Heart Strings

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Monday dawned and it was business as usual for Danny and Liam. The exception was that Liam handed over the documents to Ms. Grace for Danny's name change.

"It was a lovely reception Liam, all of you performed so well I was truly amazed. I wish I could have taken part but my voice failed me a few years ago," Ms. Grace told him. I'll make sure the Vice Principal gets these and the teachers will all be notified."

"Mr. Culver will probably have the first honor, we have him in just a while," Liam replied.

"Hi Amber, where's Cheri?" Liam asked.

"Restroom, she'll be here in a few. Liam I didn't know you played violin, why were you holding out on me?" Amber interrogated.

"Well, I don't actually, I play fiddle. I can't play all the classical stuff that you can. Just reels and jigs and that's fairly easy to do," Liam explained.

"But you play like a pro, I bet you could play concert pieces if you wanted to. Of course, you'd have to learn to hold it right. I've never seen a classical violinist play from the elbow before," Amber chided.

"Well, yas can't sing proper with the thing under yer chin so I learned to rest it in the crook of me arm. I could teach you but Mr. Levi mightn't like it much."

"Funny, but I still might like to learn. What was that second waltz you played after Waltzing's for Dreamers? It was really pretty, I'd like to learn it if I could," Amber inquired.

"It's by the same man; it's called How Will I Ever Be Simple Again. It's a sad song but it's in waltz time and I like his music. I'll sing it for you and you'll understand why I couldn't sing it at the reception."

"Ah, I can understand you wouldn't want to play sad songs at a thing like that, but I look forward to hearing you sing it," Amber smiled.

"Hi guys, why so serious? I thought you'd be all amped up, Liam," Cheri teased.

"We were just talking about a song that Liam played at the reception," Amber spoke up.

"Which one, they were all really good?" Cheri asked.

"It's called How Will I Ever Be Simple Again. He played it on the fiddle but didn't sing it because the lyrics are sad," Amber supplied.

"Oh that one, I was going to ask about it myself. It's a pretty melody. Are the lyrics as sad as that Kilkelly song you played for us?" Cheri pressed.

"Just as, I reckon but different. It's about a soldier’s encounter with a little girl in a war zone. I always think of Northern Ireland but it could be anywhere I suppose."

"I'll bring a box of tissues then. You should play that Kilkelly song for History class when they cover the potato famine in Ireland. You could bring in a couple of ninth grade baritones and do the harmony like they did on the album," Cheri suggested.

"Oh, you've found the album then, eh?" Liam countered.

"Yes, there's a lot of good songs on it. I listened to the whole thing," Cheri replied.

"Where's Danny, he should be here by now?" Amber asked.

"He went to talk to Mr. Hanlan about something. He said he'll catch us up in Culver's class," Liam informed the two girls.

"Well, we better get going then, Amber has further to go than us." Cheri hugged Amber and the three walked toward the class rooms.

They caught Danny just outside the science room and walked in together. Cheri and Kyle took their seats and Liam and Danny took theirs.

Mr. Culver began the roll call, he went through the first three letters and started on the D’s.

"Dennehy, Daniel?" the teacher called.

Liam elbowed Danny and Danny raised his hand.

"Dennehy, Liam?

Liam raised his hand, grinning.

"Congratulations of becoming brothers gentlemen. I hope you'll all be happy together."

The rest of the class applauded led by Cheri.

"Thank you sir, both boys replied.

"I'll have to learn to answer to my new name, but I'm sure it won't take long.

"I fancy you'll get used to it right quick,” Liam assured.

"Good morning Catherine, we missed you at the reception.

"Yes, I'm sorry we couldn't attend, we had a last minute emergency. Our neighbor had a stroke in her driveway as we were leaving; by the time she was safe in the hospital, it was too late. I heard that it was quite a party; Mr. Hanlan said you made it a proper ceilidh. Perhaps you'll share some of your music in the quad for us one of these days," Catherine suggested.

"Do yas think they're ready for it?"

"You'll have to give them a chance. You never know ‘til you try."

"I'll give it some thought, Catherine," Liam promised.

In English Literature class Liam handed in his report on Richard Dawkins' book, The Selfish Gene; Ms. Harris raised her eyebrows at the title.

"Isn't this a bit over your head, Liam?" she asked, with one raised eyebrow.

"I don't think so. Dawkins makes his point rather well and it fits in with my own reckoning. Do you object to the subject?"

"No Liam, I was just surprised that someone of your age would consider the issue."

"Well, I plan to read The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion when I get a chance," Liam informed her.

"I look forward to seeing your impressions of both books," Ms. Harris smiled.

"What was Harris going on about?" Cyrus Mehrabi asked Liam.

"Just my choice of book for the report that was due in this week," Liam explained.

"Why, what book did you read? Cyrus asked.

Liam told him about the book and the subject.

"I could never read that, my Dad would shit himself if he found out. Our whole family is super religious, although I've got some doubts of my own," Cyrus shared.

"Oh, sorry Cyrus, that's not a good situation. I could give you my copy, it's a paperback, you could read it at school if you're worried about yer Da seein' it, Liam offered.

"Oh, it's not that bad, my folks don't beat me if I get a Bible verse wrong or anything, I just don't think they'd want me reading about atheism. But yeah, I'd like to read it if you don't mind," Cyrus agreed.

"I've the book in me bag here, put it in yer pack and read it when you can. You can always bin it if yer worried yer Da might see it," Liam suggested.

"Thanks man, I'll let you know what I think after I read it," Cyrus promised.

Class began and there was a review of The Red Badge of Courage.  

"Hey Sean, how would you feel about doing a bit of music in the quad with a few of us? I'm thinkin' Irish music. I know yer passionate about it and I think it might be well received," Liam requested.

"Who could we get?" Sean asked warily.

"Well, Danny fer one and Tristan; Calvin can sing and he loves our sort of music. Did you see him bouncing around during Tell Me Ma? I can play fiddle and Amber might have a go, I'd have to ask her. Do you know anyone plays a flute or penny whistle?" Liam probed.

"There's a kid named Cyrus, he plays flute in orchestra. And yeah, Calvin is quite the lad. I actually fancied him until I met Tristan. I'll have a feel around and see if I know of anyone else. How about that kid that was on the squeeze box, does he go here? Sean asked.

"I know Cyrus, we have English Lit together, we were just talking about a book a bit ago, and yeah Calvin is a cutie, he looks younger than me but he's a year older. He's pretty much glued to Brian ya know. They make a great couple. Calvin really gets Brian out of his shell. Spencer's the lad that was playing melodeon, but he's back in Maryland by now. Pity, he's really into the music," Liam explained.

"Bummer, he was good," Sean groused.

"Well we've drum, guitars, fiddle and flute. We could do a little practice and if Amber can cover the fiddle, I can play the flute. I'm no James Galway but I manage okay," Liam assured.

"I'm in for that, I guess it has to be just students at our school but there's a couple I'd like to busk with over at Serrano," Sean put in.

"If you can get them to come, do it. Maybe I can convince this lot to go public in Old Towne Center or someplace like that. There's a nice area surrounded by benches and trees that never gets much use and there's lavvies not far away. We could put up a flyer in the Folk Center in advance," Liam proposed.

"Sounds good to me, I'll see what can be done," Sean grinned.

"We best leg it to P.E. Coach isn't a hard man but he's not fond of latecomers," Liam suggested.

Danny, Liam, Brian and Sean sat on the bench drying and dressing after their showers. Calvin had a different P.E. schedule which was just as well by Brian's reckoning. If he had to look at Calvin without his clothes midday he'd likely not be able to control his tackle.

Liam asked if Brian would like to take part in their little performance. Brian thought he should consult Calvin before giving an answer but he would like to join in and he'd drag Calvin along to the practice session.  

"Yas can all meet me Shan, she'll tell you about all the musicians she's played backup for. She's a great player on anything you can strum or pick, so bring yer ears and yer appetite," Liam laughed.

"Whoa, that's the first time I've ever heard you boast about anything," Brian observed.

"It's not boasting if it's true Brian, and Shan can play the pants off anyone you've ever met," put in Danny      

"I can't wait, text me the date and time and I'll be there," Brian grinned. He waved and was gone in search of Calvin.

"I can't believe the change in him, he's like a different person, even before he was being a complete arse, he was never outgoing or cheerful," Sean observed.

"I fancy it's down to Calvin. He's infectious and all," Liam added.

The boys finished dressing and made their way to the gathering at the main gate. Maeve rolled up and they were away after a short chat with Todd, Darren, Amber and Cheri.

"Shan, me Algebra teacher asked about playing some music in the quad. I'd like to have some mates over so we can practice and to show you off a bit, is that okay with you?"        

"Me, hang out with musicians?! The very thought of it," Maeve chuckled. "When and how many?"

I don't know what day yet, I've phone calls to make before I can make any solid plans. We would need a ride to Morelli's for meat, rolls and sides, not to mention Cannoli," Liam explained.

"And Anisette cookies," Danny reminded him.

"You quite fancied those didn't you?" Liam grinned.

"Well, I've no objection to either request. What sort of music will you be practicing?" Maeve inquired.

"Irish music," Danny chirped. I fancy it's part of me education," he giggled.

"You could do worse," replied Maeve jovially.

"Best day would be Thursday, and we could take over the quad Friday at the long break, I'll clear it with the other lads that play there. I'll talk to Sean about it and see what he thinks," Liam informed her.

"I can live with that boys, let me know how it progresses," Maeve assured.

"I was thinkin' of teachin' em Seven Drunken Nights, but we'd only play five of them. Just like the Dubliners did," Liam spitballed.

"What about Kilkelly, I think we should do that one; you and Sean sing low enough, can you find another baritone?" Danny suggested.

"I don't know, Charlie doesn't sing anymore but I was going to call Cyrus about playing flute with us and he's a deep voice fer speakin', he might do,” Liam considered.

"You'd want to do that one in the middle of yer set for sure, ya can't go leaving the audience in tears, and that's a sad one, and all," Maeve counseled.

"My thoughts exactly," Danny agreed.

"It's a good song and I wouldn't mind including it. We could play something lively right after to cheer them up," Liam concurred. “Maybe you could help us plan the set. Galway Girl was a big hit at the reception and so was Tell Me Ma; I don't want to get too ambitious since only a few of these people have played any Irish music before. Fun medium tempo tunes would be best."

"There's so many, but I'll give it some thought, I'm sure we can come up with a couple of good ones," Maeve offered.

"Thanks Shan," Liam and Danny chirped simultaneously.

They passed the rest of the drive deep in their own thoughts.

Liam called Sean and got Cyrus' number and then gave him a call.

"Hi Cyrus, am I interrupting your dinner or anything?" Liam asked.

"No, as a matter of fact I'm on my own here until seven or so," Cyrus replied.

"Great, I understand ya play flute really well. Is that true?" Liam asked.

"Yeah pretty good, I used to be first chair but then Levi abolished the chair system. I was a little pissed at first but it's actually cut down on wasted time with challenges. And the rest of the musicians are getting better so I guess he was right," Cyrus revealed.

"Do yas know who James Galway is?" Liam interrogated further.

"Ha, what flautist doesn't know about him or Ian Anderson? What's with the questions, Liam?"

"Bear with me just a bit more, did you start on the recorder?"

"Yes, what is going on?"

"Well, I'm looking for someone that can play an Irish flute or pennywhistle. Are you familiar with those?"

"Yeah, I like Irish trad music, I just don't know anybody else that wants to play. You got something happening?"

"Well yeah, Sean gave me your name and I thought I'd invite you to a practice session Thursday afternoon since it's a short day, with an eye to havin' a bit of a show in the quad Friday and wondered if you might be interested. Just a couple vocal numbers and a few reels," Liam enticed.

"That sounds really cool, any idea what you'll be playing?" Cyrus asked.

"Um, Galway Girl and Tell Me Ma and maybe Seven Drunken Nights, It's still kind of up in the air. It's kind of a spur of the moment sort of thing. Just a bit of a lark."

"I'll check with Mom but I don't think she'll mind. I'd love to be involved. Do you have anyone on accordion?" Cyrus asked.

"No why, I mean I was going to see if anyone from school plays, but Mr. Levi was out today and the sub wouldn't know," Liam replied.

"I play accordion, I've played since I was six. I've got a small one that's perfect for Irish music. And Galway Girl has a great accordion part," Cyrus proposed. "Can I bring someone with me, obviously I can't play flute and accordion at the same time but Peter Vriesdahl plays Irish flute, too,"

"Sure, if he's available. I was thinking we could all meet up tomorrow and get a feel for the idea and see if anyone had ideas for songs," Liam agreed.

"Great, I'll give him a call and see what he thinks, thanks for thinking of me Liam. I've always wanted to play something besides orchestral music in public."

"Then you want to meet my busking mates, we play in the park pretty regular," Liam suggested.

"Yeah I know, I've heard you guys playing, I just never got the courage up to join in," Cyrus admitted.

"Well that can be seen to, this will just be people from our school but some of them are buskers too. At least a third of the Guitar class has had a go. They all had fun," Liam assured.

"Okay then, talk to you tomorrow at school," Cyrus affirmed and they ended the call.

"Whoa Liam, I never expected an Iranian kid to be interested in Irish music. That's really cool," Danny exclaimed.

"I don't see why, yer an Irish kid that likes blues and all sorts of other stuff, you seemed to like what Tristan was doin' with the Guitsit," Liam countered. "Where did you get the idea he's Iranian?"

His last name, it's a hobby, I look up last names to see where they originate and his is Iranian. It's not a bad thing, I'm just curious about names. But yeah you're right, you never know what people are going to like. Sorry I made the presumption," Danny shrugged.

"No need to feel bad about it, I'm curious how he got interested in Irish music, too. We can ask him tomorrow at lunch," Liam announced.

"Cool, I think this could be great and it might get other kids from different cultures or interests to show off their music, also," Danny smiled.

"I think that would be grand Danny my love, absolutely grand," Liam crowed.

Cuddled in bed at the end of the day, Danny asked about the set list for the concert.

"Have you had any more ideas about songs to play, Liam?"

"Well, there's one by the High Kings about there being an Irish pub anywhere in the world you care to go, I might see if we can try that one. I don't want to play any IRA type stuff even though there are some good ones. I've still some thinkin' to do about it," Liam replied.

"Do you think the school will object to pub songs?" Danny inquired.

"I don't know, I thought I'd ask Uncle Mike about the potential list tomorrow and keep us on the right side of the rules. That cheesy Reggae group played a lot of pot heavy songs. I didn't see any teachers getting upset about that," Liam observed.

"They were really lame though, Colin was the only black kid in the group and he looked embarrassed to be involved. You know the group broke up right after that, right?" Danny chuckled.

"No I didn't, I suppose it was bound to happen, none of them could play or sing a lick. But with some styles that's not terribly important, I reckon," Liam concluded.

Danny was going to respond but he felt the regular breathing on his neck and realized Liam had dropped off. The act of listening to the calm, well-regulated breathing lulled Danny and he slipped off to oblivion himself.