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Questionable Sabbath (Older Version)

Questionable Sabbath (Older Version)

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Published by Joseph Houk
The original version of "Questionable Sabbath" - available elsewhere on Scribd. What happens when a "God Rock" band invades Northampton and the world of the characters from Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques? Find out here.
The original version of "Questionable Sabbath" - available elsewhere on Scribd. What happens when a "God Rock" band invades Northampton and the world of the characters from Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques? Find out here.

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Categories:Types, Comics
Published by: Joseph Houk on Nov 14, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/16/2012

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QUESTIONABLE SABBATH
 Joseph Houk (March 24, 2010)
It had been a quiet trip so far to that point, so quietthat the sensation of the deceleration of our tour bus wasenough to rouse me from a nap that I'd been taking onone of the seats in the living area. Lisa had already pulled off Interstate 91 onto the US 5 exit for NorthamptonCenter."We're there already?" I heard from the couch acrossfrom me as Dave Lewis called forward to his sister-in-law."Yep," came the plaintive reply from the passengerseat next to Lisa in the front of the coach. Lisa's husband,Mike Lewis, turned to her and mentioned somethingquietly as he put away the road atlas. There was a longline of cars waiting for the stoplight, so he took advantageof the lull to unbuckle himself and climb up and into theback."The hotel is up and on the left," he told us. "Where'sCindy?""In back," I said. "She wanted to take a nap before wegot in." Just then there was a creaking as she slid the doorseparating the sleeping quarters from the living room.Cindy Lewis yawned a bit and looked around at her twobrothers."I take it that we're here?" she said as the coachswung onto US 5. She expertly braced herself against thecounter as Lisa took the turn; this was, after all, her tourbus. Her sister-in-law, though, had definitely taken todriving it. Lisa's explanation was that she had done somedriving of her parents' old motor home back when shewas a teenager.The answer was given as we pulled into the parkinglot of the Quality Inn. "Gee, welcome to Northampton," Isaid to no one in particular. "Remind me again why we'rehere?""Because a friend of mine from college asked us to doa show here," Lisa said for what seemed to be themillionth time
at least, for her. "Diane and I wereroommates at Trinity, and she's in charge of outreachministries in Western Massachusetts for 3C." She put thebrake on and shut off the diesel engine. "And, she said she'd meet us here." She unbuckled her seat belt and swung herself out of the driver's chair. "I'll go inside and see what our accommodation situation is.""Hopefully it won't be another night like last night,"came another sleepy voice from the back. "My back is stillhurting from our little ride over the mountains." My wife,Sarah, trudged out of the far back where she'd beenresting on the bed. Lisa shrugged as she stepped out theside door."Welcome to life on the road, dear," I said for whatseemed the millionth time as well. "Playing rock star isn'tall it's cracked up to be." We hugged briefly before we allstepped out for some fresh air. It wasn't as cool out as itwas last night when we were in Scranton, but it wasn'tfreezing cold.Lisa was talking to someone on the phone at the deskof the hotel as we wandered in. When she got off thephone she turned and smiled briefly, giving us thethumbs-up signal. She signed a few papers, gave us each aroom card. "We're in four separate rooms," she said, "allsuites and all in the back part of the hotel. And we're OKto park the bus over by the pool."We all got settled in and met back in the lobby intime to meet our contact, Diane Gaines. After she greeted Lisa with a warm hug, she stepped back to take a look atus."So, you guys are White Sabbath?" she said as more of a statement than a question. Dave nodded and introduced us all. Sarah nervously pointed out that she wasn't a partof the band 
"I just married into all this," she said with alaugh.Diane offered to take us over to the auditoriumwhere we were going to play on Friday night. Sarahdecided she wanted to stay back and rest since her backwas still bothering her, so there was a bit more room inher minivan. Not much, though, since we had to move ababy seat so Cindy and I could grab a seat in the back.Northampton isn't that bad of a town, all thingsconsidered; it looks pretty much like any small town inAmerica, with stores and homes and such. You can tellit's a college town, though. It had lots of stores thatdefinitely cater to students
pizza places, thrift stores,coffee shops."Did that place actually say Coffee of 
Doom
?" Cindysaid as we drove through town. Diane gave a half-hearted laugh."Yeah, it's run by a Goth-hipster chick," she said. "Mysister works there.""Hm. Interesting," Cindy replied. "I love trying newcoffee shops. Might want to swing by there after wepractice." There was a sudden awkward silence comingfrom Diane and Lisa. "Uh, did I say something wrong?"
"Diane's family is…
estranged
… from her sister," Lisa
explained. "Penny kinda became an atheist after she spenta few years at Amherst. There was a big fight over theholiday break after her freshman year; her parentsbasically told her, 'Here's your college tuition money,don't let the door hit you.'""Now, I wouldn't say it was
that
bad," Dianeresponded. "They were willing to help her finish school,but she didn't want to stay at UMass. There was anargument, she left and didn't come back. I've talked to hera few times since then. Last I heard, she'd quit her job at abookstore in Holyoke for that coffee shop."We pulled into the parking lot of Smith'sauditorium. The place reminded me a lot of a typicalMasonic lodge, or like Memorial Hall back in Racine: Old,neo-classic architecture, built to be used for largegatherings like graduations and convocations. Onceinside, we got a feel for the place and how we were going
 
to lay things out. Mike asked if they had a sound engineer."Sound engineer?" she said with a puzzled look."Someone to man the sound board," he told her. "Weusually have someone local do it to save on costs a bit."Diane blanched a bit."I wasn't aware you needed one," she said. Oops. Weall looked at each other, and I could tell the wheels wereturning in everyone's heads."I got it," Cindy said. "There's a guy out here, singer-songwriter named Bianchi. He wrote one of the songs onmy last album. Remember that one song, 'Never Forget toNever Forget'?" Mike and Dave both made faces and Cindy shot them a look. "That song was the one hit on thealbum," she explained. "And he apparently is a prettyaccomplished musician in his own right. He might be ableto point someone out.""Did you say Bianchi?" Diane said. "That's the name of Penny's boss at the coffee shop. Dora Bianchi.""Well, I guess we have a reason to stop in there,now," Cindy said."I have to take Lisa over to Campus Events to getsome of the paperwork squared away," Diane told us. "Ican drop you guys off at the place and you can talk toher.""Sounds like a plan," Dave said.We got our gear stowed and headed downtown tothe shop. The place didn't look all that busy; a largecustomer with a goatee and a few piercings was on hisway out as we got to the door."Interesting place," Mike said as we walked in. Theplace looked like your typical café
a handful of tables, acounter with an espresso machine, and a couple of bathrooms to the one side. The real attraction of thestore, though, was the blackboard behind the counter,where the daily specials were listed.Or was that
drawn
? There was a huge drawing of some large Godzilla-like dinosaur breathing flames and some strangely-named drinks. I looked at the name for asecond before Dave verbalized what I was thinking:"Death Metal Latte?" he said as we contemplated themenu.A raven-haired lady, wearing a Blood Pony t-shirt,stepped up to the counter from the coffee machine. "Heythere! What can I get for you?" Dave, Mike and I allstammered for a second, mostly because we weren'texactly sure what we wanted. Cindy, however, stepped up and ordered for all of us."We'll have three large lattes, two with an extra shotof espresso, and one large coffee, black," she said assertively. "And would I be right to assume you're DoraBianchi?" She looked up from the cash register with asomewhat blank stare."Yes?" she asked tentatively. She looked down at theregister to somewhat recollect herself, and told her,"That'll be $13.25, by the way.""Great," she said as she handed her a twenty. "Myfriends and I are in a bit of a predicament, since this is ourfirst time here in Northampton. You wouldn't happen toknow anyone who'd be an experienced sound technicianat all, would you?" Dora turned to another gal who had  just emerged from their back room
a gal with brownishhair and glasses that made her look all the world likeVelma from Scooby Doo."Got an order, Faye," Dora told her. The girl looked atthe slip of paper she'd been given, blanched a second, and then started to work on the lattes. Dora, meanwhile,turned back to Cindy. "I'm sorry; I didn't catch who youwere, again?""Well," Cindy said with a pause. "Joe, you want to dothe introductions?""Sure," I chimed in. "This is Cindy Lewis, and theseare her two brothers, Dave and Mike"
both gave a littlehalf-wave as I introduced them
"and I'm Joseph Houk.
Together, we're…" I turned and looked at the rest of them,
and we said it in unison: "
White Sabbath
.""Oooh, a band!" came the response from behind theespresso machine. "What kind of stuff do you guys play?""Well, we're a Christian rock band," Dave explained."Like Stryper or something?" Dora asked."No, we don't dress up in spandex, big hair and warpaint," Mike said. "We just rock out a bit. And we have aconcert on Friday night over at the Smith Auditorium.""Yeah, that's where we thought you might be able tohelp us out," Cindy reiterated. "See, I've done some workwith your brother, Sven?" Now it was Dora's turn toblanch."Oh, God, please," she said with a distasteful tone."He didn't try to put moves on you or anything, did he?"Cindy looked at her with a note of surprise."Him? No," she replied quizzically. "I just recorded one of his songs for my last album. I never met him formore than a few minutes or anything." This made Dorapause for a moment to think."Cindy
Lewis… you were that one gal who went out
on tour with Shania Twain, right?' Cindy nodded at therecognition. "I remember Sven telling me about you." Shesmirked. "Only singer who didn't throw herself at himafter they met." A snorting noise came from the coffeemachine as Faye was pouring the large coffee, black forMike."Hush, Faye. So," she continued as Faye handed outthe lattes, "you thought that I'd be able to get a hold of him or something?""Actually, we were hoping you might know someone,if he wasn't around," Dave said as he took his latte fromFaye."Yeah," Mike said as he sipped his coffee. "Cindy said he wasn't that much of a techie type, so we figured maybe
 
he might have contacts of some sort who'd know how torun a sound board?" The bell rang as a skinny, medium-height guy in a dark hoodie walked into the shop."How to run a what, now?" said the guy as he wentup to Dora. "How are you, babe?" he said to her with asmile."These guys are looking for someone to run theirsound board for a concert over at Smith on Friday night,"Dora told her. She suddenly brightened. "Something youmight be interested in, Marten?""Huh duh buh
whuh
?" was his reply. We all looked ateach other."Don't mind him," came a comment from Faye. "Hegets this way when he's flustered.""It's what I love about him," Dora added."It wouldn't be that hard," Mike said. "We just have acouple of guitars, a bass, a keyboard and drums, alongwith an acoustic and mikes.""Guitars?" Marten finally said after a moment."Yeah," Dave spoke. "Joe's Fender Strat and myGibson Les Paul, along with Cindy's Ibanez bass." Themiddle one got a squeak from both Marten and Faye."A Les Paul?" said Faye. "What year?""It's an old '61 that I refurbished with newer Gibsonpickups and such," he said as he turned to Faye. "Actuallygot Les to help me get the sound right on it once before hepassed away."All three of them stopped in their tracks at thiscomment."You
met
Les Paul?" came the reply from Marten
hisvoice cracking as he said it."Well, yeah," I said. "I mean, they're from Nashvilleand I'm from Waukesha. Dave met up with Les severaltimes before he died. Once when he was on tour with Def Leppard.""Def 
Leppard
?" Dora said incredulously. Dave nodded reluctantly."Wasn't exactly the best time of my life back then,but yeah, I subbed for Steve Clark briefly during theHysteria tour." Dave paused as he remembered some of 
those moments. "It didn't last all that long, but it was…
interesting 
.""So what happened, you have some sort of conversionthing like the guy from Korn did?" asked Marten."Oh, no, no, we were a band before and after thattime," Dave said quickly. "It was an opportunity, and though it opened some doors, it also came back to biteme.""Anyways," Cindy said to change the subject, "I'mpretty sure I recognize you from somewhere, Faye. Can'tremember exactly where, though." Faye looked at herbriefly, and then suddenly it clicked in her head."SCAD Music Week!" she said in a note of recognition. "You were one of the singer/guitarists whospoke at the symposium in my freshman year of college!"Cindy nodded as she remembered herself."I was at Savannah because of another friend of minewho'd graduated from SCAD, and I remember
you wereasking all sorts of questions about the Fender Strat thatI'd brought with." She smiled briefly. "I was surprised when you told me you were majoring in SculpturalDesign.""I was surprised to find out you were a country musicsinger," she said. "I didn't know you sang one of Sven'ssongs, though." Cindy shot a look at Faye
and Dora
ather tone."I take it she doesn't like your brother very much?"Cindy asked."Oh, a bit
too
much at times," Dora replied 
whichgarnered a punch from Faye."I won't ask, then," Cindy stated finally. She turned to Marten. "So, would you be able to help us out?""We'll pay you," Mike said. Marten hemmed and hawed a bit."I'll let you play my Les Paul, if you're interested,"Dave said."I'll do it!" Marten exclaimed."See, that was easy," Cindy said."I do have to admit, though," Marten said after amoment of thought, "I don't really know what kind of music you guys play. Are you more post-metal, or maybepost-grunge, or post-punk, or what? I mean,
White Sabbath
 sounds like the name of either a metal band or someironic doo-wop group.""White Sabbath?" came a voice from the other end of the counter. "Let me guess, my sister sent you in here totry to rescue me." A blonde haired gal with glasses and abright green t-shirt came up to the register."You must be Penelope," Mike said. "Lisa told meabout you." I looked at Mike for a moment, because Ididn't remember Lisa saying
anything 
to him about Diane'ssister. "You might remember her as Lisa Heinrye?"Penelope paused for a moment, then shrugged as if tryingto put aside a memory."Yeah, she was my sister's roommate in college," shesaid. "Only one I actually
liked
." She gave Mike a warylook. "How do you know her?"Mike held up his left hand, showing the weddingring on his finger. Her eyebrows shot up."We've been married for almost four years now," hetold her. "Our daughter, Tamara, is spending the weekwith grandma back in Nashville.""She had a kid?" came the reply from Penelope. "Geez,I thought that would be the
last
…" She suddenly became
very quiet, and that's when I realized Mike was giving
her 
 a look. A look that basically said,
Don't you even
THINK  
 about finishing that sentence
.

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