Lyz threw her phone down as hard as she could.
As it smacked against the hard tiles of the green room floor, bits of plastic and glass flew off in all directions. Lyz winced, then stomped on the phone with her heel. Twice. Three times.
From across the room, Janna leveled an accusing drumstick at Lyz’s face. “Geez, rage much?” she asked sarcastically.
“God, I can’t stand her sometimes!” Lyz raged through gritted teeth. “I’m convinced that agents were put on this Earth just to keep musicians from being happy all the time.”
“We’re supposed to be happy all the time?” Tiffany drowsily raised her head from her electric bass. “Oh, man, I’ve been doing it wrong…”
Lyz and Janna both snorted with the effort of stifling giggles. The strings of Tiffany’s bass had left four dark red stripes across her right cheek. The girl could seemingly sleep through anything.
“Well, happy whenever we’re playing, I guess,” Lyz said. She tapped her cheek and pointed at a mirror.
Tiffany checked her reflection and sighed. She grabbed a makeup kit and began unpacking it.
“So, what did she want?” Janna asked.
Lyz collapsed into a chair and drummed her fingers on her guitar. “She’s extending our tour. I mean, she wants us to extend our tour.”
Janna cocked her head. “But that’s supposed to be a good thing. We make more money by playing more cities.”
“And we get a 3.5% bonus on our gate take from venues that aren’t part of the original schedule,” Tiffany added as she re-applied powder. “It’s not like we’re sports players. They have provisions in profit-sharing contracts for postseason competition. Players don’t get a share of gate after the fourth game of a seven-game series. Otherwise, they would artificially extend series to the seventh game in order to take home more money.”
Wide-eyed stares were the only response.
Tiffany crossed her arms defensively. “Yeah, I read about contract law. I get bored sometimes.”
“Anyway,” Lyz said, rolling her eyes, “the problem is… I don’t want to do more cities. I want to go home.”
“We’ve all gotten homesick sometimes on this tour,” Janna said sympathetically. “At least we’ve got e-mail, so we can—”
“It’s not about homesickness.” Lyz interrupted. “I mean, you and Tiff can be yourselves on this tour. There’s not a separation between your private and public personas. But I want to go back to being Lizzie Dalton. I don’t mind not sleeping in my own bed, but I want not to have to keep thinking about who I’m going to have to be when I wake up.”
For a few moments, the only sounds were soft breathing. Then a zipper, as Tiffany put her makeup kit away.
“Lyz,” Tiffany began, “you know why you’re our leader, right?”
Lyz shrugged. “Because my house had a garage?”
“Because I’m the best singer?”
“Besides that, too.”
“Because I found us a—”
“Blah, blah, blah!” Tiffany said, interrupting the rut. “You’re the leader because Janna and I like the decisions you make. You said we should write some songs. We did, and good things happened. You said we should record them. We did, and good things happened. You said we should give CDs away to gain word-of-mouth. We did, and—guess what?—good things happened.
“You’ve earned our trust in matters like this. If you think we should cut the tour short because our sanity is worth more than money, then sure. We’ll do that. We can take a break, and start thinking about our second album down the line.”
Janna nodded. “When we came up with the name Lyz Dexia and the Stray Gods, we knew someone was going to have to take point. I’m just glad it wasn’t me.”
“It kind of helped that it was already basically my name,” Lyz admitted.
“So just tell us,” Janna continued. “If you say we end in Seattle, then we end in Seattle. But don’t hold it in. That’s how bands start to fight and stuff. Tell us, tell us, tell us.”
Lyz laughed. “Geez, Janna, don’t be so pushy.”
“What I tell you three times is true,” Janna quoted.
“I think that’s a very mature attitude to take,” a tinny voice said.
Each of the three girls checked to see if the other two had said it. None of them had. They looked around the room, puzzled.
“The phone didn’t hang up!” Tiffany realized.
Lyz scrambled across the green room to where her phone had landed, and slid her finger scross the screen desperately.
“What a sturdy, well-built piece of junk! Hang up! Hang up!” Janna shouted.
“I’m trying!” Lyz shouted back. “But the screen broke away in the corner! The slidey thing, it won’t slide!”
The band’s agent sighed from Lyz’s hands. “Will you just put me on speakerphone, please?”
Lyz tapped the speaker button and put the phone down on a table. The three gathered around it.
“If you guys don’t want to extend the tour, then you can stop in Seattle,” the agent said. “Hell, you can even ride the tour bus back to the East Coast if you want some free time to sightsee. Or, if you want a plane, I can get one. It’s up to you all to tell me when you’re going to burn out, all right? Communication is key.”
Janna silently checked with the other girls. Tiffany deferred to Lyz, who nodded. “Yeah,” Janna relayed. “We want a definite goal of when we’re done.”
“Then I’ll put a line under Seattle. Now go play your show. I expect a particularly good one, now that this is off your shoulders.” She paused for a moment. “And, Lyz?”
“Yes?” Lyz asked.
“Get a new phone!” The agent disconnected.
Lyz grumbled incoherently as the other two girls laughed.
“Well, that’s taken care of. It’s kind of freeing to know that the end is in sight,” Janna said.
“Totally,” Tiffany agreed. “Well, Lyz, ready to go?”
Lyz smiled. “Yeah. Let’s do it. After all, this is only the beginning.”