Chapter 10: Cage (1/6)

New Guy and CeeCee were in the silver building’s lobby talking quietly.

“I think you should ask her what her style is or ask for her ideal party dress,” said CeeCee.

Me? I don’t have style, remember? I don’t know about these things.  How am I supposed to hold a conversation? You also speak English.”

“If I ask her, she’ll think I’m prying into her life.  She and I might not be friends after this.”

“If I ask her, she’ll think I’m gay.  Make it sound like it’s girl-talk or something.  You’re really good at persuasion and mind control.”

“Alright.  Come on, let’s go.”

“You go first.  It won’t look casual if we walk in together.”

CeeCee entered the studio intending to talk to Elle for a few minutes then leave on her mission.  She saw the common area’s light gray wall graffitied in black characters of various sizes.  She walked in farther to see more of the room, and she saw more characters on the remainder of the wall, the small open-window adjacent to that wall with music notes for an electric violin, and the wall adjacent to the window had letters corresponding to notes covering the wall.

Then she looked at what was below that wall and saw Elle in yesterday’s outfit asleep on JZ’s lap on the couch.  Her head was leaning against his chest, her body against his, and her legs were resting on the couch.  With one hand JZ was gently rubbing Elle’s back like he was comforting her, while his other hand was caressing her legs.  She and JZ made eye-contact, and he signaled her to be quiet and he returned to smelling Elle’s hair.

CeeCee remembered that New Guy was coming in soon, so she turned back and there he was, right behind her observing Elle’s work on the wall and window.  She quickly turned him to face the hallway wall and covered his eyes with her hands.  “Don’t look,” she whispered, “I’m taking you to Buzzy’s room,” and she led him sideways to Buzzy’s workroom as fast as she could.

“But I wasn’t done,” he quietly argued.

“Just do what I tell you,” she quietly ordered.

They entered Buzzy’s workroom and New Guy was still fussing but quickly stopped when Buzzy said, “Good morning.”

CeeCee and New Guy replied, “Good morning.”

“How do you like the wall art?” Buzzy asked.

“I didn’t get a chance to see the whole thing,” New Guy whined in his head.

“It’s definitely unusual,” CeeCee answered.

“Do you think JZ will let her keep it?”

“She’s his current favorite, so he’ll keep it there until he’s tired of her.  And you?” she asked him back.

“I think her lyrics are alright.  Whatever dictionary she used shows she understands the Chinese language.  I think JZ’s fans can relate to it, but I think JZ will dislike it if he sees the metaphor,” he replied.

“Do you think he will change it to his liking?”

“If he can find a way to make it so he likes it, I think he would.  If he cannot, then I think One Word will convince him to put it in his next album because of the fans.  However, he doesn’t sing any songs without his whole heart.  So he’s in quite a predicament once he starts tackling the problem.”

“That sounds very possible.  Were you working here when Xiao Li was here?”

“When I got here, they only talked business,” knowing what she was after.

“They still only talk about business,” she said to herself.  “Hey, do you think you’ll need New Guy today, other than getting your lunch?”


“Great.  Let’s-” CeeCee looked where New Guy was supposed to be and he was not there.

“Oh no,” she thought.  She walked quickly and quietly through the hallway toward the common area to find him hiddenly staring at his love interest on his rival’s lap.  New Guy looked like he was beaten badly.  CeeCee grabbed his arm and dragged him to the courtyard, far away from the common area, and trying to not make a scene.

“Before you jump to any wrongful conclusions,” she began reassuring him, “she’s asleep so she didn’t make a conscious decision to sit on his lap like that.”

Trying to contain his hurt feelings with all his might, he said nothing.

CeeCee grabbed his face, looked him straight in the eyes, and asked seriously, “Did you hear me? She didn’t make a conscious decision to sit on his lap because she’s asleep.”  Uncertain of what to say next, she took a shot and said, “You need to cool down.”

“You’re right,” he said quietly, “I should,” he threw her hands off of him, ran to the pool and jumped in with all his clothes on.


“Wait! That’s not what I meant!” she yelled.  She wanted to jump in the pool after him and rescue him, but she thought about it and felt he needed to express his feelings in a safe way.  “He knows how to swim.  Oh no, he doesn’t!” she frantically said to herself and jumped in.  She dragged him to the shallow end of the pool and pushed his heavy carcass up on the cement.

“Why didn’t you let me drown?” he yelled.  “Why didn’t you let me drown?” he quietly questioned.  “I can’t un-see his hand on her soft white thighs and soft round butt.  I can’t un-see his lips on her rosy cheek and soft white forehead.  I can’t un-see him inhale the intoxicating perfume of her sun-kissed hair,” he said louder and louder.

“If she were awake, those things wouldn’t happen.  She’s bold enough to resist his advances.  Like you said two days ago, none of us know her well-enough to know what is her breaking point or what triggered her breaking point.  The point is, you don’t know what kind of guy she wants, and that kind could be you.”

“If you had to choose to go on a date, who would you choose, me or him?”

“That’s not fair.  You know I like nice things, and you’re really young.”

“Let me answer that for you, then.  You would choose him.  You would get the same choice if you ask every girl on this planet.”

“That’s just on the outside.  What about the inside? We both know he’s perverted and most girls don’t like perverted guys.  You’re not perverted, are you?”

“Great, because I don’t act on my perverted instincts, I might get the girl.”

“You’re a pervert?” she asked, with a shock in her voice and not feeling bodily safe around him.

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“Of course I am! All guys are like that.  All we want to do is touch, touch, touch, grab, grab, grab-” he said, like he was answering a stupid question.

CeeCee interrupted, not believing that she was having a conversation about this, “Girls like being touched and grabbed, after they like the guy.  From what I’ve seen while she’s awake, she doesn’t like him.  Again, from what I’ve seen when she’s awake, she’s neutral toward you.  While you guys were on your shopping trips, she might have picked a side; I don’t know, I wasn’t there.  You’ve been giving me a lot of information on guys, let me give you another one on girls.  If they like you, they’ll initiate a touch, like rubbing your biceps and hiding the fact that they want to touch your muscles.”

“Really?” he asked hopeful.

“Yeah, so you should get some muscles for her to rub.”

“I’m going to start right now.”

“No, go home and dry yourself, then get back to work.  You can start later.  Come on, let’s go.”


In the common area, JZ saw that Elle was starting to move around like she was awakening.  He carried her in his arms and laid her gently on the couch like she was lying there in that position the entire time.  She awoke.  She put her hand on her chest, then stomach, and then on the face-down side of her thigh.  Then she put her hand on her face-down side arm and it did not match the warmer temperature of her thigh and body.  “He did something to me,” she said to herself.  She stretched her neck to look at the clock.  Then turned to get off the couch and saw JZ sitting on the floor watching her.

“It’s 10 o’clock,” he said sternly.  “Go clean yourself up.  I’ll be waiting here for you.”

“Sorry,” she mumbled, still groggy and went to the ladies room.

When she got back, JZ was observing her lyrics.

“So far,” he sternly said, “you are right.  I don’t like your song but my fans will.  Explain this to me,” he said, pointing to the letters and music notes on the window and wall.

She asked for his phone and typed, “I’m not done writing those yet, but I can hear what I want.  I’ll have it all on music sheets when you return from lunch.”

“Good.  Then I expect them after lunch,” still in his stern voice, then briskly walked to One Word’s workroom.

“I think her song is awful,” JZ said.

“It’s simple and effective,” he replied.

“Exactly.  It’s not my style.”

“But you’ve proven that you are effective in many styles.  You have taken those challenges and emerged victorious.  There’s no reason why you can’t win again.”

“I meant that her lyrics are simple and lack passion.  All the lyrics in my albums are complex and filled with passion.  If I disregard her song, then she’ll think I’m being petty.  If I change her lyrics, then she won’t feel confident on her next one.  If I keep it the way it is, then I don’t think I can sing it.”

“Let me remind you that you hired her knowing she is a modern poet, not a song-writer, with limited knowledge in Mandarin might I add.  Songs contain important elements of poetry, but poems do not contain important elements of songs.  Since her poem didn’t work out, she’s probably experimenting with what she knows and what she doesn’t know, and making something everyone can understand.  She also wrote her first song in three days, so give her some slack.  Let me remind you of one more thing: she isn’t done.  All anyone could see is that she has several notes for an electric violin.  If you consult Hero, she might be able to help you decipher it so you’ll feel more comfortable with it.  If you’re immature you’ll take that route.  But if you’re mature, you’ll wait for her to finish and judge it then.”

“I’m immature,” JZ said and sped to the music room to consult with Hero.  The musicians were playing something of their own or competing against each other to see who the loudest player was.  He interrupted them.

“Hey Hero,” he quickly said.  “Do you know what all her letters next to the music notes mean?”

She laughed like his question tickled her.  “You know how to read them, so why are you asking me?”

“I thought maybe they meant something different.”

“You’re dying to find out, aren’t ya?”

“Of course I am.  What do they mean? What should I be expecting?” he asked anxiously, as if he was dealing with any other serious matter.

“From what I saw, she has it for an electric violin, I know, strange choice for a bird, but it sounds something like this.”  Hero retrieved the electric violin from the string-instrument closet and played what she remembered on the window.

“That doesn’t sound good at all! When I think about birds, they make light and high notes, not scratchy and dark noises.”

“She strikes me as a smart person, so I think she’ll add other instruments to soften it, if that is her vision.  Don’t worry too much.  You can always ‘fix’ it if it doesn’t please you, or you can guide her in the direction for what you want from her.  You are hiring her as a song-writer to meet your needs for songs in your album.”

“How can I not worry? I like her but I also don’t want my next album to be sacrificed.”

“Take my advice: wait for her.  Let me explain what I mean.  I didn’t even know she knew how to write music.  So, wait for her to show you what she knows, what she is capable of.  You barely know her yourself, right?”

“You’re right that I don’t know much about her, so practically everything she produces is new to me.  But I don’t want to wait; I want to know now,” he said and sped out of the room.


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