Chapter no 31 – Fame

The Midnight Library

She was sweating. at was the first observation. Her body was coursing with adrenaline and her clothes were clinging to her. ere were people around her, a couple of whom had guitars. She could hear noise. Vast, powerful human noise – a roar of life slowly finding rhythm and shape. Becoming a chant.

ere was a woman in front of her, towelling her face. ‘anks,’ Nora said, smiling.

e woman looked startled, as if she’d just been spoken to by a god.

She recognised a man holding drumsticks. It was Ravi. His hair was dyed white-blonde and he was dressed in a sharp-cut indigo suit with a bare chest where his shirt should have been. He looked an entirely dierent person to the one who had been looking at the music magazines in the newsagent’s in Bedford only yesterday, or the corporate-looking guy in the blue shirt who had sat watching her do her catastrophic talk in the InterContinental Hotel.

‘Ravi,’ she said, ‘you look amazing!’ ‘What?’

He hadn’t heard her over the noise, but now she had a dierent question. ‘Where is Joe?’ she asked, almost as a shout.

Ravi looked momentarily confused, or scared, and Nora braced herself for some terrible truth. But none came.

e usual, I reckon. Schmoozing it up with the foreign press.’

Nora had no idea what was going on. He seemed to be still part of the band, but also not in the band enough to be performing on stage with them. And if he wasn’t in the band, then whatever had caused him to leave the band hadn’t caused him to disappear completely. From what Ravi said, and

the way he said it, Joe was still very much part of the team. Ella wasn’t there, though. On bass was a large muscly man with a shaved head and tattoos. She wanted to know more, but now was clearly not the time.

Ravi swept his hand through the air, gesturing towards what Nora could now see was a very large stage.

She was overwhelmed. She didn’t know what to feel. ‘Encore time,’ said Ravi.

Nora tried to think. It had been a long time since she had performed anything. And even then it was only in front of a crowd of about twelve uninterested people in a pub basement.

Ravi leaned in. ‘You okay, Nora?’

It seemed a bit brittle. e way he said her name seemed to contain the same kind of resentment she’d heard when she’d bumped into him yesterday, in that very dierent life.

‘Yes,’ she said, full shouting now. ‘Of course. It’s just . . . I have no idea what we should do for the encore.’

Ravi shrugged. ‘Same as always.’

‘Hmm. Yeah. Right.’ Nora tried to think. She looked out at the stage. She saw a giant video screen with the words THE LABYRINTHS flashing and rotating out to the roaring crowd. Wow, she thought. We’re big. Proper, stadium-level big. She saw a keyboard and the stool she had been sitting at. Her bandmates whose names she didn’t know were about to walk back on stage.

‘Where are we again?’ she asked, above the crowd noise. ‘I’ve gone blank.’

e big shaven-headed guy holding the bass told her: ‘São Paulo.’ ‘We’re in Brazil?’

ey looked at her as if she was mad. ‘Where have you been the last four days?’

‘“Beautiful Sky”,’ said Nora, realising she could probably still remember most of the words. ‘Let’s do that.’

Again?’ Ravi laughed, his face shining with sweat. ‘We did it ten minutes ago.’

‘Okay. Listen,’ said Nora, her voice now a shout over the crowd demanding an encore. ‘I was thinking we do something dierent. Mix it up. I wondered if we could do a dierent song to usual.’

‘We have to do “Howl”,’ said the other band member. A turquoise lead guitar strapped around her. ‘We always do “Howl”.’

Nora had never heard of ‘Howl’ in her life.

‘Yeah, I know,’ she blued, ‘but let’s mix it up. Let’s do something they aren’t expecting. Let’s surprise them.’

‘You’re overthinking this, Nora,’ said Ravi. ‘I have no other type of thinking available.’ Ravi shrugged. ‘So, what should we do?’

Nora struggled to think. She thought of Ash – with his Simon & Garfunkel guitar songbook. ‘Let’s do “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.’

Ravi was incredulous. ‘What?’

‘I think we should do that. It will surprise people.’

‘I love that song,’ said the female bandmate. ‘And I know it.’ ‘Everyone knows it, Imani,’ Ravi said, dismissively.

‘Exactly,’ Nora said, trying her hardest to sound like a rock star, ‘let’s do it.’

You'll Also Like