The Making of a Gigolo (13) - Misty Compton

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Chapter Seven

Most people, when they look at a picture of themselves, tend to see the flaws in the person in the picture. Maybe it's a mole you think looks horrible, or that extra weight that photographs seem to show so well. Maybe the hair is out of place, or the look on the face looks goofy. The truth is that most people don't like looking at pictures of themselves.

Misty was no different. She'd been told she was beautiful, and talented. She'd been told that by people in her family, whom she wanted to believe, and by people in the music industry, whom she almost always disbelieved. If she'd been able to articulate how she felt about herself, she'd have said something like "I guess I look okay, and I love to sing." She still couldn't believe that almost half a million people had bought her album.

As such, when she looked at the proof sheet, the first thing she did was dismiss certain pictures. She saw something wrong in them, and discarded them, looking on. Most of those were ones in which she was wearing Felicity's borrowed clothing. It wasn't the clothing she objected to, really. That was fine, for the most part. There was one shot, with her wearing the doeskin shirt. She was looking over her shoulder, and her bare back was clearly on display. She liked that one, but immediately decided she looked entirely too naked.

She looked at the ones where she was wearing the tank top. Christy had been right about them. All you could see was that she probably wasn't wearing a bra under it. There was nothing really prurient about them, but they made her face feel hot anyway.

Then she got to the sheet where she was wearing the clothes Mirriam had loaned her. She looked more relaxed, somehow. Her face wasn't as tight, somehow. She looked more like how she envisioned herself ... just a girl with a guitar that she loved playing, and the camera had caught that girl doing what she loved most.

The way Christy narrowed things down fit perfectly with how Misty was feeling. She asked first which shots were definitely not acceptable, and crossed those out with a big red X in grease pencil. Then, almost like an eye exam, Christy would pick two shots and ask which one Misty liked better. The loser in that round was crossed out. Eventually, one whole sheet was covered in big red Xes, and was put aside.

"But I like some of those you crossed off," moaned Misty.

"That's fine," said Christy. "What we're looking for are the ones you like the best. I'll keep the negatives of all of them. If you want me to make you some prints later, I'll be happy to do that, but for right now, we need three publicity shots. We don't have much time either. It's going to take us all day to get enough for your concert tonight, and, after hearing you sing, I suspect we're going to be busy all day tomorrow and the next day too."

In the end, Misty was surprised to pick one in which she was wearing the clothes she still had on. The faded jeans and soft looking work shirt didn't do much to make her look feminine, but it was the look on her face she loved. She was wearing the old straw hat in that picture, worn level, and her head was dipped slightly. She was looking at the frets and her fingers were poised to strum a chord. There was just something about the look on her face that made her feel good.

"That one," she said. "I can't believe it, but I like that one best."

"I told you so," crowed Jill, grinning from ear to ear. "Didn't I tell you I liked that one best?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," said Christy. "Now get your butt in the dark room and start turning these babies out. I'll be there in a minute."

"What about the kids?" asked Jill.

"Damn!" said Christy. "I forgot about them."

"I can drop them off at Renee's," suggested Bobby.

"Would you, really?" Christy smiled. "That would help just tons and tons." She turned to the two children who were sitting on the floor with the book Bobby had been reading them. They were pretending to read it to each other. "Hey, do you two little gremlins want to go play at Renee's?"

They obviously did and, in short order, they were bundled into the front seat of the pickup between Misty and Bobby.

"You're a doll," said Christy, leaning in through the driver's window to kiss Bobby on the lips. "We'll get the prints done as quickly as we can. What should we do with them?"

"I'll come get them while she's rehearsing," said Bobby. "Once I get her to the fairgrounds I don't think she'll need me again until after the concert. I need to run over to Wichita too, and see if they got her suitcase back yet. How about I pick up the prints on the way back from that?"

All that arranged, they left.

"So ..." said Misty, clutching her guitar between her legs, and her performance clothing in her lap. "Christy is your girlfriend?"

"Nope," said Bobby carelessly. "She's just a friend."

"But the pictures ... on the wall ... in her bedroom ..."

He looked over at her, and then down at the two children between them.

"She's a photographer," he said simply.

"Yeah, and you must be too," said Misty, thinking about the picture of Christy.

He smiled for some reason, and Misty felt anger trying to wiggle its way into her chest. She somehow knew that he wasn't going to give her any information about those pictures.

"She showed me how to work the camera," he said. "That's all."

"I thought maybe she was one of your sisters, at first ... when we first got there. Or maybe Jill."

He laughed then. "Nope, definitely not my sisters."

It was obvious that was all he was going to say. She wanted to question him more, for some reason, but Steven spoke, his voice high and piping.

"Can I drive, Uncle Bob?"

"Not in town, Sport," said Bobby. "Wait until we get out of town, okay?"

That happened in a few minutes and Misty watched as the little boy stood on the seat between Bobby's slightly spread thighs and gripped the wheel below Bobby's hands. He made what were obviously supposed to be motor noises as he tried to jerk the wheel from side to side. He couldn't, because Bobby wouldn't let him.

"Straight down the road, Sport," said the real driver.

They made one turn, going almost laughably slowly, and then another, turning into the drive of a house out in the country. A sign in the yard proclaimed it to be, "Renee's Child Care Center and Pre-School."

"Wow!" said Bobby, putting the little boy back in the middle of the seat. "You drove two whole miles!"

The boy had lost all interest in driving, however. Both he and Jillian were too excited about getting to play at Renee's. Misty had to set her guitar case down to help them out, afraid they'd try to climb down from the truck by themselves and fall. Then they ran haltingly toward the house.

"You can wait here, if you want," said Bobby, starting to follow them.

"Okay," said Misty, picking her guitar up and putting it back in the truck.

She was sitting there when a dark-haired woman came out the front door of the house, to let the two children in. They ran past her, eager to get inside. She was carrying an infant in her arms.

Misty watched as the woman paused, while Bobby looked at the baby in her arms. Then the woman leaned forward to give him a long and obviously passionate kiss. The kiss broke, and Bobby leaned down to kiss the baby's forehead, before turning and striding back to the truck.

"So," said Misty as they got on the highway to Hutchinson. "Is Renee your girlfriend?"

Bobby looked over at her. She couldn't tell what was on his face.

"Nope," he said. "She's just a friend too."

Misty spent the rest of the trip in silence. When she wasn't thinking about all the women who seemed to be so willing to kiss this man, and how comfortable he seemed to feel with all their children, she was thinking about that picture of him standing in the window.

All thoughts of Bobby fled when Misty arrived at the fairgrounds and found out that a band ... of sorts ... had been cobbled together to back her up during the concert. It had been Amanda's idea, apparently. Misty wasn't so sure it was a good idea.

She was introduced to Jasper Tomkins, who proudly announced that he owned a grocery store and played bass. He looked to be in his early fifties. Rocky Waldorf was sitting at a drum kit, and said he worked at the feed mill. He played the riff that announces a joke has been told: pu-dum-dum. He looked like he wasn't a whole lot older than she was. A woman standing there with a guitar in her hands identified herself as Lucy Simms.

"I have three kids, and I'm a stay-at-home mom, but I practice all the time, singing to them," she said. "I play rhythm."

Another woman - a girl really - sat at an electronic keyboard.

"I'm Janie," she said shyly. "I can't believe you're actually Misty Compton."

Misty turned to Bobby.

"I'm supposed to play with these people?" she whispered. "Store keepers and stay-at-home moms?"

"Isn't that who you played with back in the mountains?" asked Bobby, smiling.

Misty blinked.

"Well yeah ... but ..."

"Give them a try," said Bobby. "Amanda wouldn't have lined them up if they weren't any good. Trust me on that."

Misty simply stepped up to a mike, turned around, gave them a title and stamped her foot four times. She intended to leave these yokels in the dust. She had intended to play solo, and didn't need any amateurs making her sound provincial.

The first thing that amazed her was that the four musicians knew her music already. They had what seemed like reams of sheet music. It turned out they had been practicing together for three days. Not only did they know the music, they knew the lyrics as well. Jasper had a strong bass voice to go with his guitar, and the drummer had a lilting tenor. Lucy had a smoky alto voice, and Janie's soprano was sweet and pure. They had improvised the harmony, because the harmony for the voices wasn't written into the sheet music.

The second thing she realized was that while these folks might live and work in Hutchinson, Kansas, they were certainly not amateurs. Within three songs Misty was elated at the sound they were producing as a band.

She grinned, announced another number, and, before she could stamp her foot to set them off, the drummer beat her to it, hitting a stick on the metal rim of a snare drum.

They didn't take a break for over an hour.

The musicians cut it off at five, but the only reason they did so was because a crowd had gathered. The festival gates opened at four, so that people could begin to ride carnival rides, and shop at little booths vendors had set up. There was a rodeo scheduled between five-thirty and seven, when Misty's concert would begin. The rehearsal, however, had drawn the crowd, who mingled, standing in front of the stage, clapping and yelling as each song ended.

Misty was starving, and was about to go get a hot dog when a she saw a familiar truck pull up behind the stage. Bobby got out, a box in his arms.

"Got your pictures," he said. "They printed a hundred of the last three shots you liked."

"Surely I won't need three hundred pictures!" she moaned, thinking of having to autograph each one.

A man and woman stepped forward.

"Can we get one of those?" asked the man. The woman smiled hopefully. "You're really good."

"Got three shots to choose from," volunteered Bobby, and he pulled out one of each shot and produced a felt tip marker from his shirt pocket.

"I like that one!" said the woman, pointing to one of Misty in the doeskin shirt, with the guitar sitting on her lap. Misty had liked that one because of the smile on her face.

Autographing that picture led to other people stepping up. It took fifteen minutes before the little crowd that had listened to the rehearsal was taken care of. When the last one had been signed, Misty realized that Bobby had somehow moved her from in front of the stage to the back, where people strolling by the stage couldn't see her any more.

"Thanks," she sighed. "I'm starving."

"Let's get you out of here then," said Bobby. "You seem to draw a crowd."

He took her to a drive-in called "Bill's Burger Bar". She made no comment, partly because she was famished and partly because shed felt bad about having made such a scene the previous day - about eating at a drive-in. They had burgers and fries. He offered her a shake, but she declined, saying the milk in it would coat her throat and cause problems when she sang. She had 7-Up instead. It was six-thirty when they got back to the stage. Amanda was waiting nervously. Jasper and Janie were already on stage, improvising softly with the amplifiers off. Rocky and Lucy were nowhere to be seen.

"There you are!" Amanda yipped. "I was getting worried!"

"She has to eat sometime," said Bobby calmly.

"The show starts in just half an hour!" said Amanda.

A roar from a crowd announced that something exciting had happened at the rodeo. The announcer's voice, over the loud speaker system was sharp in the evening air. Rocky and Lucy walked up, and mounted the stage. Lucy picked up her guitar and joined Jasper and Janie at the keyboard. Rocky began playing riffs on the drums and fiddling with them. Bobby saw the box he had brought from Christy's, lying on its side, empty.

"What happened to the pictures?" he asked.

"I gave them all out!" said Amanda. "People are crazy for them. There weren't nearly enough!"

As a concert, Misty would remember her first night at the Hutchinson, Kansas Harvest Festival for many years to come. The crowd was small, by comparison to those she had played at before, but it looked bigger than it was because there wasn't enough seating for everyone who showed up. The three hundred folding chairs that had been lined up in rows were full, and people stood four and five deep in a three-sided ring around them. It was a festive crowd and, to Misty's surprise, the usual cadre of drunks seemed to be missing. There were always a group of drunks, men mostly, who capered and shouted and sang off tune with her, or whoever else was performing. In Hutchinson, though, while the crowd was noisy and excited, they were also very well mannered, and the drunks seemed to be missing.

They hit the ground running and went straight through five songs before Misty, grinning and panting, told them how glad she was to be in Hutchinson, Kansas, and thanked them for coming to the concert. Then there was a set of three more songs, flowing from one to the next, before they had to take a break to drink something.

The crowd might have been smaller than she was used to, but they were also almost impossibly enthusiastic, shouting, clapping, stomping and whistling as each song wound down and a new one began. Misty finally realized that the whistling was more in evidence whenever she turned around to make eye contact with her band members. She was wearing the doeskin shirt, with the purple boots and hat, and the men loved it.

They went through the entire program, and then used up both pieces that had been reserved for encores and it was obvious the crowd wanted even more. When she yelled "Good night Hutchinson!" the crowd made it obvious they were disappointed. "I'll be back tomorrow night!" she yelled into the mic.

By now she thought of Jasper, Lucy, Janie and Rocky as family, and the grins on their sweaty faces made it plain they'd had a great time too. There were hugs all around as they left the stage. It was then that she saw Bobby for the first time since the show had started. He was standing with a slim dark-haired woman, holding her hand. Their fingers were interlaced, in that casual, sensual way that suggests there is great feeling between two people. The woman was smiling widely, revealing two crooked front teeth. The twins were there too, and Mirriam, along with a small group of other women who seemed to be with her.

The twins were almost pathetic in their praise for her, babbling about how great she was. She was walking toward Mirriam when the crowd surged around the corner of the stage. People were waving copies of her publicity shots at her. She was engulfed in a sea of happy, beaming ... and demanding people.

This had never happened to her before. She'd always been whisked off somewhere, where some autographs might be done under controlled circumstances. Usually the people who got into that line were VIPs of one sort or another, or those to whom the promoter was beholden, perhaps. Quite often she was there with other bigger stars, and watched them do autographs, more often than she signed her own name.

But this crowd was there for her and her only. The press of people made it almost impossible to do anything. She felt a hand on her almost bare back and turned to see a grinning man groping her. She elbowed him angrily and he just laughed.

The drunks had shown up at last.

She felt more hands on her body ... on her buttocks and one on her bare knee, as others pulled at the strings that held her shirt on. She felt a hand squeeze her left breast. Then, as if by magic, Bobby was there, slapping at hands and shouting for them to give her some room and line up. Then the twins, Mirriam and the women with her were behind Misty, protecting her back, while Bobby shouted and shoved and manhandled people into a wedge-shaped almost-line. Amanda was there too, shouting at the crowd to behave. She had some people with her too, and they formed a protective phalanx in front of Misty.

It seemed to Misty like it could go one of two ways, and she wasn't at all sure which way it was going to go. Finally, though, the crowd calmed down a bit, and order was restored. Misty relaxed and began to sign pictures.

An hour and fifteen minutes later the crowd had thinned to the point that there was really just one line, with only about thirty people left in it. Those who hadn't gotten a photograph asked her to sign everything from scraps of paper to copies of the menu from the place that sold funnel cakes. One man had her sign the back of one of his blank checks.

Mirriam kissed Bobby on the cheek and said she was going home. A woman who had helped protect Misty, and who she now knew was named Prudence turned to the young woman whose hand Bobby had been holding.

"You ready to go Dear?" she asked.

"Yeah," said the girl with the crooked teeth. She turned to Misty. "You're really good. I'm glad I came." Then she turned to Bobby. "Thanks," she said. "It was a good idea. See you later?"

"You bet," he said, smiling. He took her hand and kissed her fingertips.

Misty was watching her walk away with Prudence, trying to figure out what was going on with her, when a picture was thrust in her face.

"Can you sign mine now?" asked an excited teenager.

Back in the truck at last, Misty sagged in the seat with a long sigh and tried to relax. She couldn't, because the tension seemed to be locked into her muscles. She was beat, and ached all over. The rigors of the show, followed by being on edge for hours as the crowd pressed on her had taken a toll on her body. It was dark out, but street lights they passed lit up the interior of the cab with a regularity that made her feel drowsy.

"You killed 'em," said Bobby. "You were great."

"Thanks," she said, tired of saying the word. It seemed like she'd said it a thousand times in the last hours. "I hope they were happy, because I don't have anything left at all."

"I thought you did this all the time."

"Not like that," she sighed. "I've never signed that many autographs at one time before. And those guys who grabbed me. I probably have bruises!"

"Sorry about that," said Bobby. "I'm kind of new at this security thing. It won't happen tomorrow night. I promise you that."

"Tomorrow night," moaned Misty. "I have to do it all over again tomorrow night!"

"You love it," chuckled Bobby. "I could tell that just by watching you. It was obvious."

"Yeah, but I can hardly move!" she complained. "Everything's sore!"

"You can get a massage when we get back home," he said. "I know how you feel. It's been a long day for me too. Bed is going to feel good tonight."

"I thought you were going out after you dropped me off."

"Me?" He seemed surprised.

"Yes. That girl you were with. The one who left with Prudence. You said you'd see her later. Is she your girlfriend?"

"Connie?" He had no mirth in his voice at all. "No. She's had a hard go of things. Her husband was killed in action in Vietnam. I'm kind of keeping an eye on her while she works through it. I just meant that I'd see her in the next day or two."

"Oh," said Misty, remembering how the fingers of the their hands had been interlaced in that intimate kind of way. This man was so strange ... so much more than he appeared on the surface. She couldn't put her finger on what made him different, but she knew he was, somehow.

"Why are you so interested in who my girlfriend is?"

The question caught her off guard. Her mind wanted to be in neutral. She was ready to sleep, but the aches and pains in her body, and having to sit up in the seat were preventing that.

"I don't know," she admitted. "It just seems like a lot of women really like you." She thought that sounded somewhat harsh, as if women shouldn't like him, and she added to her comment. "I mean so many of them kiss you and hug you and all that."

"It's a little complicated," he said softly. "I don't think you'd understand."

"Why not?" She felt the energy of anger begin to spark in her body. "I'm not stupid!"

"I know you're not stupid," he said calmly. "I'm sorry if you got the impression I think you are. I jumped to some conclusions about you that were wrong, and we got off on the wrong foot. I'm sorry about that." He paused. "I got your suitcase, by the way. They had it at the airline place when I got there. They didn't want to give it to me because it wasn't mine, but I talked them into it."

"Oh! Good!" She looked around. "Where is it?"

"I just dropped it off at the house. I didn't figure you'd need it at the concert, and I didn't want to leave it in the bed with the truck parked at the fairgrounds. The last thing I needed was for somebody to steal it." There was mirth in his voice.

The conversation lagged then, and Misty dozed a little as the truck rocked through the darkness. It wasn't until he pulled up at the farmhouse that she realized he'd never explained the complicated nature of his relationship with all those women.

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