"THE CAYENNE PEPPERS"
Captain N: The Game Master
"THE CAYENNE PEPPERS"
Saturday, November 20, 1993, 9:00 AM
Kevin, Lana, Mike, and Stacey were sitting around in Kevin's living room, watching the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episode, "Rules of Acquisition", from tape.
"DS9 really is turning out to be a good series." Lana commented.
Ned walked down the stairs.
"Hey, dad." Kevin greeted.
The other three offered greetings as well.
"Hey, guys." Ned said with a sigh. He walked into the kitchen.
Lana looked from Ned to Kevin. "What is bothering your dad?"
Cheryl walked by. "He's depressed. Today's his birthday."
"He's depressed, because it's his birthday?" Lana asked.
"It's the Big Four-Oh." Cheryl said.
Stacey mouthed that quietly over and over: "Four-Oh. Four-Oh. Four-Oh. Four-Oh."
"Forty!" everyone else yelled at her.
Stacey smiled. "Thanks."
"Wow. Dad's turning forty." Kevin said in amazement.
"I know the feeling." Mike said. "I'm turning twenty two months from now."
"It's hardly the same, Mike." Cheryl said. "Turning forty is big. It's - it's overwhelming. You realize you're not young anymore."
"Wow." Stacey said. "I understand."
Mike gasped mockingly. "Note the time! Stacey understands something!"
Stacey threw a pillow at Mike and hit him in the face.
Everybody else laughed.
Kevin, Lana, Mike, and Stacey walked down into the basement. Ned was down there, looking through some cardboard boxes.
"Hey, dad, whatcha doin'?" Kevin asked.
Ned briefly glanced at Kevin. "Oh,...nothin'. Just looking at some old stuff from high school."
The kids walked down the rest of the stairs and up to Ned.
"High school stuff? Really?" Kevin asked. "I've never seen any of your old high school stuff. What kind of stuff is it?"
"Oh, just...tests,...yearbooks,...band tapes."
"Band tapes?" Kevin asked in surprise. "You were in the school band?"
Ned turned around and faced his son. "No. No, I...had a...garage band."
"A garage band." Kevin repeated. "My dad was in a band."
"Wow, that's really neat, Mr. Keene." Stacey said.
"My dad was in a band." Kevin repeated in surprise.
"Hey, what's this?" Mike asked, picking up an open high school yearbook.
"Um,...don't touch that." Ned said, reaching for it.
"My dad was in a band!" Kevin yelled.
Mike laughed. "Oh, man! Check this out!"
Kevin, Lana, and Stacey looked at a picture in the yearbook and began to laugh uncontrollably. The picture showed four guys with instruments.
"Mr. K., is that you?!" Lana asked.
"Yeah. I looked like Kevin back then. Now look at me."
"Mr. Keene, you don't look so bad." Stacey said. "Although, you might wanna lose a little of that extra tummy."
Kevin put his left arm around his dad and hugged him. "It's okay, dad. You're not fat."
Mike read the caption under the picture: "'Ned Keene, Dan Parker, Nathan Collins, and William Thomas Riker perform on the football field during half-time in Northridge's game against Central on Friday, November 26, 1971.'"
Mike, Kevin, Lana, and Stacey all looked up at Ned. "Will Riker?"
Ned shook his head. "Way before the show."
Mike continued reading the caption: "'Their band, the Cayenne Peppers, got everybody excited, and Northridge creamed Central 20:10.'"
Again, Mike, Kevin, Lana, and Stacey all looked up at Ned. "The Cayenne Peppers?"
"Heh. It's a very uninteresting story."
"Tell us anyway. I love stories." Lana said, and she and the other kids pulled up cardboard boxes and sat on them.
Ned thought for a moment. "Okay." He pulled up a cardboard box and sat on it.
"Yay! Story time!" Stacey cheered.
"Okay." Ned said. "Me and my parents moved to Northridge from N'Awlins on Saturday, July 13, 1968. I started ninth grade that Fall. I met Dan, Nathan, and Will during biology class on Friday, September 13th. Things were going pretty good...until I ran into the school bully..."
Monday, September 16, 1968, 2:14 PM
Ned was running down the hallway. He had one minute until the bell rang. He wasn't looking where he was going, and he ended up running into the school bully. Ned reeled backwards from the force of the impact.
Looking up, Ned's eyes met the bully's.
"Sorry." Ned said.
"Watch where you're goin', butthead!" the bully yelled.
"I'm sorry." Ned apologized again. "I didn't wanna be late for class, and I wasn't lookin' where I was goin'."
"Nobody hits Biff Vincent and walks away without a pounding!" Biff picked Ned up and slammed him against a locker.
"It was an accident!" Ned yelled, panicking. "I said I was sorry!"
"Not as sorry as you're gonna be!" Biff made his right hand into a fist and prepared to hit Ned.
"Biff! What's going on?!"
Biff and Ned both looked where the voice had come from. A teacher walked up to them.
"Nothing, Mr. King." Biff said. "I was just showing him the school." He turned Ned around. "See, here's the locker."
Ned nodded. "It's nice."
Biff put Ned down. The two of them faced Mr. King.
"Ned, is anything going on that I should know about?" Mr. King asked.
Ned looked at Biff, then back at Mr. King. "No, Mr. King."
Ned nodded. "Yeah."
"Okay." Mr. King said, not quite believing it. "Biff, get to class. Ned, come on. You don't wanna miss my exciting lecture on exponents."
Biff gave Ned an evil grin, and Ned kept thinking what a jerk Biff was.
"Biff Vincent?!" Kevin asked in surprise.
Ned nodded. "Yep."
Mike looked at Kevin and smiled. "Wow! My dad used to beat up your dad! That is so cool!"
Lana smiled. "Like fathers, like sons."
"You couldn't have had the same Mr. King I had." Kevin told his dad.
"It was his dad." Ned replied.
Kevin nodded. "Oh."
"So, like, what happened?" Stacey asked.
"Well, Biff and I pretty much became enemies. He started beating me up, taking my lunch money, stealing my girlfriends - stuff like that."
"Just like Mike and me." Kevin said.
"So, how'd you form the band?" Lana asked, eager to know.
"Well, during my senior year, Dan, Nathan, Will, and I were hanging out in a nearby convenience store..."
Saturday, September 18, 1971, 10:30 AM
The four boys were gathered around a Computer Space arcade machine. Ned was currently playing.
"Man, video games are a neat invention!" Ned said.
"It's just a fad." Dan said. "They'll die out in a year."
Ned shook his head. "No way, man. Video games are the future."
"They won't survive if they don't have cool music." Nathan said. "They'd be pretty boring."
"You've got a point, Nathan." Ned said.
"Speaking of music," Will brought up, "how about we form a band?"
"Uh,...what?" Ned asked.
"A band." Will repeated.
"Have you lost your mind, Will?" Dan asked.
"We can't play." Nathan pointed out.
"We can with a little practice." Will said. "We can buy some instruments and practice."
"Yeah, and where are we gonna set 'em up?" Ned asked.
"How about your place?" Will asked. "In the garage."
"I suppose I could ask my parents." Ned said.
"Cool." Will said. "We can be like...the Beach Boys. Wadaya say, guys?"
Dan considered it. "Okay, I'm in."
"Me, too." Nathan said.
Ned finished his game. "Me three."
Will grinned. "Great! We'll swing by your place, ask your folks, then head on over to a music store."
"Well, obviously, Dan's prediction that video games would die out within a year was proven false." Ned said.
The kids laughed.
"However, Computer Space wasn't a success." Ned went on. "Many kids found four buttons to be too complicated."
The kids burst out laughing.
"You gotta be kidding!" Lana said.
Ned shook his head. "Nope. Anyway, my parents at first didn't let us keep our equipment in the garage. But I talked them into it, claiming that we would one day become famous rock stars and make a ton of money, which we would give part of to our families."
Kevin, Mike, Lana, and Stacey laughed.
"So, we drove down to a music store, which, incidentally, is the same store you guys got your instruments from, and we got ours."
"Wow!" Lana said in amazement.
"Then we set everything up in the garage and began practicing..."
Saturday, September 18, 1971, 1:00 PM
"Well, you don't know what we can find. Why don't you come with me, little girl, on a magic carpet ride? Well, you don't know what we can see..." Ned stopped singing, and the band ended the song.
They all congratulated themselves.
"Guys, let's take a break." Ned said.
The others agreed.
Ned took off his Hummingbird guitar, Will took off his bass guitar, Nathan shut off his keyboard, and Nathan stood up from behind his drumset.
The four boys entered the kitchen. Ned got four glasses and poured Pepsi into them. While he was putting the bottle back in the refridgerator, Dan went over to the cabinets. He opened up one and looked through it. Finally, he found the bottle he was looking for. He took the small bottle and walked back over to the kitchen table. While the others weren't looking, he opened the bottle and poured some of the contents into three of the glasses. He then closed the bottle and set it on the table.
Ned returned to the table. "So,...what should we call the band? I mean we need a really happenin' name."
"How about the Northridge Nuggets?" Nathan suggested.
Will laughed. "Please."
"No, man. We need somethin' really hip." Ned raised his glass. "Well,...to the band,...whatever we're gonna call it."
Will, Nathan, and Dan raised their glasses as well. "To the band!"
Dan couldn't help but snicker as they gulped their Pepsis.
Suddenly, Ned, Will, and Nathan stopped drinking and breathed out, their throats hot. They went and got glasses of water from the sink.
Dan burst out laughing.
"Dan," Ned gasped, "what did you do?!"
Dan, still laughing, picked up the bottle. "I put ground cayenne pepper in your Pepsis!"
"Always the practical joker." Will said, drinking a glass of water.
"Hey!" Ned shouted. "That's what we can call ourselves!"
"The Practical Jokers?" Nathan asked.
"No! The Cayenne Peppers!"
"Why?" Will asked.
Ned grinned. "Because we're really hot."
The others shrugged and agreed.
"All right! We have a name!" Dan poured cayenne pepper into his Pepsi and raised his glass.
The others raised their glasses of Pepsi as well.
"To the Cayenne Peppers!" they all said. They gulped down their Pepsis, then howled due to the intense heat. "Ooooooooowwwwhhhhhhooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!"
Ned laughed. "So, that's how we came up with our name."
A long silence filled the room.
"You guys are damn weird." Mike finally said.
"That's a nice story." Stacey said with a smile.
"Oh, wait 'til you hear what happened on Monday." Ned said. "We were in the cafeteria..."
Monday, September 20, 1971, 12:05 PM
Ned, Will, Dan, and Nathan sat down at a table with their lunch trays loaded with spaghetti and meatballs.
Ned whistled. "Will ya look at that?"
The four boys looked at a very beautiful blonde cheerleader.
"I wouldn't mind trading my spaghetti for her." Dan said.
Just then, Biff Vincent walked up to the cute cheerleader. Biff made some advances on her that she apparently didn't like. Disgusted, she walked away from him.
"Oh, man, she's coming over here!" Nathan said, excited.
The girl placed her lunch tray on their table. "Hi. Do you guys mind if I sit here?"
"No, - " they started.
"Great! Thanks!" the girl interrupted, sitting down. "I just had to get away from that totally uncool jerk."
Ned smiled. "Like there's a cool jerk?"
The girl began to eat her spaghetti. "You're pretty funny! What's your name?"
"I'm Ned Keene. These are Dan Parker, Nathan Collins, and Will Riker."
"Nice to meet you dudes. I'm Kelly Patterson. I'm a cheerleader."
"No kidding." Dan said.
"So, what do you do?" Kelly asked.
Ned grinned and tried to act cool. "We're in a band."
Kelly grinned. "Really?! Bands are so awesome!"
"Yes,...we are." Ned said. "We're the Cayenne Peppers."
"The Cayenne Peppers?"
"Yeah. We're really hot."
Just then, Biff walked up behind Ned. "Hey, Keene!"
Ned turned around, startled. "Biff!"
"You messin' with my girl?!"
"I'm not your girl, Biff!" Kelly said.
"Stay out of this, Kelly." Biff said.
"And they're not doing anything." Kelly continued, ignoring him. "I just came over here, because I like spaghetti, and I wanted to see more of it."
Biff looked at her. "What?"
"Spaghetti's really rad." Kelly said, and she sucked a string of it into her mouth.
Biff looked at Ned. "I wanna hear your story, Keene." He lifted Ned up by the collar. "And I better hear the right words!"
"Just showin' her the spaghetti, big guy."
Biff thought for a moment, then released Ned. Ned breathed heavily as his throat admitted air again.
Biff pointed at Ned. "You're cruisin' for a bruisin', Keene."
Then Biff walked away, leaving the others to chuckle.
"And that cheerleader was your mom, Stacey." Ned finished with a smile.
"No way!" Stacey said, smiling.
Ned nodded. "Yep."
"I should've guessed it." Mike said. "'Spaghetti's really rad'?"
"Well, it is." Stacey said.
"Unfortunately, we never got together." Ned said. "She met Pete Anderson three days later, and they got married on September, 30, 1973."
"Well, I guess it's, like, for the best." Stacey said. "I mean if you and my mom had gotten married, Kevy and I would be siblings."
They all gave Stacey an odd look.
"Right?" Stacey asked.
"Sounds like you had a happy time in high school." Kevin said.
"Well, that's all over and done with." Ned said. "It was a long time ago." He checked his watch. "In six hours, I'll turn forty. I'll be old, and I probably wouldn't be much of a player."
They were all silent for a moment.
"Guys, I'd like to be alone." Ned said.
Kevin, Lana, Mike, and Stacey silently stood up and walked out of the basement.
Kevin was in the kitchen. Lana was also there, mixing something in a bowl.
"I dunno what to do, Lana." Kevin said. "My dad's so depressed. He's been in the basement for the past hour, listening to old band tapes."
"Pass me the sugar please." Lana said.
Kevin did, and Lana added it into the mix.
"I gotta find some way to cheer him up." Kevin said.
Kevin handed it to her, and she poured some into the bowl.
"Something to make him feel young again - what are you making?"
"I'm making a birthday cake for your dad." Lana said.
Kevin began pacing around the kitchen. "What can I get for my dad to make him feel like a kid again?"
Lana found a small bottle on the counter. She picked it up and read the label. Lana poured some of the contents onto her tongue and tasted it. Nodding in approval, she added a lot of the powdered substance into the mix and continued stirring.
Kevin came back to the counter. He saw the bottle and picked it up. "That's it!" He put the bottle down. "I gotta go make some phone calls." He kissed Lana on her right cheek. "Thanks, Lana!"
Kevin walked out of the kitchen.
Lana shrugged. "Glad I could help."
The door opened, and two people walked into the dark basement.
"Thanks for taking me to the movies, Stacey."
"No prob. Like, watch your step, Mr. Keene!"
"Stacey, can you please turn on the lights?"
"Just a sec." Stacey flipped on the lights.
"Surprise!" came the voices of Kevin, Cheryl, Lana, Mike, Biff, and Kelly. "Happy Birthday!"
"Wow!" Ned said in amazement.
The basement was decorated with balloons and a big sign that read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NED!" In addition, there were other decorations that caught Ned's eye.
Ned and Stacey walked down the stairs.
"Wow, you found my old band poster and instruments!" Ned said. "And photographs of us performing!"
There were various pictures on the walls, including a large group poster of the Cayenne Peppers. Underneath the picture was the name of the band and pictures of actual cayenne peppers. Standing on the floor were the band's old instruments.
"Happy Birthday, dad." Kevin said with a smile.
Ned hugged Kevin. "Thank you, son!"
Kevin and Ned released each other.
Kelly walked over to Ned. "Happy Birthday, Ned!"
Ned hugged her. "Kelly! Wow! You look great!"
Then Biff came by. "Hey! Lay off my girl, Keene!" Then he laughed and offered his right hand. "Happy Birthday!"
Ned laughed also and shook it. "Thanks, Biff!" He looked at Kevin. "So, we gonna listen to some old band tapes?"
Kevin grinned. "I got somethin' better." He whistled.
From behind the drumset, three guys stood up. "Surprise!"
"I don't believe it!" Ned said. "Dan, Nathan, Will!"
The four of them shared a group hug.
"Kevin, how'd you manage this?!" Ned asked.
"We all live in the next county." Dan said.
"When your son called and told us how depressed you were, we drove right down here." Nathan said.
"Happy Birthday, Ned." Will said.
"Wow! This is great!" Ned hugged Kevin again. "Thank you so much, Kevin!"
"Like, how about a performance?!" Stacey shouted.
"Yeah!" Cheryl, Lana, Kelly, Mike, and Biff agreed.
"Oh, I dunno." Ned said. "We haven't played together since the day I moved to college."
"Don't worry, dad. It'll come back to ya."
"Please, Mr. Keene?!" Lana asked. "We really wanna hear the Cayenne Peppers play!"
Ned looked at his fellow band members. "Well, guys, ready for a reunion?"
"Yeah!" they all agreed.
"All right!" Ned said with a grin.
The others all cheered.
Ned picked up his Hummingbird. Will picked up his bass guitar. They both tuned them. Nathan turned on his keyboard. Dan took his place behind his drums.
"'Old Time Rock N' Roll'." Ned said.
The others agreed.
Ned faced the audience. "Let's do it! 1, 2, 3, 4!"
They began playing, and then they started to sing, with Ned singing the lead:
Just take those old records off the shelf.
I'll sit and listen to 'em by myself.
Today's music ain't got the same soul.
I like that Old Time Rock N' Roll.
Don't try to take me to a disco.