Chapter Four: The Reward
Pizzazz adopted her most beseeching look, turning on the Stingers’ lead singer, a pleading tone in her voice. “You don’t understand how mean she was to me, Riot! I can’t have her back in the band and…and we don’t want her back, either.”
Riot eyed Pizzazz with thoughtful disdain. He had no respect for someone who made no attempt to begin to hide her feelings for him – he preferred a challenge. In any case, Pizzazz didn’t appeal to him. She was useful, that was all. And he was beginning to find her resistance irritating.
“I am surprised at you, Pizzazz.” He said in his low, smooth voice that the Misfit singer admired so much. “I thought you were a serious musician. But if that is how you see things, I must leave. I haven’t time to be discussing things with amateurs.”
Pizzazz’ eyes opened wide.
“But Riot!” she exclaimed for the second time. “This isn’t about being professional…”
“Then I expect the Misfits to be at tomorrow evening’s concert.” Riot fixed her with his most piercing gaze. “All of you, warmed up and ready to play. I will not tolerate such unprofessional behaviour, Pizzazz, especially not while your band is linked in name with my own.”
“I…I understand.” Pizzazz dropped her gaze, hating how feeble he made her feel. But there was no fighting it – she had tried and it was no good. Riot had her completely under his spell, and she couldn’t see a way out. More, she didn’t want a way out. If only he wasn’t so besotted with that air headed flirt of a girl, Jem. Her eyes narrowed.
She’d settle with Jetta, because Riot had said so and she daren’t let herself lose her connections with him, however meagre they were. But she didn’t like it.
Riot, however, seemed to approve.
“Good girl.” He said softly. “I knew you’d see things my way.” He smiled. “I will see you tomorrow, then. All of you.”
Pizzazz did not dare raise her gaze again until she heard the click of the door and knew she had gone. Then she sank down into a chair with a sigh. She hated that she wasn’t in control of her own actions any more.
“And now I’ve gotta pander to that lousy wimp Jetta.” She muttered. “How could life be any worse? Begging is not my style.” She grabbed hold of a glass paperweight from a nearby table, tossing it angrily at the wall and watching in morose satisfaction as it shattered.
“So what did Riot want?” Roxy sauntered into the room, her hair in a towel and her expression nonchalant.
“None of your business.” Pizzazz snapped.
“Fine then.” She shrugged. “See if I care.” She took one of the other empty chairs – there were four seats, since usually this was where the Misfits plotted their next revenge attack on Jem and the Holograms – and picked up a magazine, idly leafing through it and examining the pictures.
Pizzazz returned the scowl.
“You’re not fooling anyone with that magazine, Roxy.” She retorted. “Haven’t you learnt to read yet?”
Roxy narrowed her eyes.
“Shut your face, Pizzazz.” She warned. “Before I
rearrange it for you.”
Pizzazz tossed her head, but she was unsettled. Obnoxious as Roxy could be to both Stormer and Jetta, she didn’t usually dare turn her rough and tough attitude on Pizzazz. It wasn’t that Roxy was afraid of her band-mate, since she had grown up learning to deal with all comers in one of the most shady districts of Philadelphia, more that Pizzazz had something Roxy could never quite bring herself to forget – money.
Pizzazz had never entered show-business for the money, although it was a gauge by which she led her life and was often her immediate goal. She had wanted – needed – the fame and adoration that went with the spotlight, and to have it snatched away from her at every turn by Jem and her Holograms had turned a spoiled brat into a bitter and vindictive young lady. The fact that Kimber had a closer relationship with Pizzazz’ own father than Pizzazz did herself did nothing to aid matters, either. Jem and her band got all the breaks, as she was forever telling herself. But one day…one day the spotlight would be hers.
She had no real fondness for her band-mates. She didn’t dislike them, which for Pizzazz was something new, but she wasn’t sure she could call them friends. Of all of them she had secretly admired and envied the devious streak in Jetta’s character the most, but that had hardly made them bosom friends and though she and Roxy tended to hang out together a lot it didn’t mean they were close, not in a real sense of the word. As for Stormer…well, if she hadn’t proved herself to be so vital to the band she would have been out of it a long time before. Pizzazz pitied Stormer, and yet, deep inside her she envied the girl too. Stormer had no parents, but she did have Craig when she needed him, and he was always there to help out. Pizzazz had only her father…and usually he was far too busy to pay much attention to his only daughter.
It was a mix of these things which had gotten her mixed up in the Misfits to begin with. The project of a young and ruthless manager, Eric Raymond, the band had begun before Jem and the Holograms had appeared on the scene, promoted by Starlight Music, the company Jerrica now ran. Of course, Eric had set up his own company, but he had also signed the Stingers to his label with an additional deal to make part of the music company theirs – and Pizzazz resented the evident shove aside this was designed to be. She was determined that the Misfits would be the number one band in the States, but how to achieve it she didn’t yet know.
Since Eric was these days busy trying to keep his latest signings under a modicum of control, he rarely interfered in the Misfit affairs to the degree he once had. This both pleased and annoyed Pizzazz. She liked attention, and everyone to be swarming around her, even if she intended to shove them aside with a sneer. But then, Eric had been a jerk, and had gotten them into more messes than successes. Since he had pulled most of his attention out of the Misfits and their projects Pizzazz had seen her grip on the group tighten, only to be undermined by the unrivalled magnetism of Riot.
“I have to go out.” She said, not much caring if Roxy was paying attention. Roxy raised an eyebrow, not looking up from the magazine. She had been trying to learn to read for some months now, and, though her progress was slow, she was beginning to recognise certain words which were of optimum importance to her. One of which was money…
“Go, then.” She said carelessly. Pizzazz snorted.
“Look at you.” She observed scornfully, lifting her jacket and slipping it over her shoulders. “Maybe you should enrol in school somewhere, Roxy, do something useful for a change. At least then it’d get you off my back.”
“Oh yeah?” Now Roxy was paying attention. “Well, Miss Spoiled Brat Gabor, I’ve news for you. I can read more than you think. And I know when an article is about money, so there!”
She tossed the article down on the table, pointing to one of the words in the headline. “See?”
“Money?” Pizzazz paused for a moment, her gaze flitting between Roxy and the article. “In what sense, money?”
“How should I know?” Roxy shrugged. “Read it yourself if you’re so interested.”
Pizzazz scooped up the article, skimming over the contents. Despite herself a slow smile spread across her features. Perfect. This would help her lure Jetta back into the fold without losing face…maybe Roxy had her uses, after all.
“It’s about a reward for catching some jewel thief.” She said, dropping the magazine back onto the table. “Get this, Roxy. Twenty five thousand dollar reward per person for any information on this guy – he must be a pretty hotshot criminal.”
“I’ll say.” Roxy’s brown eyes lit up, the dispute forgotten. “So what’s the plan, Pizzazz?”
“The plan is, idiot, that we find this creepy jewel thief.” Pizzazz replied, rolling her eyes. “All we have to do is take a couple of photographs of him where he’s hiding out and tell the police – bingo. The money’s as good as ours.”
“How are we meant to find him?” Roxy examined the grainy photo of the thief with a frown. “This picture’s lousy, Pizzazz! He looks like anybody.”
“Give me strength.” Pizzazz groaned. “Listen, Roxy, use your brain for once, huh? We have zillions of underground contacts that that jerk Raymond put us in touch with for one failed prank after another, someone is bound to know something about this jewel thief if he’s really in the States.”
“He isn’t American?” Roxy looked surprised.
“No.” Pizzazz shook her head. “That’s why there’s a picture of Big Ben, stupid. He’s from England!”
“Oh!” Roxy frowned. She hated being made to look stupid. “So he might not even be over here? Pizzazz…are you sure about this?”
“Sure I’m sure.” Pizzazz nodded slowly. “Who’s the brain here, Roxy? Listen up. Riot shoved some contract nonsense under my nose half an hour back and the Misfits have to play his dumb concert tomorrow night. If anything it’ll upstage Jem and her morons’ stupid benefit concert, anyhow. But, it means we have to…”
“Go get Jetta.” Roxy grimaced. “Great. I thought you said she was out.”
“Contracts are contracts.” Pizzazz responded, smiling through her teeth. “Not even Daddy could get us out of this one.”
“Couldn’t we just sweet-talk Stormer and be done with three of us?” Roxy asked. Pizzazz shook her head.
“I wish.” She responded. “Riot said all of us.”
“Ugh.” Roxy pulled another face. “Maybe I don’t feel like doing a concert tomorrow.”
“Listen here, Roxy Pelligrini.” Pizzazz turned her most intimidating gaze on her companion. “You don’t show tomorrow night and that’s it for the Misfits. No more cars, no more concerts, no more money, no more mansion. You got it? It’s back to being little miss nothing on the sidewalks of Philly. Get the picture?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Roxy sighed, getting to her feet and taking the towel from her hair, tossing it lazily over the back of the seat. “I get the picture. Guess we gotta go find Jetta and Stormer, huh? What a bummer.”
“Tell me about it.” Pizzazz muttered under her breath. Then, “Come on. I’m driving.”
“This is so boring.” Dierdra yawned, leaning back lazily on the sofa of the recreation lounge, only half watching the television set. “Why on earth are you watching the news, Ashley? Lin-Z’s on and Jem and the Holograms’ new video is s’posed to air tonight.”
“We practically live with Jem.” Ashley shrugged. “You can see their video any time, Dierdra. I have an assignment due tomorrow and I gotta watch this. If you hate it so much go away, huh?”
“Charming.” Dierdra pulled a face. “Since when did you get so interested in classwork, Ashley?”
“Since now.” Ashley retorted. “Since I wanted to get a good grade on my midterm. Now shut up!”
“Yes, please shut up.” Laura Holloway glanced up from her manuscript book where she was composing harmonies for a new song. Laura had only arrived at Starlight Mansion a few months before and things had not always been easy for her there, but an initial stay period of a few weeks had lengthened and finally, thanks to Jerrica, she hoped to be able to stay there till she was grown up. Sometimes, however, it was difficult to think with all that was going on.”
“Fine then.” Dierdra shrugged, getting to her feet. “I’ll go do something else. You’re all a bunch of bores, you know that? I…Oh my, I don’t believe it!” She turned on her heel, hurrying down in front of the television screen. “That’s the guy I saw with whats-her-face this afternoon!”
“Dierdra, you’ve been watching too many adventure films.” Krissie laughed. “That’s Jeremy Burns – we did some work about him in class a few weeks back. He robbed a whole bunch of jewellery stores and stuff in the UK…what would he be doing in the backseat of Jetta’s car, huh?”
“The picture ain’t all that clear, anyway.” Laura pointed out, after scrutinising the image. “Dierdra, lots of guys have dark hair. I bet you imagined it was him.”
“I did not!” Dierdra protested. “It was him, I swear! He matched the description and everything!”
“Calm down, Dierdra.” Ashley instructed. “Laura isn’t saying you made it up. Just that you were mistaken.”
“Well, I know what I saw.” Dierdra folded her
her nose in the air. “That guy was in the car this afternoon, so there,
of you. Believe me or not, I know I’m right.”
And with that she stalked out of the room, head held high.
“It’s times like this we could use BaNee.” Laura sighed, setting down her manuscript book. BaNee, a small Vietnamese-American girl who had lived at Starlight Mansion for some time had been reunited with her father some weeks earlier, and all of the other foster girls missed her badly. BaNee was often good at smoothing over Dierdra’s rather overactive sensitive side, and it was times like now that her absence was all too clear.
“She’ll cool off.” Ashley shrugged.
“Do you think she really saw that guy?” Krissie wondered. Ashley shook her head.
“Doubt it. You know Dierdra, always wanting to be in a story.” She said with a grin. “By tomorrow she’ll probably have forgotten the whole thing. Come on…I’m done with this for now. Let’s go raid the kitchen – I think Raya was baking brownies!”
“What do you want, yank?”
Jetta turned to look at her visitor, a suspicious look in her dark eyes. She had not expected the singer to back down on her earlier words, if she was honest and it had taken her rather by surprise that the vocalist had sought her out in the dead of night after the blow up they had had earlier in the day. She knew that the girl was very proud – just as proud as Jetta herself. Again she hardened her resolve. No backing down, not this time.
“I have a proposition for you.” Pizzazz settled
herself on the wall surrounding the big parking lot, her tone strangely
the circumstances. They were at the Star Drive-in, ironically the
home of Synergy before she had been moved to the Starlight Mansion,
Jetta had come to park up her car and think…perhaps even camp out for
night. In the darkness she was aware that her companion was not alone,
she groaned inwardly when she saw Roxy. Great. Two of them.
“Double trouble.” She muttered under her breath. Then, “What do you mean, a proposition? You told me to get lost, Pizzazz…what on earth could you have to say that might interest me?”
“How would you like to earn a free and easy twenty-five thousand bucks?” Pizzazz asked, ignoring the tone in Jetta’s voice. Jetta looked taken aback.
“Twenty five grand?” she demanded. “‘Ang on a minute, Pizzazz, back up. What are you talkin’ about? You can’t just pay me off, you know, and expect…”
“Listen to me, Jetta.” Pizzazz’ voice had changed. “You have a contract – we all do, and we have to play at that concert tomorrow, not to mention cutting that blasted album. I have no intention of buying you off,” she spoke with disgust. “As if that would be worth it. But Riot said…”
“If you ask me, you take too many orders from Riot.” Jetta interrupted, her tone irritated. “Get to the point, Pizzazz. Where does this cash come in?”
“It’s a little project I have planned, that’s all.” Pizzazz shrugged. “But considering that our contracts mean we must play together, I thought perhaps it would sweeten the deal.”
“Since when ‘ave contracts mattered to you?” Jetta demanded. “Can’t Daddy’s lawyers fix it for you?”
“You wanna stay here and camp out in your car, Jetta?” Roxy added her bit. She smirked. “Not that I’d blame you. It’s where you belong, after all.”
“Watch it, Roxy.” Jetta warned. “Else I’ll smash you all the way to Timbuktu.”
“Like heck you will.” Roxy retorted.
“Stop it, you two.” Pizzazz sounded exasperated.
“Jetta, if you promise me you’ll play at tomorrow night’s concert, I’ll
let you in
on my little business proposition. Does that sound fair to you?” A sly
crossed her face. “After all, it isn’t like you’ve other options
looming. You know full well that your staying in the USA relies totally
on my father and the strings he can pull.”
Jetta looked thoughtful. She was sorely tempted – money had always been her weakness, having grown up with next to none. And, well, who knew when Jeremy might show up again, demanding more and making more threats. Slowly she nodded her head.
“All right, then.” She said finally. “The Misfits aren’t anything without my sax, are they?” she smirked. “But I’ll play along. Since we’ve contracts and all.”
Pizzazz bit back a cutting retort, remembering the look on Riot’s face when he had thought she would let him down. Instead she indicated her car.
“Then you’d better get in.” she said. “Because we
things to talk about.”
”If you don’t mind, I’ll drive my own car.” Jetta responded. “Where are we going?”
“Home, of course.” Roxy put in. “I want you to know now that none of this was my idea. This doesn’t change anything, Jetta.”
“Fine by me, yank.” Jetta retorted, slipping into the front seat of her car. “Hey, what about Stormer?”
“Stormer will be back.” Pizzazz’ voice oozed confidence. “Just watch and see.”
Chapter One: The Fight
Chapter Two: Starlight Mansiom
Chapter Three: Jeremy
Chapter Five: Where Is Dierdra?
Chapter Six: At The Concert
Chapter Seven: Stormer...and Jetta
Chapter Eight: Kimber's Plan
Chapter Nine: Jetta Of The Misfits
Chapter Ten: Conclusion
(The Misfits and Holograms and other animated Jem characters are copyrighted to Hasbro Inc. All characters who do not appear in Jem episodes are my own creation. This story is copyrighted to E.A Woolley (2001)