Chapter 1: Radio Rock
I took a drag from the cigarette dangling on my mouth and pulled it away to blow smoke into the air, letting it snake around my set.
"And that was the exuberant sounds from the Who. Next up we have the Kinks, don't turn that dial." I let my voice trail off and turned off my mike and leaned back in my lovely swivel chair to face the glass. "What?" I asked through the glass. It was the captain, so to speak, standing on the other side and she was always keeping an eye out on our ship.
"Meh, do you always have to smoke while you broadcast? You're gonna blacken your lungs with that crap." Her voice was muffled, but I could hear her well enough.
"You chew it, so I don't see the problem." I said loud enough for her to hear me through the glass. The woman, Jackie, spit the tobacco classily into the nearest trashcan and said, "I'm quitting."
I snorted and went back to shuffling through the music I picked for the next hour. Lacy was on after me.
After my last hour was up, I handed off to my co-worker, but sat back to watch her nonetheless. I liked how she upped the ante with her bouncing-off-the-walls personality.
"Thank you Meryl, and welcome, Britain, to Lacy's two hours of nonstop excitement!" Her wording was funny, but that was likely because I wouldn't do anything like her. Lacy's voice was bright and ecstatic, probably a hundred times livelier than me.
I got up to leave, giving Lacy the thumbs up before heading to the kitchen.
"Hello, Rochelle, what's for dinner tonight?" I asked, yawning. Rochelle was our petite cook, who could cook a mean steak.
"We've got chicken salad." She said in her cockney accent.
"Again? That's the third time this week." I muttered.
"I can't just let you all get fat. You can't exactly run a mile on this ship."
I sat at the four-seater dining table and regrettably munched on the vegetables that Rochelle had placed for snack.
After I had almost enough, I stood with forcefulness. "Fuck this, I'm finding Thelma." Thelma, I guess it was unfair to call her fat, since the rest of us weren't fat, but weren't muscled from exercise either, so its that nonsense of the pot calling the kettle black; she just happened to have the worst metabolism, and a soft spot for chocolate. Which was why I was finding her.
Without knocking on her cabin door, I barged in on her reading a magazine while painting her nails red. She really wasn't fat, she just had a more voluptuous form.
"Alright, where's the stash?" Without looking up, she nodded her head to the top bunk. Under the pillows. I grabbed the large chest nestling there in all its glory, and picked a nice Mars bar.
"You lot will be helping me replace the candy bar collection the next time we make port." She asserted, and kept to her business.
I suppose we should explain ourselves. We are Pop Wave. Yes, yes, you might say we're a knock-off Radio Rock, but you might find yourselves with a crew full of angry women, waiting to prove that they weren't dainty women.
There was Lacy, Rochelle, Jackie, Gertrude, Kelly, Molly, Frankie, Justice, Harper, and of course, me. All of us held a shift at Pop Wave, except Jackie and Rochelle, who were the captain and the cook. My shift being the late afternoon to evening shift, and then sometimes filling in at one in the morning if one of the others were too smashed. Lacy preferred the upbeat pop songs, mostly the up to date on catchy pop. Jackie kept track of ratings. Gertrude was an old soul, and played a lot of fifties and earlier tunes. Kelly liked to keep it strictly R&B soulful with the temptations and Chuck Berry. Molly had an odd attachment to Elvis. Frankie liked a little country. Justice held female singers in her high-books, so please don't preach her about the power of women. Harper liked to dick around with music from every era. And me? Well you could say if rock had a human body, well… don't let me catch it. Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Animals, fuck. Yeah, once the girls found out rock and roll was my thing, they welcomed me aboard.
Instantaneously, I can recall first and foremost our conversations were about music. Then they digressed when we realized we didn't know much about each other. And so we were friends.
We lived on a boat in the northern sea. Right, well Rock Wave did once broadcast from a studio, but once the government caught wind of the girls in the crew at the time, that ship set sail. Pardon that terrible pun.
I used to go to a private school. Then to a public school. Then my marks were so low, my parents could hardly stand to see me lurking around the house. I was a smoker, probably somewhere along the lines I used drugs (I say probably because those memories seem to blur), I drank a little. Oh, and I once told the headmistress she'd probably get laid more often if she trimmed the box once in a while. Down there. Almost needless to say, I was kicked out. I heard about a job opening as a DJ here at Pop Wave, and only made the cut because I said I would work for minimum and lied and said I was eighteen. Having hips ahead of my peers, I suppose, got me on this boat. I'm seventeen, turning eighteen this summer.
I accidentally let slip once earlier this week that I was only seventeen, and Jackie almost flipped her shit, but everyone convinced her I only had a bit to go. Plus I was holding my own for ratings.
The next day, after my shift, it was a rainy Friday, and Jackie had us all gathered around for our biweekly ratings.
She handed us all a chart, and I looked at mine, inhaling the smoke from my cigarette. My jaw instantly dropped, just as my ratings.
"What the fuck is this?" I murmured, but knew it was loud for all to hear.
The girls shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Everyone's ratings had gone just a touch down, save for my eyesore of a graph.
"Don't take it personally, Meryl, it's that station, Radio Rock, that's actually caused a drop in all our standings," Jackie said sceptically.
"We need to do something about this." Justice said. Huh, ironic.
"Well, I contacted our advertisers on land, and they said for extra mentioning they put up a few more flyers." Jackie said pathetically.
"You're joking right? A few flyers wouldn't be able to get us back up there." Lacy said, and put her arm around me supportively. I snuffed out my fag and adjusted my sunglasses from my forehead to their respective place on my face.
"I also contacted Quentin, from Radio Rock." Jackie said quickly.
"And?" Molly asked, saying what we were all thinking.
"He's not taken kindly." She chuckled pensively.
"Well fuck me, I thought they'd graciously step down." I said sarcastically. Though I could tell any other time I'd get a nice chuckle in response, the air was far too tense for that kind of behaviour.
There was a silence, and everyone sort of left the circle silently.
"Everyone prepare to make port tomorrow. We'll raise some hell next week." Jackie said loudly, trying to pump everyone back up.
The following morning, when I was still grumpy, we made port. All day, at port taped shows we made would play. I was first off the boat, eager to do something to make me forget about my bad ratings. I'd find a bar, but what I really needed was to find a record shop. But before I could go my own way for a while, Jackie called us all on the dock.
"Everyone, don't get too smashed because the advertising companies want to meet with us later and discuss new techniques."
"Why do they want to see us? Isn't that part of your job?"
"Well they feel that they want to know who they're dealing with." She said, and when no one objected, "Everyone back at the dock by four, I'm driving you to the place, then we'll have supper."
With my pay check, I went walking with Molly and Justice, who were both in their mid-twenties, around the stores close to the ship along the boardwalk to look at some new records and releases.
"Kid, don't let those ratings get you down. Your show is great." Molly said supportively from an aisle away in the oldies but goodies section.
"Yeah, you can't exactly help it, Radio Rock is one hell of a show." Justice said, holding up a Janice Joplin single. I know Justice was very frank most of the time, but she was also quite clever. And she would have a good feeling if I were offended. I huffed and swallowed a bit of pride and continued scanning through for some new Beatles.
Molly was a year younger than Justice, but they were both equally bombshells. She had shaggy boy short hair and killer curves, and wore miniskirts and band t-shirts to show them off. Justice was more of a jeans girl and was taller with a more willowy frame, and usually wore an oversized t-shirt.
"Listen girls, I'm just going to head to the ship," I said, grabbing my purchases, which were hardly fitting where I was carrying them under my arm.
"Take care, Meryl." They said. I could tell they were shooting sympathetic looks after me, and I had to keep telling myself that my crew cared about me.
I was scuffing my oxfords the whole way down to the dock, kind of brightening at the thought of having the whole boat alone to myself. Even our cook would be out, so no one would be there to reprimand me in their motherly fashion.
I heard clanging, even from down on the dock. Maybe Jackie was back doing some cleaning or some other nonsense. I climbed up into the boat and called out, "Jackie?"
There was no answer, but the clamouring did not cease. I went below deck and almost screamed at the mess. "What the fuck is going on?"
"Shit!" a few of the masked men voiced.
"Someone get Mark!" one of them shouted. Scattered amongst our ship were men, filing through our records and slashing them.
"You don't need this Mark fellow. All of you need to get the hell out of here before I… do something drastic." I can honestly say I got nothing.
"Right. Someone get some duct tape." A rather podgy man said, and three or four out of the twelve gathered around me.
"No, don't touch me." I snapped.
The one who had reached retracted his hand and said, "Sorry miss."
"No, Simon, hold her in place while we put her in the chair." The same podgy character said.
"Right, sorry." He sat me down, and I rolled my eyes and figured these fools were completely harmless.
"I will scream, you idiots, and someone will come." I said blandly. They had procured the tape and were wrapping me to the chair.
"Oh I'm not so sure about that. You see, your crew seem to be held up at a—what did we call it? Advertising meeting? Yes, that. They'll have to meet there, get stood up, and have to come all the way back here and find you tied up and us on our way back out to sea." An American man said. He was hardly disguised, and made distinguishing who these poorly disguised men were. I wondered how angry Jackie would be with me, for hardly giving a fight? After all I cared about this ship as much as anyone of the other girls, but she would be pissed if she knew I let them tie me up.
"I thought I'd recognized you lot. Fucking Radio Rock is standing on my ship."
"So the missus is a fan."
"Regrettably." I said, trying to stare them all down at once.
"Oi, who's the bird?" A man asked. If I were standing, I would have fallen back into the seat I was sitting in. It was Gavin Kavanagh.
"Vandals don't do this! Get the hell off my ship!"
"Don't make us sick Mark on you." From the antic voice, I could tell it was that oddball Angus. Or was it the 'nut'?
From the legends I've heard about Mark, the damage is lasting. "Please, I'd much rather have the doctor." I exhale noisily, making a point to sound bored.
"And point one goes to Dave!" An excited voice came from a man behind me. Of course, it was Doctor Dave.
"You boys are a rather unusual bunch. Though I can't say I'm surprised." I made contempt clear in my voice.
"Someone shut the little bugger up." Gavin said, clearly offended by my earlier statement.
"Just stay the fuck away from my set." As soon as the words left my mouth I snapped it shut and leaned my head back in frustration.
"Someone find her set and bring her effects." Gavin said.
I tried not to cringe when they broke my headphones in half, which I had personalized. I tried not to cringe when the Count horked in my mike muffler. But I was thrashing in my seat when they pulled out the singles.
"The missus is a little feisty." Someone commented, I was to angry to notice who.
"So who are you anyways?" They must have taken a wild guess with the set.
"The box says property of Meryl. You're Meryl?"
"So what?" I asked.
"Well, we have to say you live up to your voice."
At his words, I recoiled into my seat, but I nodded my head, "I'm flattered, and I wish I could say the same." I cracked.
"Alright get the tape." Gavin said, annoyed. He personally placed piece of tape over my mouth, and I sighed. "She's kind of adorable when her mouth is shut." He's lucky the tape is on.
"Which is just how we're going to leave your station. Quiet." The Count said.
I sat for a couple more minutes while they all grouped together, and cheered for staying true to their word of obliterating our station.
"I hope to never see your face again." Gavin said, tipping his feathered hat.
I stuck out my foot, catching him in between the legs, but cursed in my head as I only got the inner thigh.
He fell back into a few of his mates and flipped me off.
"Let's just leave, Gav, don't bother." Simon said. I had to smile at their ridiculous painted faces once more before I saw them leave.
I moved my upper body so that the tape bunched around my shoulders. This couldn't be any easier to get out of. The tape became slack enough for me to lift it over my head. Idiots.
I left the ship running, and jumped over the rail and landed hard on the dock. I cursed as I saw their ship already heading out of the port. I could see a few jump in their knickers as I made my appearance, but I could still hear faint laughter.
All I could do was wait around until my colleagues showed up filing out of the van.
I saw their jaws drop at the sight of the boat, which I thought was odd, since the damage was inside. I turned to see the side of it had spray painted on it "Fuck Pop". Oh. That's what they were looking at.
"Meryl, what the hell!" Jackie shouted. I shrank back.
I heard a nasty creak come from behind, making me shrink even further than I though possible. The ship must have sunk slowly about half its height, before a 'thunk' could be heard. Crap. The girls' faces ranged from surprise to anger.
The next day after we were put up in a hotel thanks to Jackie, we were all down at the dock. We got some police divers to help get some salvaged stuff. We told them mainly to grab the records, since everything else would be damaged beyond repair. I still hadn't quite told them that Radio Rock had wrecked most of their things anyways.
So when the divers pulled up box after box of records, I waited behind them, trying to be the least out of the way as possible. Despite that effort, Molly came to stand beside me.
"You should read this." She stated, handing me a paper, and crossed her arms, waiting to also get at the records.
"Sorry we couldn't make the meeting, better luck next time girls," I glanced further down the page, "Just kidding, it's just us, your friends from Radio Rock, Ha ha."
"Wait, there's more." Molly added.
I turned the page over, "Ha ha." The letter was written poorly, with chicken scratch as an excuse for penmanship. "Right, well, maybe taking a look at the records isn't such a good idea…"
I guess i'll give a better description of her next chapter for those of you who need a better visual.