Extract: Etc Etc Amen | New music reviews, news & interviews
Extract: Etc Etc Amen
Read the prologue of Howard Male’s satirical new novel about rock, religion and how people make gods out of men and gods out of thin air
When Zachary C noticed his audience were no longer beguiled by his best Zachary B smile, he arranged for his chargrilled-sweetcorn teeth to be replaced by a mouthful of ultraviolet-sensitive acrylic. Much to his delight, shop windows, car windscreens – even a puddle he awkwardly traversed on the way to the gig – all threw back at him a grin of searchlight intensity.
On arriving at the Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, he found Fountain – his backing vocalist wife – immersed in her own reflection in the dressing room mirror. He sat down beside her and grinned his new grin.
“Perfect,” he said to both their reflections.
He waited for Fountain’s agreement – or at least some acknowledgement that he’d spoken – but she was far too busy assembling her own stage persona to indulge him.
Fountain Penn’s tragedy was that she had once sung backing vocals for Zachary B, but was now singing backing vocals for Zachary C
Zachary C flashed his fluorescents for a second time. “So?”
Fountain continued to ignore him. The application of turquoise eye shadow required her full attention. She lifted her chin a fraction to better inspect her shimmering lids.
Fountain Penn’s tragedy (apart from Ma and Pa Penn’s African-American predilection for inventing new Christian names) was that she had once sung backing vocals for Zachary B, but was now singing backing vocals for Zachary C. In other words, she had once performed with the Now, but now she was performing with their tribute band, the New Now. Yet for 15 months this Detroit girl from the projects had sung with Zachary B. She had even endured the infamous Trafalgar Square concert.
“Well?”, Zachary C persisted.
Finally Fountain relented and granted him an audience, but with her smile on the edge of laughter it was unfortunately a comedy club audience.
“It’s the teeth, isn’t it?” said Zachary C.
“No, the teeth are great.”
“So what is it then?”
“Okay, it’s the teeth.”
“But you just said the teeth were great!”
“You’re not going to let this go are you, Zac. The teeth are great. It’s just that they’re…” Fountain strained for the gentlest way to put it. “It’s just that they’re not you.”
“Don’t sulk, baby.”
“So whose bloody teeth are they then – Brad Pitt’s?”
The empathy Fountain had found hard to muster in the first place turned into a bluntness more in keeping with her personality. “Well, you did ask. I’m sorry sweetheart, but they’re just not working.” The eye shadow was returned to her bag, the lipstick unsheathed. “Every time you flash those things at me, it just gives me the creeps. They do have different hues, you know. Now can I get on?”
“Hues. Shades. Like with paint. Ivory white, seashell white, dove white, you name it. Anything’s got to be better than goddamn Nuclear Flash White.”
“Okay, okay. I get the picture. Jesus.” Zachary C closed his mouth.
“Phew, that’s better,” risked Fountain. “Now I can take off my sunglasses.”
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