Chapter Nine: The Tinkerbillys
“I still say it’s too early.”
Roxy shoved the last of her belongings into her bag, a frown on her face, and then swung it up onto her shoulder. Eric – a decidedly impatient Eric – was waiting in the doorway, having already coaxed and bullied Stormer and Pizzazz out of bed and into the corridor. It was close on eleven and all three girls had pretty much slept right through, Roxy being the most difficult to rouse. When she wanted to sleep she had trained herself to nod off in the most noisy and awkward of situations and it had taken more than a gentle tap on the door to wake her up. In fact it had almost taken a fire extinguisher through the window at one point – Pizzazz’s suggestion, needless to say.
Still, Eric was relieved about one thing. Aside from a few small breakages which had been the fruit of temper tantrums the hotel damages bill was not great, and nor was that for room service. They hadn’t been in England long enough, he supposed, and had spent very little time at the hotel. Now, if he could only get them back to Los Angeles without a disaster he could send them off home and get some peace and quiet to think about strategies for the Battle of the Bands. He hoped that the pictures would be printed and at his office before then – he had plenty of publicity in the works and he knew that the images would come out well.
“What took you so long?” Pizzazz demanded as the guitarist joined the group, slamming the door of the room behind her. “You hibernating?”
“Shut your face before I do it for you.” Roxy growled, leading the way down the corridor. Pizzazz let out one of her cries of irritation, stomping after her, but Eric had spotted the signs and was between them before they could cause any trouble.
“Oh no you don’t. Not here and not now.” He said, as if scolding a pair of school children. “We have a plane to catch.”
Stormer trailed on behind, wishing she was catching a whole other plane. She had a feeling that both Pizzazz and Roxy were capable of continuing the sniping throughout the whole flight and she wasn’t sure she was ready for that. Luckily, however, once they were in the car Pizzazz’s attention was caught by the young driver, whom she was determined to ‘hook’ before they reached the airport, and Roxy was staring out of the window, trying to pretend she didn’t care about the scenery but in reality drinking in the fact that she really had been to England.
The airport was busy by the time the group arrived there – no press this time – and they found themselves hustled through customs and into the departures lounge. Pizzazz immediately headed in the direction of the duty free shops, pulling her two band-mates with her, and Eric sat down in a corner with the bags and his work, all prepared to pretend he wasn’t with them should any of them decide to cause a scene.
“Hey, Pizzazz, check it out!” Roxy seemed to have forgotten her grievances for the time being as they reached the row of shops the airport boasted for departing clients. She pointed at a glass case which was filled with earrings of all shapes and sizes. “Cool, huh?”
“They’re okay.” Pizzazz shrugged, with the worldly air of a billionaire’s daughter. “Hey, what’s that over there? Come on, Roxy…I think I see something!”
Once she was sure they had forgotten about her, Stormer slipped away into the next door record shop to look at the racks of music. It would be nice, she thought, to take back with her a memento of her first visit to the country that more often than not her brother now called home. As she flicked through the records, looking for a band she knew, she felt a hand on her shoulder and a familiar voice exclaim,
She swung around, her blue eyes lighting up as she recognised her brother’s features. With a cry of delight she hugged him tightly and he swung her around, setting her down with a grin.
“Craig! Oh, what are you doing here? I thought I’d end up going home without seeing you!”
“What am I doing here?” Craig stared at her. “I’m flying to Paris, Mary, then on to Munich, as part of our tour. What are you doing in England? And, more to the point, what are you wearing? I nearly didn’t recognise you!”
Stormer blushed, glancing down at her pink and black miniskirted outfit and shrugging.
“I felt like a change.” She responded quietly. “Do you like it?”
“You look great.” Craig assured her. “Just isn’t what I’d think of as very you, that’s all.”
“Well, maybe it’s me how I feel at the moment.” There was a slight edge to Stormer’s voice, though her expression was genial enough. “And as for why I’m here – Oh, Craig, I’ve so much to tell you and no time! You’ll never believe what’s been happening!”
“Has that girl gotten you in trouble?” Craig looked apprehensive.
“Girl? Oh, Roxy!” Stormer shook her head. “No…no, it isn’t like that. It’s, well, this guy from Starlight Music heard me play that night at the club and he gave me a recording contract! He wanted me as part of his new band. It’s so exciting!”
“Starlight Music, eh?” Craig looked taken aback. “You did good, sis. Starlight Music have a very good reputation in the industry.” He paused. “I trust you read the contract before you signed it?”
“Of course I did! Craig, I’m not a baby now!” Stormer protested. “I’m twenty, I can make my own decisions.” She frowned. “Aren’t you happy for me?”
“Of course I’m happy for you.” Craig assured her. “It’s just a surprise that you jumped into this without talking to me about it, that’s all. Still, congratulations.” He hugged her. “You have so much talent, it’s about time you used it.”
“Well, maybe.” Stormer was cautious. “Anyway, that’s why I’m in England. We had our first big photo shoot – Eric, that’s our manager, arranged for me and the other Misfits to come to the studio of some big shot, reckons it’ll do wonders for our image promotion-wise. He seems to know how to handle all that stuff. I meant to call you but we only got here on Tuesday…no, Wednesday morning, and things have been so hectic. I still don’t know what time anything is.”
“The other what?” Craig raised an eyebrow.
“Misfits. That’s the name of our band.” Stormer responded. She grinned. “Hey, maybe one day you’ll find a Misfit record here. And…and if you do, I might just have written the song!” she winked at him. “I already wrote one and it sounds great with Pizzazz’s voice over it – she’s a real pro, I wish I was as good as that.”
“Pizzazz?” Craig responded. “That’s…?”
“Oh, our singer. It’s a stage name really.” Stormer giggled.
“Ah, I see.” Craig smiled. “So do you have a stage name then, Mary?”
“I…yes.” Stormer blushed. “I’m still getting used to it, though. It’s Stormer.”
“Stormer?” Craig’s jaw dropped. Stormer nodded.
“Yeah. I…I think I kind of like it.” She replied, though there was a small note of doubt in her voice. “Anyway, it’s more of a Misfit-y name than sweet little Mary Phillips would be.” She shrugged. “So I’ll play along.”
“You all have stage names?”
“Roxy refused to.” Stormer shook her head. “She’ll be Roxanne or Roxy but nothing else.”
“Roxy is mixed up in all this too?” Craig demanded.
“Yes.” Stormer agreed. “She plays guitar. It’s okay, Craig, really, so don’t look so worried. She’s good – together we all sound good. And I just know we’re gonna be the best. Eric and Pizzazz say so all the time. It’s the chance of a lifetime for me.”
“Well, take care and best of luck.” Craig told her. “And if you ever need help you know that you can always come to me, Mary.”
”I know.” Stormer nodded her head. “But…I think I have to try and stand on my own two feet now, Craig. Be grown up. It isn’t fair to keep running back to you and anyway, I…I have a career to think about now, I’ll be okay.”
“Ryan hasn’t been in touch with you again, has he?”
“Yes, once, but it’s not important. I’m not interested in a nobody like him.” Stormer’s eyes were determined, though her voice shook slightly as she spoke. “Roxy sorted him out, anyway. Told him to get lost.”
“Sounds to me like you spend an awful lot of time with this Roxy.” Craig observed.
“Well, she’s still staying at our place, so I don’t have much choice.” Stormer dimpled.
“Is that a good idea?”
“Craig, she stopped those thugs from stealing Mom’s stuff, and I feel safer having her there.” Stormer replied. “Stop fussing, please? I don’t want us to row when we’re so far apart most of the time.”
“Well, you must know what you’re doing.” Craig sighed. “Okay, Mary, I’ll bow to your judgement. But I would like to meet her at least. I assume she’s here with you?”
But Stormer wasn’t paying attention, for an announcement had just called her flight for boarding and with a cry she glanced around her for the sign to the right gate.
“Oh, that’s my flight! Craig, I have to go.” She said, hugging him briefly and sending him a smile. “It was great to see you, though.”
“No, I can’t, Eric will be mad if I don’t go meet up with the others now.” Mary shook her head. “You can meet them all another time, all right? Have a good flight!”
“You too.” Craig gave it up as a bad job. “I’ll call you from Paris if you like.”
“All right, that would be nice.” Mary nodded. “See you!”
And she was gone. Craig watched her leave, a puzzled look on his face. She had still been his kid sister, and she had been glad to see him, but it had been Mary with a difference. An independent, almost rebellious air had begun to settle around her, from the clothes to her manner and posture. Inwardly he wondered what show-business was going to do to his naïve younger sister, and whether the Mary he knew and loved was going to be taken over by this new persona, Stormer.
“And more, what is that Roxy girl doing to her?” he muttered as his own flight was called for boarding. “Why do I have a bad feeling about these…these Misfits?”
* * * * * * * * * * *
“Hey, welcome aboard, babe.”
The drummer, Bongo by name, sent Sheila a smirk as she sauntered into the big hall given over to Tinkerbilly practice sessions, saxophone case in hand. She had given matters a lot of thought, but in the end her desire to be successful had won through, and though she knew she would have to put up with a bunch of mainly tone-deaf halfwits till she got to the place she wanted to be, it would be worth it if she made it big in the USA.
And she knew she had the ability to do that. Not that she was conceited, Sheila Burns was merely a determined and shrewd customer. She had had brains enough to outmanoeuvre most of her class at school, and still apply her attention to pulling pranks and schemes to keep herself amused. In fact, more often than not she had used those very brains to manipulate and organise situations to her own advantage, well trained by her older brother, Jeremy in the arts of both deception and trickery. She had sized up the other Tinkerbillys in an instant. Bongo, on drums, was fairly slow-witted, slow moving, and slow to react. Snake, the vocalist, was sharp tongued and quick tempered, but well in control of his posse of what Sheila had soon labelled ‘morons’. Jerry, on keyboard, was so laid back he was practically horizontal, and never did any work that wasn’t absolutely necessary, whilst Allie, the group’s only other female performer was a jealous, spiteful creature with more lipstick than brainpower. She was Snake’s girlfriend, hence her involvement in the band, but Sheila had soon likened her singing to the sound of nails being pulled down a blackboard. For someone with as perfect an ear for music as Sheila, it was not going to be pleasant practicing with these people. But she had made up her mind and once a decision had been made, she never went back on it.
She cast Bongo a thoughtful look.
“You know, most people don’t call me babe.” She told him in genial enough tones. “Not unless they want to meet my fist in a hurry.”
“Hey, sorry.” Bongo seemed unconcerned – he bore the world no malice and it was hard to bear him any in return. “Just trying to be friendly.”
“What the heck are you doing here?” Allie, her arm protectively around Snake’s waist turned, her eyes narrowing as she realised the group had another female member.
“Well, hello there love.” Sheila offered Allie a smile. “Didn’t your boyfriend ‘ere tell you? I decided that maybe I should take you people up on your offer, after all.” She sat down on one of the benches, setting her saxophone case down beside her. “I ‘ope that’s going to be okay with you.”
“I don’t want another girl in the group!” Allie exclaimed, turning to Snake with her most convincing pout. “Snake, we talked about this!”
“Ah, shut up, Allie.” Snake looked irritated. “Sheila plays a mean saxophone, and she’s in. Got it?”
“I said, shut up.” Snake silenced her with a look, then disentangled himself from her grasp, heading over towards the group’s newest member. “Apologies for that, Sheila, I’m glad you changed your mind and decided to come along for the ride. We ‘ave big ambitions, you know.”
“I know, and I’m impressed, I must say.” Sheila said with a deceptively warm smile. “That was part of the reason I reconsidered. I saw that it would be silly of me to turn down a chance like this.”
“The girl got brains, man.” Jerry glanced up from where he had been lazily putting his keyboard’s stand together.
“You can’t be Sheila, you know.” Allie put in snidely from across the room. “You gotta have a proper name if you’re going to be a Tinkerbilly. Sheila’s a wimpish name.”
“Well, Allie ain’t a whole lot better.” Sheila retorted smoothly. “But it’s okay, duckie, I’ve got a name all thought out anyway.” She flipped open her saxophone case, carefully beginning to put the sleek ebony instrument together. “You guys can call me Jetta.”
“Jetta?” Bongo stared. “But…why?”
“Because I ‘appen to like things black, that’s why.” The self-named Jetta turned and winked at the drummer. “Jet black sax, jet black hair, so Jetta’s me name. That all right with you lot?”
“I like it.” Jerry looked approving. “Jetta rocks.”
“Suits me, sweetheart.” Snake agreed. “Jetta it is.”
“Let’s get one thing straight, before we begin to make some noise ‘ere.” Jetta slid her saxophone’s strap over her shoulder, standing and making her way nonchalantly towards the lead singer of the group. “I’m quite prepared to come ‘ere at odd hours, do my bit and play when I’m told to play. But I ain’t nobody’s babe, sweetheart, love or darlin’, so I’d really appreciate it if you kept that in mind. You understand me?”
“Sure, no problem.” Snake held up his hands. “Whatever you say, Jetta.”
“You gonna let her talk to you like that, Snake?” As Jetta began to tune up her instrument Allie sidled up to her boyfriend. “I thought you didn’t take no orders from anyone…specially not from girls like her. Everyone knows her brother’s in jail…”
“Shut your face, Allie, she’ll ‘ear you.” Snake interrupted, sending Jetta an anxious glance, but the sax player was oblivious. “Listen up, girl. Jetta plays saxophone and she plays it well. Real well. You’ve ‘eard her! Our band needs something new and exciting to lift it’s fortunes, an’ I just think Jetta might be it. So you keep your big mouth shut tight, okay? If she ‘as reason to quit I’ll know who to blame!”
Allie pouted, but let it drop. Snake picked up his guitar and began to tune it loosely to the sound of Jerry’s keyboard.
“How about we play a number or two for ya, so you can see exactly what our style is?” he asked Jetta, who smirked.
“You play an’ I’ll join in when I hear me cue.” She offered. “Either that or when I need to drown you losers out,” she added to herself.
“Suits me.” Jerry shrugged. “What we going to start with, Snake? The new number? Sure we can write in a part for Jetta here.”
“If she’s such a genius maybe she’d like to write her own part.” Allie suggested, plugging the microphones into the amplifier and fitting them into their holders with a little more force than was necessary.
“Can do, love, but I don’t know as I should ‘ave that kind of responsibility, bein’ so new and all.” Jetta flashed her a sweet smile. “What do you say, Snake?”
“I say we play and see how it goes.” Snake glared at Allie in irritation. “From the top, everybody. Two, three, four!”
“Just remember why you’re doing this.” Jetta muttered to herself as the group launched itself into a song. “It’s ‘orrible but you can put up with it for a while. However long it takes you to get to the States…then you can pursue your own ideas. Just stick it out, girl.” She glanced at Allie, who had taken the microphone. “I wonder who told ‘er she could sing? My Mum does a better job in the shower!”
“Well, what did you think?”
Once the song was finished, Snake slid his guitar off his shoulder, eying the newest member of the group anxiously for approval, which clever Jetta gave at once, knowing that she was best off keeping in with as many of the band as possible till they decided she was invaluable to them.
“What do I play, then?” she asked.
“Just join in when you want to and improvise. A lot of what we do is spur of the moment, believe it or not.” Snake responded. A wry smile touched Jetta’s face. No kidding.
“Well, if you say so.” She replied with a shrug, coming to join the other band members. “Want to play again for me, so I can get me bearings and toot about a bit?”
“No problem here.” Bongo grinned, attempting to twirl his drumsticks and dropping them both in the process. “Let’s go again.”
“Fine.” Snake shot Jetta a glance as he lifted his guitar back onto his shoulder, adjusting his microphone. Allie caught the glance and her scowl deepened. How dare she! New to the group and already she had them all eating out of her hands. If she didn’t know better, she’d have said that Snake was more interested in Jetta herself than her saxophone playing…but then she gave herself a mental shake. No, it wasn’t possible. Snake had her, Alison Blackwell, a girl with style and class, whose parents weren’t from the gutter, always spending money on the horses and with a son in jail. He’d never look twice at a girl like Sheila Burns.
But then…there had been that look. She frowned.
She’d have to keep an eye on Jetta. Just in case.
Chapter One: Mary Phillips
Chapter Two: Enter Roxy
Chapter Three: Developments
Chapter Four: Birth Of A Star
Chapter Five: Eric Raymond
Chapter Six: Outta My Way!
Chapter Seven: London
Chapter Eight: Shawn Harrison
Chapter Nine: The Tinkerbillys
Chapter Ten: Jerrica
Chapter Eleven: Only The Beginning
(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). Background image was drawn and edited by me and
therefore is copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley).
Stormer is copyright of Hasbro Inc.
Please note that for the sake of continuity this story includes sections of dialogue which feature in the first Jem episode, The Beginning.