Courtney nervously steered the car down the highway, casting worried glances at her mom who was riding shotgun, her hands balled into nervous fists of extreme tension. Courtney really hated driving with her mom because she was such a nervous wreck every time. She much preferred her dad who was much calmer when she made mistakes. Even if her mom didn’t say anything aloud, she could still hear her in her head: “Courtney! You’re going too fast! Courtney! You didn’t come to a complete stop! Courtney! Courtney! Courtney!” It was enough to make her not want to drive at all but today she’d had no choice because her mom had just had a minor medical procedure with a sedative and wasn’t allowed to drive herself home and no one else had been available.
“Courtney!” shrieked her mom, stomping on a brake pedal that wasn’t on the passenger side in her panic. “Don’t you see that bus off on the shoulder!”
“Mooooooooooooooooom!” Courtney wailed. “How am I supposed to concentrate on my driving when you keep nagging me all the time-“ her eyes widened in disbelief as she took in the site of the bus and she stomped on the brake herself. The car skidded loudly to a stop. Fortunately, no one had been behind them.
“COURTNEY!” yelled her mom in protest although she had been trying to do the very same thing herself. Courtney couldn’t answer; she was in total shock as she looked at the words painted onto the side of the large tour bus: RELIANT K.
It was too good to be true! She blinked and rubbed her eyes unable to believe her good fortune. There standing in front of the broken down tour bus with downcast looks on their faces was Matthew Thiessen, Matt Hoopes, Jon Warne, and Ethan Luck. They all looked up when Courtney’s van screeched to a halt alongside of them.
“Could you use some help?” she found herself volunteering while her mother vainly tried to signal to her that she shouldn’t be talking to strangers.
“Sure could!” piped up Matt, the lead singer. “Are you a bus mechanic?” The other band members guffawed at the joke but looked hopeful.
“No but I could take you to where you need to go to get one.” Courtney replied, unable to believe she was behaving so calmly in front of her favorite band in the entire world. “There’s no cell phone service in this area for a few miles; it’s a total dead zone.”
“Yeah, we figured that out real quick!” replied Ethan. “We have a concert 50 miles from here in about 2 hours. Even if we had a mechanic magically appear now it wouldn’t help.”
“Could you give us a lift to the venue?” piped up Jon sizing up her van mentally to calculate if they and their essential gear could fit. Fortunately, they had just had the van detailed that week and all the usual junk that was in it was gone, leaving room for 4 more passengers, and their guitars.
“What about the drum set?” Ethan said. “Where are we going to put that?”
“Courtney!” hissed her mom, poking her in the ribs. “Who are these people? Let’s go! We can’t possibly help them!”
“Mom! Please do this one favor for me!” pleaded Courtney, tears welling in her eyes. “I’ll never ask you for another thing for as long as I live. SWEAR.”
Courtney’s mom looked at the naked pleading in her daughter’s eyes and couldn’t find the heart to deny her. She sighed. Teenagers and their obsessions! “Of course you will,” she relented, “but you just remember this the next time you try to tell me how mean I am!”
“Promise!” breathed Courtney, unable to believe her mom was backing down. It was a miracle! Her mom got out of her side of the van and pointed at Ethan.
“You!” she said in a motherly voice. I’ve got a cargo net in the back, we can put your drums on the rack on top. The rest of you pile in with just the essentials you need. As soon as we get to a live cell I’ll phone in your bus to our local mechanic and have it towed to his garage. Now let’s get to work!”
Courtney couldn’t believe her ears (or eyes for that matter). Was this her mother?
Her mom’s only reply was to wink at her. The two Matt’s, Jon and Ethan needed no more urging. They hauled out their guitars, cords and amps from the bus in record time and stuffed them into the van and all of them carefully helped to load the drum set on top. Within 20 minutes they were back on the road and speeding towards their destination.
“Gee, thanks for doing this!” Jon said, suddenly realizing that he did not know the names of their rescuers. “Ummm, I’m Jon, this is Ethan and-“
“I know who you all are!” piped up Courtney, bouncing up and down in her seat with glee. “You are my FAVORITE BAND IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.”
“Our fan!” exclaimed Matt, elbowing the other Matt in the ribs. “What a lucky break you came along.” We’ve been stuck in that spot since the early morning. You were the only car to stop to help us.”
“I’m so sorry!” Courtney said, ashamed on behalf of her county. Courtney’s mom twisted around in her seat to look at the men crammed into the back of the van, their instruments filling all the spare space that was left.
“Have you boy’s had anything to eat since this morning?” she demanded, her motherly instinct coming out. All four shook their heads “no” as their respective stomachs all growled as if in response.
“Courtney, take the next exit and let’s stop to get them a pizza and some drinks. Can’t go onstage and sing when your belly is agrowling!”
Courtney looked at her mom, her eyes wide in sudden mock horror. “Okay,” she hissed under her breath. “Who are you and what have you done with my mom?”
Her mom just shrugged and grinned at her. “I was a big Journey fan when I was your age. If I had seen their bus break down like these guys, you bet I would have moved heaven and earth to help them!”
They pulled up to a local Pizza parlor and while they were selecting their pizza (two pepperoni and two all sausage with onion) plus sodas, Courtney’s mom was able to use the public phone to call a mechanic who promised to take care of the bus for them. (Apparently he was a Reliant K fan as well).
Back on the road, eating pizza and sipping sodas, the mood became more sociable.
“So, do you play an instrument of any kind, ma’am?” questioned Matt T., trying to unsuccessfully bite in two the long rope of cheese that kept stretching from the back seat to the front with his teeth.
“Not now, but my daughter, Courtney here, plays Ukulele like there is no tomorrow!” responded her mom.
“Moooooooooom! Sssh!” Courtney said, embarrassed beyond all belief.
“Really?” said Ethan leaning forward. “We just wrote a new song that is just screaming for a Ukulele but we haven’t been able to find anyone to play it on the road with us and Matt is still learning. Would you like to learn the song?”
“Me?” bleated Courtney, her eyes growing as big as saucers as she looked in the rear-view mirror. “Are you kidding me?”
“I never kid,” replied Ethan with a very serious look on his face.
“He never kids,” affirmed Matt, Matt and Jon solemnly.
“But you’ll have to trade places with your mom and let her drive so you can learn the song. How fast can you pick up a song without sheet music?” Continued Ethan.
Courtney slammed on the brakes. All the guys held onto the car straps for dear life as they were plunged forward. Fortunately they didn’t lose their pizza and drinks. Her and her mom performed a quick “Chinese Fire Drill” and traded spots. At the same time Matt and Jon got out their acoustic guitars so they could help Courtney learn the song. Medical procedure be dammed this was show business!
Courtney spent the remainder of the trip turned around backwards, strumming along on her Ukulele learning the yet unperformed Reliant K’s song “On the Right Track”. She was concentrating so hard on getting it right she forgot to be nervous. An hour flew by and the next thing they knew they had reached the venue and were driving around to the performers entrance in the back where a security guard tried to stop them.
“No one allowed in but-“
“WE ARE THE BAND!” Matthew said in a commanding tone of voice, flashing his ID. “We’re late, let us through!”
The guard was about to argue but then saw the drum set on top with the name RELIANT K screen printed on the kick drum. He waved them through. Courtney’s mom swiftly pulled up to the backdoor of the concert hall and the band members piled out.
“You sure learned that song fast!” Jon enthused, unloading the gear. “If you’d like to come onstage and play with us on just that one cover it’d be great but no pressure. It’s just that we were hoping to introduce it tonight.”
“Are you serious?” Courtney said, clutching her Ukulele. “You really want me to play that song with you?”
“Well….” drawled Matt T., rubbing his head. “We will have to make you an honorary member of the band, just for tonight. Are you game?”
Courtney couldn’t believe her luck. The day had started out so lousy and now here she was with Matt, Matt, Jon and Ethan of Reliant K and she was going to play in front of their fans with them on her Ukulele. How cool was that?!
“Game on!” Courtney grinned at them. “Lead the way!”
Cypress Hideaway -- Releases in October
2 weeks ago