This Ain’t The Planet of Sound #2
Varistor and Toggles looked up at the stage in awe. The theater was big enough, the stage was big enough, but the contraption on the stage was a mixture of industrial revolution iron and 50s modern steel, with hoses and tubes, belts, and buttons.
It’s not easy to shock Varistor and Toggles with a stage setup. After all, their pile of amps and gadgets can hit the ceiling in some clubs. It really just depends on what the need of the venue is, but this was as if the stage and theater had been engulfed by the machine, like old churches built around a massive pipe organ, only in this case the organ was a, well, they weren’t really sure what it was.
“I told ya we needed equipment?” Dr. Hayhurst said with no small amount of pride.
“This is the weirdest singing competition I’ve ever seen,” Toggles murmured through a chuckle.
At the middle of the stage, there was a giant bullet-shaped tube, like a post-atomic science fiction rocket from the movies, with a large opening on one side. Leading up to the chamber was a line of girls, all in matching school uniforms perfectly paired with their matching attitudes. At the head of the line was a sturdy older woman with a clipboard. The three watched as a girl walked up to the bullet and the sturdy woman. The sturdy woman inspected the girl and, once approved, the girl stepped inside the opening in the bullet.
When inside the bullet the tubes and hoses would start to shake and whistle, lights would blink and belts would turn. Through whistles of steam and arcs of colorful electricity, a low hum would slowly grow. Its hum was in a low pitch, but still audible. It rumbled the whole theater and then the girl would sing, kind of sing. The sound would start as a low guttural sound from the girl as if she were trying to match the low pitch. As she came close to it her voice started to slide up. Octave by octave, cent by cent. Each interval the girl’s voice slid up the machine would react, the lights became brighter, belts turned faster or slower, steam hissed at varying pitches…
Eventually, the girl ran out of air, her note quivered and stopped as all the lights and belts slowed to a halt. Everyone but Toggles and Varistor seemed to be aware that the girl had not succeeded and the girl left the bullet disappointed.
“That’s a fancy machine you got there,” Toggles said gently elbowing Dr. Hayhurst.
“Yes, here at Altre Deorum we believe in multidisciplinary education. Here we are seeing the singing competition and the physics department working together to study and find perfect pitch,” Dr, Hayhurst responded, taking Toggles’s comment more seriously than he intended.
“Perfect pitch or that pitch?” Varistor asked.
“What pitch?” Dr. Hayhurst responded.
“The girls appear to be trying to match a tone that is coming from the machine,” Varistor explained, “Is that tone the one they are trying to match perfectly?”
“Ah, yes I see,” Dr. Hayhurst continued in her educational tone. “Yes, they are trying to match and then accompany the pitch. It’s not so much matching the initial pitch perfectly, as it is finding the perfect pitch to match it.”
“Well, isn’t that an opinion? Isn’t the matching pitch relative?” Varistor questioned.
Dr. Hayhust had a superior tone to her response. “Again, in classical music things such as opinion and relativity are not always so open to interpretation.”
“So, you have the music chicks and the physics chicks, and neither cares about relativity?” Toggles asked, proud of his tangling of semantics.
“I can assure you that each one of these young girls will walk away from their experiences at Altre Deorum better for it and ready to each make their small mark on reality,” Dr. Hayhurst answered, her irritation growing.
Varistor tried to stabilize the conversation. “So what does the winner win?”
“Ah, a winner. It’s not really about winning but working together to find the perfect match for the tone,” The teacher responded, quickly swallowing her irritation and returning to her initial instructional tone.
“And how will you know when you have found the perfect match?” Varistor Asked.
“We will know,” She responded.
“Too bad BeeBee doesn’t go here, she has perfect pitch, you wouldn’t think so, being a drummer in all, but she’s quite the singer too,” Toggles said. “She can remember and match any note with not only her voice, on just about any instrument too. Some weird thing she was born with.”
“Really? A member of your band can do this?”
“Yeah our drummer,” Varitor answered.
“A girl?” Dr. Hayhurst Asked for clarification.
“Yeah… our drummer,” Toggles said.
“I would very much like to meet her.”
“She’s definitely an under-the-radar kinda girl,” Toggles said, “but we can ask her.”
“I would like that very much, in the meantime, you can start to bring in whatever equipment you would like and place it over here,” she said pointing to an empty dark space at the back of the hall.
“Well we have quite a bit of stuff to bring in and we won’t be able to navigate all the girls in line. That’s quite a gaggle of gals out there… or is it a murder of marms cuz were at a school?” Toggles said.
Varistor just stared at him with one eyebrow up, half horrifically embarrassed by his flippantness and half praying to God that Dr. Hayhurst would provide them with some sort of way to get past the traffic jam of girls out front.
“Of course, I can open the back door for you.” Dr. Hayhurst said much to both’s relief.
The Professor walked them to the back door, down a dark hallway at the back of the theater. She pushes open a compression hinged door as the dark hallway is bathed in the spring sunlight, holding the door open for the duo to walk through.
Both of them look out into the sun but are immediately distracted by the sight of one of the schoolgirls holding a lit cigarette and obviously holding a drag in her mouth out of fear.
Varistor maneuvered her and Toggles positions, pushing Toggles into the way of Dr. Hayhurst.
“We can see the way to go from here,” Varistor said. “I really appreciate all the help. We’ll just get our music plan figured out and bring our stuff in. We’ll be sure to stay out of your way. All this stuff you have going on here is fascinating.”
“Well, if you are sure, I’ll let you do your work and I’ll go do mine,” Dr. Hayhurst responded, “but when you see your drummer friend…”
“Beatrice… Well, BeBe. Call her BeBe,” Varistor said, correcting herself.
“Yes, when you see BeBe please ask her to come and talk to me. I would love to talk to her.”
“Will do, doll,” Toggles said nonchalantly half waving Dr. Hayhurst away and half winking at the schoolgirl, her foot still on top of her dropped cigarette.
Dr. Hayhurst left clearly irritated with the “Doll” comment from Toggles.
“Smoking at a Catholic school is getting pretty fast and loose with your soul their young lady,” Toggles said.
“Not the smoking, don’t tell her you saw me at all,” she said looking around and continuing to grind her definitely out cigarette into the concrete.
“What? Why not?” Varistor asked, easily enthralled by a mystery.
“She’s not right,” the girl sheepishly responded.
“Not right?” Varistor said, continuing her investigation.
“Not right in the head. It’s like it’s not her… It’s not them,” the girl avowed. “You guys need to get the fuck outta here now.”
“Hey I get it nobody likes to be a kid, especially one at a religious school filled with… you know, the same sex,” Toggles said with his carefree attitude and hands up in understanding.
“Toggles is just learning to navigate the world of female sexuality without sounding like a misogynist,” Varistor added.
“What? I’m cool,” Toggles said, taking offense to Varistors dismissal of his statement.
“I know that, but you can sound like an asshole.”
“You sound like an asshole,” Toggles responded immediately knowing he lost the discussion with the comment.
The girl interrupted them. “I’m serious. There’s something weird going on here,”
“Okay,” Varistor said, making sure that the door they just left through was closed tight. “What do you mean.” She asked with compassion.
The girl sheepishly answered. “They’re all like a cult. Like, they have secrets.”
“It’s a catholic church, of course, they have secrets, just be happy you aren’t a… you know… Young boy. If you know what I mean,” Toggles injected again, opening his eyes wide and raising his eyebrows to ensure that they knew what he meant.
“Would you shut up toggles?” Varistor was starting to get irritated with him.
“I’m telling you it’s like fucking pod people or something, like clones or drones or … fuck I dunno,” The girl said, also starting to get worked up.
“Okay, okay. We’re getting out of here right now,” Toggles said, ushering Varistor away with him.
“Toggles, that girl says there’s something wrong here.”
“Yeah, I heard her. There’s something wrong with that girl,” he responded fairly sure that she could still hear them.
“I don’t think so,” Varistor said, looking back at the irritated girl’s face as the two walked away.
They quickly left the girl behind and at Toggles’s pace, they hot stepped it to the van across a large lawn and through the parking lot.
“Oh so now you’re in a hurry?” Varistor asked, losing her breath a bit at the pace.
“No, I just know how you get,” Toggles answered, returning to his flippantness.
“Oh, and how do I get?” She questioned, accenting the “get” with air quotes. “Please, do tell.”
“You get… You Know?… Involved.”
“Yeah. You make their business your businesses and then by gravitational pull, due to my proximity to you, it becomes my business, and it is my personal opinion that this business is none of my business.”
“You just are an asshole, Toggles.”
“I thought you said I just sounded like an asshole?” He asked.
Varistor responded. “I was mistaken.”
The duo got their first dollys of equipment and returned to the back door of the theater. The girl was gone, but Dr. Hayhurst was there. Varistor asked if she had seen the girl and attempted to describe her but quickly ran out of features when she hit the uniform. Dr. Hayhurst claimed she had no idea who they were talking about and that no one ever came out there. The parties parted ways, but not before Varistor saw her empty her hand into a trash can, dropping a cigarette butt in.
Next on Of Eons and Stars: The Posse #2
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