Rock the Cradle of Love
by Beth Gualda
The past two years had seen a resurgence of the heavy metal musicpopular in the 1980's. One band in particular was leading the wayback through time when long unkempt hair, primal screams andassaulting electric guitars were all the rage. They called themselvesthe Underground Pets. They were a talented band with a strong sound,complicated rhythms, and a front person who was fast becoming a localteenage hearthrob.
Their performance tonight had packed the nightclub where theyregularly appeared wall to wall insuring good revenue and an increasein their already vast following of fans. The volume was so loud, itpenetrated passing cars and allowed everyone in the block a chance toexperience their music.
What most likely set them apart from the other rock groups on theheavy metal bandwagon was their vocalist. He was classically trainedand possessed an incredible, almost inhuman vocal range. He lookedlike a typical rock star with long shaggy blonde hair which foreverfell over his large hazel eyes. He wore a perpetual shadow of a beardregardless of the time of day. He was tall, almost lanky but stilldensely muscled. He liked to show off his excessive chest hair onstage, leaving his shirts open provocatively, knowing the youngladies in the front appreciated this thoughtfulness on his part. Heloved to dance and moved with natural grace, seductively teasing hisfans now and then with a slow rocking of his slender hips. His voicewas deep, and breathy, and he liked to snarl certain lyrics, flashinglarge white canines that always brought a reaction from thecrowds.
The band banged out a cover of an ancient Billy Idol tune called"Cradle of Love." It was one of his favorites and he half sang, halfscreamed it with an energy and power he was becoming known for. Hedanced temptingly close to the crowd, just out of their reach,baiting them, shooting a quick amused smile to a redheaded girlstanding off stage and smiling back at him with the same large whitecanines.
She watched her brother's antics and the fans' reactions to thethings he did with the same amusement. He aquired a totally differentpersona when he was onstage in front of all those screeching girls.She knew he really was nothing like this. He was normally quite softspoken, actually shy around girls, and possessed a keen intelligencehis ragged appearance disputed.
The set was coming to a close and she had to be ready for thedash out the back with the band or she'd be left behind. This was theonly part she didn't like. She was too afraid that one night some ofthese obsessive fans of his would follow them home. It was hardenough getting away from the club and the rest of the band withoutdetection. Some of the fans however where relentless in theirpursuits and each time it seemed they had to go farther and fartherout to get back home.
"Goodnight! Thank you for coming!" the vocalist yelled above thethunderous applause. The band took one more bow and then they dartedoff the stage.
"Come on Izzy!" he yelled to her, reaching out his hand to propelher forward.
"Jacob! Wait!" she shouted, pushing her way through theincreasingly dense crowd.
Jacob bit his lower lip and stretched behind him to grasp herhand. Once he had it he yanked her to him and they took off running,out the stage door and into the alley behind the club.
"Hey Diana, where's Father?" Jacob said coming into the librarywith his half sister close behind him.
Diana looked up from the book she was reading and frowned. Shetook off her glasses and set them on the arm of her chair.
"He's working on the third level," she told her stepson. Sheshook her head. "You're a mess," she noted. "What have you been upto?" She peered around him at her daughter. "You don't look anybetter, Isolde. And you both reek."
Brother and sister exchanged looks.
"We had to come down through a sewer," Isolde informed. "It getsharder and harder to get down here. That's what we need to talk toFather about."
Diana sighed. "How did it go tonight?"
Jacob flashed a toothy smile. "Ah, they eat it up! They takeeverything I give them and they always want more." He put his handson his hips. "It was another sellout." He suddenly looked irritated."Shit! I forgot to get my paycheck."
Isolde punched him in the arm. Diana tried to look stern.
"Don't use that kind of language, Jacob, " she reminded him.
He seemed too busy thinking to notice his stepmother's patientadmonishment. "I need to talk to Father."
Now Diana smiled. "Third level, remember?"
"Right," Jacob grinned. He stepped over to her and kissed hercheek affectionately. "In case I don't see you again tonight," hetold her. "Sleep well."
After he had gone, Isolde took a seat beside her mother with aheavy sigh.
"What's going on?" Diana began knowingly.
Isolde sighed heavily. "It's getting impossible. His fans aregrowing in number.....and tenacity. It's getting too risky to comeback here after a set. He has enough money saved and with this nextpaycheck from the club, he wanted to put it towards getting his ownplace. Above."
"Oh god," Diana moaned. "Above." She looked at Isolde anxiously."If I had known that, I would have told Jacob to wait until tomorrow.Your father isn't having a good day."
Jacob strode powerfully through the passageways, down to thethird level with a singular purpose in mind. Turning a corner in fullstride, he almost collided with two of his female friends makingtheir way up.
"Hi Jacob," the girls greeted simultaneously and giggledcoyly.
"Ladies," he purred in reply.
"Did you sing tonight?" the one with the dark brown hair andpretty face asked.
"Yes I did, Angela."
"Did they scream at you again?" her companion questioned with asly smile. "I heard they do that sometimes."
Jacob lowered his eyes, he felt his face turning red. "Yes theydid."
"Isolde says you tease them. Those girls up there. That isn'tvery nice of you."
Jacob knew he was blushing now. "They like it, I think."
"We'll have to come and see for ourselves one night," Angelasaid, smiling. They stepped slowly away from him and turned back towave and smile alluringly.
Jacob watched them disappear. He put his hand over his heart andgrowled. He hoped they wouldn't come to see him otherwise he wouldnever be able to do the things he did onstage knowing they werewatching him. He made a mental note to pinch Izzy when he saw heragain for betraying his topside debauchery to the tunnel girls.
As soon as he descended to the third level, he could hear thesound of rock sliding slowly against rock and an occasional chinkfrom a pick axe. This part of the tunnels was forever in need ofrepair for some reason. Cave ins were always blocking access to thelower chambers.
Jacob could feel his father's irascible mood before he even sawhim. He sighed heavily and debated whether or not he should botherhim now. He decided to proceed as planned thinking what he had topropose could not wait.
Vincent looked up and wiped his sweating brow as his sonapproached.
"You look like I feel," he noted. "Where have you been?"
Jacob looked at the other people in the tunnel working withVincent.
"Could you excuse us for a minute," Jacob said hopefully. If hewas about to incur his father's outrage, he didn't want it to be infront of everybody.
"Come on," William announced. "It's time for a break anyway."
Once alone, Vincent sighed heavily and sat stiffly on the floorof the tunnel.
"This is like taking one step forward and two steps back," hetold Jacob. "The walls are crumbling faster than we can supportthem."
"I have to talk to you about something," Jacob begantentatively.
Vincent faced him and gave him his undivided attention. "Goon."
"Well, the reason I look the way I do is because I had to run sixblocks from the club tonight and the only way down in that part oftown was a sewer grate. A particularly vile one at that. Izzy didn'tfair much better."
Vincent smiled. "I have no sympathy for either one of you. You,especially, considering you bring this on yourself."
Jacob eased himself down beside his father. "The band is packinghouses wherever we go now. You should see the number of fans whofollow us. It all seems unreal at times. And then there are the oneswho literally follow us. That's why it's getting so hard to get hereafter a set."
"You're afraid they'll see you use an entrance," Vincent guessed."That is a concern. You're always careful, I know. What else can youdo?"
Jacob's heart began beating faster. "I need to stay above. Ican't be coming down every night and risking detection. I want to getan apartment."
Vincent's expression was unreadable. For a long time he looked atJacob and said nothing. Then with a forced casualness, he said,"Perhaps that would be for the best." He tried to reassure his son'stroubled heart. "I never expected you to stay below forever. I wantyou to do what you feel you have to do."
Jacob sighed frustrated. "Well, you took that better than I wasexpecting. But you don't like the idea."
Vincent swallowed uneasily. "I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to," Jacob retorted. He took his father's hand."I can feel it as plain as I feel your hand in mine."
Vincent chuckled. "Can you?" He sighed, squeezing his son's handaffectionately. "I always had the advantage over your mother thatway. I could always lie to her with the utmost conviction and shecouldn't tell my heart was screaming the opposite. With you, my heartis on my sleeve."
Jacob smiled. "Think about it, okay?" He slowly rose to his feet."I won't do it, if you don't want me to."
Vincent sat on the edge of the bed and let Diana rub his bruisedshoulders. Even from her, he couldn't hide his anxiety overJacob.
"Jacob spoke to you about living above, didn't he?" she askedsoftly. Her gentle voice was warm and soothing. She passed her largehands over Vincent's back, digging her fingertips into stiffmuscles.
Vincent sighed. "Yes."
"You don't really want him to go do you?"
He shook his head slowly. "I won't make him stay. I can't do thatto him. No matter how much I want him to."
Diana knew of Vincent's dilemma. "How are you going to be able toconvince him though?"
Vincent turned around and faced her sadly. "I'll have to convincemyself first."
Diana smiled slightly. She reached up and touched his beautifulleonine face to comfort him. He leaned into her palm and sighed,reaching for her and taking her into his arms. He kissed hersoftly.
"It's not like you won't be seeing him again if he does goabove," Diana offered. "He'll still be in the city. He'll still comedown. All his friends are here. Isolde will still be here. Me. You.He's too close to you to stay away for any length of time."
Diana continued trying desparately to help her husband. "Youhardly ever go above anymore. You stay below now and work yourself toexhaustion. You never go to the park anymore. It's like the worldabove holds no interest for you. And I know you long to be a part ofit again. You need to, Vincent. I also know you feel there is nothingfor you up there now. Jacob can give that back to you. He can open upthe world above to you just as Catherine did. Think how enriched youfelt sharing her life there. The things you were able to do, thethings you learned. It will be Jacob's world now and yoursagain."
Vincent sat mulling her words over in his mind. He looked up,suddenly troubled again. "But the dangers...."
Diana smiled easily. "What dangers, Vincent? He's a singer not aninvestigator with the district attorney. The biggest danger he facesis getting mobbed by those groupies of his."
Vincent laughed. "Perhaps one night I could go see himperform."
Diana hugged him. "Isolde says he is quite good. Just don'texpect any arias."