“I am Taylor,” he assures.
My drummer hides beneath her cymbals.
My bassist coughs and apologizes to no one specific.
The audition flier specifies that our all-girl band, The Four Holsters of the Apocalypse, seeks an eighteen- to nineteen-year-old female keyboard player; Taylor, a husky man, had scheduled his audition with mostly emojis.
I am the vocalist, guitarist and audition scheduler — the band leader. I assert myself. “Well, Taylor, the ad said this is a girls-only band.”
Taylor produces a ripped flier, the demographical specifications missing. “This was the last one at Zia.” Taylor enters the room to hand me the flier. His steps are soft and short, as if to indicate an awareness of our vulnerability. “The description of your stuff sounds cool. Bjork meets The Peppers.”
I review the torn flier. “Found it like this, huh?”
Taylor shrugs. “We could still jam if you want.”
“Give us a second.”
My bassist joins me at the kick drum. I like making it appear that this is a band decision even though it’s mine. I consider several factors. Keyboards hide my less-than-perfect guitarwork. The more I hide my shoddy guitarwork, the less likely my bassist, who also sings and plays guitar, will float the idea of her singing lead and playing guitar on a few songs, again. She is good — and prettier than me.
The sounds of our neighbors’ rehearsals collide in the hallway, one an R&B group, the other an 80s cover band.
After not much deliberation, I point to the sixty-one-key keyboard opposite my bassist and nod at Taylor. “Since you’re here, we might as well.”
Our twelve-by-twelve rehearsal studio is tight. I shift my mic stand once, twice, to make room for him. My bassist recedes toward my drummer.
Taylor doesn’t outwardly celebrate our verdict. He tucks his longish hair behind his ears. He turns on the keyboard and adjusts the microphone stand so the boom accommodates his height. He taps the microphone, and I can’t believe he is interested in singing backups. I don’t know what to expect as he taps one key at a time, testing the keyboard’s settings, offering no evidence of his ability or lack thereof.
Someone in the hallway bumps our door nearly shut.
I push the door open as a safeguard. “We are going to play an original in A minor.”
My drummer counts us in. My bassist thuds our simple, catchy notes. I fingerpick the melody and begin to sing — my voice sounds great today.
Taylor watches. He closes his eyes and licks his lips. He likes my stuff. The chorus comes and goes — he hasn’t played a single note.
As the second verse begins, I hear careful, unassuming notes harmonize with my vocals. Taylor’s playing is tasteful and safe. If Taylor were five foot eight, a hundred and fifteen pounds, and half as sad-looking as our drummer, we girls would be finding one another with side-eye optimism.
Taylor’s play escalates toward the end of the second verse. Dissonant notes add a level of complexity and maturity that our music — my writing — lacks. During the chorus, I hear something I cannot describe, something not from the keyboard’s amplifier. I open my eyes to find Taylor, the bearded man, his beard dripping with sweat already somehow, singing with the voice of a dozen infant angels. This isn’t all I notice. A small congregation of musicians from neighboring studios have gathered to admire us.
There were many times I “accidentally” left the practice-space door open in hopes of garnering such an audience. My efforts typically resulted in a neighbor shutting our door.
As we play the outro, I wonder if three skinny, gaunt girls can be marketed around this adult man who reminds me of a Simpsons character.
We play another song and then another. I watch people in the hallway recording us crudely on their mobile phones. After an hour of such jamming, we are met with applause. I can see that neighboring musicians no longer write us off as that girl band. I usher away our newfound fans and close the door.
My drummer and my bassist look taller, healthier, and excited for the first time. We say nothing to each other, hoping this man, Taylor, will be a man — take charge and ask to join the band.
“Well, that was a lot of fun,” Taylor says as he lowers the microphone to accommodate the next, predictably shorter, auditioner. “Good luck in your hunt.”
“Thanks,” I say.
I think about people watching me on their cell phones tonight. I think about watching myself on their cell phones in coming days.
Taylor begins to leave the room in the same gentle way he entered.
“Taylor,” my bassist says, “wait.”
Everyone looks at her expectantly — even me.
Kyran Lambert is an emerging writer who received his BA from Arizona State University. His hobbies have taken a backseat to diaper changing. He and his young family call Phoenix home. Kyran’s fiction “I Lost My Job and Now I’m Mowing Lawns?” was recently published in Toasted Cheese.