The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels

chapter 36

Monday, September 18th, 10:35 PM

Dayton, OH


Carter just had to put me back here tonight.

Then again, the random crazed fan or pap could still turn up, Evan realized.

He zippered up his security jacket. Summer felt finally coming to an end, with temperatures outside tonight in the 50s. And it wasn’t too much warmer here in University of Dayton Arena’s backstage area. He inhaled a deep breath. The scents of freshly cut wood, drilled metal pieces, and the other chemical-like smells, from the recent stage construction, filled his nostrils.

Interspersed within the roaring noise of Dana’s music and her vocal fans he could hear the near-shouting voices of Carter, Lloyd, and the music tech roadies discussing how well Dana’s concert had been going so far. And yeah, it was flowing along great, with a sold-out stadium, albeit a rather smaller one than usual, and fans swaying to Dana’s music, cheering and having a great time. He stepped out and to the side a little, so he could see more of the expanse of the audience in front of him and to the right, at the head of the stage. Though the audience area was dark, many of those glow objects, merchandise sold at the beginning of the concert, sparkled within the audience along with bright cell phone screens, phone camera flashes and video recording lights. It was like stars in the night sky.

He caught glimpse of a girl, maybe about fifty feet away, who, for a moment, jolted him – she looked just like Heidi. Could it be, really? He adjusted his eyes and stared her over better. She turned, talking to another girl seated next to her, and he knew right away – she didn’t have the same profile. She wasn’t Heidi.

But he missed her, at times. He missed holding her, being close to her. The last girl who he held was precious Neraeh. Neraeh, who was now dating his best friend in the whole world, Freddy.

He sighed.

He reminded himself. That last day at Heidi's house. And his overreactive drive away. He didn’t want them to become history. And yet, here we are. Hopefully Heidi never posts on social media that he had called her Syrrah. She hadn’t so far, last he checked. And thankfully she had removed all the couples photos of them on any of her social media sites.

Dana’s current song came to an end. She let out a loud hoot and the audience cheered. She spoke to them for some moments, like she would often do, but then, something in her tone of voice made Evan listen more intently.

“Like I said. Normally, it is at this time of the night where I look to get one of my fantastic D-Zyphering fans up on stage with me to do some a cappella singing.” The audience cheered again and let out some spicy words, with a few begging Dana to choose him or her. “How-ev-er,” she said slowly, distinctly, “tonight, my dear fans, I have a surprise for you. Yes, yes, it was planned, but only by me, essentially, not by the person…who is about to be dragged on stage.” 

A shot of adrenaline surged through Evan. What the heck was she talking about?

But no, what am I doing? Watch for people approaching, intruding around the stage, potentially putting Dana at risk!

He kept his eyes and attention alert. The audience cheered again and did call-outs yet requesting Dana to choose one of them or else announce the mystery person.

“You know,” Dana continued, “the song I want to sing, with this person, this special person…well, I did not realize it was a song performed by the great Stevie Nicks. So yeah, I learned something new today.”

Evan felt his heart drop. Was this why Carter had stationed him back here?

“About a week ago,” Dana said, “as many of my fans have followed on Instagram and Twitter, I did some practice singing with someone, who, without doubt, surprised the hell out of me, my dear fans.” The audience cheered and yelled even more. Carter stopped talking with Lloyd and those music techs and walked closer to where Evan was standing. That one concerned, troubled look on Carter’s face told Evan everything he needed to know; Carter did not know about this beforehand too. “A natural, a born talent,” she said. “Takes one to know one, I should say. And it wasn’t the first time I heard this person sing. Nope. This person sang at a party we were having, a sort of karaoke free-for-all.”

“What is she doing?” Evan said out loud, mostly to himself.

Carter approached and nearly got right in Evan’s face. “What’s going on?” His words thundered in competition with the audience noise. “Did you two plan something?”

“No, no, not at all! I don’t know anything about this!”

“And so, here tonight, for the first time, my fellow D-Zyphering fans,” Dana continued, her voice getting louder and more intense, “without any previous rehearsals, I call up on stage, my security guard, Evan, to sing I Need To Know! Wooo-hoo!”

The audience went crazy.

Lloyd walked over, his steps with strong purpose, and stood next to Carter. “What the hell is happening!” He stared dead on at Evan, a stare that held something dark, disturbing, that Evan hadn’t seen before with this man.

Evan swung both his hands up. “I don’t know! I have no idea what’s going on!”

“Now,” Dana continued, “I just need to find him, because I know he’s going to be shy about this. He’s such the softy.” She laughed, and her behavior seemed off, not her usual stage-presence self. “Where are you, Evan? I’ll find you, even if it takes all night.”

Evan stood up taller on his toes so he could see between the curtain space at the top of the metal stairs. She was walking around the front stage area, where Carter had usually placed him in recent concerts.

Lloyd suddenly barged his way between Carter and Evan and headed up the metal stairs, an intense, angry crumple on what Evan could glimpse of his face, his profile.

“What is she talking about?” Evan said to himself. “I’m no softy.”

“Turrone. Don’t worry. Lloyd will handle this. She just wants to stir things up tonight.”

“Oh, look,” Dana then said. “My father is coming up on stage.” She was quiet a moment. Evan watched what he could of her, and Lloyd, through the curtain space. Lloyd was motioning, with his hands, to get her to come near him. But she ignored his requesting motion and headed back to the front of the stage. “I don’t think my father likes this idea. But, my adoring D-Zyphering fans, what do you think? Should this show go on?”

The audience yelled out “Yes! Yes! Yes!” repeatedly, an extremely loud chant, blasting out screams and cheers too at the same time. The place had become an honest-to-God madhouse.

Evan locked his eyes on Lloyd. Dana was stepping closer to him now, near some of the backup singers and musicians. She talked with Lloyd and looked at his phone. The singers and musicians grouped around and spoke near them too. After about a minute, Lloyd turned away and headed toward the metal stairs.

Once he stepped down the stairs he stared at Evan. “Against my better judgement, you have my permission to proceed with this.”

“Wait a minute,” Carter said, “did she secure the rights for them to sing this now?”

Lloyd held out his phone. He was scrolling, looking for something. “Yes. She has a document, in my email.” He stopped scrolling and held the phone near Carter’s face. “You see?”

Carter read it a moment. “All right, all right.” He looked at Evan. “Change of plans, kid. The audience is freaking out for you.”

Evan’s mind was in a whirl. He could do this, he knew he could, but still, it was so unplanned.

Suddenly Dana appeared at the top of the stairs between parted curtains. “Evan, come on! They’re waiting!”

He eyed her over carefully. She was smiling, broadly, and yes, his earlier intuition proved correct; she appeared slightly drunk or high, with over-friendliness and a tinge of sluggishness or awkwardness. And she was quite eager, and more welcoming toward him, something he really hadn’t felt from her before. Mixed emotions pummeled about in his core, with anger, excitement, and anticipation rising to the top. How could she do this to him? He was about to become more exposed than ever. “Yeah. Well,” he yelled out louder than he should, “I really don’t appreciate you dropping this on me unannounced.”

“Hey! Shit happens.” Lloyd got up close and personal again. “All part of the show. You know that.”

Evan stared back at him. Obviously no way to avoid this now. “I need an electric guitar. I’m not going up there without one.” 

“Raul!” Dana called out.

Raul scrambled himself out from under the lower deck area of the stage. He looked up at Dana.

“An electric guitar! Get Evan an electric guitar, and right away!”

In a hectic tornado of motion, Raul raced around under stage until finding one. He grasped the guitar within his arms and rushed up the stairs. Dana met with him and led him over to the proper connection ports.

Evan stayed at the bottom of the stairs. “I’m just waiting for them to set it up,” he told Carter.

“That’s all right, Turrone. Wait for her to come back to get you.”

Lloyd stepped back away a few paces and stood with his arms crossed, eying Evan, Carter and the activity up on stage.

Evan ignored Lloyd and watched on the stage too. Worrisome thoughts filled his mind; Heidi knowing about this; Art’s teleportal transfer maybe exposing him to the EBEs supposedly interacting with Dana. How could Art even manage all of this? This was far too widespread and overwhelming!

But Art claimed he could handle it all. And Art told him to pray. Remember. Sometimes prayer is all we have.

Dana arrived back at the top of the stairs. She made the OK sign with her thumb and index finger. “Okay!” She motioned for him to come up the stairs. “Come on, already!”

Recalling Syrrah’s video and her OK sign was just what he needed now; the anger and worry began to subside.

Evan jogged up the stairs until standing on the stage. He followed Dana over to where Raul was holding the guitar. The audience began cheering, clapping loudly. Raul had the guitar plugged into the amp and ready to go. With Raul’s help, Evan slung the guitar strap over his shoulder until it felt comfortable and in the right position. Raul then handed Evan a small IEM receiver, an Xvive, complete with a set of earphones attached to the receiver. Evan clipped the receiver on his belt and draped the earphone cables over his shoulders. Raul used hand gestures, since the audience was just too darn loud, to confirm that Evan should be able to hear his own voice, Dana’s voice, the guitar, backup mixing and even audience participation with their entire sound system setup.

Alarm struck him. From his eye’s corner, he noticed the enormous presence of the humungous video screens on the back-stage area. He had observed them many times before at Dana’s concerts, but seeing himself up there, huge, for the first time, was a slight unnerving.

Dana approached him, a smile beaming across her face, her height nearly at his level with her heels. He had seen her outfit earlier, but now he could really take her all in, though the bright light of the spotlights obscured her view slightly. Covering most of her was a short, body-hugging dress, with long sleeves and a low-cut neck, the fabric some sort of light-pink, sparkly, sequined material. She wore a matching pink bead and diamond necklace and matching light pink high-heeled sandals. Her pretty face sparkled from glitter around her eyes and cheeks and her brunette hair was loose, framing her face just perfectly. She looked absolutely gorgeous.

“Come on,” she yelled, grasping her small, white earphones in one hand, holding a wireless mic in her other hand. “Let’s get this going.”

She walked ahead to the front of the stage. She held the mic close. “All right everyone! All right, all right! Here we go.” She turned back yet holding the mic near her mouth. “But first. You gonna take off that uptight security jacket you’re wearing?”

Evan walked over to an unused, upright mic stand, to Dana’s left. He strummed the guitar. It clanged out loud and clear across the stadium. The audience cheered a moment. He adjusted the mic on the stand until at the correct height for him. He leaned closer to it. “Well, yeah, I’ll take it off…if you really want me to.”

Hoots, cheers and a few screams came back at him from the audience.

“Well, hell yeah,” Dana said, smiling at him. She turned and faced the audience “All right, it’s gonna get really heated up in here, ladies.”

Lots of whistles and other callouts then echoed across the stadium.

Evan grasped the guitar strap and began slipping it off. Raul walked over and helped, holding the guitar once Evan had it removed. He unzippered his jacket, took it off and handed it to Raul, while Raul placed the guitar in Evan’s free hand. Raul rushed away with the jacket to the metal stairs.

It felt good to get that jacket off, since his body heat was definitely up since all this started. Now he had on only those black security dress pants and that dark grey polo T-shirt, the one that fit him a bit too tightly. Whistling and flirting words rang out across the stadium; of course, his bulging arms and shredded body couldn’t help but get noticed now. He slung the guitar strap over his shoulder again and adjusted a few things, so it felt comfortable. He looked at Dana. “Ready anytime you are, Dana.”

“Well, how ‘bout that, ladies,” she said into the mic. “He’s ready to go.” She faced the audience and winked at them. More of her fans whistled and yelled out. She turned to Evan and stepped closer to him. She reached out her free hand, touched his right shoulder and then slid her fingertips down over his upper arm. “As you can probably tell, this guy works out on a massive scale. Just look at those biceps!”

Evan laughed, near the mic. “You know I do.” He noticed she seemed a little perplexed or off kilter by his response.

More whistles and cheers came from the audience, mainly from women.

Dana caressed his right shoulder again, and then released her hand. “Like my touch, ladies.” She looked out at the audience. “Brief, and then done. You all can look, but you can’t have. Since he is mine.” She winked again toward her fans. She laughed. She glanced at Evan, but then back at the audience. “But, seriously. This is Evan, Evan Turrone, of the hard rock group Ten Dissent. He joined our tour to make some extra money.” She looked at him. “And only eighteen, right Evan?”

His mind wanted to kick into panic mode, from everything she had just announced, but the intensity of the moment whipped it away. He stared into her eyes. “Yeah, that’s right. Too young for you, Dana.”

A few boos sounded out from the audience.

Dana blinked several times, but then brought out a fun-filled, laughing response. “Ohhh, that will teach me, huh? I sense a little hostility there, boy.”

“Nah. Just eager to get this party rolling.” He stepped so he faced her directly and stared into her eyes again, making sure to keep the mic by his mouth. “And yeah, never mind my last comment. You can touch my body anytime you want, baby.” And he meant it, hard, even though it came out in a playful manner, in line with their fun banter. 

“Oooohhh, well, my dear D-Zyphering fans, I suppose we best get this party rolling, like Evan suggests. Need to get this guy’s energy channeled somewhere else, if you know what I mean!”

Again cheers, whistling sounds, and other yell-outs echoed across the stadium.

Dana lowered her mic and stepped closer to him. Her eyes were serious now, though softer than their usual intensity. “I’m gonna sing the first verse. You do any backup with me. Harmony if you can. Then you take over the second verse, and we can improvise from there.”

Evan looked around the stage area near the stairs, at the usual musicians and backup singers. None of the dancers were on stage.

“Yes, I got this covered,” she said. “My guitar players, bass player, keyboardist, drummers will start off for us.”

“I can do it,” Evan said, also away from the mic.

“I know. Just join in, or take over.” Raul suddenly appeared again. He handed Dana an electric guitar. “Yeah, I’m playing some of this too.” She slung the guitar strap around her shoulder and stepped closer to her mic stand.

She turned to her musicians and with her hand gave the start signal.

With the first hit of the drum, the song was off and running. The tempo was a slight slower than what he had played at that karaoke, but this was understandable, since Dana probably had to take her stage musicians into consideration. But, Syrrah. And her fondness of Tom Petty. No. Concentrate! You’re on stage in front of thousands of people for crying out loud! He listened a few seconds, but then was able to join right in with the other guitarists and keyboardists, in perfect tone and beat with them.

And then Dana started singing. She sounded so right, so great, just as he imagined a girl’s voice would work for this awesome song. And the IEMs were working like they should.

When she came to the main chorus, Evan drew close enough to the mic and sang the secondary back part right after Dana’s portion. He didn’t even feel nervous, or overwhelmed, for some reason. She watched him and her face practically lit up each time he sang.

Then she nodded toward him slightly, since it was his turn at the main verse. And he took it, again, effortlessly.

The audience cheered.

She again signaled for him to do the main chorus part. He did, but then she sang harmony to his singing, and her harmony was so perfect. And then the chorus part ended.

The guitar solo part came up and Evan went for it. And Dana did too, with her guitar. She left her mic stand and walked out into the stage section jutting out into the standing room only area of the audience. He followed her. They both played the part in unison. It sounded so amazing. And once more he noticed an odd lack of nervousness and instead felt a surge of energy and power rush through him. The audience was loving it even more, with phones flashing photos, people yelling out cheers and some fans even singing along. It was absolutely electrifying.

Some of Dana’s fans even started rushing toward the closed-off perimeter area around the stage. But venue security and some of their own guys within the perimeter were able to keep them back, for the most part. It was then that Evan saw Greg. He gave Greg a nod and Greg nodded back with a beaming smile.

Before their guitar solos ended, Dana headed back to the main stage area, by her mic stand. Evan followed her.

When their solos concluded, Dana drew closer to him. He sang the main chorus with Dana doing perfect harmony along with his singing.

The final chorus line ended, and he did his usual concluding guitar rift. Dana moved even closer, without their arms or guitars smacking into each other and joined in with the guitar playing until they both ended it exactly together on the end guitar strum and pluck.

Evan was breathing hard. So was Dana. Well, yeah, no kidding. It was hard work but intense, unbelievable excitement.

The audience was going crazy. Evan looked out across the expanse of the stadium and suddenly those previous worries struck like earlier; yup, this was going to be all over social media like stink on shit. This certainly exposed him far more than he should be. Heidi would find out for certain. Anger and frustration rose within him again.

Dana glanced at him, but then took the mic off the stand and looked out at the audience. She wanted to speak, but the cheering was so loud and unceasing.

Evan focused his attention on what they were yelling. Girls were whistling at him, and he could hear words to the effect of how hot and handsome he was and what an incredible performance he did. Some of his negative emotions lessened, but not by much.

Finally, the audience settled down enough. Dana removed the guitar. And Raul, like earlier, was right there, ready to take the guitar off stage. Dana turned and faced Evan. Her eyes and face were glowing. The usual agitated, intense demeanor was not there, replaced instead with awe, yet softness. He could tell. She was even more impressed and amazed by his ability than at Aagaard Studios. She didn’t expect this. He could even hear some words backstage, from other stagehands, the back-up singers, the musicians, and others commenting “Wow, that was amazing,” and other similar complementing phrases.

She stepped closer and held the mic to her voice. “I concur, with what I’m hearing. That was truly…amazing.” She smiled at him.

He nodded slightly. He drew nearer to his mic. “Thank you, Dana.”

She swept her hand out toward the audience. “Ladies and gents.” She brought her hand back near him. “My amazing security guard, Evan Turrone.”

The audience roared and cheered at a near deafening level.

But why did she have to expose him this much? It almost felt like she knew, who he really was, and why he was here. Couldn’t she understand he was her protector, her guardian, the one man who could actually save her?

She looked at him again. He searched within her dark brown eyes and her expression. No. She didn’t have those thoughts. She was innocent. She was…Syrrah.

The enormity of the moment overtook Evan. He stared back into her eyes, the intensity of all his emotions funneling a spike into her soul, only because he had to; these emotions could no longer be imprisoned; they had to be released.

Dana appeared wounded for some seconds. She blinked a few times, but then smiled, and looked toward the stage floor, and next away. This was truly not like her.

She drew in a deep breath, and stared back at him, this time emboldened. She held the mic down and away. “Come on.” He could hear her, as the audience had quieted down some. “I need to get you off stage before Dad and Carter have an ultrasonic meltdown.”  

He smiled briefly. “Okay.” He removed the guitar but held on to it. He followed Dana’s lead toward the stairs.

Many people in the audience were shouting “Encore, encore!” but Dana ignored them and continued walking.

When they stepped down the stairs and arrived at the stadium floor level, lots of other people, mostly from the tour had gathered around. Raul came forward and Evan handed the guitar to him. But once focusing on Lloyd and Carter, Evan’s elevated mood diminished; Hal was standing nearby, his arms tightly folded over his chest, and he seemed to be holding back a flood of rage.

“Hey, dad,” Dana said. “It was great, huh?”

“Yeah, yeah, it was great.” Lloyd folded his arms across his chest too. He glared at Evan. “But you. You keep your hands off my daughter. You understand?”

Dana’s mouth gaped open. “Dad. What are you talking about? I touched him!”

Lloyd kept his stare locked into Evan’s. “One touch leads to another. His talk up there, touch my body anytime you want, baby. That ends, now.”

Dana gingerly inched closer to her dad. “We were just joking and kidding around up there, you know that, you know it’s all part of the act.” 

Lloyd stared at her with angry eyes. “He’s goddam eighteen-years-old. And you’re twenty-eight, Dana. We’re talking pedo shit here.” He huffed out a breath. “And I’m not talking about this now. Get back up there and do your show. Or there are consequences.”

Dana squinted at Lloyd. Her shoulders heaved from heavy breathing. “I’m no goddam pedo.” But then she lifted her chin and relaxed her arms. His words. Consequences. What consequences? She looked at Evan. “You did absolutely nothing wrong.” 

“It’s okay, Dana,” Evan said. “Your dad’s right. Just get the show done.”

“Fine.” She turned in an abrupt manner and walked up the stairs.

The backup singers, dancers and other musicians or stagehands began dispersing, many following Dana.

Lloyd directed his glare back at Evan. He pointed his finger at him. “Keep your hands off her. Your job is to protect her, not fondle her.” He swiped his arm down, with emphasis, and walked away. He passed by Hal, who gave Evan one last dagger stare before tagging along behind Lloyd.

Evan wanted to give a searing, sarcastic comeback, but harnessed himself from doing it. “I’m sorry, Lloyd,” he called out instead. But didn’t matter. Lloyd ignored his words and continued walking with Hal until they both turned down a hallway and could no longer be seen.

Dana spoke briefly to her audience but not one word that she spoke mentioned Evan or their previous amazing performance. She started up another song, one he had heard her sing many times before.

Carter walked over and stood before Evan. “Turrone. Just get to work. Do your job.”

“Sure. No problem.”

But he didn’t really mean it.

There were problems here; in fact, there were many, many problems here.