Like a Circle in a Spiral
©2005 The Angst Guy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daria and associated characters are ©2005 MTV Networks
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: email@example.com
Synopsis: Mystik Spiral hits it big—but not in the way they had always expected. This post-IICY tale spins off from the Daria episode, “Speedtrapped.”
Author’s Notes: In April 2005, Richard Lobinske and I took part in a fanfic-writing competition on PPMB, overseen by Isa Yo-Jo. As part of the competition, one of the three judges, Isa, set the following guidelines for the first round.
I want you to write a short (between 1,000 and 2,000 words) fic about Mystik Spiral post-IICY?
Here’s the catch: You must write it in the style of your opponent. TAG, I wanna see happiness and glurge abounding. RL, I want it dripping with angst.
This story was my entry. Daria fans might recall Mystik Spiral’s situation from “Speedtrapped,” when they had to do a little public service for a county sheriff. The title is borrowed from the lyrics of the song, “The Windmills of Your Mind” (which most people remember was sung by Dusty Springfield on her 1969 Dusty in Memphis album). The lyrics were written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand.
Acknowledgements: Isabelle Young-Johnson and Richard Lobinske have my gratitude for forcing me into doing this story. Thank you!
“My daughter just loves your CDs,” said the hyperactive rail-thin blonde with sunglasses perched on top of her head. Trent Lane opened the songbook she had handed him and lifted his purple pen as she went on. “Could you make that out to Carene, like ‘Karen’ but with a ‘c’ instead of a ‘k’ and an ‘e’ on the end?”
“Sure.” Trent thought, then wrote, To my Icebox Woman, Carene, from Trent—You’re my angel! on the title page of the songbook. “Thanks,” he said as he handed the book back.
“Oh, my God, she’s going to absolutely flip when she gets home from school!” said the rail-thin blonde when she read what Trent wrote. She stuck out a hand and they shook. “Thank you so much,” she said, and she held on to Trent’s hand a little longer than necessary and winked at him and grinned.
Trent nodded and kept smiling, having seen this reaction a thousand times before. Another woman cleared her throat behind the rail-thin blonde, who had to let go and move out of the way. By leaning over to one side, Trent could see that the line of book signers ran all the way back through the Books by the Ton Megastore and out the front entrance, then off down the main hall of the Northland-Southfield Mall. He wondered if signing books and CD cases for all these people would give him cramps for life. Thank God Monique had found that deep-heat hand lotion; it really helped.
“Hi!” squealed the brunette with the flower-print dress, handing over an open songbook. “Could you sign the page with ‘Freakin’ Friends’ for my twins, Aleesha and Gennifer? That’s A-L-E-E-S-H-A and Gennifer with a ‘G.’ They are so crazy about you and your group! This is so exciting!”
Even as tired as he was, Trent couldn’t help but smile. His purple pen hovered over the book, then lowered—
—and right then, the brunette asked The Question. “How did your group ever get started doing children’s music, anyway?”
Oh, no. Trent kept up his smile, but he had answered The Question so many times, he couldn’t think of an answer anymore. He even forgot what he was going to write to the twins.
“I’ll field that one,” said Monique, sitting on Trent’s right. She was wringing her hands, trying to get the feeling back into them. The small boy in front of her, waiting for her to sign an 8-by-10 color glossy photo of her in her black leather band outfit, looked at her in awe and adoration. “It all started with Melissa, Nick Campbell’s little girl.” She looked down the long table to her left past Trent, where the rest of Mystik Spiral chatted and laughed with fans as they signed.
“The little girl sitting in that man’s lap, the man with the really bright red hair?” asked the brunette.
“Yup,” said Trent. Relieved, he lowered the pen again. To Aleesha and Gennifer, my best freakin’ friends of all, from Trent. He handed the songbook back to the brunette, who stepped aside for the next woman in line but hung back, listening to the story.
“Nick brought Melissa along one night when Spiral was playing at McGrundy’s, this place in Lawndale, and Trent here—” Monique smiled and elbowed Trent sharply in the ribs, making him grunt “—called me up and asked if I’d watch Melissa while the band played, like I was the official band babysitter or something.”
Trent sighed. Monique was never going to let him forget that gaffe.
“So I came over,” Monique went on, “and Melissa was just the cutest thing you ever saw, so we watched the band play two sets, and the next day Melissa sang some of Mystik Spiral’s songs in school to her friends, and it kind of caught on from there.”
“Can you sign this to Cherice?” asked the next woman in line, looking nervously at Trent as she handed over a color photo of Mystik Spiral waving. “She’s my niece and she’s had a lot of problems going on in her life lately, but it’s not her fault, it’s her mom and my stupid jerk brother, and I thought maybe you could write a little something to her and tell her things will be okay. You know, whatever, just something.”
Trent nodded. “Sure,” he said. “How do you spell ‘Cherice’?”
“You just started writing children’s music from there?” asked the brunette, unwilling to let the earlier conversation go.
“Oh, no,” said Monique, handing the signed photo to the shy little boy and motioning for the next one in line to come up. “We had to talk about it, first. I wasn’t in the band then, but Nick and I started talking and thinking, hey, if children are the wave of the future, shouldn’t someone be trying to communicate with them about the world? You know, kind of hold their hands and lead them along a little?”
Trent nodded, purple pen hovering over the songbook. And Monique and I had that six-hour fight in which she yelled that the lyrics for Mystik Spiral songs were so awful, only children could love them, and I said that’s not true, and she brought up the time the Fremont sheriff made us play at his daughter’s birthday party to work off a traffic ticket, and then she dared me to play some of our songs for some kids to see if they liked them, and I did, and they did, and Monique and I broke up but after we got together again and had about three hundred more fights before Mystik Spiral had its first concert for kids at an elementary school, and the kids went crazy and screamed for more every time we tried to leave, so we played for almost the whole freakin’ day, and the school made us their official rock band and Monique called a recording company and Max quit the band twenty-one times and Jesse got his younger brother Danny to be our press agent and Monique will never let me live it down. Never.
He lowered the pen. To Cherice—If your heart is like an open wound that reads the tea leaves of its doom, then let your dreams and hope and love surround you like a heat-proof kitchen glove. The meter was decidedly off in the last line, but the message was clear. He signed his name and passed the book back. The woman took the book, read the inscription, burst into tears, and had to be guided away by one of the security guards.
“Looks like you’ve still got that special touch,” murmured Monique, signing another photo of herself for a boy wearing coke-bottle glasses who stared at her with an open mouth, as if he’d just met his future wife.
“Hmmm,” said Trent, embarrassed.
“I heard from Jane and her friend Daria,” said Monique, handing the photo back to the boy. “They want to take us to dinner when we get to Boston.”
“Okay,” said Trent, taking a lyrics booklet from a CD case. He couldn’t remember if they were even scheduled to go to Boston, they had so many stopovers on this tour. “We should take them out, though. Somewhere with pizza.”
“That’s probably what they were hoping for,” said Monique. “You know how those two are.”
“Can you sign it for Brandi, with an ‘i’?” asked the woman who handed the booklet over. “She likes ‘From the Futon.’ We had to go out and buy her one, can you believe it?”
“You’re not mad at me for poking you in the ribs, are you?” asked Monique.
Trent shook his head. It was impossible to stay mad at her. They shared too much. He found a space on the ‘From the Futon’ page. For Brandi—My soul calls out for more, but will my cry get through? Give your futon a hug for me. Love, Trent. “Kids just want someone to tell them they’re loved,” he said, handing the booklet back—and he blinked. Why had he said that?
Monique stopped in the middle of signing another photo of herself, and she turned to him. “In that case,” she said in a husky voice, “I’d better let you know that you are loved.”
Everyone within earshot laughed. Trent blushed, knowing he’d walked right into that one. Monique leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, catching his right hand in her left. He looked down at the golden ring on her finger. Taking leather-clad pictures of her for their signings would get more difficult in the months ahead. Girl or boy, he thought, stealing a peek at Monique’s expanding abdomen, you will always be loved.
“Keep up the great work!” said Danny Moreno, clapping a hand on Trent’s shoulder and breaking into his thoughts. “Only two hundred more fans to go before lunch!”
“Cool!” called his older brother Jesse.
Everyone laughed again, even Trent. He gave Monique’s hand an extra squeeze and thought of the future. “Cool,” he said, and he raised his pen.