Chapter Two: A Phone Call
"Pizzazz! Phone for ya!"
Roxy put her hand over the receiver, raising her voice to an earsplitting volume as she did so. She had no great fondness for the telephone, it had a habit of ringing at inconvenient moments and the people on the other end generally wanted to sell her something or wanted her to do something. She would have been perfectly happy if all of the phones in the house had been disconnected, and her general phone technique said as much. She had not yet mastered the idea of 'polite phone speak', and the bewildered people on the other end often got treated to a 'whaddya want? I'm busy!' or a 'can't you leave us alone?' for their trouble.
Today, however, she was in a fairly upbeat mood, since she had no work planned for the whole afternoon and was about to spend it indulging in one of her favourite pastimes - diving. As a result she had been less hostile to the caller in question, and had actually bothered to summon the person they asked for instead of making up some reason why they couldn't answer the phone.
Pizzazz poked her head around the door of the living room, her expression one of decided displeasure. She, in contrast, had not been in the best of tempers since her father's refusal to cooperate, and had gone about rather like a bear with a sore head. "Who is it, anyway?"
"I dunno. Some guy in Washington or somewhere." Roxy said idly. "Like I care. Ask him yourself. I'm going out to the pool."
Pizzazz scowled, but made no comment, putting the receiver to her ear and turning her back very pointedly on her bandmate.
"Hello!" She snapped, as Roxy slipped away, unperturbed.
"Miss Gabor?" The voice was unfamiliar, and Pizzazz frowned. Who these days called her Miss Gabor, besides the housestaff?
"Yeah? Who are you an' whaddya want? I got more important things to do than talk to losers on the phone!"
"Miss Gabor, I'm sorry to trouble you." From the change in the caller's tone it was clear that the man was somewhat intimidated by her brashness. "I'm afraid that I have some rather pressing - and not so pleasant news to relate to you. My name is Ryan Clarke, I work at your father's office here in Washington DC, and..."
"Get to the point." Pizzazz interrupted him impatiently. "Do you think I got all day to chit chat with you?"
"I'm sorry." Mr Clarke appeared flustered by her tone. "The fact of the matter is, Miss Gabor, that your father was taken ill early this morning, and was taken to hospital. They believe it to have been a heart attack, probably brought on by stress, and he hasn't yet regained consciousness, though I'm assured that his current situation is fairly stable. I was instructed by Mr Martescu to let you know right away." This last in a tone which seemed to say clearly that he'd drawn the short straw in the matter.
All colour drained from Pizzazz's face, and she sank down into a nearby chair, gripping the phone receiver more tightly until her knuckles turned white.
"Whaddya mean he hasn't regained consciousness?" The question came out in a burst of angry confusion. "Why hasn't he? What in hell do they think they're doing?"
"Your father's condition is serious, Miss Gabor. They're doing all they can." Mr Clarke spoke as gently as he possibly could, not wanting to further antagonise what was, he realised, a difficult young lady. "They don't know yet whether or not he will pull through...though he's stable, it...could go either way."
There was another pause, as Pizzazz digested this information, and then,
"Send a plane to LAX Airport. I'm coming to DC this afternoon, you hear me?" she said in odd tones.
"Yes, Miss Gabor, but..."
"Don't argue with me, just do it!" Pizzazz interrupted. "If you work for my father you'll do as I say, so move it!"
"I'll see to it right away." The man gabbled.
"Right! Then stop wasting time chatting and get to it!" Pizzazz snapped. "Get lost, will ya, you're wasting time!"
With that she hung up on him, closing her eyes briefly as she tried to put everything she had just learnt into some kind of perspective. Her mind was whirling and it was impossible to get her thoughts and emotions into a coherent order. Emotional by nature, though these days her outbursts were generally tantrums of rage when she did not get her own way, the news of her father's collapse had had a far more marked effect on her than anyone could have known. Even her bandmates, who were the closest things she had in this world to friends would have been surprised if they had known that at that precise moment their 'fearless leader' was fighting to keep back tears.
Finally, through the wild mix of emotions and fears in her head one thing became clear.
Her father was sick and he might not make it.
Through her whole life, Pizzazz had never known her father be ill. He had rarely missed a day of work - she had a vague memory of him taking a day off once when she had been taken to hospital with appendicitis aged seven, but that one day had been all he had allowed himself. She did not know if he had even bothered to take time off when she had been born - in fact, in her bitterness at his lack of attention she had often told herself darkly that he had probably attended to the event via phoneline, between calls from Rome and Tokyo.
But however much she sat there, trying to find reasons why she didn't care if her father should be ill or not, the more she realised that it did matter. Shallow, materialistic and self-absorbed as Pizzazz had become, somewhere in her confused heart she did care about her father, and she was beginning to realise it more and more with every passing second.
She ran her fingers absently through her long wavy hair, trying to focus on a plan of action. Go to Washington she must do, and soon, but she was still too shell-shocked to do much more than just sit there, going over the call over and over again in her mind.
Outside by the pool, the other Misfits were enjoying the sun, blissfully unaware of their leader's emotional plight. Roxy had taken to the board, which she fondly thought of as 'hers' these days, since she was by far the best diver and few were willing to argue with her right to precidence over it. Jetta and Stormer had contented themselves now with sunbathing, Jetta idly flicking through a magazine, her long black hair dripping from her dip in the pool, whilst Stormer, who had never learnt to swim and who dared not enter the water when the other Misfits were about, was busy with a manuscript book. At length she glanced up.
"Pizzazz is taking ages." She observed. "Roxy, did she say she was coming out?"
"She had a phonecall." Roxy paused at the end of the diving board, shrugging her shoulders. "She never said anything 'bout coming outside, though."
"Long phone call, then." Jetta frowned. Of all of the group it was she who knew Pizzazz best, and though neither girl would have welcomed being called 'friends', in their own way they were. "Who was it? Eric?"
"Nah." Roxy shook her head. "Some guy in DC." She jumped off the board and into the smooth blue poolwater with barely a splash, surfacing quickly and swimming over to the side, a smirk on her face. "Maybe it's one of her old boyfriends - she's had enough of 'em."
"Boyfriends? Try male acquaintences. Pizzazz ain't into relationships." Jetta objected, saying the last word as if it were particularly offensive to contemplate. Stormer stood.
"I'm going to go see if she's coming out." She decided. "I have a song to ask her about for Saturday night's concert, anyway."
"If she's still on the phone, I'd watch yourself." Roxy advised, grimacing. "She might through it at you. She's been such a moody brat since her father said no to the magazine. Well, more than usual, I mean." She amended, after a moment's consideration.
"For once, you 'ave a point." Jetta looked thoughtful. "But then none of us thought 'e'd say no."
"Too true." Roxy grimaced again, pulling herself out of the pool and padding back round to the steps of the diving board.
"Well, I'm going, anyway." She said firmly. "Maybe it's Misfit business, and we need to know about it."
To think was to act, and she got to her feet, tucking her manuscript book under her arm and heading into the house, noting as she did so that the phone was back on its hook, but that her bandmate was nowhere in sight. She frowned, setting her book down on the table as she glanced around for the older girl. Where was she?
"Pizzazz?" She called. There was no reply and, confused, Stormer headed slowly up the stairs which had always been Pizzazz's own, ever since she had paid short visits there as a small child. The door was open, and Pizzazz was standing by the window, seemingly oblivious to having company, a strange, pensive expression on her face. An open case lay on the bed, with odd bits and pieces tossed into it haphazardly. Stormer frowned further. What was going on?
"Pizzazz?" She ventured, slowly entering the room, all too aware of how quickly the singer's moods could turn. She knew only too well that her position in the band relied solely on her musical prowess and not because Pizzazz liked her - in some ways it made her more nervous to know it. They had had brief moments when they'd seemed to click...but most of the time Pizzazz tolerated her out of sheer necessity. She could be cruel and snappish towards the younger girl, even downright aggressive on occasion, so there was some reason for Stormer's trepidation.
The singer did not respond to the call, and Stormer put a hand on the girl's shoulder, startling her.
"Pizzazz, are you going somewhere? Is everything okay?"
"What are you doing up here?" Pizzazz reacted with a snap, shoving Stormer away. "Spyin' on me? Get lost, will ya? I'm busy!"
"What's happened?" Stormer asked, nonetheless backing away. "Your case...where are you going?"
"Like it's any of your business!" Pizzazz spat out, her hands on her hips. "Get out! If I wanted to talk to a wingeing creep I'd gp talk to Jem and the Holograms! Now beat it!"
Stormer flinched, backing towards the open doorway. Clearly Pizzazz still hadn't forgotten - or forgiven - Stormer's recent successful collaboration album with the Hologram's keyboardist and songwriter, Kimber Benton.
"Was it the phonecall?" She ventured. "Roxy said it was from someone in DC...is that where you're going?"
Pizzazz's eyes narrowed.
"What did I tell you?" She demanded.
"But we've a concert on Saturday, Pizzazz! What's going on?" Stormer protested, aware that now she was safely in the doorway and could turn tail and flee for the safety of her own room if necessary.
"Who cares about the dumb concert! I've got more important things to think about!" Pizzazz retorted.
"Like what?" Stormer was surprised at this. Performing on stage was usually the number one priority for the singer, who revelled in the attention it gave her. Pizzazz shrugged, sitting down on her bed.
"You ain't gonna leave me alone till I tell ya, are you?" she demanded. "Well, if you're so keen to know, miss busybody Phillips, I'll tell you. My Dad's been taken ill, he's had some kind of heart attack, they reckon, and I'm goin' to Washington because I gotta. Okay? You happy now?"
Stormer's eyes opened wide with horror.
"Oh no! Oh Pizzazz, I'm sorry! I had no idea!"
"Can the mushy stuff, Stormer, and leave me alone, will you? I gotta pack." Pizzazz indicated her case, her tone strangely cold. Had Stormer but known it, Pizzazz was still afraid of letting her emotions get the better of her, but to anyone looking at her, it would seem that concern for her father's condition ranked a distant second behind irritation at the inconvenience it caused.
But Stormer was too compassionate a person to just nod, turn and walk out of the room. In an instant she had made up her mind.
"Let me come with you." She begged. Pizzazz stared at her.
"Why?" She demanded. "So you can play miss Samaritan? Forget it, Stormer! I don't need you!"
"You might need someone to run errands for you or whatever in DC, and if nothing else I can drive."
"So can I!"
"Yes...but you have other things on your mind and I'd feel better if I did it for you. Please, Pizzazz. If I get in your way you can always send me back to LA."
Pizzazz frowned, hesitating. In truth, though she would not admit it, she had not wanted to make the trip alone, and though Stormer was not the ideal companion, it was better than nothing. She shrugged.
"Fine. Come if you want." She said finally. "But you gotta be fast. I'm outta here as soon as I'm ready."
"I'll be ready." Stormer promised. "I'll see you downstairs in about half an hour, yeah?"
"Whatever." Pizzazz waved her away, then returned to her packing.
Stormer made her way slowly to her own room, selecting a few necessities and putting them into a brown holdall. Then she changed her clothes to ones more suited to travel than her bathing costume, her mind on Pizzazz all the while.
"I wonder exactly what she's thinking." She mused. "It's weird. If it were my father I'd be hysterical...well, when Mom took sick real bad near the end I was a mess, even with Craig's support. But Pizzazz doesn't seem upset, exactly. Just angry at being called away like this. Maybe she and her father really have lost those family ties. It's sad if they have."
"Where are you goin'?" Roxy lounged in the doorway, her platinum hair dripping water all over the expensive carpet and Stormer glanced up, sighing.
"DC with Pizzazz." She replied, then explained the situation. Roxy's eyes widened.
"You're leavin' me here with Jetta?" She demanded. "And what about Saturday? What do we tell Eric, that you've gone on vacation?"
"Harvey Gabor is a well publicised billionaire and Pizzazz is a high profile rock singer. The press will get hold of it in no time, so you probably won't have to tell Eric anything." Stormer replied, slipping an orange band into her thick curly hair. "As for Saturday, who knows? Riot'll be mad, but Pizzazz kinda hasn't got a choice."
"She gone soft on us?"
"Definitely not." Stormer looked rueful. "She's more angry than anything about it. Look, I'll call you guys when we get to DC, let you know the plan."
"Okay." Roxy sighed. "Can't you take Jetta with you too?"
"Nope." Stormer shook her head. "It was hard enough trying to convince her to let me come along. You'll be all right, though. Just don't kill each other!"
"Hah!" Roxy snorted. "Like she'd stand a chance in a fight with me, anyway!"
Stormer rolled her eyes, knowing as she did so that Roxy probably spoke the truth. She picked up the holdall.
"I'll see you whenever." Was all she said, however. "I gotta go. We have a plane to catch."
Chapter One: The Magazine
Chapter Two: A Phone Call
Chapter Three: Washington DC
Chapter Four: Harvey Gabor
Chapter Five: Answering To Eric
Chapter Six: Breaking Down
Chapter Seven: Riot
Chapter Eight: A Change Of Luck
Chapter Nine: Harvey's Proposal
Chapter Ten: A Cunning Plan
Chapter Eleven: As It Should Be
(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)