The Next Best Thing - 19 - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-04-2010, 02:01 AM   #1
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The Next Best Thing - 19

FAN FICTION - just like the forum says.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Raye exited the house, slowing at the bottom of the deck’s stairs to inhale the cool air she’d been craving for what felt like hours. As she passed through the garden, she saw that everyone was waiting for her at the gate with her equipment, just as they’d been told to do. If she’d not been so drained at the moment, the sight would have made her smile. Things being what they were, Raye’s lips didn’t even twitch. She simply reminded herself again to focus on the job at hand and nothing else. I have to get through today’s shoot and then I can worry about how I’ll get through the rest of this week without losing my mind, she told herself. For now, she ordered, you better put on a happy face and not give Leo any indication that you’re not thrilled to be here.

Raye’s acting continued to convince her host and his guests that she was fine. Raye was glad for once that men seemed to be less observant than women were or, at least, not as likely to pry. She knew neither Sandra, nor her neighbor and good friend Nicole, or even her work buddy Jessica would have let her get by with “I’m OK” and that they’d have seen right through her bullshit claims of feeling better. But these weren’t her girlfriends and when Raye stepped through the gates of Leo’s back yard, she was leading a group of blissfully uninformed men.

They all walked north for a 100 yards or so, looking for the private spot in the dunes that Raye had scouted the previous day. She still wasn’t fully recovered from her near breakdown and she almost couldn’t locate the area, bringing her to the verge of another self-directed rage. Fortune smiled on her, though, and soon enough all the emotional drama of the morning had evaporated. Raye was almost instantly content, occupying herself with getting Paul and Leo seated, prepping her tripod and camera, and briefing her ‘crew’ with their individual duties - which, to be honest, were nearly nonexistent.

Bono and Edge both felt the sandy cove was a bit crowded with all seven of them traipsing through it, so they opted to observe from the little pathway between the cove and the beachfront, giving them a vantage point for both Raye and the gently rolling Atlantic. Larry and Adam had both agreed to help Raye with this portion of her shooting and were eagerly standing nearby, waiting their cue for action.

Raye went to work lining up shots and making small talk with Lionel and Paul. The conversation gave her a way to avoid any upsetting internal dialogue, as well as provided a distraction for her models. Raye knew the most unnatural portraits came from having your subjects simply look at the camera and smile. No matter how relaxed someone may be, Raye had seen time and again during her days in the portrait studio that photographs of a subject simply looking at the camera always seemed staged. Which technically they were – you just didn’t want them to look that way. A much more effective way to take great photos was to engage your subject. Tell them simple jokes, compliment an article of their clothing and ask where they’d found it or how long they’d had it, and so forth and so on. It helped them truly relax and forget about the camera.

“You know”, she was saying to father and son as she steadied the tripod and check its bubble level, “it’s funny. Even now that I’ve had a day or so to watch you both, I still don’t see much of a resemblance between you but I’ve certainly noticed a similarity in your mannerisms. Paul, you must take after your mother’s side of the family.”

He and Leo laughed softly before Paul answered.

Click.

“Actually, I take after Dad’s side, but I look more like his brother and father. Dad got his mother’s looks.”

Click. Click.

“That’s true”, Leo confirmed. “An older brother, myself, plus two younger sisters and only Robert favored my father. I think for years he secretly harbored suspicions that I, Margaret and Alice weren’t of the same parentage.”

“Your father thought you and your sisters weren’t his children”, Raye asked, looking up from her camera lens, slightly shocked. Leo and Paul laughed deeply this time, before Paul answered.

Click.

“No, no, no”, he shook his head. “Uncle Robert thought Dad and my aunts had a different father. It took them forever to convince him that he hadn’t come from an orphanage.”

They all had a chuckle over Raye’s (and Uncle Robert’s) misunderstanding and the photo session resumed. It was undeniable that Raye was in her element. She had already taken 48 color exposures and was asking Larry for a roll of twelve black and white exposures when she looked over to give Bono and Edge a quick wave. Raye gasped slightly when she saw nothing but a few sets of tracks in the sand.

“Hang on a second, guys”, she told the four still in the cove and stepped away from the tripod to walk a few feet down the path toward the beach. Larry looked expectantly from Adam to Lionel and Paul as Raye wandered away from them, but they were just as clueless as he was over what was happening. Larry started after Raye and had only taken two or three steps in her direction when she suddenly reappeared, trudging through the sand toward him as best she could before brushing past him with a look of mild irritation. Before any of them could ask her what was wrong, she was already demanding to know who among them had brought their cell phone.

“I have mine”, Leo told her, obviously concerned with the turn of events. “Is something wrong?” He stood up to retrieve his phone from his pocket and handed it to Raye.

“I hope not. Thanks”, Raye took Lionel’s phone and began dialing a number. Suddenly, the sounds of a piano and guitar were heard, followed by the refrain of, “I will be with you again…” Raye smiled bashfully as she reached for her back pocket, extracting her own cell phone.

“My ringer”, she explained.

“Of course”, Paul and Leo replied in unison. Adam just smiled and softly chuckled.

Larry rejoined the group just then, to find them circled around Raye, who held a cell phone in each of her hands.

“What in the Hell is going on?” he demanded.

“Not a lot of time to explain”, Raye quickly looked past Larry before handing Leo’s phone back to him and doing her best to make her actions understood. “Bono and Edge have walked out to the beach and I’m afraid they’ll be recognized. Larry, I need you to follow me as far as the end of this dune and then stay back. When you see me reach Bono and Edge, let Leo know immediately. Leo, the second Larry signals, redial my cell number. You won’t have to say anything once I answer, just keep the line open, okay? Paul, you and Adam just stay put. Got it?”

They all looked to Raye with unabashed confusion but agreed to follow her directions, anyway. Without a second thought, Raye grabbed Larry by the arm and nearly drug him back down the pathway as the remaining three looked after them, trying to determine what was happening. When she reached Larry’s intended position, she slowed down long enough to let him out of her grip and reiterate his directions.

“Sorry ‘bout that”, she told him quickly. “Remember, stay here, out of sight and signal Leo the second I reach Bono and Edge.” Without giving him a chance to reply, she turned and ran as fast as the loose sand would allow towards the water.

Confirming Raye’s fears, approaching Bono and Edge from the south was a group of six beachcombers, one of whom she recognized as Amber – Leo’s 20-something neighbor. She guessed the other five must be some of Amber’s weekend guests. Raye didn’t know whether Amber could be counted on for discretion once she found out who it was that Leo was hosting, but now wasn’t the time to find out. Whether Amber could remain quiet or not, it was certain that at least one of her friends would be at the local watering hole later that night, blabbing about who they’d met on the beach earlier in the day. Raye was certain if that happened, then it wouldn’t be long before Leo’s front and back lawns would be staked out by gawkers, photo seekers and autograph hounds.

Hoping her gamble would pay off, she pushed her legs a little harder through the sand and managed to reach the two AWOL band mates about 50 feet ahead of the neighboring group. Grabbing them both by an elbow and spinning them to face her, she took advantage of the silence that catching them off guard had provided.

“Listen to me”, she panted, leaning forward to catch her breath, “don’t ask me any questions, just follow my lead. Matter of fact, don’t answer anybody’s questions, just stand here!”

“What are you – “ Edge tried to question her.

“Excuse m–“ was all Bono managed to utter.

“Just be quiet!” she hissed as them at she straightened up and stepped to her right, in front of Bono. As she looked at Amber’s approaching group, Edge and Bono followed Raye’s eyes and immediately understood - the nearest of the group were now within 30 feet of where Raye was standing. And judging from the break in their conversation and the looks of recognition that were just appearing on their faces, it would seem that without the prior evening’s distractions of beer and music, there was most definitely at least one U2 fan among Amber’s contemporaries. Saying a quick prayer that her idea would work and wondering just how long Larry was going to wait before he signaled Leo to call, she gave one more warning to Bono and Edge.

“Don’t speak, don’t wave - Bono, for God’s sake, don’t flirt. Just stand here & follow along with me. I think I can avoid a scene, okay?”

Like obedient children, they both nodded their heads silently and stood watching as Raye turned to face Amber’s group. The two who were closest now were a young, bearded man holding hands with a fresh-faced woman, who appeared to be pulling her boyfriend slightly faster than he wanted to walk. They were both dressed in jeans with hooded sweatshirts that announced their support of “UNC-Wilmington”.

“Oh my God, Greg”, started the girl, looking from Bono to her boyfriend, “is that who it looks like?” Girlfriend had broken free from Greg’s grip and was covering the last few feet between herself and Raye in a speed walk. Raye stepped forward to allow as much distance as she could between the guys and their approaching fan as she steeled herself for her next performance.

“Hi, there”, she greeted the young woman warmly and extended her right arm, beginning to curse Larry silently. Signal Leo now, she thought with teeth grinding.

Raye’s greeting had caused the distraction she was hoping for and Amber’s guest was now feebly reaching out to accept Raye’s handshake. Raye pumped the girl’s limp wrist once or twice and plunged headfirst into her plan of action: distract and redirect.

“Nice to meet you,” Raye was saying to the young woman. “I’m Reggie; Reggie Gregory - manager of the band here. You look like a fan. Where did you last see them?” She plastered her best car salesman’s smile on her face and glanced from Edge and Bono back to the woman, who was looking very confused at this point. Amber had caught up to her friends and was stepping forward now, having placed where she’d seen Raye before.

“Hey - didn’t I see you last night at Mr. Arrington’s?” she questioned Raye.

“That’s right”, Raye answered, continuing her charade. “Nice to see you again, Amber. I was just introducing myself to your friend here – “

“Brooke”, the befuddled girl offered.

“Thank you, Brooke. Anyway, Amber, I was just introducing myself – Reggie Gregory, by the way – and explaining that I manage my band here. Brooke recognized them straight away; we love it when that happens. I was just asking her where she’d last seen them perform.” Raye had offered her hand to Amber and was just finishing a quick handshake as her phone finally came to life in her back pocket.

Reaching into her front jeans pocket with her left hand, Raye fished out the card she’d printed before dinner last night, and thrust it at Amber as she grabbed her cell phone out of her back pocket with her right hand.

“’Scuse me, would you, please?” she asked Brooke and Amber, without giving them a chance to reply. “Gotta’ take this call.” She watched the two young women looked utterly bewildered as they glanced back and forth from the business card Raye had just handed them and the two apparent deaf-mute men standing behind her. Raye grinned largely again as she began her fake phone conversation and gave the ladies a thumb’s up.

“Reggie here”, she spoke into the cell phone, pausing for effect. “Yep, got to Wrightsville Beach yesterday afternoon. No, no problems at all. What’s that? Can’t hear you too well – guess the waves are drowning you out some. Ha, ha – get that? Waves – drowning? Anyway, yeah, the locations perfect. We’re getting some pictures right now. Or at least we will be, as soon as I get Donny and Pete back over to the photographer. You know how those two like to wander off. Yeah, I had to track ‘em down. Found ‘em with a bunch of fans. Imagine that. What? Oh, I know – these things aren’t cheap at all. No way – wouldn’t want to waste a dime of your money. Soon as we’re done, I’m dragging them back to the camera. Ok, sounds good. I’ll call you later and we’ll discuss our next meeting. Ciao!”

Raye had made sure to talk a bit louder than was necessary and to not turn away from Brooke and Amber. It was all part of the plan that they and their friends hear every word she said, so they’d hopefully buy the rest of her story. Which she immediately dived back into before they’d had much time to process what was happening.

“Sorry ‘bout that”, she told the 20-somethings. “Financial backers – they wanna’ know their money’s being put to good use at all times. Wish we could stay and chat, you look like a great group of folks, but we’ve got a photo shoot to finish.”

Brooke continued to look as if someone were speaking gibberish to her, but Amber was suspiciously eyeing Bono and Edge as she handed the business card absent-mindedly back to Raye, who returned it to her jeans pocket.

“Isn’t that Bono and Edge from U2?” Amber pointed accusingly at the guys.

Raye threw her head back and laughed. “Don’t I wish! They’re almost dead wringers for the real thing, aren’t they? Little taller than the real thing, though. That’s what makes us the best U2 tribute band on the East Coast. ‘Bono and Edge’ – oh, that’s rich, ladies. No, this is Donny Edwards and Pete Hudson – lead singer and guitarist for U2 Pride, out of Charlotte, NC. Didn’t you read the card? Anyway, it’s been great meeting you kids, but we’ve got a photographer doing some promotional band pictures over by those dunes and if I don’t get these two back there pronto, we’re gonna’ have a really irritated photographer and an even angrier financier. Listen, next time we play Wilmington, come on down to the show & look me up – there’ll be some free passes for you all. C’mon, guys – time to say ‘cheese’!”

Not waiting for any more questions, Raye grabbed Bono and Edge each by an upper arm and forcefully marched them back in the direction of the dunes. They seemed to be as dumbfounded as the young group they had left staring after them and offered no resistance to Raye at all. Reaching the pathway into the cove where she’d left Leo, Paul Larry and Adam, Raye physically shoved them a few steps ahead of her.

“Go!” she ordered them, pointing the direction. Still in shock, they once again complied and shuffled on ahead of her. Raye quickly jumped to her right where the dune began to climb from the beach and scrambled to the top, crouching down to keep her head as low as possible. Straining her neck to see past the sea oats and low lying vegetation, she surveyed the spot where she’d left Amber and her friends to make sure they’d not followed her. Scanning the beach left and right, Raye was ecstatic to see that not only had no one in the group followed them, but all six had turned back up the beach and were returning in the direction of Amber’s home. Satisfied she’d avoided disaster, Raye scurried back down the dune, brushed the sand off the front of her sweater and jeans, and headed back to the guys where she knew she’d have quite a bit of explaining to do.
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:25 PM   #2
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Poor Bono and Edge just wanting to enjoy the water. Raye showed them!
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