No one ever paid attention to the band when they first set up. The jukebox was playing tunes and the pinball machine was banging and clanging away. A few cats stopped to stare at the dames. They were the only group around with a chick member. They had two. Sometimes that caused some unwanted attention but Mako and Bolin protected their girls.
“You ready, Cherry?” Bolin leaned over, slicking his hair back smooth in the reflection of her biggest symbol. Asami was his best friend and he was the only one allowed to call her Cherry. On account of her favored bright red lipstick. Plus, when they’d first met he couldn’t understand what her name was so he just made up a new one on the spot. It stuck. “Want a pop or somethin’ first?”
“No, thanks,” she said, tapping her feet in the rhythm of their first song.
She always got nervous before shows and she was already biting at her red tipped fingernails, clutching her drumsticks tight. “Hey, ease up.” He ruffled the front of her wavy hair and she grinned, swatting his hands away. “You always do fine. We always rock the place. Don’t we?” He turned back around to face the rest of his band.
Korra was bent of her precious guitar, using the edge of her skirt to rub off a spot. Her hips were swaying to the jukebox music and her lips moved to words Bolin could barely make out. Hell, she looked fine. Pretty blue eyes against that sun-darkened skin and a smile that could knock any cat dead in a blink. Plus she was the only broad that could burp louder than he could and that made her damn near sinful to look at.
Too bad she dug his brother. The one in the leather jacket, sitting backwards on a booth with a cigarette tucked between his lips. Greased hair, grease stained white shirt and beat up old leather jacket. The cleanest part of him was the red scarf looped around his neck. Dad’s scarf. The only thing you two had left of him. He dug Asami, though. They’d been going steady for a couple months now.
Didn’t stop Korra from liking him, though. And it didn’t stop Bolin from liking Korra. It was all a mess. But they managed to put all their frustration and lovesick feelings into the music. And that made for one heck of a show.
“Whatdaya say, Mako?” Bolin stepped over, elbowing his brother in the shoulder. “Ready to blow the top off this place?”
“I see you’re gettin’ those pipes warmed up.” He smirked, taking a long drag and blowing it in Bolin’s face.
“Just tryin’ to get us excited.” Bolin shrugged. Mako’s hair always stuck the way he wanted but there was always a stupid piece of his hair that refused to stay out of his face no matter how much grease he used. A new song began to play and Korra looked up from her polishing job with a mischievous grin.
“We gonna get this show on the road, or what?” she asked, flicking her hair from her face. What a babe.
Bolin glanced at the clock on the far wall. Two minutes til the gig. Hopefully some kids would stop to listen and not just ignore them for the arcade. He might as well kick it up.
With a snap, his plugged in his mic, tapping the top three times for good luck before clearing his throat. “Sal,” he called, looking towards the bar.
The barkeep looks his way, jerking his head into a nod and raising his eyebrows.
“Kill the juke, man. We got a show to put on.” He winked. The barkeep rolled his eyes, finishing wiping the glass he was working on. “Ladies and germs if you would be so kind as to gather round.” He held his arms out like a pastor on Sunday morning. Mako shook his head with a snicker, situating himself behind his big black bass and plucking out a few notes.
“We got this man,” Korra said, letting a lick or two slide with the distortion too high.
“You know it chicky baby,” Asami sounded off with a pop. She was chewing her nerve gum and blowing bubbles like a pro.
“Got it Mako?” Bolin asked, saluting his brother.
“Smooth sailin’” Mako’s smirk nearly turned into a full blown smile. A few girls had gather round, boys on their waist like they’d been born attached. Others were listening from their tables and a few people didn’t even care enough to look their way. They would soon enough.
“Well good evenin’ you wonderful people.” Bolin’s face cracked with a grin. “You ready to have a good time?”
“We were until you got on stage.” Great. A heckler. There was one at every show, but they still twisted Bolin’s stomach. It wasn’t his style to act a fool.
So he ignored it. “We are the Fire Ferrets here at Sal’s Place to entertain you people.” He tipped his head in salute again and leaned heavily on the mic. “Now my name’s Bolin. This here oilslick is my brother, Mako and these are my girls, Korra and Asami, my cherried out Dame.” He turned around to give Asami a wink for show and she blushed, batting her long lashes.
“Shut up and start playing already!” the same voice called again. One girl giggled a hell of a lot louder than the others and Bolin rolled his eyes.
“That sounds like a fine idea, my friend,” he nodded, leaning his hips back and swaying the mic stand, both hands perched on top. “Can you kick us off Cherry Pie?” Bolin asked. Asami laid out a steady beat and she tapped her foot. Mako bopped his head, joining in with the bass.
“Aw, that’s right.” He swayed his hips and a few girls swooned. The higher ups hated when he did that. Adults thought it was sinful. Korra’s dad damn near hated him enough for murder for that move. But if Elvis could do it than so could he. This was a dancing tune with a beat to swing to. Korra would come in… Oh, yeah. Korra would come in right about now with her mad guitar and a few beats in…
Bolin let loose, ripping the mic from its stand and hunching over to belt like he was supposed to. Girls screamed, rushing away from their fella’s to get closer to the stage as he tapped his foot and sang his heart out.
I'm gonna write a little letter,
Gonna mail it to my local DJ.
Yeah an' it's a jumpin' little record
I want my jockey to play.
Roll Over Beethoven, I gotta hear it again today.
The headrush was nothing like anything else. No beer or liquor or necking in the back seat could make him feel as high as he did when he let his voice loose. Guys hated him because of his skills and all of them wanted to be him. He knew it. He saw it on their faces as he pranced across the tiny stage, pulling faces that drove the ladies up the walls.
If only his dad could see him and Mako now. Breaking the mold with a rock band with two babes. Mom would even be proud, if not a little put off by his pelvic thrusts. Damn, he missed his folks. But he channeled that into his song, quickly moving from this one into the next, a little slower paced but still as fun.
A'well I bless my soul
What's wrong with me?
I'm itching like a man on a fuzzy tree
My friends say I'm actin wild as a bug
I'm in love
I'm all shook up
Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!
That’s how he did it. Missing his parents, thinking about their death. What he felt when Mako always got the girl and adrenaline from pre-show jitters. He channeled all that emotion up and out his throat in a burst of noise that sounded pretty damn good, or so he’d been told. Or so the bopping crowd spread out in front of him and his gang told him too.
Another song went by and he was finally out of breath, panting and slumping on his mic stand. The band stopped playing, panting from jumping in their own way. “How you guys feelin’?” he asked into the microphone. The response he got this time was the shrill screams and wails that he thrived on. Even Sal let out a little whoop. He smirked. “Well that sounds mighty fine.” He bent backwards again before straightening up, grinning at the throng of people.
He felt like a preacher. Singing the gospel of rock-n-roll to kids who’s parents might not want them here. Kids who didn’t care as long as the music was hot and the food was good. This was the one time he felt better than his hot stuff big brother. The one time he could do something a little better than Korra. The babe could sing, but not as good as he could.
He smiled, bending over to reach for his glass of water. His throat took a beating through the first three songs. A girl in the front with pretty blue eyes grabbed it before he could, handing it to him with a wink. He grinned, tipping it at her before gulping the entire thing down with a smack of his lips. “Thanks pretty lady,” he said. She nearly fell over.
“Alright folks, we’re gonna slow it down a little bit. Fellas, grab your old ladies and make ‘em feel special.” Korra retuned her guitar and perched herself on a stool, bending over to situate her fingers. He nodded to her and she returned the gesture. Asami clicked her sticks together three times before kicking them in. Mako strummed along and Korra picked up the guitar.
With a deep breath, Bolin cut his voice loose again, a little scratchier from being overused but that would fade away by the end. This song was his favorite. He closed his eyes, gripping his mic with both hands and swaying back and forth.
Earth Angel, Earth Angel
Will you be mine?
My darlin’ dear,
Love you all the time
I’m just a fool
A fool in love with you
In his mind, he saw Korra, beaming those big blue eyes up at him over a bushel of flowers he’d given her when he’d taken her out. Little did he know Mako would find her and smooch her right then and there. His heart smashed into pieces and he almost ran for it. From that town, from that life and from those stupid girls. But Mako found him, drunk as a skunk in rough greaser bar.
He didn’t know why he came back. Love was cruel. But around that time was when he and Asami got close. She was the best friend anyone could ask for and Bolin loved her like she was his sister. Now, he tried to keep Korra as a brief thought on the edge of his mind. It was hard to do when she kicked in on the solo of this song, but he kept his eyes closed. Focusing on the words.
Bolin loved his band. He loved his life and he loved performing. He loved the sound of slow dancing feet as couples twirled around on the dance floor. He was a love creator. A heart breaker with a broken heart. And he liked it that way.