Chapter 15: Rikki Rockett
I was out of the hospital the next day with a bald spot on the back of my head and a warning to take it easy. It didn't hurt much, but there it was. Seven stitches and a concussion. My souvenir of the second (and last) annual Battle of the Bands.
By midafternoon, boredom had settled heavily, along with a number of cats. I still couldn't read for long, and daytime soaps and talk shows made even the events at Eagle Hills High seem mundane. Various members of CO-HORT called, ostensibly to wish me well but actually hoping for lurid details. I was dozing under the afghan when the doorbell rang and found myself inordinately pleased to see Rob at my front door. He looked no less out of place than usual.
"Rob! Hello! Come in!"
"Hello, Janet! How's your brain feeling?"
"Ahh, the brain feels no pain. Or so they taught me in neuroanatomy. Mine seems to be feeling something analogous, however. Why don't you have a seat?"
Rob sat down and smiled.
"I really enjoyed Secret Love." I continued. "Was it a toilet seat or a dinosaur?"
Rob's smile grew and he said "Paper cup! Guess what."
"We've changed the name of the band. We've changed our own names, too!"
"Hmmm. I always thought the Gland Puppies was such a - dumb - name."
"We talk about changing our name all the time. But we were just joking. Then last night we all decided that it was inevitable that we be called - ." Rob stopped and looked very embarrassed.
"I don't think I can say it. Do you have a pen and pad? Maybe I could write it out."
I tossed Rob a notebook. He painstakingly printed something. He had to stop twice to giggle. I couldn't recall Rob ever looking so happy. Finally he finished and turned the notebook face down on his lap.
"Well?" I was genuinely curious, even as I played along with Rob's elephantine teasing. Feigning reluctance, Rob held up the notebook. At first I thought it was my headache, or perhaps the concussion, so I spelled it out carefully. Rob meanwhile sneezed three times.
"Bless you, Rob."
"Thank you." Rob sneezed four more times.
"Bless you twice, or four times! My goodness, it sounds like you have allergies."
Rob looked over to Otto and Tabriz sleeping in a heap on my afghan. "Yes, I'm allergic to cats."
"Would you like an antihistamine or some tissues?"
"No, I'm OK. Thank you"
I looked at his sign again. BIG POO GENERATOR.
"Big POO? Generator?"
"Yes, that's the new name of our band. All of us are named Rikki Rockett!"
"You mean you've changed your personal name, too?"
"Not legally. Unless...well."
"Now the band members are all called Rikki Rockett?"
"Yes, and we all play drums. All three of us."
I thought this over. "All three of you? Weren't there about - I don't remember - weren't there alot more people in the band the other night?"
"Oh, that. That wasn't the band. No one is in the band but Rikki Rockett."
"OK. Were the band members... That is... At one time, were the band members named Rob, Ben and John? John played guitar, Rob played bass, and Ben was the musical genius and lead singer?"
"That was then. Now everyone in the band is called Rikki Rockett and he plays drums. Rikki Rockett is also 900 feet long and smells really bad."
"The drums? All right, the drums. Until recently, nobody played the drums."
"OK. How did all this come about?"
Rob leaned back in the chair and drew in a deep breath. I prepared for a story. Rob paused dramatically. "I don't know," he said.
"Whose idea was it?"
"I'm not sure. Probably Ben's. Or was it John's? Maybe it was mine." Rob looked confused again, then brightened. "It must've been Rikki Rockett's idea."
"Of course. Who said, 'Let's call ourselves Big Poo Generator?'"
Rob shrugged his shoulders. He looked genuinely uncertain, but then, he always did. "We were working on the new album. And John and I were working on `Lesbians....They're OK' and Ben had the headphones on, and we were kind of talking about changing our name, or maybe we were talking about names for the tape. And uh... Well, someone said `poo' and uh, I think I said `hamburger' and then Ben took off the headphones and we were laughing and someone said 'Big Poo Generator' and we just kept laughing ...." Rob giggled helplessly and sneezed again. Otto woke up, glared at Rob, stretched, and stalked disdainfully out of the room.
"I see," I said, but I didn't.
Rob was still chuckling. "There we were, ripping up baseball cards, and for some reason we decided to call ourselves Rikki Rockett. I mean, someone said 'I want to be called Rikki Rockett', then someone else said, `No!, I want to be Rikki Rockett' and then I wanted to be called Rikki Rockett, too. I know I said, `I want to be Rikki Rockett, too!'. It was so funny, we couldn't stop laughing!" Rob was overcome again at this recollection.
I remembered how sad and confused Rob had seemed such a short time ago, at our first meeting. It was wonderful to see him so happy, although I admit I didn't exactly get the joke myself. I also found myself wishing wistfully that I too could be Rikki Rockett. Still, it was a pleasure to see Rob so happy. Rob more than most people needed an emotional outlet, and here it was, Rikki Rockett. I marvelled at the reserves of health hidden beneath Rob's Eeyore exterior, and, even though I didn't exactly know why, I couldn't help but laugh along with him. Immediately my headache came roaring back.
"Oh God!" Rob blurted out between peals. "It's so pointless! The following we've created for the Gland Puppies will be totally destroyed. No one's even heard of this new band, and oh god! Help us please!"
"Rob," I gasped, "what do you mean?"
He wiped away a few tears. "It's so stupid. Why bother?"
"What do you mean, `Why bother?'"
"It's so ridiculous. Here we are trying to be famous, and we give ourselves a name that's so stupid - and then we don't even use our real names so nobody knows who we are - and people who like the Gland Puppies won't even know - Oh God! this is so stupid..."
"Wait a minute. What are you saying here?"
"Let's start over. I'm very concrete, I need a nice simple narrative with lots of facts. Now, I hear you saying four things. One, the band has changed it's name to what? Giant Poo?"
"Hey, that'd be pretty funny, but no. It's Big Poo Generator."
"OK, then. Big Poo Generator. Second, You've changed your name."
"No, not in real life."
"But for the purposes of this discussion you've changed your identity and third, you are now Rikki Rockett."
"And finally, Ben and John have become Rikki Rockett also?"
"Yes!" the smile returned to Rob's face. "Isn't that dumb?"
"I don't know. Who's Rikki Rockett?"
"Pleased to meet you," I said holding out my hand as I had when Rob and I first met, "I'm Doctor Dawson, Janet Dawson."
Rob shook my hand damply. "Hi, I'm Rikki Rockett. Wouldn't it be funny if we all changed our names for real, as in legally, and made everyone call us Rikki Rockett?"
"That would be hilarious! Why don't you?"
"Of course, we couldn't really do that but it is fun to imagine."
"Mmmhmm, so now you can be a whole new person."
"Well, not in real life, that would be insane, a bunch of guys sitting around in a basement saying they were someone named Rikki Rockett. If people were to hear about that, they'd think we were really sick. They'd think we were CRAZY."
"Rob... I already think you're crazy."
"What do you mean? Do you really think we're crazy?"
"No, Rob, I don't think you're really crazy. I think this Rikki Rockett is a wonderful idea. It shows how connected you are."
"There you go! Our minds are as one!"
"John would say that your minds don't exist."
"What a dork. Food saved his life."
"He's a fiend."
"I think I'd better be going now. My parents are waiting for me. We're going out to dinner. My dad found this place that has great hamburgers."
"Please refrain from eating my squid."
"Oh, no, not you, too."
"Everybody makes that mistake. It's not `my squid' it's `live squid'. If the tape had better sound quality you could understand that."
"OK, Rob. I'll remember. Live squid." I came quickly back to earth, scolding myself for presuming an intimacy that didn't exist. After all, it wasn't my place to be Rikki Rockett. I was Janet Dawson, Dr. Dawson, wife, mother, nurse researcher and certified grownup. "Have a nice time. I'll be back at school tomorrow. Thank you very much for coming by, Rikki Rockett."
"Yep," Rob bumbled his way out of the house, sneezed again, tripped over the door mat, and left the door slightly ajar.
I got up and shut the door, closed the notebook so the words Big Poo Generator were safely concealed, and lay back down on the couch. Otto, pleased that the sneezing giant had been vanquished, jumped back up and settled on my chest. We spent the rest of the afternoon thinking our thoughts, bemused and peaceful.
I was feeling almost comfortable when the phone rang.
"Hello, Jan. How's the head?"
"Gail, hi, better, thanks. Otto and Tabriz are taking good care of me here."
"What happened, anyway? I saw your name on the log. Concussion?"
"Ah, yes, wounded in the front lines, a soldier of suicide prevention. I was in the riot."
"You??? Janet, if I didn't hear you saying it, I never would have believed it. What were you doing in the riot?"
"I went with the boys to hear the band play. It was just a little riot, really, but I got hit with a rock in the aftermath."
"Oh, I thought it was your head," she joked. I moaned appreciatively. "How are you now?"
"Little headache, little blurred vision. No nausea. Not too confused. A little drowsy, and I still don't remember much about what happened. I know who the president is, and where I am, and what day it is. I'm about a nine on the Glasgow scale, I think."
"Having a nice, quiet day?"
"Mostly. I hope you aren't calling to interrupt that."
"What, me? No, I just got up. Want some company? I'm off tonight."
"Thanks, no, I really just want to lie around. Dirk will be home, he can take care of the kids. Rob was here, and then I got so tired, I needed a nap."
"You remember Rob, his mother brought him in after he took twelve aspirin? The tall boy with the dark hair and the circles under his eyes. The bass player for Big Poo Generator."
"Ah, I mean the Gland Puppies. Except that now they're called Big Poo Generator. That's what Rob came over to tell me, I guess. I've never seen him so happy."
Gail burst into laughter. "Big POO GENERATOR??? Boy, I'll bet the psych nurses would have a field day with that!"
I smiled. Of course she was right. Why hadn't I noticed? "Yes, and I guess his name isn't Rob, either, it's Rikki Rockett."
"Oh, good, something nice and phallic to go with the anal reference. What have they got that's oral?"
"I don't know. There's a song called 'How the Mouth Walks'.... Actually, they're all called Rikki Rockett."
"They're a strange bunch, aren't they?"
"Yes, but basically sound, I think."
"Mmhmm. You think this Rikki Rockett is some sort of idealized male role model for them?"
"I hadn't thought about it. He seems to me more like an idealization of their relational bond. I think they're working on accomplishing intimacy. It's developmentally appropriate behavior, albeit in a rather unconventional form." This burst of jargon brought my headache back for another encore.
"You think this may be a step towards more normal socialization, then?"
"Well, I don't know about that. I'm not sure normal socialization is exactly what these boys are about. But it seems to me that they're working on their own growth and development while still maintaining their identities."
"Maintaining their identities? Three people with the same name?"
"They're three unique individuals. I think it's amazing that despite their differences they're able to bond so closely. Perhaps it's their individuality that holds them together. I just hope this Rikki Rockett stuff will lead them away from the kind of risk-taking behavior that led to that riot. That's just the sort of energy CO-HORT was conceived to redirect."
"You're really caught up with those boys, aren't you?"
"I don't know.... They're so unusual.... They do interest me. Professionally, I mean."
"Yes, I can see that."
There was a silence.
Gail said, "Well, I'll let you get some rest."
"Yes, I've been vertical for ten minutes, which is five minutes more than my head can tolerate. Also Otto is beginning to pace. Thanks for calling. I'm going to try and go in tomorrow, but see if you can keep it quiet for me until I can think a little straighter."
"OK, nothing on my shift, if I can help it. I'll see you at the team meeting. Take it easy."
"Thanks, I will. And thanks again for your concern. Bye."
Ben sat in his basement laughing delightedly. "You fiend! A quarter of a million dollars! For one dead grandmother! All you have to do is live till you're 24. Even you should be able to do that."
Rob giggled. "Let's write a song about a turtle - or a dog - with a quarter of a million dollars!"
"Only leave out the part about the money."
John came down the stairs with Kim behind him. Ben looked up and his face brightened. "Hi, Kim! How would you like to be a rock & roll star?"
Kim smiled shyly. "Why, Ben, I'd love that!"
"Stick with me, babe, and you'll go far!"
Kim sidled over to Ben and stood beside him, playing with his hair. Ben blushed and put his arm diffidently around her waist.
Welcome to Singlenesia
"connect <name>" connects you to an existing character.
"WHO" tells you who is logged into the game (case sensitive)
"QUIT" exits the game and saves your character.
connect Elavil CO-HORT
WHO Connected Idle I can't feel my _____.
Elavil 1m 0s
Zalcor 2m 3s lover.
Inanna 7m 15s home.
Prankster 11m 8m Vax
Shipman 23m 0s agenda
Bannor 30m 25s ego
Utensil_Guy 45m 2s salad shooter
Phineas 45m 4m social worker
EarNest 1h 25m ass
Taliesin 2h 4m weasel
Mondain 4h 2h savior
Elroy 6d 33s Answering a call
11 Players Connected
In the topmost branches of a wonderful ash tree nestles a beautiful room with glass walls. Invisible from below, the treehouse blends perfectly with the leaves and clouds. Windchimes tinkle in the breeze; birds flutter past and through. Walls become windows, windows become skylights, skylights become doorframes, doorframes become empty air. By day, the sun and the hummingbirds; by night, the moon and the owls.
Zalcor hugs you tight!
You say, "Eep!"
Zalcor says, "I've been so worried! Where have you been? Eep?"
You say, "I'm just surprised. I didn't expect to find you in my room. Although I am very glad to see you, too. *hugs Zalcor* "
Zalcor says, "I've been waiting. When you weren't here for three nights, I was afraid something awful had happened."
You say, "Yes. I've been in the hospital."
Zalcor says, "The hospital!"
You say, "Yes. There was a - um - a riot, I guess, at the Battle of the Bands. I was injured in the fracas."
Zalcor pats your fracas tenderly.
Elavil laughs. "Nono, I was hit in the HEAD."
Zalcor looks worried. "Are you OK?"
You say, "I have seven stitches and a headache, but other than that, I'm fine. Luckier than some others, too, from what I hear."
Zalcor says, "Oh, no. Were any of your friends hurt?"
You say, "No, not at all. The newspaper said that "Christopher Johns" and "Brad Bentley" said "Who cares?" John even came to see me in the hospital. They brought me their new tape."
Zalcor says, "What's it like?"
You say, "It's great, but when I sang it to the day shift, they failed me on my neuro checks. Hehe."
Zalcor says, "Neuro checks? Hrm."
You say, "No, really, I'm fine. I'm even went back to work today. I think it's quieter there than here."
Zalcor says, "Oh?"
You say, "Yes, everyone from CO-HORT had to get the story firsthand, and Rob was here again."
Zalcor says, "Again?"
You say, "Yes, he came to the hospital, too. He read me a story Ben wrote called "Choices." I'll email it to you when my eyes are a little sharper. They've changed the name of the band to Big Poo Generator and they're all calling themselves Rikki Rockett. It's a - pardon the expression - riot."
Zalcor says, "Rob likes you alot."
You say, "No, I don't think so. I think he just needs somebody to talk to. He's a sweet kid, in his way, but kind of dim."
Zalcor says, "Rob brought you the tape, too?"
You say, "No, that was John. He - he said I inspired it. I'm not quite sure what that means. He's so INTENSE."
Zalcor says, "What is the tape about?"
You say, "Dinosaurs, toilet seats, and some big crater. It's called _Secret Love_."
Zalcor says, "Hrm. Should I be jealous?"
Elavil laughs. "Funny, that's what John said about Dirk."
Zalcor says, "Hrm."
You say, "Haha. John has plenty of women to choose from. I don't think I'm even on the list."
Zalcor says, "Then he's not as smart as you think he is."
Zalcor says, "John means alot to you."
You say, "Yes, I guess he does."
Zalcor says, "What is it about him?"
You say, "I don't know. I can't explain it. I think about him all the time. I even have dreams. I - I don't know."
Zalcor says, "Then I *am* jealous."
You say, "Oh, my. Nonono. You're my *friend*. John is - John is just a fantasy."
Zalcor laughs bitterly. "But he's real. And I'm just virtual."
You say, "Oh, Zal. You're very real to me."
Zalcor kisses you.
Elavil kisses Zalcor sweetly.
Zalcor touches your face.
Elavil puts her hand over yours. Oh, love.
Zalcor holds you. "I was so worried."
You say, "Yes, I know, I'm sorry. I should have phoned you."
Zalcor says, "You mean so much to me."
You say, "I know. I - oh, rats. Nick's home, I have to run. I'll be back tonight, though. After they're asleep."
Zalcor says, "I'll be waiting."
Elavil hugs Zalcor.
Zalcor hugs Elavil.