tagRomanceAnd All The Benefits It May Bring

And All The Benefits It May Bring

bybb1212©

This is an April fools day contest entry, so generous votes would be greatly appreciated. Please enjoy: BB1212

9.06 am Monday, April first, 2019.

"In an exclusive for Radio KRIF 100.7" Sally V, the excited DJ announced, "we have the world premiere of 'Gone Bust' one of the tracks from the long-lost final studio album from Argon Grange. This is huge, and I'm putting on nooooooow..."

The now familiar opening riff boomed out as Dawn and I nervously held hands and wondered how the next few hours would play out.

To put this event into context I probably need to explain a few things and to look back a bit.

Firstly, unless you have been living under a rock you will know Argon Grange. For fifteen years they were the biggest band in the world bar none. Twelve multi-platinum albums, twenty-eight number one hits and the worldwide mega tours that are still the benchmark against which big tours are measured.

Second, Argon Grange had been in the studio recording their thirteenth album for three months when the band spectacularly disintegrated. There were all sorts of accusations and rumours about what happened, and who was to blame, but I certainly wasn't there, so I shouldn't talk about that. Either way, the recordings were never found after the AG Production Studio burned down and it had long been assumed that the tapes were lost forever.

Third, the rebuilt AG Production Studio, and all the royalties for 'Silky' Watts, the Argon Grange writer, lead singer and lead guitarist were firmly in the grasp of Eva Watts-Joiner, Silky's very materialistic second wife and then widow. All except for one song, 'And All The Benefits It May Bring' which had been Argon Grange's first number one and was written for, and dedicated to, Lance Watts, Silky's only child by his first wife. Lance Watts had been given the rights for that song.

And finally, I am Lance Forbes, son of Catie Forbes, Silky's first wife, and I was formerly and am sometimes still known as Lance Watts.

7.14 pm Tuesday, March fifth, 2019.

I'd had a long day at work, and had just sat down to relax when the radio I had going in the background played 'Benefits' (my name for 'And All The Benefits It May Bring'). It still happens occasionally, and if I am alone at home and the song comes on, I take my father's old and beaten up acoustic down off the wall and I play along. The guitar is the only physical thing I got from my fathers will, and is the original instrument that he used when he wrote the song. It sounds nothing at all like his wailing Strat on the recording, but I don't care.

It was those times when I was playing along with my father that I thought of him. I wondered what his life was like with so much success, so quickly and I tried hard not to hate him too much.

Dad was taken away from Mum by Eva, who used a vicious but effective combination of lies, drugs and debauchery. Mum had been Dad's high school sweetheart, and she was way too innocent to see what was going on until it was far too late. She was overwhelmed quickly and then hung out to dry. Mum got a small divorce settlement of forty-seven thousand dollars (from a number one rock star) and a nominal child support payment of fifty dollars per week until I turned eighteen. Not indexed at all, just a straight fixed sum. Something was really dirty in that deal and I often think that if money can't actually buy the justice system then it sure can help to make it look the other way.

You might have worked out by now that I don't sound American, and that is because Mum moved us to Australia immediately after the divorce when I was less than two years old. I was given Mum's maiden name and brought up in anonymity as an Aussie. Dad died when I was seventeen, and from the time we left America until then we never heard anything from him. It was like he had forgotten that we existed.

My inheritance in Dad's will came as a shock to me. Mum, of course, got nothing and Eva did her best to try to ensure that I finished up with the same. When the will was read, she claimed the guitar was lost and then she tied my royalties up for three years with legal claims and court cases that I had no resources to defend properly. I guess it all would still be dragging out endlessly if it hadn't been for Dawn.

Dawn was pretty much in the same boat as me. She was the daughter of Lonnie 'Sticks' Walsh the drummer of Argon Grange. After Dawn was born Lonnie had moved on to wife two and then three in very quick succession, and finally on to husband one. Dawn and her mother, wife one, had been pretty much lost in the passage of time. Unlike me, who had gone to university and become an electrical engineer, Dawn had followed her father into the music business and she had a small record store with an attached studio and also a very small independent record label. She was finding it very hard to compete with the likes of the AG Production Studio in their home town, but she still managed to get by.

Dawn was in a local guitar shop when Eva came in, wanting to sell Dad's acoustic guitar. Dawn was no dummy, and she knew from the industry gossip that it was supposed to be lost and that Silky Watts' first son was supposed to have inherited it. Dawn unobtrusively used the video on her phone to record the entire deal going down, and then she went to the police and reported what she had seen.

Of course, Eva first claimed that it was a different guitar but that was immediately disproved by the claims she made in Dawn's video. Her next excuse was that she was confused and just made a genuine mistake, and when that story was going south as well, she finally 'confessed' that it was actually just supposed to be an April Fools prank and she was never going to really sell it. Despite the video clearly showing the sale Eva still had plenty of money and status, so she somehow got away with it and was just cautioned. Much to Eva's frustration though, the guitar was seized, authenticated and then sent to me. A part of the deal the cops cut with her was for her delays over the payment of my royalties to cease. I got the guitar and a healthy lump sum (think new luxury car, not new house).

I rang Dawn to thank her personally and found that we clicked, so we started a regular correspondence that has lasted ever since.

But anyway, there I was, strumming along to 'Benefits' and reminiscing about the stories that Mum told me of a father that I never knew, and whose memories she still cherished.

Sometimes I play along to the lead break, but often I just tap the body of the guitar and listen to my father play. He was a shit hot guitarist, and was acknowledged as one of the best of all time, but I can copy him very closely when playing his music. Tapping on the guitar this time I noticed that the sound changed in a particular spot and I became curious as to why.

9.10 am Monday, April first, 2019.

"That was 'Gone Bust' a new song from Argon Grange," Sally V announced, "and I can't believe that for the first time in the history of Radio KRIF our switchboard and web page have crashed. Please be patient and keep trying, we really want to know what you think about our world exclusive."

Dawn and I smiled. We knew it was good and the reaction only confirmed it. I looked at the official Argon Grange web site and social sites and there was no acknowledgement of what had just gone down. So far so good.

7.49 pm Tuesday, March fifth, 2019.

I looked at the small parcel in my hand, wondering if I had found one of my father's secret drug stashes. Because I was curious about the noise, I had removed the strings from the acoustic and when I had reached inside, I found what felt like a wooden box attached to the face on the front. I couldn't prise it loose and it seemed to be glued in place. On further investigation I realised that one end was a heavy cloth, sort of like canvas, and I eventually reached in with a small pocket knife and carefully cut that away. When I had tilted the guitar a tightly sealed package slipped into my hand.

I nervously watched the package as I re-strung the guitar, tuned it and then played one of my own songs to clear my head. I may not be a professional musician, but you can't deny what is in the blood.

The package was wrapped in foil with a waterproof plastic outer wrap. I carefully opened it and to my great relief I didn't find drugs. What I did find was a studio tape and a handwritten note from my father. According to the note the tape was the master of the long-lost Argon Grange album.

My first thought was 'is this real or is this just another trick from Eva?' I still recalled far too clearly the April Fool's joke that Eva had claimed that she tried with the guitar, and I wondered if this was just another part of some elaborate hoax. I pondered the possibilities for an hour or so and then did my calculations.

6.00 am Wednesday, March sixth, 2019. (11.00 am Tuesday March fifth 2019 in California).

"Dawn."

"Uh, hi Dawn, this is Lance."

"Hey Lance, good to hear from you. What's up, you don't normally call?"

Dawn, as usual was straight to the point. Yes, I would normally chat on Facebook if I wanted to catch up.

"Yeah, um... it is important. Do you recon you'd be up for a visit?"

"You're finally coming to the states, fantastic! I'd love to finally meet you in person. When are you coming?"

"Thursday?"

"This week?"

"Yes, if it works for you..."

"Are you staying in the city?"

"Um... not sure yet."

"Lance, why are you coming? Is it a work thing?"

"No, I'm coming to see you. It is important, but I'd rather explain when I see you."

"Right. Want me to pick you up at SFO?"

"That would be fantastic, can I send you the flight details?

"Sure."

"Um, it sounds a bit weird but is there any chance of meeting up with your dad too?"

"I can contact him... we usually do Birthday and Christmas messages these days. But he is still in the city and I've got his number somewhere."

"That would be great, it is important."

We kept talking for a while and made a few more arrangements. Dawn was very curious but she accepted that she would get the details when I got there.

I then went into work and handed in my notice, effective immediately.

Like I said, I wasn't rich, but I had never touched any of the royalty money and I had also been saving for an overseas trip as well. When I told my boss that I was going to the states and I wasn't sure for how long he said they would give me four months leave without pay and we could then decide if I wanted to come back. It was a generous offer and I thanked him and accepted.

I made the flight bookings, sent the details to Dawn and then went to talk to mum. She wasn't happy for me to be going back there, but she understood why and supported me.

7.45 am Thursday March seventh 2019.

Long haul flights were a new experience for me, and I found it hard to get my head around the time travel bit. At 9.00 am on Thursday morning my QANTAS flight had taken off from Tullamarine airport in Melbourne, and flown to Sydney which is about a one-and-a-half-hour domestic flight. At midday my United flight had taken off from Sydney, and we had landed at San Francisco international airport about thirteen and a half hours later. But in the local time zone I had arrived just over an hour earlier on Thursday morning than it had been when I had left. The nineteen-hour time difference had swallowed up the flight with time to spare. Going home was going to be a real bitch though.

I had seen pictures of Dawn on Facebook, but I didn't realise she was so short. I am 180cm tall and Dawn would be less than 160cm. I guess I need to translate that, so I am five eleven and Dawn is five two-ish. Anyway, there was this pint-sized rock chick with short spiky blue hair and a lot of piercings waving a sign around with my name on it. She was pretty well rugged up for the cool morning so I didn't really see much of her figure. I gave her a grateful hug and we went out and got into her car.

It was pretty cold after Melbourne's summer. When I left the temperatures were in the high thirties (up around the hundred-degree mark) and we had some serious bushfires burning around us. Now I put on a pretty thick jumper that I had fortunately remembered to put into my carry on and then I went to get into the driver's side of the car because it was the passenger side in Australia. Dawn just giggled and offered me the keys. I declined.

We went straight to her record shop and Dawn gave me a quick tour and introduced me to Francie who was the full-time employee there. The studio wasn't booked until the weekend and Dawn suggested I could get some sleep on the couch there if I wanted. I said maybe later and then Dawn looked at me.

"OK, spill, I am dying to know what has brought you here."

"Confidential please?" I asked and she nodded.

"Sure."

I took out the audio tape, unwrapped it and handed it to her.

"Do you have the equipment to play that?"

"Yes, what is it?"

"It is claimed to be the missing master of the final Argon Grange album." Dawn almost dropped it in surprise.

"No fucking way!"

"I don't know yet, but that's why I wanted your father to hear it, he should recognise it if it is."

"He's coming tomorrow night and there is no way I am waiting until then," Dawn said, walking towards a booth. "Um... can I?"

"Hell yeah." I was busting to hear it too.

Dawn cranked it up and we just grinned at each other as it played.

"If that's not real it's a fucking good copy," Dawn said after the first track, and I nodded. It sure as hell sounded like the real thing.

We listened to the seven tracks and they were nothing short of sensational. Then we talked about the note and how to deal with what was in it.

9.45 am Monday, April first, 2019.

"Doesn't everyone realise what the date is?" John the caller asked, "It's the first of April, and that busts 'Gone Bust' for me."

"Thanks John," Sally V replied, "but we believe it to be genuine."

"Believe what you want," John replied.

"Hi, you're on the air," Sally V said, connecting the next caller.

"My god, that is amazing, nobody has ever been as good as Silky..."

Dawn and I had been listening to the calls and I would guess that just over half thought it was an elaborate April fools' joke. The Argon Grange web page still hadn't been updated and we waited nervously.

7.23 pm Friday March eighth 2019.

"Where the hell did you get that from?" Lonnie asked Dawn, "It's the real deal."

Lonnie didn't look like a famous rock and roll drummer. He was short, only a bit taller than Dawn, and he was wearing bright blue framed glasses, a designer suit and he had a short but fashionable haircut and a perfectly sculpted black goatee.

Dawn had introduced him to me, calling me Lance Forbes and then she played the tape without explaining what the situation was.

"Good, I think," I replied to his assessment, "but now I have to give Eva the opportunity to..."

"The less you give that bitch the better," Lonnie interrupted.

"Don't like her?" I asked, cocking an eyebrow at his vehemence.

"No, she was our Yoko," Lonnie said, "and the one and only reason for the band braking up. From the moment she got her vicious claws into Silky she was dragging him away from everything he really loved. The guys in the band, Catie..." he suddenly looked at me carefully.

"You're Lance Watts, Catie and Silky's son." I smiled and nodded, and this time he shook my hand like I was a long-lost friend.

Some time later the obvious problem was discussed.

"Seven tracks is fine," Dawn observed, "but it isn't really a full album."

"No," I agreed, "but it is all that we have and the fans will buy it regardless."

"There were other tracks we had started on," Lonnie mused, "but they were nowhere near ready." Then he looked at me strangely.

"What?" I asked.

"Dawn said you play, are you any good?"

"OK I guess," I replied

"I want to hear," he said, and without saying a word Dawn went to a cabinet, unlocked it, brought out a well-travelled guitar hard case and handed it to me. I shrugged and opened it.

"Wow," I said, looking at the gorgeous instrument, "a metallic blue HM Strat, just like dad used to play."

"Yes," Dawn said, looking a bit odd. Then she flicked an amp on and plugged me in.

"Give it a moment to warm up," Lonnie advised, and I nodded, running my left hand up and down the neck. It was an easy instrument to like, it just felt right.

When the amp was ready, I launched into 'Benefits' giving it everything I had. I had never played a guitar that sounded so much like dad's had, and I went all out to copy his performance.

When the song ended Dawn was staring at me in amazement and Lonnie gently nodded.

"Damn good," he said, "now do you write songs too?" I suddenly realised what he was suggesting and everything crashed down around me. I could never be my father, I knew that.

"Not that sort," I replied. I had deliberately tried not to imitate Argon Grange in my music, but occasionally a song would pop into my head that was along those lines.

"Well mostly not..." I said, my voice barely a whisper.

"Show me."

The evening ended up as a jam session, with the immaculately dressed Lonnie down to his trousers only as he viciously worked the studio kit. He definitely hadn't lost his touch. Dawn alternated between bass and rhythm guitars. As it turned out, she was a multi-instrumentalist and was also very handy on keys.

We mostly played from the new Argon Grange selection and from their original hits but they did prise a few of my more suitable originals out of me and we did them a few times too. It was a really fun night, but I could tell that I was well out of my depth with those two beside me. My guitar work was OK but my voice just wasn't there.

11.37 pm Friday March eighth 2019.

"Sam, it's Lonnie." Dawn and I were packing the guitars away and Lonnie had made a call.

"No it isn't, it's not even midnight yet."

"I need you to come to Allergic Records and play with a couple of people."

"That's the one, it's my daughters' studio."

"Yes, I had a daughter with Sonja."

"Of course it works."

"Tomorrow evening?"

"Sounds good, bring Tubby." Lonnie hung up.

"Sam Tango?" I asked, knowing but dreading the reply.

"Yeah."

Sam was the original bass player from Argon Grange. Tubby was his famous purple Gibson EB-3.

"We're putting the band back together," Dawn said in a barely passable, but in the circumstances totally apt, John Belushi voice.

10.04 am Saturday March ninth 2019.

The couch in the studio was comfortable to sleep on, but it was a pain having to get up and be out of there by ten am. The studio had been booked by a local band through until six, and judging by the painful noise that we could hear through the sound deadened wall in the record shop they were going to need a lot longer than that before anything good would emerge. I grimaced yet again and Dawn shrugged.

"You think they would practice a bit more before spending money on a studio," she said, and I nodded.

We were writing a letter to Eva, and we were being very careful choosing our words. It took a couple of hours before we had it good enough for both of us and I signed it. I wanted it sent by registered mail so we were going to wait until Monday to go to the post office and send it.

10.22 am Monday, April first, 2019.

"Thanks Julie, but much as I do wish Silky was still alive, I don't personally think he is hiding in Memphis with Elvis. Now, Nate, what do you want to say?"

"I'm with Dreeanne, I think the idea of a long-lost record turning up on the first of April is ridiculous, but I missed it before, can you play it again?"

Sally V looked across at Dawn and I and we nodded.

"Sure Nate, here it is again, 'Gone Bust' from the long-lost last Argon Grange record, exclusive to KRIF..."

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