Thursday, December 30, 2010

Excerpt from 'This Rock in my heart' by Tommie Vaughn

While Frankie unpacked her life into the tiny studio apartment in the middle of Hollywood, her mind was lost in thought as to how she got there...

“Oh! Uh yeah… This is Cherokee Studios.”
“Hi I was just calling to see…”
“You calling about the job?”
“Hold on.”

Frankie sucked in her breath and looked down at the Music Connection Magazine in her hands. Sprawled across the top it read ‘ Top Recording Studios Issue #310 for May 2002- From A-Z’. And her third phone call into the C’s came to Cherokee Recording Studios. It read like a dream. Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Motley Crue- to name one tenth of the talent that had passed through the doors and onto the page shaking in her hand, while the other held the phone pressed against her ear...

Frankie sighed. “Shit”
“What?” A voice at the other end had finally picked up.
“Huh?” She stammered
“Are you calling about the job?”
“Yeah, I was just wondering if you were hiring?”
“ I like your voice”
“So I’ve been told” she smiled into the phone.
“Uhh, Yeah… well I guess it might work for you.”
“Who is this? Are you fucking with me?”
“Nope. I am looking for a job.”
“We are hiring.”
“I was hoping…”
“Ok well can you come in?”
“No, but when? Tomorrow?
“Sure…what time?”
“Do you play? I mean. Do you have any experience in Receptionism?”
“Well, I made it this far.”
“Ok so yeah make it one o-clock tomorrow.”
“Great. I’ll be there.”
“No. My name is Frankie, Frankie Spencer.”
“I… great, really? Great… No, I mean, Adrian. I’m Adrian.”
The line went dead in her ear.

Box after box she unloaded from the car and truck to the little studio apartment. All the while the young man whistled and watched her move. Her strides were long and confident and her blue jeans were so tight he could swear she lived in them because they fit her every lanky curve. She would smile at him every once in awhile, or brush his arm with hers as she passed by. His heart would race at the thoughts running through his mind as he watched her long chocolate brown hair swing from side to side as she walked in front of him down the long hall. He held the box he was carrying low to cover the front of his jeans.

The drive alone was surreal. Just knowing where I was going. Holy Shit. Don’t panic- you can do this. Come on! If you can get up on stage you can get a job as a receptionist. Just think of it as your stage. Yeah… my daily stage.

Fairfax was backed up and she could smell the roast beef as she passed Canters Deli on the left. She looked up and smiled at the bright neon sign. Just past Melrose she pulled into the pot-holed filled lot. There were two young boys painting over some vandalism tags on the side of the building. They looked over at her with open interest. She waved a half salute as she closed her car door and walked to the wooden security door at the front of the sign less building. There was a tiny button that she lightly pressed and a buzzer rang from somewhere inside. The door cracked open and she caught it quick and opened it enough for her to step inside. It was so dark compared to the bright outside it took her eyes a moment to adjust.

“Frankie?” his voice called
“Yeah? Oh I’m sorry Pauley I didn’t hear you.” She shook her head to bring her back to the present moment. She was standing in the small kitchen looking out into the courtyard of El Cerrito. There in the middle of the courtyard, a fountain had been bubbling over into her memories.
Pauley looked deep into her eyes and took a step forward. “Do you want me to stay?” His eyes burned into hers and he tried to steady himself on the archway with his shoulder. Casual, but earnest he thought to himself.
“No Pauley. Thank You. You are so very sweet. I need to do this alone, and while I appreciate your help today- I have no intention in beginning anything with anyone but myself.”
Her frankness almost seemed expected to him, even if his fantasy was slightly crushed, he smiled and opened his arms. She gave him a brief hug then began pushing him out of the kitchen and walked him to the front door.
“Enough Mush! I have a lot of work to do!” She was laughing to make any tension that may have entered the studio slip out the door along with Pauley.
He laughed easily at her. “Are you sure you don’t want to go out? Go celebrate or something?”
“Go do something and enjoy it for me! All I wanna do is be right here alone in this little apartment.” She gave him the thumbs up sign as she began to close #4’s door.
“Oh Wait… FRANKIE!” He pushed on the door. “I forgot to say Happy Birthday!”

He was Asian and he was pretty. Like a china doll with charms he sat smirking behind the vast front desk of Cherokee Studios.
“You nervous?” He asked.
“No. Are you?” she smiled right back at him.

“Are you Adrian?”
His eyes danced with laughter and he kicked his feet down from the desk to pick up the phone that had begun to ring in front of him.
“Cherokee front desk?” Adrian paused to listen. A slow smile sprang to his lips. “No. No. Shhhhhh listen, I can get him.” Pause... “Ok. Ok. Let me make the call” and he hung up the phone. His eyes sprang to meet hers.
“Are you cool?”
“Uhhh. Last time I checked.”
“Great hang on.”

Frankie surveyed the room and sat down on the over sized beige couch that he had pointed to as his other hand flew to the Rolodex on the desk. Flip Flip Flip the pages flew as her eyes flickered to the gold and platinum records lining the walls. Steely Dan, Journey, Rod Stewart, The Cars.

“Hey Chris. Yeah it’s Adrian at Cherokee. Yeah…” he paused and she could hear another voice low through the receiver. “Yep just the same for George. Cool. Yeah. When you can get here is cool… Yeah. Ok see you soon.” He hung up the phone with his eyes on Frankie.
“Weed?” Frankie asked trying to sound nonchalant.
“Coke” Adrian said and stood up.
“Cool” She looked at her boots then back at his face.
“Come on.” He smiled like the Cheshire cat as he picked up the phone and pressed some buttons.
“Frankie’s here for her interview.”

Thank God she thought to herself as she locked #4’s front door at 1800 N. El Cerrito. I saved my life that day.
All the years growing up with such big dreams- and then when I turned twenty-three, I finally did it. I answered an Advertisement in the San Diego paper for a lead singer and met the guys… and we started writing songs together. I was so happy back then, with those long hot days in that stinky hole of a rehearsal spot in our little beach town of Leucadia. With Scott, the guitarist, looking off into the distance out the window… smiling at his reflection every once in awhile, picturing some unseen audience in his daydreams. The rest of us would all try not to watch him so we wouldn’t pee our pants laughing and forget what verse we were playing. I knew then the feeling- of being truly alive- of being truly myself.

It wasn’t until I walked into Cherokee Recording Studios in Hollywood California that I knew I had found my place. Somewhere that I could call home, or my school, the school I always wished I could have attended. My Dad had wanted me to study business. BUSINESS? What the hell? Didn’t he know me? Couldn’t he see? Yeah I guess he could. He knew better than most… that I was a dreamer. He said I needed a little reality, reality in the form of a business degree. Thanks Dad. All that time and all that money just landed me a job at one of the greatest and infamous recording studios in all of Los Angeles.
I swear I could have gotten the job on sheer personality and bullshit. But that business degree got me a whole $2.50 more on my hourly wage- rounding up my pay to $9 bucks an hour, so I could finally get myself out of a bad marriage and into a new life. My life. Hello Hollywood- My name is Frankie Spencer.

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