Chapter 1 Music Lessons
Helena didn't mean to slam the car door as loudly as she did, but Claudia stopped dead in her tracks when she heard it. It was the third time this week she and HG had words on the way home over her choice of music for the short drive. Helena tried to appreciate the younger woman's taste in music but it was more like a noxious odor than a taste. It was a test in HG holding her tongue and she was getting very good at failing.
Claudia felt she had done her part. She knew her musical selections may not be to everyone's liking so she suffered through changing the radio stations to see if anything appealed to the Brit. But nothing did.
"Myka, I can't take it another day, OK? I mean, I know you and Pete have to work on this project together but if I have to drive her home one more day, one of us isn't going to make it!" Claudia said in a hushed voice when she got inside.
"Claudia, it's a ten minute ride home, why don't you just leave the music off?" Myka suggested as the best plausible solution. She could hear the crickets outside as Claudia just blinked at her in disbelief. To Myka it was a ten minute ride but without music, it might as well have been a cross continental trip for the twenty something driver.
"Myka, I….. put on the- soft-rock-station," Claudia said and actually shuddered as if the horrible memory came back.
"I promise not to tell anyone," Myka laughed.
"You have to do something, Myka," Claudia said.
"Me? What can I do?" Myka queried.
"I don't know but you're the senior agent. Get her ears fixed or something," Claudia said.
"No, I think if anyone can help Helena it's you, Claudia," Myka said affirmatively.
"No way dude. I do not have the resources, the patience and I have access to a Tesla. All of that adds up to a very bad situation," Claudia declared.
"I have to disagree. I think you're the perfect match. You know the most about music; you play and sing better than any of us. No, it's you Claud," Myka said happy to be relieved of this assignment.
"Well, you won't get HG to agree anyway. She may be living in the 21st century but she left her music taste back in the bronze era," Claudia said.
Myka shook her head and laughed at the remarks but the more she thought about it, the more sense it made. Why shouldn't HG learn a thing or two about modern music? Myka found her partner lying on the couch in the living room reading the newspaper. Leena still had a copy delivered even though Helena was the only one who obtained the news by print.
"Hello darling," Helena said folding the paper aside and smiled broadly at the sight that pleased her the most. "How go the interviews?"
Myka and Pete had been assigned to interview the locals in a town nearby after Artie suspected an artifact might be at play. It was the third straight day they had left in the afternoons trying to talk to people.
"Oh you know- the usual. No one really wants to talk to IRS agents especially about weird goings on," Myka said.
"How is work at the Warehouse?" Myka asked sitting and pulling HG's legs over hers as she sat down.
"It's dreadfully boring without you. The afternoons drag on forever," HG confessed.
"We'll be done soon. How are you enjoying your time with Claudia?" Myka asked nonchalantly.
"Oh I do adore her enthusiasm and her quips really seem to get on Artie's nerves. I do enjoy that," HG said unabashedly.
"You know, I was thinking you should take advantage of your time with our resident musical genius," Myka said as if she had been thinking a great deal about it.
'Pardon?" HG said because she wasn't really paying attention. Lying there with her legs stretched across Myka was totally relaxing.
"You could learn a thing or two about music from Claudia," Myka reiterated and gently ran her hand up and down HG's calf to hopefully keep her unperturbed.
"And you think this would be helpful why?" HG asked suspiciously but not really caring because her attention was on Myka's ministrations.
"Because music enriches our lives, touches our souls, brings forth our humanity through a common language," Myka said looking up to the ceiling as she gave her soliloquy.
"Darling, I have been in the car with our young protégée and the music she plays does none of those things," HG said affirmatively. "Her selections shred sanity, pierce our ears and mark us lower on the food chain, I am certain of it."
"But so much has changed," and Myka stopped and looked apologetically at her friend. Helena was keenly aware of how much time had passed and did not like to be reminded that she was responsible for catching up everything that had happened.
But Helena could see how sincere Myka was.
"What kind of music do you like?" Helena asked.
"I like classical…," Myka started.
"There! I know classical music. It's the non-classical I have little interest in," HG said in her thick accent as if the matter were settled.
"But I like a lot of other music, too. There are so many kinds that your taste can run the gamut," Myka attempted.
"Yes and Claudia's apparently runs from dreadfully awful to wretchedly redundant. Why would I partake in that?" HG said smiling at her own words.
It was going nowhere with the stubborn Brit until Myka spoke those two words that were the key to unlocking Helena from any clenched position; "For me?" and that was all it took.
"Very well, I shall learn what little there is that modern music has to offer," HG said not meaning to sound quite so elitist.
"That's my girl," Myka said sure that this was going to be the beginning of a beautiful collaboration for her friends.
Claudia took the assignment very seriously because it came from Myka and she trusted her when she told her that it would benefit Helena a great deal.
"Where do I begin, Myka? I mean HG's got no taste in music even when she hears good stuff. I even tried …," but Claudia couldn't say it again.
"I know, sweetie. The light station," Myka filled in the blank sympathetically patting Claudia's back. "Why don't you try just the last few decades? Rock and roll maybe and slowly bring her up to today," Myka said and met Claudia's deadpan stare.
"Myka that could take ages. No, I'll have to pick the top songs from different decades. OK, you get the duct tape," Claudia said putting her plan together.
"Duct tape? For what?" Myka asked.
"To hold her down while she listens," Claudia said.
The next day after Myka and Pete left for the next round of interviews, Claudia told Artie that she had a special assignment from Myka and would need HG for the rest of the afternoon. She really was hoping to convert the Brit to good music by the ride home. Artie couldn't see the harm in it and decided it would be a good experience for both of them. Love of classical music might have been the only thing Artie had in common with HG but even he dabbled in rock and roll with ease.
Claudia spent time putting together a list of songs that she though would be a good first taste to the genre of music the Brit was sorely lacking in and put the songs on her IPod.
"If anything happens to me, promise me you'll erase this playlist right after calling the EMT's ok, Artie?" Claudia begged.
"They're not going to check you playlists, Claudia," Artie said.
"OK but if they do and they see this playlist, they may not revive me," Claudia explained and meant it.
She was open to all kinds of music but knew it was individual. And having music like this on her own IPod was the equivalent of wearing preppy clothes; she knew they existed but she would never be caught dead in them.
If HG had realized how seriously Claudia had taken this assignment, she might have appreciated the time and effort that went into her first selection. "Just listen," was Claudia's only instruction before she started to play the song. As if the title alone would deliver the message into the Brit's brain, she sat HG down and placed the headphones over her ears and without warning, played Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll".
Perhaps it was all that time being bronzed that accounted for Helena being sensitive to light and sounds, but nothing in her efforts to become acclimated prepared her for this. The music roared down the wires into the headphones and within seconds, the notes shot through HG's ears clashing through brain matter. It propelled her backwards in the seat with a heavy jerk and her head lurched knocking off the ear phones.
"Too loud?" Claudia asked sheepishly realizing she had not adjusted the volume to 'old'.
"Darling, I am to experience your music not die from it," HG said pulling herself back upright in the chair.
Claudia adjusted the volume and put the headphones back on HG. She started the song over. Myka would not have agreed that this was the song nor the place to start but Claudia reasoned that if HG couldn't get through this particular song, their work together was done. Helena adjusted to the lower volume and listened as she was instructed. She didn't want to tell Claudia how distasteful she found her first selection given the sincere look of excitement on the younger woman's face. HG could tell Claudia really wanted her to like this. It was going to be a very long day HG thought. And whose idea was this?
Helena tried to keep her smiles from deteriorating into grimaces as she listened to the song.
"Why won't he tell her his name? How could it be 'all the same'?" HG shouted because she didn't realize she need not compensate for the noise.
"What?" Claudia asked and HG removed the headphones when the song was done.
"She asked his name but he said it was all the same. How can that be? Surely, they didn't all have the same name?" HG asked with interest and Claudia was reminded how literal the Brit was.
"No HG it's just lyrics. It means it doesn't matter what his name is – cause they both want the same thing," Claudia tried to explain.
"Well, that doesn't make sense. She wishes to bring him home to presumably meet her parents and he won't tell her his name? How will she introduce him?" HG asked as if this was absurd.
"Yeah, you know what HG? Let's go to something a little easier," Claudia said and her fingers twirled and twisted until she found the next one.
"OK, this is a little older so you might find it a little easier," Claudia said as she put the headphones back on HG. She touched the screen to start the Frank Sinatra song - "Fly Me to the Moon".
"Oh, yes much better," HG said of the song and volume. Claudia watched as HG's eyes moved back and forth as she listened to the song about flying to the moon.
"Who is this scientist?" HG shouted over the noise in her own ears.
"What?" Claudia asked by scrunching up her face.
"The scientist who wants to go to the moon. The one singing?" HG asked listening to the lyrics.
"Frank Sinatra," Claudia said and HG couldn't recall ever reading his name in the scientific journals she read.
"I doubt any season on Mars would be enjoyable weather," HG assessed.
"Are you listening to the music?" Claudia asked pulling one earphone up.
"Oh yes, indeed. I believe the harmony is due to the repetition of the G7 chord," HG explained.
"The what?" Claudia asked incredulously.
"The G7 chord," HG said and placed her three fingers on an imaginary guitar. 'You showed it to me once."
Claudia was impressed that HG had remembered that and even more impressed that she could pick it out of a song. Maybe this was going to work out after all.
"But what does love have to do with interplanetary travel?" HG asked sincerely.
Maybe she should have Artie lock away the Teslas, Claudia thought.
Thanks for reading and appreciate your comments should you have the inclination and time.