First installment: Man Voice and the Water Heater
A few weeks passed, and life continued. Having been very unhappy in her relationship for some time, Lia was a mixture of relieved and emotionally worn out when she and Jared mutually broke it off. Still, life continued, and Lia had homework to do.
Her roommates were very sweet, and did plenty of things to try and cheer her up. Janet went out and got her a giant helping of frozen yogurt heaped with fruits and gummies and nuts, a favorite treat of Lia’s. Rachel tried to help introduce her to some other people in the apartment complex, since Lia was practically a stranger to most. But frozen yogurt gets consumed, and meeting people requires time that was needed for reading ridiculously oversized assignments from tyrannical teachers. Mostly, Lia just wanted to go home for Thanksgiving break.
Lia’s friend Amber came over to talk to her to keep her company. Amber wanted to chat with Lia to prevent loneliness to the now single girl. Lia appreciated the sentiment. She liked Amber. She should spend that time on her homework, but it’s good to take breaks. Unfortunately, Amber had a new crush, and apparently, he was wonderful. Lia figured that Amber was a cute brunette, complete with freckles across her nose, so soon this dream boy would ask her out, and then she and Amber could talk about something else.
Ally was the one to find a way to break Lia’s All I Have to Do Is Homework and I Might Self Destruct Soon mode. Ally was part of the activities committee for the apartment complex. She was in charge of putting together the Christmas Party.
“Hey, Lia, can I talk to you for a minute?” asked Ally. She noticed the huge stacks of books that surrounded Lia, nearly all of them open. “Or maybe I can ask you later.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Lia said, snapping books closed with a look of desperation. “Now is perfectly fine. I’d love to talk now!”
“Are you sure?” Ally asked slowly.
Lia laughed. “I know that I look slightly like a deranged clown with my smudged makeup,” she said looking down, “and this horridly put together pink and fuschia pajama set, but I assure you that I would love to take a break from reading Chaucer and talk to you.”
“Great. So, I was wondering if you would- wait, you like singing, right?”
“Does too much fresh pineapple leave acid burns on your tongue?”
“I’ll take that as a yes, since I’m pretty aware that you have a nice voice,” said Ally.
Lia figured that her response had made more sense that Ally was letting on, since fresh pineapple really was very acidic. But perhaps only in the quantity in which Lia consumed it, when she got the chance. “Yes, that’s a yes.”
“I was wondering if you would put together a small group to sing a song at the Christmas party we’re putting together.”
Lia jumped up. “I would love to! Thank you!”
“No, thank you. Do you have any music?”
“Actually, yes, yes I do! And I have a song that would be great for an octet,” Lia said with a large smile on her face. It really was a lovely song. She had sung the solo in it a year or two previously in one of her choirs.
“Perfect! I’ll let you pick the people, then,” Ally said. She was smiling too.
Ally left, and Lia went back to reading, though in a much happier, and much less focused, manner. She mentally scanned through names of girls that she knew could sing. She would ask Janet to be her fellow soprano. Lindsey would make a great alto. Here her thoughts paused. Lia would need to ask Janet if she could think of another alto.
Lia was very aware that the time to ask people to join her octet was getting very slim, and she still didn’t have any men in her group. Sunday evening came, and so did Lia’s resolve. It was time to find some men. The search was on.
She checked her appearance in the mirror before leaving- neat hair, magenta nails, pink dress- and left her apartment satisfied with her appearance. Lia felt that she had an air of sophistication that would help people to take her approach and request seriously. About halfway down the walkway to the Man Section of the building, Lia became a little nervous, but as it was still Sunday evening, she was still resolved.
The first door appeared before her. With a deep breath to steel herself, Lia brought her prepared speech to her mind and rapped her knuckles on the door. And waited. Lia looked at her knuckles. Apparently her knuckles weren’t as enrapturing as she may have hoped. They couldn’t rap on the door and garner any attention from the tenants within. No attention at all, let alone rapt attention. Maybe she would have to do some door rapping practices to strengthen her-
The door opened while Lia was still staring at her knuckles. Lia looked up from her knuckles to see a boy looking from her hand to her face and back again. So her knuckles were enrapturing. She felt a satisfied smile quirk her lips upwards before she realized that the dark haired boy was still standing at the door looking at her and her knuckles. Waiting for her speech that he didn’t know was coming. And which she attempted to deliver with the aplomb that had graced her mirror audience.
“Erm. Hello, you don’t know me, and I don’t know you either, but I was wondering if you or anyone that you knew enjoyed singing. And if you would be willing to sing in an octet. For the Christmas party.” Lia realized that she sounded like a car with a bad transmission with her shortening sentences, and mentally slapped her enrapturing knuckles.
“Um, I don’t sing so great,” the guy said, and then stopped to think. “But you might ask Brandon in apartment 9. And Garrett in 12. I think they’re music people.”
“Oh, thank you!” Lia said, clasping her hands together in front of her. “Have a lovely evening!”
“You too,” he responded.
Lia was turning to walk off when she heard him add, “Oh, and I like your slippers,” before he flashed her a smile and shut the door. She looked down. Indeed, Lia was wearing her pink plaid slippers, complete with the pink bows on top. So much for sophistication.
Upon her arrival at apartment 9, Lia resolved to not think of her knuckles or slippers, but to stay focused on the task at hand. She knocked.
The door was answered by a very dark haired, dark eyed, and impressively mustachioed man. In his white button up shirt he looked like an Italian chef. Maybe with a dark suit he could be a mafia man.
“Hi,” Lia started immediately, “you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, and frankly, I’m wondering why I thought knocking on random doors was a good plan, but I was also wondering if Brandon lives here.”
The man wasn’t even fazed. “Yeah, I’m Brandon. Come on in!” he said in a deep, booming voice, and a with a grandiose fling up his arm both opened the door and welcomed her in.
Lia stepped inside and Brandon shut the door.
“What can I do you for?” Brandon said with a curious eyebrow.
“I’m looking for some basses and tenors,” Lia replied out loud while she was alternating between chef and mafia man in her head.
“Well, I’m a bass,” Brandon said.
“Would you be willing to sing in an octet for the Christmas party?” Chef or mafia? Chef or mafia?
“Ah, man, no can do. I’m working that night.”
“Oh. Well, that’s too bad.” Working instead of Christmas party? Definitely mafia. “Do you know any singers that will be going to the party?” Singers that actually enjoy Christmas instead of terrorizing people.
“Yeah, Joey, my roommate, should be going,” said Brandon. “At least, I think he is.”
“May I speak with him?” Lia asked.
“He’s not here right now, but he should be back in a bit,” Brandon replied. There was a pause as Brandon gave Lia a look. “You’re not happy, are you.”
Lia was taken aback at this statement. “I’m not? Well, if clothing were considered an expression of identity and emotion, I’d say that I’m tickled pink and that you’re an Italian chef.”
Brandon burst forth into laughter. It was a round, full laugh. A belly laugh. A jolly laugh. Mafia? This man could play Santa’s laugh in an animated Christmas special! Lia was sure that it could be heard throughout the entire Man Section.
“I’ve been making pizzas for five years! You know Heaps down the street?”
Her mouth began to water at the thought of those wonderful pizzas. It was one of her favorite eateries. “Really?”
“Oh, I’m so glad that you’re not actually in the mafia. Now we can be friends.”
Brandon and Lia sat down and talked for the next hour. If she were asked to repeat any of the topics of conversation, she would have failed. She would be able to tell the inquirer that Brandon was hilarious, sweet, jolly, and very loud. And quite possibly her new best friend.
Lia looked at her watch and saw that it was getting late. “Brandon, it’s been fun meeting you. Thank you for not chucking me out.” They stood and walked towards the door. “Would you mind asking Joey about the Christmas party for me? I’ll stop by again later to speak with him.”
As she was reaching for the doorknob, the door opened itself. Brandon bellowed, “Speaking of the devil, here he is now! Joey!”
Joey took Brandon in stride, and loudly replied, “Brandon!”
“She’s got a question for ya!” Brandon said while pushing Lia forward.
Joey was tall, but not enough to make Lia feel like a hobbit. She was able to speak with him without hurting her neck. He had brown hair that looked like it would curl if it were allowed to grow. And he had very big eyes. Not bulging big, but assertive big. Nice big. And he was looking at her because she wasn’t speaking yet. Scorched cheese!
“Are you going to the Christmas party?” Lia asked and Joey moved further into the room, and further out of the shadows by the door.
“Yeah, I’m planning on it,” Joey replied with a slight halt in his sentence. He slipped off his jacket and looked at her.
Brown eyes. Too bad. And his eyes had such potential. Why did they have to be brown?, she asked in her mind while her mouth said, “Is there a chance you might not be able to go?”
“I’m hoping to be able to go. It depends on the homework load. May I ask why?”
“I am putting together an octet to sing at the party, and I’m in search for basses and tenors,” answered Lia, wondering if she could find a man with eyes like his, only gray.
“And guess who’s a bass?” asked Brandon pointedly.
Joey shrugged. “I’m not a true bass, I’m more of a baritone. Do you have a copy of the music that I could look over?”
“Not right now, but I have a link to an audio clip of the song if you’d like to listen to it.”
“That will work,” Joey said.
Lia looked at her watch again. “Can we do this another time, though? I have an early class tomorrow.”
Joey smiled understandingly. “So do I.”
“Great. That means you can come back tomorrow!” Brandon bellowed jovially.
“So it does,” Lia agreed. Only it is too bad that his eyes aren’t gray.
Next Installment: An Unsuccessful Escape