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YOU ARRIVE AT THE PARADISE MOTEL

it's in a leafy tree-lined street that runs through parkland

 
...although the beauty of the area is lost on you in this dark windy night. The building has a certain rustic charm, but you get the sense that it used to be something much better, years ago. It's a very old red-brick building. As you step into the entrance hall you notice the carpet is worn and frayed. You hear a sort of slow, repetitious musical loop coming from somewhere above, almost drowned out by the creaking of floorboards under your weight. A handwritten sign is attached at right angles to the wall, with an arrow -- it says "Reception" and it points you into a side-room.
    You're in luck -- the Paradise Motel has a single room vacant tonight, according to the man in reception. You pay him ninety percent of the money in your pocket. He gives you the key. "Room 42 is upstairs.", he says, and goes back to his previous task of cutting his toenails.
    As you climb the creaky stairs, that slow music you heard earlier gets louder. It's coming from one of the rooms. The room numbers are hand-written on the doors in black texta, and some of them have been crossed out and re-written. In your search for the room 42, you pass a door which is slightly ajar, and it is from here that the music is emerging. The unusual sound piques your curiosity and you wonder who or what could be making it. Oh, I wouldn't go in there if I were you...
    You poke your head around the door just to have a look.
    There are six musicians in here, fully equipped with microphones and amplifiers. All are facing you but none of them gives you so much as a glance. They are playing in semi-darkness -- the only light is a pale yellow light that comes from a rusty desk lamp. The person closest to you is a young woman with dark curly hair and glasses who seems to be lost in her own little world. She's singing very slowly in a soft, gentle, angelic voice:
 
 
The light was bad, like she did
Most nights my blood is tainted with the agony
Summer always reminds me of lanolin and stones
It always rained, smiling I'm sorry
Alone, alone...

 
 
The vocalist seems to be sticking to a two-note range, but her mannerisms and facial expressions suggest that she's having a good time. The only person in the room more enthusiastic is the guitarist, a tall and rangy man with long hair and strong features. He's striding all over the room, playing his guitar, but all he's playing is one note, over and over again at regular intervals. Bing... bing... bing...
    With every pluck of the string he changes his posture, his direction, his guitar-angle, but somehow that one note always sounds the same... bing... bing... bing...
    No one seems to have noticed your presence so you step further into the room. The other four musicians are motionless -- there's a drummer, an organist, and two other guitarists, all sitting down. They don't seem to be playing anything, and as your eyes adjust to the light you realise that they have their eyes closed. Are they asleep? Then who's playing the other musical parts? You can hear more than just a single guitar and vocalist, surely --
    You creep silently past the standing guitarist and into the dead area of the room. What's that thing on top of the speaker stack? It's a turntable -- and there's a record on it, going round and round -- but sitting on top of the record is a bent pair of surgical scissors, and the stylus has reached a point where it keeps bumping into the scissors and skipping back. So it's repeating the same broken phrase of music again and again. You wonder what would happen if someone were to remove the scissors and let the needle continue on its course.
    In the meantime the vocalist is clutching the microphone and swaying back and forth to the music, sensuously singing:
 
 
I see your burn you only
I see your burn you only
I see your burn you only
I see your burn you only
I see your burn you only
I see your burn you only
Merida

 
 
She's repeating that phrase over and over again like the broken record -- you can't remember how long she's been stuck on it, but it seems like a long, long time. As she continues to sing in that soft, hypnotic way, you find it hard to remember a time when she was not repeating the line -- it's eternal, like the cycles of life. And with each repetition, the words seem to come closer to making sense. But you can't help thinking that this band will be stuck here forever in this musical loop unless someone helps them out. Something's got to break them out of it so that they can finish the song. You're not sure if you should tamper with the record player, but surely -- oh what the heck, they won't mind -- you'd be doing them a favour.

<BGSOUND SRC="parodyse.mid">

 
You turn back to the record player, snatch the scissors off the vinyl, and run back to the front of the room to watch the effects of your actions. At the sound of new notes, the sleeping musicians open their eyes and look around in bewilderment. A split second later, their arms are poised to strike a violent note together. The air is jolted by a bomb-shell of noise which bursts forth from all five musicians like an aeroplane* engine. Suddenly your ears are being assaulted on all sides by an angry, passionate, musical din. The drummer is bashing out a slow but heavy rock beat with frequent fill-ins. The seated guitarist, now fully awake, is belting out the power chords. The organist is doing a frenzied improvisation on the keyboard, hitting the keys hard with painful abandon. You didn't think the standing guitarist could get any more agitated than before, but somehow he does... he's playing like a man possessed, making as much noise as possible with no regard for musical accuracy, oblivious to the world around him -- you might almost say he's
 
 
Charles "wrenching passion
from the timber like
his life depended on it."

One string breaks...
then another string
breaks...


 
The vocalist is no longer singing, but she's still smiling and rocking as if she enjoys the sensation of the music rushing past her. And now the bass player is playing all his strings at once and the organist is bashing the keyboard with his head.
    Suddenly a man bursts into the room, breaking the mood with his shouts: "STOP! STOP THE MUSIC!" It's the receptionist man from downstairs. He's looking furious. The musicians take a few seconds to let the music die away, and then the room is filled with stunned silence. This is all wrong. The music ended too soon.
    "O.K.", says the angry man, turning on the lights. "What's going on here? You've woken up the entire motel with this racket. I told you the band can use this space for rehearsal as long as you respect the rights of other guests and keep it DOWN!"
    "I'm sorry Jack**", says the vocalist. "Someone took the scissors off the turntable and we just lost control."
    "Well that's all very well, Merida, but I..." Jack catches sight of you and notices the scissors in your hand. "You...!", he growls. "I knew you were trouble from the start. You've been here five minutes and already you're disturbing the peace. We don't need troublemakers like you here. I want you OUT! Out of my motel!"
    You protest, "But that's not fair! I didn't know what would happen when I removed the scissors -- it was THEM who started playing extra loud -- you should evict them, not me!"
    The standing guitarist comes over to you and says sarcastically, "Oh, so it's Blame the Band time. If the kids are killing themselves, blame the band. If the kids are turning to satanism, blame the band. It's time you started taking responsibility for your own actions, buddy!"
    "Steady on, Charles", says Jack. Then he turns to you. "Do you realise how long this band have been staying here? Compared to you? I can't evict THEM. The Paradise Motel would be nothing without this band. Hell, these guys ARE the Paradise Motel! And you'd better pack up your stuff and get back out on the street where you belong, before I throw you out!"
    With your head bowed, you walk out of the room in disgrace. There's nothing to be done.

So now you only have two options:
my apartment, or the rocks. What's it going to be?


note --
*Aeroplanes  written by Aulich/Bickford/Sussex/O'Shannassy, 1996 Mushroom Records
**Jack Star  written by Bickford, 1996 Mushroom Records
 

pull the blind down and dance with your friend