chapter 10  the ART club

chapter 10 the ART club

A Chapter by zee

The following morning, Easy found a familiar red cap in the subway.
“Miracle of miracles!” Eddie said as she entered the tube. “My father’s still
busy and gave me an extra free day. So I’m coming with you to the
Easy found very strange the fact that there was a free seat right next to
him, and before the tube would get more crowded, she took it.
“Well, that’s a surprise” she answered, placing her violin on her lap.
“Hey, I see you’re getting bold today! Aren’t you afraid they might steal it
again?” Eddie said with a bit of irony.
“Well, what did I hire you for if not protecting me from robbers?” she
asked, and they both laughed. “I’ve brought it today because I’d like to play
something when the kids come. I talked with Jerry and he said it would help
getting them more quiet. I think today he’ll read them The BFG.”
Their knees were very close and almost touching each other, but nor Easy
nor Eddie felt any weird: they were friends now.
After a couple of minutes, Easy took her phone out of her little pink bag.
“You wouldn’t believe this. You know a guy texted me yesterday night? At
half past eleven. I mean, did he really think I’d answer him?” she said.
Eddie turned interested. “A guy? You know him?”
“No, of course I don’t! The guys I know have the sense not to text me in late
night” she answered.
“Text you, like where? On Facebook?” Eddie asked with a casual tone.
“Yeah, Messenger. He sent me a request to chat, but I still didn’t accept
him” she said, opening her Messenger.
“What did he want anyway?”
“He asked about the bookstore, basically if we had some new books
because he already has read everything we got.”
“And what did you answer?”
“I didn’t, I told you! I mean, how does he even know that I work in a
bookstore!” Easy looked outraged.
The tube was running fast, and the other people around them were looking
sleepy: some of them had worked all night and were going home, and some 
of the others woke up early to start their day in the Big Apple. Their faces
looked even paler thanks to the mix of darkness from the gallery, and the
creepy light coming from the shoddy neon on the roof of the tube.
“Maybe he looked up on Facebook, like on our page, and just found you”
Eddie said suddenly. “Did you write on your profile where do you work?”
Easy thought for a moment and then, with a little wince, she said “Yeah, I
guess so…”
“That’s it, then! He’s clean, you can answer him” Eddie said, snapping his
In the meanwhile, they had reached their stop. Like the second day they
met, the sub station was hot and crowded, and Easy remembered the
dizziness of not knowing where to go. But now she knew where she was
going, and she wasn’t alone.
“I don’t know, maybe I’ll just ignore him” she answered, while they walked
to their bookstore.
“What? Well, that’s rude. What if one day you asked someone something
and they ignored you? How would you feel?” Eddie lectured her.
“I guess I’d feel…ignored?” she answered, lifting her eyebrows a bit.
“Bingo! You got it” Eddie answered with a smile.
But before they could talk any further, they had to stop, because the
bookstore was strangely closed. Usually they’d find it open, as Barry always
came before them, but this time, there wasn’t any sign of him.
Eddie always carried with him some keys, although he never used any of
them. They managed to unlock the door and get in, and clearly no one was
“Are we early?” Easy asked with a puzzled look and she left her bag and
violin on the floor behind the counter.
“No, it’s half past nine…” Eddie said, looking the clock on the wall.
“Maybe he’s ill” Easy said, clearly referring to Barry.
And like this, they started their work, prepared the names of possible books
suppliers, got the kids rug and book ready for Jerry, and swept the ground
with Barry’s broom.
After that, some customers came in and Eddie felt a jolt of happiness
running through his body. It was one of the first times he saw customers in
his shop.
Easy, on the other hand, was feeling nervous and was scanning every guy
and man who entered the shop, wondering if her “unkown-texter” was one
of them.
Later on, the number of customers quickly dropped to zero, and both of
Easy and Eddie were feeling bored. They decided to wait for Barry and Jerry
to come before calling the suppliers, because they were part of the team,
Eddie moved the puffy armchair right below the counter and collapsed on
it. “So…what now?” he asked.
“I don’t �"” Easy had to chop off, for someone entered the shop, making the
little bell ring joyfully. But the one who came in, Barry, was everything but
joyful: he had a split lip and a black eye.
“Barry!” Easy burst out and run toward him. Eddie remained few seconds in
his armchair, mouth open for the shock, and then jumped to his friend too.
“I’m sorry guys I’m late” Barry said. His voice was as sad as his appearance.
“Barry what happened to you?” Easy asked worried. Eddie put an arm
around him and leaded him to the chair of the counter.
“Nothing to worry about. Where’s my apron?” Barry asked, eager to change
“You ain’t gonna do anything before telling us who did this to you” Eddie
said seriously. He was leaning against the wall, while Easy was sitting on the
floor legs-crossed.
“It’s about the pub. They fired me. That’s all, really” Barry said. If his words
were trying to comfort his friends, his expression wasn’t: he had the face of
someone who’d lost everything at the same time.
“Why? Why would they fire you? Did you do something wrong? Is this why
they punched you?” Easy kept asking.
“Okay I’ll tell you how the things are once for all” Barry was not only sad.
He was angry too, but he was very good at hiding it.
“Eddie knows something about it. You, Easy, may hear it for the first time.
Last Monday I did my debut at the pub. I sing, or at least I sang �"he added,
looking for Easy who obviously didn’t get what “debut” was standing for.
Well, I got on the stage full of adrenaline and yet I was so scared I could
have thrown up in any moment. I was trying to remember the words of the
song, but I was too shocked to have all those eyes pointed on me, and
everything in my mind went blur and my throat got dry and my legs got
shackin’ and…” he stopped. He didn’t have the force to say it.
“…and you didn’t sing.” Eddie continued for him. His friend nodded. Eddie
knew how long Barry tried to ask his boss to let him sing, and he knew how
hard he tried to improve himself. Barry was a perfectionist: everything he
did, he wanted to do it to the top. But sometimes, even perfectionists can
go wrong.
“And that’s why they hit you? Because you didn’t sing?” Easy asked.
“No. That night they hissed and boo-ed and everything, but they didn’t hit
me. That was yesterday.
Yesterday night I went to the pub as a waiter. I didn’t like the idea that I
had to return every day to the place where I humiliated myself, but I had
to. I needed to.
I was listening to the other singers, the other true singers, on the stage and
then the people at number 25 called me.”
“Wait a minute” Eddie interrupted him “number 25 means…”
“Yeah, it means Donna” Barry cut to the chase.
“Who’s Donna?” Easy asked.
“She’s a nice girl that comes to the pub, taking always table 25 and every
time with a different man.
Well, she called me and asked me for a drink or something, but as I was
taking her order, the guy who was with her started to talk:
“Hey, hey I know you man” he’d say.
“Excuse me?”
“Yeah I remember! You’re that spineless dummy who couldn’t even say a
word that Monday” his breath smelled of alcohol.
“Alex, please” Donna said. She was wearing a silver dress and two long
earrings that touched her neck.
Alex laughed. Not an embarrassed laugh, but the arrogant, shameless laugh
that just pisses you off.
“What? I’m just telling him the truth. Tell me somethin’, man, have you
ever sang before? I mean real songs, not the Happy-birhtdays things that
you do to your Momma, uh?”
That was enough. That guy was drunk, and was making fun of me for no
reason. I didn’t even know him! So I just said “come and repeat that in my 
face” and he suddenly stood up and pushed me, and I pushed back, he
punched me and I punched back, until he knocked me off.”
“Oh Barry, that’s terrible.” Easy said. She was hurt and felt so sad for poor
Barry she could have cried.
“But what’s worse is that my boss lifted me up from the ground and yelled
into my ears that I was fired. I was finally fired. He told me that I was a
troublemaker, a waste and that it was a relief not to have me around
anymore” his lips curled at the corners “it’s strange: the harder one tries to
make things right, the worse they go.”
Easy’s eyes were now full with tears, and she was pressing her hand against
her open mouth. Eddie was full with anger and all he was thinking of was to
go that damned pub and punch the boss in the face.
“So what now?” he finally asked. But not with the bored, peaceful tone he
used before with Easy.
“I guess I’m glad I still have a job here” Barry said, looking to his feet.
“No, I mean what with your dream. What with the signing thing? I mean, I
think you were going to that stupid pub in the hope one day you could sing
there” Eddie answered.
“No. I’ll bury that story. I’ve tried and I failed. I’m a looser” and Barry put
his head in his hands.
Eddie was now full of rage. Those people at the pub didn’t hurt his friend
just physically. They’ve done worse: they’ve hurt his soul, his dreams, what
he thought he was.
“Why? Why do you think you’re a looser? Just because those idiots say so?
Well, they ain’t right, for God’s sake. I know you’re a great guy, and I’ll tell
you more, I should make you the employee of the month each very month,
because you deserve it. You’re the best pal I’ve ever had, and I know you
got a heart of gold. And I also know how damn well you sing! Easy, you 
should hear him! He has a voice good enough to make you jump from your
seat and clap your hands! Barry, don’t listen to them. If you take account of
what people say, well…take account of this: you rock. You’re my favorite
singer” Eddie said. As he talked, he put himself right in front of Barry,
making a strong eye contact.
“Eddie, stop it. You’re very kind, but I know I’m no good” Barry answered.
Eddie didn’t say anything for a while, he just stared at him seriously with his
green eyes. Then he folded his arms and nodded, saying “Fine…then sing.”
“What?” Barry thought his friend went nuts all of a sudden. Didn’t he
realize he was tired as heck and his pride was under his feet?
“Sing! Let us decide if you’re of some good or not. C’mon, what do you
have to lose anymore?” Eddie was starting to feel angry toward his friend
too. He knew that he was a great, talented singer, and Barry did too. So
why would he let himself down like this?
There were some instants of tension while Eddie was frowning intensely to
Barry, Easy swept her tears away and looked from one friend to another,
and while Barry was deciding whether to have a try or not.
That plot could have last forever if Jerry didn’t come in, throwing the door
open, shouting: “Hey-yo, nice people!” but of course he stopped right
away, loosening his smile into a shocked open mouth: “Barry! What the
“Jerry, quickly, close the shop” Eddie said.
“What? Why?” Jerry answered perplexed. He didn’t understand why his
friend looked like a punch ball, and why he found the other two in such a
bad mood. But he knew Eddie, and if he was frowning like that, it had to be
something important.
“Just do it” he replied, and Jerry just did it, closing the door and turning the
sign from “Welcome! We’re OPEN” to “Sorry! We’re CLOSE” 
Jerry approached the counter to join his friends. This was the very first time
Easy found him serious.
Some more instants of silence followed, then Barry broke the ice, saying
“Fine. I’ll show you how bad I am if that’s what you want” Barry said. He
spoke roughly, but he didn’t want to hurt his friends. He only wanted to
hurt himself. He had once thought he had a nice voice, but that was the
past: now he thought he had no chance anymore, as the only one which he
could ever ask for, has gone with the wind.
“Oh, we will see! Jerry, what’s the name of Barry’s favorite song?” Eddie
asked, his eyes still glued on Barry’s.
“Oh, that old one. I think it’s Stand by me, or something. I prefer the mashup,
anyhow” Jerry answered casually.
“That’s correct. Barry, sing us Stand by me, please” Eddie said with a grin.
Barry sighed. His friend knew him well. He chose to make him sing his best
song. The one he loved because it was the one he sang the best. Actually,
he’d planned to sing it at the pub, that dreadful Monday.
Easy thought for a moment, than she decided to help Barry a bit. She took
her violin and asked “I know the tunes, may I join in?” not sure whether to
look at Eddie or Barry.
Eddie opened his arms and said “Great!”
Barry tapped the floor lightly three times with his left foot (a little habit he
had before he sang any song) and started
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
His velvet voice spread through the whole room, and his three friends
listened to him, amazed. It was like having Ben King in person right in front
of them. Even if he was singing without any music, he kept time perfectly,
not missing any note. Easy almost forgot that she was holding her violin,
ready to play at the right moment. Because her friend’s voice was just too
beautiful, too warm and peaceful, and it was a pity not to stop to listen to
With his eyes closed, Barry raised his voice.
So darlin', darlin', stand
by me,
Oh stand
by me
Oh stand,
stand by me, stand by me
Easy started to play softly, gently, trying not to break the harmony his
friend created. However, this peace was not meant to last long, for Jerry
deliberately jumped in, singing a different song
Oh, can't you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take
And then he smiled and shrugged: it must have been the other song of the
mash-up he was talking about before. However, he didn’t ruin the song.
Eddie thought he made things more beautiful. He must have not been the
only one to feel more comfortable, for Barry opened his eyes and smiled,
now more confident, and Easy played a little bit harder.
If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand now by me, stand by me, stand by me
Now even Eddie joined Jerry.
Since you've gone I've been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but it's you I can't replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby please
Easy was actually having fun with this, and after a brief solo of her violin,
Barry continued, with more strength and power then ever: now he knew he
could sing. He could. No matter what his boss, Alex or whoever thought of
him. Nothing counted more than what he thought of him.
Whenever you’re in trouble, won’t you stand by me
Oh stand, by me
Oh stand now, stand by me, stand by me.
As soon as they finished the song, Easy jumped from her place and hugged
Barry tight at his neck.
“Barry, that was awesome” she said, her voice shielded from her arms.
Jerry and Eddie hugged them too, forming a link, an infallible connection
among them four that would last forever.
When their work-hours ended, Eddie took Easy for another tour in the city.
They were walking along Martin Luther King Boulevard when Easy said:
“What you did today was very nice, Eddie.”
“Yeah? And what did I do?” Eddie answered recalling for a moment any
extraordinary action of the day, but he had to give up.
Eddie smiled: “You gave Barry that smidge of courage he needed to believe
again. This makes you a true friend” and she punched him jokingly on his 
arm. She always did so when she was happy (that may be the reason why
Easy Dad’s arm often hurt.)
“Nah, I only said the truth, I mean he’s a real artist” Eddie laughed
Then, as they were walking Eddie noticed among the buildings next to the
sidewalk a very old little door. It was discolored, and the wood it was made
of was about to come apart. Eddie stopped suddenly having a flashback:
He was a child, around six or seven years old, and his uncle Frank was the
singer in a little known band. They were walking holding hands on that very
street in a cloudy day, and Eddie remembered to feel so sad there were no
sun he could play. But his uncle promised him to making him have fun
As they reached that door �"which at that time was of a bright electric-blue
color with a bronze doorknob that little Eddie reached with his nose- they
opened it and they were welcomed by the greeting shouts of Uncle Frank’s
best friends.
The inside of the little studio apartment was as bright and colorful as the
outside: the walls were of canary yellow and the floor was of a deep brown.
There wasn’t much empty place, for much of the room was occupied by
Uncle Frank’s band instruments: a drummer, a keyboard, a guitar and a
bass, and of course a microphone on a very tall stand.
Eddie loved listening to the songs they played: they were happy songs, full
of funny words and rhymes and he thought Uncle Frank was the best singer
“Eddie? W-What’s wrong?” Easy asked, wakening him up from his
“Whoa. It must have been years since I last saw this place!” Eddie said, his
face lightening up with a wide smile of amazement.
“What place? This closet?” Easy looked at the door and saw nothing but an
old dirty door.
“Hey! Watch your language! This is my childhood place” Eddie looked at the
door with lovely eyes.
“I wonder if…” and he put his hand in the old lamp-post next the door,
which was actually pretty short for the other lamp-posts, but Eddie
remembered it much taller when in his sweet childhood, he looked up at
his uncle replacing something inside it every time he was leaving the place.
The lamp-post looked empty and full of dust without any bulb inside, but
Eddie still found something: a key.
“Ha! I found it! I can’t believe it, it’s still here!” he was chuffed to bits.
Easy didn’t understand anything about what was going on, and just let
Eddie do whatever he was doing.
When Eddie unlocked the door after some pressures, it was like someone
had driven him back into the past: the same yellow room, the same dark
floor, but the instruments were almost gone, for all it was left was a dusty
keyboard and the microphone.
“What’s this place? What are we doing here?” Easy asked puzzled.
“This was my Uncle shelter: he came here every week to sing with his
buddies. He called it the ART club.” Eddie answered, giving a panoramic
look to the small apartment.
“Your uncle sings?” Easy asked in disbelief. He must have been from the
mother side.
“Yeah, he’s very different from my father” Eddie answered.
Easy thought that being a manager was an old tradition flowing through the
Whales’ veins and that Eddie was the first to betray it. Apparently, he
wasn’t the only one.
“Wow. Well it seems like they don’t come here very often anymore, do
they?” Easy asked, approaching the keyboard. When she was younger, she
actually learned how to play a bit of piano, but her skills were at the best
with arch and strings.
“No, they don’t, and that’s a pity. You should have listened to them, they
were really fantastic” Eddie answered, regretting the good old days.
“Yeah, and it’s a pity that this place is not of any use to anyone too. I mean,
Barry could come here now and then to have some practice” Easy said
without thinking.
She really didn’t think about what she’d said and that idea just popped in
her mind from nothing, but then it made more and more sense: Barry was
such a talented, charming and gifted singer and only because he didn’t have
the opportunity to improve himself, he was letting himself down.
Eddie and Easy looked to each other telepathically and smiled: they won’t
let this happen. They’d let their friend live his dream, train until he made it.
And laughing, Eddie and Easy ran back to the bookstore, hoping to find
their singer still with his apron, sweeping the floor with the triumphant
smile of someone who has found himself again.

© 2017 zee

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Added on August 13, 2017
Last Updated on August 13, 2017



arbil, Iraq

Hi I'm a very very new to writing and I am happy to hear from you and your advice hope you like it and have a good day or evening where ever you are ^-^ more..