The Seven Deadlies: Chapter 2: The Audition

It seemed to list an audition site in Houston. Deciding this was too good to be true he decided to make the drive down. Maybe he would be able to see a free performance but if not he still wouldn't mind paying. Airfare plus the cost of tickets would be much more expensive in New York or LA, not to mention the cost of a hotel room or hostel.

He swore when first watching the video there were seven of them, but after watching it again there seemed to only be 5 or 6.

Clicking on the link an audition site listed for Houston popped up. Deciding this was too good to be true he decided to make the drive down. Maybe he would be able to see a free performance but if not he still wouldn't mind paying. Airfare plus the cost of tickets would be much more expensive in New York or LA, not to mention the cost of a hotel room or hostel.

Watching the music video again he couldn't wait to get down in Houston to watch them live. The second time he watched he saw only 5 or 6 members but remembering the first viewing he swore there were 7 on screen. I must be seeing things, he thought after rubbing his eyes.

Getting ready to leave his apartment he first found a couple days worth of clean clothes and threw them into a black duffel bag. After packing up, he grabbed his debit card and booked a hotel room for a couple days on the outskirts of the city. No use paying those exorbitant rates for a city room, he thought.

Checking his Honda Hatchback one last time, finding everything ready along with his apartment locked and the alarm set everything seemed perfect to run off to Houston. "Wait! The keys to the car?! Where are they?!", he thought. He looked all around his car, panicked. Taking a deep breath to calm himself down he slowly glanced around until he found the keys on the passenger seat and nearly face-palmed. He breathed a sigh of relief and then...what about work?! No, no I talked to them a couple of days ago about getting 3 days off. Whew.

Before he could let his panic take him again, he grabbed the keys, placed them into the ignition and started the car. He stopped at a few convenience and grocery stores to get a quick bite here and there as well as a quick fill-up. That last sandwich he would not forget and promised to get himself a bite to eat at a grocery store the next thing as that Chicken Club sandwich was terribly salty. All in all, a fairly unremarkable journey to Houston.

Arriving at the hotel at 7 pm, it looked fairly nice, albeit nondescript. It had the sort of sturdy, unremarkable resemblance you saw in many of the mid-priced hotels. There were little distinguishing touches but it was very run of the mill, like those model homes you saw churned out or as that song goes about "ticky-tacky" and houses looking the same.

Walking up to the front desk, he picked up his room card, red with a white stripe or was it the other way around? Ehhh, who cared. Heading up to his room on the 3rd floor 300, he entered and saw a room refrigerator to his left. Opening the door he felt around. Surprisingly he felt a light touch of cold air, not enough to chill the 6 pack he was about to get over at the liquor store across the street. Inquiring with his eyes as to where the knob might be to control the air, he finally found it on the inside of the door. Noticing it was at 5 and cranked it up to 10, the max.

Before he headed out, he remembered to grab the spare key to get back in the room as this had one of those systems that had an auto-shutoff feature to the room and he didn't want to take a chance with the fridge. So he left the room, took the elevator, exited the hotel crossed the intersection and entered the store. Looking around at the stock they had, he gave the store a general perusal. Hmmm, not a bad selection. Grabbing a six-pack of a Dutch beer he liked that was more than passable, he noticed a $2 beer of what seemed to be near a 200 hops rating and sounded like a local brand. What the hell, I'll give it a shot. Unlike music bands, Craig never hesitated on local beers as even if they failed to match his tastes he appreciated their experimenting. He had found some great local beers in Kansas and Missouri as well as Nebraska that way, much more than the bland, no taste national brews so many places seemed to hock with weekly sale prices.

Heading up to the cash register the clerk proceeded to ring up his purchases and Craig asked about the addresses location. He was careful not to mention it was a girl groups audition. After all, he didn't want to be considered weird...either being thought a peeping Tom to watch in or to audition and receiving a quirked eyebrow from the clerk.

"Why would you want to go there?" the clerk asked.

"What do you mean?" Craig asked.

"Well it's a pretty dingy part of town, the part that you really don't want to be caught alone or even with anyone at night. If I can't dissuade you from going there go during they day...there's a much better chance you won't be stabbed then."

Craig was a bit taken aback...he still wanted to go but he decided to be much more guarded when heading there. He decided his first stop the next morning would be to get a taser....better yet, he would make sure it was one of the ones that shot darts out. Not good for multiple attackers, but at least if one man approached him with a knife he would drastically decrease the chance of getting stabbed.

Seeing his resolute face, Craig explained to him he would be careful and get some protection. Sighing he told Craig how to get there. Sure Craig could use Google maps or some other GPS app. but he always liked to hear about a few landmarks to reassure him he was going the right way.

Arriving back at his hotel room, Craig pulled one of the beers from the 6 pack as it was ice-cold from the store's fridge. Throwing the rest of the beers and the heady lager in the fridge he picked up the remote and turned on the TV. Noticing it landed on a right wing "news" channel he changed it. Ugh, it landed on a left wing "news" channel now. After flipping through the channels he stopped at a Chinese local channel. While there were no English subtitles on the channel he didn't mind as it was airing what looked to be a pretty action packed Martial Arts film. It could've been dubbed and he would've understood it but he couldn't stand them, the goofiness of the lips not matching the audio and they always had the worst voices but especially it was the sync. It just drove him absolutely nuts, seeing the lips off-sync. It's like an editor seeing a published article littered with spelling just want to sit the author down, proofread and correct the whole thing.

He continued to watch the TV until 10 pm, when he checked the fridge and heard his stomach growling. He remembered an app. he used up north for food delivery and proceeded to plug in the zip code and look for pizza recommendations. He saw 10 pizza places mentioned, 4 or 5 chains and took a glance over the local ones. He even saw one that delivered Growlers of the local drafts around. He picked that one out, not for the Growlers as he didn't want a heavy hangover waking he picked that one as their menu of toppings and crusts looked stellar. Einkorn and Kamut crust...hmmm, he decided to take the leap.

Ordering the pizza with a sauce that had a light touch of basil and a few Heirloom tomatoes(mostly Roma though), some Oyster mushrooms, Cauliflower, some green peppercorn and that was it. He was considering putting some Kaffir limes leaves on but that might conflict with the basil and he wanted to taste the basil . Oh and the crust had a light dusting of Truffle mushroom applied...yum. In his haste to order he almost forgot to add the local Mozzarella. It would be a couple of bucks extra but it was locally made and given the variety of topping listed on the site and their dedication to the crust, both grain and otherwise, he doubted they would do him wrong.
Almost done with the order form, he wondered if he should take a peek at grabbing a beer regardless....maybe not Growler size but something smaller. He opened the door to the refrigerator, fished out the $2 beer, found it nice and cold and peeked at the alcohol content. 8 or 9%, like a Tripel?!, his eyes goggled while he made the order sans beer. After he finished the beer, even with eating the medium pizza to soften it, it would still give him a nice buzz to go to sleep.

Order made, it said it might take 20-30 minutes being located in main downtown. Printing his receipt, he headed out 15 minutes later. He made a quick stop at the ATM for a $20 withdrawal then entered the lobby. Waiting for about 10 minutes more, he saw a Mitsubishi electric pop up with a sign on top that said "Francesca's Pizza". It drove under the lobby awning, a man came in calling his name, he got up, showed his receipt and gave him a $5 tip on the $16 pizza. The man thanked him then ran out in a hurry. He had heard that this pizza spot was a favorite among students and now was the perfect time to sock away a pie while fervently, almost feverishly studying away in a haze.

Craig opened the box just a peek and the steam and smell wafted out, assailing his senses causing him almost to drool like a bell had been rung. He wasn't alone as the man in the lobby on the phone almost dropped it for a split-second. "I'm sorry sir, I'll be back with you in a minute," the man replied semi-contritely after realizing his error.

"Is that one of Francesca's pies?" the man asked.

"Why yes, yes it is" Craig replied smugly.

"Which one is it? Oh what am I saying?! All of her pies are like that."

Craig told him about the pie. "Oh God." Imagine the salivation and drool hitting the floor. "Ummm, do you mind?" Craig took another look at the pie and noticed that it was pretty heady on toppings. "Francesca does NOT skimp on those toppings young man". Craig decided to give the man a piece as even though it was a medium he didn't think he'd be able to finish it tonight. It was not a deep-dish still, mind you, it just looked to have a surprising sturdiness to being hand-tossed. Taking a large bite and pausing to savor the flavor of the crust as well as the collective toppings, the man noted Craig's questioning look..."Don't worry, it might have some of the sturdiness of a deep-dish but you will definitely get that fresh taste you always notice about hand-tossed". Closing his eyes again in euphoria, the man gave him a look of respect..."You chose the local mozzarella didn't you?! Man you made a great choice but they also do a stellar cashew cheese and she has a nice, hearty Marinara if you choose that includes some Shiitake broth in it. Gives it a nice hearty flavor. I've gone on for too long about this food and need to get back to work before my boss chews my ass out. Anyway, thanks for the slice and if you'd like I'll give you some of the staff breakfast next morning in thanks. Each of us takes turns cooking it. None of us are spectacular but it beats the cereal and milk you'll get otherwise of the waffles.".

After his conversation with the employee in the lobby he headed back into his room ready to dig into the pizza. Turning the television back on, he noticed the Chinese channel was no longer airing the news. Instead the channel was airing what looked like a Chinese action movie or series, he wasn't really sure. It seemed fairly exciting and well put together so he continued to watch.

Even when he opened the box this time around it didn't diminish the smell and a bit of steaming was wafting out. Pulling out a slice of pie he took a was it heavenly and the crust tasted quite fresh, even if it was studier than the average hand-tossed. Wow that Mozzarella was worth it as well! Taking a chance after finishing the slice, he picked up the next one, finished it to the heel and waited. Craig waited to let his mouth clear then took a bite of the crust. Oh wow, that Truffle dusting was excellent. It was so hard to describe, the taste of Truffles always had a nice, distinctive taste but had a bit of funkiness you expect from mushrooms. Only those who had tasted stronger mushrooms could understand what he meant as he had had Shiitake's before though those were more hardy than anything.

Next, he cracked open the beer and proceeded to drink it with the rest of the pizza. Correction, a little over half of the pizza. The employee wasn't kidding, he was stuffed. That was some great pizza. The beer wasn't bad as well, having a strong hops taste that wasn't off putting.

About 30 minutes after this, he started to feel a buzz and continued to watch the show. Fifty minutes later, he started to feel drowsy and decided to turn the TV off. Seeing a quick flash on the blank screen, he thought it was a woman but it was so fast. It must've just been his imagination. The beer was starting to hit him after he laid his head down on the bed and it was off to dreamland.

When he woke up the next morning, with the sun showing through the blinds, he felt a bit groggy but no headache. Deciding to head down to the lobby after seeing what the employee breakfast was about, he headed down there after finishing a slice of the pizza to temporarily assuage his hunger.

After he reached the employee, he was directed very quickly to where the employees were eating. The employee noticed Craig's grogginess and asked what he preferred...Coffee or tea? “I'll take the tea”. “Good choice, it's Green tea and organic. Deciding it was cheaper to just buy loose leaf than packets we all noticed Organic wasn't that much more expensive either”. Pouring him a mug of tea from the glass teapot, Craig decided to let it cool down for a minute or two as there was steam rising. “So we made a couple of things, breakfast burritos, rice, peppers, black beans, pintos and there's some leftover bbq”. “The burrito sounds good”. “Great, here ya go and here's a big cup of sofrito to go along with it”. Craig looked at him questioningly. “Sofrito is basically a Latin sauce where you cook down a bunch of green peppers, onions, garlic with a bunch of spices and Olive oil. Trust me it's fantastic and it's put on many dishes”. Craig took a bite into the burrito with onions, green peppers, a hint of tomatillos, pintos, brown rice and a few other things. After spreading the Sofrito on it he noticed it had a nice fresh taste and the garlic was there but not overwhelming. Definitely a welcome edition and he could see why it might be slathered on quite a bit. The tea was also nice, not too strong at all.

He finished the tea and left some of the burrito and asking if he might be able to get something to carry it out. Passing him a plastic container, Craig thanked him and left. Also, he stopped by the breakfast area to get a couple plates to carry the leftover pizza. First he headed out to his car and put the plastic container in the passenger seat. Next he hurried up to his room, took a quick shower, changed his clothes and checked the clock. It was 9 am and it had been 8 am when he was chatting with the employees at breakfast. Grabbing the pizza and putting it between the two plates he headed off to his car.

After realizing the amount of pizza would be a problem, he opened up the plastic container and threw a few of the slices in there. Running back to the lobby and breakfast nook quick he picked up some napkins and silverware in case the burrito and pizza got soggy with the Sofrito. Taking a quick glance at the clock, he realized it was already 9:20 am and decided to head out. After following his GPS's directions onto the interstate, he definitely wished he had gotten out faster as he slammed right into a traffic jam as this was rush hour. Even worse, there was an accident so it took at least two hours to reach his destination.

After getting there, the directions helped as some streets were clarified that abruptly ended unexpectedly, the same street on which his destination was located. When he reached the area it was definitely run down he noticed some businesses had bars on their windows. He was definitely glad he had gone here during the day. Since it was near lunchtime, he quickly finished his pizza, utensils et al.

Heading around a little bit after he parked his car in a businesses parking lot he found his destination, a fairly nondescript large building compared to the rest of the block that appeared to have seen better days. It looked like people would be better off not robbing it, like it had been stripped clean already. That being said, some of the furnishings like a door looked fairly new. He noticed a business entrance and a VIP entrance. The business one is the type of entrance you'd typically see on a warehouse while the VIP one was fairly normal and unassuming.

Still wondering if this was the right place he looked around and found a couple of sheets posted next to the business entrance with photo's of the group, their name and casting for auditions. He figured that must be the audition which was not his goal. Noticing there were also windows further up near the roof he could do that but figured it would be excessively pervy, never-mind the fact he actually wanted a good vantage point to watch the band perform. He decided to try the VIP entrance instead, hoping he might convince the band to consider putting on a show in Houston or somewhere else.

Opening the VIP entrance was to no avail, he tried hitting and pushing it a bit but it didn't budge. Deciding to try the Business entrance and explain later, he had no problem opening it. When he entered it was nothing like he group, no equipment, no mics, no one, just nothing. It was a complete blank open space for the whole warehouse. He looked further back and saw where the VIP entrance was most likely.

Suddenly, a large television at the back of the warehouse turned on. It took up the entire length of the back of the warehouse, almost like a professional sound stage in a TV studio. The television started playing the m/v of “Release” then switched to the members performing dances and such. Craig started to feel sick and was about to throw up before he passed out.

As always, this story is copyright of Sarang and any requests to reproduce it anywhere else go through me and credit must be given.

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