MELODY

 

 

 

Early Saturday morning. Summer. Steve is still trying to sleep. He turns his head and

looks at the clock. 7 a.m. The music of summer has woken him up. Lawnmowers, edge trimmers and hedge clippers. His neighbors are certainly out and about early this morning. Which reminds him. He has to cut the grass too, and trim the hedges. He lies on his back with his arm over his eyes. Oh Lord. Looking out of the window it is a beautiful day. Sunny and blue skies. He rather go fishing he thinks to himself. But he has a lot of work to do. Journey has kept him very busy. Time to play catch up.

 

He forces himself out of bed. Finds some old work clothes and then he goes for some coffee. Half an hour later he is puttering around the garage looking for the lawn mover. Jeez, I have got to clean out this garage. Way too much junk. Add another job to the list. Steve finally finds the lawn mower. Shoved way back into a corner with a ton of junk on it. He finally gets to it and he wonders if it even still works. It looks like it’s in bad shape. I might have to go to the local lawn and garden and buy a new lawn mover he thinks. He makes enough of a path through the garage to get the mower out on the lawn so he can inspect it further. Steve is down on one knee when he hears a kid’s voice say,

 

Hey mister, need somebody to cut your grass?”

 

Steve looks up beyond the bill of his cap to the sidewalk. A kid, 13 years old tops, baseball cap, jeans, tennis shoes an old AC/DC t-shirt. Steve thinks there is a god after all. Steve stands up and motions for him to come over.

 

“Well that depends. How much?” Steve asks.

 

The kid walks around the yard. Checking out the size of the yard and whatnot. And the kid says to Steve. “Ten bucks.”

 

Steve whistles and fiddles with his ‘Journey’ hat. Then he says,

 

“I’ll tell you what, throw in the hedges, and you got a deal kiddo.”

 

The kid looks shocked and he says, “Not for ten dollars Mister that’s a lot of frigging work!”

 

“Well how much more then?” Steve asks as he tries to play the wiser, older adult. The kid holds up five fingers. Steve stands there and thinks a minute. Tapping his finger to his chin. Then he puts his hand out and the kid shakes.

 

“You drive a hard bargain but okay. You’ve got a deal!”

 

The kid grins from ear to ear. And Steve says to him. “And if you do a really good job I’ll make you my official lawn maintenance guy. I go out of town a lot and I need somebody to cut the grass. How does that sound? Where do you live ?”

 

The kid points up the street. And he says,

 

“I just moved here. I like them too.” He points to Steve’s ‘Journey‘ hat.


“You know I kinda do too. What’s your name?”

                                                                                           

“Tommy.“

 

“You can call me Steve.”

 

Tommy helps him clean up the lawn mover and much to his surprise it starts. Tommy starts on the lawn while Steve decides that he will tackle the garage. Maybe he find some stuff that he has lost that he has accused Neal, Ross, Jon and Smitty of borrowing and not returning. Steve turns on the radio that he keeps in the garage. Music makes things go a lot better. Two hours later Steve has made some headway. He has found all kinds of interesting things. Boxes that are still packed from when he first moved into this house and a few things that he had borrowed from his dad that he had forgot to return. Uh oh. Extension cords and a tool that he borrowed from Neal. Oh damn. I remember him asking me about this. Oh brother.

 Steve realizes that it is time for lunch and if he is hungry then he knows that Tommy must be as well. Steve goes out into the back and he waves him down. Tommy turns the mower off and he pushes it over to Steve.

“Lunch time kiddo. Are you hungry?”

Tommy takes his hat off and he wipes his forehead on his sleeve and he nods. Steve puts his arm around his shoulders and he leads him to the back porch. Steve points to the porch swing and Tommy runs and sits in it. Steve brings him a big glass of ice water. Steve makes them both sandwiches and they split a bag of Fritos. Steve sits with him on the porch swing. Trying to catch a cool breeze. They swing back and forth. Steve finds out that they have only live there a month. They meaning Tommy and his dad. His dad is in the military so they move around a lot. For four years they were in Egypt and the middle east. Places like that Tommy says. He has an older sister Tommy says. And Steve perks up at this,

“Tommy how old is your sister?”

 “I don’t know. She’s old though. She’s twenty-something.” Steve laughs.

 I guess when you’re only 13 twenties do seem old. Steve thinks. They finish their lunch and they go back to their jobs. Another two hours pass and Tommy is finish mowing the grass and Steve can actually see the garage floor. Steve goes out and inspects his work. It looks good Steve thinks. He pays him the ten dollars. Tommy looks at him.

“If you can come back tomorrow and trim the hedges I’ll pay you the other five. Deal?” Steve puts his hand out and the Tommy slaps it.

 “Deal! “

Tommy leaves and he runs up the street to his house. Steve watches him and he wishes that he had that much energy. Steve finishes up in the garage for the day. He made the fifteenth thousandth trip out to the curb carrying trash. The garbage men are gonna love me come Monday Steve thinks. He moves the car into the garage. Steve stands in the garage. A garage that you can actually park a car in. Go figure. He brings the mower back in and he locks everything up and he goes back into the house. He takes a long hot shower. After the shower, he relaxes on the sofa reading the paper.

 Somewhere off in the distance he hears a persistence ringing of a phone and he wonders where it is coming from. Then he realizes that he fell asleep and it’s his phone ringing off of the hook. He pulls himself off of the sofa, with some great difficulty, and the paper that was on his chest falls to the floor. His feet become tangled. Finally he gets to the phone and he gets his hand on it when it stops. Damn! I hate it when that happens. He looks at the answering machine. The light is blinking. Steve got a new machine that when anyone leaves a message the people in the room can’t hear it. He hits the play button and he hears Ross’s voice.

“Steve! I know you’re there! Pick up the phone! Steve! Hello! I just wanted to see if you wanted to come over and watch movies! I am sooo bored! Call me! Bye! “ Steve laughs and he picks up the phone and dials Ross’s number.

“Hello Valory’s residence” Ross answers the phone. “Yeah! Let me speak to the man of the house!” Steve says. “I’m sorry there is no one here that resembles that remark!” Ross laughs.

Boy isn’t that the truth!” Steve laughs.

“Hey! So what are you doing?” Ross asks.

 “Nothing now. I spent the day cleaning out the garage.” Steve says.

“Hey you know I bet we could use that in a song somewhere! “ Ross laughs.

“Good grief! I hope you’re kidding. I’m not going to put my name on it. So you want me to come over and watch movies huh?”

 “Yeah if you’re not busy doing something else.” Ross says.

 “Oh no what else would I be doing? Most guys are out with their girlfriends on Saturday night and I’m going to hang out with you! What’s that tell ya! “ Steve says.

“Well you know Steve that means that you have no life!” Ross says.

 “Yeah well…”

Steve goes over to Ross’s house and Smitty shows up awhile later and they watch all kinds of sci-fi movies that is until Steve falls asleep on Ross’s sofa and he ends up spending the night in the living room. The next morning Steve gets back home to find Tommy sitting on his front porch waiting on him. Steve unlocks the garage so Tommy can start to work and Steve grabs the Sunday paper off of the porch. He makes some coffee and he sits at the dining room table reading the paper. Steve reads everything. He starts at the front page and he works his way through the whole thing. Ads and all.

At about 11:30 Steve hears a car pull into the driveway. He gets up and goes to the kitchen window. A young lady has gotten out of the car and she is waving to Tommy. Long reddish blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, tank top and cut-off shorts that used to be jeans, little white socks and red tennis shoes. Steve really can’t see too much more until she shuts the car door. But he sees that she has nice legs. She is about his height. Maybe a little shorter. A little tomboyish. But hey that’s alright. Steve likes that. And Steve can also tell that she is pretty, no, wait scratch that, beautiful might be a better word. But from this distance it’s hard to tell. The hair that has escaped from the ponytail curls slightly around her face from the heat. Tommy runs over to her and he pulls her towards the front porch.

 Damn! Their coming to the front door Steve thinks. Steve runs his hands through his hair and he checks out his clothes. Faded torn jeans and a crappy t-shirt that he should have rejected to the rag pile a long time ago. Steve gets to the door before they can knock and Tommy is pulling his sister into the living room. They stand in a small circle in the middle of the living room. Steve was right she is beautiful. She is more prettier up close. No frills. Nothing fancy but certainly not a plain jane. Steve extends his hand and they shake.

“Hi I’m Melody.”  

“Hi I’m Steve.” Steve smiles at her.

 “My brother has told us a lot about you. You’re the crazy guy that lives up the street that pays him fifteen bucks to cut his grass!!” She laughs.

Steve thinks, oh damn, I have to get to know her better.

“Oh well at least I don’t have to do it. So what brings you here Melody?” Steve asks.

“Well Tommy is my brother…” She says.

 Oh brother she’s gonna think I am really brilliant. You dope pay attention. She already said that Tommy is her brother. Wake up Perry!

 “Oh yeah…I knew that. Do you want some coffee?” Come on Steve remember that you have some manners here.

 “Thanks but I can’t stay long. I came to pick-up Tommy for his piano lessons! “ She pulls him by his shirt and she hugs him and he pulls away and makes a face.  

Steve says to him, “Well hey kiddo you didn’t mention that you take piano lessons!”

 “I don’t like them very much. Everybody makes fun of me.”

 Now here is a subject Steve knows something about. Yessiree Bob! Steve goes to one knee so he can be at the same height as Tommy and he says,

“Tommy I know exactly how you feel. I was picked on too.”

 “Because you took piano lessons?” Tommy asks.

 “Oh Tommy because of everything. Piano lessons. My long hair. You name it and they picked on me about it.” Steve puts his hands up to his hair which is just a little ways passed his shoulders.

“Come here Tommy I want to show you something.”

 Steve takes Tommy and he leads him up the hall to his music room. Steve and Tommy stand in the doorway and Tommy says,

 “Wow! Look at all of this stuff Melody! “

 Steve takes Tommy over to the piano and they sit down on the bench. Melody hangs back in the doorway watching. Steve plays a little tune. And Tommy watches amazed. Steve continues to play as he talks to Tommy.

“I know you don’t like piano lessons because the other kids pick on you but stick with it Tommy! Music is god given. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do. If you let music in it will be with you forever. You can carry it with you wherever you go. It gives a lot of pleasure but it can make you sad too. Don’t worry about what those other kids say. Someday you might make a living out of it. And when those other kids grow up and they have nothing special to do you will be able to do this…”

Steve fires off a Jerry Lee Lewis type of thing. Steve then plays chopsticks and Tommy joins in. Steve laughs.

 “Well there you go! That’s good! “

 The next thing Steve knows is that Melody has her hand on his shoulder. Steve must have jumped a foot because she laughs.

 “I’m sorry guys but Tommy and I have to go!”

 “Yeah Tommy don’t rile your sister.” Steve says. He thinks that he would like to that himself. Oh Lord! Did I just think that! Bad Steve. Bad Steve. Oh Steve you’re a bad boy! Steve looks over his shoulder at her and he smiles. She smiles back. What is he thinking she wonders?

They leave the music room and Tommy runs out of the living room and he heads for Melody’s car. Melody and Steve stand on the front porch.

 “Tommy I’ll be there in a minute.” Melody yells toward the car. “I want to thank you for that. My dad has the hardest time trying to get him to go to his piano lessons! “ Melody says.  

“Oh no I enjoyed that really. “ Steve says.

 “So you’re a musician! Tommy never told us what you did.”

 “Yeah I’m a musician I guess you could say. I dapple a little. So you live up the street too?” Steve says as he points up the street. Yeah Steve go ahead and change the subject he thinks.

 “Oh no I live in the big, bad, city. I just moved here with my father and Tommy. I’m an army brat. Quote. Unquote. Oh I better go! “

 She says as she looks at her watch. She jumps off of the porch and Steve is caught off guard. He runs off after her and he grabs her by the arm. “Wait. Wait. I was wondering if you would like to go out and have dinner sometime? Maybe next week? I’m free every night.”

 Steve asks. He sees a hint of smile and then she laughs. Then he realizes how awfully pathetic that sounded. He covers his eyes with his hand.

“ Oh geez! That sounded so desperate didn’t it! “ Steve says as he shakes his head. He laughs.

 “Just a little Steve. Okay. I’ll give you my number. “ Melody crosses to the car and she tells Tommy to hand her a pen. He roots around for a few minutes until he finds it and then he hands it to her.

 “I don’t have any paper.” Steve says.

“Not a problem. Turn around.” She turns her finger in a circle and Steve turns around and she writes her number on the back of his shirt. He turns back around.

“I get off work at five. Give me about an hour or so before you call. Traffic is a bitch! “ She runs around to the driver’s side and she opens the door and she jumps in. As she starts the car she waves to Steve. She backs out of the driveway and Steve waves back. He makes sure that she is gone before he yells,

“Yes!”

 Melody comes to a stop at the traffic light. So that was Steve huh? He was awfully cute she thought. But damn if she couldn’t shake that feeling that she has seen him somewhere before. Oh well. It doesn’t matter anyway. Now all she had to do was wait and see if he called. He seemed sincere. Let’s see. He was funny. Cute. Tommy liked him. He could put more than two words together in a sentence. He was musical. He seemed like he had a good head on his shoulders.

 “Hey sis! The light turned green two years ago!” Tommy says.

 Melody turns her head and sticks her tongue out at him and Tommy returns the gesture. She continues on through the intersection and turns left to get on the highway. As she merges into traffic she goes over the list in her head again. Funny. Cute. Tommy liked him. Musical. Good head on his shoulders. Oh yeah he has a job. Articulate. So there must be something screwy with him somewhere. At least that has been her experience so far.

“Tommy. How old is Steve.”

 “I don’t know. He’s old though. He’s twenty-something.”

 The rest of Sunday went by in a blur. Steve had to go to the grocery store. There was practically nothing in the house but crumbs. Steve shopped at a grocery store that stayed opened twenty-fours so he could shop after most of the people were gone. It took some getting used to. Being recognize like that. It’s funny. You wished and hoped and prayed for something to happen and when it finally got around to you; well, you didn’t know what to do with it after you finally got it. It’s like trying to put something or other together and the damn instructions were in Japanese. Now Melody. She didn’t seem like that she recognized me Steve thinks. There was none of this “ohmigod” do you know who you are’ stuff. Steve didn’t know. She was funny. Cute. Articulate. Tommy seems to like me. So there must be something screwy with her he thinks. At least that has always been his experience. Well he’ll find out for himself. Steve made it in and out of the store without a scratch. Which was amazing considering the fact that the damn store was packed for some reason or another. It’s not like that it’s the only damn store in the area. There are two others up the street Steve thinks.

 Steve gets home and he reaches into his pants pocket for something and he realizes that he didn’t pay Tommy his five dollars earlier. Damn. After he puts all the groceries away he decides to take a walk up the street. He makes sure that he is presentable in case Tommy is not there. This is Melody’s dad after all. Steve just hopes that he is not offended by long hair.

Steve stands on their front porch and he rings the bell. He waits then he rings it again. Maybe he’s not home. There is no car in the driveway. He was just about to walk off of the porch when the door opens behind him. Steve turns. Standing in the door is a big guy. Must be at least 6 feet easy. Military muscles. Steve couldn’t really tell his exact age. 50 maybe. Or maybe not. He had one of those buzz cuts. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that read U.S. ARMY CALVARY CLASS OF 1800. And he was holding a screwdriver. The tool not the drink.

“Yes son what can I do for you.”

 Steve almost forgot what he came over here for. Melody’s father is one big dude Steve thinks. I better not pissed him off anytime soon. Steve steps closer and puts his hand out and he says,

“Hi I’m Steve from up the street. Your son Tommy has been mowing my lawn and I forgot to pay him the five bucks that I owe him.”

 He was more than happy to shake Steve’s hand. Much to Steve’s dismay since it felt like a vice gripe. Steve thought his shoulder would be dislocated from all the pumping up and down.

“Oh yes Tommy has mentioned you. It’s nice to meet you. Tommy’s not here but you are more than welcomed to come in and have a cup of coffee.”

 Steve could use a cup of coffee he thinks. He shows Steve in. Things are still in the moving in mode. He was putting together a basketball hoop for Tommy. He takes Steve to the kitchen and pours him a cup of coffee. He follows him out back. He continues working on the hoop and Steve sits in a chair on the patio. Steve finds out that his name is James. Or Jim if you rather. Steve finds out that he is a colonel. They have a nice long conversation. So long that Steve is on his second cup of coffee and James has finished putting together the basketball hoop. He sits with Steve on the patio. Telling war stories. Real war stories.

“I met Melody earlier today. She came by to pick Tommy up for his piano lessons. She’s a sweet girl. You’re lucky to have her for a daughter.” Steve says.

 Well maybe he said that with just a little bit too much enthusiasm because now James is looking at him. With one of those father looks on his face.

“How old are you son?” James asks.

            “Uh, sir I’m 25.” Good grief Steve thinks. If he says that she is 16 or 17 I will bolt for the door.

“Just checking.” James says.

 And that was all. Steve begins to fidget so he decides to try and lighten the mood by saying,

 “Well sir you don’t have a shotgun do you?” Steve takes a sip of coffee just as her father says,

“I don’t need a shotgun. I know a thousand ways to kill someone with just my bare hands.”

            And he holds his hands up for Steve to see and Steve proceeds to choke on that sip of coffee that he just took. Steve hacks and coughs. Her father comes up behind him and slaps him a couple of times, hard, on the back.

            “Steady, son, steady. I was just joking.”

Steve’s hand is on his chest trying to catch his breath. Steve takes a quick look around on the grass for his lungs.

 “Sir if you find a pair of lungs after I leave. Their mine!”

And he laughs and Steve laughs with him. Soon after, Steve goes home. Steve found out that he likes to fish also. Maybe he could introduce his dad to him and they all could go fishing. Steve thinks as he walks up the street. When Steve gets into the house he turns on the lights in the living room. He picks up the phone and he calls his dad.

“Dad! I met a girl today!”

 Steve tells him everything. And also about her dad that likes to fish also. And that he doesn’t have to come over anymore and cut the grass when he’s gone because her brother will do it now. They talk for about an hour. They have a nice long conversation. After Steve hangs up the phone he goes and grabs his guitar and he goes out to the back porch and the old porch swing. This porch swing is lucky. He has written a lot of good stuff on this old swing. He sits down and he begins to play. He sings ‘Lights’, ‘Wheel In The Sky’ and ‘Patiently.’ After he finished the last song he saw the neighbor’s back porch light come on. He heard the back screen door open and slam shut. Then he saw his neighbor poke his head up over the fence and say,

 “Steve that was just wonderful!! But we’re trying to sleep over here!”

Oh I’m sorry Mr.Henderson I didn’t realize what time it was!” His neighbor waves at him and Steve hears him go back into the house. Steve gets up himself and goes in as well.

Steve fell asleep in front of the tv watching an old movie. God he hates it when he does that because he wakes up with the most god awful pain in the neck that seems to stick with him for days. He got up and turned the t.v. off and he went to the bedroom and went back to sleep.

Sometime during the early morning hours he hears the newspaper slam into the front door at about a 100 miles an hour and land on the front porch with a loud thud. Steve jerks awake. His eyes half closed and his hair all mussed up. He pulls the sheets over his head and he goes back to sleep.

At 9 am the phone on the bedside table begins to ring. Steve uncovers one eye and he looks at it. He stretches and scoots over across the bed to answer it.

“Hello.” Steve coughs. His voice still raspy with sleep.

“Steve? Did I wake you up” Neal asks.

 Steve runs a hand over his face and through his hair. “Well you know I need my beauty sleep.” Steve says as he yawns.

 “Steve there ain’t that much sleep in the world!! “ Neal laughs.

 “Yeah yeah smart ass! What do you want anyway?” Steve asks.

“They moved the picture taking sessions up to this week and they start this morning! “ Neal says none too quietly.

 Steve sits up in bed. “Ah man! Why did they do that?” Steve asks.

“Oh who in the hell knows why they do anything. Can you be here in an hour and half?”

 Steve glances at the clock. And he says, “Well it’ll be a stretch..but yeah I guess so.”

 “Well this is just a pisser! I was going to go to Mexico! “ Neal says.

 Steve throws the covers back and he sits on the side of the bed. “Geez Neal don’t do that! If you get thrown in jail again I can’t bail you out my Visa card is maxed out!!! “Steve laughs.

 “Yeah we had to get the lead singer that thinks that he has a sense of humor! Just get your ass over here! Bye!” Neal laughs before he hangs up. Steve hangs the phone up and he makes his way to the bathroom.

By the time Steve got home that night he was tired. This photo shoot was a comedy of errors. Neal was pissed because he didn’t get to go to Mexico so he was in a mood to raise havoc. The photographer was new to this and he didn’t know how the guys were..so. The photographer kept mixing up everyone’s names. No. I’m Steve that’s Neal. This is Neal with al not il. He’s sensitive. No. I’m Neal that’s Steve. And so and so forth. They did more playing than working actually. It was 6:30. Steve grabbed a beer out of the frig and he kicked off his shoes and he picked up the phone and he flopped on the sofa. He dialed Melody’s number. It rang once. It rang twice.

“Hello” Melody answers the phone.

 “Hey Melody it’s me Steve. How are you doing?”

“You actually called me! I don’t believe it! “ Melody says.

 “Well why wouldn’t I call you. That’s why you gave me your phone number isn’t it?” Steve asks.

“Well yes. But I have given my phone number to guys before and I never hear from them again!” She says.

 “Then those guys were stupid! I’m not stupid!!! “ Steve says.

 “You’re also not modest.” She says.

 “Oh I don’t know about that. “ Steve laughs. Their conversation continued on for about another hour and a half. They talked about everything. They finally set a date for dinner. Friday. She felt more comfortable driving her own car to his place. Instead of him picking her up. Well. He understood that. She was smart. Had common sense. Steve finally realized what time it was and that she had to get up early to go to work and Steve on the other hand didn’t. They said their goodbyes. Steve dropped the phone back into the cradle. Steve covers his eyes with his hands and he says, “Oh Lord I wish tomorrow was Friday.” Melody rolled over on the bed and dropped the phone back into the cradle. Melody covers her eyes with her hands and she says, “Oh Lord I wish tomorrow was Friday.”

Steve’s week continued on in the same vein as Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday were just as crazy. They were running all over the city having pictures taken. They even wanted to take pictures at Steve’s house.

“I don’t know guys it’s pretty messy.” Steve says.

 “Come on Steve! Your house is never messy! “ Neal says.

 Neal would tell anyone that would listen that if you wanted to make Perry crazy just go to his house and rearrange his stuff. And stand back and watch.

 Ha-ha Neal. Very frigging funny. Steve thinks. Thursday were individual picture taking and Steve was up first. He was also surprised by a gift. Steve walked into the photographers studio and he sat in his usually chair but this time something was different.

He noticed more people than usual. He was just sitting there, minding his own business, when somebody pulled out a pair of scissors. Big scissors.

 “What are those for?” Steve asks as he looks at them.

“Their scissors.”

“I know what they are! What are they for!!!” Steve asks again.

 “Steve just calm down. We’re just going to trim it.” The stylist says as he comes closer. Steve is just about ready to bolt from his chair.

“There’s a fine line between trim and cut! “ Steve says. 

 In the end they only trimmed it. After Steve calmed down he liked it. He guessed. It was passed dark when he got home that night. He checked his mail. Bills. Ads. ‘You May Have Already Won The Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes’ Steve holds up the envelope. Yeah right he thinks. Steve goes into the living and turns on the t.v. to try and catch the news. Just as he is about to flop down onto the sofa with his bottle of beer the phone rings. He does a couple of quick steps and he scoops the receiver up out of the cradle.

“Hello.” “Hey Steve it’s Melody.”

  Steve feels his heart leap in his chest. He takes a deep breath and he tries to speak but…

 “Steve? Are you there? Hello?” Steve swallows and he finally says,

“Oh yeah I’m here. How’s it going? You’re not calling to beg off of our date, are you?” Steve closes his eyes in anticipation of her answer.

 “No silly! “

 Steve exhales.

“But that is why I am calling. Where are we going for dinner so I know what to wear?” She asks.

 “Well it’s a little hole in the wall Italian place. If you wear those shorts that you wore last weekend that would be fine with me!” Steve says.

 “Steve! I didn’t think that you noticed!” She says,

 “Oh oh! I may not notice much but I sure noticed that! Jeans are fine. “ Steve says.

 They talk a little while longer. After they hang up Steve watches some t.v. and he thinks about Melody. She’s different. Honest. Open. An old soul. And she doesn’t seem to know about me he thinks. Well if she does she hasn’t let on as of yet. Could there possibly be someone out there who does not know who he is? Or for that matter Journey? There are a lot of guys named Steve. Even more named Steve Perry. Very common name it seems. But not every guy named Steve Perry sings for a rock band. And there is, after all, only one me he thinks. Steve. Steve. Calm down. You just met this girl. You haven’t even been on a date with her yet. Just chill. You’re wearing a hole in the rug of your mind. Jeez Steve. Stop thinking so much. He thinks. Well now that his mind is going ninety to nothing he is no longer tired. He wanders into the music room and he sets at the piano and he’s just playing to be playing not really trying to come up with anything. He doesn’t realize how long that he has been sitting there until he sees the clock and it says 1 am. Good grief. He closes everything down and he takes himself off to bed.

 At 9 the next morning Steve is standing in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee and flipping through the paper. Mentally running down the chores he has to do. New screens on the windows. This. That. And the other things. Why did he buy this house if he is never here to take care of it. Because you needed a place to live that’s why. Steve finally gets started on his day. He goes to the local home improvement center and buys everything that he needs for his projects. He replaces the screens on the windows and he changes the filters. And his day progresses until he realizes that it is time to get ready for his date tonight.

 He stashes everything away in the garage. He takes a nice long hot shower. Shaves and looks for something nice to wear. He recently bought some jeans and he wears those and a nice button down shirt. Before he knows it he hears a car pull into the drive. Going to the kitchen window he looks out and sees that it’s Melody. He greets her at the door. She really looks nice he thinks. Jeans, boots and a western style shirt. Hair down to her shoulders.

 “Wow you really look nice.”

“You do to Steve.” She smiles and says.

 They take Steve’s car for the hour and a half drive to the restaurant. Steve was right it was an hole in the wall but they great food and the atmosphere was such that maybe nobody would notice them or him. They talked before dinner, during and after. They stayed there so long they had to be ran out of the place but the people there knew Steve so they let him stay as long as he wanted. Steve found out a lot more about her. She was in Egypt for four years. Rome Italy and France. She was better traveled than Steve up to that point. She liked music but she wasn’t up on the American music. She liked jazz. Steve now knew that was why she didn’t recognize him he thought. Steve didn’t think that Journey’s reach went as far as Egypt or not that he had heard anyway.

 Hours later it seems they finally leave the restaurant and they go back to Steve’s house. Steve and Melody are sitting on the sofa. Still talking. The stereo is on the local radio station but turned down low. Neither of them realizes how late it is until the DJ gives the time. They both jump. And Steve goes into the kitchen to check.

 “Melody did you know that it is 1 am!” Steve says.

 “Oh my god I had no idea that it was that late!” She says as she gets up off of the sofa. Steve walks over to her and says,

 “You could always spend the night here if you want.”

 Melody steps back and shoots Steve a look then Steve realizes what he just said and how she took it. He waves his hands at her and he says, “Oh no I didn’t mean it that way….I..I meant that I have two guests rooms..you could use of those if you wanted.” Steve shrugs. Melody laughs.

 Steve takes her by her hand and he pulls her into a hug. She puts her head on his chest and Steve’s head is on top of hers. “You could stay if you wanted to.” Steve says. Steve feels her take a deep breath and then she says,

“Well…I..besides my dad’s house is up the street.”

 “Yeah right. Actually I forgot about that. Damn! Well at least I can walk you up the street. Alright?” She laughs and nods.

 They decide to leave her car at Steve’s house and Steve walks her up the street. They walk side by side. Then they hold hands and then they put their arms around each other. They get to the front porch and Steve takes her by her hands and he says,

 “Melody I had a great time!”

 “I did to.” She looks at Steve and smiles.

“Well since you’ll be here tomorrow how about we go to the movies?” Steve asks.

 “Yes I would really like to do that.”

Steve pulls her closer for a good night’s kiss. It had to be the longest good night kiss on record because it seemed to go on and on. Steve was holding her close and he didn’t want to let her go but then he came to his senses and saw that he was on the front porch. With some effort they finally came to a stopping point and she slipped into the house.

Steve, with his hands in his pockets, steps backward off of the porch. He walks backwards up the walkway to the sidewalk. Every now and then he glances back to the front door. Melody slips quietly into the foyer and she gently shuts the door behind her. She stands with her hand on the doorknob. Back up against the door. Eyes closed. She says out loud. “Oh Lord!”

 Steve unlocks the door to his house and he shuts the door behind him. He stands with his hand on the doorknob. Back up against the door. Eyes closed. He says out loud. “Oh Lord!”

The next morning Steve is up early. Sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper with his usual cup of coffee. He glances at his watch. He gets up from the table to go grab a shower when he hears a knock at the door. He turns around and he goes to the door. Melody is standing on the porch holding a plate with a lid over it. Steve happily lets her in. He notices those same cute little shorts. She has her hair pulled back into a ponytail.

“Melody! You’re out early! What’s that?” Steve says.

 “Oh it’s silly. I made blueberry muffins. I don’t even know if you like blueberry muffins or not.” Melody says with a touch of bashfulness.

 Steve laughs and he takes the plate from her and he sets it on the dining room table. Then he takes her hands and gives her a quick kiss and a hug. She is kinda shy. Steve thinks that is cute.

 “I happen to love blueberry muffins! “

 He tells her that he is going to take a quick shower and for her to have some coffee and make herself at home. Steve disappears into the bedroom. But a split second later he pokes his head around the corner and tells her that she left her jacket and that he hung it up in the bedroom closet. Soon after she hears the shower come on. She eats one of her muffins and takes a sip of coffee as she thumbs through the paper. She decides to go and get her jacket and to put it in the car. She heads into the bedroom. A few minutes later she is in the bedroom when she hears the front door slam open. She goes to the door of the bedroom and looks toward the front door.

 Neal was coming through the front door but when he saw Melody coming out of the bedroom he stopped dead in his tracks. Much to the dismay of Ross who was right behind him. Neal took a half step back and his foot landed on Ross’s foot none too softly. Neal was also in mid shout when he saw Melody.

 “Steve!!! Who’s car is that out in the……oh god!”

Neal by this time has stepped on Ross’s foot and Ross is yelling and hitting Neal on the back.

 “Neal! You big dummy! Next time you plan to stop warn somebody and get off of my foot!!!!”

Ross pushes him then he looks up and sees Melody. By now Steve has heard all of this commotion and he comes out to the bedroom doorway drying his hair with a towel. He stands behind Melody with his hand on her hip. As if to say ‘I saw her first’ sort of gesture. He looks at Ross and Neal. Neal has that silly grin on his face and so does Ross actually. The grin that says ‘I see a pretty girl’ Neal was practically drooling. Melody turned her head and looked at Steve as if to say ‘who are these characters Steve.’

 “Melody that is Ross and the one drooling is Neal. Neal. Ross. This is Melody.”

 Steve steps out from behind her. Ross pushes Neal in her direction with his hand out and Melody shakes it and Ross does the same. Melody shakes their hands and they move out into the living room.

 “So Melody how do you know old Steve here?” Ross asks.

 “I met him through my brother. He mows his lawn.” Melody answers.

Then Neal opens his mouth and says, “Well I have a bigger lawn than Steve’s maybe….”

Neal doesn’t finish because Ross elbows him in the ribs. Neal holds his side and he coughs. Melody laughs and from the kitchen Steve yells,

 “I heard that Neal!!!! Melody! Neal is an Army brat too! “

“Oh really! “ Melody walks over to Neal and puts a finger on his chest. Neal looks at her with his eyebrows raised and she says,

 “I thought so! I can always tell! You’re arrogant, stubborn and cocky!!!”

Ross practically falls to the floor doubled over in laughter and from the kitchen Steve erupts into hysterical laughter. Neal puts his hands on his hips and says back to her,

 “Oh yeah!”

 Oh that was worst than lame Neal thinks. What a sorry comeback.

 “Yeah!” Melody says back to him.

 Ross stops long enough to say. “Oh man she’s got you pegged! And she just met you!!”

Steve breaks this up by bringing coffee and Melody’s blueberry muffins out to the dining room table. They all pull up chairs and they set. Neal and Melody talk their Army brat upbringing. They go on like this for a good thirty minutes or so. Then Melody says she has errands to do and she stands up to leave. Everybody at the table rises and Steve walks her out to her car. But of course the minute the front door is closed Ross and Neal run to the window and watches them.

 They see and Melody standing at her car. Steve gesturing and Melody laughing. Then Steve asks a question of some sort because Melody nods her head yes and then they hug and kiss. Ross and Neal stand at the window watching. Ross puts his hand on Neal’s shoulder and says,

 “Ward I’m worried about the beaver!” They laugh.

Steve watches Melody drive off and then he turns to come back into the house and Ross and Neal just about run over each other to get back to their seats. They make it back to their chairs and they try to play it like they have been there all along. Neal leans back in his chair with his hands behind his head and Ross drinks his coffee.

 “Come on Steve give! Where did you find her?” Ross asks.

 “Yeah and does she have a sister!!?” Neal asks.

 “She told you. Her kid brother mows my lawn and no she doesn’t have a sister.”

 Neal leans over to Ross and says, “I told you that he didn’t trim those hedges. They were too straight!” Steve just looks at him and Neal smiles at him.

“Where does she live Steve?” Steve was taking a sip of coffee when Ross asked this question and Steve points. Neal and Ross look to where he is pointing.

 “Next door?” Neal asks.

 Steve shakes his head no and he gestures further up. Steve finally swallows.

 “No she lives up the street. Well no actually her dad lives up the street. She lives in the city. “

They talk a little longer on Melody and Steve keeps trying to tell Neal that she does not have a sister. Neal no sister. They get to the real reason as to why they are there finally. Came over to work on some stuff with Steve. Some ideas of Neal’s and Ross’s. They head to the music room and they are there the better part of the day until Steve kicks them out. He has a date. Thank you very much. Soon after Melody returns. They go to the movies and afterwards dinner.

 Now it is well past dark and they are at Melody’s dad’s house. They threw an old blanket on the grass and they both laying on it looking up at the stars. Steve is holding her and he points the constellations out. Steve leans over and steals a kiss and that is when they notice her dad standing there. They both sit up and Steve can’t get his arm away fast enough. Steve looks up at him and says,

“Sir. Nice night.”

 “Uh huh.”

 He stands there with his arms crossed over his chest. Melody jumps up and goes to her father and she puts her arms around him and she says,

 “Dad stop it! Stop trying to scare him. Steve’s a nice guy!”

 Steve stands up and he shakes the blanket out before he folds it up. Melody takes the blanket from him and her dad shakes Steve’s hand again and pats him on the back. And he says,

 “Well Mel if you like him then I like him.”

Steve sees Melody out of the corner of his eye and she is grinning from ear to ear. Her dad goes back in the direction of the house and he says,

 “It’s getting late you two.”

 Melody walks over to Steve with her hands behind her back and she rocks back and forth on her heels and she says,

“He likes you! He likes you!”

Steve grabs her and spins her around and he kisses and he says,

 “I’m glad to hear that! So. Do you like me too?”

 “Oh maybe just a little!” She says and smiles.

 “Just a little? “ Steve feigns disappointment.

 Melody laughs as she takes him by the arm and leads him into the house and to the front door. She kisses him goodbye and she tells him that she will see him tomorrow. Tomorrow is Sunday and they have plans to do lunch. Steve says his goodbyes. Each goodbye is becoming harder than the last he finds.

 When he gets home the message light on his answering machine is blinking like crazy. Everybody and his brother had called him. When he is at home nobody calls him but he leaves for a little while and the whole world wants to get in touch with him he thinks. He listens to the messages. Neal. Ross. His dad. People trying to sell him stuff. More Neal. Ross telling him that Neal is going to be calling him and to ignore him. Neal calls asking if Melody has a sister and Steve already told him ‘no’ half a dozen times. Neal call to tell Steve to disregard the previous calls. Steve laughs. Steve watches a little late night tv then he turns in.

 Sunday morning. The usual routine. Shower. Coffee. Paper. Lounging around the house. At about noon Melody walks over to Steve’s house and they go out and have lunch. They walk around the city window shopping. Steve tries to be stealth. He wears one of his hats. Melody thinks this is funny. She laughs. Nobody likes my hats Steve thinks. They go for a little drive up the coast and back. On the way home Steve notices the sky behind him is darker by degrees. The wind picks up. They race to try and beat it home. They just about make it until they get a mile from Steve’s house and the sky opens up. The windshield wipers on Steve’s car have a hard time keeping up. Steve pulls the car into the garage just as the hail starts.

 Steve and Melody beat a hasty retreat into the house when Steve remembers that he left some windows open. Oh damn. Melody and Steve run around the house closing windows. The hail goes from pea size to golf ball to baseball. And the baseball size hail are the ones that damage the skylights that Steve had just put in a while ago. The rain comes down in sheets. The wind rattles the windows. They decide to curl up on the sofa and watch t.v. By now it is close to eight and darker than dark outside. The rain is still coming down and it shows no signs of stopping. Lightning and thunder rock the house. As Steve flips channels on the t.v. he says,

“It could be worse. The electricity could go out!” Steve laughs.

 Soon after the lights begin to flicker. Once. Twice. Then blackness. Silence. As everything in the house that is electrical shuts down. From the darkness Steve says,

 “Shit! Melody stay here. I’ll go and get candles and a flashlight. I don’t want you bumping into stuff in the dark. You might hurt yourself.”

 A few seconds later Steve is off of the sofa and from the darkness Melody hears a loud thump and then Steve howls in pain.

 “Ow! Shit that hurt!”

 “Steve!” Melody says.

 “I just ran into something. I’m alright!” Steve can hear Melody laugh.

 Steve makes his way slowly into the kitchen where he finds a flashlight and some candles. He comes back into the living room and he sets the candles on the coffee table. Steve remembers that he has a radio in the kitchen that has batteries in it. He comes back into the living room and he turns the radio on. He goes from station to station trying to find weather. Finally on an AM station he finds the weather.

“More heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected to continue through the night in the Marin county area. Pea size to baseball size hail also have been reported. Flooding is possible. High winds have been reported. Power outages are also reported in a wide area and the reports are they may be out until the morning. Or until the crews can get out to repair the lines. Power lines are reported being down in the area that spans a five radius from the Carson Exchange Freeway to the uppermost part of Marin County. That would include the following streets. Magnolia Way. Dogwood Lane. Old Dell Way….”

Old Dell Way. That us Melody.”

 Steve gets up and he goes and looks out of the window. When the lightning flashes he can see the rain coming down in buckets and the trees being whipped back and forth. He walks to the back door. Looking out he sees the porch swing being throttled back and forth by the wind. Steve comes back into the living room and Melody has lit the candles. Steve turns off the flashlight. Steve puts the radio on a FM station so at least they can have some music.

 “Do you want me to take you to your dad’s house?” Steve asks.

 “Oh no. It’s too bad out there. Can I stay in one of the guest rooms?” She asks.

 Steve nods his head. She asks what time it is. Steve holds a candle up to his watch. Almost ten Steve says.

 “Oh I have to go to bed so I can go to work tomorrow. I’m going to have a longer commute tomorrow from here.”

 Steve stands up and he grabs her by the hand and he leads her to one of the guest bedrooms up the hall. He opens the door and he gives a tour. Full sized bed up against the far wall. Three windows. Two nightstands. A dresser. The matching lamps are stained glass. A closet. Adjoining bathroom. Steve checks the bathroom for towels and such.

 “Here you go. You’re home away from home.”

 “Steve this is really nice.” Melody says.

 “This house is probably bigger than what I need but it was a spur of the moment purchase. I needed a place to live. “ Steve laughs.

 He tells her if she gets cold during the night there are blankets in the chest at the foot of the bed. Steve leaves the candle with her and he goes back into the living room. Steve lies down on the sofa and he puts one arm over his eyes. He listens to the rain pelt the windows in the living room. A loud clap of thunder and a bright flash of lightning. Steve hears the water in the bathroom in the guest bedroom come on. Rattling pipes and such.

 Steve tries and takes his mind off of the fact that she is in the bedroom down the hall. He could just as easy get off of this sofa and go and join her. But he won’t. Don’t scare her off by going to fast. No matter how much he wanted to go…Steve reaches over to the radio and turns up the volume just slightly. Steve closes his eyes. Steve is in a dozing state when on the radio a song comes on that he knows and he absentminded starts to sing along with it.

 ‘When the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on the bay I want to be there in my city, my city by the bay.’

From out of the darkness and from the direction of the hallway Steve hears Melody yell.

 “Steve! Was that you singing!”

 Shit! Steve says to himself as he clamps a hand over his mouth. Think quick Perry. He turns the radio in the direction of the hallway and he says.

 “No! No! That was the radio. Listen. “

 “Are you sure?” She sounds skeptical.

 And Steve says. “Oh most definitely. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

 “Al right. Good night. “

 “Good night Melody. “

 Steve turns over on his side. He listens to the rain hit the windows. Oh Steve you’re a louse he thinks. You should tell her. But Steve likes the fact that she thinks that I am a regular kind of guy. But that is a lie. Isn’t it. But wait a minute why does he have to tell her. It’s not like he has some kind of disease or that he’s a serial killer. Well. He’s a rock singer. To some people that’s the same thing. Rock singer. That’s his profession. His vocation. His life. Steve. Steve. Shut your mind off and go to sleep. He let the rain hitting the windows put him to sleep.

Melody shut the water off in the shower. She comes out into the bedroom and she thinks that she hears music. She opens the bedroom door. From the living room she hears what? Steve singing? Or the radio? Or Steve singing with the radio. They both sound the same. She yells into the darkness of the living room.

 “Steve! Was that you singing?”

“No! No! That was the radio. Listen.”

 The music gets louder in her direction as Steve turns the radio to her.

 “Are you sure?” She sounds skeptical.

 And Steve says. “Oh most definitely. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

“Al right. Good night.”

 “Good night Melody.”

 Melody turned and went back into the bedroom. She went to bed and the rain hitting the windows help put her to sleep. Steve woke up with a blanket over him and fresh coffee in the kitchen waiting for him. Steve slowly sat up and put his feet on the floor. Every muscle hurt. He put a hand up to his neck and he begins to rub the stiffness away. I am getting too old to sleep on the sofa he thinks. Steve arches his back and he stretches. Steve stands and he walks slowly over to the windows.

The rain had stopped sometime during the night but the sky was still darkish and cloudy off in the east. Steve opened the mini-blinds and he tried to survey the damage. He saw fallen tree limbs. And he saw, darn it, shingles from his roof and those new screens he just replaced twisted and laying out in the yard. He knows that the skylights were damaged. He just doesn’t know how much. Steve looks at his watch 6:30. Damn. He should go back to bed.

 The electricity was back on as well. All the clocks were flashing 12:00. The v.c.r. too. Steve yawns and he runs his hands through his hair. He pads down the hallway in bare feet to the guest bedroom. He doesn’t have to look he knows that she is gone. Steve opens the door and he was the right, bed was empty, and she even made it before she left. As Steve goes up the hall he looks up toward the skylights, one crack, two cracks and three cracks. The skylights are all in a row and all of them are cracked. Oh well. That’s what homeowner’s insurance is for Steve thinks.

 Steve goes into the kitchen. She even made coffee. That was nice Steve thinks and she even left a note on the counter for him. Steve picks it up and unfolds it.

 ‘Steve…You are so sweet! Thanks for the use of your guest room. I made coffee for you and you looked cold so I put a blanket on you. Call me tonight. I want to make dinner for you. Melody. “

Steve reads this over a couple of times and he smiles. He folds it back up and puts it in his pants pocket. He needs to get her work number Steve thinks. He wanted to make sure that she got to work all right. What with the aftermath of the storm and everything. Speaking of phone. Steve picks up the receiver of the phone in the kitchen. Good. Dial tone. The second he hung it back up it rings. Steve jumps a foot.

 “Hello.” Steve says.

 “Steve. Is everything alright at your place?” Neal asks.

Steve hoists himself up and he sits on the counter. Looking out of the kitchen window he can see a big tree limb that has fallen into the driveway. Steve thinks that if his car had been sitting out there he would have to go out and buy another one.

 “Well I haven’t really looked. I just woke up. But I think I lost those skylights, a lot of big tree limbs, a few shingles. How are things there?” Steve asks.

 “Well you know that shed I had out back?” Neal asks.

 “Yeah. The one you wanted me to help you get rid of ?” Steve asks.

 “Well don’t worry about helping me because it’s gone!” Neal laughs.

 “Neal! Did you lose anything else? How is everybody else?”

“I guess my house is like yours. I really hadn’t had a chance to look yet. Ross got hit bad though. He lost part of his roof off of his house. He lost some equipment Steve. Amps. Guitars. Our sheet music for god sakes was scattered all up and down the street. Oh listen to this! An amp ended up in his neighbor’s tree! Isn’t that wild! “ Neal says.

 “Jeez Neal was anybody hurt?”

 “No. They weren’t even home. Lucky for him.” Neal says.

 “Are they going to stay with you?” Steve asks.

 “I offered you know. But they opted for the hotel. “ Neal said.

 “Jesus Neal you would think as much time as we spend in Hotels Ross would choose some place else.”

 “Yeah well. I guess I have a lot of work to do now. When you get finish inspecting and if you need help let me know okay. I know how buggie heights make you, so if, you need help with those skylights let me know.”

 Steve pulls the phone away from his ear and he looks at it. Then he takes his fingers and he taps it on the earpiece. Steve hears Neal yell. Then Steve yells into the phone.

 “Okay where is Neal and what have you done with him?” Steve hears Neal laughing.

“Well I just thought if I got up there on the roof with you then maybe, accidentally on purpose, I could pitch you off and have Melody to myself!” Steve scowls into the phone.

 “Neal! Jesus Neal! Don’t even say that in jest. Good god you know how I feel about heights! Besides you’re too wild for her.”

 Neal snorts into the phone.

 “And you mean you’re not! Come on Steve! Just show her some of that stuff you learned on the Infinity tour! Whoa boy!” Neal says.

 Steve covers his eyes with his hand and he shakes his head. “Some of that stuff I would like to forget! “ Steve says.

 “I’ll have the pictures develop next week. I’ll give you a set!” Neal laughs.

“Oh Neal you better be joking! If anybody ever got wind of some of that stuff we’re all going to jail! “ Steve says.

 “Oh you got a point. You know what they do to guys in jail that have long hair! “ Neal laughs.

 “Yeah! Then you and I would be up shit’s creek without a paddle!”

They both laugh and Steve hears Neal take a deep breath and then he says,

 “Well I better go. Let me know if you need help. Bye.”

 “I will. Bye Neal. “

 Steve hangs the phone back up. Steve slides off of the counter and he pours himself a cup of coffee. Steve takes a sip and his eyes fly open. Lord she makes strong coffee Steve thinks. Steve checks his watch. 7:30. He wants to make sure that it is not too early for him to call his dad. Steve picks up the phone and he dials his number.

 Steve asks him if everything is alright. How did they survive the storm last night. They ask Steve the same. Yeah if he needs help he’ll call. They ask about his girlfriend. Steve smiles to himself. He hadn’t even thought of her as a girlfriend as of yet. She’s fine. Really fine. After he hangs up he goes and puts on a shirt and his tennis shoes. He heads out to check out his property.

Steve goes out the back door. The first casualty of the storm is the porch swing. It was torn completely off of its supports and when it went it took part of the overhang with it. Shit! Steve thinks as he stands there looking at the swing lying in a pile of wooden rubble in the middle of the back yard. Damn! That was his lucky swing. He goes out into the yard. The wet grass soaking through his tennis shoes. The screens are gone. If he backs up far enough he can see that some shingles were taken off in the storm. As Steve stands out in his yard he feels it start to sprinkle. He walks around to the front. Everything is alright there he thinks. Except for all the tree limbs everywhere. Then Steve gets to the garage and he stops and he covers his eyes with his hand.

 Steve hates to look. There is the world’s biggest tree limb that has fallen onto the roof of the garage. The back part of the roof is damage. Most of the tree limb is inside of the garage. The wood from the garage is scattered throughout the driveway and the out into the street. There are wood and debris from the garage hanging from the surrounding trees. Steve is afraid to look at his car. Damn. And it wasn’t that old either. He didn’t want to touch the garage door for fear of the garage collapsing even more. Steve turns and walks up the driveway to the street. He stands in the street looking at all of the tree limbs that were lying in the street or off in the ditches.

 Trash cans and other stuff that were taken and made airborne by the storm was also scattered in the street. Well at least I put my trash cans in the garage. Ha-ha. I can’t get to them anyway. Also further up the street he sees a truck from his electric company that are working on the down power lines. Steve turns around and he goes back to his house. He has a lot of phone calls to make. He goes into the office that is off one of the bedrooms and he begins searching for numbers. The insurance company and so on and so forth. Steve spends the rest of the morning on the phone. People have to come out and look at the damage Mr. Perry. Mr. Perry this and Mr. Perry that. Alright. He sets up all the appointments that he needs for the rest of the week. Steve thinks that he just got booked up all week.

He calls Neal. He asks Neal if he isn’t too busy if he could come by and pick him up and take him to a rent-a-car place. Neal says he’ll come by at noon and they go out and have lunch. Then he’ll drop him off at the rent-a-car place. Okay. Deal. Steve says.

 Neal came by and picked Steve up. They had lunch and he rented another car. Steve suddenly felt tired so he lay down and took a nap. When he woke up it was time to call Melody. He told Melody everything about the house and Ross and his car and the appointments that he has all week. But don’t worry. He’ll have time for her to fix him dinner. They decide on Friday.

Steve is going to her place. Steve gets her address. He knows exactly what part of town she lives in. Be there at 7. What did he want for dinner. Steve said he didn’t care as long as it wasn’t turkey. Turkey. Yeah. It’s a long story. He’ll tell her someday. Oh yeah. He asked her for her work number. Now he’s got that as well. I’ll call you sometime and ask you out for lunch. How would that be. She said that she would have to think about it and she’ll get back to him. Oh funny. Steve thinks. They finally said their goodbyes. Steve looked at the clock. Two hours. Steve straightens up the house for all of this company he is going to be having then he goes to bed.

 Tuesday found Steve waiting on the insurance adjuster. He was on his second cup of coffee before the guy showed up. Steve took him on a tour. Afterwards they went inside the house and Steve had papers to sign. Wednesday they would be out to start work on the garage. Good deal. They shook hands.

 “You know you look awfully familiar. “

“You know I get that all the time. I guess I just have one of those faces.” Steve shrugs.

The insurance adjuster nods then he leaves. Steve needs to do laundry but then he remembers that the washer and dryer are in the garage. The garage that has the big tree limb through the roof. He could go out and replace them but he still doesn’t have a place to put them. Damn. Steve goes to the phone and calls Neal.

 “Schon residence. Construction central!”

In the background Steve can hear hammers and saws. Steve laughs.

 “Neal. It’s me.”

 “You’ll have to speak up Perry I can barely hear ya!!!”

 “CAN I COME OVER AND USE YOUR WASHER AND DRYER! “ Steve yells into the phone.

 “Yeah! TYA man! TYA! Bye! “ Neal hangs up.

Steve gathers everything up. Sheets. Blankets. Clothes. Everything. He hauls everything out to the car. Steve drives over to Neal’s. His place looks like a war zone. After Neal did a closer of inspection he found a lot of damage to his house as well. Neal says it’s alphabetical. Perry, Schon and Valory. As Neal and Steve stand there watching the foreman comes over to Neal holding a clipboard. More stuff to sign. The foreman stands there a few seconds then he says,

 “You two look familiar.”

 Neal and Steve look at each other. Neal says,

 “We get that all the time.”

 Steve points to Neal and himself and he says,

 “Yeah. We’re related but not to each other.”

They both turn and look at Steve. The foreman leaves. Neal scratches his head. Steve goes back into the house. Steve was there the rest of the day doing laundry and just basically messing around and goofing off. Neal hauled out his guitars and he and Steve sat on Neal’s patio keeping time with the rhythm of the trucks that were all over Neal’s yard. Of course, Steve had his little recorder in case they came up with anything good. Steve ate dinner there and then he got all of his stuff together and got ready to leave when Neal says,

 “Steve don’t leave now. I was just getting used to you being here!” Neal laughs.

 Steve gets in the car and he says, “That’s even a better reason to leave Neal! “

They both wave. Steve gets home and he puts everything away. Checks his machine. Melody called. And as far as Steve was concerned she was the most important. Steve calls her. They talk for about hour. Little stuff. Steve wants to take her to lunch tomorrow. She agrees. They finally say their goodbyes. Steve watches a little bit of t.v. He tries to get back into this book that he has been reading for ages. Steve didn’t think to ask what time those guys were going to show up to start work on the garage. Hopefully not to early.

 At about seven the next morning Steve got his answer. He was sleeping when the sound of big trucks coming up his street shook him out of his bed. He thought it was another earthquake. Big trucks. Big diesel engines. They parked in the street in front of Steve’s house. Steve just got his pants on when they was a loud pounding knock on his front door. Steve opens the door and there was a guy that could make two out of Steve. The guy hands him a card. Steve looks at it.

 “Mr. Perry? Mr. Steve Perry?” The guy asks.

 “That would be me.” Steve says.

 “You not that same…”

“Yes I’m afraid so.” Steve says.

 “No! Not really!” The guy says.

 “Yes. Really.”

Steve signs the back of the card the guy gave him and he hands it back to him. The guy looks at it and he puts it in his pocket. Steve goes out to the garage with him. After they explain all the details to Steve he goes back in the house and makes some coffee. Later he watches as they extract the tree limb from the garage and upon doing so the entire structure collapses with a loud crash. The sound of wood and metal colliding. Steve grimaces. There really goes the car now Steve thinks. He watches all the activity until about 10 when he has to get ready to go into the city.

 After a shower he leaves at about 11. He gets to her office building right at noon. He had no trouble finding the place. After he got there he realizes that he has been by the place a hundred times he just never noticed it before. He spoke to the receptionist and after calling Melody she looks at him. Steve turns back to look out of the window and he readjusts his hat. A few seconds later Melody is beside him holding his arm. She kisses him and says,

 “Hey stranger. “

 “Hey yourself. Where to for lunch?” Steve asks.

 She wants to go to Fisherman’s Wharf. So that is where they go. They have a nice lunch. They talk about Steve’s house. And dinner on Friday night. Before they know it her lunch hour as gone by. Steve takes her back to her office. He kisses her goodbye and he watches her go back into the building. And he takes a deep breath. While he is in the city he goes by some car dealerships and picks up brochures.

 He gets back to his house by two. And when he gets there he finds out that his old car is now a convertible. When it used to be a hard top. The garage is a total lost. They raze it to the foundation. Washer, dryer, lawn mover. A freezer he had out there. All useless scrapes of metal now. He takes a chair and he drags it out to the back porch. He looks through the mail and the car brochures. He reads through the paper. He watches as they clear the yard of the fallen tree limbs. I had to get happy and buy a house surrounded by big trees Steve thinks.

Around 4:30 the foreman that knocked on Steve’s door that morning came around back looking for him. He held the clipboard out for him to sign and he told Steve that they would be back to tomorrow morning. Since there is now some peace and quiet Steve goes into the music room and begins to do some work. He puts on his headphones. When Steve puts on his headphones he slips away from the bonds of the real world and he goes into musical escape. The next time he looked at the clock it was 11 pm. He stands up and stretches. He wanders into the living room and turns on the t.v. and finds an old late night movie.

 The next morning Steve is up and about before the crews get there. He’s sitting on the front porch. Reading the paper with his usual morning coffee. Steve hears the trucks before he actually sees. As they turn the corner he sees them through the trees. The foreman waves at Steve as he gets out of the truck. Steve waves back. Steve likes to keep an eye on them. The phone rings. Steve answers. It’s his dad. He wants him to go fishing with him today. Steve never misses an opportunity to go fishing if he can. An hour or so later his dad swings by and picks him up. Steve gets in the truck and his dad points to all the activity going on.

 “Doing some remodeling Steve?”

“Not by choice dad.” Steve laughs.

 They spent all day fishing and Steve didn’t get home until about 7. He caught a couple of good size fish. He could of had more but since his freezer is gone he didn’t have enough room. He checks his messages. Neal. Ross. Melody. Steve calls Melody back. Steve tells Melody about his fishing trip and the one that got away. It was this big by this big. Melody not believing a word that he says. Laughs. They laugh and talk for about an hour. Melody was telling Steve their plans for after dinner tomorrow. She was joking. Or maybe she wasn’t. Steve wasn’t sure anymore. But he needed a cold shower after he got off of the phone with her. But instead he took a warm shower instead. He fixed one of the fish for a late dinner. And then back to the book.

 Steve woke up Friday morning happy. Tonight was his dinner with Melody. A home cooked dinner no less. He wondered how he rated that. He willed the day to go by fast. While Steve was drinking his coffee a different crew showed up for work this morning. They were here to rebuild the garage. In the meantime Steve called Neal back from last night.

“Steve why do you have an answering machine if you don’t listen to your messages?” Neal asks.

 “I listened to them. But I rather talk to Melody than you!” Steve says.

 Steve hears Neal thinking on the other end. “You know I would rather talk to her too! Ross and I and Gregg were going out on the town and raise some havoc. We wanted to know if you wanted to join us?” Neal says.

 Steve covers his eyes with his hands and he says,

 “Oh brother I smell trouble! All three of you characters released on the populace! Just don’t get arrested. You know how Herbie feels about that! I have a date with Melody. She’s fixing me dinner!”

Neal whistles. “Boy Steve what did you do to deserve that! A home cooked meal! Lucky so and so. Don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do! Bye.”

 “Yeah right Neal! Don’t get arrested. Bye!”

 After Steve hung up the phone he did feel lucky. Steve had a hard time concentrating because of all the banging and pounding that was going on. The crew rebuilding the garage. By lunchtime it was making him crazy so he got ready early. And by two he was headed for the city. He could do some errands and maybe go by some car dealerships.

Right at 7 Steve was knocking on Melody’s door. She opened the door and Steve gave her some flowers. After she put the flowers in some water she gave Steve the 15 cent tour. Large living room. Fireplace in the corner. Love seat and sofa. Matching end tables and coffee table. Brass and glass. Entertainment center with a tv and turntable stereo and a lot of records Steve notices. Plants. Books. She takes him down the hall and shows him her bedroom, the guest room, a bathroom off of the hall. And her bedroom had it’s own bathroom as well. She shows Steve the balcony. More plants. And a killer view Steve thinks. They go back into the living room and Steve sees her cat. Steve bends over and picks her/him up.

 “That’s Samantha. Say hi to Steve.”

 Steve puts her down and she curls around his legs. She used the flowers as the centerpiece for the table. Smoked glass oval shaped dining table. She fixed chicken for dinner. Steve was impressed. It was very good. Pie and coffee for desert. After dinner Steve helps carry dishes into the kitchen then he goes to check out her record collection. She had a little bit of everything. Jazz. Country. Classical. And some foreign stuff that Steve has never, ever heard of.

 “Melody can I play a record?”

 “Sure. I’ll show you my favorite.”

 She comes out of the kitchen and she stands by Steve. She thumbs through the records until she finds the one that she wants. She hands it to Steve. A jazz one. He puts it on the turntable. But before she can get away he takes her by her hand and he twirls her around then he pulls her into his arms.

“Steve I didn’t know that you could dance.” Melody says surprised.

 “That’s not dancing that’s twirling. There’s a difference.” Steve laughs.

 They move across the floor. Swaying back and forth with the music when Steve kisses her. This kiss is different from the others. This kiss has some heat behind it. They stop in the middle of the living room. Steve moves her hair behind her ear and he kisses her neck. Emotions and feelings soon take over. Time slows and stops. Steve feels that they are the only two people in the world. Melody kisses Steve back. Steve feels her tongue gently pushing into his mouth. Suddenly it has gotten very hot and Steve can hear his own heartbeat. For a split second their eyes meet. That is all the confirmation he needs. He scoops her up into his arms and carries her into her bedroom. Steve kicks open the door. The light from the kitchen splits the darkness just enough for Steve to get his bearings then he slowly shuts the door.

 The next morning Steve is awaken by the smells of coffee and bacon frying. Steve rolls over onto his back and he rubs his eyes. He looks around Melody’s bedroom. Bookcase. Plants. Large walk-in closet with something hanging off of the doorknob. Two windows on either side of the bed. Steve glances at the alarm clock on the bedside table. 8:00. Steve thinks back on last night. It was not planned. It just happened. Which is the way that it should be he thinks. He knows that they haven’t known each other long but last night felt right. Everything fell into place. It was the perfect evening. He wonders how Melody feels about it.

 From the kitchen Steve hears the radio come on and Melody singing along with the radio. Steve smiles. That coffee smells good. He throws the covers off of him and he puts his legs over the side of the bed. He puts his pants on but his t-shirt is no where to be found. Steve crosses the room and goes into the bathroom. He looks in the mirror. Oh Steve you look like hell you’re going to have her bolting out of the door. Steve splashes water on his face and he borrows her hairbrush and he tries to do something with his hair.

He walks into the kitchen. Steve finds out what happened to his t-shirt. Melody is wearing it. It’s barely long enough but Steve isn’t complaining. She sits a plate of bacon and eggs on the table. Steve walks into the kitchen and he walks up behind her and puts his arms around her.

 “Morning..” Steve says in her ear.

 Melody smiles and she turns around. “Morning. I wasn’t sure what you like for breakfast so I made the typical. Eggs and bacon.”

Steve reaches around her and snags a piece of bacon.

 “Hey! That was mine!” Melody says and Steve laughs.

 He kisses her. “Bacon and eggs are fine. I smell coffee.”

 She points to the plate on the table. Steve sits. Melody brings her plate to the table and she sits next to Steve. She points to Steve’s t-shirt and says,

 “I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed your t-shirt.”

 “No. It’s looks better on you than me you should keep it!” She laughs.

 They eat their breakfast. Melody gets up but Steve grabs her by the waist and sets her in his lap. Her arms go around his neck and he holds tight to her waist.

 “So how do you feel?” Steve asks.

 Melody smiles at him and she kisses him.

 “I feel happy! How about you?” Melody asks.

 Steve smiles and he looks at the floor. Even with her on his lap he still fidgets.

 “I wanted to take things slow. Not push. I hope I didn’t..”

She puts a hand over his mouth and then she says,

 “No you didn’t. Steve you are so cute! This must be your gentlemen side I ‘m seeing!”

Steve thinks he blushes. “Oh well you know…” Steve laughs and then he whispers something in her ear. She jumps and then she looks at Steve who is still laughing. A look of shock on her face. She slaps him on the arm.

 “Steve! I didn’t know you knew such language!”

“As much as I like having you sit on my lap and I need to go and take a shower. “

 She gets up and Steve gives her a little slap. She turns with a surprised look on her face.

“Steve! “

 “I’m sorry my hand slip!!”

 Steve gets out of the chair and he laughs. She throws the dishtowel at him. Steve heads into the bathroom. Steve looks in the mirror. He needs to shave he thinks. He turns his face this way and that way. Looking. Maybe he should grow a mustache he thinks. No. The other guys would just laugh at him and they would make him shave it off. Steve turns on the water and he checks it too much sure it’s not too hot. He steps in and he closes his eyes as he lets the water cascade down and over him. He puts both hands on the wall and he lets the water beat down on his neck.

He thinks this just might turn into a good thing..with Melody. He hopes anyway. Don’t say it and don’t even think it. Not the ‘L’ word. Not yet. Way too soon. All of this is still new. We’re still discovering each other. Just…Steve is thinking so much that he is startled by a hand on his shoulder. He jumps and he turns. Melody.

 “Oh I didn’t mean to scare you! I’m sorry.”

 “No. No. That’s alright. I just wasn’t expecting such good looking company that’s all.”

Steve rubs his face. He puts his arms around her waist and she puts her arms around his shoulders.

 “Steve..you are so full of shit.” Melody says laughing.

 “Oh really! Most people don’t find that out until later!”

Steve says as he turns her around into the spray of the shower. Then Steve pulls her closer and kisses her. Later Steve is in the living room putting his shoes on. Melody follows him brushing her hair.

 “What are your plans for the weekend?” She asks him.

Steve stops and thinks a minute then he says,

 “Well I was going to look at some cars. What are your plans?”

 She put her hand on the top of his head and he looks up at her and she says,

 “I thought that I might go with you. If that is okay?”

 Steve stands up and puts his hands on her arms. “Mel you don’t have to ask.”

 She smiles and then she says. “I also thought that maybe you could spend the weekend here?” You don’t have to ask me twice he thinks. He says.

 “I would love to but I don’t have any clothes or anything.”

She looks at him and she takes his hand and she leads him to the balcony. Out on the balcony she throws her arms open and she says,

“There at least 25 stores in this general vicinity. You could buy everything you need Steve!”

“Well you do have a point there.”

So they go shopping. Steve buys everything that he needs. Steve looks at cars but he didn’t find any that he liked. So they go to the movies. And after the fisherman’s wharf. Later Steve is sitting on Melody’s sofa looking at car brochures. Melody brings him a glass of iced tea. As she goes back to the kitchen she says,

 “What price range did you want to stay in. Dad has a friend that runs a dealership. He might be able to help you.”

Steve looks at her over the brochure. “What?” Steve asks.

 “You know price range. How much can you afford to spend? Monthly payments. That sort of thing.” She says.

 Steve lays the brochure over his chest and he covers it with his hands then he says.

 “I haven’t thought about it.” Steve says.

“Steve! What person doesn’t think about that, unless, you’re…” Melody looks at him and points.

 Steve sits up and says, “Unless I’m what…?”

 “Rich! Steve you’re not from some rich family or something are you?” She asks and Steve lays his head back on the sofa and he laughs.

“No. I am not from some rich family.”

 “The mafia?” She asks.

“God no!” Steve laughs. “I just budget my money well.”

“Uh huh.” She said not really believing him. Steve takes a deep breath then he says,

“Mel actually I am…”

At that moment the phone rang in the kitchen and Melody runs to answers it. Steve goes back to his car brochures. The rest of the evening is spent watching t.v.; lounging around. Melody makes a little dinner for them then Melody brings out some photo albums and they laugh over them. Steve laughs long and hard over one particular picture of Melody and Melody hits Steve on the arm a couple of times and she says,

 “Hey! It’s not that funny! I would like to see pictures of you as a kid!”

 Steve stops for a minute and takes a breath and he says,

“You know you’ve got a point there.”

 The next morning Steve wakes up holding Melody in his arms. He slowly opens one eye. Looks at the clock. 7am. He pulls her closer and buries his head into the pillow and he goes back to sleep. Steve thinks as he drifts off to sleep again that he likes the fact that he isn’t waking up alone. He could get used to this. Two hours later they are up and out. Breakfast. Another trip to Fisherman’s Wharf and this time they go to the Zoological Gardens. All these places Steve has seen he’s just never really had the time to visit them before. It’s late afternoon by the time they return to Melody’s apartment. Steve needs to call Neal to check on the schedule for Monday. To see if anything has changed. Steve punches Neal’s number into the phone.

 “Oh hello?” Neal slowly answers the phone.

 Steve laughs. “Neal? Are you alright. Boy you sound rough.”

 “No no I’m alright. I have been trying to get ahold of you. Where are you?” Neal coughs.

 “I’m at Melody’s apartment. “ Steve says.

 “Steve have you been there all weekend? “ Neal asks.

 “Yes and I am having a great time. Is the schedule still the same?”

 “Yeah don’t rub it in Perry okay! Yeah. Be at the warehouse. You do know where that’s at right?” Neal asks.

 Steve closes his eyes and thinks a minute. “Yeah. Yeah I do.”

 “Bring all of your ideas and your vocal chords. “ Neal says.

 “They go everywhere I do Neal. Hang on a minute. Mel can I give Neal your phone number? “

From the living room Melody yells yes.

 “ Take down this number.”

Steve gives Neal Melody’s phone number.

 “See you tomorrow Neal.”

 “I’m trembling with anticipation. Bye.” Neal laughs.

 Steve covers his eyes with his hand. “Wise ass! Bye.”

Melody by this time had moved out to the balcony with the paper.

 “Problems?”

 She asks Steve as he pulls a chair up next to her.

 “No not really. I have to go back to work tomorrow.”

Melody drops the paper and she moves over into Steve’s lap. Steve puts his arms around her.

“Is that near here?” She asks.

“ No. It’s over in my neck of the woods. “

 “You could spend the night and leave from here but I get up god awful early. “ She says.

 “That’s alright I’m used to getting up early. What time do you have to get up?” Steve asks.

 She makes a face before she answers. “5:00.”

 “That’s not too early. Maybe we should go to bed now.” Steve says with a smile.

Melody looks at his watch and says,

“Steve it is only 7:30!”

 “Oh I know and we’re wasting time!” Steve laughs.

 “Steve you’re such a bad boy!” She wags her finger at him.

 “I know. I’m ashamed of myself. Maybe a good woman will change me. What do you think Melody?”

 Melody looks at him and says. “Well I don’t know. It seems it took you quite awhile to get this way. I haven’t have time to do much work on you…”

 “That’s why you need to start now. I need a lot of help Mel.” Steve kisses her.

 “Oh alright. But this is going to hurt you a lot more than it will hurt me!” Melody says and laughs.

 “Oh I certainly hope so!!” Steve says.

 The next morning the alarm goes off. The alarm is set to the radio so at 5:00 am Steve hears himself blaring out of the radio, ‘Wheel In The Sky’, he covers his eyes with his hands then he fumbles around until he finds the button to shut it off. He cuts himself off in mid-note. From the other side of the bed Melody says sleepily,

 “Uhmmm I like that song.”

Steve turns over and looks at her. She gets out of bed. She’s wearing that old t-shirts of Steve. She stumbles across the room yawning as she heads towards the kitchen. Steve sits up and stretches. He gets out of bed and he heads for the bathroom. He did say that he was used to getting up early didn’t he. Maybe he lied. At 6:15 they were standing at the front door saying their goodbyes. At 6:25 they were still saying goodbye until their realized they had to get going. They kissed one last time. At the hallway he went one way and she the other.

Immediately upon leaving Steve got caught in traffic. Steve packed everything before he left Melody’s apartment but he left a change of clothes just in case he went back. And he would. Most definitely. Steve was in a good mood. Even the traffic jam couldn’t dampen his mood. He had to stop by his house to pick up all the stuff that he has been working on. When he got there the construction crew were there working on the garage. He spoke to the foreman to find out about the progress. Signed some papers. Answered questions and asked some. He looked at their work. He was no slouch. He knew about construction. He grabbed everything he needed from the music room then he was gone again. The warehouse wasn’t that far. He got there by eight. He immediately walked in and was greeted by everybody.

 “Hey Perry!!”

 “The voice has arrived!”

 “Oh look it’s Steve! Can I have your autograph!!!” Ross says.

 After everyone calmed down they move into their work mode. They worked steady until their catered lunch arrived at about 1. Steve was sitting on some old picnic tables eating his lunch when Neal came over to join him. They talked about their respected houses. What happened when Neal and the others went out Friday night. Then Neal asked about Melody.

 “So Steve how does she feel about all of this?” Neal gestures around the warehouse. Steve hesitates. He looks at the floor. Runs a hand through his hair then he turns and looks at Neal. Neal picks up on this immediately.

 “Steve don’t tell me you haven’t told her. How could she not know who you are anyway. Or who we are?” Neal motions to the other guys.

 Steve takes a deep breath. “I was surprised too that she didn’t know. She spent the last four years in Egypt. Is Journey big over Neal?” Steve asks.

 “I don’t think so.” Neal says.

 “Ever since she came back she has been busy. Her mother died recently. She helps to take care of her brother. She works. She’s still moving into her apartment. She’s busier than I am.” Steve says.

 “Well I did notice that she was different. None of that usual crazy stuff you get from people. Ohmigod! Ohmigod! It’s Neal! It’s Steve! It’s Ross! Haaaaaaaaa! “ Neal yells and Steve laughs.

 “All weekend I tried to tell her. I liked the fact that she just thinks that I am a regular guy. The guy from up the street that needs his lawn mowed.” Steve says.

 “Yeah but Steve you’re not a regular guy anymore. None of us are. Anymore. It’s going to be a crazy ride. “ Neal says.

 “Maybe the next album will be a flop! Or maybe we’ll be one of those ‘one hit wonders’. “ Steve says.

 Neal looks at Steve as if he is crazy. “Did you just hear what you said! All of that stuff is highly unlikely! What I’m trying to say is; you have to tell her before she finds out some other way. Your ugly mug, not to mention mine, and everyone else are plastered all over the place. I’m surprised she hasn’t caught on.”

 Steve shrugs. “I do need to..before” Steve says.

 “Before?” Neal looks at Steve.

 “Before it gets anymore..serious..complicated…before I fall in….never mind!” Steve covers his face with his hands. Neal is speechless.

 “Steve I had no idea that it has…”

 “Me either..until just now. Oh no…” Steve falls backwards onto the picnic table and he stamps his feet back and forth as he flays his arms.

 “Okay guys back to work. Steve and Neal. Steve warm up please.”

Steve waves his arm back and forth just to show that he heard. Neal grabs Steve by his arm and pulls him off of the picnic table and he shoves him over to the stage.

 “Back to work lover boy!”

They knocked off at about 5:30. When Steve got back home the construction crew had packed up for the night. Steve took a look at the work himself. He takes a long hot shower and he tries to unwind. At 7 he calls Melody. He tries to tell her. God knows he tried. But she was going on about their weekend. She was so happy and before he knew it they have been on the phone a hour and a half. She had to hang up. She had stuff to do before she went to bed. He said that Wednesday night he was going to come over and see her. She couldn’t wait.

“Melody….I” Steve stopped himself.

 “Yes Steve?” Melody asks.

 “Oh nothing. I’ll see you Wednesday. Bye.”

 “Bye Steve”

Steve slams the receiver back into the cradle. You coward he thinks. He felt disgusted with himself. So he goes for a walk. He walks for thirty minutes. He’s been by the same houses at least twice he figures if he makes one more pass by they will call the cops on him so he goes back home and to bed.

 Next morning back at the warehouse. Tuesday was pretty much the same as Monday except Neal was in the mood to make Steve laugh. Every time Steve turned around Neal was there, doing something silly. Big meeting afterwards. Thursday make sure that you bring your party clothes because they will be here filming for promo purposes. No audiences just the cameramen.

 “Everybody needs to look pretty.”

Everybody turns and looks at Steve. Then Steve notices everybody staring at him then he says,

“Hey! Why are you all looking at me?!” Steve says and everybody laughs.

 “And everybody needs to be on their best behavior! This is from the high mucky mucks at the record company!”

Everybody turns and looks at Neal.

 “Hey! I have you know that I am highly offended!”

Everybody laughs. So went Tuesday. Wednesday was spent seriously rehearsing old and new stuff in anticipation of Thursday video shoot. The day came and went before Steve knew it. After leaving the warehouse he drove to Melody’s. He got there by 6:30. After he knocked on the door it was opened by Tommy.

 “Hey kiddo! Long time no see! Where have you been?” Steve asks after he hugs him.

“Music camp. Melody picked me up.”

 Tommy says before he ran off to the guest bedroom to watch tv. Melody comes out of the kitchen. Steve hugs her and gives her a kiss.

 “Is Tommy joining us for dinner?” Steve asks.

 “Nope. My dad will be here any minute to pick him up.”

 Steve trails after her into the kitchen. He came into the kitchen on the pretense of helping but Melody knew better and so did Steve. Tommy comes flying around the corner and catches them in a hug and a long kiss.

 “Yuck!” Tommy says.

Steve looks at him and says, “You just wait a couple of years you’re change your mind!”

There was a knock on the door and Tommy runs to answer it. Melody’s dad. Her dad seems a little surprised to see Steve. They shake hands. And he and Tommy leave. Steve tried to tell her during dinner but she was a distraction and he couldn’t seem to get the words out. After dinner it was worst. He helped her clear the dishes and she told him to go and relax. So he stretched out on the sofa and watched t.v. and promptly fell asleep. Twenty minutes Melody was sitting next to him. He opened his eyes.

 “You fell asleep.” She says as she lays down next to him on the sofa.

 “Oh I guess I did. I’m sorry. Mel I need to tell you something.” Steve says.

 Mel raises up on elbow and looks at him the other arm on Steve’s chest.

 “You’re not going to tell me that you’re married are you?”

 Steve looks at her. “What? No! Nothing like that! What I want to tell you is..”

 By now Melody has taken one leg and wrapped it around both of Steve’s legs. And now she is sitting on top of Steve. Leaning over and kissing him on his neck. Steve has his arms around her waist. Steve’s eyes are closed. No. No. Steve thinks. If she does this much longer I won’t be able to think let alone talk.

 “Mel! Mel! You know you think that I am a musician, right? Actually I am a lead singer for…..”

Melody kisses him then she says, “That’s nice.”

 Then she kisses him harder. Damn! Steve thinks. The next morning the alarm goes off at five. After a shower and some coffee and a few extended goodbyes at the door they go their own ways. Steve gets to the warehouse. Everybody changes and they put on a mini concert for a empty warehouse. Video cameras rolling. This took all day. By that evening Steve was tired and ready for bed. Steve listened to a message that Melody had left him. She was going to work late. She would see him on Friday at his place. Friday she was coming over and spending the weekend. Taking turns. They have Friday off. Steve takes a warm shower to wind down and to try and relax. He goes to bed early.

 The next morning Steve tries to sleep in that is until the construction crews get there. He gets up and reads the paper and has his usual cup of coffee. And he wanders outside to check on their progress. Steve had errands to do before Melody gets there. He leaves and is gone most of the day.

 Meanwhile Melody is leaving work early. She goes by her apartment and packs a bag. Before she leaves the city she makes a quick trip by the store. She goes in, finds what she needs, and as she waits in line to pay for it her eyes drift to the magazines in the rack. Good Housekeeping. National Enquirer and a music magazine. Melody glances over them until she gets to the music magazine then she stops. The music magazine is partly covered by another and she moves it aside. No this has to be wrong. Because there is Neal, Ross, and two other people she doesn’t recognize and Steve on the cover. Steve! Steve! Then she reads the small print under the picture.

 ‘Meet the Members of Journey. Left to Right. Gregg Rolie-Keyboardist, Steve Smith-Drummer, Ross Valory-Bass, Neal Schon-Lead Guitar, and Steve Perry-Lead Vocals.’

 Melody looks at the picture then she holds the magazine to her chest then she looks around. In her mind she hears Steve’s words, “Yeah I’m a musician I guess you could say. I dapple a little.”

 She looks at the picture again. Oh, Steve you are in so much trouble! I am going to kill you! She thinks to herself. She buys the magazine with her other purchase. Then she drives to Steve’s house in a hazy fog of anger. Steve has just gotten out of the shower when he thinks he hears pounding on his front door. He pulls on a pair of jeans. He tries to dry his hair a little as he walks to the door. He drapes the towel around his neck. As soon as Steve has the door opened Melody pushes her way in.

 “Hey Mel you’re early…”

Steve doesn’t get a chance to finish. Melody slams the door behind and Steve backs up. Melody throws the magazine at him and it hits him in the chest. Steve makes a grab for it but he can’t get a handle on it and it falls to the floor. As he picks it up Melody says,

 “So when did you plan on telling me! Mr. Steve Perry, the new lead singer, of Journey!”

Steve picks the magazine up and turns it over and there in front of god and everybody is his picture on the cover. Oh no! Screams through Steve’s mind. Steve closes his eyes and tilts his head back. For the first time in Neal’s life he was right about something and why did it have to be about this. Steve thinks. Steve looks at the magazine again.

 “That is you?! Isn’t it?!”

 Melody asks with anger in her voice. Steve can’t very well deny it. Steve nods his head yes.

 “Yeah Mel that’s me. Let me introduce myself. I’m Steve Perry. Lead singer of Journey.”

 “Don’t you think it’s a little late for that Steve! Why didn’t you tell me!!!!“ Melody yells.

 “Mel I tried. The other night at your apartment and over the weekend..”

 “You didn’t try hard enough!!“

Melody makes a move to go around him but Steve drops the magazine and he grabs her around her waist and stops her.

“Let me go!!!”

She struggles with Steve’s arms around her waist.

 “No! Not until you listen to what I have to say!”

 He turns her around and holds her around her arms.

 “I bet you think I’m stupid and naïve. I bet Neal and Ross were just laughing their heads off at me. This girl is so stupid she doesn’t know who Steve is or we are. Ha-Ha! I can just hear them now!!!” Melody struggles.

 “No! Melody! You’re wrong. They never thought that and neither did I! I would never think that you were stupid or naïve! “ Steve says as he sits her down on the sofa and he kneels in front of her and he says, “I am so sorry. I know that I should have told you.”

 “Why didn’t you…!” Melody yells.

 “God I don’t know. You’re so sweet Mel..from the minute that you met me you thought I was an ordinary guy. You liked me for me. I meet so many people and I don’t know if they like me for me or just because I’m Steve Perry of Journey! But you didn’t know me…..”

Steve doesn’t finish because Melody overrides him, “You didn’t give me a chance! Not one chance! You just assumed! That I was like everybody else!!!”

 She tries to get up but Steve stops her. “Alright! I guess I did. That was my fault! My mistake! I’m sorry Mel..please.” Steve says.

 “What else are you not telling me about?!” Melody asks.

 Steve stands up and looks at her. He backs up. He throws the towel across the room.

 “I don’t know what you mean..not telling you?”

 Melody stands up. “Well you’re this big rock star guy have you ever been arrested?” Melody asks.

 “No!” Steve looks at her.

 “What about drugs?” She asks.

 The look on Steve’s face is of shock or something close to it.

 “NO! And I am not a big rock star guy! Quote. Unquote. I have done one album with Journey and I have been on one tour. “ Steve holds up one finger.

“A tour?” Melody asks.

 “Yes! This is my so called vacation! You can ask me anything! Any question! I’ll tell you the truth. I won’t lie to you.”

 Melody walks up to Steve with her hands on her hips and she says, “Were there groupies on this tour Steve?”

Steve looks at her. He hesitates and he looks at the floor then he says,

 “Yeah there were…a few.”

 Melody puts her finger under his chin and raises his head to look at her then she says, “Did you sleep with any of them!”

 She is still holding his head up and he can’t look away. “That was before I met…..” Steve says.

 “That wasn’t the question! Did you or didn’t you!” She asks.

 “Yes. Alright. I did. But I didn’t know you…”

 She drops her hand and she moves quickly to the door but Steve stops her by grabbing her hands.

 “What about the next tour! You’re out there and I’m here! How do I know that you won’t….”

 “No! If I know that you’re waiting here…I won’t do that. If I had a girlfriend back here..if you were here Mel…” Steve says.

 “I don’t know..how long were you on tour?” Melody asks.

 Steve looks at her and he lets her hands drop as he backs up. She’s not going to like the answer Steve knows.

 “Nine months.” Steve says softly.

 “What!!! Nine….oh my god!” The look of shock is undeniable.

 “172 cities. U.S. Canada and let’s not forget Europe. I would like to.” Steve says with all seriousness.

 “Did you get time off…or get to come home….?” Melody asks.

 Steve doesn’t answer he just shakes his head no.

 “But Mel I don’t know if all of the tours will be like that! I’m still new to this myself. “

 Melody by now has gone and sat down on the arm of the sofa and she says,

 “I feel so stupid! Now it all makes sense!” She gets up and points to Steve.

 “What ‘all’ makes sense?” Steve asks.

 Melody paces around the room running off a checklist in her mind.

“That first day..I thought you looked familiar but I couldn’t place where. So I ignored it. All the music stuff. Those hats you always wore in public. Oh my God!”

 Melody’s hands fly up to her mouth her eyes wide as if she suddenly remembers something or she saw a ghost. Steve waits. Standing with his hands on his hips. Looking at the floor.

 “That night of the storm!! That was you I heard! Wasn’t it! I don’t mean on the radio! I mean you singing with the radio! Right!”

 “Yes that was me.”

 At that moment Melody’s hard exterior crumbles and she covers her face with her hands and she cries. Steve moves slowly toward her and he puts his arms around her. He lays her head on his shoulder.

 “Mel I’m sorry.”

Melody stands there for a minute then she realizes what is happening and she pushes Steve away. Tears streaming down her face.

 “I was going to come over here tonight with a surprise. I had bought a bottle of wine and everything….but now.” Melody stops and looks at him.

 Steve is afraid to move or to even breath. Steve thinks it can only be one of two things. Well it could be both. But please god, don’t let it be the second one that he is thinking of. Because if it is he won’t know what to do. Steve closes his eyes.

 “Tell me Mel.” Steve says very quietly.

 Melody walks around him. She can’t look at him when she says this. It hurts too much.

 “I love you Steve.”

 Steve closes his eyes tighter. Oh damn! Steve’s thoughts are pinging around his head at about a hundred miles an hour. Steve turns and he walks over to her. He puts out a hand to touch her hair and then he slowly, very slowly puts his arms around her then he says to her,

“Mel..Mel I love you too.”

 She looks at the floor and she pulls away from him. She stands just a few feet away but for Steve it could be a hundred. The gap, he feels, is that wide now.

 “But I think…I just screwed everything up. Didn’t I Mel?”

 Melody runs her hands over her face and she sniffles. “I think I need some time..to think…about us..if I want to…”

“I..I understand. Whatever you have to do. I’ll be here.” Steve stammers out.

 “Give me the weekend. I’ll call you Monday.”

 Melody says as she turns her head and looks at him. Their eyes meet. Steve moves closer to her and he reaches out her hand. She shakes her head no.

 “Monday. I’ll call you Monday night.”

Then she walks toward the front door. Opens it. Then she’s gone the door swinging shut behind her. Steve stands there looking at the door. Then he sees the magazine. He picks it up. Then all the built up anger and rage and his stupidity overflow. Like a bathtub where the water is left running too long. It’s crests and overruns the sides. He takes the magazine and rips it to shreds. All the while yelling. Venting his anger. He throws it across the room. All the magazines that are on the coffee table he either throws or tears to pieces.

 “Damn! Damn! You stupid ignorant fool!! She may be gone forever now! And it serves you right! Why…Why didn’t you tell her!” Steve yells.

 Then he stops. He can’t stay here. Not another minute. He runs to the bedroom and throws on a shirt and a pair of shoes. He packs an overnight bag. And he grabs a jacket. He hunts until he finds his car keys and he leaves. Driving away from the front of the house he must have left a mile of rubber he thinks. He has no idea where’s he going but he has to get away. Away.

 Early Saturday morning Neal calls Steve. Alright. Not there. Leaves message. Tries back later. Still not there. Okay. That’s not unusual. Neal tries throughout the day. Still no Steve. And Steve is not calling him back. By Saturday night the bony fingers of worry begin to take hold. Neal don’t be such a worry wart. Maybe he is at Melody’s. Yeah that’s it. Neal pulls the paper out with Melody’s number on it. He punches in the numbers. Rings once then twice.

“Hello?” Melody answers.

 “Hey Melody this is Neal. Is Steve…..”

 The sound of the receiver slamming down into the cradle and a loud ‘click’. Neal looks at the phone. Oh that is not good. Neal thinks. Something bad has happen. Melody must have found out the hard way. Steve is not at Melody’s and he’s not at home. So where…he could call his dad but damn he hates to do that. Neal thinks a minute. Neal grabs his car keys and his jacket.

 It’s just beginning to get dark by the time he gets to Steve’s house. He parks in the driveway. He notices the burnt rubber marks out in front of the house. Oh, Steve must have been pissed. Neal goes to the front door. It’s not standing open and it’s not locked either. He knocks loud on the door a couple of times.

 “Steve!! Steve! Hey buddy it’s Neal.”

 Neal comes into the living room. His hand goes to his forehead as he whistles. He turns around and looks. He sees the magazines tore up and flung across the room. Actually everything that was on the coffee table are now all over the place.

 “Holy shit!”

 Neal sees the light blinking on the answering machine. Something bad happened here. Maybe Steve got into a fight with somebody and he’s hurt somewhere. Neal looks in the kitchen. Then he goes up the hallway to Steve’s bedroom. Neal stands in the door looking at the closet door and the dresser drawers that have been left open. Neal looks in the closet and sees that one of Steve’s overnight bags are gone. His jacket as well. Neal knows Steve well enough that Steve wouldn’t normally leave things like this. Neal leaves Steve’s bedroom and he checks the other two rooms. Nothing. Neal stands in the hallway. Thinking. He goes to the phone and calls Ross.

 “Ross. Neal. Look something has happened to Steve.”

 “What do you mean ‘something has happened’ oh god Neal he’s not….” Ross says.

 “No! No! I don’t guess..i mean I am at his place and it is all tore up. I think you should get over here.” Neal says.

 “I’m on my way.” Neal thinks that Ross must have broken the sound barrier to get there. He got there pretty fast. Neal was waiting for him on the porch. Ross’s reaction was pretty much the same as Neal’s.

 “Shit!! Did you call Melody?” Ross asks.

 “Yeah. She hung up on me.”

Ross turns and looks at him. “Did you try his dad?”

 “Jesus no Ross. I hate to scare him. I hate to make it sound like that he is missing and that we don’t know where’s he at!” Neal says.

 “Neal! He is missing and we don’t know where’s he at!”

 Ross goes to the phone and he punches in Steve’s dad number.

“Hi this is Ross. I’m fine. How are you doing. I was just wondering if Steve was there by any chance. Oh he’s not. No nothing’s wrong. He just mentioned going out of town and I just wondered if he was there. Okay. Well thanks. Bye.”

 Ross hangs up the phone and he looks at Neal.

 “Well that answers that questions. What now?” Ross asks. Neal paces.

 “I guess I’ll spend the night here and see if he shows. If he doesn’t I guess we go out looking tomorrow for him. “ Neal says.

 “Where would we start?” Ross asks.

 “I don’t know but we have to do something.” Neal says.

 “Maybe we should call the police.” Ross says.

 “Ross he’s a rock singer! They would probably think he’s out on a drug or drink induced trip! And when they get a look at this place….” Neal gestures around them.

 “Yeah I see your point.” Ross says as he looks around him.

 “If he doesn’t show by noon I’ll call you. Then we’ll go from there I guess.” Neal says as he shrugs his shoulders.

 Ross leaves and Neal doesn’t know whether or not to clean up or not. Evidence for the police, in case, they do decide to call them. Neal leaves it. Then he settles down on the sofa to watch t.v. and to figure out where to search for him tomorrow. Later Neal finally goes to bed in the guest room.

The next morning, Sunday, Neal is awaken by the paper hitting the front door. He wanders down the hallway toward the kitchen. Stopping by Steve’s room just in case. Nothing. Still no Steve. Neal makes coffee and he grabs the paper. Neal has a hard time concentrating. He fumbles through the paper. Not sticking to one thing. At ten he can’t wait any longer. He calls Ross. Ross is jumpy as well. He comes over. Before they leave Neal writes a note. In case he comes back when their gone. Neal decides to try his old stomping ground. Hanford and Lemoore. They drive around looking for his car. They go by every Hotel and Motel. Nothing. No sign of Steve. They are out most of the day. They only stop for food. By dark they head back to Steve’s house. Neal drops Ross off and Neal goes back to his place for a change of clothes then he goes back to Steve’s house.

The place is just as empty as when he left it that morning. Neal flips the channels on the t.v. until he finally finds something to watch. Then later he ends up falling asleep on the sofa. Early Monday morning, while it is still dark, Neal hears a key in the lock of the front door. He raises his head slightly and he sees Steve coming in the front door. Carrying his overnight bag. He comes into the living room and he drops it on the floor.

 “It’s about time you showed up.” Neal says yawning.

 Steve jumps and he turns around a hand over his heart.

 “What in the hell are you doing here?!” Steve asks not too nicely.

 Neal turns over and he tries to sit up. He grabs his back and he stretches. He rises to his feet. Then he looks at Steve.

 “Jesus Steve! You look like hell! What in the hell have you been doing. ?”

Steve looked tired. Exhaustive. Eyes bloodshot. Hair mussed. Clothes winkled. Neal never saw Steve look this bad even on tour Neal thinks. Steve runs a hand through his hair then he turns and goes into the kitchen.

 “You answer my question first.” Steve says.

 “Nobody’s heard from you or seen you in days. We were worried. And I when I got over here and saw all of this then I was really worried. Where have you been?” Neal says as he gestures at everything. Steve comes out of the kitchen carrying a bottle of beer.

 “Good god Steve don’t you think it’s a little early…” Neal asks.

 “No I don’t. And if I tell you where I have been you’re just lecture me! And I am in no mood for a lecture! “

 Neal goes into the kitchen and makes coffee. Then he sits at the table across from Steve.

“So I take it you haven’t been at church.” Neal asks.

 And Steve laughs. “No not hardly. Neal. When you’re right you’re right.” Steve looks at him.

“Any other time I would be very happy to hear you say that, but, not in this case. “ Neal crosses his arms over his chest.

 “Oh? And what is stopping you now?” Steve asks.

 “You’re doing a good job of beating yourself up all by yourself. You don’t need help from me.”

 Neal gets up and goes into the kitchen. He returns with two cups of coffee. He sits them on the table and he takes Steve’s beer away from him. Steve doesn’t protest. Neal comes back from the kitchen and he sits back down. Steve covers his eyes with his hands. Neal knows that Steve wants to talk but he doesn’t push. He lets Steve take his time. Steve takes a deep breath.

 “She asked me all kinds of questions. Did I do drugs? Have I ever been arrested and she asked me about the Infinity tour.”

 Steve separate his fingers and he looks at Neal. Neal takes a sip of coffee.

 “You didn’t give her any round figures did you?” Neal asks.

 “She had me between a rock and a extremely hard place. I caved. I told her about the groupies. “ Steve says.

 “You didn’t mention Europe did you?” Neal asks.

 “Oh no. Oh no. I would like to forget Europe ever happened. I look back on that now and I wonder how in the hell I could have done that.” Steve shakes his head.

 Neal thinks that he saw more of Steve that he cared to while in Europe and Neal laughs. Steve looks at him.

 “What is so funny?” Steve asks.

 “Nothing. Nothing.”

 At this moment the paper lands on the porch and Neal gets up and goes to the door. Neal opens the door and then he looks around outside. He shuts the door and he throws the paper on the coffee table then he asks Steve.

 “Steve where’s the rental car?”

 Steve doesn’t answer he just takes a sip of coffee and then he looks at the table.

 “Steve where’s the rental car?!” Neal asks again.

 “I heard you the first time! I…..”

 Steve mumbles something that Neal doesn’t quite catch the first time.

 “What did you say?” Neal sits back down at the table.

 “I said that I wrecked it. Okay!” Steve says.

 “Steve! What in the hell! You wrecked a car! Are you alright! Was there anybody else…”

 Neal can’t believe this. Neal had no idea that Steve was capable of this much damage.

“No. There was just me and no I’m not hurt.”

 Neal just stares at him and Steve fidgets under his gaze.

 “What? Why are you looking at me like that?” Steve asks.

 Neal gets up and gets more coffee for the both of them.

 “I don’t know Steve you just don’t seem the type. Wanton destruction of property. “ Neal shrugs.

 Steve takes a sip of coffee. Neal goes back into the kitchen.

“She loves me Neal.”

Neal goes back and sits at the table. Steve is turning the coffee cup around and around in his hands. Neal doesn’t know what to say to this.

 “Is she gone for good Steve?” Neal asks.

 “She’s suppose to call me tonight.”

 Steve leans back in his chair. Neal gestures around the living room then he asks Steve.

“Who did all of this?”

 “Yours truly.” Steve says.

 “Jeez Steve I didn’t know that you had such a temper.”

 “I’m not proud of it Neal.”

 Steve lays his head on the table then he points to a cabinet in the kitchen and he asks Neal.

 “Could you get me some aspirin please.”

Neal gets up and gets Steve a couple of aspirin. He hands them to him and Steve takes them down with a sip of coffee. Then he lays his head back down on the table.

 “It’s catching up to you now isn’t it old boy.” Neal asks.

 Steve nods his head. Neal takes him by the arm and he pulls him up gently from his chair. He leads Steve into his bedroom. He leans Steve up against the wall as he turns down the bed. He guides Steve to the bed. Before Steve lays down Neal takes his shoes off. Steve lies down and Neal covers him up. Before Neal leaves the room he closes the mini-blinds and he puts a trash can by the bed. Just in case. Then Neal closes the door. Neal calls Ross.

 “Yeah Ross he finally showed. Oh man he looked terrible. He was way beyond polluted my friend. No he didn’t tell me where he was. But I get the feeling that it was a place Herbie would not approve of. Well all he said was if I found out where he had been I would have lectured him. Yeah that is what I thought. You know the kind of places that Herbie lectures us about. Exactly. I think our Steve has been a bad boy Ross. Yeah. Right now he puts me to shame. He wrecked the rental car. No. It was a one car accident. No he’s fine. He’s sleeping it off. I think I am going to stay here awhile. Yeah. Okay. Bye.”

 Neal picks up the living room. In gathering up all the magazines and shreds of magazines he finds part of the source that begin the rampage. He sorta pieces the picture together. Ah. He remembers this picture. Taken a couple of weeks back during those crazy photo shoots. Neal looks at it another half of minute then he shoves everything into the trashcan in the kitchen.

 About three in the afternoon Neal heard the shower come on in the bathroom that adjoins Steve’s room. Then soon after he hears a loud crash. Neal puts down the guitar and he goes into Steve’s room. The bathroom door is closed and he knocks on the door.

 “Steve. Are you alright? Do you need some help?” Neal asks.

 “No. I..don’t..yeah..alright..fine..okay..yes..help..me.i guess..Neal.”

 Neal tries not to laugh. He knows that Steve has to be suffering. Neal goes into the bathroom. Steve is sitting on the edge of the tub holding his head. Moaning and groaning. Neal helps Steve to his feet.

 “Do you want me to help you get undressed?” Neal asks.

 “Yes…please.” Steve pushes the words out.

 “Steve you have to swear not to mention this to anyone. Especially to any females. Got it!?” Neal asks.

 And Steve just nods his head with his eyes closed. Neal helps Steve get undressed and he helps him into the shower. Neal closes the shower curtain.

 “Can you handle it now?” Neal asks.

 “Yes I think so.” Steve says over the roar of the water.

 “If you need anything yell.”

 Neal says as he leaves the bathroom. Neal goes back into the living room and picks up the guitar. An hour later Steve wanders out of the bedroom. Wearing a pair of cut off shorts and a towel draped around his neck. He wanders into the kitchen. Neal watches him.

 “Are you going to live?” Neal asks.

 Steve comes out of the kitchen carrying a cup of coffee and he sits at the dining room table.

 “Neal. Now I know why I don’t drink.” Steve says.

 Neal just looks at him and laughs.

 “If you ain’t used to it then you shouldn’t to it.”

 Neal sits down the guitar and he stands up.

 “Thanks for helping but I think I am going to be okay now. I am going to go back to bed.” Steve says.

 “Are you sure? I could always stay.” Neal says.

“No I’ll be alright.” Steve says.

 “I’ll call you tomorrow and see how you’re doing.” Neal says and Steve nods his head.

 Neal leaves and Steve locks the door behind him. Steve turns all the lights out and he goes back to bed. Steve has been back in bed for about five minutes when the phone rings. He leans over and grabs the receiver.

 “Hello.”

 “Steve it’s Melody.”

 Steve lays his head back on the pillow. Steve wills his heart to stop beating so fast.

“Mel. I didn’t think that you would call.” Steve says.

 “Well why wouldn’t I call you. That’s why you gave me your phone number isn’t it?” Melody says.

 Despite his pain Steve smiles and laughs to hear his own words used on him. He covers his eyes with his hand.

 “Well yes. But I have given my phone number to girls before and I never hear from them again.” Steve says.

 “Then those girls were stupid! I’m not stupid!” Melody says.

 Steve laughs and says, “You’re also not modest.”

 “Oh I don’t know about that. “ Melody laughs. They both laugh. Then silence. Then quietly Melody says,

 “I’m sorry about Friday.”

 Steve closes his eyes. As he tries to stop those images from coming back into his head.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. You had every right. It was all my fault Mel. “ Steve says.

 “I was wondering if I could come over tomorrow night. Just to talk.” Melody asks.

Steve sits slightly up in bed.

 “Yeah sure. I would like that. I think we need to talk.” Steve says.

 “Okay I’ll be there at 7. “ Melody says.

 “I can’t wait. I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye Mel.”

“Until tomorrow. Bye Steve.”

 Steve leans back over and drops the receiver back into the cradle. Steve rolls onto his back. He lies there in the dark his arms over his eyes. Second chance. This might be a second chance Perry. So don’t screw it up. And for god sakes don’t mention Europe. He thinks as he drifts off to sleep.

 Steve was flat on his stomach. Pillow over his head. One arm and leg flung over the side of the bed fast asleep when at ten the ringing of the phone began to intrude. He slowly moves. First he reaches for the alarm clock then he realizes what it is. He reaches for the phone. He gets one finger on it when it stops. He turns his head and looks at it. A second later it begins to ring and this time Steve answers it.

 “Perry’s chicken ranch. You pick em we pluck em.” Steve says very sleepily.

 “Well I must say that is original. Making plans for your old age I see. How are we feeling this morning?” Neal laughs into the phone.

 Steve rolls over onto his back as he tosses the pillow to the other side of the bed.

 “What’s this ‘we’ shit? Do you have a mouse in your pocket or something?” Steve asks.

 Neal laughs hysterically as he says, “I’m afraid there wouldn’t be enough room. Ha-ha!!!!”

 Steve covers his eyes with his hand as he put the receiver down on his chest and he shakes his head back and forth. Then he puts the receiver back up to his ear and he says,

“What do you want?” Steve asks.

 “When was the last time you had anything to eat?” Neal asks.

 “I don’t remember.” Steve says.

“I’ll take you to breakfast and then we’ll see about getting you another car.” Neal says. Steve agrees.

 They say their goodbyes before Neal rattles off another smart aleck remark. An hour or so later Steve is sitting on his front porch watching the construction crew work on the garage as he waits on Neal. After breakfast Neal takes Steve to the rent-a-car place. Neal feels that he better wait. Just in case. Steve is in there for an hour. Trying to explain the damage to the other car. In the end they throw his credit card back at him. Steve gets back in Neal’s car and he says.

 “They won’t rent me another car. They say that I am a bad risk. Can you imagine Neal, me, a bad risk?”

 Steve tries to do his best shock and dismayed look. Steve laughs and then Neal says.

“Yeah Perry go figure. There are other rent-a-car places.”

They do find another place and this time Steve was able to rent a car. Instead he rented a truck. They gave him a good deal. Besides if he likes it he may buy a truck. Steve gets home and he putters around the house. He actually doesn’t feel like doing too much of anything. So he lounges on the sofa reading the paper waiting for 7 to get here. Right at 7 Melody arrives.

 Steve opens the door for her. Over the weekend Melody went out and bought the Infinity album. She wanted to hear it all for herself. Steve puts it on the stereo and they sit on the sofa. And Steve tells her his life story. How all of this craziness got started. How he got started on this road. From his earliest beginnings to present day. The jobs he had before Journey. The turkey ranch. That, by the way, is why he does not like turkey. At 8:30 they have some dinner and by 9:30 Melody is yawning and ready for bed. Steve offers his guest room. This time she accepts. As for Steve he was still feeling the after affects of his lost weekend so he went to bed early as well.

 Sometime during the night Steve hears his bedroom door open and feels Melody slip into bed beside him. He puts his arms around her and pulls her closer to him. Her back warm against his bare chest.

 “Last weekend was the worst weekend of my life.” Melody says from the dark.

 Steve kisses her head and he says, “For me too. I thought that you were gone. And I didn’t want it to end that way. Could we start over Mel or is it too..late?”

 “If it was too late I wouldn’t be here.”

She turns over and she faces Steve in the dark. Her leg thrown over his leg. As Steve’s hands move to the small of her back to draw her closer for a kiss he thinks that he is grateful for second chances. Yes most grateful.

The next morning Steve wakes up alone. He knows that she has to go to work. But. Still. It is still difficult. Well at least today he will be busy and he hopefully won’t have time to think on it. Today and rest of the week are taken up with meetings. Then back in the recording studio for three months. Steve gets up and starts his day. In the kitchen drinking coffee he finds a note that Melody left.

 ‘Good morning Steve. You’re out of cereal. Have a good day. I love you. Mel.’

 Steve laughs as he reads it. And there it is in writing ‘I love you’ on boy. Steve folds the note up and puts it in his pocket. Then he leaves to go the meeting. The meeting was an all day affair and Steve didn’t get home until late. Checking his messages he hears the message that Melody left but it is too late to call her back now. He calls her tomorrow. The rest of the week progresses on as such. Meetings and coming home late. Talking to Melody and making plans for the weekend. Maybe going out of town somewhere. Soon the days turn to weeks and the weeks into months. Summer is coming to an end. Steve has a new garage. A new truck and a new washer and dryer. And a new porch swing. All the damage from the storm has been repaired. And any damage to Melody’s and Steve’s relationship have been repaired as well.

Melody doesn’t seem to mind Steve’s profession but then again he hasn’t went on tour again. Time will tell. They try to see each other as much as possible but Steve is kept busy but Melody doesn’t seem to mind. Steve has explained all the work that goes into making a record. After a month in the studio they decide to take a break one weekend and have a get together at Ross’s house. A barbecue. It is also to celebrate the fact that Ross’s house has a new roof. Finally completed.

 Everyone is spread out all over the back yard. Melody, Steve, Neal and his latest girlfriend and Ross are all sitting at a picnic table underneath a big tree. Talking, laughing and eating. When Melody suddenly puts a hand up to her forehead. She turns pale then she excuses herself. She leaves the table and runs into the house. Everyone watches her then they turn and look at Steve. Steve gets up and follows her into the house. Steve knocks on the bathroom door. He hears water running in the sink.

 “Mel. Are you alright?”

 Melody comes out of the bathroom and she puts her arms around Steve and she says, “I don’t feel good.”

 Melody says with the voice of a little girl. Steve touches her forehead.

“You are warm. Time to take you home.”

 Steve said their goodbyes and he tells Ross that Melody is not feeling well and that he is going to take her home. Melody gets to Steve’s house and calls her family doctor and Steve takes her in. They find out that Melody has a stomach virus. Bad news. Melody said something was going around at work and she guesses it’s her turn. Melody makes Steve take her to her fathers house. She doesn’t want Steve to catch it. He has too much to do. He agrees wholeheartedly. Melody recovers at her father’s house.  Sunday Ross calls Steve.

 “Hey Steve. How’s Melody? It wasn’t my cooking was it?”

 “Yeah Ross actually it was. When was the last time you cleaned that grill!” Steve laughs.

 “Darn Steve! You were suppose to get that piece of bad meat not Melody!” Ross laughs and Steve says.

 “No. She has a stomach virus. She’ll be alright.”

 Silence on the other end for just a minute but it was long enough for Steve to say,

 “Ross? What is it? Come on speak to me.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t say this but….” Ross says.

 “Say what? What are you talking about?’ Steve asks.

 “Well we..Neal’s girlfriend made reference..because she got sick..that she might be..” Ross stammers and stumbles his way through.

 “Yeah?” Steve asks.

 “That she might be pregnant! “

 Steve closes his eyes. This is how rumors get started Steve thinks.

 “No Ross she has a stomach virus I swear. Neal’s girlfriend better watch it because if she says that to the wrong person it will be out all over the place. Ross you should know better. I know what’s what you know! “ Steve says.

“I know that you’re old enough to take care of yourself but you know sometimes things break….” Ross says with a touch of laughter.

 Steve covers his eyes with his hands and he laughs. Steve feels like that he is talking to Neal.

 “Ross you have been hanging Neal too long! I’ll tell her you asked about her. Okay bye.”

 Steve hangs up. Now that Ross mentioned it that thought had crossed his mind as well. Why? He had no idea. Steve calls Melody. Her father answers. She’s asleep. But he’ll give her the message. Melody got better and they started to see each other again. That is until things got really crazy. Steve was starting to work weekends now. Long days and even longer nights. They talk on the phone often. One Friday night Steve came home late and her car was at his house. A nice surprise. He crawls into bed next to her. This is the first real contact that they have had in weeks. They get carried away and the next morning Steve is late. More late nights. Days turn into weeks. They still talk on the phone. The next weekend Steve is free he spends it with Melody in the city.

 In the city they go out to lunch and window shop. They try to cram as much quality time into their day as they can. They are standing outside of a shop window. Just looking when Steve is recognized. He signs an autograph and that is where it turns. And it turns badly. The person who first recognized Steve tells the person next to them and so on and so on.

Before Steve knows it a small crowd has formed and he knows they have to leave. Steve takes Melody by the hand tightly and they begin to move. It is like a wave on the ocean. Where Steve goes they follow. They pick up the pace and the crowd does the same. Now it’s time to run. They try to get ahead of the mob. They are fans but they still a mob. They get further enough ahead that they find a hiding place in a parking garage. Steve pulls Melody around the corner and down to the ground between the cars. They sit there together. Steve holding Melody. Trembling with fear. Her eyes wide. Both of them trying to catch their breaths. They sit there 15 minutes and they make their way to the parking garage where Steve’s truck is parked.

Slowly and carefully. Staying to the back streets. They finally get to Steve’s truck. They sit there for a few minutes.

 “Does this sort…of thing..happened…to you…often?”

Melody asks as she turns to look at Steve. Steve looks back. Outside the parking garage darkness looms and the parking garage lights come on causing them both to jump. How does Steve explain this. Steve rubs his eyes. In Europe. The venue they were to play that night. The crowd had grown bigger than the police and the bodyguards could handle. The crowds rushed forward. Steve lost the shirt right off of his back and some of his hair. They thought that Gregg was a goner. That was the most scared Steve had ever been. No one told him about the hazards when he signed up for this job. He was just ordinary Steve who could sing but after that. Being chased through the streets was a new one. That was just another reason why he wanted to forget about Europe.

“Well…” Steve says.

 “Well? Is that all you can say?” Melody asks.

 Steve shrugs and then he says. “No. It doesn’t happen often.”

Steve starts the truck and they go back to Melody’s apartment. Sunday they went out early but Melody felt the need to look over her shoulder. Steve spent the night and Monday he went back into the studio. They talk on the phone and still see each other but something has changed. Steve feels it. Melody is having second thoughts. That incident with the mob spooked her. Soon she drifts away. Steve talks to her on the phone. But then nothing.

 A few weeks later Steve is sitting on his back patio. In the porch swing strumming the guitar when Neal comes around the corner of the house. Neal stands on the steps. Arms crossed over his chest.

 “Hey Steve.” Steve looks up.

 “Neal.”

 Neal goes up on the porch and he sits next to Steve on the swing. And he says,

 “I’m sorry about Melody.”

 “That mob thing really scared her.” Steve says as he turns and looks at Neal.

 “Well that is understandable. Just wait. Something good will come out of this.” Neal says as he puts his hand on Steve’s shoulder.

 Steve shakes his head. “I would like to know what that could possibly be! “ Steve looks at the ground and he says, “I am nothing but pathetically stupid.”

Neal puts his hand on Steve’s head and he pushes him. “Steve you’re not pathetically stupid. You suffer from the same disease as the rest of us.”

Steve looks at him with a question on his face. And Neal continues, “You’re human.”

Neal sees recognition in Steve’s eyes. Neal stands up and stretches and Steve looks up at him and Neal says, “Come on go with me I have to see a man about a dog!”

Steve stands up and he laughs. That’s the first laugh that he has had in a long time and it felt good Steve thinks. Neal puts his hand on Steve’s arm and he points and he says,

 “Ha! Made you laugh!” Neal puts his arm around Steve’s shoulders and they go into the house.

              

                         

############################################################

Years later up a different road. Steve sold that house two years later. Steve and Journey parted company. A lot of water has gone under that old bridge. A lot of that water has tore away some of the underpinnings. Never to be rebuilt. 1997. Steve is in the recording studio. Putting the finishing touches on a song that he has been working on. It seems forever. But today it’s finished.

“Alright Steve that was great. I am going to replay it. This is “Melody.”

 The engineer hits the button and Steve hears it through the speakers. When it finishes everyone celebrates. The engineer comes back on and says,

 “Steve that is great! Where did you get the idea?”

 Steve looks at the floor and he smiles as he says into the microphone,

 “That is a long story.”

 That evening Steve goes back to his house. He goes out to the back patio and sits on the porch swing. Yep. The same porch swing. The lucky porch swing. Where he wrote ‘Melody.’ He thought that he might need some luck someday. Just in case.

                                                                      

The End

Copyright 2001, 2002 and 2003, 2009 by Perrytales and Lisa Brockman. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this fictionalized story without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.