Rip looks about in awe at the bronze, chrome and marble lobby of the Elfin Music offices on their way to the elevator to take them up to Danny Elfin’s executive offices on the twenty-third floor.
“By the way, I need you to record a campaign song for me,” Danny casually says as they enter the elevator.
“What is that?” asks Rip.
“It's a song I can use for my new campaign,” answers Danny.
“I mean, what do you mean, record?” asks Rip.
“Write, I need you to write and sing a campaign song for me. I'm going to run for President,” announces Danny Elfin, proudly.
“What's a President?” asks Rip.
Danny explains, “It's like a king, only you don't inherit the position, the people have to ask you to be their leader. A king is an out of date concept. I'm going to be the President then I can make the fans pay even more for our music. I can tax it!”
“Like King George taxes the tea people like to drink so much,” says Rip trying to find a context he can understand.
“Right! It doesn't pay to tax things no one cares about,” explains Danny as they exit the
elevator and stroll down the hallway toward the office.
Suddenly a harried assistant runs down the hallway as Danny and Rip approach Danny's spacious office and calls out to Danny with some urgency, “Mister Elfin, Mister Elfin!”
“What is it, Margo?” asks Danny as they enter the office with gold record plaques lining the wood-paneled walls. Danny takes his seat behind his large mahogany desk. The assistant runs up to him and hands him a flier. The flier reads RIPPED OFF - Live In Concert.
“What’s this?” asks Danny reading the flier.
“It's a new tribute band called Ripped Off,” explains the assistant. “They play all of Rip's songs. They sound just like him and they even dress like him.”
“So what?” asks Danny.
“So they do it for free!” says the assistant.
Danny’s eyes grow wide in anger, “What? That's outrageous! They can't do that! It's bad enough every other song played on the radio these days sounds like Rip!”
“Although I seem to sound different on every station,” mutters Rip under his breath.
Danny shoves the flier in Rip's face.
“See? This is why I need to be President! Pretty soon your fans will be doing things for these sound-a-likes and copycats and then where will I be... I mean, where will you be?”
For the next few minutes, Rip sits stunned in disbelief as his manager and friend rants and rails against the perceived failings of the King of the Fairies and his administration. But worse, far worse, than Danny Elfin’s attitudes towards the politics of Fairyland is his all-encompassing desire to denigrate and ultimately enslave, at least financially, the very citizens of Fairyland. The people who were Rip’s own supporters and fans. The people responsible for not only his, but also Danny Elfin’s considerable wealth and social standing. Rip sits listening, appalled, until he can sit still no longer.
“Oh, no. This isn't good. Herbie was right!” says Rip to himself under his breath as he turns and runs for the door just as Elfin’s assistant enters.
“Hey, where are you going?” asks Danny suddenly, snapping out of his mad trance.
“I have to use the bathroom!” shouts back Rip as he scurries down the hall heading for the elevator.
Danny pauses for a moment before calling after him, “No you don't. Nobody here does!”
The elevator doors open and Rip enters the main lobby heading for the exit when he sees a small room marked Cloakroom. He reaches over the dutch doors and grabs an actual black cloak. He drapes the cloak over his shoulders and pulls the hood over his head as he hurries out of the office building and out onto the street at night.
“This isn't good, this isn't good! This is bad, this is so bad! What am I going to do? I need help. I need to find Herbie!” stammers Rip as he blindly rushes down the street in disguise.
From the shadows step three men dressed in black and wearing dark sunglasses as they watch Rip hurry past. One of the men talks into a walkie talkie.
“Target spotted, your Highness. He just left his record company on foot. He is traveling incognito. We can make it look like a simple mugging. Ten-four,” whispers the man into the walkie talkie.
The men in black follow Rip down the dark, empty streets. Just as the three of them rush to step up behind the unsuspecting Rip with daggers in their hands, a gang of punks emerge from an alley in front of them.
“What's this, then?” says one of the punks wielding a straight-razor, “Straights out walking on our streets?”
Rip freezes in his tracks, staring straight ahead as the punks approach him, pulling out their knives and clubs. To his surprise, they walk right past him before breaking into a charge toward the men in black standing behind him.
“Anarchy!” screams another of the punks.
The punks then viciously attack the men in black who enter into a gang fight with them as Rip continues walking straight ahead, never looking back.
He turns down the first street he can and suddenly hears the sound of old-time Fairyland music coming from a tavern. By the front door is a placard that reads Tonight - Classic Orc. Rip enters the tavern where a girl sits on a bar stool on a stage singing Fairyland "oldies". In a corner, Herbie and his friends from bowling night sit around a table, drinking. Rip sits down in the empty seat next to Herbie as Herbie looks up at him in surprise.
“Well, look who it is,” says one of the bowling team members.
“Come to ruin the last of any real music left in the realm?” says another of the elves.
Rip ignores their taunts and turns to Herbie, “Herbie, you were right. You were right all along. Danny Elfin is going to run for president and he's using my music to help him do it!”
“What's a president run?” asks another of the drinking party.
“A little over four dollars, I think,” answers another one.
Rip explains, “A president is like a king only he rules by the consent of the people.”
“So, who cares, man?” says Herbie, coolly.
“If he becomes president,” explains Rip with some urgency, “he can impose a tax on music, all music. Any music he doesn't like he can tax into oblivion! If you think your choices in music are slim now...”
Rip suddenly becomes quiet as a waitress approaches. As the waitress brings another round of drinks to the table, she recognizes Rip.
“Well, well,” says the waitress, “so we have a celebrity in our midst, do we? Like a drink, Honey? On the house.”
“Yeah, he'll have an apple cider... and hold the spit!” Herbie tells the waitress who smirks, takes the hint and walks off.
“We have to stop him!” continues Rip.
“How can you stop him?” one of the elves asks.
“Especially if he's going to use your music to sway the crowd to his side?” adds another as the waitress returns and sets a mug down in front of Rip.
The waitress has overheard the conversation and interjects, “If someone is using your music to get votes, why don't you run against him? Then your endorsement will be worthless.”
She then walks away.
Rip turns to Herbie, “Can I do that?”
“You know he can't do that,” another elf says to Herbie.
“Why not?” asks Rip.
“Because you're not a true fairy,” Herbie tells him.
One of the elves butts in, “Only a natural fairy can ever work in Fairyland. You've been working here without a Green Card.”
“Yeah, you're what's called an illegal alien,” explains another.
“If you weren't brought here for an official purpose, then if anyone found out, you'd be sent back immediately,” continues a third.
“What's an "official purpose"?” asks Rip.
“You know,” one of the elves answers, “medical experiments...”
“Never mind that.” interrupts Herbie, “The point is you'd never pass the background check if you tried to run for office.”
“But I look just like a Fairy, no one knows I'm not a real fairy, what's the difference?” asks Rip.
“Well, for one thing,” says Herbie, “you don't know how to travel between realms. That's something real fairies know how to do.”
“So if someone isn't a real fairy and you took him back where he came from he could never return here?” questions Rip, thinking.
“Yep,” says Herbie.
“That's it!” says Rip, excitedly, “I don't think Danny Elfin is a real fairy.”
“Why do you say that?” asks one of the elves.
“For one thing, there was something he said to me when we first met,” says Rip, “and also because he thinks way too much like some of the folks back home. He doesn't have your enlightened attitudes.”
“There's only one way to find out,” says Herbie.
“How's that?” asks Rip.
“Get him on board the ship. Once he's there he'll revert to his true form,” answers one of the elves, finishing his mug of grog.
Herbie turns to the elf, “If he's not a true fairy there's no way he'll get on board a ship. He won't even go near a fairy circle.”
“I think he might. If he doesn't recognize it as a fairy circle,” suggests Rip.
“If you think you can trick him into a fairy circle we can send him back to wherever he came,” says Herbie. “More or less.”
“But you might give yourself away by doing that,” one of the elves says.
“Then we'd have to send you back too,” says another.
“I should go back. I've already caused too much damage here,” says Rip, despondently. “I wanted to make music to bring people happiness, not to make some people rich and others slaves.”
“In that case, we can send Elfin home with you,” says Herbie.
“Oh, no you don't!” insists Rip, “Don't stick me with that guy. Take him somewhere else.”
“Ah, we can't really drop anyone off anywhere in particular,” says one of the elves, sheepishly.
“Yeah, our ship only goes between two ports, here and where we found you on Bowling Night,” explains another.
“We can only go to the same place but at different times,” says Herbie.
“Fine. So drop him off before my village even existed,” insists Rip.
“Ooh, that can be tricky because he could do something to change the time-line and maybe even prevent your village from ever being built,” says an elf.
“Or you from ever being born,” continues another.
“I swear, you guys have the weirdest sense of time around here,” says Rip, leaning back in his chair.
Herbie shrugs his shoulders and says, “It's always the same time.”
“How is that possible?” asks Rip, leaning forward again.
Herbie explains, “You see, imagine where you're from is a song, a series of notes. There are spaces between the individual notes but you don't notice them. You only hear the notes of your tune.”
“Where we're from is also like a song but the notes of our tune fall in the spaces between the notes of your tune,” continues another elf.
“They're both played together, at the same time but you only hear one tune and we only hear the other,” says yet another.
The bowling team all turn to listen to the fairy girl on stage singing a slow, pretty melody. One of the elves starts to sing along with her. Then a second joins in, singing the notes in between the notes of the first elf and the girl. Finally, a third elf adds a melody on top of the first two thus illustrating their concept of time. The bowling team members then end their song along with the girl and the small audience applauds the girl.
Rip turns back to his drinking companions and asks, “Can you send Danny Elfin to a time far enough in the future from my time that he can't affect me? I kind of suspect he may be from the future. He has some strange ideas.”
“Sure,” says Herbie. “We can do that. If you can get him into a fairy circle.”
“Leave it to me,” says Rip, “I've been told my music has a strong effect on people.”
All of the bowling team then join Rip in raising their glasses in a toast to their master plan.
***Bonus*** Accompanying book RIPPED included with physical CD-RP purchase @ https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/thetooners17
THE TOONERS are a multimedia rock and roll band from Los
Angeles who not only produce their own original music but also illustrate their songs and award winning (Chicago International Film Festival) fully animated music videos....more