Smurdnunoc: Part Four
Four hours later...
Lennert glanced up from the small piece of paper with the Ruki’s address on it – before him sat a long (25 yards or so) lawn which led up to a fairly good-sized, two-story house. It wasn’t exactly a castle, or anything along those lines. But then, it was far from squalor, too.
Everything about the house was very homey and picturesque; everything (on the outside, at least) was very clean and professionally well kept. The entire outside was of a fine, white marble. A stone walkway led up to two large, fine wooden doors with ornate, stained glass in them; a single, marble pillar stood on either side of the doors supporting a marble dome overhang. The house was bordered on both sides by a tall, wooden privacy fence, and the lawn was perfectly and professionally manicured with a few well-preened trees planted throughout.
Lennert looked back at the three other band members, looking for some sort of approval. “So... what do you guys think?”
Hawkins, weighed down with his three steel drums (one in each paw, gripped with handles on the side, and the third slung over his shoulder with a strap), shrugged. “Well, it’s big and rich-looking – looks like the kind of home for a person who can afford to hire a band to play for their kid’s birthday party.”
The yellow Krawk standing next to him nodded in agreement. “I agree.”
Hawkins glanced over at the Krawk, shaking his head slowly. “...That’s it? Was there any actual point in saying just those two words? I mean, wouldn’t it have been better just to not have said anything at all?”
The Krawk gave a weak shrug. “I... felt I had to add my own little bit in...” he explained meekly. “I haven’t gotten a lot of good lines so far this story – I’m just trying to make the best use of my existence that I can.”
The Pteri gave a low whistle. “Woo-wee! That sure is quite a fancy house right there! I sure wouldn’t mind livin’ there, no-siree!”
“Well, let’s see who's home, eh?” Lennert said, taking the lead and striding right up to the front door and ringing the doorbell. A loud Ding-dong! could be heard sounding from inside, and after a moment, one of the double doors opened, with the familiar starry Ruki standing on the other side. He still appeared very stressed out, and the sight of the four musicians at his door didn’t really seem to do much to relieve it.
“Oh, thank goodness, you’re here!” he breathed, looking slightly relieved and exhaling deeply, as if he had been holding his breath for the entire past four hours. “Come on, follow me – I’ll take you around back.” Before anyone could answer, the Ruki stepped outside and, closing the door behind him, led the band to the left, through a door in the tall privacy fence, and down the narrow passage of space between the house and the edge of the fence. The four followed the Ruki until they got to another tall privacy gate, which the Ruki opened to reveal the backyard and the party it encompassed.
The backyard was fairly large, at least as backyards go – all around were tables of punch and other foods set up. There were various games here and there to entertain, such as Pin the Tail On the Bori. And all around were little kids – so many little kids! There must’ve been close to 200 of them, of all different species and colours, all running around, screaming and yelling, playing tag or swinging sticks or throwing pinecones or squirting water guns at each other. Some were tackling others to the ground while a few of the little rascals were swinging – blindfolded – at a red papier-mâché Yurble. And some of them (probably the calmer ones) were actually sitting down and quietly eating cake! But then, some of them were throwing the cake at each other, too. So, it all evened out.
However, the most important part of the backyard for the band (and for our story) was the large stage set up on the far side of the yard away from the house. It wasn’t anything particularly special, really – a simple stage set up. But it did have a red curtain (which was currently pulled closed) and it did rise up high enough so that the edge was actually higher than most of the children present. Nothing special in the grand scheme of stages in the world, but rather impressive considering that it was actually in someone’s private backyard.
“Hunny! Hunny!” The starry Ruki led the band over to where a white-on-green speckled female Ruki was standing, watching the scene of organized chaos that was the birthday party. She turned around to face the five as they approached and, upon seeing her husband, scowled.
“See, hunny? Look! See?” The starry Ruki motioned quickly to the band, smiling ear-to-ear. “See? I told ya I’d get a band! And I did, didn’t I? I said I’d get a band to play and here it is! See? And you thought I was a total deadbeat, too!” He stood back, grinning and puffing his chest out a bit proudly at his accomplishment.
Lennert, not sure what to do at such an awkward moment, grinned at the speckled Ruki, giving a little wave. Hawkins just sort of stared down at the ground, embarrassed and wishing he was somewhere else right then. The Pteri and the Krawk didn’t even seem to notice and were looking elsewhere at the party around them.
The speckled Ruki looked the band over and, without saying a word, simply gave a quiet curt nod of semi-approval. Turning to her husband, she scowled angrily at him before stalking wordlessly past him towards the house.
“...Hunny, wait!” the starry Ruki called out, moving to catch up with her. But just as he did, he stopped and turned quickly back to Lennert. “You guys should probably get set up,” he suggested, pointing the stage at the other side of the yard. “You’ll be playing soon, I suspect.” With that, he turned and made his way off after his wife.
Up on the stage, with the curtain closed, the band began setting up. Hawkins started setting up the steel drums and putting together the stands to set them on. The Krawk, holding a ukulele in one hand and a cord in the other, searched all over the pseudo-guitar for a slot to plug the cord into and was extremely confused not to find one. The certain green Pteri stood off to the side, examining his triangle and triangle-playing-stick-thingy silently.
Soon, the starry Ruki rushed up from in front of the curtain, still looking just as stressed and worried as he’d been before; apparently, actually find a band and getting it to the party wasn’t enough to calm him down. “Okay,” he said, “we’re getting all the kids seated now, so I suspected you guys’ll be going on in just a few minutes. Are you all ready?” But before anyone could answer, he turned quickly to Lennert, his first question forgotten. “Hey, I forgot to ask you all earlier in all the confusion – what’s your band’s name?”
Lennert blinked. In all the planning he’d done for this band (which, admittedly, wasn’t very much), he’d never actually thought of a band name! None of them had, in fact! It hadn’t seemed as important as, say, learning to actually play the instruments!
“...Ummm...” Lennert paused. “It’s...”
The starry Ruki stared back, waiting. “...You DO have a name, right?”
“Heck yes!” Lennert retorted. “And it’s a brilliant name, too! It’s... umm, do you have a pen?”
The Ruki handed Lennert a fine, black ink pen. Lennert took the pen and, on the small slip of paper which the Ruki had used to write down the address – which Lennert was still holding in his wing back from when he had used it to find the house – quickly scribbled something down. Smiling proudly, he looked up and handed the slip back to the Ruki.
Taking the slip, the Ruki read what was on it and frowned. “Wha... What is this?” he asked simply. “What, is this a joke? How do I read this?”
“It’s pronounced ‘Smurd-nun-oc’!” Lennert replied, smiling broadly. “That’s the name of our band – Smurdnunoc!” The Lenny beamed a little with pride. “It means ‘Great music maker’ in some language that somebody somewhere speaks!”
The Ruki stared back at the Lenny for a moment, glaring, trying to decide whether Lennert was lying. Finally, having either given up or just deciding he didn’t care, he shook his head and turned to walk off. “Musicians are weird...” he muttered to himself as he walked through the curtains and out onto the stage.
Sidling up next to Lennert, Hawkins looked at him curiously. “Lennert, what was that?”
Lennert looked back at him, smile gone, and shrugged. “I just came up with the first thing I could!” he replied seriously. “I was afraid that if I told him we didn’t have a name, he’d send us home!”
Hawkins nodded. “So... what does ‘Smurdnunoc’ mean, anyways?”
“It doesn’t mean anything!” Lennert answered. “I just wrote down random letters!”
Just then, the white Ruki stuck his head through the curtain. “Are you all almost ready?” he asked quickly, his face worried and desperate. “Everyone’s getting seated now!”
Lennert took his place up next to his microphone, looking back at the rest of the band. “Places, people!” he ordered. “It’s showtime!”
The members took their places – Lennert in front at the mike, with Hawkins just behind him at his drum set, the Pteri just to Hawkins’ right and the Krawk to Hawkins’ left.
Just as the curtains were about to pull back, Hawkins glanced over at the Krawk. “Hey,” he asked randomly, a sudden thought striking the Kyrii. “Just out of curiosity, what’s your name?”
The Krawk looked back. “Taphemor,” he replied simply. “It’s Taphemor.”
Hawkins blinked. “That’s kind of a weird name...”
‘Taphemor’ shrugged. “My mother was kind of a weird person.”
Before the two of them could continue their conversation any further, the curtains pulled open, revealing them to the entire audience – which was entirely composed of little kids. Some of them applauded, some of them gave high-pitched squeals of delight, and some of them got up and ran around randomly like little kids seem to do. But mostly, they just sat there, staring up blankly at the band, waiting for them to do something.
But one of the little kids in particular stood out; she was the birthday girl, a small pink Ruki who sat high on a gold-and-silver-painted throne smack dab in the center of the crowd of lowly less-important party guests below her. She was holding a plate with an enormous slice of birthday cake on it, and she wasn’t smiling happily, like most normal children might do on their birthday. In fact, she was almost glaring with at the band, an unimpressed look upon her face with eyes that seemed to say “If you don’t play well, it’ll be off with your heads!” Indeed, she seemed more like the Birthday Queen than the Birthday Girl.
Lennert gave a nervous grin as he stepped up to the microphone. “Ummm, hi!” he spoke into the mike, his voice echoing loudly through the speakers set up just above him. “We’re... ummm... uhhh...”
“Smurdnunoc!” Hawkins whispered loudly from behind. “We’re Smurdnunoc!”
“Oh right! We’re Smurdnunoc!” Lennert gave another goofy grin, laughing nervously. “Yep, that’s us – Smurdnunoc! And we’re here to entertain you and play you some groovy music!” – Hawkins hit his head against the top of a closed fist in frustration at Lennert’s lameness – “So, we hope you like us!” Lennert turned back to Hawkins. “Count us off!”
“I just want to say right now that I have no clue what I’m doing!”
“Just do it!”
Hawkins sighed and looked down at his drum set. In the few hours they’d had to practice, Hawkins had only managed to master one simple rhythm, and that’s what he played – hitting the top of the left drum, the middle of the center drum, and the bottom half of the right drum. These three “notes” seemed to go together alright, and he played them in succession over and over again, slow and steady. Left, center, right; Top, middle, bottom. Over and over again.
To Hawkins’ left, the Krawk started strumming his ukulele as best he could, managing to only strum out the same, simple three-string chord over and over again in time to Hawkins’ beat. To the right, the Pteri came in, striking the same note on his triangle in time to everyone else. All-in-all, it was a very basic, simple melody – soft, slow, calming, and very, very island-ish; the kind of thing you might go to sleep listening to, rather than go and mosh to at a concert.
And then, Lennert began to sing:
“Oooh, a wiki-waki-loo,
A wiki-waki wiki-waki wiki-waki-loo.
Oooh, a looki-waki-wee,
A waki-wiki wiki-looki, looki-wiki-wee!
A wiki-waki wee! A wiki-waki loo!
A wiki-waki loo-loo, a wooki-waki-lee!
A wiki-waki loo! A wiki-waki lee!
A wiki-waki wiki-waki wiki-wee!
“Oooh, a wiki-waki-loo,
A wiki-waki, wiki-waki wiki-wee!
Oooh, a wiki-waki-wee,
A wiki-waki, wiki-waki woo!
Oooh, a wiki-waki-WEEEE!
A wiki-waki, a wiki-waki-wee!”
There wasn’t a chorus, a bridge, a solo, or any discernable verses – just a basic melody with Lennert singing what amounted to gibberish on of it all.
The music stopped. And the entire backyard was silent – no applause, no cheers, no noise at all. Just the band members standing there, Lennert smiling, Hawkins glancing nervously as the rest of the band, the Pteri smiling rather proudly to himself, and ‘Taphemor’ looking down and frowning at his guitar.
The Birthday Queen’s face had morphed from simply unimpressed to a deep frown and her eyes seemed to be shooting the very daggers that she’d soon use to order the band’s beheading. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath for what she would do. Lennert just stared at her, breathing heavily and trying his best to keep his smile, which was now becoming increasingly harder to hold. It was so quiet, one could’ve heard a cheap plastic fork being dropped on the grass (Not that they were using cheap plastic utensils, mind you – only poor, dirty people use those!).
Finally, still frowning angrily, she turned to her dad, who was standing just off to the side next to her – and heaved the giant slice of birthday cake right at him! Hitting him squarely in the face, she jumped up out of her chair.
“This is the worst band in the world!” she screamed, her voice coming out high and shrill. “They’re horrible – this is the worst party ever! I hate you! You’re the worst daddy in the world!”
“Whew!” Lennert muttered back to Hawkins. “Well, at least she hates him and not us!”
Unfortunately, the mic was still on.
The little girl Ruki wheeled on Lennert, pointing a grubby finger at him. “And I hate you all, too!”
“Yeah, well, we hate you even more, you little brat!” Lennert shouted back angrily.
This, as it turned out, was not the best idea. All at once, the entire crowd of nearly 200 little kids broke out into a round of boos and jeers. They started shouting and pointing at the band angrily, some jumping up in the air, others pumping their fists; all of them were mightily angry, and they wanted it known.
“...Oh... crap,” Lennert muttered. “Okay, in retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have called their leader a brat...”
By now, Hawkins had rushed to the front of the stage beside Lennert, his eyes wide with fright at what was going on. What was forming just below them was now nothing short of a full-on riot – some of the little children were throwing cake up at the band, others were turning over tables, and some were even trying to climb up on stage!
“Lennert!” Hawkins shouted, holding up his arms to protect his face from an incoming hunk of thrown cake. “Look what you’ve done, you idiot!”
“They’re rioting!” Lennert shouted, trying to protect his face as a few stray forks flew up and bounced off his arms. “The little children are rioting! Beat them off with your instruments!” Here, he grabbed the microphone stand and swung it at some small Chia who had just managed to climb up over the edge onto the stage. With a *THWACK!*, he sent the small Chia flying through the air and towards the other end of the yard.
“Lennert, what’re you doing?!” Hawkins cried, horrified. “They’re just little kids!”
“They’re no longer kids, Hawkins – they’re a mob!” Lennert wasn’t smiling anymore – his face was pure horror and fear. “It’s them or us!” And with that, he turned and wailed off two more little children who had managed to just barely claw their way up on stage.
“Lennert, we’ve got to get out of here!” Hawkins shouted above the noise, using his mallet to knock back a small, young starry Zafara who tried to climb up onto the stage.
“Yeah!” came the sound of Taphemor’s voice from the other side of Lennert. By now, he’d come up front to join the defense and was beating off small children of all species and colours with the broad end of his ukulele. “We can’t hold out forever! Of course, if I had my real electric guitar, I might be able to hold them off a little longer...”
“Oh, would you shut up about that?!” Lennert shouted back. “Seriously, get over it already – you can’t use your electric guitar and that’s that!”
As the three of them were fighting for their lives (sort of), the certain green Pteri came wandering up from behind, apparently unaware of what had been going on for the last two minutes.
“Whoa!” he shouted. “What the heck is going on he—AHHHH!” He fell to the ground and began to slide off the stage, being dragged down into the pit of young pets by some of the paws and wings from the crowd.
“Oh crap!” Hawkins turned from his battling and dove, barely catching the Pteri’s outstretched wing as he slid off the stage and just managing to stop him from being dragged completely into the sea of angry children. “Hold on!” the Kyrii shouted. “I’ll pull you back up!”
“Leave him!” Lennert shouted, turning and batting another small Lupe back into the audience. “He’s already lost – you can’t save him! They’ve got him and they’ll never let go! Besides, it’s not like he’s that important anyways! He plays the triangle for crying out loud!”
Hawkins, however, dug his heels into the stage and leaned back, trying to throw all his weight into pulling the small, green Pteri back up onto the stage. Slowly, the tide began to turn, and slowly, he began to drag the Pteri back from the sea which had so-firmly grabbed hold of him. Hawkins strained and groaned; he wasn’t exactly a weak Kyrii, for sure, but a large mob of angry little children can be quite a strong force when it’s angry.
Finally, the crowd let go, and Hawkins fell backwards, the Pteri landing on top of him.
“Oh, thank you!” the Pteri cried happily, near hysterics. “You saved me, Hawkins! You saved me! Thank you thank you thank you thank you than—”
But before he could finish his groveling, Hawkins shoved the Pteri off of him and jumped up, rushing back next to Lennert, who had his wings full beating back child after child who tried to climb up on stage with his mic stand.
“Lennert, let’s get out of here! Now!”
The Lenny, swinging the stand like a golf club and sending a small, pink Usul flying back into the pit, nodded. “Yeah, I think you’re right!” And then, louder, to the crowd: “Alright, little kids! Get out of our way, ‘cause we’re comin’ through!”
And with a loud, piercing, “EEEEEEE!!”, Lennert threw himself off the stage and into the mob below, spinning and swinging his mic stand wildly. He fell on top of a few kids, knocking them to the ground and squishing them. All the others who were around him he knocked away with the stand. Swinging the stand madly, Lennert began to cut a path through the crowd of angry, knee-high children; some were nailed straight-on and sent flying; others were smart enough to jump out of the way.
Hawkins turned and rushed back up stage, quickly snatching up his three steel drums – tossing the one with the strap over his shoulder – before following the lead singer’s lead. The rest of the ground did much the same, jumping off the stage and running after Lennert. Lennert led the way in front, cutting through the crowd with his mic stand as if it was a saber cutting through jungle underbrush, while Hawkins and the Krawk used their instruments to fend off the children from attacking from behind; the Pteri just ran as fast as he could and tried not to get left behind.
The band finally made it to the back edge of the house, and as they broke through the last of the mob, all four of them charged down the side path, broke through the door of the fence at the end, and ran off down the block, the setting sun to their backs, Lennert still carrying the stand in his wing, none of them looking back.
...So, I suppose that you could say that, relatively speaking, the gig didn’t go so well.
After about three blocks of out-right sprinting, Lennert stopped on a street corner, bending over, one wing over his chest while the other still gripped the mic stand, gasping for air. The rest of the band stopped behind him, all of them similarly out of breath.
Looking back behind them, Lennert wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. “Well, it doesn’t look like we’re being followed,” he noted aloud, breathing heavily. “Is everyone okay?”
“Oh man!” the Pteri whined a few steps behind everyone else, apparently close to tears. “That was one of the scariest things I’ve ever had happen to me in my entire life! And I’ve had a lot of scary things happen to me!”
“Alright, Lennert – that’s the last straw!”
Lennert looked over to see a very angry Hawkins glaring back at him. The Kyrii’s eyes were wide with agitation and he pointed a single finger-paw at Lennert as he shouted in rage. “This is it! We’ve gone far enough with this little band idea of yours! I let it go on for a while since I figured it really couldn’t hurt anything. But this ends now! I don’t care how much you want to win a stupid award – you’re just gonna have to find another way! We almost got lynched back there!” he jabbed a finger-paw furiously back at the house 3 blocks away. “I’m putting a stop to this right here, right now!”
Taphemor (the Krawk, remember?) looked at Lennert questioningly. “Award? What award?”
“Oh, c’mon, Hawkins!” the Lenny pleaded. “That was a total fluke! How could I have ever guessed all those little kids would get angry and riot on us? No one could’ve predicted that – that was a totally unexpected plot twist!”
Hawkins, steaming mad, was just about to lunge on Lennert, pin him to the ground, and beat his skull into the pavement when he heard an, “Excuse me!” from behind. Wheeling around, Hawkins blurted out, “WHAT?!” – finding himself face-to-face with a green and white speckled-coloured Techo. He wore a fine black suit, with a red tie and black pants. He looked back at Hawkins in a surprise, a bit taken aback by his sudden hostility.
“Umm, terribly sorry to bother you all,” he said. “But I was in the audience at that party back there where you guys played, and I have to say – you all were really fantastic! I think you all have a lot of raw, untapped talent!” He held out a paw for Hawkins. “Hi, my name is R. Cory, and I’m a record producer. And I’d just love to sign you all, you... what’s your all’s name again?”
Hawkins, who could only stare back at the Techo, stunned and speechless, was suddenly shoved out of the way by a gleefully smiling Lennert.
“Smurdnunoc!” Lennert replied enthusiastically, taking the Techo’s paw and shaking it, perhaps a little too roughly. “Our name’s Smurdnunoc! Oh, and I’m Lennert, by the way – founder, creator, and main creative force behind the band!”
“Hey, wait...” came the Pteri’s small voice from off to the side. “What about the triangle...?” No one heard him.
R. Cory continued on. “Well, that’s good! Tell you what – you guys come down to my office tomorrow and we can talk this over some more, eh?” Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a card and handed it to Lennert. “Just come to the address listed on the card around noon. See ya then!” And with that, he turned and walked off back down the street, in the very direction from whence they had all come. But after a few steps, Hawkins managed to find his voice.
“...Wait! I... uhhh... what were you doing at a little kid’s birthday party, anyways?”
The Techo turned and looked back at Hawkins, his head silhouetted by the blazing sun, a sly smile on his partially-shadowed face. “Oh, everyone knows that little kids’ birthday parties are the best places to find undiscovered musical talent!” And with that, he turned and continued off down the street towards the setting sun, leaving the four members of Smurdnunoc standing on the street corner, shocked and confused from everything that had just happened over the last hour.
After a beat, a still-grinning Lennert turned to Hawkins. “So, Hawkins, you still wanna to break up no—”
“Shut up, Lennert. Just shut up.”
“Dude,” the Yellow Krawk said aloud, “I still wanna know what a record agent was doing at some little girl’s birthday party. I mean, am the only one here who finds that slightly creepy?”
No. No you’re not.
To be continued...