Okay; 350 degrees, and there you go. Marshall slid the confection into the stove. He HATED eating sweets at room temperature, so warming them was a necessary evil as far as he was concerned.

The doorbell rang, and he looked at his watch. It was 5:30, already? Where did the time go? He hustled through the living room, decorated in all tan, to the basement door, flung it open, and yelled, “Go on down; I'll be right there” before racing to his bedroom.

Upstairs, Marshall looked in the mirror. His blue tee and jeans would be okay for rehearsal, but his hair could use some work. He re-gelled the blonde spikes, brushed his similarly-colored goatee, brushed his teeth, and relieved his bladder before racing back to the basement.

In the lower level, T-Tom, the drummer, was already warming up, playing 'Hangry Like A Fox.' His black and silver drum set always reminded Marshall of the NFL's Raydars. “Zappenin', man?” he greeted the instrumentalist.

T-Tom hit a couple more beats, then smiled broadly, his gold caps showing. He played with his drum sticks while he talked. “Man, Mallow. Had to let Brandi go cuz I just wadn't feelin' it anymore.” He emphasized his words with a smack on the hi-hat.

Mallow – as he was called on stage – nodded. “I feel you. That's why I stay single. No drama.” He reached out to grab his instrument off its stand, when there was a pounding on the basement door. Expecting more of the crew, Mallow opened it without looking out the window first. The petite female standing there had a scowl on her face. “Brandi?”

“Brandi?! What the fuck?!” T-Tom jumped up from his set, nearly sending the cymbals crashing. His large frame made it to the door in three steps. “What the hell are you doing here?!”

The girl flicked a lock of long silver hair over her shoulder and strode into the basement. A hand on her hip, she turned to face T-Tom, her brown eyes flashing. “I'm here cuz I wanna know what's really going on in this bitch. Where she at? That hoe you screwin' when you come here to 'rehearse'?! Her long silver nails scratched the air as she made the air quotes.

“Aw, shut up with that mess! Ain't nobody here but us musicians. Rehearsin' like I told you...Man, this why I had to let you go. You too suspicious and won't let a brotha breathe some damn time.” He ran a hand over his sweaty forehead and sucked on one of his gold teeth. “What the fuck I look like, screwin' some chick in the basement, here?” He indicated the area chock-full of musical paraphernalia and posters of famous musicians.

Mallow ran a hand through his hair before addressing the interloper. “Brandi, all we do here is rehearse, so-”

Another knock came from the basement door. This time, Mallow looked out the window first. He hesitated to open the door, so Brandi walked over, pushed past Mallow, and yanked it open.

In the doorway was Falsetta, the group's singer and occasional flutist. Brandi looked her up and down, taking in her long auburn hair, full lips, size C chest, and wide hips covered in very little cloth. She pointed at her and turned her head to look at T-Tom. “This the hoe you fuckin'?”

Falsetta, in a voice that perfectly suited her stage name, responded, “Who you callin' a hoe, bitch?”

“YOU, hoe!!”

Mallow stepped between the females before they could come to blows. He looked at Brandi. “Brandi, I already told you, nothin's happenin' here but rehearsal. BAND rehearsal. Respect my crib or get to steppin'.”

Brandi opened her mouth to speak, but shut it.

T-Tom cleared his throat and addressed his ex-. “How 'bout we got outside a minute?”

“How 'bout 'no'!”

“Fine. We can do this here. Whatever... Look,” he pointed at the girl now standing in front of a microphone, “Falsetta ain't nothin' to me but our new singer. I TOLD you we had a new singer cuz B-Ma left. Damn, girl.” He shook his bald head, causing the earring in his left ear to dangle. “And I told you the reason I'm done. You too dramatic, and this shit right here proves it.”

“Uh huh.” She looked at the singer again. “Sing something, then, girl.”

The girl glanced at T-Tom, and he sat back down at his set then started counting down. “3-2-1, hit it!”

Mallow joined in on his red keytar, and after the opening strains, Falsetta started singing RaRa's 'Parasol,' her hips swaying. After a moment, Brandi interrupted. “Girl, please. That was whack. But at least yo' name's right. Falsetta cuz you a false Etta with yo' non-singing ass!”

The singer dropped the mic and swung on Brandi, who responded by ducking, bending low, and grabbing Falsetta's legs. Soon, a full fight was in motion.

Just as Mallow and T-Tom were pulling the girls apart, the smoke alarm started going off.

Shit! My cake!” Mallow raced upstairs, T-Tom and the girls on his heels. At the top of the stairs, the quartet started coughing. The smoke drifting from the kitchen wasn't thick yet, but it was enough to tickle their throats.

“Man, Mal,” Brandi managed as they entered the kitchen, “What the fuck you do in here?!” She looked around, barely able to make out the stainless steel throughout the room. She took a seat on a bar stool by the island and covered her mouth with a handful of paper towels.

Mallow grabbed a black dishrag and carefully opened the oven door, to see his Gingerbread House in flames in the appliance. The flames were small because the fire couldn't get much oxygen in the formerly enclosed space, but he didn't want the whole oven to explode, like it had in an associate's home a few years ago. He closed the door real quick and yelled for T-Tom to grab the fire extinguisher from by the back door.

The fire extinguisher in hand, Mallow re-opened the oven door and sprayed down his ruined treat.

“What was it?” Falsetta asked when he pulled his head back out.

“A gingerbread house cake. I was warming it but forgot.”

“So, I guess you're full of re-Gretal now, huh?” T-Tom asked before mimicking his instrument, “Ba-doom doom pow!”

August 27, 2021 20:52

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