R.E.H. posts five random photographs from different catagories to be used in the authors story. The photos shown below are the ones that were selected for this month's addition. They also list the general peramiters for how they are to be used. For the complete rules on posting click here
"All I Need"
The lights went dark save for the dim red glow in the background. A few moments later the slow steady rhythm of a base drum pulsed from the stage.
The crowd, some fifteen thousand of them, began clapping their hands, while keeping time with the drummer as he increased the tempo with each succeeding beat.
It was the third and final New York performance for the band “Gypsy Heart” and the feeling in the arena was positively electric.
This was the band’s signature opening and the audience was going absolutely ballistic with anticipation. Everyone was waiting for the lead singer to make her patented grand entrance. The fog machines filled the stage area with a cool dense mist, adding to the overall ambience as the drummer continued his feverish pace.
The entire arena floor was shaking and pounding from the frenzied spectators stomping feet. And then, starting with the unmistakable rattle of the snare drum the percussionist rolled from one side of the drum kit to the other finishing with a CRASH of the cymbals. At that instant, the brilliant white lights from the front of the stage flashed on like lightning as Debbie Gamble leaped from one of the speaker towers to within feet of the ecstatic onlookers standing in the front row.
Wielding her Fender Flying V guitar and stroking a purposely distorted G-chord she kicked off the show with the song everyone had come to hear, “Generational Divide”. It was a raw, cutting edge number with lyrics that seemed to resonate with the under thirty crowd everywhere they went. The fast energetic music had come to the bass player and her one evening while they were hammering out some riffs at a late night jam session. The lyrics however, were purely Gamble’s emotions spilling out onto the stack of nearby cocktail napkins it was originally penned on.
A little over a year had passed since the band had recorded their first CD by the same name, and ever since its initial release into the mainstream, it had been an instant hit. Nearly every progressive radio station in the country was playing tracks off of it and they were all lining up to get on air interviews or in studio appearances with the now famous “Gypsy Heart” band, but more specifically, with Debbie Gamble.
The same success that was bringing her fame across the airwaves was also fueling sellouts in ninety-eight percent of the cities on this U.S. tour, but this portion of the whirlwind was rapidly approaching the end. After eight months of almost continuous nightly gigs, the tour was finally coming to a close here in New York City, only about an hour and a half away from her hometown. It was in this small town coincidently, where most of the inspiration for her music had come from.
Right now was a different story though, and that previous life was the furthest thing from her mind, because after a brief two week vacation from the hectic schedule of going from city to city, night after night, she and the rest of the band would be heading across the Atlantic to kick off their European tour. This engagement however, would be a much more relaxed pace for them, with the promise of no more than three shows per any given week and a couple of two week breaks during the four month run.
She was already envisioning zipping across snow-covered landscapes while driving the car from the “wrong side” of the road. (As most Americans like her would say) Taking in all the sights she’d either heard about or had seen in the movies was something she’d dreamed about ever since the dates had been announced a few months earlier.
The first stop would be in Munich, Germany and she could already taste the combination of sweet malted barley and the bitterness of roasted hops in one of their finely crafted beers. From there she and the band would be off to Italy, more specifically, Rome. They would have several days to explore the city and surrounding countryside before continuing on their journey.
That would all happen in good time, but first they had a show to close. The Band had played most of the crowd’s favorites such as “Bible Man Blues”, a stirring song that told of Gamble’s rebellion against her father and the religion he tried to steer her towards both at home and from the pulpit. They had also performed “Lonely Streets” another powerful tune that chronicled her two years of living on the streets of Hollywood and her dire circumstances during that dark period of her life.
There were others, but what the audience was now waiting for was the one they closed with every night, “All I Need”. This was a ballad that had it have been sung during the eighties would have been met with a sea of Bic lighters waving throughout the crowd. In present times, much to the liking of numerous fire marshals, they would be replaced with the illuminating glow of cell phone screens instead.
Piercing the air, she would cry out, “Like a bird taking flight, all I need is to be free.” and then the band would join in, playing every note as if it was pouring directly out of their souls. The song would go on to talk about the need to be accepted for who she was, and equally as important, who she wasn’t. One particular line, “All I need is a stuffed animal to squeeze.” Had become something of a phenomenon in itself. It was a silly line perhaps for a Rock N Roll song, but it portrayed a longing for the simple pleasures of her childhood. Times she remembered like mock tea parties with her mother on the back lawn during a hot summer afternoon, or being pulled on a sled by her father on a snowy New York winter’s day.
During the very first live performance of this song at a concert in Seattle, WA, and purely unrehearsed, a young teenage girl near the front row who had connected deeply with the message it revealed, threw a simple little stuffed animal onto the stage at Gamble’s feet.
The small fuzzy yellow bird that lay in front of the lead singer was originally intended to be a simple gesture of thanks for an artist’s ability to relate to a teenager’s plight. As it turned out though, it became much, much more extraordinary than that. After the song had finished, Gamble picked it up and announced, “Thank you. I’ll make sure a little one gets this!”
From that point on that one small act of kindness became an overnight trademark for the closing song. The next night the word got out and about a dozen stuffed animals of all types hit the stage during the finale. Within weeks the numbers of these “love offerings” was in the hundreds. Each time they would be collected by the stage crew and later distributed to troubled or needy kids throughout the city in which they were performing. By the second month of the tour the band had to hire a full time liaison to co-ordinate all of these donations with local non-profit groups.
The media ate it up too. Here was this hard, rough rocker chick that sang about living on the streets, addictions, religious rebellion and a host of other of life’s challenges, handing out thousands of cute and cuddly plush toys each week. There were of course the skeptics out there, but what some of the doubters labeled as a marketing ploy, Gamble and her loyal supporters saw as a real life portrayal of her song’s message.
As the band played the final notes of the last song, the stage lights faded to black except for a single spot that shown down on Debbie Gamble. Just as she did every other night, while the last of the gifts came to a rest on the front of the stage, she reached down into the assortment of animals and picked one up saying, “Thank you, I’ll make sure a little one gets this!”
Generally, she didn’t pay specific attention to any one particular critter she was holding, and any other night she’d have put it back down in the pile to be gathered up later, along with the amps, speakers and other related paraphernalia scattered about the stage, but tonight this one caught not only her eye, but her feel as well. It was decidedly different from the countless others she had been given over the past several months. She ran her long slender fingers over the rough, somewhat scratchy texture and then did a double take zooming in for a closer look.
The last light went dark and the audience erupted in a thunderous applause. As the other band members made there way to the backstage area on their way to what was sure to be an enormous blow out party, Gamble stopped and stood on the now completely darkened stage, straining to get a better glimpse of the seemingly familiar object.
“Go ahead,” she said to the group, “I’ll catch up with you in a minute.”
There she was standing in the middle of the post concert goings on, not seeing or hearing anything around her. Instead she was fixated on this small homemade creature in her hands.
“This just isn’t possible,” she thought, “it can’t be.”
But it could, and it was. The little coconut shaped animal she was holding was the very one she had cherished as a young girl; at least, “It has to be,” she thought. She quickly flipped it over to verify and sure enough, there on the bottom of his right foot was stitched in black thread “D G” which stood for Debra Gardner, her actual name.
Suddenly everything around her seemed to be narrowing in with the only thing remaining in focus, the precious little creature her mother had made for her nearly twenty-six years earlier.
Her legs felt rubbery both from the physical exhaustion of the concert she had just put on and from the emotional surge she was feeling from holding her favorite childhood toy again. Feeling the need to sit, she folded her legs and sat on the stage. It was still warm from the heat of all the intense lights that had be shining on it earlier in the evening and somehow this warmth, along with her “Wuzzle” (as she called him) brought back a thousand memories all washing over her in an instant.
“How can this be?” she whispered to herself, “What if…”
She wondered how this treasure from her childhood had come to be in her possession once again. Had her parents placed it in a box destined for Goodwill, only to be picked up by one of her adoring fans, and then thrown onto the stage at one of her concerts?
She quickly realized how absurd that sounded, but the only other explanation she could think of was as equally unlikely. For some reason her parents who she had not seen or spoken to in over a ten years had come to one of her shows and managed to “will her” to pick up this one little creature out of such a vast sea of stuffed animals. Either way there was no logical explanation and she knew it.
“Deb…Deb!” she heard as one of the roadies walked up to her, “I just got a page, security is looking for you.”
Still in a daze, she replied, “What? Oh ya, ok…tell them I’ll be right there.”
“You got it babe. Hey, by the way, kick ass show tonight!”
“Thanks.” She responded more by impulse than sincerity.
She got up and made her way to the back stage area where she was greeted by the last thing she could have imagined seeing. Standing next to a rather large guy in a bright yellow shirt that said, “S E C U R I T Y” were Ester and John Gardner. Debbie Gamble…that is, Debra Gardner’s parents.
She realized a new chapter in her life was about to unfold.
Character- The name Debbie Gamble immediately came to mind. Don't know why, but it seemed to fit her look to me. Creating a story around her character didn't take too much imagination.
Objective- I may have stretched this one just a bit. By the position of the steering wheel I knew this had to be somewhere in Europe, hence the European tour. This may not have been the entire focus of the story, but hopefully it was used well enough.
Setting- I'm sure this isn't New York City, but I wanted a large city for the setting and figured it went against where her parents would likely turn up.
Item- My first thought was, "What am I supposed to do with this freaky little thing?" I actually started writing the story before I had figured out how to incorporate "Wuzzle" into it. He ended up being her childhood treasure.
Random- This one too didn't seem to fit in with the other pictures. The yellow color is what caught my eye, so I used it as a yellow stuffed bird, which kicked off the whole donation angle in the story.
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