Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Hat Trick
Book 2 of the Bradford Exiles series
Wes Boyd
©2004, ©2010

Chapter 3

Fall 1988

As long as she was heading up the two flights of stairs, Dayna thought she might as well make it worth the effort. There was a whole pile of stuff in the Chevette that had to be hauled up to her dorm room, and the only way she had to get it there was to hand-carry it. She let out a sigh; her folks had offered to come along and help out, but she really wanted to do this by herself. She was on her own with this move, pretty much, and she wanted to demonstrate her independence if only to herself.

It was a little scary. Central Michigan University and Mount Pleasant were only about two and a half hours away from Bradford, but it was a long two and a half hours. The thing that gave her comfort was to think how bad it must have been a few days ago for Jennlynn to load her stuff in her Monza and head for California, and not even expect to be home for Christmas! This was easy by comparison!

It wasnít easy to park close to the dorm, but she got as close as she could, opened the back of the Chevette, and pulled out her gig bag with her guitar and a large suitcase, then locked the deck and headed for the dorm. She wondered what her roomie Sandra Beecham would be like; sheíd known who it would be for a couple months, but sheíd been hard to get hold of, working down at the Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio, from what she understood. They had managed one phone call and decided to put off getting stuff like a refrigerator and a microwave for a while, just to see how bad theyíd want them; from what sheíd learned about Sandra she didnít have a lot of money, either. But, no big deal; learn to travel light, Tim had told her. Her Chevette was only about half full, and there were kids there unloading cars stacked to the roofline, even trucks!

She found her room at the top of the stairs without much difficulty; the door stood wide open, so it was likely that Sandra was already there. She hiked into the room and found a solid, somewhat chunky dishwater blonde girl sitting on one of the beds. "Hi, you must be Sandra," she smiled.

"You must be Dayna," the girl said. "Welcome to Central, and call me Sandy."

"Well, hi, Sandy," Dayna grinned. "Been here long?"

"My folks just left," she said. "We left real early so we could be here when the dorm opened. You play the guitar too, I see."

"A little," Dayna smiled. "I had to blow off a gig today so I could do all this orientation crap, so I just slept in a little and drove up here."

"A gig?"

"Yeah, a couple friends and I are playing this festival over near Flint on the weekends. Weíve been doing pretty well with it, so you wonít see much of me on weekends till the end of next month."

"What are you, a music major?"

"No, business ad; although, Iím not sure how much I want to do it."

"Well, youíre either really good or darn lucky," Sandy shook her head. "Iím a music major; I play a pretty decent guitar, but Iíve never once had a paying gig."

"I just got lucky and met the right people," Dayna laughed. "Weíll have to get together and jam a little. Is this pretty much how we want the room set up?"

"If you donít mind," Sandy nodded. "Iíd just as soon avoid using bunks."

"Fine with me," Dayna agreed. "I guess I better get hauling; then we can shoot the shit a little. I donít have a whole hell of a lot to haul in."

"Iíll come help," Sandy said, getting up. She was wearing shorts and a big, floppy T-shirt, contrasting with the tight jeans and tight, low-cut T-shirt showing some cleavage that the taller Dayna wore. "I guess a few more trips up and down the stairs will help with my losing weight."

"Have you been losing some?" Dayna asked.

"Yeah, I worked down at Cedar Point all summer; the food is lousy, and they charge like hell for it, so I decided it was a good time to go on a diet. Iím getting damn sick and tired of lettuce."

"You like it down there?"

"Not particularly, and Iíd like to think Iím going to do something else next summer. I thought I was going to be in one of the shows, but no, they stuck me in a lemonade stand."

They threaded their way down through the stuff that people were hauling up the stairs and made it out to Daynaís car. "This is all you have?" Sandy said with surprise.

"Itís enough," Dayna said. "The guy Iím doing this gig with says that anytime you own more stuff than you can load in your car youíve got too much. I think heís right. If I decide I donít like this, I want to be able to blow this scene in one lift."

"Might not be the dumbest idea Iíve ever heard," Sandy agreed. "Iím glad youíve got a car. I decided to try and get along without one, even this summer. It made it damn boring to be stuck on the Point all the time."

It only took a few trips to get the Chevette unloaded, and then Dayna spent some time getting stuff unpacked and stored into the dresser and closet, while Sandy pulled out a twelve-string and just strummed and Dayna worked. "Youíre not half bad with that," Dayna commented.

"Iíd like to be better," Sandy shrugged. "Iím better with a keyboard, and on brass. I canít sing worth a damn, though. Do you sing?"

"A little," Dayna grinned. "Youíre going to make me play something, arenít you?"

"Oh, not really," Sandy shrugged. "I just kind of like to sit and play at the guitar to kill time. It keeps my hands busy."

"Iím the same way," Dayna smiled, grabbing her gig bag off her bed and unzipping it. She pulled out the Gibson, gave it a quick tune-up, and launched off into a very blues-guitar version of Cold Cold Heart.

Sheíd barely gotten a couple lines off when she glanced up and saw Sandy sitting there, eyes wide, mouth hanging open. "Holy shit," Sandy said, shaking her head. "Youíre good!"

"Just some blues," Dayna shrugged, stopping the music. "I donít really know that much about blues."

"Dayna, my God," Sandy shook her head again. "You only think you donít know much about blues. Play that through once, and Iíll see if I can pick up an accompaniment."

Somewhere, the next hour just disappeared. They soon discovered that Sandy was in many ways technically a better guitar player than Dayna Ė sheíd had several years of formal lessons Ė but Dayna was incomparably the better singer and performer. Soon, it was lunch time; they went down to the cafeteria, ate a little, then attended an extremely boring orientation session where they learned nothing they didnít already know.

"That pisses me off," Dayna said as they headed back to the dorm. "Hell, I could have been making some bucks this afternoon, and I had to sit through that horseshit." She thought for a second. "Sandy, would you like to have some fun and get a reputation thatíll stand us out real quick?"

"What do you have in mind?" she asked.

"Letís throw a pitch down in the lobby and busk the dinner crowd."

"Pitch? Busk?"

"Letís set up down in the lobby. Iíll play some of my hotter stuff, and you just go along with me on accompaniment."

"Sure, sounds like fun, a way to stand out a little."

They headed up to their room. Sandy grabbed her twelve-string and headed for the door, but noticed Dayna changing clothes. "Isnít this good enough?"

"Hell no, weíre not rockers out to show how grungy we are," Dayna said, peeling off her pants and pulling on a short skirt. "We are musicians; thereís a difference. Dress a little hot; itíll work better."

"Do you know what youíre doing, Dayna?"

"Pretty much, Iíve done this before. Tim says working college crowds isnít worth the effort, but weíre really not looking for a hat tonight, just a rep."

"Whoís this Tim? Your boyfriend?" Sandy asked, pulling off her floppy T-shirt.

"No, heís old enough to be my father. He and his wife and I have been doing weekend gigs all summer. Well, he and I have been playing; she sets up a little stand and sells jewelry." Dayna pulled off the T-shirt sheíd been wearing and replaced it with a low-cut tank top. "I dunno," she continued. "Iíve got some fishnet stockings, but that might be a little too in-the-face for this dealie. Just go with heels, I guess."

In a few minutes, both had changed clothes. Sandy thought that Dayna looked pretty hot; she wasnít as nicely dressed Ė she never dressed that way, anyway. "Iím ready, I guess," Sandy said, still wondering just what Dayna had in mind.

"All right, letís go get a rep," Dayna grinned, pulling on a black felt fedora with a large white feather in the hatband.

By now, there was a steady stream of people heading into the cafeteria. "Looks like a good pitch," Dayna grinned. "Letís just start off nice and easy and let ourselves get discovered." Sandy found a chair in the lobby; Dayna perched on the arm of a couch, back to the crowd, and started in on California Dreaming Ė which is not a "nice and easy" song, especially played on a wailing acoustic blues guitar. Since there hadnít been any practice of this, Sandy just strummed along in the same key, mostly watching her roommate perform.

The way Dayna belted it out, it didnít take long to draw a crowd; there might have been thirty or forty people standing around. "Hi, there," Dayna said professionally after she ended I Know A Place. "Weíre Dayna and Sandy, the blues sisters from Hunter 307, and we decided to come down and work on our act a little tonight. If you happen to like what we do, a little applause would be appreciated. If you really like what we do, a little cash in my hat here would be even more appreciated." She took off her hat and handed it to a particularly good-looking guy in the crowd, and launched off into a particularly sexy version of Cold Cold Heart, obviously singing directly to him, about how much she wanted to melt his cold, cold heart.

By the end of the song, he was digging in his wallet, and there was a twenty in the hat. "Thank you, sir," Dayna smiled, got up and gave him a peck on the cheek, then started the hat around. "Hey, guy, sometime letís get together and Iíll melt your heart for real." To make her point, she went right into a bluesy version of Help Me Make It Through The Night. By the time she was through with the song, there were a number of guys who would have been willing indeed to take the ribbon from her hair and cuddle her, and more, all night long.

This was not a mall show; Mr. Fredenberg wasnít around to see that she kept it clean. Everything she did, sheíd done at the mall at one time or another Ė if not quite so hot Ė but stringing everything together, it was very hot indeed. Working with acoustic instruments, they couldnít work a big crowd, but it helped to keep everyone close and intimate, and people were coming and going. Daynaís hat made several trips around the crowd in the next couple of hours. After each trip she dumped the take in her gig bag that was open on the table; people kept throwing money into it, too.

After a while, the dinner crowd began to die down, and it was getting close to closing time for the cafeteria. "Hey, thanks," Dayna said. "Youíve been a great audience, and we really appreciate everyone wanting to make us welcome here at Central. This was our welcome to you, and weíll have to get together and do it again some time. But for tonight, letís wrap this up with one last song while the hat goes around again. Live music is a rare experience that weíre trying to keep alive, so your donations to the cause would be appreciated." Then, rather than her usual closer ofAmerican Pie, she did a very hot and breathy and bluesy version of Midnight at the Oasis that obviously had a lot of guys wishing that sheíd take them for a ride. "Thanks, everybody," she smiled. "Like I said, weíll do it again some time."

It still took a while for the crowd to break up; there were a lot of people around who wanted to talk, but finally the two headed into the cafeteria, with three or four guys tagging along. They got a light dinner, and just sat teasing with the guys Ė groupies, thatís what they were Ė and having fun. All of a sudden, they saw a slightly older guy, mid twenties, perhaps, come into the cafeteria. "There you are!" he said. "Iíve been looking all over for you. Youíre the two girls who were just out playing in the lobby, right?"

"Yeah," Dayna nodded, expecting a lecture about how she wasnít supposed to be doing that.

"Weíve got a problem," he went on. "We had a band lined up for an icebreaker party over in Cotton Hall tonight, but they bombed out at the last minute. Howíd you like to fill in?"

"Might be," Dayna grinned. "How much were you paying them?"

"Two and a half," he said.

"We can do that," she nodded. "Our policy is cash."

"But . . . well . . . weíve already . . . " the guy stammered.

"The way we do this is no pay, no play," she smiled.

"All right," he said with a sigh. "Iíll tell the committee theyíre going to have to come up with the money."

"By the second song, or weíre out of there," Dayna said.

"All right," he sighed again. "Youíve done this before, I take it."

"Yeah, youíre dealing with pros here," she said. "I donít want to go late, either; Iíve got another gig tomorrow down in Flint. Eleven sound about right?"

"Can you make it midnight?"

"Yeah, if we can pass my hat around a few times on top of your two and a half. What time do you need us there?"

"About eight would be fine."

"Great, weíll finish our dinner, spiff up a little and get over there."

*   *   *

It was closer to one before the two girls sat down on one of the beds, dumped out the contents of the gig bagís pocket and started counting. "$758.31," Sandy said in awe several minutes later. "Dayna, thatís incredible!"

"Not a bad hat," Dayna smiled.

"I wonder who the cheapskate was." Sandy smiled.

"Probably no one, just someone grabbed a handful of change out of their pocket," Dayna said. "Split down the middle OK with you?"

"Dayna, no," Sandy said. "You were incredible, you carried it. I was just standing there watching for most of it, trying to play along."

"Sandy, you hung in there pretty good for not having done this before," Dayna said. "Like I told that guy from student services, youíre dealing with a pro, and now you canít say youíve never done a paying gig. Now, hereís the deal. We canít go down and work the lobby very often or itís gonna wear thin real quick, but after tonight weíre gonna get a lot of calls to do parties. The last time I did a solo private party I almost got raped, and I learned from that. Iím not doing that alone again. I figure two of us are going to be a lot safer. Iíll admit, I did this my style tonight, because I knew I was going to have to carry it. But if we can work out some routines, fifty-fifty is fine with me. I think you can add some good keyboard and accompaniment, and we ought to be able to pick up a few bucks here and there. Besides, we should have some good times, and I learned a long time ago this beats the shit out of working."

"Beats the hell out of Cedar Point for sure," she grinned. "Itís a deal."

"Good enough," Dayna smiled. "Now, I have to be over to Flint by nine, so I need to get to sleep. Youíre welcome to come with me, but weíre going to have to get up way early."

"Iím with you," she said. "Dayna, is it always that much fun?"

"No, sometimes it reeks. But sometimes itís even better. Thatís what keeps it interesting; you never know."

*   *   *

Itís always pretty exciting around a dorm in the first days of college, and there were kids who hadnít gone to bed yet when Daynaís bedside alarm clock rang. She yawned and wanted to roll back over, but knew it wasnít a good idea; you had to work the crowds when they were there, and this meant having to get up in the morning. But it had been a good night the night before, so no big deal.

Sheíd made herself seem a little more professional and brassy to Sandy, and to the campus, than she really was. Sheíd been a paid musician for less than a year, but knew that first impressions were important, and last night would go a long way toward setting how the next few years would go. Sheíd dazzled Sandy, too, and that was part of her plan, sort of establishing who was in charge. Though she didnít know the shorter woman with the curly blonde hair well, she seemed like a pretty decent type, and Daynaís concern about playing private parties was genuine. It seemed like a real good idea, even though it had come off the cuff for her.

After giving Sandy a nudge to get her moving, she headed in to the shower, then got dressed. While Sandy was in the shower, she packed her clothes for the day in a small suitcase and then Sandy got dressed. "Itís a costume event," she explained. "Iíll change when I get there."

"Should I bring the twelve-string?" Sandy asked.

"Can if you want," Dayna told her. "You probably wonít be playing with Tim and me, weíve got an act pretty carefully worked out, but weíll probably find a pitch somewhere between shows and see if we can cadge a few bucks. Itíll give you a good taste for this."

"What is it weíre going to?"

"The Michigan Renaissance Faire," Dayna explained. "Neither Tim nor I had played one before last spring, but we went to one for a day down in Indiana along in May, then came back home and threw together an act. We managed to book the Maple Leaf down in Kalamazoo through June and July, and then we got invited to come up here for August and September. We got a couple weeks off between them." It had been just as well, she thought; the pitch at the Briarwood Mall had been wearing pretty thin after seven months, and the hats had been down. It had been time to move on.

"Iíve never been to anything like that," Sandy admitted. "I donít have anything like a costume."

"Not to worry," Dayna told her. "Youíre just going to get the feel of it today, anyway. The performers are all in costume, of course, but so are a lot of the fairgoers. It adds to the fun. If you want to get into it, take some bucks from the show last night; thereís places you can rent costumes. Might not be a bad idea if youíre bringing the twelve-string."

In a few minutes they were out in Daynaís brown Chevette. They made a quick stop at a Micky-Dís for breakfast, and a few minutes later were headed south on US-27. "Probably close to a couple hours to get there," Dayna said as she sipped coffee from the foam cup.

"Iím glad you have a car," Sandy said. "I wasnít sure how it was going to be to get around."

"Where are you from, anyway?" Dayna asked. "Detroit area is all I know."

"Warren. Itís on the northeast side, south of Rochester Hills."

"I wouldnít know," Dayna shrugged. "Bradford is far enough west that people are pretty equally oriented between Detroit and Chicago. Chicago is actually a little closer; I know it better. I donít think Iíve been to Detroit more than once or twice."

"I was going to look Bradford up on a map, but I never got around to it," Sandy admitted.

"Right near where I-67 goes into Indiana," Dayna explained.

"Is that anywhere near Hawthorne?"

"Twenty miles off. Hawthorneís not a bad town, just dull. Of course, Bradford is really dull; most of the kids in my class couldnít wait to graduate and get out of there. Me, either."

"So howíd you turn into a professional musician, anyway?"

"Oh, thatís a long story," Dayna smiled, and began to tell her about the last year, playing at the mall, and discovering Tim and Charlene. She did not, of course, mention Charleneís former career, or some of the training sessions theyíd done through the late winter and early spring. "The Maple Leaf Renfaire wasnít much of a haul, so we drove over there every day," she explained. "But Tim and Charlene are getting hooked on this renfaire stuff enough that they bought a small motor home to stay in weekends over in Flint. That way they donít have to drive home every night."

She didnít add that she was pretty sure that the motor home was going to be getting a lot more use in another year or two; their oldest son, Jerry, had spent the summer working as an intern in the insurance business. When he graduated from Grand Valley it wouldnít surprise her if he went into the business full time Ė and his father and mother would probably hit the road for a larger portion of the year, probably working the renfaire circuit. This summer had been an experiment, to see how well that would go, and so far it was working just fine.

It had warmed up a little by the time they pulled into the performerís parking area near the renfaire site. "Shit, Iím just gonna change clothes right here, that way I can leave my street stuff in the car," Dayna said, opening the door.

"You can change here?"

"Nobodyís gonna see anything," Dayna told her, taking off her jacket in the cool of the morning and tossing it into the car. She pulled her arms into the floppy T-shirt she was wearing, and in a few seconds her brassiere appeared from under it. From the suitcase, she pulled a long, shiny emerald-green skirt, slid it on, and with just a little fiddling took her jeans off under it. Then, she slid a black patterned something up under her T-shirt, and Sandy could see she was fastening it around her. Finally, she slid the T-shirt off, revealing what sheíd been fastening on: a corset that hooked in the front, but laced up the back.

"Youíre kidding!" Sandy said. "A corset? I didnít know they made those anymore!"

"They do and theyíre not cheap," Dayna smiled. "Youíre gonna see more corsets today than you ever dreamed existed."

"That sure shows a lot of cleavage." Sandy shook her head at the way it squeezed Daynaís breasts Ė and made them more prominent. It looked to her that if Dayna sneezed very hard she was going to have bare nipples waving around in the breeze.

"Thatís the idea," she grinned as she pulled on a vest that matched the skirt. The vest didnít fasten at all, and it was easy to see that Dayna had some serious boobs and didnít mind showing them off. It took a few more minutes to finish up Ė she put on a complex necklace that seemed to involve what looked like old-time coins, and added a couple of bracelets that were similar, then ran a brush through her long, styled hair before putting on the black fedora with the white feather that sheíd worn the night before Ė and in which so much cash had been collected.

"My God, Dayna," Sandy bubbled. "You look gorgeous!"

"Quite an outfit, isnít it?" she smiled. "I thought about wearing it last night. Until I got this outfit earlier this year I never dreamed something with a floor-length full skirt could be so in-your-face sexy."

"Yeah," Sandy shook her head. "You make me feel like such a slob, in just a T-shirt and shorts. And the way you dressed last night. That was something."

"Itís something I learned in the last year," she said. "Charlene got on my case pretty good about dressing like a slob, and when I started to dress up, the hats got better, so I figured she was right."

"Can you take me past this costume rental place?" Sandy sighed. "I feel ashamed to be with you when youíre dressed like that and Iím like this!"

"Sure, grab your guitar and weíll head over there," Dayna grinned. "Get a big grin on your face, MíLady, and let us head for the fifteenth century."

*   *   *

Half an hour later, Sandy looked at her reflection in what the shopkeeper called "The Mirror of Happiness." Now, she was wearing a deep red velvet skirt, a white blouse with big, puffy sleeves and a huge neckline that dipped below the top of the black corset she was wearing. The rental was not cheap, but it really changed her appearance Ė especially the corset! Sheíd been losing some weight, sure, but laced in about as tight as she felt comfortable, she really had a waist again! Her breasts werenít as big as Daynaís but it gave her some prominent cleavage. "What do you think?" she asked Dayna.

"Not bad, needs some work on the accessories," Dayna said. "Donít buy anything today, just check out some of the other costumes you see. This stuff ainít cheap. Iíve got three hundred in this outfit, and Charlene gave me the jewelry. Youíll see outfits here worth four times that. The first show isnít till eleven; weíll catch up with Tim and Charlene before then. Letís just wander around before they open and check stuff out."

They found Tim and Charlene not much later, within sight of the stage where theyíd be doing three shows Ė one of several stages throughout the grounds. "Whatíd you do, Dayna?" Tim laughed. "Get someone else addicted?"

"Working on it," she smiled. "This is Sandy; sheís my college roommate. Just for the hell of it, we set up a pitch by the cafeteria line last night, and wound up filling in on a gig. Nice hat, too. Weíre going to work up a few things. This is her first time at a renfaire, I guess."

"Great," Tim replied. "Sandy, I warned Dayna, and Iím going to warn you. Busking is addictive, and youíve managed to wind up rooming with a serious case."

"After last night, I can see why," Sandy grinned. "I canít tell you when Iíve had more fun with a guitar in my hand. I mostly tried to accompany Dayna last night, and let her take the lead, but I think when we get something worked up we ought to be pretty good."

"You any good with that twelve-string?" Tim asked.

"Oh, not bad, even if itís not Daynaís type of stuff," she said.

"Play something for me," Tim suggested.

"Iím not much of a singer," she warned. "I do mostly instrumentals. I suppose we want to do something thatís a little period?"

"Well, yeah," Tim nodded. "Folk works all right, Celtic folk works better than American."

"I can do something like that," she smiled, unslinging the twelve-string and giving the tune a quick check. She played something that Dayna couldnít put a finger on for a name, or even style, except "baroque," but it sounded darn nice.

"Never heard that one before," Tim said after she ended. "But you did a damn good job with it. What is it?"

"Itís called Villande," she replied. "French, I think. Now, if you want Celtic, I can do this," she smiled, and began to play The Hills of Home.

"All right Sandy, youíve impressed me," Dayna said when she finished. "I got the feeling yesterday that you were a better instrumentalist than I am. That proves it."

"Yeah," Tim nodded. "The two of you work up an act, and youíre going to be dynamite. Sandy, I take it Dayna worked the crowd a little last night. You ever do anything like that?"

"Never," she shook her head. "It was pretty awesome, she was really brassy. It was cool how she had them in the palm of her hand."

"Listen to her," Tim said. "I havenít taught her everything I know since I donít know everything I know myself. But sheís got the touch for the type of music she plays. Itís gonna be different for you with that lighter, more delicate music; you canít be as in-the-face as Dayna is. But the people who show up here arenít appreciative of in-your-face blues, anyway, Iíve had to learn that. For today, Iíd just suggest play a little, watch, and learn a lot."

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