Strawberry and the Sensations - Peter Viney

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CHAPTER ONE

Nobody speaks to Cyndi

'… I just can't forget, about the day we met, those days with you, when skies were blue!'

Suddenly there were no lights. Everybody stood up in the dark concert hall. They were screaming and shouting, 'More! More! More!'

That's the end of the show, and it's «Goodnight» from Strawberry and the Sensations,' shouted Cyndi into the microphone. Then she turned and began to walk between the amplifiers to the side of the stage. She ran down the stairs towards the dressing-rooms. The lights went on in the concert hall, and three thousand people got up and began to move slowly towards the doors. A road manager gave Cyndi a towel for her face. Bobbi and Denise were drinking Cokes in their dressing-room.

'That was a good show… the best!' said Bobbi.

Cyndi laughed, 'Yeah. Well, there's one more show, and it's the end of the tour. What's the time?'

'Nine o'clock,' said Denise. 'We've got an hour before the second show.'

'Right. I need a drink,' said Cyndi.

Their band was coming off the stage. They were laughing.

'Good show, Cyndi,' said Hank, the guitarist.

'The singing was OK, I'm not sure about the guitar!' said Cyndi. Then she saw Hank's face. 'Don't worry, Hank. That was a joke.'

'Oh, yeah. Very funny,' said Hank. But he was smiling.

'I'm going to get a drink,' said Cyndi. 'What do you want, Hank?'

'Er… Ms Strawberry, can I speak with you for a moment?'

Cyndi looked round. A police officer was standing behind her. A road manager walked towards them. 'Sorry, no autographs,' he said.

'But I'm the Police Chief,' said the police officer angrily.

'It doesn't matter. She's very tired. You can't have her autograph,' said the road manager, 'but I can give you a photograph. Here you are.'

'I don't want a photograph,' said the Police Chief.

'It's all right, he can have an autograph. Give me a pen...'

'I don't want an autograph, either,' said the Police Chief.

'Look, Ms Strawberry, where can we speak?'

The road manager was angry. 'Nobody speaks to Cyndi between shows. Not the Police Chief, not the President, nobody. OK?'

The Police Chief looked at Cyndi. 'This is important,' he said. 'It's police business. I have to talk to you, Ms Strawberry. I must talk to you alone.'

'It's OK,' Cyndi said to the road manager. She turned to the officer. 'My name isn't «Ms Strawberry», everybody calls me «Strawberry» because of my red hair. My name's Cyndi Harris.'

'Oh, I'm sorry, Ms Harris,' said the Police Chief. 'Can we speak in your dressing-room?'

'Has there been an accident? Is my family all right?'

'Nobody's had an accident, Ms Harris. Don't worry. Now… can we talk?'

'OK, but I don't have much time. There's another show at ten o'clock.'

CHAPTER TWO

Stop the show!

They went into Cyndi's dressing-room. Cyndi sat down. She opened a small case on the table.

'Excuse me,' she said, 'but I have to do my make-up before the second show.'

'Maybe you'd like to read this first,' said the Police Chief. He gave Cyndi a piece of paper.

Cyndi took it. Cyndi's face was white. 'What is this? A joke?'

'What do you think?' said the Police Chief.

'It's from some crazy man...'

'Or crazy woman,' said the Police Chief.

'OK, it's from some crazy man or woman,' said Cyndi, 'but you don't believe it… do you?'

Tonight Strawberry is going to die!

This is a good town.

We don't want her here!

Her music is bad.

Rock'n'roll is music from the devil!

We must kill her.

Stop the show — or she dies!

'There are a lot of crazy people,' said the Police Chief. 'But I'm only a singer. Nobody wants to kill me.'

'Somebody does.'

'Oh, come on!' said Cyndi. 'It's just a piece of paper.'

'I think… I think we must stop the show,' said the Police Chief.

'We can't do that! Three thousand kids have paid a lot of money for tickets. We've flown from New York. It's the last show of the tour. We can't stop the show. We can't!'

'Your manager said the same thing, too. He didn't want you to see the piece of paper,' said the Police Chief, 'but it's your life.'

'Or death,' said Cyndi. 'Sorry, that was a joke, too. But nothing is going to happen, believe me.'

'I hope not,' said the Police Chief. 'But I don't want a murder in my city.'

'There isn't going to be a murder.' Cyndi's hand was shaking when she took some make-up. She began making up her eyes.

'Well, I've got fifty police officers in the concert hall for the second show. They're going to watch you and the people at the concert.'

Cyndi stood up. 'No, we've got our road managers. We don't need the police. This is a rock concert. When the kids see the police all round the concert hall, they aren't going to like it. They want to dance near the stage.'

The Police Chief looked at the floor for a moment, then looked at Cyndi. 'I'm sorry, but nobody is going to dance near the stage. They're all going to stay in their seats.'

'The kids always dance near the stage at our shows. You can't stop them. There's going to be trouble!' she said.

'They are not going to dance near the stage. And there is not going to be trouble.' He stood up. 'Please, be careful, Ms Harris. Please be very careful.'

Bobbi and Denise came into the room. 'Aren't you ready yet, Cyndi?' said Bobbi.

'Yeah… yeah. I'm ready,' said Cyndi. 'Let's go...'

CHAPTER THREE

Bad news

The three singers left the dressing-room. Denise looked at Cyndi. 'You haven't finished your make-up,' she said. 'What's wrong? What did he want?'

'Oh, nothing,' said Cyndi, 'nothing important.' The road manager was outside the dressing-room. He was holding a newspaper. 'Have you seen this?' he asked.

Greenfields Sun

11 November

STOP STRAWBERRY!

Four hundred people came to a meeting at Greenfields City Hall last night. They heard a talk about rock and roll music by State Senator Pew. Senator Pew said, 'Rock music comes from the devil. The worst rock singer is Strawberry of Strawberry and the Sensations.' Senator Pew wants to stop tonight's concert by Strawberry and the Sensations at The Arcadia Concert Hall in Greenfields. Strawberry and the Sensations are at number 4 in the Top Twenty this week with their song 'I can't forget'. Pew doesn't like the singer because of her red hair! Strawberry's songs are about love. Nobody has said anything bad about her before. They sold all the tickets for tonight's show two months ago.

'What is it?' said Bobbi. She took the newspaper. It was the Greenfields Sun. She laughed. 'It's a nice town!' she said. She gave the newspaper to Cyndi. Cyndi looked at the front of the newspaper.

'What is it, Cyndi? You aren't laughing,' said Bobbi.

'It isn't very funny,' said Cyndi. She dropped the newspaper on the floor.

'Oh, he's just crazy,' said Bobbi. 'Don't worry about it.'

There are a lot of crazy people,' said Cyndi. 'A lot...'

Another road manager came over to them. We're going to begin later tonight,' he said. The kids aren't in the hall yet. They're coming in very slowly.'

'Why?' said Denise.

'I don't know,' said the road manager. The police are looking at everybody's tickets very carefully.'

'What police?' said Denise. «We never have police at our concerts. There's never any trouble.'

Denise looked at Cyndi. 'What did that police officer want?' she said. You haven't told us.'

'Haven't I?' said Cyndi. She turned to the road manager. 'Is my microphone all right?' she said. 'I had a problem with my microphone in the first show.'

'What kind of problem?' said the road manager. 'I was listening to you. It was OK.'

'No, it wasn't,' said Cyndi. 'Can we go and look at it?'

'Yeah, all right. But I'm sure there's no problem,' said the road manager.

'Cyndi, what did the police officer want?' asked Denise.

'Sorry, Denise. I don't have time now. I have to look at that microphone. I can tell you later.'

Cyndi walked away with the road manager. Denise turned to Bobbi. 'What's wrong with Cyndi?' she said.

'I don't know,' said Bobbi. Then she looked down at the newspaper on the floor. 'I really don't know.'

CHAPTER FOUR

'Dancing in the dark'

Cyndi, Bobbi and Denise were waiting at the side of the stage. The band was beginning the first song. Hank, the guitarist, moved to his microphone. 'Here they are! It's Strawberry and the Sensations!' The kids were screaming and shouting. Cyndi, Bobbi and Denise danced onto the stage. Cyndi took her microphone.

'It's a rock show, rock show, rock show, Hold my hand and let's go, let's go, let's go...'

The concert hall was dark. Cyndi could see a line of police officers in front of the stage. They weren't looking at her. They were all watching the people in the hall. The band played the first three songs very well. Cyndi was beginning to feel better. She was enjoying the show. But she couldn't forget the piece of paper. Bobbi and Denise didn't know about the paper. They were standing next to her. Cyndi moved away from them. Maybe there was a crazy person out there. The piece of paper was about her, not Bobbi and Denise. It was dangerous for them when Cyndi was standing next to them.

The fourth song ended. Cyndi went to the side of the stage. She held her microphone in front of her face. The next song was a big hit a few years ago, when Bruce Springsteen sang it. You all know this one, it's „Dancing in the Dark“. Do you want to sing it with us?'

Three thousand people shouted, 'Yes!'

'Do you want...' Cyndi stopped. She usually said, 'Do you want to dance?' She looked at the side of the stage. The Police Chief was standing there. He was holding the piece of paper.

'I usually say, „Do you want to dance?“, but tonight please stay in your seats. There are lot of people here, and the police have asked you not to dance. They want you to stay in your seats.'

There were a lot of shouts and boos. Everybody was booing the police. Cyndi looked down at the line of officers. The kids were throwing things at them.

'Wait!' said Cyndi. 'Wait a moment. The police are wearing blue uniforms. But a lot of people here are wearing blue jeans. Believe me, everybody here tonight is wearing a uniform.'

A lot of people laughed.

'They want you to stay in your seats, and I want you to stay in your seats, too. I'm asking you to stay in your seats. All right?'

Everybody in the concert hall was shouting, 'All right!'.

'But I want you to sing! Can you sing?' Cyndi turned round and looked at Hank. 'What's happening?' he said. 'Play the song, Hank,' said Cyndi.

CHAPTER FIVE

The man in the tower

The band started 'Dancing in the Dark'. Cyndi finished the second verse. Jason, the saxophonist, walked to the front of the stage. He began the saxophone solo. Cyndi moved to the side again… She looked up at the white lights above her. There was a lighting tower with the speakers and lights on it. Then she saw him.

A man sitting on the lighting tower, just a few yards away from her. He was wearing a white shirt. There was something in his hand. Cyndi could see the light on the metal. The saxophone solo finished. Bobbi and Denise were singing the third verse. Cyndi didn't sing. She was watching the man on the lighting tower. He was pointing a gun at her. Quickly she threw her microphone at him. There was a screaming noise from the microphone and an explosion. Something hit Cyndi in the face and she fell down.

The band stopped. Cyndi looked up at the lighting tower. What was the explosion? She was OK, but did he hit somebody in the band or in the concert hall? No, the microphone hit a light. That was the explosion, and the man dropped the gun.

Now there were police officers on the lighting tower. They had the man. They were pulling him down from the tower. Cyndi put her hand to her face, then took it away and looked at her hand. It was red. There were pieces of glass all around her.

'Are you all right, Cyndi?' It was Jason.

'Yeah, I'm OK. It's only a small cut.'

The Police Chief walked over to Bobbi's microphone. 'I'm sorry, everybody. That's the end of the show. Someone tried to kill Strawberry… er, Ms Harris. I want everybody...'

But Cyndi already had Hank's microphone. 'It's all right!' she said. 'Nobody's dead! I'm OK. We're going to finish the show! All right, Hank, what are you waiting for?'

Hank began 'Dancing in the Dark' again.

'It's OK — you can dance now!' shouted Cyndi.

The Police Chief looked at her. He smiled, and walked off the stage.

CHAPTER SIX

A new fan

Cyndi ran from the stage after the last song. The kids were shouting for her. The Police Chief was standing there.

'You're very brave, Ms Harris. And you did the right thing. How did you hit the light? It was ten or eleven yards away.'

'I didn't throw the microphone at the light,' said Cyndi, 'I threw it at the man. I missed!'

A tall man in a white suit was standing behind the Police Chief. He walked over. 'Ms Harris?'

'Yes?' she said.

'I'm Senator Pew. Maybe you read about me in the newspaper. I'm very sorry… I never thought that somebody...'

'There are a lot of crazy people,' said Cyndi.

'Yes, yes. Well, I really am sorry.'

'Forget it,' said Cyndi. 'Everybody's OK.'

A road manager held Pew's arm. 'I'm sorry, Mr Pew, no autographs. Cyndi never gives autographs.'

'What?' said Pew. 'An autograph! But I don't ...'

Cyndi walked towards her dressing-room. 'Excuse me,' she said to the Police Chief. 'I'm going to wash my face. We can talk in my dressing-room.'

They went into the dressing-room. Cyndi sat down.

'Thank you for finishing the show,' said the Police Chief. 'I thought there was going to be trouble.'

The show must go on,' said Cyndi. 'Singers always say that, you know.'

'Er… you never give autographs?' said the Police Chief. 'Never?'

'Well, not usually. But you can have one. Here's my new CD, I can autograph that for you.'

The Police Chief smiled, 'I don't think I'm going to listen to it, Ms Harris. I don't like rock music very much. But… but I'd like your autograph.'

— THE END -

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