Chapter One: The Misfits On Break
"What do you want, Eric?"
Phyllis Gabor, better known as the rock singer Pizzazz of American rock band The Misfits pulled herself out of the big swimming pool her father's mansion boasted, perching on the side and eying the group's manager with some irritation as she removed her swimming cap, allowing her long wild hair to tumble loose around her shoulders. "We're trying to relax here...you'd better have a good reason for disturbing us."
"Yeah, yank, what gives?" Sheila Burns, the British born saxophonist known to all and sundry by the stage name 'Jetta' put in her bit from her deckchair, lowering her sunglasses to glare at the business executive. "We gotta have some free time, you know."
"You mean that you girls work from time to time? You could have fooled me." Eric Raymond, director of Stingers Sound, the music company to which the Misfits were tied by contract retorted dryly, lounging up against the outside wall of the spacious building.
"Get to the point, Eric!" Roxanne Pelligrini, the group's bass player added her bit to the conversation. "We don't want to be looking at your ugly mug any longer than we gotta, especially on our day off."
"Where's Stormer?" Eric ignored the guitarist's insult. He had worked with the Misfits long enough to know that rising to every one of their jibes was a bad idea, particularly if he wanted to avoid physical confrontation, because these girls were not afraid to involve fisticuffs to justify their point of view. They were a motley bunch, all told, and the choice of band name suited them better than any of them realised. Pizzazz was the only daughter of a wealthy businessman who footed all of her bills out of a misplaced loyalty to the girl, but who had very little time or attention to give her. Pizzazz had grown up spoiled, but strong, and she was not someone who took orders from other people well. As a result she was self-appointed leader of the band in far more than just musical terms and where she lead the others were usually more than willing to follow.
Roxanne, or Roxy as she preferred to be known these days, had come from quite the reverse end of the social spectrum. Having grown up in a rough part of Philadelphia, with guardians who should never have had the care of a child left in their hands, she had run away from home at the age of fourteen, dropping out of school in the process. She had never mastered the ability to read, though spasmodically she had tried to, and even now letters and words frustrated her mind to the point where she had just about given up. She had too much pride to ask for help, and had she known it only special help and hard work would ever solve her illiteracy once and for all. Her attention span was never very great for any activity that didn't involve some kind of mischief making, but despite this she had a clear and emerging gift for the instrument she had chosen. At first apprehensive about signing her, Eric had quietly come to realise how good his group's bass player really was, though he had no intention of letting Roxy know his thoughts. She was easy to keep under thumb where contracts were concerned, due to her own ignorance of business and lack of literary skill - he intended it to stay that way.
Jetta was a different matter. Eric still had to work out how best to get to grips with the most recent member of the all girl band. Jetta was intelligent, manipulative and devious, and in many ways one step ahead of him most of the time. She had grown up learning to look out for number one, and even now she did not tend to extend her loyalty to many people. However, once she had decided that it was worth her time and effort, her mind was made up for good, and it was this determination that had made her a true Misfit both in musical ability and in team spirit. She had grown up on a London council estate, in a family where money was hard to come by and affection even harder, therefore she had grown up to be strong for herself. Her only brother, Jeremy, was in prison and though she breezed through life with barely any kind of emotional outbursts, Jetta was deeply ashamed of all of them. She had all but cut off her connections with her relatives in England, and was content with her place in the Misfits. It had given her the chance her young mind had craved, and she had settled with them right away.
The final member of the band, Mary Phillips, or 'Stormer' was the real oddball of the bunch. Pulled into the set up initially by her undeniable creative talent and her desire to 'toughen up', Stormer was an unlikely Misfit, however you looked at it. Where her companions caused trouble she'd often find herself worrying about the consequences. But, despite their differences, the group had a team spirit, a companionship which, though none of them would ever openly admit it, verged on friendship.
"Inside. Writing or somethin'." Roxy shrugged now, padding across the tiling towards the ladder that led up to the diving board. Though she had never been fond of heights, Roxy loved to dive, and was good at it, so long as she pushed the thought of how high up she was from her mind before she jumped. "You know Stormer."
"She's always working." Pizzazz pulled a face, slipping off the side and back into the water, pulling out with a strong stroke and coming up for air in the middle, treading water. "She's no fun these days, Eric." Then, "Roxy, you moron! You trying to kill me?" As Roxy dived in, soaking the singer liberally and missing her by the narrowest of margins.
"Get outta the way, then." Roxy seemed unperturbed.
"Are you girls paying any attention to me?" Eric demanded. "I need to talk to you all as a group, so would one of you go find Stormer please?"
"Sure, Eric, whatever you say." Pizzazz returned lazily to the side of the pool. She raised her voice, shrieking the synth player's name and almost deafening the nearby Eric in the process.
"That wasn't quite what I had in mind." the executive said crossly as he sat down in a vacant deckchair. Pizzazz shrugged.
"Worked, didn't it?" she responded. "Here she is. Miss fuss-budget herself."
"What's up?" Stormer, her curly hair pulled back from her face in a ponytail and her fingers black with ink - a sure sign she'd been writing music - pushed open the french doors, stepping out onto the patio. "Oh! Eric! What is it?"
"Finally, I get the whole band together." Eric rolled his eyes. "Sit down, Stormer, and take your time about it, why don't you, there's really no rush."
"Don't worry about him, he's just crabby." Roxy sent Stormer a grimace, before diving under the surface and swimming to the far side of the pool. Eric rolled his eyes heavenwards in his frustration.
"Oh, you're impossible, the lot of you!" he exclaimed. “Roxy, get out of the pool, will you? I want to speak to you and you can’t listen and swim at the same time!”
“Spoilsport.” Roxy muttered, nevertheless doing as she was bidden. “This had better be good.”
“Right. Now. If I finally have everyone’s attention.” Eric glared at Roxy meaningfully. “As I’m sure you’re all aware, the Stingers have a big East Coast tour coming up over the next few weeks and I have to go with them this time to finalise all of the PR details. This tour is extremely important and high profile, particularly since Riot is keen to tape a live video of one of their concerts whilst they’re there – I think he wants a new slant for their next release. We’re meeting with some important people in New York the day after tomorrow to finalise the arrangements, and…”
“Get to the point, Eric.” Pizzazz interrupted. “What does this have to do with us?”
“Yeah, who cares what the Stingers are doing?” Roxy agreed. The Stingers, a rival rock band, were no real favourites of the Misfits’, since they were competition of the worst kind – competition that had snuck in and stolen prime position in the priorities of the music company. Pizzazz had fallen badly for the lead singer, Riot, the moment they had met and her her moment of weakness had cost her band dear. Now the company served the Stingers’ needs first, and the Misfits were tiring of being second best. But, as Eric was fond of reminding them, they were under contract. They had little choice.
“If you girls would let me finish,” Eric’s tone held a note of exasperation, “I was about to say that since I won’t be around, Stingers’ Sound will be shut up for the duration of the tour from a recording point of view. I don’t want you girls wrecking my company whilst I’m out of town, so your access to the recording studio is being restricted. Effectively it will mean that you get a vacation.”
“But…if we can’t record, what about our album!” Stormer’s eyes opened wide. “You said…”
“Shut up, Stormer! We’re getting time off!” Roxy exclaimed.
“No, wait a minute.” Pizzazz held up her hand. “So that’s it, Eric? You’re just gonna push us aside like that and trot off like a good boy to do whatever Riot tells you to do? Listen up. We were here first…what about our PR? Stormer’s right…we have an album comin’ up too. You gonna bother even promoting it? Some manager you are!”
“Calm down, my dear, I’ve not forgotten about your album.” Eric assured her. “The publicity machine is all ready to roll once I get back from the East Coast, and within those few weeks I’m sure we can get it well underway.”
“Sounds fishy to me, yank.” Jetta looked suspicious. “You’re meant to be managing our careers ‘ere, you know.”
“Relax, will you?” Eric snapped. “All of you. It’ll be taken care of, trust me. I thought you’d be glad of a break from all this work you seem to think you have to do, anyway. You have three weeks to do whatever you want to do…why the complaining?”
“Well, I think it’s a great idea.” Roxy observed. “Free and easy, that’s what we’ll be.”
“Hm. We’ll see.” Pizzazz looked thoughtful. “I suppose we can find ourselves some entertainment whilst you’re gone, Eric. We sure as heck don’t need you breathing down our necks anyway.”
“I have no doubt that you both can and will, Pizzazz.” Eric told her dryly. “And you can worry about the lawsuits that arise from it, too.” He got to his feet.
“Daddy’s lawyers can handle that stuff.” Pizzazz shrugged carelessly. “Noone’s stopping my fun.”
“Well, it does sound…kind of fun.” Jetta observed slowly. “Three weeks an’ not one trip to that blinkin’ recording studio. I s’pose I’ll go with that.”
“Just mind you don’t get into too much trouble, any of you, because I’ve no mind to be bailing you out of jail.” Eric warned. “I’ll see you girls when I get back. I’ve plenty to do, so I’ll see myself out.”
“He’s got a nerve.” Pizzazz muttered once the manager was gone. “I swear he thinks he’s our father sometimes.”
“He’s just a jerk, that’s all.” Roxy replied. “Who cares why he’s going, anyway? We got three whole weeks to do what we want to for a change, without Uncle Scrooge there tellin’ us what we should and shouldn’t do! Quit complainin’, Pizzazz…we’re gonna have a great time!”
“But what are we gonna do?” Stormer asked.
“You’ll probably work.” Pizzazz shot her a wry glance.
“I’ve almost finished the songs for the new album.” Stormer shook her head. “They’ll be done by tonight if I go back to them now.”
“You’re no fun, Stormer. Why not come and play in the pool for a while?” Roxy demanded. Though wild horses would not drag it from her, she was fond of the band’s youngest member.
“She can’t. She’s scared of water.” Pizzazz smirked.
“I’m not!” Stormer protested. “I just can’t swim, that’s all!”
“Maybe it’s time you learnt.” Roxy suggested. “Come on, Stormer. Live a little. All you do is shut yourself away in that room all day and write.”
“If it gets us an album, who cares?” Pizzazz intervened. “Let her go if she wants to go, Roxy. Least then when Eric decides that we’re worth his time again and he needs our record done by the end of the week or somethin’ he won’t have the satisfaction of being able to harass us for material.”
“Pizzazz has a point.” Jetta nodded, replacing her sunglasses on her nose and relaxing back in her deckchair. “Let ‘er go, Roxy.”
Stormer slipped back into the big mansion, grateful to get back to her work. Songs had been buzzing in her head all day and she knew that she’d get little peace from them till they were written down.
As she sat back down in the little room she liked to work in, picking up her synth and playing a chord or two, she wondered idly what the Misfits would get up to over the next few weeks. She had little doubt that it would be something that would get them all into no end of trouble.
“Ah well, guess I’ll see soon enough.” She reasoned, reaching for her manuscript. “There’s no such thing as a quiet break in this band!”
(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)