No One Else


cat_icon.gif else_icon.gif

Scene Title No One Else
Synopsis …has the space to book Else Kjelstrom, so she turns to the Rock Cellar.
Date June 24, 2009

The Rock Cellar

She'd made her way down from the top of the building to the bottom, wanting to observe things in the club for a while and eat too, so here Cat is not long after one p. m., sitting at the table she likes to occupy on such occasions. It's in a corner, obscured a bit by shadows to help her not gather attention, from which she can observe the entire place. There's a lunch crowd present, and what she calls good rock music is being played at a volume which doesn't interfere with conversations through built-in speakers.

The stage is dark, the time for performances being generally much later in the day, but it can be seen. The lights, the amps and other equipment available for artists who play here. Servers move about tending to the desires of customers, one of them just departing the table Cat's using after leaving her a plate of steak, baked potato, and mushrooms along with a pint of Guiness stout which she lifts and drinks from, eyes closing. That in itself causes her to flash back with recall of herself performing at another location in the city, months ago.

The manager, who also handles bookings, chooses that moment to make her way across the floor toward the entrance, wanting to speak with the worker at the podium where IDs are checked. "Kim," she starts on getting there, "there's someone coming by to see about performing here. I told her to drop by, she might be turning up soon. If she shows, get me, please?" Kimberly Miller nods. "Sure thing, boss." And with that assurance, twenty-five year old Janice Richards leaves her to her work. "Thanks."

Half an hour later, a rainsoaked woman in dire need of an umbrella makes her way down the stairs from the outside and into the club, a black guitar case slung over the shoulder of her black peacoat. Blonde hair is matted down to her head in stringy locks, droplets of water coming from the soaked tips and rolling down the bridge of her nose. She closes her eyes, cursing to herself under her breath as one hand comes up to rake her wet hair back from her face.

Dark eyes scan around the club, not particular busy at this hour of afternoon. Only to be confronted by the woman at the door who checks ID's. "Hey?" There's an arch of Kim's brows as she motions towards the blonde. "ID?" The rain-soaked woman turns with a jerk of her head, eyes wide in confusion for a moment before giving a quiet mumble, hands reaching down to the side pocket of her jacket, fumbling through her wallet before presenting an ID.

Else Kjelstrom. No middle name, not even an initial. 31 Years Old.

"Yeah ah, I'm not— really here for…" Despite the Scandinavian name, there's not a hint of the accent in her speech. "I'm supposed to meet with the booking agent, Janice, uh— " her nose wrinkles, "Richards? Yeah… so if you could just tell her I'm here," her dark brows furrow as she takes her ID back, "or tell me where to talk to her, that'd be great."

"Of course, Miss Kjelstrom," Kim politely replies with a smile after checking the document. "I'll be just a few moments." She turns then, headed for the manager's office to do what she was asked by both musician and agent.

Cat, seeing the guitar-carrying customer at the podium as Kim goes to get Janice, becomes curious and watches what develops from here while enjoying both her food and her stout. Musicians are always interesting. Hopefully this one rocks.

And Janice emerges, trailed by Kim, within thirty seconds. "Hello, Else," she greets, using the Germanic way of pronouncing, the spoken final E in that name. Els-uh. "Thanks for coming in." A hand is offered to shake.

"Uh, yeah— it's good that there wasn't much of a waiting list." There's a crooked smile on Else's lips as she takes the hand, "I'm— going to be honest, I called the Surly Wench first, but they were booked packed up until October. So— I mean— I don' really know if my genre fits in here? I'm not like— hard rock?" Else's dark eyes narrow, one brow kicking up as she shifts her weight to one foot more so than the other.

"But you do rock?" Janice asks, her eyes on the guitar, then Else's face. "You brought your instrument, we can hear you play, of course." A few steps are taken from the podium toward the stage before she turns back to face her again, to be sure the guitarist is following. "It's slower here now than it is at night."

At her table Cat watches the manager head for the stage and becomes a bit more interested. Eyes trail after her and give Else another look, as more of her meal and drink find home inside her. If this one is any good, she thinks, hell, she may get her guitar and join in.

There's a bit of a wince in response, "I— " she's not sure how to really answer that, "I don't know, I— " there's a slacking of her shoulders, the one bearing the weight of the guitar case more so than the other. "Maybe— maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all." Dark eyes dart around from one person in the sparsely populated club to another, something unusually anxious about her. Thin fingers wind around the strap of her guitar case, teeth pressing down against her lower lip.

"I just— I'm not like— it's not AC/DC or anything. I mean," she nods her head to the guitar case over her back, "That's an acoustic in there. I mean— it's not— " she sighs, heavily, so easily discouraged. "I'm— I'm sorry, this was a really dumb idea, I shouldn't have— " Else's free hand waves in Janice's direction, "I'm really sorry for wasting your time."

"Nonsense," Janice replies. "You called, said you'd come, and now you've come all the way here. So get onstage and play." A smile is shown, she seeks to boost the woman's confidence. "Lots of people have stage fright, Else. There's only one way to get past it. Just bite the bullet and play." With that, she takes another few steps toward the stage.

At her table, Cat watches, a bit confused. Why isn't the customer following Janice? She begins to stand up, to perhaps intercede and find out a thing or three.

A gig means money, money means — "Fine," Esle practically spits out in a clipped manner, her eyes falling shut as she glances up to the stage. "I've— I'll— alright." Shaking her head slowly, she unshoulders the heavy guitar case and begins making her way towards the stage, eyes closed and one hand rubbing at the side of her head, and then at the dark circles beneath her eyes.

Her old and worn sneakers make scuffing steps across the stage, laying her guitar case down on the floor as she eyes some of the acoustic equipment. "You mind if I plug my acoustic in?" She nods to the equipment, "I'dunno about the sound levels in here, and it'll be shit if you can't hear the guitar."

As she asks, Else drags a stool across the stage towards the middle, then grabs one of the mic stands, angling the head down and adjusting the length to make sure she can actually reach it when seated.

"Not at all," Janice answers from a short distance away after they reach the stage. She turns on an amp and brings over a lead to plug in. "Acoustic electric," she observes. "Our sound levels are good," the manager/agent adds as she steps aside to listen. In doing so, her eyes fall on Cat, seeing her move from that table toward the front. It looks like she's approaching the stage, her face showing interest. This is the sort of thing she wants to do, in addition to her other activities. Assist in the re-emergence of the Village as an artsy place. She just hopes Else rocks to at least some degree.

"Thanks," Else notes with a furrowed brow, dark eyes darting from Janice to Cat. "Hey…" her eyes narrow, "you used to play at the Wench last fall, right? Did a lot of covers?" She nods her head once, turning her focus back to her guitar case as she crouches down, flipping the latches open and revealing the well-worn and old electric-acoustic. "You're pretty good, used to hang around a lot with that scarred guy, right?' Her dark eyes look up from the guitar as she withdraws it from the case.

"Don't see you playing around there anymore," the guitar is laid across her stool, plugged in with one end of the cord, which is then trailed behind her as she walks over to the amp, crouching down and making sure the dial is turned as low as it can go before plugging the guitar in. Hesitating, Else looks over her shoulder as the flicks the amp's power on with a low buzzing him emitting from the speakers. "Not— y'know, nothing wrong with that."

She wasn't exactly expecting to be spotted, but spotted she is. The consequences of having moved, movement catches and draws the human eye, after all. "That's me," Cat replies with a chuckle. "I'm around, always around," she adds. Her head tilts, looking over Else again to see if she matches with anyone seen before, or heard of. "You liked what you heard and saw there?"

Moving onto the stage proper, but staying where she's less likely to be seen there by others in the seating area, Cat trains her attention on the musician's sounds soon to come.

"Wasn't too bad, I'm— not really too into the classic rock thing?" Else walks back over to her guitar, picking it up as she comes to sit down on the stool, resting it across her lap as she twiddles with the knobs on the front, tongue rolling across the inside of her cheek as she begins tuning it with a pluck of the strings and twist of the heads. "But, you know, technical aspect of it was pretty off the wall. You've got fast fingers, playing some of the songs you did. Plus— I admire the one-woman act, I don't have a band myself. Just me, really."

Eyes halfway lidded as she listens to the notes and the way each strum of the guitar rings off of the walls from the sound system, Else seems satisfied eventually. "Mix most of my stuff myself, shipped a demo disc around a few weeks back. Got play on one of the small stations… I— " she cuts herself off, looking over to Janice. "I'm ready, you know, whenever's good."

Nodding, Janice replies "Go for it." She shows a smile and remains quiet to listen, while Cat speaks a bit more. "Covers are a good way to establish with an audience, give them a lot of what they know and slip in yur own stuff here and there, it builds an audience. The Beatles started that way. I also enjoyed playing some of my own influences a lot. The writing thing isn't my forte, also." Her mind is working as she trails off to listen as Else plays. She mixes her own stuff. Recording engineer as well as performer…

"Writing's what I do… mostly. never really stop," Else notes with a crooked smile to Cat. "I don't do covers, I don't think I'd do the original's justice, y'know?" It's a confidence thing, something she's sorely lacking in. There's a slouch of one shoulder, and Else's dark eyes flit over towards Janice, followed by a curt nod as she looks down at her lap, then around the room. There's a few experimental plucks at her guitar, followed by a slow, low-key strumming that begins, a slow tempo song.


Her voice is a considerably less shaky when she's singing, a little lower in pitch than expected.

"Swallowed up the moon…"

Her fingers continue to strum at the strings, eyes falling shut as her head begins to tilt from one side to the other.

"Burned up all the land,"

It's a song Cat's heard before, playing on the radio at her apartment, Allen Rickham was listening to it. That was Else.

"Seen it all here… The lapping shores of the Empire State."

It sounds more folkish than rock, something lilting about it, haunting in the singular instrument being used.

"Building a new day from nothing…"

Then, Else slams down on the strings harder, her tone of voice becoming more of an accusatory growl, this rough and rasping tone of her voice giving it an angry and resentful texture to the lyrics.


Her brows lower into an angry expression.

"Woke me up to a world, that I am not a part of, more than in dreams!"

Else's head swings to the side again, jaws tensing as a few wordless notes sing out from the guitar.

"It's strange…"

The tone drops back down to soft, reverent, or perhaps fearful.

"Why you swallowed up the moon…"

Her eyes open partway, dark brown slits peering out languidly at the small crowd of listeners.

"Cast it all to ash and dust — washed it all away to staaaaaart again!"

Else rises from the stool, pushing it back with her legs as she begins strumming harder on the guitar again.

"Standing on the shoooores of the empire state!"

There's a rapid plucking of the strings as her entire method of speech changes, more melodical as her eyes close and head tilts back.

"beaches of thir-tee-fourth street!"

She sways now, fingers gliding across the frets in familiar memory of the notes they need to find.

"Lapping shores of the Empire State! Building a new day from the remains, of all that we have been, for the nothing left behind!"

Then the quiet, gentle strumming returns, a few moment of nothing but the harmony of the song, and then her words hushed and whispered once more.


Her brows tense together, the name spoken as if disappointed.

"Swallowed up all the light, shadows of the is-lands of Brooklyn, shores I call my home, it's strange…"

The song retains that medium level of pace it hgad at the beginning, her words breathy and hushed, quiet, as if afraid someone would hear her saying these words, or perhaps that is the idea she wants to convey — fear.

"Why you swallowed up the moon, cast it all to ash and dust, washed it all away to start aaaagain…"

She reaches the chorus again, her voice changing to that loud, angry shout and growl, strumming hard and violent on the acoustic guitar.

"Standing on the shores of the Empire State!"

"Beaches of thir-tee-fourth street!"

"Lapping shores of the Empire State!"

"Building a new day from the remains, of all that we have been, for the nothing left behind!//"

Else's shoulders sag, her head hangs and her mouth presses close to the mic, whispering out her lyrics againa s the instrumentals grow quiet.

"But there's nothing there…"

Her head shakes from side to side, as if to imply no.

"No one here."

"In the world you woke me up to,"

"That I am not a part of…"

"More than in…"

There's one last, intentionally off-key strum at the end, as if the audience is supposed to feel the singer is cut off abruptly, followed by one last, whispered lyric.


Listening, Cat determines the first step would be to get her calmed down, it takes away from dexterity and voice. Conversation can do that, engage and relax the woman. Next is the style. It's not rock, directly, but Bob Dylan did good work before he went electric, and even then still had a folksy style. Else, at the very least, sings better than Mr. Zimmerman. It's a passing thought in her head, recognizing the tune as what Allen was listening to, and the voice hers also, to wonder where this might lead. He plays that song, then she shows up here. Coincidences mount up, and all too often they really aren't coincidences. Curious, again.

"You're good," Cat states when the tune has reached its end. "And you write well." A grin is flashed. "Keep going."

Else's eyes widen, keep going? When the order comes from Cat, not from Janicer, her eyes dart back and forth between thw two. Only Janice's slow nod of approval comes, and she manages an awkward smile, swallowing nervously. "I— alright. I wasn't really," she's so out of her element here, but at least no one is throwing anything at her to get her off of the stage yet.

"I ah… this, uh, I'll go with Fortis, next." She eyes the guitar, then the stool, and just stays standing up. There's a few solid riffs that come initially, and it's obvious she's trying to jazz up the melodies to be a bit harder, to be a bit more rough than she's obviously written them for. This song has that rapid-fire punk-rock vibe to it, quick high-key guitar music mixed with a backwater brit-punk charm, more Ramones than Clash, if a paralell could be drawn. It's shorter, too, perhaps because she's playing it so fast, though it's less heavy on the lyrics too.

As it's playing though, Cat can't help but draw an obvious conclusion from the lyrics, she's singing about PARIAH, most notably the fiery end they took in the latter days, or perhaps Cameron himself, the flame allusions in the lyrics are hard to miss.

By the time she's done, the house lights have beaded sweat on Else's brow, and her instrumentals have improved some, the second song on stage seems to come more naturally, one she's obviously played more often, but it didn't seem to quite have the same emotional impact on her as a singer as the first one did.

"If you want to come here and play sometimes, I hope Janice books you," Cat remarks with a smile spreading. That, without Cat saying so directly to keep her connection obscured, is a directive to do so. "I'll pop around and see you play here and there," she goes on to say. "I'd also like to see your written works." Ideas are forming. She could play the tunes herself and have them distributed. "And you're even a recording engineer, you said?"

"Yeah, studied it in school, 'mongst other things, back when I was in College." Else looks young enough to be in College, though those dark circles around her eyes do at least add a few years on to her. "I— ah, yeah.. thanks for, you know," one hand wipes at the back of her brow, dark eyes flicking over to Janice. She doesn't say anything about Cat wanting to see the written work, nothing at all. But she does seem to get anxious, a mild unease playing in the back of her mind as she maneuvers her way to the edge of the stage, guitar over her shoulder.

"So…" Her eyes avert away from Janice, "You— think I might be able to get a gig or two here? I— really need to pay my rent, and a lot of places in town are booked flat up I— " she winces slightly, it's coming off as begging. "What'd you think?"

Taking that cue from Cat, Janice replies in the affirmative. "Definitely," she tells the Scandinavian with enthusiasm. "When do you want to play first, Else?" She doesn't look at Cat, avoids acting as if instructed at all, she knows the drill. Cat's an eccentric musician who really, really, likes her privacy and she pays the woman's salary, after all. No pissing Cat off from her.

The eccentric musician stands aside, watching and listening in silence. There will be time to draw Else further in, after some inquiries are made about her background. Time for getting to know her better, building up and gaining her confidence.

"Uh," Else glances to the side, when? The idea bounces around in her head, no place has ever asked her when is good for her, they've just given her an idea of dates. She looks puzzled, caught off-guard again before quietly replying, "Uh, how's— Saturday?" There's a hesitant grimace that slips from her lips, perhaps all-too-optimistic. "I've got enough material, I mean, I can do a few sets, so…" her shoulders shift the weight of the guitar around until she's more comfortable.

"We'll see you then," Janice offers, her hand extending again to the singer/songwriter. "I'm looking forward to it." Not the most common act they've had here, but it's good enough, and she'll have her on early. The goal is also to encourage the up and coming, work at building the Village back up. "Maybe five o'clock?" she queries. "Have to start early, with the curfew and all. I don't know if that'll ever end."

Cat pipes up, moving a bit closer. "That curfew is a crime, really. Anybody involved with not ending it is abusing authority."

"Yeah…" Else notes with a crooked smile, "Five o'clock sounds just peachy. I— I really appreciate this, uh, Janice." She's already forgotten her last name, "really, I do." Though Cat's comment causes an arch of Else's brow up high towards blonde bangs, her smile turning just a touch more awkward as she tilts her head to the side and manages something of a laugh.

"Guess, ah, that makes me somethin' of an abuser, then?" It's a bit acerbic of a comment, "I don't really follow politics much."

Chuckling, Cat explains "I'm not a big fan of armed military on the streets and restrictions on liberties. The government is taking too much power, I think. And this Frontline thing is just an excuse to make a Gestapo. Keep going this way, we won't be America anymore. We'll be Amerika, with a k."

"Fffffrontline?" Esle asks with a heavy huff of breath, "I— think I read about that… ah, somewhere? Maybe saw it on TV, s'like police, right?" She unshoulders her guitar, unplugging it from the amp and lays it down in the case, closing the top. "Like I said, I don't pay much attention to politics or whatever. As long as the guys with guns are on the other side of the street from the terrorists?" She looks one with one arched brow, "S'about all I care. Curfew sucks, but so do speed limits and my goddamned taxes, but you know what, can't do nothin' about them."

Flicking the latches of the case shut, Else stands up and moves over to the amp, unplugging the other end of the borrowed cord as she winds it around one arm. "Really, s'long as it doesn't get in my way too much, I don't mind. People always get so pissy about things, but I just try and sit back and, you know, whatever?" One dark brow rises slowly as Else turns the amp off and lays the spooled cable on top, moving to stand again.

"I mean, m'not wanting to sound dismissive, but… it's just not something I can help. So why worry about it, right?" She grimaces softly, "Worry about the shit in your life you can fix, s'what my motto is. My folks? They worry about everything and anything, ain't getting them anywhere."

She doesn't let on her thoughts about the musician's reply, which include not thinking her words match the song she performed. Fortis, and the imagery it evoked, from someone who claims to be disinterested? But, then again it could be smokescreen much as Cat employs in shrouding herself and testing the waters by speaking as she did. This woman definitely bears a bit of looking into. "Staying safe is the important thing," she offers, and a smile forms. "Good luck with your gigs, Else. I'll definitely catch one of them."

Janice has already moved to get back to her office and the work there, Cat's going back to her table. There's food to finish.

Else manages a hesitant smile, "Yeah, you got that right… stay safe yourself, Cat." She notes with something of a strange expression, picking up her guitar case as she steps down off of the stage, a concerned look in her eyes as she watches the other musician's back before making her way towards the door.

"For what little time we all have left…"

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