Based loosely on my own Cobra-Starship-concert experience. Yes, I am Armpit Girl. Cringe.
‘What the hell is up, Indianapolis?!’ he shouted into the microphone. Everyone screamed. Not really a proper answer, but it was pretty normal for them. Soon they kicked into Send My Love To The Dancefloor, ‘Ryland’ twanging out the starting chords. He glanced over at Victoria when Gabe started singing and gave her a huge wink. She just laughed at him and winked back as Gabe came dancing over.
Things went well, very well. The crowd jumped together to the booming beats and started to crowdsurf halfway through. At one point Gabe leaned into the first few rows, grabbing some fans’ hands, used to everyone squealing and grabbing at his T-shirt. But he felt someone’s hand, someone in the second row, shoot right up his armpit. Ouch… probably worse for them, though, covered in my armpit sweat, he thought fleetingly.
Eventually there was a pause in the middle, and Gabe put the microphone in its holder.
‘So, you guys are having some fun, right?’ More cheers.
‘What about the rest of you? Suarez, what’s goin’ on over this side?’
Oh no. Gabe was talking to the band members. Pretty soon he’d be getting to…
‘So this next song, this next song is inspired by our very own guitarist. The one and only, Ryland Blackinton!’ Applause and screams.
‘Ryland, would you care to explain to us what Pleasure Ryland is all about?’
He thought fast. His Wikipedia research came to mind. He gulped, took a breath… and an astonishing American accent came out.
"It’s an imaginary place in your mind… that pretty much anybody can go to… where the drinks are free, and you can always dance…' he gulped, 'with most of your clothes off."
The crowd cheered again, and Guy smiled cheekily as Gabe laughed and introduced the song. He glanced over at Victoria again, but this time got no response. She was bent over the keytar, hair in her face… but he was sure she was laughing her head off.
All too soon the show came to an end, and everyone burst into cheers as their final song ended. The band hurried backstage, only having time for a quick drink before the crowd called for an encore.
‘We want more! We want more! We want more!’
They all laughed at each other, then headed back out to the stage again to more screams.
‘Wow, I liked that! Never heard that before. It’s forceful. You guys know what you want.’ Everyone laughed at this and screamed excitedly as Victoria played the opening chords for Guilty Pleasure. Four minutes and a lot of Guilty Pleasure dances later, Gabe wrapped things up and announced The Academy Is… before heading off stage, the rest of the band following, Guy practically running.
The minute they were alone Victoria threw her arms around him.
‘Guy, that was amazing!’ she laughed into his neck. ‘You even sounded like him! How did you do it?!’
‘I… I’m not even sure myself… I’m glad to be off that stage though. I thought the rock star lifestyle would be for me… but it really isn’t, that’s for sure.’
‘Ah, nonsense. You did brilliantly. No one could even tell… apart from me, but…’
They both caught each others’ eyes and laughed again. Guy started to head off for the showers, but Victoria pulled him back.
‘One more thing. We’re not quite done yet.’ Guy groaned, exasperated. ‘After the show’s all over, we’ve gotta go out and meet the fans. Sign stuff, take pictures with them, that sort of thing.’
‘What? But I can’t do that!’
‘Yes, you can. You’ve just passed off a whole show as being our guitarist Ryland Blackinton.’
‘But it’ll be a lot harder in person. I’ll have to know all his traits, his body language… and I don’t know how long I can keep that accent up for.’
‘Guy, don’t worry. Judging by how similar you were earlier, I think you’ll have pretty much the same traits and body language. As for the accent, well… Just don’t say much, OK?’
She kissed him and ran off to the showers herself, leaving Guy perplexed. Don’t say much? Don’t say much?! How was that going to help? He headed to the showers slowly, undressing and stepping in. The warm water calmed him down significantly, and he began to make plans. Plans to cope with the next half an hour.
When he turned the shower off he found some more of Ryland’s clothes waiting outside for him. Climbing into them slowly (they were a perfect fit), he sorted his hair in the mirror, before realising it looked far too neat and… Guy-ish. He stood for a moment and tried to think of what to do to it, but to no avail. Eventually he stuck his hands in and ruffled it, bringing a messy effect. Not quite what he was after, but it was good enough.
On leaving the bathroom he went to find Victoria, thankfully not being stopped by anyone (that accent was hard work), and they waited for the show to end. She whispered to him frantically, but Guy was miles away. He’d been thinking about his past few days in America, amazed at all the revelations that had come out, all the adventures that had happened in such a short space of time. What would happen to him after tonight? What about when Ryland woke up? Would he ever get back home to England? His Cobra Starship interview for the BBC was probably days late by now. Maybe he’d be out of a job…
Soon enough the show was over and the bands drifted into the main room, immediately swamped with fans clutching cameras and things to be signed. Although he’d tried to act cool, Guy hung around by the back door, watching the others and nodding and smiling at people leaving the venue. He wasn’t cut out for stardom. Not if he acted like this whenever fans were around. Not if it involved pretending to be some cool, flashy guitarist in a famous band… which he wasn’t. No, in reality he was a nerdy news reporter from stuffy England.
Eventually the inevitable happened: three fans came up to him.
‘Hi. Can you sign this for me?’
‘Sure.’ Guy slipped into the accent easily, and attempted a signature. He had no idea what it was meant to look like, but it would do.
‘You guys were so awesome tonight! Can I have a picture?’
‘Yeah, of course.’ Guy leaned into the girl (she was about a foot and a half shorter than him, which complicated things), and bravely put an arm round her as the camera flashed. This isn’t so bad, he thought to himself as the fans thanked him and moved off.
But then he saw something which made him want to run all the way back to England himself. Ryland had woken up and was now staggering into the venue, clutching his head.
Instinctively Guy ran towards him, making sure not to be seen by the fans, and pushed him backstage again.
‘Dude, who are you? What are you doing in my place?!’ Ryland shouted.
‘I’m sorry, I – I really am, it’s just, they – they needed a guitarist, after I… in your place, and I can play a little, so…’
‘So you played my show, huh?’ But Ryland was no longer angry. In fact, he looked interested.
‘So that would explain you wearing my clothes?’
Guy could only nod at this point.
‘So how did it go?’
‘Well. Very well, in fact. No one even noticed.’
‘Wow. We really are that similar, then.’
There was an awkward silence. Both were thinking the same thing.
‘So… what do we do now?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘I… I think…’ Ryland fidgeted with his fingers before carrying on. ‘Maybe we should do a test? See if we’re related and all that?’
Guy considered. It really was time to go home now. But he was enjoying the new sense of adventure far too much. And what if Ryland really was his brother? He had no family in the world, none but his parents, whom he hated. It would be nice to have someone to go to in times of need.
And, before he could think on it any longer, Guy found himself nodding.