Microphone taps and then a voice: “one, two, one, two.”
The spotlight swoops the live applauding audience.
The cylinder of white light finally settles on the stage as a circle in the floor recedes. From beneath the stage, the slick, silver black hair reflects the light from the stage rafters in all directions as the slim body in a dark black suit slowly rises on the circle platform.
The live applause roars even more.
His rings sparkle like mirrors on all his fingers but his middle. He gently holds the microphone like a disco ball as it reflects his strict cheekbones revealing the backstage makeup. His hair looks like the fourth piece of his stiff three-piece suit as it glows in the spotlight.
Then, the gleam of the shoe polish and his green eyes lift to camera, and his lips follow lock step with the movement of his eyes as they read from the prompter above the live audience.
“Ladies and gentlemen! “
Announcer: “one, two…one, two!”
The lips hardly open in the low drawl and dramatic “Welcome to…”
“Deuced…or S-s-seduced.” The logo is stamped on the screen for the viewers at home.
“I am Mel Fynger! With a Y. And, I’ll be your host tonight as we decide who…will be…deuced! And…who will be…s-s-seduced!”
The camera shifts to the silhouette of Mel outlined by an electric blue ray that slowly envelops him into focus, and the show begins.
“Now, let us meet our musical mastermind contestants!”
The audience wails.
The camera pans out and then slowly turns away from Mel as two separate semicircle stages spin like islands below amber and emerald jeweled lighting.
Each producer is buried behind stacks of equipment on either side of a centered computer with cobwebs of cables facing the audience for heightened effect. Four speakers on either side of the computer screens face each contestant, while speakers hang from the rafters for audience listening.
The semicircle of the stage extends upward as one curved wall behind each producer. Soundboards hang all around the studio, and each stage has been specially engineered to give the contestants as much accuracy as possible with their audio perception and manipulation.
From above the computer, a small black beanie peeks itself above the monitor with the occasional lunge to the side or a simple turn of the head. The other computer reveals a baseball cap: the bill lowered and bent, and long, black hair drapes each side.
The clicks of the mouse are amplified with the mumbling audience and the spotlights slowly paint the stage as the contestants set up their audio rigs.
Sponsorship ads scroll the screen.
“On the Amber Isolation stage, meet contestant number one: JohnXnY from Cincinnati, Ohio!” (pronounced: jah-knee-ex-why)
JohnXnY doesn’t move to acknowledge the camera. The audience roars.
“And, producing on Emerald-Iso stage, please put your hands together for Miss Missy Moon!”
Without acknowledging the audience, Miss Missy Moon moves with an air of seriousness and deliberate determination, as if she were trying to crack a code.
The audience cheers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, both contestants are musical masterminds specializing in mixing and producing songs. They will both be given the same rough version of a recorded song, and their goal will be to mix and manipulate the song through a series of rounds to make it sound like a masterpiece.
“In the end, we will decide which contestant will be deuced, and which contestant will successfully s-s-seduce our audience and the folks at home.
“There will be three rounds before the final Seduction. The first round is the Chorus War. Each contestant will focus on creating the best sound for the chorus of the song they are both given. The second round is the Verse Curse, then Take Me to the Bridge. And lastly, the final round: the Final Mix!
“The contestant with the most votes wins. The Final Mix votes will count double!
“The contestants-slash-audio masterminds will be given four minutes per round. At the end of four minutes, the audience and the folks at home will cast a vote:
“Let’s move to the Chorus War.
“Both JohnXnY and Miss Missy Moon will now be given a chorus to the same song written by songwriter extraordinaire Billy J of Haze Records.
“When each contestant has the chorus uploaded to their computer, they will compete to quickly orchestrate, mix, and edit the piece before moving on to the next round.
“Shall we?” Mel waves his hand with his palm up to signal the beginning of the round.
Billy Harris Junior was the son of the music executive William Harris. His friends called him Billy J.
William founded Haze Records in the late ’70s and had some success releasing music from glam rock, prog rock hair bands that marked the era. He hated music. Loved the money.
As Billy J floundered in his teenage years, Haze Records floundered with him. The thought of Billy J being the savior and inheriting the business was terrifying. William knew he needed to leech onto something quick. By now he loathed the music industry, and he had zero confidence in his son.
Meanwhile, Billy J bounced around a couple of bands as quickly as he bounced around schools. He always insisted his songs were good, but everyone knew they weren’t. They all went along with it because they knew about Haze. Billy J wouldn’t have cared anyway. Billy J always believed his songs would be great if he had a producer who could work wonders. He grew up under Haze.
As Haze slowly deteriorated, William began trying his hand at any wild hair idea that involved the business: local promotional events, theme park sideshows, roadshow circus events, A.M. radio, daytime television- anything to float the company longer. Nothing sparked.
During the company tumble, Billy J remained completely oblivious. He spent his days sleeping and rotting on his father’s couch making up unlistenable songs and watching the game show channel. It was during Billy J’s common mid-afternoon malaise on his dad’s couch while slurping some cereal, when he haphazardly planted a seed in William’s ear:
“You know what’d be a cool game show?”
No response. William never listened to Billy.
“Like, instead of, like, American Idol…there should be a show that’s like…uh…like American Idol but for, like…recording. Like a producer-off.”
William put his cup of coffee in the microwave without a response.
“Like. You know?” said Billy. There was silence.
The microwave dinged, and William left the room without his coffee.
He went straight to his office to make a couple calls to his daytime TV people.
The camera focuses in on two men in the audience. One older gentleman in a cheap brown suit, and a younger gentleman in his late teens dressed in a black, ragged Def Leppard t-shirt, with a red bandana wrapped around his forehead. A black Puka shell necklace wraps tightly around his neck, while gold-rimmed aviator glasses rest lazily on the bridge of his nose. A caption appears on the screen and simply reads: Billy J Haze- songwriter.
“Let it roll!” says Mel Fynger as he touches one hand to his ear as if to prompt listening. His gold rings glisten.
The camera turns to JohnXnY and Miss Missy Moon, then sweeps the audience as the chorus of the song plays once. Then, it painfully plays again.
The chorus is just the guitar and voice of Billy J Haze. The melody is dull, and empty of any emotion. He whines:
Sweet streetlight lady on the boulevard
One last kiss, you’re my shooting star
“Contestants! Man your ships!” signals Mel Fynger has he looks squarely at the female contestant Miss Missy Moon.
“Audience. People at home. Will we be…Deuced? Or will we be S-s-s-educed?!”
Billy J’s chorus plays, and the camera slowly pans the stage, then the audience.
“We’ll find out when we return.”
Marissa Morris worked full time at a coffee shop in a Cypress strip mall while she attended school. She drove an old Honda hatchback at 4 A.M. every morning, worked till about noon, slept for a couple hours, played piano or bounced around on the computer, and then headed to night school for a class or two. She enjoyed computer science.
After serving her last customer for the day at the shop, Marissa left work and headed home. On her way out of the parking lot she checked her phone for texts in the morning. While her car slowly idled, Marissa was suddenly jolted by a dull thud on her hood then thrown forward after she slammed her foot on the brake.
When she looked up, her windshield was dripping with hot coffee, milk and sugar, and a dude was awkwardly half sitting and half lying on the hood of her hatchback. He moaned feebly.
Luckily she was going so slow that she really barely bumped him. If he hadn’t been on his phone too, the entire incident may have been avoided. He lost his coffee after his legs were swept by the bumper, but he managed to protect the phone as he was plopped up onto the car. His moans were dramatic.
Marissa turned the wipers on, and the coffee smeared arcs of brown streaks through which she caught the first glimpse of John Xayachack, giving her the bird.
In a guiltless shock, Marissa stormed out of the car to defend herself and confront her new mewling hood ornament. Remarkably, this confrontation marked the beginning of a romantic relationship.
“Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. We are underway!
“Both contestants have uploaded the chorus and are calmly and skillfully constructing the piece.”
The screen zooms in on JohnXnY’s computer screen. The colorful sound waves streak the screen in rows. The actions and movements of the cursor are so fast it’s nearly impossible to follow the thought process. Windows open and close, highlights, dragging, menus drop down then disappear. Total control.
The live camera zooms in on Miss Missy Moon for an aerial shot. She clicks and drags, then rolls in her chair to the stack of equipment beside the computer. Pulls a cable here, reattaches and patches it to new circuital entry points. Repeats this a couple times, then rolls back to her screen. Calmly, deliberately.
Billy J’s voice and guitar play repeatedly in the background as the screen moves away from the contestants.
“Let’s check in with the experts. What can you tell us, Roxy?”
The camera backstage follows Roxy Rose, a tall, black haired woman in a short black dress. Roxy approaches a computer technician backstage and asks in an overly seductive voice:
“Hi sweetie, all I see are JohnXnY’s hands moving quick and strong along the keys. Is there more to it than that?”
The technician, a small man with a thinning comb-over, describes the key moves he was able to detect from the contestants. He highlights some of the hardware and software each of the contestants is using to help polish the musical piece as he stumbles and stutters over his words.
Roxy holds the microphone lazily and with disinterest, but she’s preoccupied as she stares at JohnXnY as he works.
The clock counts down in the lower right hand corner. :20, :19, :18…
The camera swoops a final shot of each contestant, and the buzzer wails. Each computer freezes.
“Contestants, bounce your chorus mix!”
Visit our website to cast your vote from home appears at the bottom of the screen.
A couple years had passed since Marissa and John moved to Hollywood. John was able to immediately score a job for a local music studio as an audio engineer. A friend of a friend had hooked him up.
He kept his own audio equipment (that he’d owned long before Marissa clipped him with her car) in their small apartment. Marissa worked part time at a local coffee shop. She worked early in the morning, while John worked odd hours, but typically nights.
As time passed in their small apartment, Marissa spent many hours alone while John was at the studio. Eventually she retreated into her piano and the musical equipment John stored in their place. Marissa used her computer science skills to help acquaint herself with the musical programs, and she had a natural disposition for mechanical problem solving.
Over time, Marissa didn’t mind John being gone at all.
Again, the camera sweeps the audience while the polling numbers roll higher and higher for each contestant. When the frame finally settles on Mel, the number for each contestant’s chorus mix have been tallied and appear on screen.
JohnXnY wins the first round by a landslide. His chorus is fairly similar to Billy’s original form, but it is enhanced and prettied up to sound more musical and polished.
Miss Missy Moon’s chorus hardly resembles Billy’s original idea. The dynamic of the sound has changed completely; even the words sound different from the original mix.
Mel interjects after the results are announced:
“Alright, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it! The people have spoken.
“Looks like Miss Missy Moon has her work cut out for her as we head into the Verse Curse!
“Audience, and viewers at home, you will see the lyrics to the song scroll as the contestants work the verses to the songs. Each contestant will need to mix the verse and adjust or change any lyrics that may need improvement.
“At the end of the round, the people will vote. This round the words count as much as the sound.
“Contestants, man your rigs!
“And, we’re off…”
The camera sweeps the contestants but appears to be showing a bias toward JohnXnY. The camera focuses on him while the lyrics scroll.
JohnXnY moves swiftly through his computer, adjusting knobs on his console in front of him and his equipment along the sides of his desk. He also makes subtle changes to the words to fit his rhythmic changes and adapt to the new feeling he gives to the verses.
The attention shifts to Miss Missy Moon. She appears frozen, staring at her screen. Any adjustment she makes seems to be more experimental than deliberate. The lyrics are nowhere. The scroll on the screen is empty. She’s still, but calm, confident and calculated.
“Well, folks,” Mel interjects, “it appears Miss Missy Moon is stumped. She’s gonna have some making up to do in the Take Me to the Bridge round, unless she makes some changes here down the stretch.
“We definitely didn’t expect this,” Mel says softly as he nods his head in disapproval of Miss Missy Moon’s performance.
The camera pans to JohnXnY working intensely and unfazed.
As the timer hits the minute mark, Miss Missy Moon finally snaps into action. Her fingers float over the keys in a calm flurry. She turns in her seat to adjust her console beside her desk. Then she turns to a small synthesizer behind her, plays a couple chords with an indistinct melody. Then, she rotates back to her screen.
Lyrics begin to flow down the scrolling screen.
The camera pans to Billy Haze. He shrugs and throws his hands in the air in disgust. He shakes his head and laughs mockingly as he mumbles a few words to his father who rises to his feet in disgust.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is certainly unexpected. It appears Miss Missy Moon has her own take on the song. Not sure what her plan is, but this is a risky move.”
All of the lyrics had been changed. The verses sound nothing like the original.
The camera pans from Miss Missy Moon’s illuminated, focused face to Billy’s father walking up the aisle steps past the audience in disgust.
John and Marissa parked the hatchback on a side street a few blocks from the studio because the lot was full. As they walked up the ramp that led to the side door, Marissa tried to calm John:
“You’re gonna do great. Just focus on the song, and do what you do best.”
John pulled his beanie off of his head and ran one hand through his hair, leaned against the ramp railing and put his beanie back on. He pulled out a cigarette, and Marissa lit a match.
“John,” she said.
“Yeah,” he replied, then, took a drag.
They didn’t speak as John smoked the cigarette. Marissa waited for conversation. She turned her head, waited, then swept her gaze to the other direction looking for attention, but bothered to look as if she wasn’t bothered. Without the response, she reverted to her phone.
When John finished, they entered through the door with the address 222 Sixix Ave. Studio D. After checking in at the desk, John and Marissa were escorted around a few corners and through a variety of hallways before being dispatched.
People hurried here and there backstage. Some carried clipboards and headphones while others carried cables and wrenches, and others pushed equipment cabinets.
John and Marissa entered a room designated for the contestants. A long table against the wall was topped with platters of food, buckets of bottled water and other soft drinks. A full bar was adjacent to the food table.
Marissa and John were impressed as they settled in and stood off in the corner. Marissa held a small napkin with some crackers and cheese. John drank a Redbull vodka.
As they stood silently observing, Billy Haze loped into the room and went straight for the food. He wildly piled up his plate and threw a Coke in his back pocket. He nodded his chin upward to John and Marissa as he wiped his mouth with his forearm and walked out of the room.
John and Marissa both gestured hello after Billy was already gone.
William Haze came in next. He went straight for the bar and quickly made himself a drink. He poked a couple olives and approached John and Marissa:
“Howdy,” he said. “Where’s the other guy?”
“Haven’t seen him,” said John.
“Who’s this?” William asked as he tilted his head and creepily looked Marissa up and down.
Before John could respond, Mel Fynger appeared behind William Haze and put his arm around his back, and assertively slapped his shoulder.
“William,” said Mel, “been a while.”
“Yes it has,” replied William as he stepped away from Mel. He tipped his glass and head gently forward, then turned and walked to the bar for another drink.
Mel examined Marissa like a specimen, winked at her, then he turned to John.
“Where’s the other one?” said Mel.
“Not sure. Not here yet, I guess,” John replied.
“Hope he makes it,” Mel snickered. Then added, “You know, you don’t have success until you make it.” Like he had said something profound, he sharply snickered out his nose and walked away as if he’d been summoned from across the room.
Marissa looked at John to confirm the hilarity of both Mel and William, but John sipped his drink and dazed off as if nothing had happened. Marissa watched John’s eyes scanning the room until they finally locked on Roxy Rose as she held a glass and pulled an olive off the toothpick with her red lips.
Marissa said nothing and left to find the ladies’ room.
The polls show another victory in favor of JohnXnY; but, the margin of victory has narrowed, and Miss Missy Moon seems to be gaining favor with her trailblazing antics during the Verse Curse.
After announcing the scores, Mel rears back and awkwardly yells into the microphone:
“Take Me to the Bridge!
“Contestants, this is the final round. When time is up, the audience will vote for the Take Me to the Bridge winner.”
“You will then have one minute to piece the song together and present your final mix to the audience and the folks at home!”
Mel paces the stage and walks over a bridge that extends from the host podium to the Amber and Emerald Isolation stages.
Mel faces JohnXnY and Miss Missy Moon and quietly whispers:
“Take me to the bridge.”
The timer begins as the camera pans away, sweeps the audience, and Billy Haze’s bridge plays.
A sponsored ad drapes the screen as the camera pans the rafters of the show and down onto the audience. The atmosphere from the audience is tense, but there is confusion in the air as audience members turn to each other, whisper, and shrug.
As the timer buzzes, the camera settles on Mel.
“Well,” he says, “sometimes the train can’t hear the whistle, folks. And sometimes the station ain’t waitin’ for the train.”
The audience looks more confused.
As the screen plays JohnXnY’s bridge, the numbers roll in fast. The camera focuses onto JohnXnY who leans back in his chair, head tilted, and with a slight grin he nods in victorious approval.
When Miss Missy Moon’s numbers trickle in, the audience hushes into a perplexed silence. The crowd raises their heads in an effort to hear something in the distance.
But, there is nothing.
Miss Missy Moon sat still through the Take Me to the Bridge round. She made a couple gestures and maneuvers, but when the timer buzzed, she didn’t submit a thing.
She had no bridge.
Jack Diamond was dead asleep when his alarm went off at 6:30am on the morning of filming. It was a miracle that he was able to pry himself out of his dirty bed. He had just passed out a couple hours before, drunk and dried bloody from a skirmish he instigated with another patron at his local haunt. His head throbbed.
After throwing on some clothes from the floor and splashing his face with water, Jack slammed an energy drink, took a couple bites of cold, old Thai food from his fridge, and swigged a bit of Smirnoff before leaving his apartment.
He cursed the elevator doors and slammed the button as he swayed. The elevator never came, so Jack took the stairs.
On the way down, he stumbled into an old woman, knocking her nearly over and causing her to drop her bag of groceries from the store. She didn’t know what hit her.
Jack mumbled curses under his breath and continued downward, never looking up.
He hailed a cab and threw himself inside. The auto locks clicked as Jack lazily adjusted himself and mumbled the address to the driver.
“Tw-Tw-Two Sixix Ave,” John spit.
As the driver pulled away, Jack thought about his next drink, and his buddy John. He was anxious about it, but he knew he could dominate John with his skills. Plus, it was good money and exposure.
But, why John? Jack thought as it faded quickly.
“It’s early,” Jack mumbled as they drove.
“Not to me,” said the driver. “Seems like I been up forever.”
Jack couldn’t tell if the driver was a man or a woman. But he didn’t think much of it. He slowly lifted his eyelids, and his eyes spun a little as he turned his liquor pickled gaze out the window.
“Seems earlier than it is,” said Jack. “Is it usually dark this late in the morning?”
“I enjoy the night,” replied the driver.
“At least there’s no traffic,” Jack said relieved. “I thought for sure it would take forever at this time.”
“It could,” said the driver.
Jack was a little confused, but didn’t give it much thought as they zoomed through town.
“Hey, could you hang a right here for a sip quickstop…quick pitstop?” Jack fumbled.
“Mind waiting a sec? I’ll need a ride to the studio a little further ‘cross town if you can take me?” Jack asked.
“Nothing but time, sir. I’ll be here when you’re done,” said the driver as he, or she, turned the radio dial up.
The channel buzzed over a sermon being delivered by a boisterous voice with an insistent accent. Jack got out of the car and went inside for his drink.
An hour later, Jack stumbled out of the barroom doors. The cab was still there. The sun was still down.
“Hope that wasn’t too bad,” Jack said, “thanks for waiting. No one in there, just the barkeep.”
The auto locks clicked as the sermon trickled and cracked through the radio as the driver fired up the engine.
“…all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation…but…after death they must undergo purification…”
“So 222 Sixix Avenue., eh?” asked the driver as he reached for the dial to turn it down.
“Yeah, that’s it,” answered Jack.
“Hey, what’s up with the sun?” Jack asked confused.
“Still early,” said the driver, “probably be another hot one.”
The cab pulled away as Jack glazed. His time was running out now because of the pit stop for the drinks, but Jack relaxed in the back seat. He wasn’t worried.
He threw his head back on the headrest and dazed out the window. The cab zoomed through a maze of side streets leading across town as Jack thought about John and the show.
The streets were still empty, and the sun still hadn’t peeked its light over the buildings of the city or the distant hills. Jack Diamond didn’t think much of it riding in the backseat of the cab. He was grateful there was no one on the road; he’d make it to the studio with time to kill.
The streets passed and changed, passed and changed. The taxi driver turned down a vacant street, then another vacant street.
Turn after turn, the taxi driver continued. When he lit a cigarette, Jack Diamond asked:
“How much longer, you think?”
“Not long. You’ve got time.”
Jack Diamond became nervous. He thought he might be late now.
Another turn, another vacant street. The moon still high.
“Sure we’re going the right way?” asked Jack.
“Only one way to go,” replied the driver.
Jack began to sweat as he stared out the window. His time had run out.
Growing angry, he said:
“Alright, buddy, stop the cab. I’ll just get out here.”
The driver didn’t respond. The sun didn’t rise.
“Hey!” shouted Jack. He reached for the door handle. Nothing.
The driver puffed a cloud of smoke through the cab, clouding the windshield and the dash.
“All the time in the world,” he said as he, or she, glanced in the rearview mirror with a smirk.
The cab weaved through the dark empty streets.
When Marissa returned from the restroom, the room backstage had filled with a noticeable anxiety. People with headsets bustled through the room in a hurried and growing panic. The casual conversations had turned from introductions and small talk to quieted whispers and empty glances around the room, as if everyone was looking for something.
Marissa spotted Mel Fynger in the corner speaking intensely into someone’s face. He wagged his finger and shook his head in what she thought looked like a gesture of disbelief and anger.
As she scanned the room, she saw John walking down the far hallway. Next to him was Roxy Rose. Roxy leaned toward his head as they walked, and her bright red lips whispered something into his ears. He smiled gently, then put his hand on the small of her back. It slid down.
Marissa threw up in her mouth.
Why am I here? She thought to herself. “I gotta get the hell out of here.”
As she turned to leave, a woman with a headset grabbed her firmly by the arm.
“We need you,” she said frantically. “You can do this, right?”
“Do what?” Marissa responded. She couldn’t get the sight of John’s hand on Roxy out of her head.
“This!” the woman yelled as she pointed to the stage.
“Jack Diamond is nowhere to be found, and we’re rolling in minutes.”
Marissa shook her head. “What? I, I…” The image of John’s hand popped in again.
“How did you -”
“John told us on his application and interview. He said you worked with him sometimes.”
“I…I work…sometime -”
“Come on,” the woman said as she tugged firmly on Marissa’s wrist and dragged her down the hallway where John had gone with Roxy.
As they approached the end of the hallway, the woman turned to Marissa in a jolt.
“Hold still,” she said. Another woman approached them in a hurry. She puffed some makeup on Marissa’s face, and rubbed it in swiftly.
“I…I don’t -”
“Just go!” The woman yelled and shoved her out onto the stage.
Marissa stumbled out onto the Emerald stage.
As she turned back to the hallway, Roxy Rose smirked a vengeful smile as she chomped some gum and leaned against the doorway.
Marissa turned around again and walked confidently to Emerald stage across from John.
The audience sways their heads back and forth as JohnnyXnY’s song comes to a close in the Final Mix round. When it finishes the audience gives their applause of approval.
JohnXnY’s mix is a significant sonic improvement of Billy J. Haze’s original version. The verses, choruses, and the bridge have all improved, and all stand out in their own originality while emphasizing Billy’s strengths, and hiding his weaknesses. Billy J. sits among the audience, applauding with a big smile as he and his father exchange indiscernible, but clearly approving remarks for JohnXnY.
The applause comes to a close, and the lights dim as the camera turns to Miss Missy Moon. The spotlight lights the Emerald stage. She looks up at the crowd, then back down at her screen, and the song begins to play.
The audience listens attentively, and slowly begins to sway with the song. As Miss Missy Moon’s song plays, it becomes apparent that something is drastically different than JohnXnY’s mix.
The song doesn’t have a bridge. Not only is the bridge missing, the verses and choruses flow as one. There is no obvious distinction between any of the parts. The song moves gracefully and rhythmically as a landscape over time, rather than a chunky equation. Nearly all of Billy Haze’s lyrics have been changed, and the song does not resemble Billy’s original version at all. It is a masterpiece.
When the song finishes, the audience is silent for a moment in disbelief. The spotlight settles on Miss Missy Moon again. Suddenly, the crowd erupts in a standing ovation.
The camera shifts to the audience. Billy is the only person sitting. He is crouched over with his head in his hands. William bolts up the aisle, irate.
The voting numbers roll in. Miss Missy Moon overwhelmingly wins the Final Mix round and eclipses JohnXnY’s individual round victories. She is the undisputed winner.
Miss Missy Moon sneers at Roxy Rose, then turns her back to the audience. Not once does she look at JohnXnY.
Through the peephole at her apartment, Marissa could see John in the hallway running his hand through his hair. The other hand held some flowers with the price tag visible on the wrapping.
She knew he was nervous.
Wants the rest of his shit. His shit. Right, she thought as she slowly opened the door.
John stood still.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hey,” she replied.
“I came to pick up the last of my stuff.”
Marissa replied, “You already got it all. The last pieces of equipment I paid for on my credit card. I’ll keep it.”
“Are we really gonna -”
“Yes, John. We are.. It’s done. The shit is mine,” she firmly responded.
His shoulders drooped with the flowers.
“Ok,” he said sheepishly. “Well, I guess that’s that.”
“Hey, congratulations by the way,” he said.
“Thanks,” Marissa said with some relief of moving past the moment.
“Hey, how’d that all work out with Haze?” John asked, perhaps treating the moment more casual than Marissa wanted.
She smirked and shrugged it off as nothing.
“Since my version of the song was changed so much, I was given all the rights.”
“All the rights?” John said shocked.
“Yeah,” said Marissa.
“The song is number one,” John said as if Marissa didn’t know.
“Yeah. It’s my song,” she said.
“Whoa – “ John tried to continue the conversation.
“Alright, John,” Marissa interrupted.
He stepped back and turned down the hallway of the apartment building.
At the end of the hall he looked back with the flowers hunched in his hand.
Marissa gave him the bird.
As John moped down the stairwell, he stumbled into an old woman, nearly knocking her over and causing her to spill her bag of groceries.
He mumbled curses under his breath, and the flowers fell to the floor.
He never looked up.
The camera swoops back to Miss Missy Moon’s stage as Mel motions her out from behind her rig.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you have been s-s-seduced by our champion: Miss Missy Moon!”
The camera pans to JohnXnY. Mel speaks solemnly into the microphone:
“JohnXnY, you have been…deuced.”
The crowd cheers and Emerald confetti falls on the stage as the credits roll down the screen.
Mel Fynger addresses the audience as he grabs Miss Missy Moon’s hand and raises it up:
“What a song! Our winner!”
What a creep, Melissa thinks as Mel’s creepy rings clutch her hand.
“Remember to catch us next time for our next episode and song on…Deuced or S-s-seduced!”