The Crystal Orchids Episode 1: Sellout

“Thank you for coming guys, we are so excited to start our partnership with the band. Here at Incision Records, we want you to know we value your artistic vision above anything else. That being said… We do have some suggestions for you to take into account.”

“Right then, lay em’ on me.” David replied in his mid-Atlantic accent. David, born in Wales, was a child actor in the UK before starring in a beloved British soap opera in his late teens and early twenties. He went on to be a very successful Broadway and off-Broadway star. He’d also struck it big with a few business ventures, mostly in fashion and had accumulated a 3-billion-dollar net worth. David was devastatingly handsome with his slicked back, finely trimmed black hair, olive skin, piercing blue eyes and statuesque physique. He was always impeccably dressed usually in custom fitted, outrageously expensive suits and flashy accessories. He was a few years older than the other members of the band who were in their mid-twenties. He was the group’s front man, playing guitar and sharing singing duties with Gibson.

There were 2 other people sitting across the long crystal conference table from the trio, a young woman and a middle-aged Jewish man. David, Gibson, and Spike waited for them to continue their discussion.

“Well first of all.” The man started “The band name. The Sex… Just, why?”

“We’re a parody band, and we thought The Sex would be a funny satire of rock culture.” Gibson explained. He was a brown haired, conventionally attractive man of average height with close cropped brown hair. He spoke slowly and with constant a spaced-out attitude and a California accent. He was thin and lanky, and he always had his hands shoved into his pockets. His name was Derrick but everyone he knew called him by his last name, Gibson. He was the bass player and singer in the band.

“Ok… But we’re afraid of the marketability of that name. We picked a list of names we think would be a lot easier to sell to a mass audience. Remember, the goal here is to have your songs on the radio and other platforms” The woman responded, handing each member of the band a sheet of pristine white printed paper with name suggestions on it.

“We’ll have a look over it as a group and get back to you on that.” Spike replied. Adam “Spike” Rodgers was the band’s drummer. He had thin blonde hair and pale skin. He was tall with grey-blue eyes, a thin jawline and puffy cheeks. A writer by trade, he had written a few fairly successful novels before joining the group. He was tall, although still dwarfed by David’s 6-foot 5 stature. He had a wiry frame and a very calm and laid-back demeanor. He only really spoke when he needed to or if he had something funny to chime in with.  

“The second order of business we need to discuss is that you want to entitle your first album ‘Erotic Violence.’ What exactly does that mean” The man questioned, sitting forward in his chair.

“Again, it’s just meant to be a satire of rock culture, like those cheesy album names from the 80’s and 90’s. But it’s also like… Sexy, artistic, mysterious. Because even though we’re like, a parody band, we still want to be taken seriously as artists, you know?” Gibson answered

“The first single you gave us to release is called ‘My Robotic Girlfriend’ and it’s about fucking a robot.” The man replied incredulously. 

“Yeah but… The music is still like, real though.”

David leaned back in his chair. “Look, we already signed the deal, so can we get this meeting over with? I got a reservation at Wealthington’s for dinner in an hour.” He stated arrogantly.

“Yes, fine. Just one last thing. This song ‘South Korean Woman.’” The man started “Now, we absolutely love the track, and we’re totally against censoring artists, but we’re afraid that there’s one lyric in the song that people might consider offensive.”

“And which one is that” Spike asked indignantly.

The woman ran her finger down the piece of paper in front of him “Uhh… Right here, second verse You wear a mask every time we’re out in public, but this yellow fever you gave to me is makin’ me sick.”

“Ok, what about it?” Gibson replied

“Well, we want to avoid using the term ‘yellow’ when referring to any person of Asian ethnicity.” The woman interjected.

“Sure, but we play at a Japanese bar 3 times a month and when we debuted the song, there was a group of Korean girls there and they absolutely loved it, they were laughing hysterically.”  David responded

“David, quick sidebar?” Spike asked. The pair turned away from the rest of the table.

“I told you twice already they weren’t Korean, they were Vietnamese.” He said quietly

“Well, just because I’m not as into Asian women as you doesn’t make me racist. I’m sorry I can’t tell the difference in appearances between Asian girls from every country.” He whispered angrily.

The two turned back to the table. “We’ll consider changing the lyric and we’ll get back to you next time.” Spike reacted

The band was walking out of the massive office building of the record label. It was a sunny day in Los Angeles, with a bit of a chilly breeze. Spike and Gibson were being oddly quiet as they walked down the long cement stairs leading up to the parking lot when David stopped them.

“Why are you two looking so glum? We just signed a record contract dudes! This is amazing. Well, for you guys it is. I’m already rich and famous, but still! This is a cause for celebration!” he exclaimed

“I dunno. It’s been one day since we signed the deal and they’re already trying to compromise our vision.” Gibson said dejectedly, looking down at the ground. “Is a few hundred grand worth selling your artistic soul” he pondered

“Well, I for one think this is great. So, what if we have to change a few lyrics or the name of the band? There are cool names here. Like… This one. The Crystal Orchids. We can tell everybody it’s a parody of The Stone Roses. It’s marketable and it’s still in line with the group’s vision. Win win.”

Gibson sighed and looked up “I quite like that name come to think of it.”

“Yeah, me too. It’s actually pretty cool.” Spike agreed as well.

“So, we’re agreed on the name change?” David said excitedly Gibson and Spike both nodded their head in agreement. “See how easy this is? You’re already selling out like a pro! This isn’t so bad, is it?” he joked, putting his arms around his bandmates’ shoulders.

“I guess not.” Spike laughed

“Just think about it dude. We’re gonna have our songs on Spotify! People are going to listen to our music on Soundcloud because they actually searched for it, not because it was linked to them without being asked.” David said happily

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit excited honestly.” Gibson agreed slightly reluctantly.

“Exactly! Now, we need to celebrate! I’m going to dinner at 7:30. About 9:00 we hit up The Drunken Monkey. VIP room… Bottle service, maybe a few birds… huh? You guys in or what?” David replied, miming a drinking motion with his hand.

“Sure, I’m in. What the hell.” Spike said

“Awesome, Gibson? C’mon, you know I’m paying.”

“Sorry Dave. Me and Rose are gonna stay in tonight and watch TV I think.” Gibson replied “There’s this documentary on a tax accountant that stole over 3 million dollars from people, it seems interesting.”

“Oh my god, married people are so booooring. How do you do it, honestly?” David shamed him.

“Well, establishing a life-long partnership and trust with somebody you feel truly connected to might be pretty boring, but I love my wife.” Gibson replied

David looked down at his shoes for a moment of contemplation “Yeah, like I said, fucking boooring. C’mon, bottle service dude. You can bring Rose for like an hour. Her and I go way back, I’m sure she’ll be cool with it.”

“Ok, fine. But I’m not getting trashed tonight. Last time I went out drinking with you guys, I somehow ended up in a dumpster behind a karaoke bar in Chinatown.” Gibson finally conceded.

“Cool, remember 9:00” David called as he split off from the group and walked toward his white Maserati in the nearby parking lot.

The summer night had just begun when Gibson got out of his modest 4 door car with his wife. Rose was a slender woman with tanned skin, emerald eyes and curly shoulder length chestnut hair. Her high cheekbones and strong jawline often caught people’s eyes, though she was quiet and unassuming most of the time, unless she had a sarcastic quip up her sleeve. She held Gibson’s hand as they walked to the front of the Drunken Monkey. The bar had a flashing neon sign that looked like a monkey drinking and then alternated to a different bit of neon that made it appear as though the monkey was being bonked over the head with a beer mug.

The inside of the nightclub was boisterous and busy as it usually was on a Friday night. The dance floor was crowded with people bopping to the DJ’s music. As Rose and Gibson walked by, the DJ Goro, a young Japanese man with black hair waived at them and they waived back. The VIP area was on a small rise just outside of the dance floor. It was roped off by red velvet markers and two bouncers stood in front of it. Just by the looks of it, you could tell anybody sitting there was David was sitting on the blue velvet couches surrounded with women. He was telling a story to them and they were laughing. When he saw Gibson and Rose, he smiled and told the bouncers to let them past.

“Alright ladies, I’ll catch up with you later tonight. My friends are here.” He said and they all made their way out of the VIP area and back onto the dance floor. Spike was sitting on a separate couch on the far side, quietly sipping his drink. The bottle of champagne on ice was about half full in the middle of the table.

“Glad you made it mate. Rose, nice to see you as always.” He said, standing to greet her with an innocent peck on the cheek.

“Nice to see you too David, but what did I tell you about the cheek kissing, we’re in America, that isn’t necessary.” She said dryly.

Gibson sat down next to David and grabbed two glasses for him and his wife.

“David, you weren’t telling that stupid story about the time you got into a bar fight with Andrew Dice Clay again, were you?” Gibson asked

“Umm… Yeah, why wouldn’t I? The girls love that story, it always kills.”

“It’s not funny or cool. It’s not even particularly interesting. They’re laughing because you’re attractive.” Rose said judgmentally.

The two bouncers parted again and another woman walked up the stairs to the VIP area. Olivia was a stunningly beautiful woman, the kind that commanded the attention of everybody in a room when she entered it. She spoke in a very elegant English Midlands accent. Long blonde tresses fell effortlessly around her shoulders. She was tall and fit with long, slender but defined legs. Soft blue eyes that you’d need to have a rope secured around your waist to ensure you could find your way back out of if you were to look into them, were surrounded by attractive cheekbones and a strong but feminine jawline. Freckles around her eyes dotted otherwise flawless porcelain skin, as she greeted the group, she flashed a heartwarming smile that was capable of melting the coldest of hearts.

“Olivia, you made it!” David exclaimed as he stood up to do the cheek kissing routine again, this time with far less criticism from the receiving party.

She sat down next to David and turned to Spike “Congratulations! A real record contract on a major label. You must be absolutely buzzin’” she said in her heavy Manchester accent, slapping him playfully on the kneecap.

“Thanks. And yeah, I am. It’s kind of crazy really. It hasn’t fully set in now that I think about it.” Spike replied 

The group continued to drink for quite some time. The Dance floor started to thin as the night wore on and the empty bottles of liquor started to pile up in the VIP section. David got up to use the restroom and Olivia slid over next to Spike.

“So, what’s it like to be wealthy and famous now?” She asked with a chuckle.

“I mean, I was already famous, ok. Not everybody gets an article in Sheep! Quarterly, it’s a very esteemed publication.” He responded, using his champagne glass to hide his wry smile. “Also, fun fact, I’m not rich. We got a 200K advance but that’s it until the album drops and we go on tour.”

“You talk as if 200 grand is nothing.” Olivia responded

“I mean, they wouldn’t even let me into the Illuminati probably, so I’m not that rich.” Spike retorted with another cheeky grin.

“You guys earned it, really I’m happy for you.” She said sincerely and Spike smiled back.

David got up to leave and Rose slid over next to Olivia, giving her a hug.

“Hi Rose, good to see you too.” She greeted her as the hug ended.

“Oh my god. You look so amazing please marry me.” Rose replied excitedly with a smile.

As David walked back from the restroom, Goro caught his eye and waived him over to the DJ booth. He stopped the music, much to the chagrin of the people dancing.

“This man right here, him and his band have been regulars playing at this bar for as long as we can all remember. Today they got signed to Incision Records. So, this is his night!” Music began blaring out of the speakers again as the crowd cheered.

David smiled and grabbed the microphone “Oh and everybody’s tab is on me tonight so let’s fuckin party!” He shouted and the crowd roared in excitement.

The rest of the group was gathered at the main bar now ordering drinks. David walked over and joined in. He grabbed the shot glass full of high-end tequila and raised it high “This is to The Crystal Orchids and the beginning of something truly special. We did it boys! We’re going straight to the top!” The group clinked their glasses together and downed the shot after tapping the glasses to the light brown stained bar.

“David, did you see what Kalik Drakeford posted on his Instagram” Spike said, wiping his mouth.

“No, who the hell follows dudes on Instagram?” David replied, tapping his fingers impatiently on the bar.

“He reposted the record label’s announcement that they were signing us with the caption ‘I see big things happening for this band with the shhh emoji.”

“Ok, what does that mean?”

“Bro, he’s the biggest rock and pop producer out there right now. This could be huge for us.” Spike replied

“Well, I’ll drink to that” David said, ordering the group another round of tequila shots. Gibson grabbed and drank one while Rose walked up to his shoulder.

“I thought you said you weren’t drinking that much tonight.” She spoke

“C’mon honey, this is the biggest… Second biggest day of my life.” He started

“Nice save dude.” Rose replied sardonically.

“I deserve to let loose a bit, and so should you.” He said, quietly ordering another round. He handed her the drink and then they clinked glasses. Rose sighed and drank the clear liquor.

The night continued to get later and later as Gibson was sitting in the VIP section with Olivia.

“So, Derrick, I haven’t gotten to talk to you much. Congratulations on the big record deal. We’ve got to hang out as much as possible before you get too big for your knickers.” She laughed

“I don’t know man…” Gibson started, then stopped to take a drink from his chilled champagne glass. He looked down a bit dejectedly.

“Something wrong?” Olivia asked considerately.

“I just want to make music, y’know. I don’t want to deal with a bunch of bullshit. I don’t do well with people micromanaging me when it comes to my art. It’s all ‘change this lyric, it’ll test better with focus groups.’ And I don’t even like touring or playing live to be honest. That’s David’s thing, he loves being the center of attention. It’s just draining thinking about being famous too, and how I’m gonna deal with that. The only thing that makes me want to go ahead with this is the fact that I’ll be able to give Rosie the life she deserves. I’ll never have to worry about paying rent again.” Gibson monologed, almost a journal of his own thoughts more than a conversation with a friend.

“Are you sure you’ll never have to worry about rent again? Have you seen the rent prices in Los Angeles?” Olivia said in her deadpan style of humor.

“Oh, shut up.” Gibson laughed, finishing off his drink.

David and Spike were standing at the bar, David holding a healthy glass of very expensive scotch.

“Dude, that girl at the end of the bar is totally eyeballing you. Go for it.” David said. “I’ll be your wingman.” He added proudly.

“Absolutely not, do you remember the last time you wing manned for me?” Spike responded agitated

“No, I don’t recall what happened.” David mused

“I talked to the girl for like an hour and she gave me her number.”

“Ok, so what’s the problem then?” David asked

“She gave me her number and told me to give it to you.” Spike stated

“Look, I can’t help that I’m dashingly handsome, charming and down to earth…” David said tailing off while staring seemingly into nothing.

“Dave, you were saying?” Spike replied

“Oh sorry, I got lost in my own reflection for a moment there.”   David said, looking into the mirror behind the counter near the stacked bottles of liquor. Spike sighed and rolled his eyes

“C’mon, if you have the confidence to get a record contract by pitching a song called Sausagefest to a bunch of crusty executive types, you gotta have the confidence to ask a girl out.” David egged him on.

“It’s not really about that, I got somebody I’m a bit keen on already.” Spike replied reservedly.

“Ah, my boy’s got a crush on somebody. Well, I see how it is. Good luck with whoever this girl is.” David said excitedly, patting Spike on the shoulder and walking away towards the dance floor with his glass of alcohol.

Rose and Gibson brushed past each other as they traded places in the VIP area. Olivia and Rose started conversing as Gibson joined his bandmates at the bar.

“Like, you wouldn’t think that being a secretary for a paper clip distribution firm would be a dull, stressful, soul crushing job but it totally is.” Rose explained, taking a sip of champagne.

“Just quit then.” Olivia recommended

“What do you mean?” She laughed uneasily

“I mean just call your boss and tell him you quit.” Olivia repeated

“Well, that wouldn’t be very responsible.” Rose replied “Sometimes people like to actually weigh the pros and cons of things.”

“Your husband just made six figures. Drink this shot, then call your boss and tell him to piss off.”

“I don’t know…”

“Do it bitch!” Olivia exclaimed, handing her a shot of vodka from the bottle on the table.

“Ok, fine. I’ll do it.” Rose laughed. She drank the alcohol, then walked outside to get somewhere quieter. She dialed her bosses’ number and waited for it to ring. She got sent to voicemail. She hesitated for a second and then said,

“Hey Tom, it’s Rose, I just wanted to let you know that you can go fuck yourself and that I quit. Also, tell Sherrell in accounting that my husband just got signed to a huge record deal and that he is good enough for me and not a loser, so she can join you in fucking herself too.” She hung up and smiled. It felt good to finally get that off her chest. She thought for a second and called him back. Again voicemail “Hey Tom, it’s Rose again, you can still go fuck yourself, but tell Jeremy from sales that I know he ate my lunch every day even though it was clearly labeled. If you could tell him to go fuck himself too while you’re at it, that would be great.”

She waltzed back in with a stupid grin across her face. She walked up to the bar where Gibson, David and Spike were still seated, drinking and talking to the regulars.   

“This song is for my boys David, Spike and Gibson. I hope you all are having fun out there.” The DJ said over the speaker quickly interrupting the music. Sellout by Reel Big Fish started playing loudly over the speakers.

David spontaneously jumped up on the bar and started dancing to the song, and soon Spike, Gibson and Rose joined them. They were shuffling across the bar top and Olivia glanced up at them as if they were insane.

“C’mon love, get up here.” David shouted over the music

Olivia shook her head, but he grabbed her by the hand and all but dragged her up to the top of the bar. He grabbed her by the wrists and moved them as if to force the reserved girl to dance. She playfully tried to pull away put eventually gave up and started dancing with him, a huge smile on her face.

The club and the street were eerily quiet now, and the night was oddly peaceful. It was nearing 3 in the morning and David and Olivia stumbled out of the bar and onto the street corner. Olivia was leaning against David’s arm as they both waited for a cab.

“Tell me the story of the time you got into a barfight with Andrew Dice Clay again.” She asked

“Well, I was in Miami one time and I was sitting at a bar on the beach…” He paused for a moment and sighed. “C’mon, everyone hates that story. Plus, I don’t wanna talk about the past anymore, I didn’t really like it the first time.” He chuckled and Olivia squeezed his arm and giggled gleefully.

“I shouldn’t even be out drinking with my therapist anyway.” David added with a smirk.

“Well, court appointed.” She replied

“Only for a few more sessions. Then you can just be my friend who used to be my court appointed therapist.” He said snidely.

The cab pulled up to the curb and David opened the door for Olivia to get in first, then slid in after her. The driver asked for the address and David told him, then leaned up against the door of the cab. Olivia rested her head against his shoulder as the driver took off from the curb into the Los Angeles night.

There was a small patch of morning sun trickling in from the bedroom window. Olivia was laying facedown, head in a pillow when she awoke.  She rolled over slowly, her head pounding and her mouth bone dry. She looked around the room and saw that she was in a well-furnished room. She stood up quickly and put her dress from the night before on, then shambled over to the window. Olivia opened the velvet curtains and looked outside. She was on the side of the Hollywood hills, the massive house overlooking the city. In the distance, she could see the Hollywood sign. She turned around looked in the mirror across from the bed. She did her best to comb her frizzled and messed up hair with her hand, but quickly gave up out of futility. She carefully opened the door and stepped out into the hallway and then into the luxurious kitchen. She was startled by Rose standing over the sink with an icepack to her head.

“Morning.” Rose said quietly, pressing the icepack to her forehead.

“Morning.” Olivia replied “It feels like I got my skull shagged by Pinocchio last night.” She groaned. 

“Same girl. Just without the horrifyingly splintery imagery.”

“Hey, where’s David?” Olivia asked

“I don’t know, he’s around here somewhere. This house is so goddamn big he probably needs a map to get around” Rose answered sarcastically.

“So umm… I didn’t sleep with him last night, did I?” Olivia whispered anxiously.

“No.” Rose replied simply

“Are you sure? I don’t remember a thing besides when we were doing the dance montage on top of the bar, and even that is a bit fuzzy.”

“Yes, I’m sure. If you did, he’d be walking around here bragging about it.”

Suddenly, David appeared from one of the doors in the hallway. “Oh Olivia, good. I was looking for you, do you mind stepping in here for a second to talk?”

“Sure.” She replied simply.

David closed the door behind them. The room was a spare bedroom where the bed had been haphazardly covered with blankets. Olivia sat down on the side of the it.

“So uh… Crazy night, huh?” She stated clumsily.

“Slightly. My bar tab was 85,000 dollars… You guys were slacking, I thought it’d be much higher.” Olivia laughed in response.

“We didn’t uh… Do anything stupid last night, did we?” Olivia asked cumbersomely

“Nah, of course not. I slept in here. Having sex with my court appointed therapist would be like having sex with Rose. It would just be super awkward and scumbaggy.” David replied

“Well, I wouldn’t sleep with you either, David.” Rose called, out of nowhere putting extra emphasis on his name. “You’d think a house worth a small African country’s GDP would have thicker walls by the way.”

Olivia and David laughed at Rose’s cynicism and then sat in awkward silence for a moment and then Olivia broke it.

“David, thank you.” She said quietly

“For what?”

“For I don’t know… Being a good guy.” She answered

“You don’t need to thank me for that. What you should thank me for is what I’m about to do by lending you one of my suit jackets so you don’t walk out of my house looking like that.” David responded with a chuckle.

“I appreciate the offer but I can’t take one of your suits.”

“Why not?”

“They’re so nice and expensive.” Olivia replied

“Ah, I can buy another one. Hell, you don’t even have to call a cab. If you want to wait, I’ll just buy you a Tesla and have it delivered right now.” David said without an ounce of irony.

“I’ll just take a suit jacket and call the cab I think.” Olivia said with a smile. They stood together, looking over David’s wardrobe a bit. She picked one out and pulled it over her shoulders.

“I feel bad taking this. All your suits are super mint innit?” Olivia said

“Supah mint innit.” David replied, good-humoredly mocking her accent. “God you are such a Manc.” David laughed.

“Oh, shut up. Don’t make me bring up your sheep shagging tendencies you Welshman.” Olivia said in a fit of giggling, slapping David on the chest. David put a hand on her waist and turned her slightly towards him. His hand lingered for just a second before looking down at her. He smiled as he quickly removed it from her hip.

 The pair walked out into the living room where Rose was still sitting with the icepack against her temple, body half on the arm of the couch.

“We still on for Thursday?” David asked

“You know it. For two more weeks at least.” Olivia replied, pulling the two sides of the white Italian suit top that matched her dress closed together. As they walked through room to the front door, Suddenly, Spike appeared from under a few blankets under the couch.

“What the hell, why are you sleeping on my couch?” David exclaimed

“Ah man, I drank way too much and crashed on the couches with Rose.” Spike answered still half asleep.

“Dude, you literally live down the street.”

“Hey, by the way, has anybody seen where my husband ended up?” Rose questioned

Gibson woke up to the overwhelming odor of garbage. He looked up and saw an Asian archway nearby. He looked down and saw he was in a dumpster. He sat up, brushing bits of garbage off of himself and grabbed his phone after sliding the banana peel off of it. He dialed and waited for the ring.

“Yeah, honey. Can you come to Chinatown? It happened again.”