Angelica’s Thereafter

Angelica stepped out of the room she had gotten for the night at The Gentleman Grey Motel, into the morning sun, proceeded to the warmed asphalt of the motor lodge’s expansive parking lot, and eyed for the location of her “Brown-Beater”. She was buzzing with excitement. It had been a wild few days. Her first byline writing gig, the revival-meeting-style concert of the band Ivan Rocket and the Blackness Between the Stars followed by two days held up in a shitty roach motel writing and drinking coffee, and now this. Today is the day. Today she is no longer Miss Whateley, spoiled offspring of a B-list father, she is Angelica Whateley, Music Journalist Extraordinaire. Today her story was published.

The show in question was a trip, not only in means of driving, but a bit of a mindfuck as well, but one doesn’t pursue being a music writer unless one is fan enough to have been to some wild shows on some wild substances, but this one, this one was a trip beyond. Making it all the more unbelievable was that when taken in bits, it all felt so normal.

She had arrived a little late but it ended up being just in time, time enough to meet Nicolas, the band’s manager, have a drink, and walk to the back to interview the man himself, Ivan Rocket.

Ivan was an odd combination of an old soul and a newborn, touting deep thoughts mixed in with pot jokes and giggles, but he did seem to know something about her. They had never met and still, he seemed to know her. It all seemed very intuitive, very natural, like meeting a friend.

Then the show. It was in some sort of church revival tent and was delivered like a healing session to an oddly diverse collection of types of people, middle-America football guys, puritan spinsters, make-up wearing punks and goths, pink-lipped blue-eyeshadowed Bettys, and a whole lot more. During the show, she wasn’t sure if it was the drink or the smoke, she started to see things. She saw black shadows as she was compelled to dance, to move, but the lights were wild, and she was drinking and smoking a bit. Eventually, it was more than she could stand and she left the tent. As she left she felt free like a heavy weight had been lifted from her. Was she healed by Ivan’s music or was she high on her first paying show gig? She may never know, she didn’t really care. All she knew now was that from there, the story of the night just came to her, and from there to her fingers, and then effortlessly spilled out onto the page.

With the article completed, submitted, and today being published, she practically skipped down to the lobby. She arrived at the continental breakfast station. If “continental” really meant “coming from, or characteristic of, mainland Europe”, Europe must have some gross ass breakfast. It wasn’t much more than a vinyl kitchen counter built into a room that looked like an office meeting room. On the counter was a dryer-rack-looking stand of cheap wood with plastic tubes of cereal, a stand of donuts, a stand of muffins, a few other prewrapped things, and what she wanted, coffee. She Grabbed a muddy cup of coffee and stepped to the news rack. She looked at the papers. The liberal news one, the conservative news one, the money one, and then hers, The Arkham Music Review. She picked it up and to her astonishment the cover said. “Rock n’ Roll’s New Revival: Ivan Rocket and the Blackness Between the Stars” and beneath it in infinitely small, italic font, “by Angelica Whateley”.

“I got the cover,” she whispered to herself with a self-indulgent fist pump and hovered with delight to an empty table by the window.

It wasn’t the most creative title, but it wasn’t pandering to the lowest common denominator part of a journalist’s job? In the world of music journalism, this was not what one would call a “big step” or “big money”. Arkham and its surrounding areas had a bit of a music boom about twenty-or-so years ago, but not much since, but to Angelica, it was a start, a start down the pathway to independence.

Angelica was a weird conundrum. She wanted to be independent so she could be like normal twenty-somethings and had no idea that normal-twentysomethings had no interest in being independent. The family she was born into, The Whateleys were incredibly rich and known historically as learned men and adventurers, but, just to kick her weird upbringing into high gear, her father took that wealth and reputation to a new level. He took it to the television.

Her father’s show was Investigation: Mystery with Professor Johnathan Whateley, a mouth full of a title for a show that was treated as tabloid more than anything else. But, for some reason, probably due to Professor Whateley’s odd personality, it had surpassed cult status and was comfortably nudged into pop status, which meant Angelica’s life was on display too. Add to that, her father was almost like some kind of cult leader, having other odd people living at the house like monks and healers. His personal bodyguard even claimed to be a demon that had been blessed. She shared a birthday with an old man that lived with them named Buster, his delivery driver that he referred to as his “logistics guy”. Sure, that doesn’t seem weird except that when they had a shared birthday dinner when she was twelve, her strawberry cake said 12, while his cake, that was really more of a side for black coffee in the form of a cinnamon swirl bundt cake said 182.

On top of that everyone knew she lived in the weird house. She wasn’t classy enough for the rich kids and was too rich for the poor kids. Her life was such an open wound to be poked that nobody ever even really harassed her when her father ended up marrying a man.

Looking down at the luxurious continental donut pile and sugar smack plastic cereal tubes she thought that if this is what independent breakfast looks like, I’ll gladly go back to the madhouse of my youth.

She started to read but was stopped by the jingle and buzz of her phone. She answered.

“You got the cover,” the gruff, slightly irritated voice said over the phone. The voice was August Tierney, Owner-Editor of The Arkham Music Review and Angelica’s boss.

“I got the cover,” Angelica repeated back to him with unmasked satisfaction.

“You did good, Girlie,” his twanged voice cut through the cheap burner phone speaker. ”Ready for another?”

“Yes I am, Mr. Tierney,” Angelica responded with obvious exaggeration.

It was funny how seriously Mr. Tierney took all this. She was getting paid, but not that much, but then again, she was having fun taking it seriously too. Maybe Mr. Tierney found the secret to life? To enjoy taking all the things you do seriously? If he was enjoying it, his droopy jowls weren’t giving it away.

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“Good. Booky’s sending you the job now,” he said. “Keep moving this fast and writing at this quality and you’ll have all the work you want, Girlie. Call me after the show.”

“Thank you,” she acknowledged, hearing the hang-up-click halfway through her statement, then a new alert dinged from the phone’s speakers.

She opened the email from Booky, Mr. Tierney’s assistant. The email was basic and to the point, as they always were. It read:

Show in Bolton. Prep Goth Band. Down the Drain. Friday Night.

She tapped the screen off and headed to the Brown-Beater with her coffee and newspaper in hand.

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