pie
    If you don’t kiss me
    I’m gonna cry!”

    Mock consternation from Suni; real consternation from me.

    “I’m gonna throw up!” I thought to myself for the umpteenth time, “Seriously, how much longer can we play at this?”

    And so it went, as always, but then, the evening suddenly shifted sideways.

    I don’t remember when I first became aware of her. Usually, I never really looked at the audience. Hearing them was bad enough; this emotionally overwrought wall of sound. They’d cry, they’d cheer, worse: they’d sing along with or without being in tune.

    I think what made me start to take visual notice of the audience that night was hearing younger voices in the house. I looked out and saw young people. Son of a gun, if our fans hadn’t grown up and started to have kids! And now they were bringing them along. Maybe it had always been this way and I hadn’t cared to notice before.

    These kids in the audience were singing right along. They knew every word, could repeat every gesture right in sync with us. I remember thinking to myself, this is crazy, when my eye caught sight of the youngish but older looking woman in the fourth row center.

    She had the soft dumpling build of an Ajumma but her face was still looked like that of a little girl. She bounced in her seat, singing along like everyone else but…oh, how do I describe this? Everyone seemed to have the words and movements down pat but her rendition was more defined. It was crisp, point on. Like it’d been drilled into her from hours in a rehearsal hall.

    Just the same way we’d learned it.

    It was her smile more than anything else that held my attention. My smile was as fake and as fixed to my face as my false eyelashes were glued to my lids, (the better for you to see my peepers with!).

    It had not come naturally to me. That smile had been learned and practiced by hook and by crook.

    “Suni!” the dance director would bark, “I’m going to throw you in the damn closet if you don’t learn how to smile!” He’d pace the sidelines, watching me as a lion would its prey. If he caught me with my natural “bitchy pants” scowl, he’d leap into the routine, grasp the apples of my face cheeks between his nicotine stained fingers, and tweak them up, hard.

    “Be happy, even if it kills you!” he’d bellow as we moved along, my face held hostage in his grasp, jerked into a grimace of a grin.

    Ivy already had a patented smooth smile. She’d been perfecting it for years. Annie and Oh had only to see my plight and their lips slid up. Ka-lee on the other hand; when she smiled, she smiled from her heart, not from practice or fear. She loved what she did. Her voice and body slid around the routines as naturally as a stream going down a hill.

    Just like this strange woman in the fourth row.

    It began to dawn on me: this person looked like Ka-lee the way she had as a child. She’d shown me a photo taken just before she’d entered the academy; all plump and dimpled like a Korean Shirley Temple. If you’d drawn some age lines on that picture and spread her out a bit more, you’d have this person bopping about in her seat.

    With a start, I realized that for the first time in years, I was present and accounted for on that stage as never before. The snarly, cynical side of me that waited in the wings had joined the rest of me in front of the lights. And it was trying just as hard not to openly stare and gape at the lady.

    After a while, her presence became encouraging. I found myself playing to that section of the house, to her, just to see how wide her smile would go. In turn, the troubling ghost of my late friend, beamed from ear to ear. She seemed to be watching me just as close, playing right back to me.

    For the first time in years, I was actually having fun out there. I glanced over at Oh to see if she’d noticed the lady. It appeared to me that she had. I wanted to catch her eye and jerk my head towards that section, to get her reaction, when the lights for the audience came up.

    Ivy moved down towards the lip of the stage. Oh followed and after a beat, so did I. This is how fast the evening was going for me now; we were already to the Ka-lee’s and Annie’s part of the program. It was time for their song, “You’re Still Here.”

    The first year out, we had tried to sing it as a trio. We couldn’t. If one managed to keep it together, the other two couldn’t and soon all were in tears. Even the music director and our managers would openly weep. So it was decided to just play a tribute video backed with the original recording up on a giant screen. The three of us fled back stage to break down while the audience had themselves a good cry too.

    In 2012, management hit on the idea of making this the fans’ part of the program. Word went out via our official site and on the various forums that from here on, this was no longer our song; it belonged to the fans. It was a splendid idea; too bad it wasn’t ours. A manager lifted it from a much beloved American pop group. One of their most popular members had died suddenly. The song he had sung the lead on had been a huge hit; one their fans would be expecting to hear in concert. The manager read an article of how the highlight of the tour was when the lights came up, a member of the audience was selected and that lucky soul got to come on stage and lead the fans in singing a song called “Day Dream Believer”.

    That group was called “The Monkees”. We’d never heard of them but, hey, Monkee see, Monkee do. That’s just what we did too. The fans loved it and so did we.

    This year’s pick wasn’t a typical “Quinnie”. Most Quinnies tended towards being a touch over weight, wearing a fan tee-shirt two sizes too small and were generally overwhelmed to be up on stage with us.

    The young lady who bounded up was quite fit and seemed pleased and confident. After the bows and introductions, she took the mic and control of the stage as if to the moment born. The lights darkened, the screen behind us lit up and Annie and Ka-lee were alive once more.

    “I just can’t believe it
    When you say you must go,
    I can’t wrap my heart
    ‘round your words,
    Nothing lasts forever,
    I knew this day would come;
    I just didn’t know how much it’d hurt.”

    At this point, the three of us had moved back upstage a bit to give the girl some room in this, her big moment. Oh was standing between us. Clasping her hand over her mike, she murmured how good this girl sounded.

    “One of yours I take it?” she asked Ivy.

    Ivy nodded.

    “One of Director Yu’s nieces. This is her audition for the company.”

    I shot her a look which she ignored. So much for this being the “fan’s” song!

    The little hotshot was starting to work the stage now. The average fan would cling to the mic stand and that spot as if her very life depended on not moving. This girl unclipped the mic and moved along as if telling a story.

    “I’m trying to gather
    All the strength I don’t have,
    I’m trying to hold back the fear;
    Of what will happen
    For the rest of my life,
    Knowing that you won’t be here.”

    I glanced over the audience. If they had noticed she was an “imposter” so to speak, they didn’t let on. They seemed to be enjoying the performance. Of course, by this point, most of them were too deep into doing their own rendition to really notice anyone else.

    Especially the Ka-lee lookalike in the fourth row center.

    As before, her delivery belied her apparent addled condition. Her facial expressions spoke of an overwhelming wave of grief.

    “This sunlight this morning,
    How on earth can it shine?
    With this storm raging on in my heart?

    Her eyes grew cloudy with anger as she seemed to observe,

    ‘And these people out walking?
    How can they go on,
    When my world
    Is falling apart?”

    She lifted her gaze heaven ward then, as if spying an angel in the rafters.

    “The warmth of the sun
    Is like your dear smile
    And suddenly, you feel so near…”

    A chill shot thru me.

    “And I hear you say that
    For the rest of my life
    As long as I live
    You’re still here.”

    The audience was warmed up for the bridge part now. Some had mini flashlights which they held up. A couple had snuck in candles. The flickering flames were easy to spot from my vantage point. As was the strange lady. I watched as she closed her eyes and slipped into the words.

    “Time moves on
    They say that it’s time that will heal.
    And life goes on
    But it won’t change how I feel
    About you.”

    I felt myself clinching up inside for the last part. The older Ka-Lee look alike had no qualms about the words of,

    “And so I begin
    Down this strange empty road
    I mark every step with a tear,
    But I’m not alone
    For the rest of my life
    As long as I live,
    You’re still here.”

    The music swelled as the song headed back to the bridge again. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the lady. I didn’t check to see if Oh and Ivy noticed her too. I began holding my breath as the last verse repeated the final time. There was one gesture that I was both waiting and dreading to see.

    “For as long as I live,
    You’re still here…”

    There was a pause then,

    “For as long as I live…”

    The woman in the fourth row took a breath, placed her hand over her heart, and finished the line:

    “You’re still here.”

    I felt like someone had punched me in the gut and then poured ice water over me. My scalp prickled. Beyond the tribute video, there had never been an official music vid of this song. Ka-lee had performed it only one time in public.
    This complete stranger had performed it exactly as Ka-lee had in that only concert ten years before.

    Five hours later, she was dead.

    Or so I was told.

    I would never see her again. I never got to say goodbye. By the time I had regained conciseness, I had missed both her funeral and Annie’s. Someone had taken some flowers from their wreaths, and presented them to me along with their funeral programs. I remember sitting there, forced upright by the halo device, holding these final tokens of them in my lap. I sat in silence, utterly stone faced, uncomprehending and unbelieving.

    “She’s still here.”

    “Huh?”

    I came back to reality with a start. Oh was looking at me. I must have said something. But what?

    “What is it?” I asked.

    Oh’s gaze slipped to the side and back to my face again.

    “You said something about she’s still here?”

    “Did I?” Damn, I hadn’t meant for that to slip out.

    “Yes, she’s still here!” I pointed to the young lady, the so called “fan” taking yet another bow, “Good God, any more of that and she may as well join the group!”

    Oh laughed at that.

    “We’d better go up there before we’re out of a job!” she joked.

    The rest of the program went by rather quickly. Our catalog of songs wasn’t that vast but the fans didn’t seem to mind. Besides, the concert was merely a preview for what they’d really come for: the meet and greet.

    With the last chord hanging in the air, the three of us took our bows and left the stage. American groups are generally pelted with flowers and stuffed toy animals at this moment. In our case, the fans would get to deliver them in person so they held on to their tributes.

    Backstage there was the usual chorus of approval and accolades. Our dressing rooms, already loaded with flowers when the evening began, now resembled something of dictator’s funeral and smelled worse. I felt bad for the givers of the ornate displays. While they were thanked with official notes on good quality company stationary, they little dreamed that within the hour, the pricey tripods and sprays would be rolling to area hospitals and nursing homes.

    I performed the usual bows and gave the expected greetings to the big wigs. I was only hours away from freedom but right now, I was desperate to find out if Oh had noticed the lady who resembled Ka-lee.

    I found her on the outer ring of a tight little group. Its center consisted of Ivy and some studio suits. Ivy did not seem happy.

    “What’s with her?” I inquired, “Her little protégée did well. What’s the drama this time?”

    “Oh, something to do with…oh, I dunno. Security I think,” Oh replied.

    I snorted. “Leave it to her to wait until after the show to get upset! Is she missing a private guard for her dressing room?”

    Oh shrugged.

    “No, it was something about the audience. I’m not sure. They seemed well behaved to me.”

    Seeing an opening, I stepped in.

    “Speaking of which, did you happen to notice, in the fourth row…”

    My words got cut off by the loud pop of an explosion. Someone near had uncorked a bottle of the good stuff and it was running all over.

    “To Quintet!” the fellow with the bottle yelled, “Another ten years!”

    Seeing a waste of perfectly good booze going to the floor, Ivy dropped whatever drama it was and within seconds had the bottle to a glass and the glass to her lips.

    Oh laughed delightedly and wiggled her way next to Ivy. Soon, she too was drinking and toasting.

    Wishing for another ten years of this was the last thing I wanted to tempt the Gods with. I began to walk to my dressing room when a whiff of fresh air caught my nose. The backstage door was wide open. Ah, a nice gulp of fresh air and maybe a puff on a borrowed cigarette would be lovely about now.

    I slipped out into the evening.
    "Why not stay awake now? Who wants to sleep now with so much happening, so much to see? Life used to be dull you see...and you don't have to sleep alone, you don't even have to sleep at all; and so, all you have to do is show the stick to the dog now and then and say, 'Thank God for nothing.'"

    Drusilla, "The UNVANQUISHED. William Faulkner

  9. #9
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    Oh wow... great read... looking forward to the next chapters...

  10. #10
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    Thanks Minky, starting to really get into this.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  11. #11
    minkykat Thank you for the story and the new chapter, looking forward to more soon.
    Wayne

  12. #12
    Thank you all! I have two intense days of job interviews coming up so I hope to do some writing over the weekend.

    Again, my thanks for your kind words.
    "Why not stay awake now? Who wants to sleep now with so much happening, so much to see? Life used to be dull you see...and you don't have to sleep alone, you don't even have to sleep at all; and so, all you have to do is show the stick to the dog now and then and say, 'Thank God for nothing.'"

    Drusilla, "The UNVANQUISHED. William Faulkner

  13. #13

    Dead Girl Band Chap 4

    Sorry for the long delay. The week was busy as I had hoped. Unfortunately, the week that followed plunged me into a dark depression as not one offer did I receive. I need to work on working thru my grief.

    Here is Chap. 4. I need to go back into 3 and build up the description of the strange lady in the fourth row, make her appear even more mysterious. Why? You'll see.

    __________________________________________________ _________________-

    Dead Girl Band Chap 4

    The air was still unusually warm but now a scent of rain hung in it. Looking up at the sky, I noticed that the clouds had rolled in. No more moon and stars, just dark. A flash of light signaled faintly in the distance. A small echo of thunder followed.

    “There’s gonna be a storm,” a voice remarked. I turned to see one of the company drivers leaning against one of the fancy fleet cars, a cigarette dangling at his lips.

    “Yes,” I agreed, “the last one of the season. It’ll be nothing but snow after that.” Pointing to his smoke, I inquired if he had one to spare. Nodding, he drew a silver case from within his jacket pocket and proffered it to me like a box of candy.

    “Nice case!” I complimented him, as he gallantly flicked open a silver lighter.

    “Thanks,” he replied, “I think it looks classier this way, rather than carrying the pack. “Speaking of classy,” he tucked his case and lighter away, “that was a very classy performance you ladies gave tonight!”

    “Thank you!” I replied with a slight bow. I took a draw on the cigarette.
    “Um, these are nice!” I remarked as I joined him to lean against the car, “It’s either a very good quality tobacco or it’s just because I haven’t smoked in a while.”

    The driver waggled a finger at me. “Ah-ah! Once you stop smoking, you should keep stopping! Otherwise, you’ll get hooked, like me!”

    “Oh, a little puff now and then…” I began when the sound of hurried footsteps interrupted my line of thought.

    “Quickly! Where’s the car?” a voice called.

    More footsteps were coming up now but one of them sounded forced, as if being drug along. It reminded me of a child digging in their heels and having to be pulled to bed. Right on cue, a high voiced whined, “Nooooo! Why do we have to go?”

    “Because it’s past your bedtime!” Someone replied evenly.

    The group was drawing nearer. I got up from against the car and stepped forward to see what was happening. Could it be Ivy’s little protege I wondered half-jokingly.

    As I had thought, one of the group was being drug by force but it wasn’t a child. It appeared to be an adult, a rather plump one at that. Just then they slid beneath a beam of light from one of the street lights.

    The person being pulled along was the lady from the fourth row.

    She stood up straight suddenly. She was big not just in body but in height, unusually so for a Korean woman. I heard one of her companions groan in frustration as another tried coaxing her in sweetened tones.

    “Come along now, like a good girlie. If you get in the car, I’ve give you something delicious to snack on before bed!” they promised. From the looks of the lady, this line of compromise must have been going on for years.

    “I don’t want something to eat! I just want to say hello! Let me say hello and I’ll go to bed for a week,” she insisted. She added a loud foot stomp for emphasis.

    “The Unnies are tired. They’ve already gone on home to rest!”

    The big one was having none of it.

    “You liar! You’re a stinking monkey shit!” She threw back her head and wailed in frustration.

    I clamped my hand over my mouth to stifle my own wail.

    From my vantage point on the stage, thru the bright stage lights, I’d been seeing her primarily in a profile to three quarter view of what must have been her good side. Now in the light of the street lamp, I was seeing all of her face at once.

    It was heart stopping.

    Starting about the middle of her forehead, a jagged line inched down the right side of her face. It reminded me of how streams are depicted on maps. It crept down over the closed slit of where her eye had been and continued down her cheek where it finally trailed off to the right, over to her ear.

    The forehead was also like a map; a contrast of flat versus hills. The left side of it was smooth and even but the right side was raised up a bit. It appeared to bulge forward just ever so before settling down again as if pushed. Where the eye had been and down to her nose, her face looked crumpled in on itself.

    From the left, she looked perfectly fine. She in fact had a lovely profile. The right side spoke of carnage beyond belief.

    The crazy thing was that from the nose down, she again looked normal again. Whatever happened had spared her mouth and chin. Precious little good it had done if all she could do apparently was to wail and eat.

    As I said, my first reaction at her appearance was one of dismay and maybe even a little terror. I have never done well with people who are less than perfect in both body and mind. They scare me, even repulse me.

    Yes, I know why. No, I don’t want to get into that at this time.

    Seeing that wails weren’t getting her anywhere, the lady was engaging in her own brand of bargaining.

    “Please”, she pleaded, “I’ll go straight to bed as soon as we get back if you only let me see them!” No dice. More pulling.

    “I don’t have to see them all! Just one of them! It doesn’t even have to be my friend!”

    She began to sit down, her rear coming close to the ground. As hoped, it brought everything to a halt.

    “I promise: I’ll eat my soup! I’ll eat the veggie things!”

    Despite her rough condition, I found myself deeply moved by her pleading. Such a fan that she’d even eat whatever soup or veggies that she must normally fight them on. Without a further thought, I walked over to the group, stepping into the light of the lamp.

    “Please! I’ve never seen such devotion before in all my life!” I announced.
    For a moment, everyone stopped struggling to look at me.
    I bowed by means of introduction and went on:

    “If it means this much to her that she’d eat food she dislikes, by all means, please allow me to bring you backstage as my guest!”

    I bowed again and came up expecting to find smiles and murmurs of thanks. Instead a gaggle of horrified looks greeted me. Seriously, the smaller people gaped as if I had two heads. Involuntarily my hands flew to my face. Had one of my false eyelashes come off? Was it now stuck to my eyebrow or fluttering from my cheek? I checked. Nope, nothing amiss.

    Even the tall one seemed shocked by my sudden appearance but only for a second. Her one eye grew huge and then that mouth; that tragically perfect mouth broke open in a wide, happy smile.

    “UNNI!” she bellowed.

    Her companions swore.
    “Where the hell is the car?”

    “PARK! For the love of God come help us!”

    My smoking friend shot past me. Together with the rest, he managed to manhandle my strange fan from the fourth row past me and into the back of one of the shiny fleet cars that littered the back parking lot. As they shuffled past, I heard one of them complaining how it was a mistake to have brought her here.

    “I told you this would happen!” he spat in rage.

    For her part, the tall lady struggled valiantly. But her gaze never left mine for a minute. Hurt and confusion had replaced joy. Those well shaped lips opened again in a shrill cry:

    “UNNI! UNNI MOON!”

    Older sister. Older sister, Moon.

    Once upon a time, I had another name. My real one; the one I was born with.
    Only a handful of people on the face of this earth know that name.

    Ka-Lee had been one of them.
    __________________________________________________ ____

    “You want to change your name? Why on earth?”

    Ka-Lee was flopped over the bed on her tummy, her long legs kicking back and forth aimlessly. She regarded me with a mix of curiosity and disappointment, her face cupped in her hands.

    It was the early fall of 2009. After months of rehearsal and prepping, the PR on our little group was getting ready to roll. They’d changed our hair, worked the fat off of us, and with a palate of make-up altered the shape of our faces and eyes. All that was left was to edit our names and if needed, our back grounds.

    Ivy of course didn’t need one little thing more done to her. Her name was judged as being great: it sounded English which pleased her as she had picked it out herself. Annie was considered a good American sounding name. Oh would just go by her surname as it sounded so cute; oh! Ka-Lee was a cobbling of her family name with part of her birth name.

    My case was judged special and in need of emergency treatment. I agreed 100 percent. Whatever they wanted to do was fine by me. If they’d named me “Teacup”, I would have gone with it. Anything but Moon.

    Ka-lee disagreed. “Moon is such a lovely name!” she went on.

    I snorted in reply.

    “Moon is such an old fashioned name!”

    “What’s wrong with that?” she wondered. Ka-lee flipped over on her back, one leg lazily dangled over the other one as with her hands, she drew a story in the air.
    “To me it speaks of classic tales of a princess heroine and her hero. Forbidden from marrying, they meet in secret, at night, in the garden. The moonlight streams down in hues of silvery blue upon the wisteria twined around the moon gate. There they meet and they steal a kiss!”

    She brought her two index fingers together in a prolonged smooch.

    I took this in, seated at my tiny desk in the tiny room we shared. As one of the elders in the group, I should have, by rights, shared a room with Ivy and Annie. But it was decided that Ivy would serve as a good example to the babyish Oh. Meanwhile, it was hoped, (in vain as it turned out), that Ka-lee’s natural sweetness might rub off on my snarly self.

    I shook my head and rolled my eyes.

    “To me, the name speaks of old lotus roots wrapped in paper. It speaks of greasy tea cups and faded silks that reek of moth balls. It speaks of little old ladies with stringy grey hair in a bun who still dress in hanbok just to go to the store!”

    Ka-lee hung her head over the side of the bed, regarding me from upside down.
    “All that from one name? Listen to you! Did you always hate your name so much?”

    I ignored that question and went on to point out the merits of my new identity, “Suni,”

    “Suni is snappy, fresh, and lively!” She goes to where the action is…no! In fact, the action comes to her!”

    I smiled when I said this and shook my freshly bobbed hair. They had decided that my “look” should be sporty and something the hair dresser called a “flapper”.

    “You’re going to be like this lady called Zelda”, she informed me. When I asked who this person was, she’d spun a tale of a girl that everyone wanted to be like. Bright and youthful, popular and copied.

    All the things I’d never been before.

    Moon had been a disaster to me. She was plodding and hopeless. Suni would open a whole new world to me. She would be vibrant. She wouldn’t take crap from anyone!

    “It’s too bad she went crazy,” the hairdresser concluded as she finished shaping my thick mane to graze my chin.

    “Huh? Who went crazy?” I demanded.

    “Zelda! Her husband got to be too much. She wound up in an asylum. It caught fire and she burned up in it!”

    “Great.” I muttered.

    Yeah, great. Even with the new name, the whiff of crazy still had to hang over me. The cat calls of “Moon the lune” could float back at any time. I clamped up my lips and kept this to myself.

    “Never the less, it’s a lovely name,” Ka-lee’s sweet voice jolted me back to the moment, “Just know this; the rest of the world may call you Suni but to me, you’ll always be Moon; my lady in the moon!”
    "Why not stay awake now? Who wants to sleep now with so much happening, so much to see? Life used to be dull you see...and you don't have to sleep alone, you don't even have to sleep at all; and so, all you have to do is show the stick to the dog now and then and say, 'Thank God for nothing.'"

    Drusilla, "The UNVANQUISHED. William Faulkner

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    On the Rock
    Posts
    725
    Thanks Minky! Loving this story.

    Sorry about the dark times... if it helps reach out. So many of have been there.

    Lake Lili

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    State of Jefferson Sierra Mountains
    Posts
    3,926
    Minky, Thank you for another chapter. I will be praying for you.

  16. #16
    Minky, Thank you for another great chapter. Praying God's will for you

    Wayne

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    On the Rock
    Posts
    725
    Hey Minky,

    Hope that you are well. This is a great story. Hope that you will be able to add to it at some point.

    Lili

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