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This week’s guest writer has appeared a few times in this slot. It’s a pleasure to welcome Donny Marchand back, with a something a little different:
Squeaky and the Dullards
(A tale by Notail)
“Tell us another story, uncle Notail, another story please,” squealed the pesky little kittens. To them he was the cat’s whiskers. A swashbuckling moggie full of life’s exiting adventures, and a magnificent raconteur of the escapades he had encountered in his travels across precarious thoroughfares to distant alleys.Not being able to resist their admiration, he quickly acquiesced, “Okay, but just one more, and then off to bed you go, promise.”
“We promise, we promise, uncle Notail,” the kittens all sang back in unison.
“Well as you all know, your uncle Notail spent some time hanging out in the music scene, and it was during that period that I happened to come across one of them bizarre stories that is particular to that there vocation.”
“What happened, what happened?” cried out little Inky in excitement.
“Keep your fur on and I’ll tell you okay. Can’t speak when you’re making all that noise, ” Notail retorted.
Sheepishly, they all squirmed closer together, buttoned their lips and Notail proceeded.
“Now it ain’t no secret that us feline critters are considered to be most peculiar, but a cat managing a pop group that was comprised of one mouse and three hamsters was far from normal, even to our curious way of thinking. Nevertheless, Felikz Pang, the group’s assertive overseer, found it all very stimulating, as well as rewarding. Besides, why should he worry he thought, show biz doesn’t do normal. And now that his crooners, Squeaky and the Dullards had made it to the semi-finals of the famous talent show “Have you got what it takes”, he could sniff the big time just around the corner.”
Did they win?” cried out Molasses.
“Shush up, and let me get on with it will you,” Notail snapped back.
Once again they all got quiet as a mouse, and Notail continued,
“Well you see, the ultimatum of signing a contract to Ryan Growl the show’s producer as a condition to even audition for the show, Feliks considered underhanded business practice. But at the time he felt he had no choice.”
“That Growl is a meany!” cried Snooky, then seeing the stern look he was getting from his uncle, quickly put his paw over his mouth.
“Now the problem was, that this here contract tied the winners of the show up to a recording and music publishing deal that was in Felikz’s opinion, not at all favourable to the artists. That both the record and publishing companies were owned by Growl didn’t appeal to Felikz either. But that fact really wasn’t a big surprise to Felikz, given Growl’s need for complete control. Still, the option to challenge it legally on grounds of duress, he decided was a matter for the future.”
“Down with Growl! Down with Growl!” The little squirts squeaked out in their enthusiasm.
“Please, kittens, let me continue with the story, will you,” commanded Notail, before moving on. “A favourite adage of Felikz was, when reaching for the stars you pull out all the stops, and he always went to great lengths to convince people that he meant that sincerely. Nothing’s too good for my boys, he bragged when employing the services of Razzel Roedant the renowned choreographer of the hit musical Rats. Spare the cost and spoil the show, was the paraphrase he bandied about when hiring Minnie Little the famous vocal coach, and costume designer. Even the name of his own business “The Sky is the Limit Management” was in keeping with his pushy, blustery style of bravado. So, no one was in a state of shock to see, that when these two opinionated super-ego personalities collided, sparks would fly.”
“I hope Felikz punches Growls lights out,” remarked Inky.
“All will become evident in time, Miss nosey. So just be patient,” Notail replied.
“Sorry,” responded Inky, “but that Growl makes my fur stand on end.”
“Just the sound of his name makes my whiskers curl up in knots,” added Snooky.
“To proceed to the battles I’ll move along now,” snapped Notail.
His stern remark resulted in complete silence from the kittens, and after a short pause Notail continued,
“Well the first conflict between the two was over the size of the dressing room that was designated to Squeaky and the Dullards. Felikz went into a rage saying, ‘“It’s an insult to expect my artists to squeeze into such a tiny space, and why do the other acts have more expansive ones, when ours is nothing more than a hole in the wall.”’
“Growl quickly snapped back, ‘“Your group are only diminutive creatures so the room is perfectly adequate for their needs.”’
“Their second battle was over the order of appearance they were expected to perform.
“A fuming Felikz protested, ‘“Making us the opening act, gives the impression that we’re nothing more than a support group.”’
“While Growl parried with, ‘“The order of appearance is set by picking names out of a hat, and your position is just the luck of the draw.”’
“Felikz retorted, ‘“Isn’t it peculiar then, that we’ve always been on first at every stage of the contest.”’
“Then a grinning Growl snidely answered, ‘“Your guys must be a very unlucky bunch indeed.”’
“Felikz responded by pointing out that Growl’s consistent moaning about the extra cost of the big screen projector needed so the audience could see the group, was a distraction his act could do without. Every day the two would fight over one thing or another, mostly about trivial matters. But the latest bone of contention was an issue Felikz felt he had to dig his heels in about. It was regarding the song Growl had chosen for Squeaky and the boys to perform in the semi-final.
“According to the rules,” continued Notail, “Growl as one of the show’s judges had the right to do this, but Felikz objected vehemently. First there was the song itself. “Three Blind Mice” was a ludicrous choice in Felikz’s opinion. Not only was this type casting he thought, but also it projected the group’s image as a novelty nursery rhyme act. Secondly, it didn’t escape Felikz’s attention that Growl was the publisher of the song, and therefore using the group for self-promotion. Felikz insisted that they be allowed to sing their own song, “I’m Caught in the Trap of Love” or otherwise they would quit right there and then. Growl realising the show could be a flop if they walked out acquiesced. This was the only argument that Felikz ever won.
“Before the semi-finals, Razzel Roedant spent hours tuning up the group’s routine. His staging included a large wheel, which the Dullards trod upon throughout the performance. Squeaky was placed just in front of it moving back and forth in a combination of Jagger and Jackson movements. Unfortunately during the show, Squeaky managed to get his tail run over by the wheel which resulted in him belting out a loud squeak. The audience thought it was part of his act, and responded with their own deluge of squeaks. And from then on they replaced clapping with, ‘“Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.”’
After taking a breather Notail then carried on, “And as for Minnie Little, she worked long and hard on their vocals, paying much attention to the harmonies. During the nights she filled her time creating and sewing together their outfits. For the Dullards she had made fifties style fuchsia drape jackets, and puffed up the hair on their heads to resemble a pompadour. Squeaky’s attire was a double-breasted turquoise blazer adorned with sequins that radiated various colours when the spotlights shone upon them. On his noggin she placed a shiny black top hat.”
“Real cool man, real cool!” exclaimed Molasses.
“Are you finished?” Notail asked harshly.
“Yes,” replied Molasses, seemingly unaware that he was being admonished.
“Good! Well, when the day of the semi-finals arrived, Squeaky and the Dullards took the honours, with a winning percentage higher than any other act had ever achieved in the show’s history. So now the stage was set for their grand finale.”
“Hurrah for Squeaky, hurrah for The Dullards!” the kittens yelled.
“I’m sure they appreciate your support,” Notail remarked, then proceeded, “Now besides Squeaky and the Dullards, there were two other acts competing in the finals. The first of these were The Wonder Bros. Triplets who performed their sword-swallowing act while tap dancing. Originally a quartet, they had to adjust their routine down to three, due to an unforeseen accident to one of the members. The other finalists were The Black Widows, a female heavy metal group who had met in their church choir, and formed as a rebellion against their parents.”
“But a strange thing happened the day before the final. Felikz gathered Squeaky and the boys together for a secret meeting. When he told them that he wanted them to mess up their performance so they would lose, they were shocked beyond belief. But after he explained to them, that if they won they would be tied to Ryan Growl and his companies for a long, long time, they came to understand his motives. And to quell any further apprehensions they might have, he told them that they were already famous, and there would be offers flying in from all over the world, even if they lost. However, if they won they would not be free to choose the best deal for themselves. So they all agreed to do as he had instructed and perform below par.”
“Well as fate would have it and in spite of their skulduggery, Squeaky and the Dullards won the final hands down. The accolades were pouring in fast and furious, and it was apparent that the people loved them even at their worst. Everyone in their camp was ecstatically overjoyed at their incredible achievement. Everyone that is except Felikz, who sat by himself in a corner, looking like the world was about to end. When a reporter sauntered over to him and asked him what was wrong, he put it down to just being overcome by the result. I’m telling you, that no truer words have ever been spoken. Early the next morning, faster than you can nick a fishbone, Felikz sped down to his lawyers, and instructed them to sue Growl and his companies for unfair business practices’. While on the sidelines, the Showbiz big shots sat nervously awaiting the outcome.”
“That’s it for today, boys and girls,” said Notail in closing, “are you all happy now?”
A resounding, “Squeak, squeak, squeak,” came back from the kittens.