It was several hours after dinner, when the bus arrived. I wasn’t as tired as the night before. I was still tired, so I decided to hold off with my confrontation with Soda and his crew. When the bus arrived, Rodney and I did a quick check of the parking lot. It was late enough so that only a hand full of people were outside. Those were people coming or going. The had only a minor interest in the Moore Brother’s Tour Bus, that pulled into the parking lot.
Rodney and I watched over the bus passengers drag ass off the bus. That’s when I realized the true duties of Soda Pop’s crew. They carried his suitcases into the rooms. I had also seen them give him drugs and more or less kiss his ass on demand. I almost laughed, when I realized they were porters with guns. Even so they were as dangerous as any other amateur with a gun.
“Well you look better than last time I saw you,” Joan said.
“I wish I could say the same for you. You look tired and nervous,” I said to her.
“I have been on a bus with that clown and his apprentice clowns for twelve hours without a break. It should be declared cruel and inhuman treatment,” she said. “By the way I have been thinking about the sleeping arrangements. If you want you can share my room. I’m sure there is plenty of room in there.” she said.
“No thanks, but Rodney might prefer your room to mine. He told me I’m not his type.” I said with a smile.
“Don’t let him kid you, every white woman is their type,” She said dropping her guard. I put it down to her being tired.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said with a smile. “But he would have to be my type as well. I’m really not that easy to take advantage of.”
“Oh I can believe that,” she agreed.
She walked over to talk to Rodney. I assume she was making the same offer to him. Her age or body type probably didn’t matter to him. I was curious to see how he would handle it, if she had not been correct in her generalization.
I went back to the room and changed for bed. Rodney never showed so I went to sleep. I was tired and it was going to be a long day coming up. I wasn’t looking forward to the confrontation, even if I did live for the adrenaline rush.
I fell asleep dreading it, but a little excited at the prospect as well. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to involve Rodney in the confrontation. The upside was, if he was there the possibility of a violent confrontation went down. The downside was, if he was there the possibility of a violent confrontation went down. I went to sleep with a smile on my face, because I recognized that I had a problem.. I even promised myself that I would deal with it, after the tour was over.
I woke up before daylight, as I had everyday since the tour began. I immediately began dressing for my run. I decided not to go to Joan’s room for Rodney. He hadn’t seemed too thrilled to run with me last time. Besides it would be good for me to be alone with my thoughts.
I began to run down the access road to the highways. There were several major interstate highways that ran nearby. I began to run when I got to the parking lot, and didn’t stop for over an hour. The sky had lightened considerably before I returned to my room. Rodney was standing in the room. He wore only boxer shorts. Since his hair was wet, I assumed he had been in the shower.
“You should have come to get me. You knew where I was,” he said.
“I thought you might be too tired to run,” I said with a wicked smile.
“Nah, Joan and I just did it once and then went to sleep. I was exhausted. I haven’t been getting as much sleep as I’m used to,” he said. I noticed Rodney had an erection at least a partial one and it seemed to be larger than average, but not nearly the size of Jerome or the biker who, sort of, raped me.
“I’m going to take a shower so be dressed when I come out. We want to get on the road ahead of that bus. We should have time to check out the venue in Patterson,” I said.
After my shower I felt much better. I came out of the bathroom in my Russian Commando knock of tee shirt and bikini panties. With my stick figure, I didn’t expect Rodney to even look. I was surprised when he did. He watched me carefully as I put on the jeans I wore at least half the time.
“You know you should really wear a skirt,” he said.
“Thanks for the fashion advice,” I said. “My legs look like sticks.”
“No they don’t, the running gives them shape,” he said.
“Meanwhile back on the the job, lets get a move on. We can be in Paterson by 2PM easy,” I said. I knew because I checked on the computer for drive times. Most every motel was a hot spot by that time.
We took the SUV back to the highway with Rodney at the wheel. I listened to my MP3 player with the headphones. Rodney didn’t like the same music over and over. I sometimes listened to the radio with him. Rodney kept the radio on an easy listening station. He was trying hard to be just a nice guy and to avoid all the racial stereotypes. I approved, but wasn’t sure how it would effect him in the end. You can’t hide from yourself forever, I thought.
We had biscuits for breakfast in the car, but a sit down lunch. The lunch was one of those places, one step up from a take out joint. Still the grilled cheese and fries was just fine. I mean what can you do to a grilled cheese. okay I guess if you really tried, but who would intentionally ruin a sandwich. If I was back in County Seat maybe it could happen. Nobody on the road outside Philadelphia knew me.
We drove another hour or so on the interstate and hit Paterson NJ. It was a real disappointment. After the Atlanta Raceway, I suppose anything would have been. At least anywhere that would book TJ Soda. The theater was a very large movie theater from the old days. I wondered if Joan had ever seen the place for real, or just some twenty year old photos of it. Nonetheless, security was the same all over.
The security company she arranged for the theater was a joke. Of the four people they sent over, two were white women over fifty. I couldn’t imagine how they would control the line waiting to get inside. The other two were middle aged men, neither of which would ever see his correct weight again. If it came down to a fight, it was going to be a nightmare.
The front doors were movie theater type. There were lots of doors into the lobby, but only two entrances to the theater seating. The entrance into the seating area was going to be controlled by the employees of the theater. The two of them were nice middle aged ladies, who were no more than ticket takers. I wondered it they had dealt with anyone since Gone With the Wind played in a retrospective re-release. Still they should be the security teams problem not mine. I talked to the theater manager. I asked him about the stage door. He assured me it had a one way lock. It would require that someone inside open it. I convinced him to put one of the really old ladies on it with instructions to call me, if anybody opened the door period.
Rodney and I were as ready as we could be, when the bus pulled into the parking lot. My number one concern was that the offices and dressing room were on the second floor. It meant we would be going down a narrow stairway. We then had to pass through the audience to get to the stage. The theater just wasn’t laid out for ‘wanna be’ rock stars.
It was possible even Soda Pop could be manhandled by the crowd. Of course we might get lucky and there wouldn’t be a crowd. I doubted that if it could be a pain the ass, it would be a pain in the ask.
It was 7PM when the tour bus hit the parking lot. They had stayed at the motel till mid morning, then they met the friend of a friend outside Philly. While Coca Cola went up to dress I pulled Joan aside. “The security of the theater is a joke. If shit happens, they are going to worse than useless,” I said.
“Well, we are not responsible for the theater, just Soda,” she said.
“With this venue no one is going to show up are they?” I asked.
“It is 90% sold out already and we are selling tickets at the door tonight,” Joan answered.
“How the hell could that happen?” I asked.
“You are kidding right?” she answered my question with a question.
“No, I’m not kidding,” I said.
“TJ was on star search. He lasted till the tenth round. He got a lot of TV exposure. He placed higher than any other rapper in the history of the show. We are trying to help him parlay that to a recording contract with this tour. This theater will be full if we have to run a shuttle bus to the ghetto,” Joan replied.
“Does he have any gang affiliations,” I asked.
“He swears not,” she said.
“Any gang tats?” I asked.
“None that anyone in the company recognized,” she informed me.
“I don’t like this. We are in a theater thats from the twenties and has been restored. Some how you convinced them to have your boy’s concert here. They have no idea what they are into,” I said.
“Suck it up Sylvia. Most of the venues are just like this. It’s the gritty tour that will sell that shit he records,” Joan said.
“I bet it would be even better, if someone attempts to take him out,” I said. That would be a lot of free publicity for you.”
“Your boss knew the score when we gave him the contract,” she said.
“Oh I don’t have a problem with it, I just wanted to be sure I understood it, so I could be ready for it. Now if Rodney, or I get hurt protecting this asshole, whether you are a good fuck or not, I will cut your fucking throat. You have a good evening now.” I said as I turned to go confront TJ Soda about his punk assed crew. I also expected Joan to call Swamp Dog and ask for a replacement. Which suited me just fine.
I had no idea how to quit a gig just because it was dangerous. I didn’t think I would mind being fired. I supposed it was better to be fired, than dead. While I was still boiling mad, I went to TJ’s dressing room.
“Soda, we need to talk,” I said as I pushed by the large man I had tazered Rodney pushed behind me. “Now we are going to have a talk about your crew. We can have it in front of them, or you can send them out.”
“Guy, it’s okay wait outside,” TJ Said. When the door closed he added, “You disrespect me again in front of my crew and I’ll get you fired.”
“You dumb fuck, the promoter wants someone to make an attempt on your life for the publicity. Now do you really want those three clown to be your protection, or do you want the pros from the swamp. You saw how easy I took your man and I was even trying not to hurt him.”
I waited. TJ looked at Rodney who nodded. “So how do we gonna work this out?” TJ asked.
Your boys are window dressing first we admit that. Then we work out what their role will be. But the very first thing you got to do is send that punk ass with the loud mouth home. Not because he went to the cops on me, but he just ain’t capable of listening.”
“He what?” TJ said.
“He called the Atlanta PD to have me arrested for assaulting him. If I leave this gig for any reason, I’m going to entertainment tonight with the story about the tough guy afraid of a 105 pound white girl.”
“If I send him home, are we good for the others?” he asked.
“As long as they know they are window dressing. They are also to stay out of the way,” I replied. He nodded his agreement.