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TᕼE ᗷEᗩTᔕ Oᖴ ᒪᗩᑎEᗩᑌ᙭

A little short I wrote in under an hour.

By Mad MalicPublished 4 years ago 14 min read

The Beats Of Laneaux

‘Every morning it happens like this.’ Tabatha thinks to herself as she wakes up with a splitting headache. The house bumbles of a thunderous noise. “Ugh!” Tabatha yanks herself out of bed pissed, frustrated, but most of all annoyed. She quickly puts on her robe, bolts out of her room, runs down two flights of stairs, then kicks open the basement door. ‘I’m going to ring this little mutha...’ Her eyes are in disbelief when she notices that on this morning it is not only her little brother beating away at the drums, but also her older sister on guitar, her father blowing a saxophone, and her beautiful mother on vocals. It was at this moment that Tabatha realizes that her family was much different than most.

The Endearing feeling that she felt quickly eased the pain of any early morning migraine. She pulls out her Apple phone, scrolls to the note section then begins to write. She writes about the sound of the music, the harmony of her mother‘s voice that seems to accentuate her stunning look. There’s a comedy that is her father’s cheeks that seem as big as two chocolate balloons almost about to burst. The amazement of her brother’s tiny little arms that move so fast, producing thunderous sounds that no being of that stature could ever create. And of her sister the rebel, rocking away on the guitar, finally cracking a hint of a smile as she rips through each note.

The Laneaux family continued this tradition every Sunday for about 8 years straight. It was their family time, the bonding moment we all wish for in life. Tabatha never played an instrument or sung a song, but every Sunday she would make it down to the basement to write as her family played. But they were all getting older, the family would soon be separated by life.

“So we have been at this for some time now... Playing instruments, singing songs.” Tabatha’s father says as the family takes a break from playing. The family all look around at each other unsure of what their father Scott was trying to say. Scott walks over to his wife Allegra then begins holding her as though the words that would fall from his lips weren’t just his. “Oh no, you two aren’t getting divorced or some shit right?” Always outspoken, always blunt, Tabatha lets the words spill out. Erica and their brother Brandon both look over to Tabatha in shock before looking over to their parents concerned.

“Tabby no.” Their mother Allegra quickly refutes what her daughter has said. “And so long as you are under my roof you will watch your languages.” Allegra shakes her head in a comical disgust. “Go ahead baby, tell the kids.”

“As I was trying to say, we have been at this for some time now. I think it would be in all our best interest to see where this goes.” The excitement that Scott feels can’t be contained by his smile. He’s almost shaking he’s so excited.

“Are you like trying to say we should record or something?” Erica asks as the other two kids agree with her question and look towards their parents for answers. Scott releases his hug from his wife then walks closer to the kids. “That is exactly what I’m saying.” His voice is soft and calming, still holding the baritone of his speech.

“I listen to music today, I’ve too heard the music of the past, but never have I seen a family quite like ours.” “Well, there was the Osmonds.” His wife cleverly teases. ”Ain’t nobody cares about no fucking Osmonds.” Scott comically snaps back.

The family all look around at each other amazed, Brandon gets up out of his seat then walks over to his drum set. He is looking at the drums as if they are talking to him, as though the answers to everything will jump out to him. “We have something here kids!” Scott walks over to the stage set up in their basement. He’s clinching both of his fist adding extra animation to his enthusiasm.

Brandon looks up from the drum set.

”Dad, you really think we can do this?” Brandon’s voice cracks, showing signs of his late spurt in puberty. Scott walks up to his son, reaches over the drum set, and grabs his growing boy by the right shoulder. ”I know we can son...” He releases his son's shoulder, turns to face the family. ”I know we can.”

Tranquility hits the basement. The air reeks of both doubt and intrigue. A family so full of words and music notes goes quite for just a moment.

”So what is the real fucking plan?” Tabatha snaps out receiving a cold stare from her mother. Tabatha shrugs into her seat out of shame, hoping to escape her mother’s chill. ”But seriously mom, dad, what is the plan? I mean we don’t even have songs.” Erica states. Tabatha and Brandon give their parents equally concerned looks.

”That’s the thing kids, there are multiple talents shows coming up this summer. People cover songs all of the time in these types of shows.”

The kids look at their mother unconvinced, sure that this is another one of their father’s crack shot ideas.

”Look kids we aren’t getting any younger and soon you will all be leaving the house.” Allegra rallies her kids and her husband together so that they can hear her soft birdlike voice. They stand in this family circle as she continues. ”E, you’ve just finished grad school and I’m sure you will move to DC as soon as the summer is over. Tabby, we all know what your plans are after school, so this next coming year will be geared toward accomplishing that transition.” The sisters look at each other caring for maybe the first time ever. “And my baby boy Bran...” Allegra grabs her son by the chin, just like any mother would. For a moment she holds his chin in her little ivory hand. Peering into the eyes of her growing baby, as though she can see the years in their hazel encasements. “Bran you will be the first in the family to leave the state and go to a premier music school out of the country...” The moment catches her as tears begin to stream down her beautiful cheeks. Her husband’s only sense of consolement is his left hand’s gentle stroke of her back.

”I’m losing my babies...” Her voice crackles from emotion. ”Mom stop.” Brandon reaches to console her as well but she stops him. ”No Bran, let me finish.” Bran steps back. ”We are losing our babies and we just thought..” She gives a beguiling look at the love of her life. ”..that it would be great to spend the summer on the road chasing a shared dream.”

The Laneaux family hugs as only they can. The kids and father on the outside, mom in the middle, but this hug was different. This hug was an unspoken agreement that they would all participate. Well, all except for Tabatha.

Throughout the entire discussion, Tabatha wondered what her role would be in all of this. Was she to just write on stage as they performed? Would she be backstage rooting them on from behind the scenes? Or would she be front row watch just like any of the other crowd members?

The family planned it all out. The RV was rented, the trail across the country was mapped, and all of the expenses were accounted for. LA would be there last stop on the road trip but the final talent show and the most important one, would be back at home.

While every Sunday seemed like family bonding time the practices leading up to the road trip seemed to take a different approach. The darkness of competition began to consume the family and Tabatha had front row seats. It must have been a week before the road trip when the shift began to start, Tabatha could see it coming.

“Once again from the top now. E, give your mother a nice rift to start with.” Scott’s voice hides back his frustrations but the eyes of Erica tell the whole story. The melody of Allegra’s voice hums up into the guitar strings, the chime of the drum begins to build, and then the sax eases into the melody. Her voice was beautiful, the sound came together good, but not great. The power of her voice, the entire delivery, it just fell flat.

“Stop. Stop.” Scott puts his sax on his stand then walks off the stage with one hand on his hip, the other on his forehead. Tabatha eyes him as he walks off the stage, she’s aggressively sucking on a lollipop, then pops it out of her mouth louder than a bursting balloon.

“What’s wrong dad?” Her tone bleeds of bitter sarcasm. “Not now Tabby.” He says as he paces back and forth. “What’s the deal ’Pop’? I thought we sounded good.” Erica and Brandon agree, looking over at each other proud. Allegra looks at her love from behind the mic as if she did something wrong.

“It is good son but that’s the problem, it’s not great.” He looks up to the roof, searching for an answer, on the verge of clinching his fist but doesn’t. “Babe, what did you think?” He looks over to his wife with both hands on his hip. Tabatha peers at her mother from behind her father, eager for mom's answer.

“I ah... I thought it was ok.” Allegra try’s her best to make light of the situation with a fake smile and head nod looking around the whole room at everyone.

“That’s what I thought.” Scott looks down at the floor for a second then looks up. “We leave next week ya’ll. We have played maybe 25 songs... maybe 30 something, and only two have really stuck... What are we going to do?”

“Well, I feel like this song, in particular, doesn’t really bring out my vocals. I like the one we did yesterday.” Allegra says both trying to light up the mood and excited because she truly loved singing yesterday's song. “Well, of course, you like that song mom, you begin and end a capella in that outdated song. I get no guitar solo and Bran barely gets to plan the drums.” “It’s true mom, I think Bran was even texting at some point.” Tabatha adds her 2 cents in.

Allegra shrugs it off eventually siding with her babies. “Maybe you need new songs dad?” Tabatha adds.

If looks could kill then his eyes would be machine guns the way he looks at her. “Is that right Tabatha Jane Laneaux?... For the past 3 weeks while we practice you sit down here watching us, critiquing everything that we are doing. You sit there with your notepad writing god knows what.” His voice is raised like he never has before. “Scott calm down.” His wife tries slowing his words. “No she sits there like she never has before, ridiculing us... What are you contributing Tabby? Nothing but negative energy.”

Tabatha’s heart is broken but the person that she is would never let it show on her face. She stares back at him. “I think you should give us a moment Tabby.” Tabatha looks at her brother and sister for reassurance that her father is wrong, but they look down at the floor. She looks over to her mother but she just lightly shakes her head and mouths, ‘sorry’.

Once again the Laneaux basement is quite. So quite that a mouse—if there were any—wouldn’t dare move.

Tabatha breaks the silence by grabbing her pens and her notepad. She begins to walk upstairs and then stops. “You know I remember the day this all started. I have always sat and wrote what I write, while you all play what you play. I may have not contributed anything but it always felt like I did.”

The week past and Tabatha stayed in her books. For Tabatha, it has always been about words ever since she was little but now she was fully engulfed by the words. Of course she was to go on the road with them but no more would she get in their way, no more would she pretend to be apart of the “band”.

“Ok, this is it. Our first show.” Scott sounds as if he is a coach pep-talking his team, hoping for victory. “Remember the notes, the rhythms...” “Laneaux family!” One of the stage handlers yells out into the back hall. Other families waiting to go on stage look around at who the Laneaux family might be. Families of three, five, there was even a family of eight waiting for their turn. Matching costumes of technicolor, velour jumpsuits, and haircuts that looked to be lost in time.

As the Laneaux family makes their way up to the stairs leading onto the stage, Tabatha is stopped.

“Who is this?” A stagehand asks. “This is my daughter Tabby.” Scott answers concerned about why he is being asked in the first place. The stagehand looks through his clipboard scrolling through names. “Here it says your band has four members. She can’t come up with you.”

As the family walks up the stage, leaving Tabatha behind, she feels true loneliness for the very first time. She has always felt different from her musical family but this time she felt as though she truly didn’t belong. She wasn’t sitting on stage writing. She didn’t get to peer at her family from backstage. Nor was she allowed to watch from the front row like an audience member. Instead, she was left in the hallway alone. At that moment she put her headphones on, blocking out the world, until the end of the show.

What Tabatha missed was a show that went off with a hitch. The set was technically sound, Allegra’s voice soothed and at times surprised, but in the end, the family only received third place. Two original songs filled the first and second spots.

As the road trip went on much of the same continued to happen. ’Close but no cigar’ as they say. They were good but they weren’t great. On the flight home, Tabatha and Erica are forced to sit next to one another.

“What are you always writing butthead?” Erica asks trying to convince her sister to speak but she ignores. “Come on Tabby, stop ignoring me.” Tabby just continues writing in silence.

Then and there Erica snatches the book out of her hands. Tabatha begins to wrestle with her sister but then feels the cold stare of her mother that quickly calms her down. She pulls off her headphones.

“GIVE. IT. Back.” Tabatha whisper-yells at Erica. But Erica’s eyes are glued to the page, then see swipes to the next, and the next, until finally she almost yells.

“ARE!” Erica catches the height of her voice then brings it down to a whisper. “Are these lyrics Tabby?” She hands back the book. “No, they are poems that I write while I listen to ya’ll play.” She says calmly trying to hide her shyness. “You have to tell dad or I fucking will. “ She looks at Tabatha amazed as Tabatha covers her head with a hoodie then goes to sleep, or at least acts that way.

Back home it’s business as usually, practicing away, getting the correct notes together, but the family has lost a bit of their luster. The sting of a defeated summer can be heard in almost every verse.

“Well, maybe this is it? It was a fun summer, we did the best we could, and I’m very proud of you three.” The sounds of a loving father who still sees the glass half full as long as he’s got his family.

“But what if this is not our best?” Erica asks. “What do you mean?”

He looks confused. “Tabby! Come down here!” Erica yells out.

“What? What?” Tabatha rushes down the stairs frustrated but still with her book in hand.

“Give daddy your book.” Erica places her guitar on the stand then walks over to her sister. Erica reaches for the book, gets ahold of it, beginning a tug-a-war with her kid sister. “Give...it...here.” Erica finally gets the book.

“Daddy read these.” Tabatha looks down at the floor as her father reads, shes’ kicking dust around. As he turns each page the entire family walks closer. They all walk toward this book that holds such magnetism. The basement would have hit another monumental silence if it weren’t for the sound of turning pages.

“Baby girl...” He waves his daughter over. “You wrote these?” She walks over to him. Scott lifts his left arm up, inviting her in for a fatherly snuggle. “I told you that I always felt like I was contributing.” Her adolescents jumps back into her adult body.

The Laneaux family gathers in a group hug but this time Tabatha is in the middle. He looks at her through the hug. “What does BEATS mean?” They all release the hug awaiting Tabatha’s answer.

“It means Bran, E, Alle, Tabby, and Scotty. Beats mean family, my family.

After that the Laneaux family was complete. They won their next talent show. Tabatha’s style of writing took their family to a level that they could have never expected. She gave this multiracial family a new aged rock sound. Soulful with the sax, punk rock with the guitar and drums, and her mother’s voice became used to its full ability.

At the talent show, they blew the crowd away, winning by a landslide victory. They even received a standing ovation. When it was time to receive the trophy they brought Tabatha onto the stage because they created something new, something fresh, and they created it together, every one of them. Tabatha never felt out of place ever again.


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