Soul music, p.25
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       Soul Music, p.25

         Part #16 of Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Page 25


  That was magnificent, said Dibbler. Whats up with the dwarf? Is he drowning? Glod reached out an arm, without looking, smashed the top off another bottle of beer and poured it over his head. Mr Dibbler? said Cliff. Yes?

  I think we want to talk. Just us, like. The band. If you dont mind. Dibbler looked from one to the other. Buddy was staring at the wall. Glod was making bubbling noises. Cliff was still on the floor. OK, he said, and then added brightly, Buddy? The free performance . . . great idea. Ill start organizing it right away and you can do it just as soon as you get back from your tour. Right. Well, Ill just- He turned to leave and walked into Cliffs arm, which was suddenly blocking the doorway. Tour? What tour? Dibbler backed off a little. Oh, a few places. Quirm, Pseudopolis, Sto Lat He looked around at them. Didnt you want that?

  Well talk about dat later, said Cliff. He pushed Dibbler out of the door and slammed it shut. Beer dripped off Glods beard. Tour? Three more nights of this?

  Whats the problem? said Asphalt. It was great! Everyone was cheering. You did two hours! I had to keep kickin

  em off the stage! I never felt so- He stopped. Thats it, really, said Cliff. The fing is, I go on dat stage, I sits down not knowing even what were goin to do, next minute Buddy plays something on his . . . on that thing, next Im goin bam-Bam-chcha-chcha-BAM-bam. I dont know what Im playing. It just comes in my head and down my arms.

  Yes, said Glod. Me, too. Seems to me Im getting stuff out of that horn I never put in there.

  And it aint like proper playing, said Cliff. Thats what Im saying. Its more like being played.

  Youve been in show business a long time, right? said Glod to Asphalt. Yep. Been there, done it. Seem em all.

  You ever seen an audience like that?

  Ive seen em throw flowers and cheer at the Opera House-

  Ha! Just flowers? Some woman threw her . . . clothing at the stage!

  Dats right! Landed on my head!

  And when Miss VaVa Voom did the Feather Dance down at the Skunk Club in Brewer Street, the whole audience rushed the stage when she was down to the last feather-

  That was like this, was it?

  No, the troll admitted. I got to say it, I aint never seen an audience so . . . hungry. Not even for Miss VaVa Voom, and they were pretty damn peckish then, I can tell you. Of course, no- one threw underwear on to the stage. She used to throw it off the stage.

  Deres something else, said Cliff. Deres four people in this room and only three of ems talking. Buddy looked up. The musics important, he mumbled.

  It aint music, said Glod. Music dont do this to people. It dont make them feel like theyve been put through a wringer. I was sweating so much Im going to have to change my vest any day now. He rubbed his nose. Also, I looked at that audience, and I thought: they paid money to get in here. I bet it came to more than ten dollars. Asphalt held up a slip of paper. Found this ticket on the floor, he said. Glod read it. A dollar-fifty? he said. Six hundred people at a dollarfifty each? That . . . thats four hundred dollars!

  Nine hundred, said Buddy, in the same flat tone, but the money isnt important.

  The moneys not important? You keep on saying that! What kind of musician are you? There was still a muted roar from outside. You want to go back to playing for half a dozen people in some cellar somewhere after this? said Buddy. Whos the most famous horn player there ever was, Glod?

  Brother Charnel, said the dwarf promptly. Everyone knows that. He stole the altar gold from the Temple of Offler and had it made into a horn and played magical music until the gods caught up with him and pulled his

  Right, said Buddy, but if you went out there now and asked who the most famous horn player is, would they remember some felonious monk or would they shout for Glod Glodsson?

  Theyd- Glod hesitated. Right, said Buddy. Think about that. A musician has to be heard. You cant stop now. We cant stop now. Glod waved a finger at the guitar. Its that thing, he said. Its too dangerous.

  I can handle it!

  Yes, but wheres it going to end?

  Its not how you finish that matters, said Buddy. Its how you get there.

  That sounds elvish to me- The door burst open again. Er, said Dibbler, boys, if you dont come back and play something else then were in the deep brown. . .

  Cant play, said Glod. Ive run out of breath through lack of money.

  I said ten dollars, didnt I? said Dibbler. Each, said Cliff. Dibbler, who hadnt expected to get away with less than a hundred, waved his hands in the air. Gratitude, is it? he said. You want me to cut my own throat?

  Well help. If you like, said Cliff. All right, all right, thirty dollars, said Dibbler. And I go without my tea. Cliff looked at Glod, who was still digesting the thing about the most famous horn player in the world. Theres a lot of dwarfs and trolls in the audience, said Cliff. “Cavern Deep, Mountain High”? said Glod. No, said Buddy. What, then?

  Ill think of something. The audience spilled out into the street. The wizards gathered around the Dean, snapping their fingers.

  Wella-wella-wella- sang the Dean happily. Its gone midnight! said the Lecturer in Recent Runes, snapping his fingers, and I dont care a bit! What shall we do now?

  We could have a rumble, said the Dean. Thats true, said the Chair of Indefinite Studies, we did miss dinner.

  We missed dinner? said the Senior Wrangler. Wow! Thats Music With Rocks In! We just dont care!

  No, I meant . . . The Dean paused. He wasnt quite sure, now he came to really think about it, what he had meant. Its a long walk back to the University, he conceded. I suppose we could at least stop for a coffee or something.

  Maybe a doughnut or two, said Recent Runes. And perhaps some cake, said the Chair. I could just fancy some apple pie, said the Senior Wrangler. And some cake.

  Coffee, said the Dean. Ye-ess. A coffee bar. Thats right.

  Whats a coffee bar? said the Senior Wrangler. Like a chocolate bar? said Recent Runes. The missed dinner, hitherto forgotten, was beginning to loom large in everyones stomachs. The Dean looked down at his shiny new leather robe. Everyone had said how good it was. Theyd admired BORN TO RUNE. His hair was right, too. He was thinking of shaving off his beard but just leaving the side bits because that felt right. And coffee . . . yes . . . coffee was in there somewhere. Coffee was all part of it. And there was the music. That was in there. That was everywhere. But there was something else, too. Something missing. He wasnt sure what it was, only that hed know it if he ever saw it. It was very dark in the alley behind the Cavern, and only the keenest-sighted would have seen several figures pressed against the wall. The occasional glint of a tarnished sequin would indicate to those who knew about such things that these were the Musicians Guilds crack enforcers, the Grisham Frord Close Harmony Singers. Unlike most of the people employed by Mr Clete they did, in fact, genuinely have some musical talent. Theyd also been in to see the band. Do-wop, uh do-wop, uh do-wop- said the thin one. Bubububuh- said the tall one. Theres always a tall one. Cletes right. If they keep pulling in audiences like that, everyone else is out of the show, said Grisham. Oh yeah, said the bass man. When they come through that door- three more knives slipped from their sheaths -well, just take your time from me. They heard the sound of feet on stairs. Grisham nodded. A-one, a-two, a-one-two-thr- GENTLEMEN? They pivoted. A dark figure stood behind them, holding a glowing scythe in its hands. Susan smiled horribly. TAKE IT FROM THE TOP? Oh, nooo, said the bass man. Asphalt unbolted the door and stepped out into the night. Hey, what was that? he said. What was what? said Dibbler.

  I thought I heard some people running away . . . The troll stepped forward. There was a ting. He reached down and picked up something. And whoever it was dropped this . . .

  Just some item or other, said Dibbler loudly. Come along, boys. You dont have to go back to any flophouse tonight. Its The Gritz for you!

  Thats a troll hotel, isnt it? said Glod suspiciously. Trollish, said Dibbler, waving a hand irritably. Hey, I bin in dere once doin
g cabarett! said Cliff. Dey got nearly everything! Water out of taps in nearly every room! A speaking tube sos you can holler your meal order right down to the kitchen, and dese guys with actual shoes on who brings it right to you! The works!

  Treat yourself! said Dibbler. You boys can afford it!

  And then theres this tour, is there? said Glod sharply. We can afford that too, can we?

  Oh, I shall help out with that, said Dibbler expansively. Tomorrow youll go to Pseudopolis, thatll take two days, then you can come back via Sto Lat and Quirm and be back here on Wednesday for the Festival. Great idea that. Giving something to the community, Ive always been in favour of giving to the community. Its very good for . . . for . . . for the community. Ill get it all organized while youre away, OK? And then . . . He put one arm around Buddys shoulders and another around Glods head. Genua! Klatch! Hersheba! Chimera! Howondaland! Maybe even the Counterweight Continent, theyre talking about discovering it again real soon now, great opportunities for the right people! With your music and my unerring business sense, the world is our mollusc! Now, you just go off with Asphalt, the best rooms now, nothings too much for my boys, and get some sleep without worrying about the bill-

  Thank you, said Glod. -you can pay it in the morning. The Band With Rocks In shambled away in the direction of the best hotel. Dibbler heard Cliff say, Whats a mollusc?

  Its like two plates of precipitated calcium carbonate with a salty slimy fishy thing in the middle.

  Sounds tasty. You dont have to eat dat bit in the middle, do you? When theyd gone, Dibbler looked at the knife hed taken from Asphalt. It had sequins on it. Yes. A few days with the lads out of the way was definitely a good move. On his perch in the gutter above, the Death of Rats gibbered to himself. Ridcully walked slowly out of the Cavern. Only a light drift of used tickets on the steps bore witness to the hours of music. He felt like someone watching a game who didnt know the rules. For example, the boy had been singing . . . what was it? Rave In. What the hell did that mean? Raving, yes, he could understand that, and in the Deans case it was perfectly accurate. Rave In? But everyone else had seemed to know what was meant. And then there had been, as far as he could remember, a song about not stepping on someones shoes. Fair enough, sensible suggestion, no-one wanted their feet trodden on, but why a song asking people to avoid doing so should have such an effect Ridcully was at a loss to understand. And as for the girl . . . Ponder bustled up, clutching his box. Ive got nearly all of it, Archchancellor! he shouted. Ridcully glanced past him. There was Dibbler, still bearing a tray of unsold Band With Rocks In shirts. Yes, fine, Mr Stibbons (shutupshutupshutup), he said. Jolly good, lets get back home.

  Good evening, Archchancellor, said Dibbler.

  Why, hello, Throat, said Ridcully. Didnt see you there.

  Whats in that box?

  Oh, nothing, nothing at all-

  Its amazing! said Ponder, full of the undirected excitement of the true discoverer and idiot. We can trap the arragh aargh aargh.

  My word, clumsy old me, said Ridcully, as the young wizard clutched at his leg. Here, let me take that totally innocent device you have there- But the box had tumbled out of Ponders arms. It hit the street before Ridcully could catch it, and the lid flew off. The music spilled out into the night. How did you do that? said Dibbler. It is magic?

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