Chapter Two: The Saxophone
"Bloomin' heck, Sheila, can't you turn that 'orrible racket down?"
Florence Burns pounded on the door of her daughter's bedroom,
irritation clear on her
face. "It's 'ardly even seven o' clock! What's the idea?"
"Some of us have a job to go to." Sheila snapped back through the door as she dressed for her shift at the cafe. "Some of us don't just sponge off their kids."
"Why, you little..." Florence shoved open the door, turning the radio down and glaring at the unrepentant teenager, her hands on her hips. "You're an ungrateful brat, that's what you are. When I think of all the things your father and I have done for you, puttin' food in your mouth and keepin' a roof over your head..."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say." Sheila muttered, rolling her eyes skyward. "Listen, Ma, I ain't got time for this, I 'ave to be outta 'ere in the next ten minutes or so. Is Jeremy 'ere?"
"Didn't come home last night...called to say 'e was staying with a friend." Flo responded. She eyed her daughter suspiciously. "Why so early? Your shift don't start until nine!"
"None of your business." Sheila retorted, pushing past her mother and into the kitchen to grab an apple, before heading into the hallway for her coat and her boots. "I said I'd work early is all. If Jeremy ain't 'ere I got no chance of a ride so I got to catch the bus...leave me alone, will ya?" She slipped her bag over her shoulder, unlocking the front door.
"I know full well today is payday...you'd better 'ave some money for us soon." Florence reminded her. "By the end of the week, remember, else you're out on your ear."
"Relax, Mum, I'll pay you later when I've 'ad a chance to get at my account." Sheila pocketed her housekey. "Bye."
Before Flo could call her back, she was gone, down the hallway and into the old battered lift that connected their floor with the rest of the building. The flat was not big and had never been much of a home, but it was a roof over her head and that was all that mattered. Sheila had a lot of pride, and it was this that had kept her from striking out on her own without a secure home to move into. There was no way she would resort to begging other people for accomodation...in her opinion, her parents had brought her into this world so they owed it to her.
As she headed towards the bus-stop, she heard the honk of a car horn and she turned, waving as she recognised Laura behind the wheel. Laura's family were no better off than Sheila's, and her father had left when she had been small, but her mother and she were close as sisters and as a result Laura often got use of the family car without reservation.
"Hi there...ready to rock?" Laura pulled to a stop, winding down the window. "Passenger side is unlocked."
"Cool." Sheila slipped around to the other side of the car, pulling open the door and sliding into the front seat. "Ta for pickin' me up. Jeremy didn't come 'ome last night - probably spent the night at Rose's or something again."
"You reckon 'e's serious about Rose Conway?" Laura looked startled. Sheila snorted.
"Yeah, as if." she replied dryly. "Shall we just say that she's generous in her hospitality, and Jeremy likes staying there because of it."
"Gotcha." Laura laughed. "Hey, you copin' with the early morning okay?"
"It's not that much earlier than usual, and it meant I got to disturb Mum with my radio." Sheila chuckled. "Nah, no problem. And it's worth it...you sure this place is open this early?"
"I called them..they open at half seven for special orders or something...I figured we'd get ourselves in somehow." Laura grinned. "You're the expert there, Sheila...you can talk yourself into or out of anything."
"Well...it's a knack." Sheila responded with a grin.
"Still thinking black?"
"Yes." Sheila nodded. "Black is more me than gold is...also, Gramps' was gold. I wanna move away from that...you know? Bad memory an' all." she frowned.
"You've always been keen on bein' dark." Laura noted. "I think black will match you better, anyway. Didn't you say you'd seen one there already?"
"I saw it when Iwent by on the bus to work one morning." Sheila agreed. "Beautiful instrument...made up me mind for me that a black sax is the way to go."
"Cool." Laura grinned. "Hey, I just realised, you ain't smokin'! So you were serious about quitting!"
"I told you I was." Sheila replied. "Nothing is gonna stop me from playing this thing well, and Gramps always told me you can't smoke and do it justice...need too much air. So...easy choice, far as I'm concerned."
"Neat." Laura turned the car down the high street towards the music store. "You gonna pay by cheque or what?"
"Debit card, duckie." Sheila replied. "Before Ma can get to my funds and drain 'em."
"Sounds wise." Laura nodded, well aware of the problems Sheila had with her parents. "Okay, then...here we are. Time to get talking, mistress of manipulation...you got work to get to and I have a long drive ahead of me!"
"No problem." Sheila smirked. "Just pay attention..." She pushed open the car door, heading nonchalantly up to the door of the store, and smiling at the man who stood there, saying something to them. As she locked the car doors, before heading to join her friend, Laura marvelled at how easily and naturally Sheila's acts came to her...and how quickly she secured success. Within a matter of moments they were inside the store and looking at instruments, despite the fact that the shop wasn't meant to be open to the general public till half eight.
"That's the one." Sheila pointed to the instrument she had seen those weeks before. "Black. Very me, dontcha think?"
"I think it screams Sheila Burns at me." Laura said dryly. "'Adn't you better get the bloke to get it down for ya, then...give it a play, see 'ow it sounds?"
"Sure...sounds good to me." Sheila nodded. "I wonder if I still remember everything Gramps taught me...its been a while."
But once the instrument was in her hands, she found her doubts fly away. Putting it to her lips she played a quick, staccato scale, then glanced at it approvingly.
"Nice sound." she observed. "An' I do remember...guess it's like ridin' a bike. You never forget 'ow."
"You played long, miss?" The store attendant asked. Sheila turned, smiling.
"Yes...since I was a kid, but it's been a while since I 'ad a sax at 'and to play." she agreed. "But that's about to change...this is just what I'm after."
"Looks like you got a sale." Laura observed, amused. Secretly she was glad to see her friend finally getting her instrument, for she had known only too well what the music meant to her. Not musical herself, Laura had been Sheila's friend for a great many years and, though the dark haired girl could be aloof and falsely amiable to people she didn't know well in order to gain some advantage, the friendship they had was a genuine one. Laura had always been the saner one of the two, less driven into wild things as her companion, but despite this they were fond of each other. Laura often jokingly referred to her companion as the delinquent, but there was no malice in it, and Sheila always simply laughed it off.
When Laura was about, Sheila felt secure, and it had been for this reason she had asked her friend to share in that morning's adventure.
"Yep, I'd say so." Sheila agreed now. "Finally, I'll 'ave me own instrument to play...now there's no stopping me from playing!"
PART THREE: BACK IN THE CITY
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)