Authors: Fisher Amelie
Copyright 2012 by Fisher Amelie
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system without the prior written permission of Fisher Amelie.
First Edition: June 2012
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Printed in the United States of America
First Day of My Life
People crossed the street when they saw me. I’m not really sure why that was. I mean, okay, I might have looked a bit intimidating if I was being truthful with you. I’d changed since New York. New York represented a life that wasn’t real, not truthfully, anyway. No, New York was the “young, immature, in love, idiot" side of Tom. The “Tie-Dye Tom of New York City” didn’t exist anymore. Tie-Dye Tom was dead.
But that’s okay because the new Thomas was happy with the new him. Kind of. Not really. At least he no longer looked like a douche bag. Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of douche bag.
For instance, if a tall, somewhat built, asshole is a douche to you than you probably wouldn’t have gotten along with the new Tom because that’s what he was. The only thing not drastically different from the old me was my given name. That’s about it.
A couple of weeks after Callum married Harper, I discovered that I was in love with one of my best friends, Kelly Simsky. The idea hit me when I picked the ladies up to deliver them to The Bowery. I saw her in all her spritely glory, five feet one inch, barely reaching my waist, Kelly Simsky. Kelly Simsky with her short blonde hair, the blonde hair that met her chin and would drag forward when she laughed. Kelly Simsky, the tiny nymph of an actress who would sway and leap into a room and bow when she left. That Kelly Simsky. And damn, did I have it bad. I was forced to face the truth
about the time she met Carter Williams.
Speaking of douche bags.
Perfect Carter Williams with his perfect effing teeth, his perfect effing vocabulary, his perfect effing money, and his perfect effing sincerity. God, I hated that guy. He was my polar opposite in everything. Educated, born with money, and in possession of the one girl I wanted more than anyone. Perfect. Effing. Carter. Willams.
When Cherry and Charlie married, the band,
band, The Ivories, disbanded. I was pretty upset, but it was time. I knew it. We’d been at it six years with little interest from labels. We had a massive following, but as we all know, that doesn’t get you signed, and there’s only so many nights you can play for a measly five hundred dollars before you get bored with your band, no matter how awesome they are.
But that didn’t mean my band didn’t remain my family. No, it just meant we would have to find a different reason for hanging out on Friday and Saturday nights. And we did, but when Carter Williams began his ridiculous infiltration into my extended family, I was less than thrilled because that would mean I’d have to watch him lay hands on Kelly, but it was okay, because I was just biding my time until Kelly kicked Trust Fund to the curb, until she realized I was the one she was supposed to be with.
But that didn’t happen. No, in fact, six months later Kelly’s ring finger was dressed with the biggest freaking diamond I’d ever seen and that’s when I’d lost my chance. So when my friend Jason from Seven Seas, one of the biggest record labels in the United States, offered me a chance to move to Austin for a year as a talent scout, I jumped at the opportunity. Hell, I leaped at the chance.
In Austin, I immersed myself in the culture and that’s what it was, a culture, and a beautiful one at that. God, I loved Austin. It was weird. So weird with amazing barbecue and it was made for me.
Scouting bands until late at night, I’d still wake early not able to sleep because I wasn’t over Kelly and she haunted my every thought, including my dreams. I’d hit the gym for a few hours, then return home to my apartment, ready to see more bands and repeat the entire process day after day...after day. For an entire year I did this, aside from one
indiscretion. Needless to say, I was an expert at finding awesome bands. I was also built like a freaking brick house.
Which is why people crossed the street when they saw me coming. Well, that and the fact I didn’t wear a color on my body that couldn’t be confused with night. Layers, that’s what I felt comfortable in. Dark tees, black jersey hoodies, dark jackets, and I wore these together. Anything that would help me keep the hate in, along with black boots heavy enough to weigh me back down to this earth, preventing me from drifting off into insanity. I buried myself in my hair too, kept it at my jaw, as well as on my jaw. Camouflage. “Nobody look at me. I’m too busy being in pain.” And I wanted the hate. I reveled in it, actually. I felt powerful and dangerous and pissed off, a perfect combination to intimidate the bands around me.
Soon, I had a reputation for being the guy with which one did not screw with. I also grew the reputation for being the scout you went to when you wanted to be taken seriously because I lived, breathed, and slept music. It was my only refuge from the hate I was drowning in and the only thing that kept the small sliver of flame that was the old Tom. I wanted that to burn slightly, to keep it around just to remind me of what I never wanted to go back to.
I was Thomas Eriksson, talent scout for Seven and scorned in a one-sided love. An amazing job and a worthless state of mind.
“It’s time to pack your room, January. You’ve procrastinated enough even for me.”
“Uh, Janet?” Janet’s my mom. None of us were allowed to call her mom because the word “mom” was “intimidating” and she wanted her kids to be able to freely go to her and tell her anything. Most of us called her Mom anyway just to bug her.
“Yes, my love?”
Pull the Band-Aid.
“I’m not going back.”
My mom dropped the pan of tofu peanut butter cookies she was carrying to the table to cool.
“Excuse me, January?”
“I said, I’m not going back to Berkeley.”
Janet grabbed the cracked linoleum countertop to balance herself. One of her signature dramatic moves that may have worked spendidly on me as a kid but held no real effect on me now that I was accustomed to nineteen years of her theatrics.
!” She called to my dad from the kitchen.
I heard a slow moving almost sarcastic shuffle from Dad’s office to the entrance of the kitchen.
My parents were what you’d call made for each other. Mom and Dad met in college, ironically at Berkeley, and fell in love. They married, had ten kids, starting with me, January, and lived hectic lives of protests and pro bono law work all while towing us ten behind them. I loved them more than life itself, which is probably why I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was an anti-government, borderline anarchist. I felt like the less government was involved in my life, the better, because I’d seen firsthand what it did from the programs my parents supported. I’m not sure what my parents saw in government, but they were in love with it. Again, didn’t have the guts to tell them that. Heart attacks are one of those things best left unprovoked.
“Repeat what you’ve told me, young lady! Tell him what you told me!”
I took a deep breath and steadied myself. “I’m not going back to Berkeley.”
Janet sucked in a squeal and my dad fell into the chair next to me at the kitchen table.
, explain to me why you’re not going back?” he asked.
Another deep breath. “I’m not having fun there.”
Janet went to the sink to clean because that was what she did when she felt overwhelmed or wanted to slap one of us or both. “Cleanse the violent tendencies,” she’d always say. Kind of liked that one.
“Fun,” my dad asked incredulously. “It’s Berkeley, January. Berkeley! Speak to me, love. Tell me why you don’t want to return.”
“I just want to write my music, Dad. I don’t do well with structure.”
Janet turned back around, seemingly calmer, and sat next to my dad across the table from me. “Oh, January, I fear you’re finally going to kill me this time.”
“Janet, stop being dramatic,” I told her, rolling my eyes. “It’s not the end of the world.”
“You’ll lose your scholarship! A full ride to Berkeley’s Department of Music, Ralph! Gone!” She straightened her slumped posture and looked me dead in the eye. “How are we going to tell Grandma Betty?”
That was her last resort strategy. I knew she had topped off her desperate meter when she brought grandma into the conversation. That probably would have worked accept I’d already told Grandma Betty. In fact, she’s the one who encouraged me to follow my dreams. The day I told her I wanted to learn the piano, she encouraged me. It was no different when I phoned her with my intentions to quit Berkeley. She always supported me. Always.
“Janet,” I said, leaning over and grabbing her dish-gloved hand, “I’m not going back.”
That night, I agreed to go to my friend Casey’s show. I promised I’d help him fine-tune a few of his songs so he could be ready for ACL in September in exchange for use of his couch since my parents kicked me out with a “have
I was surprisingly unworried about my predicament. I knew something would come up for me. I had a gut feeling.