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Blissful Birdsong

AlittleMayhem

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[pushing a brick wall with ‘WRITER’S BLOCK’ and ‘LIFE’ written on it, intending on bringing it down but without much success] Nnnrrggh! Nnnnrrgghh! Grrrr! ARGH!

[Kicks it out of frustration. After a beat, a crack appears]



YES! I’m nearly through!
 

AlittleMayhem

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Chapter 4

After breakfast the next morning, the rain returned, more unmerciful and wild than the previous day. Janice, dressed in a Japanese morning robe, peeked through the florescent curtains and frowned.

“Bummer,” she said, disappointed. “I was hoping to do some shopping today!”

Zoot only hummed in response, polishing the neck of his saxophone with an old rag and watching a bit of TV. Or rather, he was listening to the audio as his eyes were more focused on the task at hand. From what he could hear, a strange character with an Eastern-European accent was counting to ten. Twice. The other end of the couch felt heavy as Janice sat down.

“Oh, well. So, did you sleep okay last night?” she asked, crossing a slender leg over the other. “I know the couch isn’t, like, totally comfy.” Zoot shrugged a little, briefly checking the inside of the bell.

“’S’okay,” he replied. “I can sleep anywhere.” He meant it. His experience as a down-on-his-luck musician taught him that anything could be a bed when the streets were the only ‘hotels’ to crash. Boxes, rocks, fish netting, dumpsters, you name it! He could sleep on it.

Satisfied that his sax was clean, he detached the parts and put them away in the case. He then turned to face Janice. “Hey, thanks for letting me stay here,” he said. “I didn’t have any money so-”

“Oh!” she said, surprised, but then waved her hand modestly. “Like, erm, think nothing of it!”

“No really, I mean it. I was going to-umm, do something and-”

“Really, it’s nothing! I, like, totally bring homeless folks in all the time-”

“But, my hat-”

“Oh yeah, that! Well, you’re totally welcome! I think…”

They were quiet for a while, with Zoot shifting uncomfortably and Janice looking away, her lips pursed. He noticed that the TV was still on, now showing an odd-looking frog with a star-pointed collar sitting neatly on a brick wall and explaining to the audience about the letter ‘B’, while a hairy monster slowly devoured it. He smirked.

“My niece is nuts about this show,” he said. “She forced me to watch it with her every morning when I was staying at my sister’s.”

At this, Janice smiled. “Aww, how cute! Is she the little girl with the blonde hair? Isn’t she, like, the sweetest thing ever?”

“Yeah. Weird little kid sometimes. The other day, she wanted to-” he stopped midsentence, realising what she just said. “Yeah, about that. What were you doing at the park that day?”

Flustered, she replied, “I was just sitting by the tree, that’s all rully. I like to go to parks on nice days sometimes, just to get away from it all! I was at Summerfield for a friend’s wedding shower, but I wanted time on my own and then they found me listening to you and…Again, I’m like so, so sorry about my friends bothering you like that! Bethany can be a so annoying when she, like, wants to be!”

“You apologise too much,” Zoot told her in a slightly amused tone.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I- Oh!” She covered her mouth and giggled at herself. “Like, never mind. Anyway, I think I’ve said enough about me to last, like, forever! What about you?”

Admittedly, he couldn’t remember half the stuff she told him during dinner last night (she was quite that fast talker) but he didn’t tell her that. Instead, he said, “Well, erm, okay. I’ve been playing the sax since I was about nine or ten. It’s kinda the only thing I know what to do without feeling like an idiot, which is why I flunked out of school early with the rest of the Pepper Crew.”

She looked at him quizzingly. “The Pepper Crew?”

“Yeah, that the name of the band I’m in.”

“You’re in a band?! Oh, that’s so cool!” Janice exclaimed. “Tell me all about it!”

He spent the next few minutes describing Floyd and Animal and explaining how he met them when they were kids.

“Yeah, I think you’d like Floyd, though. He mostly plays bass but he’s cool on the guitar too.”

“Oh, wow! You make them sound so groovy!” Janice said, dreamily. “And I’d love to meet Animal! He sounds like a rull character!”

Zoot grimaced. “Um, yeah, no you don’t. Trust me.”

“Why’s that?”

“Er, let me put it this way. When he sees a woman, he…” he hesitated, trying to think of the right and appropriate words. “…responds to his natural instincts.”

“Huh?”

“He’ll go nuts and attack you,” he answered, more plainly.

For a moment, Janice didn’t say anything. Zoot could see the wheels turning in her head, then click into place once she got it. “Oh, my…you mean…”

He nodded. “Yes.”

“Eww! Gross!” She scrunched up her face in disgust. “That’s, like, a total violation against Women’s Rights, y’know! I mean, I’m no Candace Bergman, but still!”

Zoot wanted to point out that Animal was feral and never understood how society worked, but instead he said, “Mmm-hmm,” and nothing more on the subject.

Janice then sighed and gazed across the room. “Still, I would totally love to be in a band. It gets kinda lonely when it’s just you.”

“Hmm, true, but we’re struggling. Not a lot of people like us, not even the lowest places.” Zoot huffed, irritably. “It doesn’t help with Floyd’s song writing skills.”

“Huh? What’s wrong with that?”

“He doesn’t have any.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s not true!”

“It is. Even he knows that.” He paused, and then his mind wandered.

“Zoot?”

He shook his head. “Sorry. I keep having these weird…um, things in my head.”

“You mean like epiphanies?”

“Gesundeheit!”

“No, an epiphany! Y’know, like sudden realisation or something.”

“Um, I don’t really kn-”

However, just like that, a real epiphany stuck him.

“Hey, er, now that you mention the band and stuff, I’ve never really heard you play. Is it okay if-?”

Janice seemed to know where he was going with this. “You want us to jam together?”

“Er, yeah.”

She squealed with joy and threw his arms around him, embracing him rather tightly. “I would be, like, soo honoured, Zootie! Oh, I better put some clothes on and get my guitar.” She realised him and got up to switch the TV off. Zoot rubbed his neck where she nearly choked him. Zootie?!

Janice walked over to her room. When she was halfway there, she undid the rope around her waist and slid the garment off her body, letting it drop to the ground while not breaking her stride. Shocked, Zoot covered his eyes just in time. She defiantly wasn’t kidding about being comfortable in her own skin.

As soon as the door shut, he reached for his case. He was done reattaching his saxophone when Janice returned, fully dressed (or as fully dressed as she could be) and carrying a different guitar from the one he saw yesterday. It looked smaller, the body shaped more rounded and organic, coloured pink with a black and silver outline.

“Cool,” Zoot remarked, nodding to the instrument as she sat down, adjusting the straps.

“Thanks,” she replied, and began to play the first few bars of a slow, jazzy number. “You know this one, right?”

He did, as a matter of fact. “Who doesn’t?”

After the brief intro, Janice began to sing;

No one to talk with
All by myself
No one to walk with
But I'm happy on the shelf
Ain't misbehavin'
I'm savin' my love for you

Zoot joined in, playing a soft riff between the verses.

I know for certain
The one I love
I'm through with flirtin'
It's just you I'm thinkin' of
Ain't misbehavin'
I'm savin' my love for you

Throughout the morning, they played an assortment of jazz numbers and laidback R’n’B. Zoot was no longer surprised by how many of the songs she chose were his favourite. She really wasn’t bad at all.

They didn’t really finish, rather stop casually a few hours later. They were silent for a few moments, letting the atmosphere hang for a bit longer.

“Wow!” Janice said. “That was, like, totally, sooo fer sure.”

Zoot, just as spaced out, smiled goofily. “Yeah.”

“Y’know, maybe we can busk together tomorrow when the weather isn’t such a bummer. I kinda need to pay my rent.” She then leaned in and kissed his forehead. “Like, thanks so much, by the way! I’m sooo glad you asked.”

Zoot was grateful that he didn’t blush easily. “Thank you.”
 

charlietheowl

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Another sweet update! I like how they were watching Sesame Street at the beginning, lol. Thanks for sharing.
 

AlittleMayhem

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Sorry about the irregular updates, bros. I have a basic outline of what I want to write next but inspiration isn't hitting me just yet. And when it does, it's usually for another drabble. :/

Also, life and college and commissions and stuff are getting in the way. Just thought I'd let you know.

Peace out. :cool:
 

FloydxJanice776

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Prologue

The front door blasted open with a bang, shaking the house and squashing Bean Bunny into a pancake. The rabbit groaned and wearily slid to the ground as Zoot stomped in, too uncharacteristically angry to even notice. He was out of his usual attire, instead sporting a once smart set of matching dark blue jacket and trousers, a white shirt, a scarf and a flat cap covering his bald spot. However, muck, wine stains and a rip at his knee ruined the outfit. He marched upstairs, ignoring Dr. Teeth’s distant begging and Pepe and Rizzo’s protests as he knocked them out of the way.

“Zoot! Wait a minute, will ya?” Dr. Teeth called. “C’mon, just talk to me!”

Rizzo scoffed. “With him?! Yeah, good luck with that, Doc!” He and Pepe sniggered, only to be shoved out of the way again.

Teeth reached the band’s room and stood at the threshold. Zoot had his back to him, muttering irritably as he collected a towel from the rail. The Good Doc sighed. A few days ago, he had decided it was high time Zoot got a girl before he got even balder and the sax man reluctantly agreed. However, each night was worse than the last.

“Look, how many times do I have to say I’m sorry? I just wanted to help you out, man!”

“Well I didn’t ask for it, Doc!” Zoot snapped, stalking out of the room and deliberately bumping into his shoulder. Dr. Teeth stared after in shock. This was not most like him! He was never this rough! “Hey, hey! Get outta here penguins! I’m taking a shower! Out! OUT!” A band of penguins squawked in alarm as they flew out of the bathroom presumably kicked out. “You too!”

“WAH!” Sweetums cried, violently stumbling out wearing nothing but a towel round his waist. He gawked and did a double take. “Bu- Hey! I wasn’t done in there!” However, door had slammed in his face and the lock clicked. “Huh! Touchy!” the monster huffed and stormed off to his headquarters, passing a bewildered Floyd who saw the whole scene unfold. After a beat, his lips formed into a snide smirk.

“So, take it that the lesson in the art of ‘ladies’ man’ went swimmingly then! Hah, hah, hah!”

Dr. Teeth glared at him, rubbing the spot where the saxophonist collided with him. He approached the bassist. “It’s not funny. Our sax man really missed his cool tonight, and paying dearly. I haven’t seen him this mad since Woodstock!”

Floyd immediately stopped cackling, his eyebrows furrowing into a worried expression. Nothing was worse than what happened at Woodstock. “No raggin’? That bad, huh?”

Dr. Teeth nodded solemnly. “It was like he permanently lost his rhythm with the sax that he can’t get back! His mellow charm non-existent. He…skipped the groove…on love!”

It was nonsense to anybody else, but Floyd understood what the jazz guru meant, sucking the air through his teeth. “Dude. That’s not hip, man.” He shook he head, shamefully. Then a thought occurred to him.

“Hey, dude. Y’know what I just realised?”

“What’s that?”

“If he’s so useless with women, how did he get a girl like Janice?”


Inside the bathroom, Zoot paused his undressing and pressed an ear to the door. Did Floyd just say what he thought he just said? He heard Dr. Teeth bark a laugh. “You askin’ that after all these years? You’re talking about your girl, man!””

“I know, I know! Look, I’ve known him since I was a little rocker; I ain’t never seen him with any other girl! It’s kind of a deep, dark mystery!”

“Didn’t she ever tell you herself?”

They paused. “Uh, no. That would be too weird! ‘Hey baby! Your ex is draggin’ at dating lately! Tell me, what you see in him, again?”

“Alright, you’ve made your point!”

“Mm mm! So, tell me, how’d he get all filthy like that?

“Well, my fellow man, I think it may have started with that female bodybuilder at Star’s Place…”

Their footsteps drifted away, along with their voices. Zoot went away from the door and turned on the shower, kicking out some of Lew Zealand’s fish and dropping them in the sink. He stripped and stepped in the cubicle, savouring the cool water spraying on his face. As he cleansed himself of the dirt and grim, his thoughts wandered back to the conversation he just eavesdropped on.

If he’s so useless with women, how did he get a girl like Janice?

Zoot exhaled as he rinsed what was left of his hair. He remembered it many years ago, back when everything seemed possible and things were just beginning. He would never forget it.

It was probably one of the only things he’d never forget.




:smile:
 

AlittleMayhem

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Chapter 5

Lunchtime in Main Street, Georgetown. It was crazy, no matter what day of the week. The food places wafted out enchanting smells of spices and cooked meat, calling to the smartly dressed and scruffy workers out for lunch. The sun blazed down with no mercy and the endless fumes of honking traffic just made it worse. Many families were out taking advantage of the weather, getting ice cream and generally making a din over the usual noises.

It was a miracle that any kind of music could be heard over the busy street but that’s what Zoot trained himself to do. Play bold and loud with all your heart, so you may eat. Janice also seemed to know this principle too. They were out busking for the third time that week. She had told him that she had no job, so she used her talents and any crowded place to scrap everything she could. Which, considering his own lifestyle, was fair enough.

He placed the saxophone down beside him as Janice looked down and smiled with satisfaction. Zoot’s hat was nearly half-full of coins, much more than yesterday.

“Oh, wow! We must’ve been rully good today, Zoot! If I’m lucky, it might be enough to pay the rest of my electric bill, y’know?” she said, wiping the sweat from her forehead.

He grunted, half in response and half in discomfort. His neck was acting up again, stiff and aching since this morning. He stretched and rubbed the sore spots like crazy, but nothing seemed to work.

Noticing this, Janice said, “Is your neck rully brothering you? You’ve been doing that, like, all day now.”

“It’s nothing,” he replied. “Musta slept in a weird position last n- AH!”

Zoot cried out as two cold hands suddenly grabbed a hold of his head, stretching and turning it sharply both ways until unpleasant clicks were audible. In an instant, the pain was gone. Amazed, he turned to Janice, who was trying not to look smug.

“Where…?”

“Oh, an old trick an ex taught me,” she said. “He was doing a major in medicine and told me about pressure points and stuff. It was sooo useful when I found out he was seeing Stacey Conner behind my back. Boy, did they have it coming, fer sure!” Her hands were still on him, her fingers stroking through his hair and tracing his collarbone just showing under his shirt. It left a trail of electric sparks beneath his skin.

“Um,” he gulped. “My neck doesn’t hurt anymore.” She met his eyes, a devious smile playing on her lips. Zoot realised just how close she was. He could feel her minty breath against his lips and possibly count every one of her thick eyelashes.

“Does that mean you want me to stop?” Her voice dropped nearly to a soft purr as she leaned in, her arms sliding around his neck.

“Uh…”

A car honked loudly on the road, making them both jump. Nearby, a beaver stuck his head out of a window of a tacky convertible and shook his fist at a monster for jaywalking.

“Hey, watch it you blind hairball!” he shouted. “You wanna get killed or something!”

It was impressive stupidity from the beaver’s side. Not only was he holding up the traffic, but the monster he was lashing out at was ten feet tall, with shaggy brown fur and menacing yellow eyes.

“Who are you callin’ a blind hairball?! I was lookin’ both ways ‘till you came screeching outta nowhere, you bucktooth dingbat!” the monster retorted.

The beaver took the insult well. He jumped out of his car and marched straight up to the monster. “Dingbat?! DINGBAT?! Your face could turn Medusa to stone!”

The monster glared down at the tiny rodent. “My face?! Your face is a waste of fur!”

“Hey, that’s a lotta hair! It must be some effort to get it all outta your nostril!”

The fight turned ugly quickly and an eager crowd gathered, most encouraging one or the other to win. Even some drivers stuck behind joined in and pitched their own insults.

“Oh, totally not cool!” Janice commented. “Why would the world welcome such bogus violence? Can’t anyone in this stupid town settle thing peacefully? Rully! This is the third fight between a jaywalker and a driver this week! It’s like a local sport or something.”

His heart still pounding, Zoot felt something warm and soft beneath his hand. He looked down, discovering that it was Janice’s knee and quickly removed it. Clearing his throat, he sifted out of her arms and picked up the saxophone. “So, uh, you know Honeysuckle Rose?”

“Hmm? Oh right!” Catching his drift, she re-positioned her guitar properly. “No, but hum I few bars and I can fake it.”



Zoot lay on the couch, staring at the ceiling while resting the back of his head on his hands. He was alone in Janice’s apartment. When they decided to call it quits a few hours ago, she had decided at the last minute to go shopping, but was kind enough to give him a spare key.

“I just need to get a few small necessities for tonight,” she had said to him. “We can’t have you looking like that, rully!”

Zoot had frowned at her. “What about tonight? Looking like what?” She chose not to answer either of those questions. She only walked away wearing that mischievous smile again. The same one before she almost…

He sighed and closed his eyes. He supposed it was a little obvious that she liked him, maybe a little unnaturally so. But why was beyond him. He wasn’t exactly Humphrey Bogart or Burt Reynolds. In fact (as Floyd and Liza loved to remind him) he had the social skills of a skunk. Besides, he never really bothered. Relationships, according to Liza, needed understanding, devotion, compassion, all the stuff that a lot of his family weren’t exactly good at, otherwise they’d all get along.

Then Janice, with her bubbly, dizzy and exhaustingly positive charisma, appeared out of nowhere and into his life. Everything she did radiated with warmth and essence. Unlike him, she was always cheerful, always vibrant. Not only that, but she loved the same kind of music he did. The right kind. Maybe she was even a little pretty. Maybe beautiful…gorgeous…

Maybe it could work. Even though he wasn’t looking to begin with, maybe she was the one. They had at least a few things in common and maybe he could trust her with other things.

But at the same time, was that enough? Was he ready to confide with her like no other woman? And was there something else he was forgetting?

WHUMP!

Zoot jerked awake, almost falling off the coach. He didn’t remember falling asleep, as usual.

“Whuzzat?” he mumbled. A flat box lay on the coffee table, tied together with a fancy ribbon.

Janice stood over him, flashing a toothy grin. She carried other similar boxes in her arms. “Like, y’know when I said that I needed to get stuff for tonight?”

Zoot rubbed the eyes under his sunglasses. “Yeah?”

“Well, let’s just say you’re gonna totally need this! I’ll be in my room!”

As she disappeared, Zoot stared at the box, unsure of what to think. Hesitantly, he pulled at the ribbon slowly; acting like it was a time bomb. It unravelled itself effortlessly and he removed the lid. He took the contents out and held it up, his brows raised as he examined it.

“What…”

A few minutes later, Zoot stood in front of the cracked mirror that hung lopsided in the bathroom. He tightened his new yellow necktie with black dots, then shook his head and readjusted it to a more loose style. It still didn’t work.

He heard a soft chuckle from the doorway. “Like, you don’t know how to tie a tie? And here’s me thinking every man could. Rully.”

“I do.” Zoot mumbled, undoing the tie and turning to Janice. “It’s just that it’s been a while since I’ve worn anything like this.”

Liar. Despite his self-given name, he had never worn anything like this. A zoot suit, blue with white checks on the jacket and pants with a pair of polished black shoes. The shoulders where broad and sharp and the yellow shirt stood out against the blue.

Janice shook her head, took the tie from his hands, and re-tied it. “Here, I think you would look sooo much better with it a little loose, dontcha think?”

Zoot wouldn't know that, but as soon as he saw Janice, he no longer cared. Out of her normal clothes, Janice now wore a loose tunic-like dress with long bishop sleeves and patterned with pink, red and black flowers. A yellow rope tied around her middle and the skirt hung freely by her mid-thighs, showing off small effortless curves. She smelled of an exotic fruity perfume.

Done with the tie, Janice produced his hat and placed it on his head. “There!” she said, smiling at her handy work. “Now you look totally cool! Of course, not that you already don’t, rully.”

He suddenly wished he felt cool, maybe come up with some witty or flirty crack like it was nothing. But whatever he wanted to say was evaporated and what came out was a pathetic, “Yeah.”

She didn’t mind. Her fingers trailed the edge of the collar and travelled down his arm until they clasped around his hand. She beamed wickedly. “C’mon! Let’s not waste the night away!”

Zoot was too confused to stop her from pulling him towards to door. “Ok. Where are we going again?”

Janice giggled. “I didn’t say.”
 

charlietheowl

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Wonder where Zoot and Janice are going? Hopefully somewhere fun! Thanks for sharing this new chapter!
 

ZootxJanice2468

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Wow this story is practically like a real flashback! Hopefully the next chapter will explain why zoot was so mad at the beginning. Please, continue on my friend.
 
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