Intemperance, Volume 2 - Standing On Top
Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Cheating,
Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1a - The continuing adventures of Jake Kingsley, Matt Tisdale, Nerdly Archer, and the other members of the rock band Intemperance. Now that they are big successes, pulling in millions of dollars and known everywhere as the band that knows how to rock, how will they handle their success? This is not a stand-alone novel. If you haven't read the first Intemperance you will not know what is going on in this one.
The End Of The Road
November 12, 1986
Jake Kingsley, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the rock band Intemperance, sat in the plush seat of the Lear jet, looking out the left side window. He could see the farmland of California's Great Central Valley some forty-two thousand feet below, could see the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance. On the table before him was an ashtray with a smoldering cigarette in it and a fresh glass of Chardonnay that Julie, the Lear's cabin servant, had just placed before him. It was his second glass of wine of the day, his fourth drink. He had started the flight from Seattle with two pale bloody Marys. He had a very mild buzz going. These days it took a little more than three drinks to get his motor running.
"This is the way to travel, ain't it, Nerdly?" Jake asked Bill Archer — affectionately known as "Nerdly" by the rest of the band. Bill was the group's pianist and, as of the Balance Of Power tour they'd just finished up, their unofficial concert sound technician.
Bill, like Jake, was dressed casually for the flight, wearing only a pair of loose-fitting sweat pants and a button down, collared shirt. His hair was cut militarily short and he sported large, horn-rimmed glasses over his eyes. Currently he was sipping from a glass of milk and running his hand up and down the lovely upper thigh of Julie beneath her skirt. "Oh yes," he said dreamily as Julie giggled. "Private luxury aviation is far superior to even first class commercial air travel." He ran his hand up a little higher, making it disappear completely from sight and making Julie squeal a little. "Far superior."
Jake smiled and turned back to his view out the window, taking another drag from his smoke, another sip from his wine. This really was the way to travel, especially after spending the last six months traveling by tour bus all over the country. The bus was comfortable, and with only seven people in it, not very crowded, but it was slow. The trips from each venue to the next averaged anywhere from four to twelve hours. Intemperance's last show of the tour had been in Seattle the previous night. All of the tour trucks, the roadie buses, and the main tour bus would be pulling out of the rainy city soon and starting the twenty hour drive back to Los Angeles. Jake and Bill had decided not to be a part of it. They were making good money from their latest album and had raked in quite a bit from tour profits and merchandising as well. Though their first royalty checks in July had been completely negated by the "recoupable expenses" clauses in their contract their October checks had been quite healthy indeed, especially considering that Balance Of Power, the album, had gone triple platinum and two of their singles had sold over four million copies as well. The last he'd checked, Jake had just under 1.6 million dollars sitting in his bank account although a good portion of that needed to be earmarked for taxes. Even so, he thought that splurging on a chartered air flight to get him home as quickly as possible would not bankrupt him. Bill had come to the same conclusion and had gone in half with him on the eighteen thousand dollar bill. Matt Tisdale, John Cooper, and Darren Appleman — the band's lead guitarist, drummer, and bass player, respectively — had all been offered the chance to get in on the flight as well. Matt declined because he had arranged his own private flight to Cabo San Lucas to get out of the winter conditions they'd spent the last two months in and try some sport fishing — which he'd become obsessed with — at what Sammy Hagar had told him was the fisherman's paradise. Coop — as John Cooper was known by friends and fans alike — had elected to go with Matt. Darren, who had been sullen and rather unpleasant for most of the tour, had declined everyone's offers, electing to just stay with the tour bus.
"I don't make enough fuckin' money to be blowin' it on six thousand dollar airplane rides," he'd told them. "I don't have the fuckin' endorsement contracts or songwriting royalties that some people have."
"Your choice," Jake had responded to him, giving him nothing more than a simple shrug. It was the way he'd developed to deal with most of Darren's tantrums. In truth, however, he worried about Darren. The bass player had developed a hefty heroin habit after their second tour and had been forcibly removed from the habit after Intemperance re-negotiated their original contract with National Records. Though Coop had gone through the same thing, Coop seemed to be happy to be off the heavy drug and back to the normal intoxicants like alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Darren, on the other hand, seemed like he was nothing but resentful.
"We're going to have to keep an eye on Darren," Jake told Bill as the Lear had roared into the sky from Seattle-Tacoma airport two hours ago. "I don't think he's meant to walk the straight and narrow."
"I agree," Bill agreed. He then turned to more important things. "Did you see the spherical quality of the mammaries on our stewardess? I'd love to palpate them in more than a clinical manner."
And now, as the plane banked gently to the right, making a miniscule course change that would put it on its final heading for Los Angeles, Nerdly seemed to be well on his way to that goal. Jake heard the wet smacking sound of lips in contact with each other. He turned and saw that Nerdly now had the stewardess straddling his lap while they sucked on each other's tongues. Bill's hands had pushed her dress all the way up over her ass and he was squeezing her cheeks through her panties.
Their kiss broke. Julie was flushed and a little breathless.
"Let's go visit the lavatory," Bill suggested, nibbling on her ear.
"I can't," she said. "I could get fired just for doing this. If one of the pilots catches me it's my ass."
"But I want to penetrate your vaginal orifice," Bill told her. "It's been almost twelve hours since I last copulated."
"How about after we land?" she asked. "We're laying over in LA for about six hours to pick up another client. I can come over to your place."
Bill thought this over a few moments, no doubt wondering if he should go for the easy score or go out to one of the clubs and hunt up something better once he got back home. Even though he was nerdly, he was also Nerdly of Intemperance — one of the hottest rock bands of the year — and, like every other member of Intemperance, when he wanted some sex, he got it.
He decided to go with the easy score since he knew he probably wouldn't feel like going out once he arrived home. "Okay," he told her. "It's a rendezvous. But how about a little oral copulation at least? I'm really feeling congested in my nether regions."
"Right here?" she whispered.
"Right here," he confirmed. "Jake won't mind, will you, Jake?"
"Not at all," Jake said truthfully. It certainly wouldn't be the first time he'd been in close proximity when one of his bandmates was getting his helmet buffed. Such was the life of a rock star.
Julie required a little more convincing but soon she was down on her knees between Bill's legs, her head bobbing up and down, wet slurping sounds emanating from Bill's lap. Jake looked out the window again and sipped his wine, wondering for perhaps the thousandth time just what it was about rock musicians that made perfectly ordinary women — which was what Julie seemed to be — act like the most depraved sluts when in their presence.
Julie had already offered herself to Jake. This had been while they were still taxiing to the runway back in Seattle. That was part of the persona. Women always went for Jake or for Matt first — dependent on their personality — but readily accepted Bill, Coop, or Darren (in that order generally) as secondary prospects. They just had to screw rock stars.
Jake had turned her down, politely but firmly. During the last six months they had hit every large and medium-large city in the United States and Canada, playing before well over a million people. He had fucked or had at least some sort of sexual contact with more than two hundred women during that time period, every last one of them a girl he'd known for less than an hour, every last one of them a girl he didn't dare kiss on the lips since the groupies, as they were called, gained admission to the backstage area where the band changed and partied by orally servicing members of the road crew and security force. The tour was over now. Jake was more than ready to deprogram himself from the road. He was burned out on meaningless sex. He wanted a real woman, someone he could have meaningful sex with.
Nerdly began to grunt in that high-pitched whine of his right about the time that Jake felt the plane heel forward and start its descent toward the Los Angeles region. The whines grew louder and more frequent before being climaxed (as it were) by a high-pitched teakettle noise.
"Exquisite," Bill sighed when he got his breath back. "Your oral skills are first rate."
"Thanks," Julie said shyly, as if unable to believe what she'd just done. Quite possibly she couldn't.
Jake finished his wine and handed Julie his glass when she went by on the way to the bathroom to freshen up. "How about another shot?" he asked her.
"Of course, Mr. Kingsley," she said, taking it from him. She smiled sheepishly. "I don't suppose you'd care for a little of... you know... what I gave Mr. Archer?"
"Some other time, perhaps," Jake told her, lighting a fresh cigarette. "Now, I'd really love another glass of that Chardonnay."
"Right away," she said, not the least bit perturbed by his refusal. She disappeared into the bathroom.
"Jake," Bill said once the door was closed behind her, "have I ever thanked you for talking me into this band thing?"
"A couple times," Jake said, taking a deep drag and blowing the smoke at the window.
"Well allow me to express my gratitude yet again," Bill said, sipping from his milk. "If I would have listened to my mother and kept up with my studies at UCH, I would right now, at this moment, be a computer systems engineer in some office building in Heritage and probably still a virgin. Now, I'm getting oral copulation from flight attendants on a Lear Jet. This is the life."
"Yeah," Jake said with a smile. "It is, isn't it?"
The Lear Jet circled in over the smoggy San Fernando Valley and touched down gently at the Van Nuys Airport. It taxied over to the general aviation terminal where a stretch limousine waited. Jake, Bill, and Julie stepped out onto the tarmac. The air temperature was sixty-six degrees, not exactly balmy but compared to the forty-two degrees it had been in Seattle and especially the eighteen degrees it had been the week before in Minneapolis, it was paradise. Jake turned his face to the sun and luxuriated in it. He had never thought of Los Angeles as home and probably never would, but at least it had pleasant weather most of the time.
The limousine driver was named Mark. An aspiring screenwriter, he was one of the regulars that drove for Buxfield Limousine Services — the small, family-owned company that all five of the band members used on an unlimited basis without charge. This was a deal that had been brokered by Pauline Kingsley — Jake's older sister and the band's manager — in which they allowed Tom Buxfield to film and photograph the band in his limousines and to use their images for advertisements in exchange for the service. So far it had been mutually agreeable to all parties. Jake and the rest of the band (as well as Pauline) got free limos and Tom's business had increased by eighteen percent since signing with them. There was also the added benefit that the drivers were not snitches for National Records executives as they had been when National had provided the limos (and, adding insult to injury, had actually charged the band's recoupable expenses account for each ride).
"Wassup, Mark?" Jake greeted as Mark held the rear door open for him. He held out his hand and shook with him.
"Jake, my man," Mark replied. He had long since been forbidden to call him 'Mr. Kingsley' when the boss wasn't around. "Welcome home. How was the tour?"
"Full of sex and drugs, like usual," Jake told him. "Such is rock and roll. Did you catch the show when we came through?"
"Damn right," Mark said. "That bunch of tickets you guys scored for us were premo seats. Right up in front."
The tickets he was referring to had been for one of the three shows in Los Angeles near the beginning of the tour. Against National Records' stern objections, Jake and Matt had reserved forty-six tickets in the first two rows — two for each driver employed by Buxfield Limousines and one for each member of the Buxfield family. A few of the drivers had sold their tickets — fetching more than $500 apiece for them — but most had attended the show.
"I'm glad you had a good time," Jake said. "Did Alex go with you?" Alex was Mark's 'life partner', as he called him.
"Sure did," Mark agreed. "He's got the total hots for Darren. He just loves the way he looks in those tight jeans."
Jake chuckled. Darren was perhaps the most homophobic member of the band and the one who still hadn't accepted that the entertainment industry was full of gays and bisexuals. "I'll be sure to tell him that next time I see him."
"Tell him if he wants to borrow Alex for a night it's okay with me. I don't mind... as long as I get to watch."
Jake wasn't sure if Mark was joking or not. He simply chuckled again and sat down in the plush seat of the custom limo. Bill stepped up to Mark next and they greeted each other as well.
"What are you doing after you drop Jake and I off?" Bill asked him.
"I was just gonna go grab some lunch," Mark replied. "I have a pick-up in Beverly Hills at five tonight. Until then, I'm pretty much free."
Bill reached in the pocket of his sweatpants and pulled out his wallet — a nylon, velcro closure job his mother had given him when he was fifteen. He pulled a one hundred dollar bill out of it. "Any chance I can get you to swing back by the airport, pick up my stewardess friend over there, and bring her over to my place for me?"
"Well sure," Mark said. "Anything for you guys, but why doesn't she just come with us now?"
"She has to help put the aircraft back into serviceable condition and replace all the booze that Jake drank."
"Hey now," said Jake, who was mixing up a rum and coke from the bar, "no cheap shots."
Mark took the C-note and made it disappear. Technically only the band members and Pauline were allowed the use of the limousine service but Mark, like most of the drivers, was usually more than happy to provide a little extra service during down times, especially when hundred dollar bills were added as an enticement. "I'll have her to you fresh and hot in less than an hour," Mark promised.
He closed them into the limo and then spent five minutes collecting their luggage from the cargo hold of the Lear Jet and putting it in the trunk. Once that was complete, he pulled out, heading for Bill's house first.
Nerdly lived in a luxury apartment building on Mulholland Drive near Mt. Olympus. It was a fifteen story structure that featured apartments ranging anywhere from 1500 square feet to 2500. Bill had one of the 2500 square foot ones. He hopped out and retrieved his own luggage, slinging one bag over his shoulder and hefting one in his hand. A doorman rushed out from the front of the building and quickly relieved him of them.
"Catch you later, Bill," Jake said, draining the last of his drink.
"Yep," Bill said. "It's good to be home."
Mark dropped the limo into gear and drove off, heading back down Mulholland Drive to the Hollywood Freeway. A short drive through the congested traffic brought them to Franklin Avenue where they cut across North Hollywood to Beachwood Drive. From there, they headed north, into the exclusive neighborhood of Hollyridge nestled in the Hollywood Hills. Jake's condo building was on the east side of Beachwood, just a hundred yards from the rugged terrain of the western edge of Griffith Park. Mark pulled into the entryway and came to a stop, jumping out to open Jake's door.
Jake got out and looked at the eleven-story building he was currently calling his place of residence (not his home). It was of classic sixties architecture, the colors pale earth tones, the windows large. It was one of the first residential buildings in Los Angeles to feature a rooftop swimming pool. Eduardo Guerra — one of the doormen — saw Jake get out and came rushing over to him.
"Welcome home, Jake," he greeted, holding out his hand for a shake.
"Thanks, Eddy," Jake said, shaking with him. Though he was universally disdained by the other residents of the building — most of whom were doctors, lawyers, business types, and moderately successful real estate moguls — he was very popular with most of the staff who worked in the building, the majority of whom were Mexican nationals who had a decent command of English. "I got my bags."
"Are you sure?" Eduardo asked. "It ain't no thing for me to haul them upstairs for you."
"I'm sure," he said, hefting the two bags onto his shoulders. "I've carried these two bags all over the damn continent. I guess I can carry them for another five minutes."
"Whatever you want, Jake," Eduardo said. He looked around, seeing that Mark was the closest person. He lowered his voice a little. "How you fixed for buds?" he asked. "I got a line on some premo greenbud from Humboldt County. The shit's so sticky you can take it out of the bag with one finger."
"Yeah?" Jake said, interested. "How much is it going for?"
"Forty an eighth," Eduardo told him. "Pricey, but worth it."
Jake considered for a moment. He knew Eduardo wasn't over-stating the price because Jake was rich. Those on the staff who offered illicit or semi-illicit services to him had long since learned not to screw with Jake Kingsley on the price if they wanted to keep doing business with him. Jake could afford to be screwed but he greatly disliked having it done to him. The pot and cocaine dealers of Hollyridge Condominiums were not the first to have had that lesson imparted to them. "Sounds good," he said, pulling out his wallet. He fished out a C-note of his own and handed it to the doorman. "Get me a quarter," he told him. "Take a couple nice buds out of it for yourself and keep the change."
"Thanks, Jake," Eduardo said, pleased. "I'll have it up to your condo in an hour."
"Sounds like a plan."
Jake said his goodbyes to Mark and then turned and walked into the lobby of the building. Several of the residents were milling around — mostly the wives who had attached themselves to the young urban professionals since, it being mid-afternoon on a weekday, the young urban professionals themselves were all at work. They made a point to shoot disapproving looks at him. He ignored them and simply pushed the elevator call button. When it arrived, he pushed the button for floor number eleven — all the way to the top.
The condo Jake lived in was 2800 square feet — the largest in the building. It featured a huge master suite and two smaller, though still considerable secondary bedrooms. It had an office, a large living room, an even larger entertainment room, a fully equipped kitchen, and a spacious balcony that ran the length of the top floor on his side of the building. Jake did not own the condo. He rented it from a real estate development agency his sister Pauline had established contact with shortly after taking over management of the band. The rent was four thousand dollars a month, plus utilities. It was money Jake paid gladly. He had developed a taste for luxury living over the past two years.
Jake dug his key ring out from the bottom of his bag and fished through the keys for a few moments until finding the one that opened his door. He went inside, the entryway leading to a spacious living room that was filled with the post-modern furniture he'd purchased shortly after moving in. The condo was empty but clean, dusted, and sweet smelling. This was the work of the maid service he'd hired to come in once a week during his absence. Now that he was home, they would come in three times a week — maybe more if he threw a party.
He tossed his bags down on the foot of his bed, making a vow that at some point he would actually unpack them and put the clothes in the laundry hamper. He opened the blinds on the large window to let some of the sunlight in and took a moment to stare out at the view that had become so familiar to him. He could see Griffith Park, the Hollywood Hills, and Mount Hollywood itself. It was a nice view but it was full of reminders that he was in Los Angeles, a city he loathed with every fiber of his being. He kicked off his shoes, socks and all of his clothes and left them near the foot of the bed, next to his bag. He walked into the master bathroom, which featured a large, glass-walled shower, a sunken Jacuzzi tub large enough to hold three people (and which had held three people on several occasions) and marble countertops. As with the rest of the house, everything in here was sparkling clean. He turned on the shower to as hot as he could stand and spent the next fifteen minutes just luxuriating under the spray. When he got out, he dried off, dropping the towel to the floor.
He pulled a white terrycloth robe from his closet and put it over his body. He then walked through the house to the largest room — the entertainment room. This part of the house was stocked with the majority of the expensive items Jake had purchased during the wild spending spree he'd engaged in upon becoming a new millionaire. There was a pinball machine, a regulation sized pool table, a shuffleboard table, a grand piano, a large screen television set complete with laser disc player, VCR, and stereo speakers. The audio system was first rate, containing a six hundred dollar turntable, a twelve-disc CD player, dual cassette players, a high-fidelity receiver, and the best speakers commercially available. Racks next to the audio components contained over six hundred records and one hundred compact discs. The walls were decorated not with artwork but with many of Jake's collection of musical instruments — several electric guitars, several acoustic guitars, a violin, a mandolin, a saxophone, a banjo (a recent acquisition that he was teaching himself to play), and, the centerpiece, a Les Paul guitar signed by Les Paul himself. This last, which was kept in a glass case, was a gift from Gibson Guitars, whom Jake held an endorsement contract with. Two instruments were conspicuously absent from the collection. They were the Les Paul Jake played on stage — which was currently in a truck being shipped back from Seattle — and the battered old Fender Grand Concert acoustic that he'd had since he was seventeen years old, the guitar he still composed much of his music on. Both of these instruments held a place of honor in his office.
Jake glanced around a little, smiling in satisfaction at his decorating scheme and all of his toys. He then walked over to the most important feature of the entertainment room: the bar. It was of genuine oak and ran the length of one wall. Stocked with every kind of liquor imaginable, it also had a large refrigerator complete with an automatic icemaker that could produce an almost unlimited supply of either cubes or crushed ice. He opened up the fridge and saw, with satisfaction, that it had been stocked according to the specific directions he'd given the maid service. There was a case or so of various sodas — coke, 7-up, and ginger ale mostly — and a case of his favorite beer, an import from Mexico called Corona. There was also a bowl full of fresh limes. He took out one of the limes and cut it into six slices, which he put in a small bowl. He then grabbed a bucket from a shelf behind the bar and dropped six of the bottles of Corona into it. He filled the remainder of the bucket with ice and then dropped a bottle opener in. He pulled a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from another shelf and carried his acquisitions across the room to the balcony door.
The hot tub that Jake had originally wanted to put out here was one that held twelve people and more than fifteen hundred gallons of water. Unfortunately the building's engineer had nixed the idea on the grounds that the structure of the balcony could not handle that much weight. So instead he'd been forced to go with the California Hot Spas model 27x, which only held nine hundred gallons of water and could only fit eight adults in comfort (and it had done that on one occasion just prior to leaving on the tour — an occasion that had ended with the arrival of the LAPD who had been called by his rather jealous downstairs neighbor). Jake flipped the cover up on it now revealing the one hundred degree water that was lightly scented with chlorine. He set his bucket and his smokes down on a special shelf designed just for that purpose and then grabbed an ashtray from one of the redwood lounge chairs. He took off his robe, unmindful that anyone out in the western edge of Griffith Park who might be equipped with a telephoto lens (as some of the more aggressive paparazzi were prone to doing) would have a clear shot of him. It wasn't as if they hadn't taken pictures of his penis before. He dropped the robe on the lounge chair and then climbed the steps into the Jacuzzi.
"Ahhh," he sighed as he felt the warmth permeating his tired body.
He turned on the jets and then opened a beer. He dropped a lime inside and had a large drink. He then lit a smoke and stared out at the scenery, unable to believe that there was no show to do tonight, that there was no show to do tomorrow, that the tour was really over and he was in what passed for home.
He made it through three beers and five cigarettes before a buzzer mounted above the balcony door began to sound. This was the doorbell alert. He stepped out of the tub, water cascading off of his skin and put his robe back on, tying it tightly around his midsection. He opened a fresh beer, dropped a lime in it, and then went back in the house, making his way to the front door. As expected his visitor was Eduardo, delivering the item he'd purchased.
"Check it out, homey," Eduardo said, unrolling a plastic baggie about a third filled with green buds.
"Out of sight," Jake said, taking it from him. He could tell just by looking that it was approximately a quarter ounce. He opened it and one sniff told him it was premium shit, as promised. "You're a good man, Eddie. A credit to your profession."
"I try," Eduardo said. "You been in the hot tub?"
Jake nodded. "Trying to soak away the aches and pains of travel. You wanna burn a little with me?"
"I'd love to, but I can't. I'm not off duty for another three hours. The boss don't like it if I'm stoned on the door."
"Understandable," Jake said with a nod. "Did you pull some out for yourself?"
"Sure did," he said. "And I thank you for that. You're my favorite resident of this tight-assed place, Jake. Hands fuckin' down."
"I'm just me," Jake said. "Hopefully I'll never be anything else."
"Amen to that. You need any blow? I gotta line on some premo Peruvian too. It's three bills a gram but it's worth it. Hardly any cut."
"I'll take a rain check on that one, Eddy," Jake said. "I'm a little burned on the blow after the tour. I always am. Check back with me in a week or so. I might score some if I decide to throw a party or something."
"Damn right," Eduardo said with a grin. He had seen the sort of people who showed up for Jake's parties. "Well, I'd better get back to work now."
"All right," Jake told him, giving him a handshake. "Thanks for the shit."
"Anything for you, Jake," Eduardo told him. "Anything for you."
When he left Jake locked the door behind him and went back to the entertainment room. He pulled a water bong from beneath the bar and carried it over to the couch where he promptly tested out the marijuana Eduardo had just sold him. It was every bit as good as it smelled.
For the next two hours Jake watched old movies on his television set, smoked cigarettes, drank beer, and occasionally took a few hits of greenbud. By five o'clock he could hardly keep his eyes open. He went to his bedroom and lay naked on his bed.
He slept for the next fifteen hours without stirring.
The next morning, at ten o'clock, Jake called the storage facility where his Corvette was being kept and asked them to deliver it to him. It arrived thirty minutes later, freshly washed and waxed, the battery charged, the fuel tank and all of the fluids full. It had cost him two thousand dollars to keep his vehicle in such a place but he considered it worth it. They had treated the Corvette almost as if it was alive.
Jake tipped the delivery team twenty dollars apiece and then climbed into the car, thrilled to be behind the wheel again after so long being shuttled around in buses and limos. The Corvette was an eighty-four, metallic blue, with every option available installed. It had been a gift from Mindy Snow — an actress he had dated for a time — back during the height of their relationship. He roared out of the parking garage of his condo building and down the winding Beachwood Drive, coming out of the Hollywood Hills and into North Hollywood.
When he turned left onto Los Feliz Boulevard the traffic thickened up considerably, restricting him to no more than third gear, forcing him to stop at every intersection and wait through at least two light changes. He sighed and lit a cigarette, adjusting his sunglasses on his face and his San Francisco Giants baseball cap upon his head. Twenty minutes and four and a half miles later he entered the neighborhood of Silver Lake, just east of Hollywood. There, nestled up against Silver Lake Reservoir, was the 3200 square foot home that his sister Pauline was currently living in. He pulled into the driveway and stepped out
Pauline's house was located at the north end of the neighborhood, which was the most exclusive part. She had purchased it a month before Jake and the rest of Intemperance had gone out on the Balance Of Power tour. It was a two-story of late seventies architecture that sat on a large lot which sloped down to the shore of the small reservoir. It wasn't the nicest house Pauline could have lived in — after all, she received twenty percent of all band profits and was therefore as rich as any of the band members — but it was hers and not a rental. She had put down sixty thousand dollars and signed a mortgage for the remaining three hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the purchase price. It wasn't her dream house, but it was a start.
Gloria Garcia, Pauline's housekeeper/cook/butler opened the door to his knock. She smiled when she saw him. "Mr. Kingsley," she said, her accent thick. "Welcome home. How was your concert tour?"
"Long but satisfying," he said. "And please, call me Jake."
"I could never do that, Mr. Kingsley," she said. "Come in. Ms. Kingsley is expecting you."
"Thank you," he said, stepping into the entryway.
"I hear you had trouble in Cincinnati," Gloria said. "They said you were obscene?"
"They have a strange idea of what constitutes obscene in Cincinnati," Jake told her. "Nothing I couldn't handle though."
"Very good," she said. "You like chili relleno? I'm making some for lunch."
"I'd love some chili relleno," he said. "Or anything else that you make."
She beamed at him. She was justifiably proud of her cooking. She led him through the house to Pauline's office, which was in the back, overlooking the lake. The office was equipped with a large desk, complete with the most modern computer system commercially available, a printer, and a fax machine. Next to the desk were several large file cabinets and a water cooler. Pauline was sitting at the desk. She smiled when she saw him and stood up to come give him a hug.
"You look great, sis," Jake told her. "It seems the good life is agreeing with you." He was telling the truth. Pauline had always been attractive — she had, in fact, been Nerdly's ultimate fantasy girl since he was about twelve years old — but she was positively beaming these days. Her brunette hair was neatly styled in the latest fashion, her skin was receiving the benefits of regular spa treatments, and her clothing was nothing but custom-fitted designer wear.
"Thanks," she said, looking her brother up and down a little. "You look a little haggard yourself."
Jake shrugged lightly. "It's always like this after a tour. Too much exercise from jumping around on stage every night, too much crappy food, too much coke and alcohol and cheap, meaningless sex. Give me a week or so to detox and catch up on some sleep and I'll be my old self again."
"Are you going to be able to detox?" she asked a little worriedly. "I've been getting the 'entertainment expenses' reports from when you were out there. You guys were spending an average of four thousand dollars a week on coke, pot, and booze."
"They didn't itemize that out, did they?" he asked.
"No, of course not, except for the booze anyway, but is there any reason to question the amounts?"
He shook his head. "We do love to party out on the road," he said. "That sounds about right to me."
"And just like that you can give it up?"
"Well... I didn't say I was giving anything up," he told her, "but I will be slowing down once I get back into the rhythm of being home. We're gonna have to start working on material for the next album, after all."
She looked like she had her doubts about that but she kept them to herself. "Well anyway, it's good to have you home. I actually missed you, if you can believe that."
"No, I don't believe it," he said.
She laughed and they sat down at the desk. Gloria stuck her head in and asked if either of them would like something to drink.
"I'll have another cup of coffee, Gloria, thanks," Pauline replied.
"I'll have a beer if you got one cold," Jake said. Pauline glanced at the clock on wall — it read 11:05 — but said nothing.
"Coming right up," Gloria said. "Corona with a lime?"
"You read my mind," he said.
She smiled and made her retreat. Once she was gone, Jake turned back to his sister/manager. "So how are we doing?" he asked her. "Lay some management shit on me."
She laid some management shit on him. "As of last Sunday Balance Of Power — the album — has sold three million, four hundred thousand copies, making it number three for all-time fastest to go triple platinum. It has been at number one on the album sales chart ever since it was released and shows no signs of being dislodged any time soon. Not even the last La Diferencia album — your closest competition — could ace you out this time."
"Ha," Jake barked, grinning. "We finally beat those fuckers. They knocked us out of the number one album spot the last time we were there." La Diferencia was a pop band from Venezuela that had become quite the sensation over the last three years with their feel-good, formulistic music. Their lead singer, Celia Valdez, was the reason for the runaway success of La Diferencia. Her voice was beautiful and she knew how to use it to the best of her abilities, to draw out any intrinsic value contained within the catchy, record-company written tunes she performed. Without her they never would have left Venezuela. She was also very attractive. Jake had met her twice the previous year during the Grammy Awards and she had shot down his advances firmly but kindly.
"They gave you a run for your money," Pauline agreed, "but album sales are not quite the strong point of La Diferencia's fan base. They kicked the shit out you in singles sales though. Every time one of your singles from Balance Of Power started moving up the charts, one of their songs was already there to keep it from making number one."
Jake nodded. "That's what happened the last time we went head to head with them. It's just part of the business. A hard rock band relies on album sales to make money while pop bands rely on single sales. Frankly, I think it shows how much crossover we're getting that our tunes are even appearing on the single sales charts at all. I mean Led Zepplin and Van Halen don't get as many singles out of their albums."
"That's true," she agreed.
Gloria came back with their drinks, setting a bottle of Corona before Jake and a steaming cup of coffee on a saucer before Pauline. They both thanked her. When she left Jake took a drink of his beer, draining it well past the neck. He stifled a belch.
"So anyway," Jake said, "I guess that damn Tipper-sticker on Balance Of Power didn't do us too much harm, did it?"
"No," she said. "I'll admit that you were entirely correct about that. Balance is your fastest selling album so far."
The "Tipper-sticker" he was referring to was the explicit lyrics or content sticker that was placed on any album that the Parent's Music Resource Center, or PMRC, deemed offensive to young minds. The PMRC was a group headed by several prominent politician's wives — Tipper Gore, wife of Senator Al Gore, chief among them, thus the name "Tipper-sticker" — that had declared themselves the guardians of community standards of decency in regards to music. They had formed the previous year in response to a growing media frenzy about satanic and sexually explicit lyrics in rock music which, it was claimed, were leading to teen suicide, teen rape, teen pregnancy, and the downfall of the American family. During the latter part of 1985 the PMRC actually managed to get senate hearings opened up on this subject, their goal to put ratings on albums and to censor those that earned the explicit lyrics definition. Frank Zappa, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, and John Denver all testified before this senate committee, all of them vehemently opposed to any sort of labeling or censorship of music. A variety of psychiatric and educational experts testified as well, most of them with the opinion that modern rock music was harmful to adolescent development and family values. The Recording Industry Association of America — or RIAA — who spoke for the musicians but who actually represented the record companies' interests, actually caved to the PMRC before the senate hearings were even completed. Or perhaps 'caved' is not the best choice of words. They made a deal in the finest tradition of American politics. They agreed to voluntarily label any album the PMRC deemed "explicit" with a warning label in exchange for the passage of the so-called "blank-tape tax", which added a percentage onto every blank cassette tape sold in the United States. The revenue from this tax was then given to the RIAA to distribute among the record labels they represented — the justification being that it was compensation for the millions of dollars they were losing by people using those blank tapes to record and distribute copyrighted albums. In any case, the Tipper-stickers were born and Intemperance's third album, Balance Of Power — though it contained no profanity other than the words "damn", "hell", and "ass" — was declared by the PMRC to be explicit because of the lyrics to one of Matt's songs called Service Me, which was about having sex with groupies out on tour. National Records put the Tipper-sticker on each one that was produced, warning parents that the contents might corrupt their children and lead to the downfall of the American way of life. This wasn't so bad in and of itself since the Tipper-sticker meant that parents would not approve of the album, which was an almost guaranteed way to get teens to buy it. It was the stigma that went with the Tipper-sticker that had potential financial and legal problems. Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, refused to sell any album with a Tipper-sticker on it. And there were many members of congress and of various state legislatures who were attempting to either forbid the sale of Tipper-sticker albums to minors or to out and out declare them obscene and ban them entirely. Pauline, when the album was in production and it was first announced that Service Me was earning them a sticker, had wanted to cut the song from the album, fearful that if Wal-Mart didn't sell it, they would be missing out on hundreds of thousands of potential buyers in the more rural portions of the country where Wal-Mart was often the only place to buy music. But Jake and Matt had both held their ground, insisting that the sticker would do nothing but help them.
"If people want the album, they'll find a way to get it," Jake said. "Our sales won't suffer, and even if they do, I will not have Wal-Mart or any other corporation dictating what should and should not go on one of our albums."
"A-fucking-men to that, brother," Matt had replied. "Service Me stays."
"You have to admit though," Pauline said now, as Jake took another long pull of his beer, "that the damn Tipper-sticker led directly to your arrest in Cincinnati."
"Yeah," Jake said, frowning. "What a bogus bunch of shit that was." He shrugged. "Oh well. What's an Intemperance tour without getting arrested at least once? At least the cops didn't beat my ass this time."
The arrest she was talking about was on a public obscenity charge. Weeks before the scheduled concert date several prominent citizens of that most conservative city had tried to get an ordinance passed banning any musical act from performing in the city limits if they had an album with a Tipper-sticker on it. When this effort failed the mayor declared that any musician uttering "profane or explicit lyrics" in concert would be arrested and charged with obscenity. Intemperance was specifically warned that several of their most popular tunes — Service Me, The Thrill Of Doing Business, Descent Into Nothing, and, incredibly enough, I Found Myself Again (which the PMRC had apparently decided was about masturbation) — would meet this definition and result in charges if they were performed. The band refused to alter their song line-up and immediately after the show Jake — who had been the one to sing the lyrics in question — was arrested by Cincinnati police officers and taken to jail for booking on the charge. He was bailed out within an hour but the charges were still pending.
"You're scheduled for your preliminary hearing there on December 16," Pauline told him now. "National threatened not to use their legal team to represent you until I got in a pissing match with them on contract language."
"I'll beat the rap," Jake said, unworried. "After all, if Larry Flynt can beat them, so can I."
"I wish I had your confidence," Pauline said. "If they convict you of the charge you could end up doing a year in an Ohio prison."
"It'll never happen," Jake said. "If there's one thing National's lawyers are good at, it's keeping the talent free of convictions in courts of law. They'll go in there and bribe the jury members if they have to."
"You sound proud of this," Pauline said.
"I'm just pointing out a fact of life," he said.
"Well anyway, be sure to mark December 16th on your calendar. National is making sure it will be a media circus."
"Of course they are."
"I've got some other dates you need to mark down as well," she said. "On December 13th you and the rest of the band are going to fly to New York and do two songs on Saturday Night Live."
"Cool," Jake said. "That was a blast the last time we did that."
"Each of you has also been scheduled for a couple of record store signings over the next few weeks. I'll get a print-out and your plane tickets to you by tomorrow."
"Those suck ass," Jake said with a frown.
"At least you're getting paid for them now," Pauline reminded him. "Remember, that was one of the sticking points during the contract negotiations."
"How could I forget?" he said.
Under the original contract — which Pauline had been instrumental in negotiating an end to — the band was required to attend any and all promotions National set up for them and would not be paid a dime for their time. Under the new contract National could only schedule them once a week for such events, had to fly them there first class or private, had to book them in first class accommodations, and had to pay each band member $500 per day.
"I've got all the dates and times written down for you," Pauline said. "Be sure you don't forget it when you leave."
"I won't," Jake promised. "How have you been getting along with Crow and Doolittle?"
She frowned. Steve Crow was the Artists and Repertoire representative from National Records who was assigned to look after Intemperance. James Doolittle was the head of the A&R department. "It's been trying at times," she said. "I've pretty much learned to just go directly over Crow's head and onto Doolittle for most things. I wouldn't say there's been anything like cooperation between us. I take a hard-line with them because of their propensity to screw people whenever they can. They, in turn, make every request I ask of them seem like an act of Congress is required because they're punishing me for taking over as your manager."
"Yes," Jake said. "They sure loved it when Shaver was our manager. It was almost like having one of their employees doing the job. Have they tried any more games with the money?"
"Nothing since that little incident when Balance was first released," she said. "That right to audit clause was one of the best things we put in that contract."
Jake chuckled. Under the original contract the band had the right to request an audit of National Records' finances as they related to the band but National reserved the right to deny the request if they didn't deem an audit necessary. And strangely enough, they just didn't seem to deem them necessary very often. Under the new contract the band had the right to conduct audits at any time using any auditing firm they wished as long as the band paid for it. In the first month of Balance Of Power's release, after it had gone gold in two weeks and platinum in four, Pauline started using that right. The first audit immediately caught multiple forms of questionable product tracking and monetary distribution practices that would have cost the band hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid royalties and overpriced expenses. These practices (which National claimed were simple "oversights") were corrected when Pauline threatened to pursue a breach of contract lawsuit against National and to have Crow and Doolittle charged criminally for embezzlement.
"They're probably screwing every artist who ever signed with them out of millions just in sheer embezzlement alone," Jake said.
"Undoubtedly," Pauline said. "In all my years of doing corporate law I have never run across a corporation as greedy, sleazy, and corrupt as this record company. And from everything I've learned, National is far from unique in this corruption. It amazes me they've gotten away with it for so long, that they continue to get away with it."
"But they're not getting away with it with us anymore, right?"
"Right," Pauline replied. "I've audited them four times now, including just last month. They whine and complain every time I disrupt their workday but I think they've learned to play straight — at least with us. Every penny we're entitled to is rolling in our direction, just like it should."
"That's good to hear," Jake said. "So how much did the tour make for us?"
Pauline gave him a funny look — one he wasn't quite sure how to interpret. "What if I told you," she asked, "that our cut of concert profits, including merchandising, was five hundred thousand dollars?"
"Is that what it was?" Jake asked.
"No," she said. "But for the sake of argument, let's say that I said yes. Intemperance made half a million in tour profits. Would that sound reasonable to you?"
Jake shrugged, uncertain exactly what she was getting at. "Sure," he said. "That sounds reasonable."
"Does it? And why does that sound reasonable?"
"Well... because there weren't as much overhead expenses as last tour since we didn't use all the laser and pyrotechnics that National wanted us to use but its still really expensive to truck a concert from city to city."
"So you were prepared to have a little profit from the tour and half a million doesn't sound like an unreasonable number, right?"
"Right," Jake agreed.
"And because I told you it was half a million, you just accepted that?"
"Well... yes," he said. "You're not just our manager, you're my sister. We're family. I don't think you'd lie to me about money or try to screw me."
"Ha!" she yelled, loud enough to startle him.
"What?" he asked, wondering if she'd been dipping her beak into some white powder.
"That's where you're making your mistake," she said.