Chapter 27:

Day One

Purple Prose

“Issei! You’re late!” Takao threw a finger at him as he stepped into The Garden Enterprises studio.

Issei waved his hand, his forehead admittedly sweating as he had to hoof it to the building to even be late. “Bah, five minutes is no big deal.”

“Five minutes is enough to do a runthrough!”

Kanka was in the middle of playing his part from behind the glass partition and, noticing Issei, he gestured up with his head and smirked as he delivered a gentle, groove-like rhythm: subtle bass pedal, light hi-hat, and a playful attack of snare.

It wasn’t something Issei heard before.

“What’s this?”

Takao grinned. “Our new song, Buddy: Sayoko said we needed a more mellow tune since ours have been fast-paced.”

Sayoko, wearing studio headphones as she listened, nodded as though needing to agree with herself.

“We got our parts in already, and now we’re waiting for guitar and lyrics–you’re the frontman after all.”

“Mellow, eh? I can do that.”

Issei listened to Takao and Kanka’s combined parts alongside Sayoko’s draft of special effects. It was exciting. All his life, Issei had only ever listened to finished songs, and even the exclusive releases of beta versions that bands sometimes release still felt conclusive.

The first verse of the song had nothing but synth until the bass and drums came in, which is likely where Issei’s vocals should appear. Takao plucked with what had to be a funk-like bass solo until the drums added stronger snare.

“Second verse,” Takao said.

Then, when that verse ended, all instruments faded with echo, until at once coming in with aggressive bass and snare.

“Chorus–we want you coming in strong here.”

“It’s pretty much the same with the third verse and second chorus,” Sayoko added, “but at the end, Takao wants the third chorus to combine lyrics with guitar wail in the background.”

Issei nodded, closing his eyes, feeling his creative mindset come to life. “Yeah, I can dig this. Let me do guitar first.”

Kanka returned from the set as Issei fetched a pen and paper, and his arm flew left and right, creating guitar tab lines.

“We have paper with pre-made tab lines if you want,” Sayoko said, pointing to a file cabinet.

Issei looked up as though he couldn’t believe his ears. “Pre-made…tab lines? This studio has everything!”

Sayoko put a hand to her mouth and giggled, then Takao inched closer and elbowed him in the side. “Oi, knock it off with the flirting,” he muttered. “What will Murasaki think?”

“What? I wasn’t…”

Then Issei’s face changed from confusion to a knowing grin. “I gotcha.”

Takao coughed, pretending he never said anything as Issei went to work. “So, how was your first date with Murasaki yesterday?”

Kanka pulled up a chair and sat close-by with interest, and even Sayoko seemed to perk up.

There were dozens of things Issei could mention, but he wanted to keep all the love and tender feelings for himself.

“I got shot at.”

Knowing that wasn’t at all what they expected, Issei watched as they nearly fell off their chairs with shock.

Takao’s jaw hung. “You what!?”

“Hey, you can’t just end with that,” Kanka said, his brow furrowing, “tell us what happened!”

To tell the whole story, however, would have to include the reason why they were there, and he promised Murasaki not to tell anyone. He decided to make something up.

“Man, I can’t believe some dudes,” Takao said. “They make us other dudes look bad. You shouldn’t get aggressive with women, and you have to back off when her date arrives–you don’t just shoot at them! What a bunch of criminals.”

“Yeah well, I clocked one of them good before we ran off,” Issei said, grinning. “Murasaki sure was frightened though.”

“Hell, anyone would,” Kanka said. “I would have dropped bricks through my drawers if I saw one of them pointed at me!”

He leaned forward with a mischievous smirk. “So…any progress with her?”

Issei looked up from his paper. “Oh. Yeah. Murasaki and I are going out.”

Kanka laughed, and he patted Issei on the back so hard he thought he was going to fall off his chair. Sayoko, not even knowing who Murasaki was, clapped with surprise, and Takao playfully punched his chest, as though giving him his congratulations with a hint of jealousy.

“Excellent!” Kanka yelled. “I have to break the news to my wife: we had a bet on how long it would take for you two to hook up. She thought it would be two months, I said five weeks.”

Kanka looked pleased with himself. “Looks like I get a new hat.”

“Oh. We must have been obvious,” Issei said, scratching his chin in embarrassment as he thought back to the night they confessed their feelings. "I guess I can hardly believe it myself.”

Sayoko clapped twice with finality. “Alright, break time’s over. It hasn’t even been half an hour yet. Chop-chop!”

Issei had an idea as he listened to the new song. He wanted the guitar to sound like a traveler out of time, wandering through unknown territory as the musician questioned himself, asking who he was when nothing he saw was familiar to him. But it wouldn’t be such a terrifying existence. It was tranquil. The traveler’s previous life was erased, but his current one wouldn’t be so bad. Occasionally, though, he would cry out to his past self as he begged for even a fraction of what he knew to come back–knowing it never would. 

The hours passed as Issei thought and pondered. What would that traveler say to himself, to whatever was out there?

“Alright…time for the lyrics. Sayoko, is the mic turned on?”

Sayoko flicked to life as she lifted her head from her arms, her eyes blinking heavily–she was taking a nap on her desk.

“So soon? Alright, let me get the software ready.”

Sayoko moved to the console, and she whipped the computer mouse and clicked a few settings, her wrist moving faster than Issei could keep up. “Alright, let’s see how your voice handles a new song.”

Issei left the studio through the front door, entering the set. Every inch of wall was filled with black insulation–fanged wedges of Styrofoam or something similar jutting out every fashioned square in order to retain the acoustic feeling of a stage. All the sound from outside the set had to be muffled and silenced, else the noises might be picked up from within the set and translated into the song. Issei remembered a song from Pauldron that had a strange voice ring out during one of their early albums–these spongy fabrics were supposed to prevent any outside chatter from peeking out.

A pair of studio headphones and a professional mic the size of his face awaited him. This thing must cost over a hundred thousand yen. Not only that, but Issei had never heard his voice played back before. He couldn’t wait to hear what he sounds like from such sensitive equipment.

Sayoko’s voice echoed from the intercom, making him jump.

“Alright Issei, whenever you’re ready, I’ll start recording with bass and drums added.”

This is it, Issei. Your first foray into the music business.

With the lyric notes on a music stand, Issei took in a breath: his first breath as a rock star.

Life, that I once lived

I know you’re out there, somewhere

I’ll wait

Whatever it takes

Ebb and flow

The waves wash onto the shore

Turn my head I yearn for more

I am one

As the beat shifted, Sayoko ended the recording, then clapped.

“Nicely done! Your ability to just dive right into song is impressive. Ready for the next verse?”

Issei nodded, then Sayoko counted down before recording resumed.


I see myself through myself

Bitter hope flow through pain

I know, it’s true

Rest assured I’ll start anew

I cleave and weave but won’t undo

Yet I yearn for once before

The sweet artifacts of yore

They’re undone

Sayoko nodded vigorously, Takao glaring irritably. “Alright Issei. Let’s do the chorus and you can take a break.”

Three. Two. One. Issei sucked in air and prepared for his belting register.

What’s a memory?

Hold on tight I pray

I’m eons with only me

Can’t return, I’m afraid

Grasping silver moons

These wonders I have found

Are less than what I’ve lost

Dreaming all that may

Issei took off the headphones and sighed, a mighty sense of accomplishment overflowing.

Strangely, when he returned to the studio, his band mates and producer said nothing and gave each other goofy looks.

“It wasn’t that bad was it?” He asked, his heart drooping.

Sayoko put a finger to her mouth. “Shh. Wait a moment.”

Wait for what? Did it take that long to process sound?

Then Issei’s phone buzzed, and their eyes pointed expectantly at him as he reached in his pocket.

He received an image text from Murasaki. She was at her studio, a sleep-like smile on her face as she put a hand to her heart.

<Such a wonderful voice. I swooned <3 >

His heart shot up to his throat. Issei’s head crawled up from his screen, glaring, and all three of them roared laughing.

He felt his ears get hot. “How did she–what did you do?”

Sayoko smiled. “I sent the file over to Murasaki’s studio–I thought she might want to hear you.”


They continued laughing as he leaned back in his chair.

Great. Another prankster to add to the group.