Chapter 10: Cage (2/6)

JZ returned to the common area after lunch looking for Elle and her song.  She filled in the last few notes for an instrument and looked up.

“Right on time,” she calmly said to herself.

“Let me help you take the music sheets to the music room,” he insisted.

“It’s only some music sheets.  I don’t need help,” she said a little suspicious of him.

They went to the music room.  He appeared very anxious by peeking at what was beyond the first few lines for the electric violin.  He was unsuccessful.  She appeared calm and collected, confident to deliver on what she promised.

“Hi everyone,” Elle said calmly with a smile.  “It’s done,” she said, waving her music sheets.

“Hi,” they all said back.

“Hero, can you tell the musicians that I don’t have music sheets for everyone? The pianist and drummer won’t have music sheets but their roles are the same.  It would take a ridiculous amount of time if I wrote it out for everyone, especially since I promised JZ that I would have it done when he returned from lunch.  I will also need a cellist and he will have music sheets.  Since you already have the electric violin in your hands, can I ask you to play it for my song?”

“Of course! I’d be honored,” she said happily.  Hero then translated everything for everyone to hear.

The musicians nodded “yes” as an “ok,” which was what Elle understood.

“One more thing, can you tell JZ if I can have the music play once as a run-through so I can hear it? I want to hear it then change anything if it needs tweaking, and then he can come and sing the song with you guys playing.”

Hero translated.

“She can do that if I get to play the cello,” he said in his normal voice.

Hero translated.

“Ok.  Oh, tell the pianist and drummer that I will tell them what to play and when to play it.  I’m going to the pianist first and then the drummer.”

After Hero translated, Elle went to the pianist and tapped on the left side of the keyboard with two fingers together to find the right notes.  After several notes, she found them.  “Tell him to play these two keys like this,” Elle demonstrated, “when I look at him.”

Hero translated.

Elle then went to the empty drummer seat and tapped the drums with the drumsticks the drummer handed.  She then stepped on the lever for the bottom drum, and it was unexpectedly loud to her.  Then she tapped the cymbals with the drumsticks, all done with the intention of finding the right sound.  While Elle was testing out the drums, Hero sent a quick text to CeeCee, “We’re about to play the new girl’s song.”

“Tell the drummer I want him to play this sound when I look at the pianist,” she said, gently tapping the drums twice with the drumsticks.  She stood in front of the drum set and told Hero to translate, “Tell him I want to hear him play it.”

Hero translated.  The drummer played it.  Elle shook her head.  He tried again and she nodded her head.  “Good,” she said to the drummer.

Elle realized that she still had the music sheets in her hand, so she separated the ones for the electric violin and the ones for the cello and put them on their respective music stands.  Seeing JZ was still not sitting on the empty seat behind his music stand, she turned back and looked at him.  He looked back at her.  “Sit,” she ordered.

JZ said, “She’s a little bossy, I like that,” to the musicians as he went to get the cello out of the string-instrument closet.  The musicians laughed, and Elle did not care.  “Hero, you’re going to need someone to turn the music sheets for you.”

Elle quickly walked out of the room and quickly returned with her pen.  She was the maestro.  With everyone and everything in place, “One, two, three, four,” she counted and they played.

It went smoothly.  Too bad it was not exactly what Elle had in mind.  “Stand,” she ordered the drummer.  She sat on his seat, testing the drums again.  She found it.  “Tell him to play this,” she demonstrated by stepping hard on the lever, “when I look at the pianist.  But this time I want it to be as loud as the sound of the piano.  One more thing.  Tell the pianist to play his notes like he’s mad at those keys.”

“Ok-,” Elle was about to start again, and remembered that JZ was supposed to sing this time.  She looked at him and asked him, “Why are you still sitting there? You’re singing the song this time.”

JZ wanted this to be clear to Elle so he told Hero to translate it for him, “Tell her I want her to sing it,” he said with a smile.

Elle understood what he said, and told Hero to translate what she had to say to him, “Tell him this song might be in his next album.  He needs to sing it for his fans,” she said a little annoyed.

Hero translated.

“Tell her I have a passion for all the songs I sing.  I don’t have a passion for this one.”

Hero translated.

“I don’t know how to sing.”

Hero translated.

“I don’t believe her.”

Hero translated.

Genuinely shocked, Elle could not believe he actually said he did not believe her.  She did not know how to respond to this.  “Why?” was all she could muster.

“Tell her I know she wrote this about me and her.  If she didn’t feel so strongly, she wouldn’t have written it.”

“He doesn’t believe me.  He doesn’t believe me?! I want to take his stupid cello and smack him with it! I don’t know how to sing! I barely know how to write music! What the hell does this…this…poop head…thinks he’s doing? What the hell am I going to do?”Elle said to herself.  “Are you really going to not work at work? You pride yourself on your work ethics, now show that you have them.”

“I need to set the tempo,” she said to Hero.

Hero translated.

“The room is small and the musicians are few.  Your song will be ok without a conductor.”

Hero translated.

“Does he make every song-writer do this if he doesn’t feel the song’s passion?” Elle asked as her last resort.

Hero translated.

“I throw away every song that I don’t feel a passion for, so she’s the only one that does this,” he answered honestly with a slight business voice.

Hero translated.

“She looks like she’s out of arguments.  Someone get her a microphone and hook it up to the tablet.  Everyone else, make sure your instruments are hooked up to a tablet,” JZ ordered in his normal work voice.

“Where does he want me to stand?” Elle asked, not entirely with a change of heart.

Hero translated.

“She can stand where she’s at.  Just make sure she turns around to face her audience.”

Hero translated.

Elle turned around and saw CeeCee, New Guy, Buzzy, and One Word in the front, and others in the hallway.  She said a small prayer, “Mom, please lend me your strength.”  JZ counted them off and the music began playing.  Elle, rapidly summoned all her passion in her heart for her song, and sang it as how she envisioned herself singing it: with a slow and innocent start, loud and soulful middle, and an even and resolve end.

“You want to give your friend a gift                      “Ni yao song gei pengyou liwu

pet is uncovered                                                    Jiemu shi chongwu*

You hear it sing                                                         Ni ting ta chang ge

You see it is thirsty                                                   Ni kan ta tai ke

 

You place water in the cage                                    Ni fang shui li de

It flies down and drinks drinks                             Ta fei xia he he

You see it dance                                                        Ni kan ta tiao wu

You are really happy                                                Ni zhen de xingfu

 

Next week it did not fly did not sing                    Xia zhou ta bu fei bu chang ge

Did not dance did not drink                                  Bu tiao wu bu he

You were not happy                                                Ni bu gaoxing

Why so quiet?                                                          Wei shenme tai an jing?

 

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Open the door                                                          Kai men

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

 

You bring it to the vet                                             Ni dai ta qu shou yi

She said it is not sick                                               Ta shuo ta bu bing

You said you give it whatever it wants                Ni shuo dou shenme ta yao, wo gei

The vet said you are incorrect                              Shou yi shuo ni bu dui

 

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Open the door                                                          Kai men

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                     Rang ta fei

 

It does not fly does not sing                                  Ta bu fei bu chang ge

Does not dance does not drink                             Bu tiao wu bu he

You are not happy                                                   Ni bu gaoxing

Why so quiet?                                                          Wei shenme tai an jing?

 

Let it fly                                                                      Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                      Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                      Rang ta fei

Open the door                                                           Kai men

Let it fly                                                                      Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                      Rang ta fei

Let it fly                                                                      Rang ta fei

 

Let it go                                                                      Fang kai

And see if it comes back                                         Shimu yi dai ta hui lai

Let it go                                                                      Fang kai

And see if it comes back”                                       Shimu yi dai ta hui lai”

“I did it, mom,” Elle said to herself smiling, then collapsed on the floor.

 »Next»

* Translation from English to Mandarin is in Pinyin.  Links for “pet,” “chongwu,” and characters at the end lead to the same page for translation in characters (漢字).

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