Having pretty much completed the Snippet Posts for The Prodigal Band Trilogy, and having been working on ‘Spin-Off’ novels over the last several years since I retired from my previous job, and having published the three-books-in-one trilogy through Lulu for global reach using e-books, I figured why end there?
There are a number of minor characters that could bring about ‘spin-off’ novels, as some of them were actually murdered or ‘died mysteriously.’ I have even contemplated a ‘murder’ scenario of one of my major characters, but I’m not sure which one yet.
By ‘spin-off’ characters, I mean minor or support characters that play some important role within one or more of the three novels. The notion of ‘spin-offs’ was inspired by one of my favorite TV shows during the 70s, All In The Family. A comedy, and a satire of sorts of the politics of the right (Archie Bunker, and to a lesser extent, his wife Edith) and left (Mike Stivic and his wife, Archie’s daughter Gloria, who is a feminist). Naturally, Archie and Mike did not get along. Further, neighbors, including the Jeffersons, who were black, had issues with Archie as well, as did Edith’s cousin, Maude, an ultra-liberal. These supporting characters eventually featured in their own spin-off shows, The Jeffersons and Maude. Another spin-off, Archie Bunker’s Place, features several of Bunker’s buddies from the original series. Further, a spin-off had its own spin-off: Maude’s black maid, Florida Evans, was a main character in the show, Good Times, set in a Chicago housing project; yet, since Maude was never mentioned, it was not technically a spin-off. Finally, the show Gloria was created after Gloria divorced from Mike; the prelude to that was featured in one of the final episodes of All in the Family. So, we are talking four or five spin-offs here!
Two of the spin-off parts of the full novel are being manuscripted slowly but surely, with one or two more possibilities in the works. Both are roughly half-way completed, just waiting for more inspiration to finish, but they will be finished and will likely combine in a ‘three-or-four-or-five’ complete novel, in parts, with the likely title being The Murder Rule. Yep, I like mysteries, suspense novels, and crime stories. After all, there is so much crime and mystery and occultic scenarios going on these days of Covid, and now a ridiculous war in Ukraine, where of course the narrative blames it all on Russia. Sorry, there is more to this story than ‘the narrative’! And while God is in control, Ephesians 6:12 states it perfectly—the world is ruled by evil, ‘wickedness in high places.’
In order to introduce this novel-in-the-works, I will begin with a snippet that will introduce a major character within The Murder Rule. He is another rock star, singer Denny Spradlin of the band that helped mentor the prodigal band Sound Unltd, called Wolfin. (Note: it was originally called ‘Wolfen,’ but since that is the name of an 80s mystery movie set in the Bronx, I had to change the spelling.) Denny and his collaborator, guitarist Blake Fenmore, while loving their fame and fortune, eventually turn into nothing but party animals and eventually become lazy and stop producing hits, falling into has-been-dom, which leads to trouble and danger. Denny becomes a ‘useless eater’ of sorts to those controlling the music industry evil agenda; further, he is addicted to the opioid designer drug mentioned in the trilogy, called skuz.
The snippets, which are found in Chapter Nine of Battle of the Band, feature Denny and prodigal band singer-front man Erik. The singer had temporarily left his wife, Ger, whom he found having relations with her ‘trainer’ named Gunther as well as the fact that she never told him she was bulimic, an eating disorder where the one fearing weight-gain eats the food, then vomits it. So, angry at his ‘something’ whom he considered ‘perfect,’ he left her to move to a townhouse in Chelsea in London. Further, he and the band were working on videos to be shown on a new music TV network, MusicCom. Upon leaving his estate traveling to a warehouse to work on the videos, he notices Denny’s fancy car is having issues. Being a friend of Denny’s, he feels he needs to help while his driver helps Denny’s driver. The first snippet also mentions various other rockers with their music TV deals.
January 8, 1996
Frigid winds driving walls of rain barraged a chauffeured 1938 luxury model which slowly took a daydreaming Erik to the warehouse, now set up to film and produce the MusiCom videos. He’d been back to South Hold to pick up belongings. First he made sure Ger was gone.
As he listened to some traditional flute-and-guitar music, as he took a match to light a joint, the corner of his eye caught the shine of unmoving car headlights up ahead. In passing the disabled vehicle, he saw the dangling gold chain on Denny’s luxury sedan hood ornament.
“Stop the car, eh?” he ordered the driver. “That’s Denny’s car in trouble. Let’s go out and help him.”
While Erik’s driver assisted Denny’s, the singer opened the back door to visit. He hadn’t seen Denny since the party.
“I thought that was you passing by,” Denny said with a stoned grin as Erik plopped himself on the leather seat, his sopping wet pea coat soaking up the aroma of Colombian herb. “Take your coat off and stay awhile, eh? Share a j with me.”
“Definitely, man. So where you heading home from?”
“The recording studio, Erik. We’re trying again. Trying to get back into the fast track. New album. Art’s been trying to get me and Blake into the studio for months. We finally put up or shut up.” But the white-blond singer’s voice failed to convince.
“That’s super, Den. Glad to hear you people working again. Too bad about your car, though.”
Denny toked. “Just a fan belt. Yeah, we’re gonna try one last comeback.” Spradlin sounded tired. “Last three albums were all the same—sentimental bluesy metal. This time, we’re more deliberate. More now. Got some good songs coming.”
While Erik toked, Denny sang a few bars of one.
The other tried to appear encouraging. I’d better nod and smile and be enthused. But, shit, Den, your style went out with the hippies. More now? Who you fooling? I’m sorry, Den, but Wolfin’ll never make it back. “Sounds boffo, man. I can dig it.”
Denny toked. “Yeah, we’ll make it back. So, what you doing out on a night like this, ol’ man?”
“We leased a warehouse on the Thames for shooting those videos. LoveLace Media’s providing the video camera crew and computer technicians. Some of our roadies’ve been building our sets since November. One is a life-sized replica of Stonehenge. The authorities wouldn’t let us film any footage at the real Stonehenge. Said the loud music could disturb the monoliths. Do you believe that? So, we’re programming images of Salisbury Plain into a video mix with the replica props that form our set. We’re shooting the video for Where Do We Come From? You want to watch?”
“Thank you much, man, but no. I’m a wee bit in the mood to just hang out at home.”
Denny smirked and turned away mad. “No! She’s with Duke now. I reckon she wants someone new. Someone big time.” Denny turned back. “You know ol’ Duke, eh?”
Erik snorted with shaking head. “Yeh, yeh. He and four punky-looking, strung-out wenches got a look at us a couple o’ nights ago. He got in the way, though, and the bloke got real pissed at Mick for asking them to leave. Couldn’t get anything done, eh? Kept hitting us up for more coke. Like, he thinks all we have time for is sniffing. Thinks he’s the world’s biggest punker.”
“Yeah,” Denny laughed, “Duke acts like a latter-day Roger Pelham. You seen ol’ Rog lately?”
“Too damned busy and the holidays and all. But I heard he was depressed.”
Denny leaned toward Erik, pleased to reveal the juicy news, more pleased to feel he wasn’t the only one with problems and even more pleased with the possibility Erik would lay down some of his own. “That’s what Mark told me. Said Rog has been ticked off since he found out Sound Unltd was making twenty mil for those videos, and White Metal was only making ten. Only! Rog is never satisfied! And when Bruce told him Hot Bandits was making fifteen, Roger went through the roof. Hit his head on his stupid dining room chandelier! A laugh, eh?”
Broad smile. “What the hell was he doing in his dining room? He never uses it, eh?”
“He likes to eat there now and stare up at that million-pound chandelier and muse about how great he is. What a joke.”
“Yeh, yeh.” Another toke. “But Den, I thought The Bandits were splitting. Pete Slade told me at your party that he was tired of fighting Bruce Letham’s ego. Pete said the video deal nearly didn’t go through because Bruce wanted to hold out for twenty.”
“Ol’ Letham’ll do anything for money. He’s always been like that, ever since he forced Gr8 Expectations to split up because they weren’t making his kinda loot. Now he’s got castles in Scotland and Wales and Germany. What more does he want?”
“Look, Den. Folks like Pete and Bruce and Rog and John Mocke—”
“Now there’s a burn-out case!”
“And Rob Falcone and even Mark Sheridan hate Sound Unltd because they’re jealous of our lasting success. That we’re still number one. They’d like nothing better than to see us split. They think we strong-armed MusiCom to get that twenty million. But you know why they’re paying us that much? Because we told ‘em it would cost us between ten and fifteen just to produce the videos. It’s already cost us two mil just to fix up the warehouse. We’re doing twenty-five videos, each costing at least a hundred thou. Plus, we’re shooting Street Fighter and some others with local kids up in Walltown, and we’re doing part of Where Do We Come From? in the ruins of the Hovels. Plus, we’re going on location to the Craggy Mountains to do the two Crag-Dweller songs. Mick’s hiring about a hundred locals to do it. Some of our videos will cost up to two mil to do. Like, we needed twenty, eh?”
“I hear you. You’re right. They hate you because they’re jealous, and because you’re all such superior performers. Like I’ve always said—”
“We’re the best of the Outlaws, right?”
Denny continued. “But Blake and I aren’t jealous. It’s our fault we’re not in your shoes.”
“Listen, Den. Whether you make it back or not, Sound Unltd will always acknowledge our debt to Wolfin.”
“Right,” Denny snickered. “Everyone knows Wolfin opened the door for Sound Unltd.”
“No. Wolfin means more than just a footnote in history.”
“Quite all right.” Spradlin lit the next joint. “How many people get to be footnotes in history? I feel privileged to be your usher.” He cackled while Erik toked uneasily.
Denny then switched the subject. “So, how’s Ger?”
The other turned morbid. “Fine. Her show’s very big time. She loves it. I hardly ever see her.” True. “I really can’t say much about her right now. Kids’re fine, too.”
“Well, super ol’ man.” Denny knew when to drop a sore subject.
They engaged in more small talk, then Denny said, “Listen, Erik. I want you to have this.” Spradlin took off his razor-blade earring and gave it to the flabbergasted singer.
“Shit, Den, this is your favorite earring! One of your prize possessions.”
“I won’t need it anymore. Tired of it, eh? Put it on.”
Erik wore two left earrings—one, the band’s insignia, black on silver; the other was a diamond Ger gave him for Christmas, 1995. He removed the diamond and put the razor-blade in its place. Then he threw the diamond into the ashtray. “And I won’t need that one anymore, eh? You’re a damned good friend, eh Den? I’m really honored you’d give me this.”
While Erik toked a long drag, it occurred to him Denny must be changing his life to give up his trademark so easily. Or—maybe—ending his life? No, he’s still got too much to live for, doesn’t he? He handed Denny the joint while looking straight at him, eyes boring into Spradlin’s soul. “You’re not gonna kill yourself, are you, Den? I mean, you’re giving me part of your being.”
With stony eyes and smile, the Wolfin singer laughed, “I got a nicer one. Do you think I’d kill meself and not be buried with me favorite earring? Don’t be silly, ol’ man.”
At the warehouse, Erik learned that Denny had given Jack his platinum record of Wolfin’s best album, Serious Confusion, and Keith got Denny’s crystal nose spoon.
Then again, Denny said he wasn’t committing suicide.
Then a month later on February 3, 1996, while still in his townhouse and watching television, this news suddenly appears, which reminded Erik of his of a consideration he’d made earlier.
The TV news announcer cut into Erik’s consciousness at 10:42 p.m., February 3: “A coroner’s report from an hour ago would indicate that rock singer Denny Spradlin died at his Wistview residence from an accidental overdose of skuz. He was known to be a heavy user.”
Having lost his love and his friend in the same instant of boundless time, Erik stared at the TV screen through moistened eyes, through a barren soul of self-pity.
I knew he would kill himself! I shoulda stopped him! Why didn’t I stop him? Too damned wrapped up in my own problems.
Rocking back and forth, he cried. I’m so sorry, Den. Forgive me.
Only it wasn’t suicide.
And I never intended it to be suicide, even though ‘suicide’ is considered to be the number one reason—or number two reason, behind drug overdoses–for the deaths of so many rock stars. And it was the ‘suicide’ of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, whom I had a funny feeling was actually murdered (thanks in part to some of my El Paso high school students’ belief he was murdered…I was not exactly a Nirvana fan at the time and thus barely knew about the guy), that helped inspire the above snippets, and another one in Chapter Ten, where the singer meets Denny in ‘the void’ while in a hospital because of a mild heart attack.
The next post with another ‘spin-off’ character will appear in two weeks. Loved ones are coming out next week…spring break, doncha know.
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The Prodigal Band Trilogy © 2019 by Deborah Lagarde, Battle of the Band © 1996 by Deborah Lagarde, The Prophesied Band © 1998 by Deborah Lagarde and The Prodigal Band © 2018 by Deborah Lagarde. Permission needed to copy any materials off this page.