England's Rose

Chapter Sixteen: The Final Straw

"I can't wait for tonight to be over and done with." Jetta glanced out of the window of the limousine, sighing heavily as she watched the London scenery flash by. "I can't relax...I just know something's gonna 'appen tonight."
"Cool out, will ya? We're gonna have a great time, and the show's gonna be a blast." Roxy relaxed back in her seat. "So some guy tried to scare you, so what? Didn't work, did it? The concert is still going ahead."
"There ain't no buts. Quit bein' a drag." Roxy interrupted.
"Roxy's right. This is your home country, you gotta soak up the atmosphere." Pizzazz agreed. "Anyway, noone's going to get past security, so you needn't worry. The building will be one hundred percent secure tonight."
"It's not tonight that worries me." Jetta murmured. "It's the rest of the blinkin' day."
"You'll be all right. We'll just stick together. Noone's going to take us all on." Stormer assured her.
"I guess you're right." Jetta sighed again. "Well, we'll soon know. 'Ere we are, girls."
"Wow, it really is big, isn't it!" Roxy was impressed.
"And we sold out. All tickets are gone." Pizzazz looked self-satisfied. "Do we rock or do we rock?"
"We've certainly taken England by storm." Stormer nodded. Her eyes turned dreamy. "I love London."
"I'd love it a lot more if me brother weren't banged up 'ere." Jetta said darkly. "Too close for comfort, is what it is."
"At least he is locked up." Pizzazz pointed out. "That creep should know better by now than to mess with us."
"Something tells me 'e won't give up that easy." Jetta frowned. "Somethin' tells me it's going to be one 'eck of a long day."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"So the Misfits are going to be here all day?"
The man in the security guard's uniform asked, a look of interest on his face. The woman with the clipboard, distracted by what she was doing nodded her head absently.
"Yes...they are. They're practicing for the concert. Your security people are all here in good time...you'll want to pop along to the dressing room and speak to Ms Gabor or Mr Raymond, no doubt."
"Oh, no, I have a special assignment." The man smiled, remembering the struggle with the real guard earlier that morning, and hoping beyond hope that the length of cable and the locked door of the store cupboard would hold him long enough for the charade to be played out to it's conclusion. "After the incident at the photo shoot I'm to pay particular attention to a...a Miss Burns?"
"Well, they're most likely all in the dressing room. I certainly saw Ms Burns head that way." The woman responded. "Now, if you don't mind, I must get this done."
"Oh, of course." The man nodded his head. "We both have a job to do."
Whistling a nonchalant tune, he headed down the corridor that the woman had carelessly indicated, pausing behind a stack of lighting equipment as he observed the group members leaving the room.
"One, two...three..." He murmured to himself as he watched them. "Well, how convenient. Three...no Ms Burns."
"Jetta, are you coming?" He heard Pizzazz call.
"Later. I don't want to go out of 'ere till I got to. Shut the door, will you?" Came the response.
"Whatever." Pizzazz shrugged. "We'll see you later. Have a nice boring time, won't ya?"
"Oh, shut up." Jetta snapped back. Pizzazz shut the door with a bang, and the three girls headed off towards the stage.
Waiting till all was quiet, he crept up to the door, trying the handle.
Better and better - it wasn't locked.
"Who's there?" Jetta's voice demanded from inside.
"Security." The man responded. There was a pause, then,
"What do you want?"
"I was assigned to a special mission, Miss Burns...I'm to take special care of you."
"Oh." Another pause. "Well, it's open."
"I know." The man allowed himself a smile, turning the handle and opening the door, slipping into the room and shutting it behind him. Jetta was perched on the windowsill, filing her nails, but she glanced up as she heard the click of the door, getting to her feet.
In an instant her expression changed from disinterest to horror.
"Neil!" She exclaimed.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"God, I'm so bored." Roxy dropped down into the vacant seat of the stage manager, a frown on her face. "This ain't performin', it ain't even practicin'. It's just hanging around. Where's Eric with our instruments anyway? Dumb idea, giving him any responsibility."
"He'll be here." Pizzazz snapped. "And we're here to sort out lighting and effects, Roxy."
"Jetta's not here. Jetta's skivin' in the dressing room." Roxy pouted. "Why do we all have to be here anyway?"
"Well, go, if you want to." Pizzazz shrugged, folding her arms. "Sure we can do without your input."
"Fine." Roxy retorted. "I'm going to get a drink, if there's a vending machine anywhere in this dump, and then I'm going to the dressing room. You suckers can sit around here like lemons waiting for Eric. I'm done with it!"
"Very mature." Pizzazz snorted. "Oh, get lost, will you? You're being a drag. Stormer, get over here. You can make yourself useful at least."
Roxy pulled a face at the group's singer, then turned on her heel, heading off down the corridor to find a vending machine. Pizzazz watched her go with a look of irritation on her face. Then she tossed her head, turning her attention back to the matter in hand. Roxy and her childishness could wait...nothing was allowed to go wrong.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Well 'ello there, Sheila."
Jetta backed up against the wall of the dressing room, fear coursing through her veins. Now, at last, everything became crystal clear to her. Her brother's involvement was confirmed, and she knew Neil well enough to know that he wasn't afraid of violence.
"What do you want?" she demanded, her tones low. "An' be quick about it, will ya? I 'ave a prior engagement."
"No, you don't." Neil smirked at her, amusement clear on his face. "You got business with me, instead. This concert ain't goin' to happen, Sheila, love."
"Sheila Burns? Is that who you think I am?" Jetta snorted. "Well, I got news for you, pal. Nobody calls me that any more."
"What's the difference? Sheila, Jetta...still the same girl." Neil shrugged. "And it doesn't change anything, you know. You're not going out of here unless I take you out of here...you understand me? I have a key and can lock you in...more importantly, I have a knife in my pocket and I will use it if you cause me any trouble. You know I will."
"And go down for murder?" Jetta's tone was scornful. "Oh, that'd be clever, now wouldn't it? Get your 'ands stained with my blood an' all for what? So my darlin' brother can keep 'is nose out of things and claim 'is alibi? 'Ow stupid are you, anyway?"
"I'm not stupid." Neil's eyes narrowed. "And who said anything about Jeremy? How do you know this isn't personal, just between you and me?"
"Because there ain't never been anything between you an' me." Jetta said calmly. "So you 'ave no motive. Unless you want to kill every girl who flirts with you now an' then..." she shrugged. "An' in any case, 'e tried it on before. I know 'ow he feels about me all right, Neil. Can't take the fact that 'is sister succeeded an' he didn't. He always thought I was an idiot, didn't he? But I'm smarter than he ever knew...there ain't no money or success in a profession that lands you in jail."
"You watch your mouth!" Neil exclaimed. "I told you before that I'm armed, and you should know enough about me an' what I'm capable of to know I ain't scared of usin' it on you if I 'ave to."
"I'm sure you're not." Jetta responded coolly. "It's a pity, actually. Men who resort to violence on a woman alway feel inadequate somehow, don't they? You must be feelin' pretty damn wretched inside. What got 'im to convince you? Did 'e tell you that I was leadin' you on, playin' with you all those years ago? Or was it out of loyalty, mm? Loyalty to a friend who don't give a monkey's if you wind up doin' life for it." She dropped her teasing tone. "Listen to me, Neil. I done the loyalty thing where Jeremy is concerned, and it got me a night in a prison cell an' an attempt on me life. Now look where I am...stuck in a room backstage with a nutter with a knife. It ain't a good path to go down. 'E don't care for anyone but 'imself...'e won't 'elp you out, you know."
"I ain't listening to you. You're just a girl, and a wimp of one at that." Neil scowled at her. "Jeremy wanted you takin' out, whatever it took, 'e said. I'll slit your throat if you keep on like this. It won't be the first time, Sheila, so don't get cocky with me."
"What do you mean, it won't be the first time?"
Jetta looked taken aback.
"What I said. Chicks that argue with me don't wind up talkin' back for long." Neil responded darkly. "You never knew that about me, did you? That I don't like lip from no birds. I never got to takin' you out any place, Jeremy told me not to bother with a kid like you an' he was right, you were a kid. Still are. What do you think you are anyway? A celebrity? Get real. Celebrities don't come from the kind of background you did, hangin' with hookers and ex-cons down some seedy pub, workin' stupid hours in a cafe just to buy an instrument noone gives two hoots about 'earin'. Give it up, Sheila. You're nothing. You always were and you still are."
"Tell me something." Jetta's heart pounded in her chest, but she knew she had to buy herself time, time to think her way out of the situation at hand. "These birds of yours, the ones who 'argued'. What exactly did they say to get you goin', huh? Stuff like I've said tonight? That you ain't got a shred of real masculinity in you so you 'ave to resort to the blade?"
"Why you little..." Anger flashed into Neil's eyes and he grabbed her, tightening his grasp as she struggled and producing the knife, holding it in front of her, so she could see it.
"We'll see who's inadequate." he snarled at her. "Time to say goodbye, Sheila..."
"I don't think so." Jetta muttered. Heart in her throat she brought her stiletto heel down hard on his toe, taking him off guard. Then, shoving him aside, so that the knife went skimming across the floor, she made a bolt for the door, fumbling with the handle. To her relief he had not already locked it, and she got it open, slipping out into the corridor towards the stage. She needed to find someone - anyone would do! - and alert them to the danger that lurked there.
As she hurried away from the dressing room, frightened that at any moment he would spring from the shadows and accost her once more, she ran headlong into Roxy, coming the other way.
"Look where you're going, you dumb Brit!" The guitarist exclaimed. "You coulda knocked me over!"
"Roxy, shut up and listen to me." Jetta grabbed her bandmate by the shoulders, her tone urgent. "There's a guy backstage with a knife. 'E just 'ad me trapped in the dressin' room, but I stamped on 'is foot and got away. But 'e's after me...'e wants to kill me. Jeremy sent 'im to make sure tonight didn't go ahead and I think I got 'im kinda mad...we gotta go for help."
"Where is this guy now?" Startled by the frantic nature of Jetta's plea, Roxy dropped her confrontational tone, looking concerned. Jetta shrugged.
"I left him in the dressing room an' ran. I wasn't thinkin' about it, I jus' wanted out of there." She confessed.
"Do you know him?" Roxy eyed Jetta thoughtfully.
"Yeah, or used to. 'Is name is Neil, not that it matters. If 'e catches us we'll both be for it."
"Oh will we?" Roxy raised an eyebrow. "You may be soft, Jetta, but I can take care of myself!"
"Yeah, well, maybe you won't be so keen to take 'im on if you'd 'eard what 'e said." Jetta shivered. "He means business, Roxy...this ain't the time to be superwoman about things. We gotta get the police or something."
"The police?" A fresh voice joined the conversation and the two girls turned, relief flooding Jetta's face as she recognised Pizzazz.
"We 'ave a little problem." she said grimly, explaining events.
"Jetta wants us to call the cops." Roxy added. "I think he freaked her out."
"It's me 'e wants to kill!" Jetta exclaimed. "Of course 'e freaked me out!"
"All right, cool out, will ya? He won't get away." Pizzazz responded. "Roxy, go dial 911, will ya?"
"999." Jetta interjected absently.
"What?" Pizzazz stared at her.
"999. This is England, the emergency number is 999." Jetta responded. Pizzazz shrugged, her expression frustrated.
"All right, whatever, 999 then. Just do it! Jetta and I will take on Mr Stalker."
"We will?" Jetta demanded, as Roxy scurried away to do as she was bidden. "An' what about Stormer? I thought we were sticking together."
"She, Eric and half the lighting crew are up on the stage talking technical garbage. I think she's safe enough...she's surrounded by guys bigger than her brother." Pizzazz said dryly. "C'mon, you wimpin' out on me?"
"To be honest, Pizzazz, yes." Jetta admitted. Pizzazz gaped at her.
"You what?"
"I'm scared, okay?" Jetta shivered, wrapping her jacket more tightly around her. "'E gives me the creeps. It's spooky, Pizzazz, knowin' that someone in this buildin' wants you dead."
"Well, he's gonna be in for a shock." Pizzazz said grimly. "He'll regret tangling with Phyllis Gabor."
"Pizzazz, he has a knife."
"So? There are two of us and one of him." Pizzazz shrugged.
"'E ain't a wimp like Eric, you know. 'E's a big bloke." Jetta bit her lip. Pizzazz frowned.
"Jetta, get a grip! I've never seen you like this before!"
"Like what?"
"You're acting like a wimpy Hologram!"
"No, I ain't! I was just 'oled up in a room with a madman armed with a knife!" Jetta exclaimed. "C'mon, Pizzazz...let's get out of 'ere, leave it alone. Let the police get 'im, before 'e gets us!"
"Too late, girls." A fresh voice joined them and as one the two musicians turned. Neil stood before them, an amused look on his face. "I found you. Jeremy said whatever it took, so don't think I'm not afraid to take two of you down if I have to. No skin off my nose."
"You got some nerve, messin' with us." Pizzazz scowled.
"Well, I have a small advantage." Carefully Neil pulled out the knife. "But here, it's too open. Get in there." He nodded towards the nearby dressing room.
"Why should we?" Pizzazz demanded.
"Because I said so, and I don't take lip from no birds. Not even rich birds like you." Neil responded. "Go on! Get moving!"
He gave Jetta a shove towards the dressing room, causing the girl to overbalance.
"Oh, get up." Neil was scornful. "You ain't foolin' noone, Sheila."
"Quit pushing us about, creep." Pizzazz scowled, putting her hands on her hips. "Someone needs to teach you to lighten up. You want trouble? You got it. Gimme that." And she reached out, plucking the knife from the confused man's grip. "Now, you get in the dressin' room, if you like it so much. Jetta, give me a hand, will ya?"
Neil made to run, but Jetta was recovering her nerve now and she stuck out her foot, causing him to tumble to the ground. Pizzazz handed the British girl the weapon, then reached for the man's collar, pulling him to his feet and shoving him roughly into the dressing room.
"Quick, something to tie him, I can't hold him forever!" She exclaimed.
"'Ere. Think electric cable will keep 'im quiet?" Jetta tossed her a reel of the lighting cable. "Tie it tight, Pizzazz. We want 'im nice and ready to talk to the cops when they get 'ere."
"Cops?" Now realising his miscalculation, Neil sounded worried.
"Yes. Cops. Not so 'appy now, are you?" Jetta folded her arms. "I'll give you a word of advice, Neil, mate. Turn Jeremy in. 'E's a worthless no good scumbag, is what 'e is, an' you got enough trouble of your own to deal with." She winked. "Especially when I tell the police what you told me about your problems with women."
"You little witch. Jeremy 'as you all wrong." Neil scowled. "You ain't no soft touch, are you? You're conniving as 'e is, deep down, ain't ya?"
"Runs in the family." Jetta responded coolly. "I told you you didn't know me. C'mon, Pizzazz...is 'e secure?"
"Yep. Tight as anything." Pizzazz nodded. She grinned. "I was a girl scout, you know. I know my knots."
"You were a girl scout?" Jetta stared at her companion. Pizzazz shrugged as the two girls left the room, shutting the door and, as an afterthought Pizzazz locked and bolted it from the outside.
"Well, for a week." She amended. "It was a girl scout camping trip, the bratty daughter of one of Daddy's workmates was going. I was twelve at the time, and running riot at home - Daddy thought it would keep me occupied." She chuckled. "He didn't realise how expensive it was going to be."
"What did you do?" Jetta looked interested.
"Well, you could say I learned the best way to use knots...I discovered that tents are real flammable if you know where to light 'em...I showed that prissy little princess a thing or two as well." Pizzazz smirked. "It was actually quite fun. Thing was, noone else seemed to enjoy it quite as much as I did."
Jetta laughed.
"I might've known you trashed the place." she said, amused. "I couldn't imagine you as a girl scout."
"There's a lot you don't know about me." Pizzazz shrugged. "But I've always done exactly as I wanted...always. C'mon. It's a drag being a music executive as well as a performer sometimes, guess I gotta talk to the cop guys and explain things to Eric. Tomorrow I'm gettin' him to handle legal matters, he can have all the hassle, but for now I guess I gotta do something myself, huh? What a bummer this company running thing is."
Jetta grinned.
"Yeah...it must be a real pain to be stinkin' rich an' 'ave a father who bows to your every whim." She said ironically. "I'm comin'." She paused. "By the way...guess I owe ya one. 'E would've killed me, you know...I don't know what came over me back there. I panicked...I ain't done that in a while."
"I always knew you weren't so tough." Pizzazz responded. "But forget it, huh? We got a concert to think of. Or don't you want to show that Laura girl and the whole of London what we can do, huh?"
"Are you going to moan about Laura again?" Jetta demanded as they reached the stage itself. Pizzazz snorted.
"Why waste my time? The girl's nothing to me." she said carelessly. "In a few days from now we're going home, anyway."
"Good. Keep it that way. I don't want fisticuffs." Jetta replied.
"Like she'd stand a chance."
"I know. She said she didn't want to mess with you." A smile played round the corners of Jetta's mouth as she remembered.
"Well, I called 'em." Roxy met them at the stage steps. "They're sendin' a bunch of 'em around...did you find him?"
"He's all tied up in our dressing room." Pizzazz grinned, exchanging looks with Jetta, who nodded.
"Yeah. All ready for 'em to cart 'im off to jail, where 'e belongs." she agreed. "I feel better about this concert now, too."
"Would someone mind telling me what's going on here?" Eric came to join them at the moment. "I get here to find Roxy calling cops and you guys hunting people with knives behind the scenes, what exactly are you trying to achieve? This is a concert, not a film you're doing!"
"Relax, Eric, everything is under control, thanks to the fact Misfit Music has at least one competent executive who's on time and who can take charge." Pizzazz told him with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Now, we got some time till the cops arrive...let's get this show on the road! Tonight the Misfits are going to rock London!"

Chapter One: Life in London
Chapter Two: The Saxophone
Chapter Three: A Friend In Need
Chapter Four: Never Again...

Chapter Five: Sheila's Decision
Chapter Six: A Band In Crisis
Chapter Seven: First Night
Chapter Eight: Making It Happen

Chapter Nine: The Misfits In London
Chapter Ten: On Every Screen...
Chapter Eleven: A Musical Reunion
Chapter Twelve: Jealousy
Chapter Thirteen: An Old Acquaintance
Chapter Fourteen: Doing London
Chapter Fifteen: Sabotage!
Chapter Sixteen: The Final Straw
Chapter Seventeen: Opening Night
Chapter Eighteen: Jetta

(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)