She'll Be Back


cat_icon.gif else_icon.gif

Scene Title She'll Be Back
Synopsis Cat converses with Else. It goes less well than hoped.
Date July 17, 2009

The Rock Cellar

A comfortable place, located in the basement of 14 East 4th Street. The red brick walls are covered with memorabilia from various icons of rock and places in rock history, creating a feel similar to that of a Hard Rock Cafe.

The left wall has two bars separated by swinging doors which lead to and from the kitchen. Directly across from the entrance is a two foot high stage with all the equipment needed for acts to perform there. The right wall has three doors marked as restrooms: two for use by women and one by men.

Thirty square feet of open space for dancing and standing room is kept between the stage and the comfortable seating placed around tables which fill the remainder of the Cellar.

The lighting here is often kept dim for purposes of ambience, and when performers are onstage the place is loud enough to make conversation difficult. Just inside the door is a podium where location staff check IDs and stamp the hands of those under twenty-one with a substance visible under UV lights at the two bars and by devices the servers carry. On the podium's front is a sign with big black letters that just about explain it all: If You Don't Like Rock 'N' Roll, You're Too Late Now!

It's a packed crowd tonight, to capacity inside with a line halfway around the block. While the Rock Cellar has had success in its time, the live performances put on here have become a bastion for thos eseeking to escape the difficulties of the curfew. While the business closes earlier than most bars due to the curfew, it hasn't stopped raking in money hand over fist for a select avenue of events. Most notably, the performances by one Scandinavian songstress — Else Kjelstrom.

Weeks ago, her first solo audition for the Rock Cellar's manager was a quiet affair. Now, united with four additional band members, the performances of Else Kjelstrom draw in a full crowd every night. With cover charges kept to a minimum, the bar has been raking in money. This all spurred from Else's demo CD being played around New York airwaves. Her single "The Shores of the Empire State" is what she closes with on every night.

"Standing on the shores of the empire state! Beaches of thir-tee-fourth street!" The music has taken a change in tone. Gone is the simple folksy acoustic guitar, now replaced with the hard tones of electric guitars and the pulsing beet of a double-base drum.

"Lapping shores of the Empire State! Building a new day from the remains!" One hand curled around the mic, Else closes her eyes and leans in to the stand with the rythm of the song, one hand tangled in her hair, tugging at the blonde locks as sweat rolls down the side of her face.

"Of all that we have been, for the nothing left behind!" The piano rolls in, delicate and high-pitched notes that cover up the quieting melody of the guitar. The stage lights dim to a soft, muted blue as Else slinks back with the mic still in hand, cord wrapped around her wrist and forearm.

"Munin," her words are a throaty, rasping whisper, "Swallowed up all the light. Shadows of the islands of Brooklyn, shores I call my home." The guitar fades entirely, only the gentle roll of cylbals accompanying the piano, and her lilting melody combined with lyrics that have haunted Catherine Chesterfield since first heart.

"It's strange… why you swallowed up the moon, cast it all to ash and dust, washed it all away to start again." Else has looked more weary, the longer these shows have gone on. Thinner now, than she was a few weeks ago, with darker circles around her eyes and a more sedated, languid expression. It's clear the back to back performances are taking everything out of her.

"But there's nothing there…" she cradles the microphone in both hands, the tone of her singing voice pleading, as if trying to reason with some unseen figure. "No one here, in the world you woke me up to, that I am not a part of…" And that last, final phrase comes with a soft crash of the cymbals, and the stage lights darkening. "…more than in dreams."

The cheering from the floor and the tables rises high and loud, even as the members of the band take their time on stage with the packed crowd shouting for an encore. Perhaps, it there was time enough for music, there would be. But the hours are wearing thin, and the curfew is coming. But that still leaves time, for questions.

She's been waiting for this opportunity, seated now at her table with a bottle of stout before her. Cat's eyes rest on the songstress, her attention coming and going as she compares this particular performance with others, and the sound of it, the delivery, gives her at least a fleeting smile. For all the concern the imagery brings, it's at least refreshing to hear the Scandinavian has adapted the sound to real rock.

She has made inquiries, also, of certain staff in the place and found out what, if anything, Miss Kjelstrom chooses to partake of during and after performances. It's her intent to have some of that present at her table when the singer leaves the stage and crosses the floor, her intent also to flag her down and speak quietly.

There is something more on than that on the table, however. A plain folder with some documents inside it.

Stumbling a little as she comes off of the stage, Else makes her way into the ball halls, the same direction Cat is headed once the musicians move out of the way. "Erik," she catches the tail end of a conversation entering the hall, the roar of the crowd still loud beyond. "Think you an' Will can handle the… ah…" one hand rubs at the side of her head, "take apart the shit for me? M'gon t'lie down for a bit, s'fuckin gettin' hard."

Looking over his shoulder at Else, the tattooed and pierced bass guitarist glances back towards the stage, then over to Else, failing to hear the sound of one of the emergency doors opening as Cat comes in from the floor. "Yeah, sure thing. Go get yourself a drink or somethin', you look like shit." He smirks on the deliver, and Else playfully narrows her eyes for a moment and waves him past her, back to the stage.

Only once Erik has passed by her, does Else notice Cat having been hidden in the tall guitarist's silhouette. There's a weak, hesitant smile as she walks over, nodding her head and waving with one hand. "Oh ah… hey there, Miss Chest'rfield. Hope tha'n was… y'know," she slouches against the concrete wall, wrapping one arm around her waist in a lazy motion, "y'know, betta' than what a'did 'fore." An unusual accent always seems to slip out from her more and more as of late.

"Have a seat," Cat invites, gesturing to an open spot at her table. Eyes rest on Else calmly, taking an assessment of her condition, the way she looks and moves now. What she sees is compared with reading she's recently done on oxycodone and other opiates and their effects. "Take a load off and rest, please," the brunette who can't forget offers kindly. "I love the way you're playing here. Your sound is great."

"And Cat will do, no need to be formal," she adds. It'd be pointless to insist on her title of Doctor anyway. Curse the academic and professional establishments for calling the degree a doctorate, yet discouraging use of the hard earned title it authorizes.

Pushing away from the wall, Else shifts her dark eyes around and then towards the doorway, following Cat back to her table with a few slow steps. "You ah, think I can get a water or somethin', if this is gonna' be a bit? M'feelin' a bit spread thin." Brows furrowing, she looks over her shoulder once, then comes to settle down slowly on the bench seat at Cat's table. "Ah, yeah, Cat, right. So— what's up? Do you know how the bar did tonight? Place was abs'lutely packed."

Leaning back against the seat, Else brushes her hands over her face , then rakes her fingers through her stringy hair, drawing back her bangs before leaning forward and resting her elbows on the table. "M'thinkin' a'might try some new stuff next week, s'all…" she waves one hand absently, "m'ramblin."

There is water for Else already on the table, an item Cat gestures toward easily. "Of course," she replies with a nod. "I'll be very interested in your new work, of course. But the tune, your signature tune, it really strikes a chord, you know? The imagery… Beaches on 34th Street, Munin, from the mythology of your ancestors, the moon being blocked…"

Her voice is quiet, the conversation meant not to go beyond them at that table, as Cat goes on. "What inspired it?" She smiles, hoping the effect of opiates in the singer's system overcome any reluctance to speak of it she may have.

"Ah, yea, thanks." When Else reaches out for the glass of water, her hand bumps into it, sending it almost toppling over. A little slosh of water spills onto the tabletop and she hisses out a curse, murmuring an apology shortly after as the glass is picked up and brought over, a few long sips taken from it as she silently considers the question.

"Oh… ah, y'know, stuff m'mother used t'tell me when'a was a kid." Her eyes wander away from Cat, over to the exit, then back again. "S'just stuff I write, writin's easy, it all… uh, comes easy." She has a hard time staying still, at least until after she's drained the glass of water. Then a stumbling hand wipes away sweat from her brow, and a smile forces its way across her lips. "Y'sound like my recording agent, e's always on me about th'lyrics."

"You're welcome," Cat replies to the expression of gratitude, nodding as she listens to the rest. "It all comes easy," she repeats gently. "Does it come in dreams, things you feel compelled to get out, to write down?" Gently spoken, so as to hopefully not cause alarm. "I meet a fair few really interesting people here in New York, you know," she goes on, "and hear some truly fascinating stories. Some of them have dreams about things that happen later on, in one way or another. Sometimes literally as they came, sometimes in metaphor, other times as both. But they aren't set in stone, you know? Most are like road signs. Warnings of things up ahead."

Her features show sympathy, understanding. Maybe even as if she has the visions herself?

"A— Ah," Else's hand comes off of the glass a little too soon, and it lands awkwardly a quarter inch above the table with a clunk. Grimacing, the singer brings a hand up to the side of her face. "Yeah see it— they're just, you know, it's— it's just music." All pretenses of eye contact are lost as Else's focus moves down to her fingernails, which she begins to awkwardly pick at. "I just— write," her brows furrow, teeth pressing into her lower lip. Noticing the folder laid out on the table, Else's brows screw up into a confused expression, before she turns to look at the door again.

"Y'know, I think maybe I was jus' a little dehydrated, I…" she rests her hand on the corner of the table, "you know, I should prob'ly help, ah, Erik out with…" her arm shakes as she brings herself up, followed by a drowsy lowering of her eyes. "You know, pick up th'equipment n'shit, it's… he prob'ly wants the company…" She's being blatantly evasive.

"It's okay, Else," Cat goes on calmly, soothingly. "I know how scary it can be. To have such things, and for anyone to know you have them. You won't want to talk about it lightly, and you're right to be secretive. But they come to you for a reason. The reason being so people who understand can help you. Help cause them not to happen. I've a gift myself, I keep it secret too. You're safe here with me. Safe to tell me all about it, to share."

"And you're not really in shape to be carrying things, you want to just sit and relax. Rest."

A withering stare is immediately laid across the table as Else shakily brings herself to stand. "You don' know shit about m'life, Cat." There's a sharpness to her voice, too sharp, words coming before she thinks. "Don'— Don' try'n just come up with somethin' an— " her words don't entirely make sense. Bringing a hand to her forehead again, Else strains out a frustrated noise.

"Look, y'been really nice t'me an' all'a that, jus'— jus'stay out've my business alright? Professional line," she swings one hand awkwardly in the air, "don' cross it an' don' butt inna' it. Just…" Both of Else's hands come up in a helpless gesture as she backpedals from the table. "Just drop't."

She's unflappable in her reply, after listening to Else's response with a calm expression. "Your business," Cat repeats quietly. "If something happens, if bad things fall from the sky and the city changes, if 34th Street becomes the waterfront, and the moon is blocked out by Munin, don't you think that's more than just your business? It doesn't have to happen that way, you know. It can be prevented. Your burden can be eased."

Just a moment's silence, then, before more words come quietly. "Once a man associated with a Munin tried to release a dangerous disease. He was stopped. Just as this can be stopped."

This might not, she realizes, do the trick. Else is balking already, about to leave. But Cat has an ace in the hole. Doing one's homework oft pays dividends.

"I know a doctor, who can perhaps be persuaded to write certain prescriptions with no questions asked."

First it's fear that fills Else's expression, eyes wide and anxious. The way Cat talks, the things she talks about, it cause sElse to splutter out a quick response so hasty that onceit's passed her lips she's practically trying to suck the words back up. "You can't stop it! Just like— " her hands come up to the side of her head, ana wkward step backwards taken quickly the moment Cat mentions prescriptions.

"Ff— Fuck off!" She shouts defensively, anger in her voice but embarassment in her expression. "Just— fuck, what gives you th' right to— to— " the young woman's jaw clenches and she staggers away from the table, slamming her shoulder into the emergency door that leads into the back hall.

She doesn't — maybe can't — formulate a further response. She just runs. But then, when confronted with the dirty truth about yourself, it is what most people would do.

"Crap," Cat breathes out at the table as Else bolts. "That went well." Sarcasm is in her voice as she quietly speaks to herself and lifts the stout to drink again. "But she'll be back. Maybe she's too zonked on opioids to even remember this. It eats at her, she'll need an outlet. In any case, even if she doesn't, those dreams aren't going anywhere. She'll have them, and write them into songs."

She lingers just a few minutes longer, finishing her dark Irish brew, before standing. Into the recesses she goes, to the elevator and up to her residence six floors above.

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