The Punk of Spring or The Rite of Punk
By Ed Peaco
According to Amazon, the score of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring cost $14.93 in paperback. This discovery delighted guitarist Franko Tucker, a self-branded prog-punk musician who was hipped to Stravinsky by Hermes Agee, a young Franko fan and fellow guitarist, though classically trained. From their friendship, they decided to make a punk version of The Rite of Spring for Franko’s band, Franko and the Futile. Franko had just turned 30 and wondering what he’d accomplished in life, and he realized he needed Hermy’s conservatory expertise to pull it off.
tattooed stick figure of a man whose main nutrition came from bar food or what
could be eaten quickly from a can, was squabbling with The Futile over whether
to work up The Rite of Spring or play covers of songs people liked and
knew. The Futile (prematurely balding drummer Merk Moskwa with his fedora, and
Fletcher Harrington on bass with a heavy keychain slung over his hip) weren’t
getting how cool The Rite of Spring could be. Franko settled the matter
when Hermy, back from Berklee for the summer, insisted on Stravinsky and
insisted to be there to avoid total collapse.
currently wearing a man bun and a vintage sport jacket with elbow patches, had
enlisted two players from his former high-school group, the Teen Strings, to
make the effort sound more or less like Stravinsky. He demonstrated on his
tablet with a music keyboard.
Hermy was a necessity, Franko sometimes found him arrogant, an egghead type, irksome. However, he
worked well with The Futile. They came around when Hermy told them their roles
would be mostly the same — Fletch’s fuzz-bass throb, Merk’s double-bass
kick-drum machine-gun approach. Better for The Futile, Hermy wrote a couple of
raucous punk pieces for them — “Punk Prelude” and “Pots and Pans” — despite his
mother’s preference that he stay on a strictly classical path.
sported a colorful sleeve of tattoos on one arm, a scene of slithering
creatures emerging from jungle greenery. He had a good fan base, at least in
the sprawling city of Bristol Springs, Missouri. But some of his old friends
from high school were the kind of folks he’d now normally avoid, as they were
excelling in their careers and starting families.
an exception for Olivia Ellis, who he remembered from concert band.
in Walmart, he was wearing his LeBron James number 23 jersey and shorts. He
thought he spotted her in Produce, but he could have been wrong. He remembered
Olivia as a gangly girl with long, shiny dark hair, strong minded, prickly,
with few friends. He recalled she was married to a guy named Bob. But 12 years
later, she looked filled-out, curvy. Her hair was short now, with a long shock
that fell over her right eye. He had to say hello.
you’ve put on a whole lot of ink since I saw you last — maybe since school?”
my fingering arm, to keep peoples’ eyes on me,” he said. “I’m making enough
cash with my music these days: casinos, private parties, exhibition halls.”
Thankfully, he wouldn’t have to talk about meeting quotas in call centers or
busting down boxes at loading docks.
Olivia said. She talked about her work in real estate. “Did you know I’m
working on a new development on the Central Square? Didn’t you say you lived
there, on the west side of the square?”
heard something about that.” He had received numerous booklets and updates in
the mail about the project, and consistently ignored them.
plans are for mixed use. You might end up where you are, but nicer — elevator,
no more stairs.”
Shithead? His real name can’t be used,” she said with a clenched fist.
don’t,” she said with piercing, dark eyes. “There’s more. I got a great
attorney and the house.” Then Olivia launched into a story of being screwed at
the real estate office where she worked. “I coddled a bunch of investors over a
month or more,” she said. “I wiped their asses! Then the boss took me off the
project. I don’t care anymore.”
plans for lunch after he returned from a two-week mini-tour of Russellville,
St. Joseph, Ottumwa, Marshalltown, Kirksville and La Crosse.
overnight haul from La Crosse, the
first thing Franko did was hit Aunt Millie’s for a pancake breakfast. Then he
went to his fourth-floor walkup, but he found that fencing, blockades and huge
wrecking machines were in place.
like a cow as he remembered he forgot about the demolition. He fell to his
knees and bawled again, loud enough to be heard on the other side of the
square. Franko had meant to look at the information before he left for the
mini-tour, but as usual, he blew it off.
was panicking, sweating in his armpits and crotch. He thought about Olivia
Ellis. He couldn’t find her phone number at first, then he found it in his
she picked up. He tried to speak to her, but he was slobbering: “Help. I fucked
up! Really fucked! Forgot. What to do, help me, help me. Help!”
going on?” she asked, trying to extract what Franko’s trouble was. He hadn’t
removed his belongings from his studio apartment. “Stay where you are. I’ll
meet you there. Franko, just breathe.”
arrived downtown, people were standing around, watching the setup for tear-down
this probably happened a day or two after the band headed out on the tour,” he
really leave all your shit in the building and go away for two weeks?”
so, but I did have some stuff with me.”
into action, grabbed some city official in a suit, tie and orange plastic hard
hat. He said they had a lost-and-found in the Public Works building, just a few
blocks off the square. The plastic-hard-hat fellow told Franko to go there
take a quick look in my place before everything falls apart?” Franko asked.
hard-hat’s reply: “No.”
Works, Franko was grateful to find some of his belongings: boxed-up documents,
a plastic tub including random things like dishes and a few books, a
skateboard, spare guitar and keyboard, but not his laptop. He felt foolish but
pleased to be with Olivia. He asked about his ancient MacBook laptop, but it
was not among his effects.
thanked the official and stood awkwardly, then skulked away. He returned to the
square, where the crowd had expanded. Olivia drove
home in her 370Z two-seater. She promised to return shortly with her spacious
Chrysler 300 she kept for tooling around with clients. Well-to-do people in the
crowd were cheering, and a few activists flew black flags indicating contempt
over the destruction of longstanding structures.
felt like flying a black flag, too, but he spent time avoiding people he
recognized. After a time of sinking hope, Olivia returned. They filled the back seat and the
trunk with Franko’s diminished chattel. He asked about the two upscale rides.
“They’re used. You know, impression is everything in the real estate game,” she
— — —
items actually amounted to a fairly substantial heap. They unloaded his crap
into a spare room at the back part of her house, where Olivia made a place for Franko to work and sleep
until he could find a place of his own.
checked with your insurance people?” Olivia asked.
asked, “No,” not wanting to admit he thought renter’s insurance was a big
get a check for some of your losses.”
said, “My laptop is all I really want. It has all my music — all the tracks for
The Rite of Spring. I had to break down and redo what Stravinsky did. I
thought I was being brilliant by leaving the laptop behind so it wouldn’t be
lost on the tour.”
heard of a memory stick, or even better: the Cloud?” He sat on an ottoman and
hung his head between his knees. “I have a Mac. It’s got GarageBand. Use mine,”
bother you staying here?”
to have you here instead of Shithead.”
dinner, Hermy came over to Olivia’s place to work on The Rite of
Spring with Franko. Hermy plugged in and messed around with some intricate
chord changes for a few minutes and immediately blew Franko’s mind.
more talent in one broken fingernail than all the gray matter in my little tiny
cranium,” Franko said.
actually looked at what Igor did?”
that’s why I’m freaking out. I’m inputting chunks of The Rite of Spring
in ways that will make sense for a six-piece. Franko and The Futile is just a
simple garage band. What did I get myself into? Can we loop some of this?”
folks will think it’s canned, and they’ll be right. We’ll just have to do the
best we can.”
of 3/4, next one bar of 5/4, to a bar of 7/4, and, for a breather, three bars
of 6/4, and back to 5/4. That’s why I’m getting ready for these screwy rhythms.
And that’s why Merk and Fletch need something they can handle. Igor has made it
cued the second “episode” of The Rite of Spring on Spotify, then he
gyrated and lurched from the abrupt directions of the piece. “We need a
different title: The Punk of Spring or The Rite of Punk. Or both!”
By now it
was midnight, and Olivia was sleeping.
Franko and Hermy decided to take a walk around the block. It was a mild
evening. Halfway around, Franko was bathed in a sweet scent of something. He
advanced toward the scent; he didn’t really know where it came from — flowering
shrubs? He stepped onto the springy grass, seeking a more intense aroma.
better stay off people’s lawns. They don’t like that,” Hermy said.
moment, Franko detonated a ringing alarm, along with several flashes from the
front-door area. A clumsily moving figure dashed out with a huge flashlight.
The alarm stopped. The scowling man’s unruly hair became gauzy in the back-lit
remaining stone-cadaverous still, saw that the approaching figure was wearing
pajamas and a bathrobe. The garment slunk at an angle, with one side drooping.
Then a big dog, growling and barking, appeared beside the man.
morning, gentlemen. I’m Pleetus Ambercrombie,” he said, glaring at Franko. “And
who, the fuck, are you?”
another fellow emerged from a home across the street and moved toward the
looked over at the emerging neighbor. “Take it easy, Gibby,” Pleetus said. “I
got Adolf here. He’s got a good bark that makes folks take notice.”
might want to straighten up your britches,” Gibby told Pleetus. “These guys don’t look like
much of a threat to me.”
attempted to engage Pleetus, but the scruffy homeowner put his hand up like a
traffic cop giving the stop signal.
trespassing,” Pleetus said.
noticed that Pleetus had a chin beard about eight inches long, decorated with
short stacks of beads.
at Franko, Pleetus thrust his hand into the pocket in the drooping side of his
pajama bottoms and said, “Don’t approach me.”
backed up. “Sorry, I just wanted to smell the shrubs. We’re just out for a
walk. I’m staying around the corner.”
busted out in an eruption of chuckling. “You’re a shrub smeller, ay?”
dog closed in on Franko, who tried to move away. It was making a muttering
sound and did a half-circle to get behind Franko. Adolf was busy: nuzzling,
growling and nipping. Then Franko felt something. “Hey, that dog bit me! Call
said, “Adolf won’t hurt you. Nothing to worry about.” Gibby looked on, eyes
darting from Pleetus to the two interlopers. “Go back to your house, Gibby,” Pleetus said. Then he focused on Franko
and patted the drooping pocket of his pajamas. Pleetus called the dog, and it
reluctantly returned to his master.
pulled out his phone shakily and made a call. Luckily, Olivia picked up.
yer callin’?” Pleetus asked.
friend Olivia. She lives around the block,” Franko said.
L’il’ Olive Oyl,” Pleetus said. “Just keep in mind, I got access.”
what?” Franko asked.
access to use a firearm. Don’t approach me. Just think about what ‘Don’t Tread
on Me’ means to you in your situation.” Pleetus patted his bulky pajama pocket,
causing the bottoms to droop to his knees before he could hoist them up.
had a little nervous titter over that, and Hermy whispered to him to shut up.
arrived and parked two houses down the street. Olivia emerged. “Hey, I’m looking at you. Yes, you,
Pleetus, the Barney Fife bum-fuck of the block,” she said. “You know the police
have blown you off.”
“No trespassing,” Pleetus said.
a pathetic old man. Just go back to bed with your dog,” Olivia said, as Adolf
corralled Franko and Hermy and brought them away from the fray. As they packed
themselves into the 370Z, she explained that people have door-bell cameras for
security. “I wish I’d told you all of this before I fell asleep,” she said.
“Pleetus’s system is on a really sensitive trigger, and the lens is really
powerful. He’s known as a local nut job.”
up that night, recreating the score on Olivia’s Mac. While taking a break, he
found old-west memes on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the neighborhood
website, portraying Olivia, Hermy
and Franko as bandits. He recognized the photos all doctored up. Damn, the
geezer had pretty good social-media skills, Franko thought.
woke up, Olivia was out. He hoped she wouldn’t see the pictures yet. Each
mugshot was cast as an old-time sepia frame. Wording at the top of the image
was One Way or Another, probably because Pleetus had enough social-media
savvy not to use Dead or Alive.
the morning, the two other perpetrator/victims
of Pleetus’s digital onslaught found out. Hermy phoned Franko to whine about
his mother’s nagging him for staying out late.
texted to Franko, “messed up last night. shudda stayed away”
“gonna blow over”
“pleetus can be toxic”
Fletcher found out, too, and they thought the photos were fantastic. The only
thing they didn’t like was that they weren’t included.
— — —
That evening at rehearsal, Hermy focused on the business of The Futile not being able to deal with five, seven, and such. “Not judging, just sayin’.”
nodded toward The Futile and said, “Listen up.”
introduced Brianna and Bethany, twins from the Teen Strings, and handed out
some sheets. “They’re known as The B’s.”
who?” Merk asked.
easy to tell them apart,” Hermy said. “Bri plays the violin and has one side of
her head shaved. Beth plays cello and has really long hair.” Then he launched
into some notes. “The B’s will play the main dance melodies — ”
“ — if
you can call them melodies with those brutal changing time signatures,” Bri
said. “I had to add 13 new time sigs into my software. I haven’t feared time so
a short piece in four that will sound Rite of Spring-ish, or call it
something else. It’s something you guys can riff on when we need it. Everything
will be integrated,” Hermy said.
up,” Beth said. “This is the coolest — the really bitchin’est stuff — we’ll
play until college. Hey, Bri, are you saying we should water down this stuff
just for convenience?”
swiveled toward her sister: “It’s a score for a ballet. How can dancers step to
all this tangled rhythm? Some of that pounding at the end could just as well be
in three or four.”
didn’t want to make it easy, but we can if we want to,” Hermy said. “Franko and
The Futile will play over the B’s in 4/4 or just go orgasmic.”
a three-year-old?” Fletcher asked.
me?” Merk asked. “Noise ahoy! That’s ‘Pots and Pans,’ right?”
“Let’s carve out a chunk of the score so each player gets a solo. Do whatever we can,” Beth said. “There’s a lot of momentous shit for all of us.”
point when we want explosives,” Hermy said. “Then I’ll give the throat-cut sign
to back off. Don’t worry, Bri, the strings will be amped up just like
Hermy,” Beth said. “If it’s OK with you, let the B’s name thing go by the
wayside? This will be our first professional gig.”
do you want to be called?” Hermy asked.
FRIDAY: THE SHOW
had two T-shirts for gigs, the prog choice, showing Frank Zappa’s album, “Hot
Rats”; or the punk selection with a smiling skeleton holding a cocktail with
“Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys. Zappa was the choice for his prog
show of all prog shows.
showed up at the Error Code Bar, each wearing a Teen Strings hoodie.
set-up, Franko wanted to give a pep talk, but he couldn’t get anyone’s
attention. Instead, he just chatted with Merk and Fletcher, while the B’s
whispered between themselves about Hermy.
interrupted the B’s, seeking another review of who’s who. Then Hermy went over
some rough places and how he’ll cue them. The two string players tuned up, then
they switched instruments and tuned again.
had a good laugh while others were confused, not getting the twins’ humor.
hit time, but few people were in the place yet. Two tables were occupied by
girlfriends and the father of the B’s. Hoping to lure sidewalk traffic, Franko
kept the front door open and continued to call for numerous unnecessary sound
checks. After a while, the musicians got bored with the sound checks and
played magic tricks to pass the time. Beth fidgeted through all the sound
checks and chewed gum to bother her sister. They decided to lose the hoodies;
they’d be too hot on stage.
door brought in a few people. However, the tactic lured a police officer in as
well. In a professional tone, the officer told Mike, the proprietor, that the
loud music coming out of the open door was disturbing the patrons of the
restaurant next door who were dining al fresco.
Franko, “Never prop the front door open ever again, and never do anything that
would cause a cop to enter the building.”
eight young women barged in and told Franko, who was sitting on a bar stool,
that they were on a bachelorette scavenger hunt. They assumed Franko was the
owner. After a little banter with the women, he sent them to Mike. They had a
large list, including something soft and something hard — “Could be from the
same guy,” said the ring leader. After this quip, massive merriment burst out
among the squad. Mike poured complimentary shots of cheap vodka all around and
handed out beer coasters as business cards. Franko wished he were the owner and
could have poured free shots for eight women.
scavengers left after a disorderly chat with Mike, and in a short time, the
room was beginning to fill up. The band assembled again. Olivia arrived and hopped onto the stage and
collared Franko. “Hey, remember, if you make anything from your show, it goes
to mortgage and food.”
Franko sent Olivia off the stage and the musicians assembled, they made a last
and genuine sound check. He greeted the crowd, which was big for Franko and The
Futile. They began to play The Punk of Spring or The Rite of Punk,
with a two-part overture, “Pots and Pans” melting into the “Prelude to The Punk
of Spring,” both by the trio of The Futile. Then the strings and Hermy executed
some Stravinsky time fracturing.
minutes or so into the performance, in Episode Four, “Spring Rounds,” Franko
thought he was seeing something around the front door. As people were moving
toward the stage, he could make out an elderly bearded fellow wearing a black
full-dress tailcoat tux and a stovetop hat. He was
speaking into a bullhorn and scurrying table to table. During a quiet passage,
the bullhorn overtook the music.
thought it was some kind of fire alarm or tornado thing. He couldn’t hear the
music. The bullhorn sounded like puking in his head. Then he could hear, and he
You must stop!”
music! Europe syrup!”
booed the intruder, but Franko still didn’t know what was up. He turned to the
band and called for more “Pots and Pans.” Then he jumped off the stage, where
he could more clearly hear the spew of the bullhorn.
realized that the asshole with the bullhorn was none other than Pleetus and his
intricate chin beard. Adolph the dog was by his side.
found a security guy. “Where were you?” Franko asked. “He needs to leave!”
thought it was part of the show. Sorry, boss.”
goes too,” Franko said.
thought it was one of them comfort critters. We’ll get it, chief.”
his bullhorn, Pleetus could still bellow. On his trip toward the sidewalk, he
had one more chant: “No trespassing!”
hopped back on stage for the end of “Pots and Pans.” The crowd cheered.
string players launched into the last episode of “Part 1, The Adoration of the
Earth,” which sounded like a different kind of chaos. A ferocious, extended
roar came from the audience. The plan was to have an intermission, but they
played through instead.
show, Franko said, “It seemed to go really well until Pleetus got in the way.
Even when he pulled out the bullhorn, it was OK. Did you see him getting the
couldn’t see it,” Hermy said. “I think the audience thought he was part of the
came up to compliment the band. Franko said he couldn’t find her until he came
down to deal with the mess that Pleetus was making.
sitting with the B’s father, and we were comforting Adolf. He was whimpering
under the table because the music was so loud, poor thing,” Olivia said.
‘Pots and Pans’ was fun, the ‘Prelude’ sounded like a real tune, I mean
something better than the stuff I write. And the actual Igor parts blew my
mind,” Franko said.
the douche with the bullhorn was the height
of my evening,” Merk said.
no!” Hermy said. “The B’s were killin’ it.”
Merk said. “You B’s were great!”
about to say something, but Bri hushed her sister. “Don’t get worked up about
people calling us B’s. Come on, just be cool. We got our names in the flier.”
Bri approached Hermy, cuffed him on the upper arm and congratulated him on his
solo: “The shit!”
a curtsy before Fletcher and said, “The first distorted electric-bass solo on a
piece by Igor Stravinsky. Well done!”
wasn’t distorted, it was fuzzed. I like the ZVex fuzz pedal,” Fletcher
oh, anyway, Igor should be here.”
caught Fletcher and asked him, “Hey, about what Franko calls us, ‘The Futile.’
We aren’t futile anymore. How about ‘Franko and the Funktones’?”
must own our futility!” Fletcher shouted.
I’m not going on tour being called futile,” Merk said.
never read the paper except when somebody tells him he’s in it. This time, Merk
was the one to tell him. The fussy performing arts freelancer really slammed The
Punk of Spring or The Rite of Punk. They got a good laugh.
of a hallowed imperative of the canon, not to be smeared with excrement by
barbarians. “Pots and Pans”? Disgusting!
wrote in a text: “kinda like Pleetus, different POV”
weighed in: “excrement, cool!”
Franko ignored phone calls from people he didn’t know. A few minutes later, he listened to the voicemail. It was Jane Zhah, the
music director of the Bristol Springs Symphony. He thought, another nasty
review? I’m up for it! Franko immediately called back.
she was in the Error Code Bar for The Punk of Spring or the Rite of
Punk. After Franko’s sputtering, Zhah told Franko the symphony is always
looking for innovative music from local and regional composers whose work could
be arranged for the whole orchestra.
a ‘Best of Bristol Springs’ evening every season. This process would require a
great deal of work for you and your ensemble, me, and our concertmaster. I
hadn’t made up my mind about next season,” she said, “but after last Friday
night, I’m all in for The Punk of Spring or the Rite of Punk. How
— — —
at her cubical, called Franko, still energized by his conversation with Jane
Zhah. Olivia asked him to come downtown for lunch. “Pleetus is parked next to
the office. He has a huge banner on the side of his pickup with our faces like
those Instagrams. Everybody in the office can see it.” She sounded a little
Franko showed up at the restaurant, he found her, elbows on the table, head in
her hands. “Everybody in the office was looking out the big windows, snickering, shooting weird glances at me. I just want to unload a lot of crap from
certain people making my life miserable.”
few minutes, she stood up and led the way out, emphasizing her need for a
drink. “What’s this, a liquid lunch?” Franko asked. When they sat down at a
nearby bar, Franko saw that Olivia was trying not to cry, and he decided not to
hug her or touch her hand.
cozied into a booth, and she ordered a double of Maker’s Mark. She was furious,
tearing up a cocktail napkin into little balls.
fired me with a text. It said he couldn’t have bad publicity, ‘people like you
here.’ Can you believe it?”
be OK. You always wanted to be your own boss.” Franko was doing his level best
not to look happy or say anything about the symphony thing.
have laughed except for the humiliation, but instead I almost lost it,” she
for a club soda with lime, and the server asked Olivia if she wanted another.
Franko was surprised that she was already ready for another.
thing, maybe a strange thing to say: Wish my picture on the banner wasn’t so
bad,” she said.
really sucks!” She laughed.
third and a fourth and maybe more, Franko suggested they leave. He was
concerned about what she might do next.
“Well, what the fuck, screw them all!”
back at the house, she calmed down. He insisted that she drink some water and
eat something. Her mood soured even more.
Franko Tucker, what did you do this fine day?” she said with a sneer.
into some friction with The Futile. They were disappointed that they didn’t get
their pictures up on the banner. But I like mine.”
it, do ya? I’m the only one who’s getting crapped on for this. All because of
about it,” she said, throwing Franko’s favorite coffee mug across the room,
making a gash in the wall and scattering pieces on the floor. “I got fired,
terminated, dumped — do you understand any one of those?”
OK. My bad.” He moved toward her in hopes that he could prevent her from
destroying something else.
on the carpet, she pulled her knees up to her chin. She said, “One good thing:
You’ve been in the house for a whole week and you haven’t screamed and
threatened me yet. That’s 1,000 percent better than Shithead.”
it was all my fault. What can I do for you?”
get some clients, you can clean homes before I put them on the market,” she
said. “And sorry I smashed that mug. Oh, and Public Works found your laptop.”
SIX WEEKS LATER
Franko got busy that Thursday morning when he heard
Olivia pounding stakes for a real-estate sign: Open House: Sunday 2-4.
He started in the master bathroom where he expected the worst scum. It was his
first cleaning job. The tub looked OK, basic white, but with every squirt of
chlorine-based cleaner and each swipe of the non-abrasive scour pad, the tub got more
gleaming than before. One problem about this project was that the vicious fumes
irritated his eyes and throat. It wasn’t all that bad, but his fingers, palms
and wrists were on fire. He wondered how his new side job would affect his
he could listen to The Rite of Spring on Spotify blaring from his phone.
Franko was still working on the tub as his stomach suggested lunchtime. Thankfully, Olivia arrived just then with sandwiches. His hands had turned a rosy brilliancy.
gloves, no knee pads, no safety glasses?” she said. “I told you to go to Harbor
Freight and get some gear. I even gave you cash to do that!”
think I needed gear, but I guess so.”
your hands are melting!”
scrounged through her bag. “Here, it’s shea butter. Spread some on and work it
he said, but he didn’t like the smell of women’s stuff on him.
to the store and Olivia outfitted Franko with a pair of PVC-coated rubber
gloves and construction-grade knee pads with foam padding.
treating me like a kid,” he said.
treating you like an adult, which you do not do for yourself,” she said. “Do
you still have those five twenties?” Olivia selected the gear and placed it on
the checkout counter, and Franko delivered the cash.
the house, she gave Franko a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew for the
afternoon. Hermy dropped in to see the place and to see what Franko was doing.
Olivia gave Hermy a tour that wrapped up in the master bathroom.
working hard, and so am I,” she said. “I got my LLC from the state and the crap
from the IRS. I sold the 370Z. Boo-hoo! But I needed quick cash.”
announced to Olivia that they were doing The Punk of Spring project
again in the fall and next year with the symphony.
that’s all I hear from Franko,” she said.
had little to say. For the first time, he had a chance to simply enjoy her
presence. Her shampoo or cologne reminded him of the scent of the shrubs on
Pleetus’s lawn. The association made him feel good and bad at the same time. He
understood this mess had been the best thing that ever happened and the worst,
tied up in a series of unlikely events.
she’d be visiting a few people who might want to list their homes with her. She
told Franko his job was to finish cleaning the house by the end of the next
afternoon, in time for the open house.
Olivia left, Hermy sat down. They jawed about music and women, and Hermy
complained about his mom.
but you’re suffering from whiny-baby syndrome,” Franko said. “And you’ll be
going back to school soon.”
isn’t it bliss without any crap from Pleetus since the show — nothing!” Hermy
Franko finished the bathroom, Hermy remarked on Olivia’s beauty and her
excellent lawn signs that made her look even better. “She looks like Kylie
Franko said: “No, she’s older and she’s an actual person.” Then he wandered
into daydreaming. He took pride in not doing something stupid, such as making a
move on her. He felt like he was somehow being a grown-up, and it felt weird.
Olivia returned, she was at first annoyed to see Hermy still there, but she
eased up when she saw that Franko had made progress. “So, you really do have
some useful skills — beyond the guitar,” she said.
wasn’t very nice, but I can live with that,” Franko said. “What about Hermy:
Shouldn’t he be held accountable, too? He was there at the beginning of the
whole Pleetus episode.”
“You, Hermy: You’re just an accessory,” she said. Then she turned her attention back to Franko with a guarded frown. “You’re the guy doing community service.”
Ed Peaco wrote numerous short stories in the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts. Then he took a different path as a writer for the regional newspaper where he lives, focusing on local music. This story fuses his interests in short fiction and music. He continues to write short fiction where he lives in Springfield, Missouri.
A few notes —
• Another story by Peaco is scheduled to be published in 2021: “Additional Guests” in The MacGuffin.
• “Systematic Desensitization”: Alabama Literary Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1991; and Santa Fe Writers Project fiction contest, 2002, posting among the best 65 entries
• “The Precarious Limb”: River Oak Review, Winter 2000-Spring ’01; and a reading of the piece, June 2002, Evanston (Ill.) Public Library
• Book reviews for the Antioch Review, 1996-2004