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“Well, I still think it's a shit name!”  Zoë tossed the glossy ten by eight back onto her editor's desk.

She glanced at the press release. “Playing The Black Box tonight!  Sweet Jesus, why has their agent booked them into that toilet?”

“I don't know, Zoë. That's why we employ slick young gunslingers like you. I'm just the editor. Aside from my haemorrhoids, my chief concerns are circulation and advertising.”

 ‘Peter could be quite funny sometimes.’

“Ah, that reminds me,” he continued. “Could you manage to be a little more encouraging when you review the local theatricals? They're readers too, you know, and some of them are advertisers.”

“Pity none of them are actors.”

Peter forced a smile. He looked across the desk at his Entertainment Editor; the cropped blonde hair and panda makeup masking the delicate features of her small elfin face. Dressed in her perpetual uniform of tiny skirt, t-shirt, black fishnets and a cracked leather biker jacket, she looked like the last angel hipster still roaming the streets of paradise.

“Right, so they're  a local band who have just signed a deal. Go and see them play tonight and give me six hundred words, max.”

“Signed to Tru Soul Records, who operate out of a shed on the industrial estate.”

“Pleased to hear it. Close the door on your way out.”


As Zoë made a point of never arriving on time for any event, the band were well into their first set as her car swung into the venue’s car park. She stood at the bar to listen. The musicians she quickly dismissed as competent time servers; she recognised two of them from other groups. But the singer was different. In her late twenties, her best physical feature was her shiny black hair, cut in a Cleopatra bob. She stood motionless in a sequinned dress that accentuated her full curves. Her throaty, soulful voice effortlessly conveyed all the pathos and regret of the old Julie London standard, Cry Me A River.

Zoe joined in the applause.

“Thanks so much. Before we take a break we’d like to give you a preview of our new single. One of our own songs. It’s called Honesty.”

As the song reached its hook, Zoe felt the words were directed at her alone:

“Don’t give me honesty,
 If you haven’t got the time to try.
 Cos if that's your honesty,
 I'd rather hear you lie.” 

The band left the small stage and the bar area filled with thirsty audience members. Oblivious to the noise and bustle, Zoë stood lost in thought. Minutes passed. Then with a nod to the manager she passed unchallenged through the black door marked: PRIVATE.

No stranger to the backstage area, she easily found the dressing room. The singer's dress shimmered on a costume rail, while Its owner wearing only a thin bathrobe, sat at her mirror applying makeup.

“HI, I’m Zoë Sparks, from the Echo.”

“Yeah, I know who you are. I’ve read your stuff. You don't like our name.”

She stood up, letting the robe fall open.

“Maybe you should try giving people a chance, Zoe. We all have to start somewhere, even you.”

The woman’s skin felt cold and moist from the shower as Zoe's small hands traced a path from the lined stomach up towards her heavy breasts. Fingers traced slow circles over the crinkled brown skin. The nipple was large as a raspberry against her tongue.
She gasped, as the singer’s strong fingers pushed past the waistband of her skirt.

They sat close on the dressing room's worn sofa. “Are you going to watch the rest of the show?”

“Yes, of course, and maybe after...”

The singer reached for her dress. “Yeah, that would be great. We have tonight, as the song says.”

Zoë turned at the door. “ I still think Earth Mother is a shit name for a band.”

“So do our new label. They insist we change it. Do you have any suggestions?” 


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