England's Rose

Chapter Seven: First Night

“Another hostile crowd.” Bongo frowned as he retrieved his drumsticks from the floor for the last performance of the night. “What’s with all these people, anyway? Don’t they know good music when they hear it?”
“Allie’s voice is probably puttin’ them off.” Jetta glanced at her foe, a sly expression on her face. Allie scowled, rising at once as Jetta had known she would.
“Fine, then perform without me.” She retorted, tossing the microphone down. “See if I care!” She stalked off the stage, her nose in the air.
“Allie!” Snake looked exasperated but Jetta shrugged.
“She’s playin’ prima donna as usual. Girl’s too sensitive.” She said. “C’mon. If she’s off in an ‘uff then we’ll ‘ave to play without her. Who knows, we might actually sound better.”
“Guess we got no choice.” Jerry observed. “Okay, after three. One, two, three!”
From across the club Allie folded her arms, a sulky frown on her face. She had just about had her fill of Jetta.
“Thank goodness though tonight’s the last night I have to put up with her.” She told herself. “Tomorrow we fly back and I’ll never have to put up with her again. And who cares if the crowd’s trouble? Probably her fault, anyway. Who does she think she’s kiddin’ with that saxophone? Sounds like someone strangled a cat, more like!”
The truth was, of course, that, whatever her faults, Jetta had a natural flair for her chosen instrument and Allie, never one to have any inborn musical talent was more than a little envious. As she watched them, however, she was forced to admit to herself that Jetta had a stage presence.
“Hogging all the limelight, just like her.” She muttered. “The Tinkerbillys were better off before she came and we’ll do okay once she’s gone, too. Good riddance, that’s what I say!”
The song ended, with more jeering from the crowd. The audience were decidedly not a friendly looking bunch as they began to pelt the musicians with whatever they could find and with one accord the male Tinkerbillys abandoned their instruments and fled the stage for the obscurity of the shadows, afraid of confrontations. It was fairly true to say that, even despite Snake’s bravado, all three were cowards at heart.
Not so Jetta. Her eyes narrowed as she surveyed the surging people, and something inside her snapped. Shouting threats at the top of her voice she leapt down from the stage, wielding her saxophone dangerously as though it were a weapon of war. Despite the fact they outnumbered her, the crowd began to shrink back, for Jetta in a temper was clearly nothing to be trifled with, particularly when armed.
Across the club, Eric and the Misfits had been observing events with mixed reactions. Roxy, who was determined to be sulky about the whole idea had begun to complain about her aching feet and was pointedly ignoring the commotion, instead turning her attention to her stiletto heels to examine the damage. Stormer merely stared, unsure as to what they should do and Eric, who was never one to relish physical confrontation was all for slipping out of the club as quietly as they’d come in.
But Pizzazz had different ideas. She had been quite taken by the saxophonist’s fiery defence of her music, and was determined not to walk out without having her share of the fun and the limelight. Grabbing Stormer and Roxy by the arms, nearly causing Roxy to overbalance in the process, she headed towards the front of the room.
“Come on.” She murmured. “The stage…that’ll get their attention!”
“What are we gonna do?” Roxy demanded as they made their way unnoticed towards the stage steps. “Play air guitar?”
“They left their instruments when they bailed out, the wimps.” Pizzazz responded. “I say we give this club a bit of life, Misfit style.”
“For free?” Roxy stared.
“Listen, pea brain.” Pizzazz snapped. “Eric brought us here to find a new Misfit, right?”
“Right. So what?” Roxy wrenched her arm free from Pizzazz’s grip.
“So that girl with the saxophone might just be what we’re looking for.”
“You’re kidding!” Roxy demanded. “Pizzazz, I thought we agreed we didn’t need another Misfit and that Eric was talking baloney as usual!”
“Shut up and come on.” Pizzazz snapped back. “You’re going to play and you’re not going to complain, all right? We’re going to show these losers what real musicians do.”
Stormer, used by now to Pizzazz and Roxy’s fairly frequent disagreements merely rolled her eyes, picking up the abandoned synthesiser and turning her attention to programming it. Roxy, seeing she was beaten, took up the bass guitar with decidedly bad grace, and Pizzazz commandeered the microphone Snake had been using, uttering a shrill whistle which echoed out across the whole club.
The commotion at the far end ceased, and Jetta swung around, both confused and irritated by this interruption. There was something vaguely familiar about the three musicians who had taken over the stage, and before she could demand who the heck they were and what they wanted, a fervour began to start in the crowd around her.
“It’s the Misfits!” cried one girl. Jetta lowered her saxophone, frowning. The Misfits? But they weren’t on the club bill for the night…what was going on?
But, as Jetta had yet to learn, the Misfits were big fans of impromptu performances, if it meant an adoring and receptive crowd.
“I like your style.” Pizzazz spoke once there was a relative hush over the place, and Jetta realised with a start that the singer was addressing her. “Think you can keep up with us?”
Jetta looked startled, then determination crossed her face.
“That depends.” She retorted. “On whether or not you can keep up with me!”
She headed back towards the stage, saxophone in hand.
At a glare from Pizzazz, which in the Misfits generally constituted a cue, Roxy began reluctantly to play the opening bars of the new song and Stormer soon followed suit. Whatever the circumstances, performing always gave the group a buzz, and caught up in the atmosphere Roxy forgot her sulks, for the time being at least.
A slow smile crossed Jetta’s face as she hurried back up the stage steps to join the trio. She wasn’t intimidated by the awed looks of the crowd, indeed she barely knew who the Misfits were, and probably would not have cared even if she had understood the size of their following. Her only goal was to show everyone in the club what she could really do, and that she wasn’t someone to be booed at!
Improvisation was one of her favourite parts of playing the saxophone, and she was good at it. She rose to the challenge laid down to her in Pizzazz’s words in an instant, putting her instrument to her lips and beginning to play. From where she was harmonising her own part, Stormer’s eyes opened wide, first with surprise and then with delight as Jetta’s notes, pure and clear filled in the missing counter melody.
“That’s it!” she thought to herself. “I’d never have thought of a saxophone!”
Pizzazz shot Jetta a glance which, on anyone else could have been mistaken for nonchalance but which, on Pizzazz, merited an amount of grudging admiration. Then she opened her mouth and began to sing.
From their secluded corner the other Tinkerbillys watched, spellbound. Allie had taken Snake firmly by the arm, but his gaze was fixed on the sax player. He had never heard her play so well, especially not without prior practice.
“Wow, the Misfits.” Jerry murmured. “They’re a pretty big name band. I was listening on the radio the other day – I heard a couple of their songs. They have some good music.”
“They’re a bunch of show-offs and Jetta’s worse than any of them.” Allie pouted. “Snake, can’t we go?”
“I want to listen.” Snake retorted. “Can it, Allie. Jetta’s good.”
“They’re all good.” Jerry observed. “What do you reckon they want here, though? Think they’ll want Jetta?”
“In their band? An amateur like her? No way.” Allie shook her head. “They’re just letting off steam, s’all, and she happened to butt in on their act.”
“The synth player’s cute. I love the flower in her hair, nice touch.” Bongo grinned. “I wonder if she has plans for tonight?”
“Bongo, these girls are big name celebs over here, and from what I’ve heard, tough as they come, too.” Jerry rolled his eyes. “You honestly think you stand a chance of a date with a Misfit? You’d have better luck trying to walk a tightrope, blindfold.”
“I was just kidding.” Bongo shrugged. “And I don’t know about tough, Jerry. She has a flower in her hair, that don’t say vicious to me.” He laughed. “I think it’s cute. And she plays a mean synth, too. You’re the expert – how’s her technique?”
“First class.” Jerry grinned. “But then, I’d expect it to be, in her line of work. Come on, let’s go back to the hotel, we can come and reclaim our instruments later when things have calmed down some. Jetta doesn’t need us.”
The song finished to a rousing reception from the crowd and Jetta allowed herself another satisfied smile. She’d proven herself now, and she liked the crowd more for their appreciation – she had forgiven them their booing in the light of their clamouring for more. She glanced across at the Misfit lead singer. She was good, Jetta had to admit it – she had stage presence and a knack for performing. In fact, all three of the Misfits had put in a good performance – she supposed that was the difference between a professional band and an amateur act with no record company backing like the Tinkerbillys.
“ ‘Elps also if you can play the instrument you ‘ave.” she mused to herself with a smirk. “After the Tinkerbillys it was nice to play with some people who can play!”
And then Pizzazz spoke the words which would change Jetta’s life forever.
“Hey, you play a wicked sax.” She observed with an approving grin. “How’d you like to be a Misfit?”
Stormer tuned out. She knew that Jetta would be a Misfit, because she knew Pizzazz and how that girl’s mind worked. It was only a matter of time before contracts were signed and press conferences were organised.
“I’m kinda glad.” She thought to herself. “If she plays sax as well as that all the time, well, I’m gonna have a blast writing for her. I only hope she isn’t going to be too much trouble…I have a nasty feeling though that she is.”
She cast a sidelong glance at Roxy, who was clearly back in her sulk big style. In the end, it was Pizzazz who made the decisions, but it didn’t mean that the bass player was happy about them. Stormer frowned. Somehow she knew that Roxy wouldn’t get over this grievance very quickly.
Her gaze shifted to the stranger, and a startling realisation came over her.
“What’s your name?” she asked shyly. “If you’re going to be one of the Misfits we probably oughta know it.”
“They call me Jetta.” Jetta responded, eying the synth player thoughtfully as she did so. She was determined to keep her real name as dark as she could for as long as she could…this was her chance to put Sheila Burns properly behind her.
“Dumb name.” Roxy snorted. “Why?"
“Because me hair, me clothes and me sax is black, stupid.” Jetta rolled her eyes.
“Don’t call me stupid!” Roxy snapped back.
“Cool it, both of you!” Pizzazz rolled her eyes. “Okay, so we’ll call you Jetta.” She indicated. “That’s Roxy, that’s Stormer and I’m Pizzazz. Oh, and the creep with the tie is Eric Raymond, our manager, or so he’d like to think.” She smiled. “My father owns the music company.”
“I see.” Jetta returned the smile. “You girls are pretty big over here then?”
“We’re the best, and you better remember it.” Pizzazz nodded her head. “Come on, let’s get outta here. This place stinks.”
“Where are you staying?” Eric asked Jetta, who told him the name of the hotel.
“That dump?” Pizzazz pulled a face. “Get your stuff, you might as well move your things straight into our place, if you’re gonna be a Misfit.” She gave a dismissive gesture. “Eric will deal with all the contract stuff.”
“Well, I can go and pack, but ‘ow will I know where I’m going?” Jetta asked.
“Stormer, go with her.” Pizzazz instructed. “I’ll send a car to the hotel to pick you both up anyhow. Daddy left me full control of the drivers when he went to Paris.”
“Okay, Pizzazz.” Stormer nodded. “So we’ll meet you guys back at the Gabor Mansion?”
“Mansion?” Jetta repeated.
“It’s not that big.” Pizzazz shrugged carelessly. “Yeah, we’ll meet you back there. Roxy and I’ll have some fun…maybe tonight wasn’t such a waste of time after all.”
Once they were heading towards the hotel in a hastily hailed taxi, Jetta cast Stormer an interested glance.
“You girls live in a mansion?” she asked.
“Yeah. You see, Pizzazz’s dad is rich, he’s made billions of dollars in businesses all over the States and he has several estates.” Stormer nodded. “Pizzazz got use of this one for us, since it’s so convenient for Misfit Music and all. Mr Gabor is only there very occasionally, when his work brings him to LA – most of the time he’s out of state.”
“Oh, right.” Jetta paused. This was better than she could ever have hoped. She didn’t expect the meek Stormer to give her any trouble, and Pizzazz seemed already on her side. So Roxy wasn’t keen, big deal. Jetta never minded a bit of rivalry.
“I hope Roxy didn’t offend you.” Stormer ventured at that moment.
Jetta shot her companion a strange look. Offend her? What was the kid talking about?
“Nah, love, she don’t bother me.” She said finally.
“Pizzazz seems to like you. That’s a good sign.”
“Oh? Really? ‘Ow’s that?” Jetta was curious.
“It’s not always safe to argue with Pizzazz.” Stormer responded wryly. “Hey, is this it?”
“Yep.” Jetta nodded, taking her sax and sliding out of the cab, while Stormer paid the driver. “It’s a dump but it did it’s job.”
“You guys really came all the way from London?” Stormer’s eyes were big and Jetta laughed.
“Sure, ducks. Where did you think we came from? Brazil?”
“No.” Stormer blushed, feeling somewhat silly. “My brother’s in Europe, he stays in London a lot. He used to play with a band out there but they split up. I wish he’d come home.”
“Well, Europe’s a big place, duckie. Lots to do.” Jetta pushed open the hotel door, going up to the desk to collect her key.
The man behind the desk offered her a watery smile, pushing the key across the smooth wooden surface.
"Here you are, Miss Burns. Have a nice evening, won't ya?" He said in barely enthusiastic tones. Jetta scooped up the key, frowning at the use of her real name, but making no comment. Instead she led the way to the cluster of rooms which the Tinkerbillys had been using as their base in America since they had arrived.
"Well, well, look what the cat dragged in." Allie was lounging in her doorway, as if she had been waiting for Jetta's return.
"Shut your face, Allie. I don't want to talk to you, I'm busy." Jetta snapped. She indicated Stormer. "I got a new commission now."
"Not good enough for you, are we?" Allie was affronted. Jetta fixed her foe with a disdainful look.
"You never were." she replied. "C'mon Stormer. Ignore her...she's nobody important anyway."
Stormer obediently followed her new companion into the bedroom, aware of Allie's shriek of rage echoing behind them. Jetta shot her a sheepish look.
"Sorry about that. She's 'opeless." she said.
"Who is she?" Stormer wondered.
"Allie? A jumped up bimbo with all the singin' talent of a strangled yak." Jetta rolled her eyes. "Earsplittin', it is, but she's seein' the band's leader, so she gets to stay on board."
"She's a Tinkerbilly?" Stormer was curious. Jetta nodded, pulling her case out and putting it on the bed, flipping it open.
"Worse luck." She agreed. "You can understand why I'm 'appy to be quittin' on them. 'Ere, give me a hand, will ya?"
"Is this all you brought with you?"
"Yeah. I travel light, me." Jetta nodded.
"But if you're staying, won't you need more?"
"That's what credit cards are for, duckie." Jetta laughed. "Don't worry, I'll manage just fine."
"You play a great saxophone." Finding the other subject of conversation running dry, Stormer settled on a new topic, busying herself with helping the British girl to fold her clothes into the case. Jetta shrugged.
"Should 'ope so. Played it long enough." She said flippantly.
"How do you reckon you'll like being a Misfit?"
"I dunno. We'll see, won't we?" Jetta looked amused. "I think it might just be my cup of tea."
"Your what?" Stormer looked blank. Jetta smirked.
"What, ain't you 'eard that one before, duckie?" She asked. "I meant it might be exactly what I'm lookin' for, is all."
"Does everyone in England speak like you?" Stormer was curious. Jetta bit back a scornful reply. It wouldn't do to upset any of the Misfits unduly before her contract was signed, but it was hard not to take advantage of such naive innocence.
"Doubt it." She said finally. "I don't 'ear me own accent, love, but I'm from London, so I talk like a Londoner, most likely. Not everyone comes from London."
"I...I guess not." Stormer blushed, for the second time feeling rather silly.
At that moment, however, her discomfort was interrupted by a fresh voice from the doorway. Jetta turned at the sound, rolling her eyes when she saw who it was.
"What do you want, Bongo?" She demanded. "I'm kinda busy."
"Allie told me you were back. I just wanted to see if it was true, that you're joinin' this American group." Bongo lounged in the doorway.
Jetta nodded.
"Yes. What can I say? They know style when they 'ear it." She said with a slight smile. "So I'm packin' up and movin' out of 'ere tonight."
"Cool." Bongo grinned. "Hey, you brought a friend with you! Hi there!"
Jetta cast a look at Stormer, who was blushing again, then rolled her eyes once more.
"Oh, brother...Bongo, quit flirtin'!"
"Aw, come on, Jetta...at least introduce me!" Bongo pleaded. Jetta sighed.
"All right, already, if it gets you off me back. Bongo, this is Stormer of the Misfits, and Stormer, this is Bongo, who plays percussion for the Tinkerbillys, or at least pretends to."
"So cruel!" Bongo grinned, not notably perturbed, for he was too good natured a soul to be overly roused by Jetta's sarcastic wit. "Stormer, huh? That's got to be a stage name, right?"
"Yes...we mostly use them. It's part of the image." Stormer agreed shyly.
"Oh, looks like Jetta's got in with the right people then." Bongo laughed. "Image mad, she is. 'Don't call me Sheila, call me Jetta..."
"Okay, Bongo, you outstayed your welcome." Jetta interrupted him, her brow knitting into a warning scowl. "Go on, clear off, will ya? We got stuff to do and you're holdin' us up!"
"All right, I get the message." Bongo winked at her. "See you, Jetta. Good luck, huh?"
"Yeah, whatever. You guys too." Jetta shrugged.
"Don't scare too many people, alright?" Bongo grinned, and with that, he was gone.
"Your real name's Sheila?" Stormer asked. Jetta's scowl deepened.
"Yes, but use it and you'll find my fist comin' at your face at speed." She said in low tones. "I go by Jetta, alright?"
"Hey, Jetta's fine by me." Stormer agreed hurriedly, raising her hands in mock-surrender. "I was just asking."
"Well don't." Jetta retorted. "There. Think that's got everything."
Stormer moved over to the window.
"I thought I heard a horn a second ago...yeah, I can see the car from here." She reported. "Pizzazz remembered - I did wonder if she would."
Jetta scooped up her case.
"Then let's go." she said.
"You don't want to say goodbye to anyone else?" Stormer was surprised. Jetta shrugged.
"No point." she said abruptly. "Come on, huh?"
"Can I carry anything?" Stormer asked. Jetta indicated the saxophone.
"You can take that...but be careful with it! It was blinkin' expensive!"
Once inside the car, it was Jetta who broke the silence.
"'Ere, I was wonderin' something." she said. "What did Pizzazz mean when she was talkin' about 'gettin' Jem and the 'Olograms? Am I bein' dense? Who the 'eck's Jem?"
"You've never heard of Jem and the Holograms?" Stormer's eyes almost popped out of her head. "How far away is London, anyway?"
"Far enough." Jetta shrugged. "So what's the deal?"
"They're our biggest rivals, both on and off stage. They do a lot of charity benefits and concerts and stuff and have a big following...Pizzazz really hates Jem."
"I can see why. She sounds a total loser." Jetta pulled a face. "A wimpy do-gooder musician, right?"
"I...I guess so, yes." Stormer nodded. "We try and cause them as much trouble as we can."
"Sounds good to me." Jetta smiled. "It's been a while since I've 'ad the time to kick back and make some mischief. I think I'm gonna like this."
"Had you heard of us before tonight?" Stormer asked. Jetta nodded.
"Yeah. Saw you play once in a club in London, ages back. And since we got 'ere Jerry's been playin' the radio non-stop, they played your last song a lot. What's it called?"
"How does it feel." Stormer murmured.
"Yeah, that one." Jetta nodded. "Good song...'ad beat and attitude. But then the one you - we did tonight 'ad a good rhythm too."
"It wouldn't have been right without your sax line, though." Stormer responded. "I struggled for ages to find a counter-melody line for that song, and then you just...played it. It sounded so right when I heard it. I only hope I can remember it enough to write it in."
"You write the songs?" Jetta shot Stormer a startled look. "All of them?"
"Pretty much." Stormer nodded. "Pizzazz prefers it that way, and I kinda enjoy doing something for the band."
"Well, I 'ave to say it, girl. You write a good song." There was grudging respect in Jetta's tone.
Stormer's cheeks went pink.
"Thank you." She said shyly. "I like writing. It's a lot of fun."
Jetta shot Stormer a thoughtful look. It had taken her by surprise to find that such strong music and such no-nonsense lyrics had come from the imagination of someone so reserved and unassuming.
But she had no time to ponder on it, for at that moment the car pulled onto the front forecourt of the Gabor estate and Jetta got her first glimpse of her new home.
"Woo." Despite herself she was impressed. "Nice place."
"I told you, Mr Gabor is loaded." Stormer nodded her head. "It has a pool too, you know. It helps when it's sunny...and it tends to be sunny here a lot. If...if you come with me I'll show you where to go."
"Right behind you, love." Jetta followed her companion out of the car, picking up her cases and heading towards the front entrance of the luxurious estate."
"'Ome sweet 'ome." She murmured to herself. "Who needs England, anyway? You done good for yourself this time, Jetta...from 'ere on in the only way is up!"

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)