Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
December 1989 – April 1990
"God, that was inspiring," Sandy laughed as they headed back to their dorm room from their women’s-issues seminar presentation. "Makes me want to lean up against a lamp post and ask guys going by if they want to go upstairs."
"Too damn cold for that," Dayna snorted. "Oh well, Florida in ten days. I suppose you’re telling me you want some action while you’re down there."
"Actually, I just want to be there and have the next ten days over with," Sandy sighed. "A little action would be a reward for struggling through them."
"Then we’ll get some action if we have to find a street light," Dayna replied, knowing what was bothering Sandy. "Although I don’t think we’ll have to go that far."
Sandy wasn’t actually facing ten days of hell, only three as far as she was concerned, but the anticipation drew it out worse: there was no way she could avoid going home for Christmas. It would be the first time the two girls had been apart for more than a few hours since right after Christmas the year before, and as comfortable as they’d become with each other, that in itself was a disturbing proposition. But Sandy knew very well that she was going to be facing three days of continual hassles from her mother, because she’d been getting them regularly on the phone for a year. Though they took many forms, there was always a basic message: why don’t you come home where we can keep an eye on you, find a junk job, and let us force Robbie Buehler on you?
They’d faced this problem all fall, and the only thing they could come up with was to reinforce as much as possible the fact that Sandy was happy, successful at what she was doing, and didn’t want to change. She’d already made clear that she and Dayna had a couple of gigs after school got out, and more in Florida after Christmas, so they’d have to be coming home right before the holiday, and the stay would be short.
In practice, they spent those days before Christmas in Bradford, visiting for an afternoon with Tim and Charlene in Hawthorne, along with packing and reorganizing gear for the trip south. Then, on the morning of Christmas Eve, Dayna drove Sandy to the Detroit Metro airport, where she rented a car – and not just an economy car, a Cadillac Seville. After a year and a half of Dayna’s – and Charlene’s – influence, Sandy wasn’t exactly dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt, either, but a tweed business suit that would have gone very well in a law office, and on the lawyer at that. She didn’t even have any sloppy clothes with her. "You look like serious money," Dayna told her as Sandy stood nervously in the rental car office as the final paperwork was done. "Every time they look at you they’ll see you’ve changed."
"Damn, Dayna, I’m nervous," Sandy said.
"Look, it’s not like you’re stuck without a car," Dayna reminded her for perhaps the thousand and fifty-seventh time. "It gets too bad, get in the Caddy, give me a call and I’ll meet you here, any time, day or night. Now go flabbergast them. I’ll see you here this time the day after tomorrow."
"I know," she sighed. "I sure wish you could be with me. I hate like hell to have to do this alone, but I don’t see any other way."
"Me either, but do the best you can," Dayna said, then took her in her arms and gave her a deep kiss. "Now, good luck."
Nervous as hell, Sandy drove across Detroit and into Warren. It didn’t look any different; it may have been a nice enough town in its way, but the Beechams lived in far from the best section of town, and her disdain of her parents had made it a dump in her eyes, indeed. She parked the Cadillac along the curb where it wasn’t going to get parked in, just in case, took a deep breath, grabbed the small suitcase she had with her, and went up to knock on the door.
Both her mother and her father were home, which was good. Her father would be a moderating influence. "Welcome home," her father said, taking her in his arms. "I thought Dayna was coming with you."
"She had some other things to do," Sandy said.
"I didn’t know you had a car," her mother said. "Isn’t that a little pricy?"
"It’s just a rental," Sandy grinned. "Dayna and I usually get along on one car, so I rented it. It’s very nice, though."
"But a Cadillac? Couldn’t you have rented something a little less expensive?"
"Oh, I have to indulge myself once in a while," Sandy grinned. "I mean, what’s the point of making good money if you don’t spend it?"
"Sandy," her father said, "I have to say that you look very nice."
"Just good comfortable clothes," she lied. "Dayna and I are usually about the best dressed kids on campus."
"Isn’t that rather expensive?" her mother replied, looking for something to criticize.
"It costs a few bucks, yeah, but not as much as you might think. It helps when you’re around a bunch of slobs all the time who think that clean blue jeans are dressing up. Just about the first thing Dayna taught me is that we’re not rockers trying to show how grungy we are; we’re musicians and proud of it. There’s a huge difference."
"Well, I think you look glamorous," her father told her. "I had some doubts about what you and Dayna were doing, but it seems to have done well for you."
"It really has, Dad. I’m not the same person I was two years ago."
The conversation stayed reasonably light, much to Sandy’s amazement. Oh, her mother tried to find something to criticize, but Sandy usually managed to brush it off without it sticking too badly. Maybe this wouldn’t be as bad as she’d expected. But she was dismayed when her mother casually mentioned that they’d invited the Buehlers over for dinner, and Robbie would be with them, wasn’t that nice?
Meet it head on, Sandy, she thought. Don’t try to run and hide.
Dinner wasn’t bad, but was on the heavy side, so Sandy just took very tiny portions and didn’t eat much of them. "Sandy, you’re eating like a bird," her mother said.
"I have to watch my weight, Mom," she replied. "I weigh about forty pounds less than I did two years ago. Dayna and I have thousands of dollars tied up in costumes; I don’t dare let myself get too heavy for them."
"You sound pretty serious about this," Robbie said. He was not a very good-looking guy and could have stood things like clean clothes, a shave, and a haircut. And a bath, for that matter. "It wouldn’t seem like costumes would matter."
"Oh, they do," Sandy explained. "What you have to remember is that we’re putting on an act. We’re in the business of making people happy. If we don’t make them happy, we don’t make money. It’s as simple as that."
"Bob and Mary Randolph said they saw you up at the Mackinac Island Ferry last summer," Dorothy Beuhler said. "They said you were wearing some sort of belly-dancer clothes."
"They must have caught us on a day we were wearing the genie costumes," Sandy grinned. "They get attention. They’re supposed to. It brings better tips."
"Isn’t that kind of slutty?" Sandy’s mother frowned.
"Not really," Sandy sighed. "You’d have to see them to believe it, but they’re not. Oh, we do have bare midriffs, but that’s about all, especially when we have the jackets on, which we usually do. The heck of it is, we probably have on more clothes and are more covered up than ninety percent of the women we play for on a summer day. When we wear the renfaire-period outfits, we’re even more covered up. I mean long, full skirts and all, right out of the fifteenth century."
"Your mother said she thought you were going to give that up," Robbie said hopefully.
"Oh, no way," Sandy told him. "We’ve already got more than forty dates booked for next summer as it is, and that doesn’t count the weekdays in Mackinaw City."
"It just seems like you could find something better to do than sit on some sidewalk and play music for pocket change," her mother said, the sarcasm evident.
"It’s a little more than pocket change," Sandy replied. "There were several days that Dayna and I split over a thousand bucks for the day. If the weather was nice, we hardly ever did less than seven hundred a day. On lousy-weather days we’d usually just take a day off, but there were a couple places we’d go play if we felt like it, and we could still make two or three hundred. We managed to get in about forty days of that kind of action. On top of that, we worked thirty-one renfaire days. We got appearance money each day, from fifty to two hundred dollars, depending on where we were, and then donations on top of it. Although we had some washout renfaire days, we averaged around seven or eight hundred a day on them. And we played bar dates and other stuff. One day we split over two thousand dollars for a day’s work."
"That’s a pretty good chunk of change," Norm Buehler said.
"Darn right, especially since we’re going to school full time. We play a few dates around campus; the money is nothing much, but it keeps our hand in. And it’s not all just play money. The majority of my college expenses have come out of that, plus costumes and other expenses."
"But wouldn’t you do better with a stable job?" her mother replied gamely.
"Not really," she sighed. "Look, we had one day down in Florida last winter. The weather was lousy, the crowd was cheap, and we got a late start so we only split about eighty bucks for four hours playing. Dayna commented that it was still twice what we would have made for the same amount of time if we’d been frying burgers at Micky-D’s."
"But if you had a decent job, you wouldn’t have to wander around like a tramp," her mother said sharply.
"True, but it’s called seeing the country," Sandy snorted. "I’d go nuts with the same four walls and the same people and the same thing every day. I couldn’t do it. Now I know you think that Dayna and I are just out there for a good time, to screw off. Isn’t that what you think?"
"Well, I wouldn’t put it like that," her mother said," But . . .
"But you think we’re just out there to screw off. I’ll tell you what, Mom, Dayna and I work damn hard. Yeah, we’ve had thousand dollar days. We also worked our butts off for them. We also had days where we played the ferry docks for four hours in the morning, then the street for six or seven hours in the afternoon, and followed that up with a four- or five-hour bar gig. Don’t think we screw off, because we don’t. You want to know how serious we are?" She held out her left hand. "Feel the ends of my fingers."
Her mother did. "They’re hard," she said.
"They’re called calluses, Mom," she replied. "I can hardly feel anything with the ends of my fingers on my left hand. When I do feel something, it’s guitar strings. I already had a start on those calluses when I left home, but I’ve worked on them a hell of a lot since. Dayna and I put in long days when the money is flowing; we have to make it when we can."
"It seems to me you don’t have to be playing on the streets," her father said. "I mean, couldn’t you just get club dates, or cut a record, or something?"
"We play club dates when we can get them," Sandy said. "It’s tough, since there aren’t a lot of places to play around college, and we’re not available much of the time when college is on. After we get out of college, we should be able to get better dates and not have to depend on the streets. But playing the streets is fun. There’s a real challenge in getting people to give you money for good entertainment. You can’t be half assed."
"You’re going to continue doing this after you get out of college?" Norm asked.
"That’s our intention," Sandy told them. "Dayna and I have decided to change our majors to performing arts. They don’t actually offer that at Central, so after this year, we’re going somewhere else."
"Where?" her mother asked. "This is news to me!"
"We don’t know yet, we’re still working on it." Sandy decided to throw her a bone. "One of the places we’re talking about with a good performing-arts program is Oakland University, that’s what? Twenty miles from here." Inwardly, Sandy reminded herself that there was no way that she’d ever consider even applying there – it was much too close to home – but it was a bone to throw them to divert their attention.
"Are you going to keep it up after you get out of college?" Robbie asked.
"That’s the plan at this point," she told him. "We’d like to do some recordings but while we’re in college we just don’t have the time to do the promotion and the touring that’s required. But we’re planning on being on the road for a while, anyway."
"But wouldn’t you be happier with a husband, a home, a family?" her mother protested desperately.
"Maybe someday," Sandy said. "My guess is that I’ll get around to that eventually. But not right away."
"But, well, I’d like to have grandchildren."
"Maybe you will someday, Mom. But not any time soon, and maybe not ever."
* * *
It was a huge relief to see Dayna drive her old brown Chevette up to the rental agency the day after Christmas, already loaded for the trip to Florida. For two days there had been the tiny fear that something would happen, that she’d wind up stuck in that nightmare in Warren. It was behind her now. Finally!
"So how did it go?" Dayna asked as soon as Sandy got in the car.
"It went," Sandy said glumly. "It could have been worse, but it could have been better. The first day wasn’t so bad, but my mother was on my case the rest of the time. I all but called you yesterday afternoon, but I figured you’d be having dinner with your family and I didn’t want to bother you. But, it’s done, I’m out of there, I’m not going back soon, and hopefully not without you."
"Pretty bad, huh?"
"Yeah, Mom was pushing Robbie at me pretty hard, the dickhead. It was all I could do to keep from telling all of them that we’re lesbians, but I figured that would just make things worse before I could get out of there. I think they suspect it anyway."
"Well, maybe if you have to go there again, I’ll go with you, and we can plant a deep French kiss on each other right in front of them."
"With any kind of luck, we won’t have to do it soon," Sandy told her. "Even if we’re in Bradford next year, I think I’ll tell them we’ve got a gig way the hell away from here."
"We could if we had to," Dayna told her. "As far as that goes, we might just decide to winter in Florida and not come up here at all."
"Well, whatever, and it’s not really a concern. I did get the message across that we’re not going to Central next year, and I let on that we might be going to Oakland University, so Mom is already making plans about that."
"If we go to college at all," Dayna said. "I take it we’re still solid on dumping it in the fall, anyway. I don’t suppose we have to peg down a winter term for almost a year, so there’s plenty of time to make up our minds."
"Have you told your folks yet?"
"I told them we’re looking at going somewhere else for a different major," she replied. "But I also told them that we’re thinking about taking a term or even a year off. I am frankly damn sick of classrooms anyway, and even the fact that we had some good classes last term doesn’t do much to wash it away. So I think they pretty well suspect what’s coming, if they don’t already know. If we want, we can stop off there on the way and firm it up."
"We’re probably going to have to stop off anyway, just to get the Florida stuff out of the car. They’re probably going to figure it out pretty quick when we show up with a motor home."
"Yeah, that should put the twos and twos together pretty quick," Dayna grinned. "Like I said, I don’t think they’re really all that happy about it, but I think they realize they’ve raised a road warrior for a daughter, and I think they’re going to be just as glad that she’s not out on the road by herself."
"Boy, you’re a ways ahead of me. A long ways."
"Hey, the worst is over with, Sandy. When your folks finally figure it out, it’ll be a fact of life, not a plan. That’ll help some. In fact, more than some. Now buck up, Sandy. Florida is in front of us, and somewhere down there is a guy who doesn’t know he’s going to get lucky."
* * *
They got lucky pretty quickly. Like the year before, they drove straight through, changing off driving, except that they stopped in a truck stop in the early hours somewhere in Georgia and slept in the car for a few hours. Since their trip had started off so well at the east coast motel they’d stayed at the year before, they decided to spend the night there again. They spent the afternoon on the beach in their bikinis, just soaking up rays, tempted to do the buried-in-sand stunt again, but somehow never got started. Later that afternoon, they walked into the lounge to discover the same manager as the year before; he remembered them, and said it’d be fine to play that evening, and would they like to do New Year’s Eve again? He had a few hundred in his budget, so they wouldn’t have to pass the hat.
Both the girls were ready for some post-show action and decided to blatantly hint at it, so towards the end of the show they fired off some hot, suggestive songs, ending it with a very hot version of Love For Sale to wind up their final set. As they were packing up, a couple of guys who’d been eyeing them all evening wandered over, and one asked in a half-joking tone that if it was for sale, how much would it be?
"What would it be worth to you?" Dayna smiled.
"Uh, I don’t know," the guy said. "I didn’t really think about it."
"How about five hundred each for a couple hours?" she smiled.
"That’s a little steep," the guy said. "How about three?"
"How about five and we make it all night?" Sandy asked. "That way we don’t have to dick around getting up in the middle of the night."
"That’d work for me," he nodded. "Mark, that all right with you?"
"Yeah, sure, I can afford it."
"OK, good enough," Dayna told them. "We can either both go up to your room or we can split up and one of you come to ours, your call. Cash on the table before we head upstairs, either way, and I’ll tell you right now, you have to wear a condom. No bare-backs and no bullshit about it, OK?"
"I . . . I don’t think we have any with us," Mark protested.
"Not a problem, we do." Sandy grinned. "Let’s see the color of your money, and then we can get the late show on the road."
"All right," the guys said, reaching for their wallets. In a minute, the money was in the money bag the girls carried.
"Why don’t you and Sandy stay here and finish your drinks while I run the guitars out to the car?" Dayna said. "I’ll be back in a minute."
"You are coming back?" the guy frowned.
"Hell yes. Sandy’ll stay here as a hostage," Dayna laughed. She was back in a couple minutes, after putting the guitars in the car and hiding the money bag, with over a thousand dollars in it, in the car door behind the interior panel, which had been loosened to provide such a hiding place.
She was back in a minute. "All right guys, who will follow me up the stairs?" she asked.
"I sure hope this is worth it," Mark said as everybody got up.
"It’s up to you," Dayna said. "In case you’re wondering, we believe in giving lots of honey for the money, and we’re horny, too. I just hope you guys are up to what we’re gonna give you."
"Where the hell did you learn this stuff?" the first guy said.
"Would you believe we took a college course in how to be hookers?" Sandy laughed.
"Come on," he laughed.
Dayna shook her head and smiled, "Hey, guy, sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction."
* * *
That first day and night – which happened to be both a long and enjoyable one on the part of all concerned – set the pace. They had guys several nights, sometimes paying, sometimes not, sometimes one for each, sometimes two on one. They busked several different places, sometimes all day, sometimes just a song or two before moving on. As often as not they had gigs in the evening, usually pass-the-hat but sometimes paying ones. When they counted up the cash as they were heading back north, they discovered it was with more money than they’d made the year before.
"Do you think that got the hooking out of our systems for a while?" Dayna asked when they got on the road following their last one-night stand.
"Could be," Sandy told her. "But you know, I really enjoyed that. Every time we did it for money I felt like I was telling my mother to go to hell."
"Still burns, huh?"
"Yeah, some," Sandy nodded. "I mean, she could be a little bit supportive, and I’d go out of my way to meet her. But if she’s going to be critical of everything, well, fuck her."
"Hey, I may be bi, but I’d rather not."
"Just as well," Sandy grinned. "She probably wouldn’t either, and I also doubt she’d be any good. Hey, this has been a good trip, you know?"
"Not bad," Dayna said. "Look, something we need to kick around that I guess I hadn’t thought too far ahead about. When school breaks, we’re going to have to really haul ass to get down to that renfaire in Virginia we’re booked at. I mean, we’re going to have to be loaded, ready to rumble, and haul ass immediately after the last final."
"Yeah, that’s pretty obvious," Sandy agreed. "I wish we could have a week to get organized and switched around."
"We’re not going to have it," Dayna told her. "Unless we spend a lot of time this next semester getting set to bolt out of there. I’m thinking maybe we might have to dump spring break."
"God, I’d hate to do that," Sandy replied. "We had such a ball last year, and it’d be the last time we’d be likely to do it as college students, unless maybe we decide to go to school winter term down here next year."
"I’d hate to give it a pass, too. But we could use the time to get the RV, get it checked over, figure out what goes where, maybe take a short trip somewhere to see if there’s any bugs. Even if we had it I don’t think we’d want to use it for spring break. That’s a pretty expensive drive when we have this thing."
"True," Sandy agreed. "But we need to do all that stuff. We could do most of it on weekends, but that means we really should be getting serious about getting the RV soon, rather than waiting till spring."
"My thinking exactly," Dayna agreed. "Added to that is the fact that prices are down a little in the winter, from what little I’ve been able to find out. We did pretty well on this trip, and I think we’re in pretty good shape for funds otherwise. What do you say that we take all of the overage over expenses and put it in the motor-home fund, and start looking? I think there’s a pretty good chance we may be able to find what we want and just pay cash. That way we don’t have payments hanging over us."
"Remember what Tim told us, we don’t want something that’s too cheap," Sandy pointed out. "I mean, if this falls on its ass I’d hate to be stuck with it."
"The used ones seem to hold their value pretty well," Dayna said. "We might get bit in the ass on a resale, but only for a couple thousand at worst. I don’t want to piss around living in a tent, and it wouldn’t take long to balance off a couple grand worth of motel bills."
"I suppose we might as well get started looking, then," Sandy agreed. "You realize this tips our hand to your folks, don’t you?"
"Like I told you back up in Detroit, I think they’ve got it figured out already. Or are resigned to it. We’re not cutting it quite as tight this time, so maybe we’d better figure on stopping off in Bradford and getting the ball rolling."
"We’ve got a lot of other stuff to do," Sandy noted. "We still need the sound system, for example."
"They’re not that expensive, let’s just damn well take off, maybe next Saturday, and run down to Lansing and get what we need," Dayna snorted. "In fact, get out a notebook. Let’s get started making a list of what we’ve got to get done."