A census taken in 1950 reveals that the US population has exceeded 100 million people. In general it is a prosperous time in America. The rest of the world is still trying to rebuild after the incredible destruction wrought by the Second World War.
America is the preeminent military and economic power on the globe, but the Soviet Union and China are rising to challenge her. The Korean War begins when North Korea invades the south. The US joins with forces from the United Nations to drive them back, and there are early successes, but when they come close to overrunning the country China rises to North Korea’s aid with a large infusion of troops and drives the UN forces back to a bloody stalemate.
In the Fifties as in the Twenties there is a Red Scare in America, and the Senate investigates the alleged influence of the Communist Party on all aspects of the government and military. Jill and her new recruits are glad the Senate is chasing Reds and is leaving their people alone for once. The B’nei Elohim who opted to stay with Lilith, of course, could see all these events as the past from their position further up the timeline, but now and again they re-enter history and have dealings with Jill and her associates.
In the early years of the Fifties Jill, Robyn, Hunky and Dory singlehandedly invent the genre of popular music that would be called Rock ‘n’ Roll a few years later and would dominate the music of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Only the fact that their influence remained confined to a few cities the northwestern United States lead music historians to attribute the creation of Rock ‘n’ Roll to Chuck Berry, or Elvis, or Little Richard, or even Bill Haley and the Comets.
Hunky-Dory songs were written mostly by Robyn using an AABA song structure, with Jill on saxophone for the solo B part and Dory on acoustic bass. The band used no electric guitar in those early days. What audiences got was a lot of energy but not much in the way of sound fidelity. The tapes were recorded on a two track system but the second track was for overdubs, not a separate channel. So the resultant vinyl disk was monophonic, and a little noisy by later standards.
Every album by Hunky-Dory has the same pattern: Exactly eight songs, with the second one a ballad, the seventh one an instrumental, and the last one a segue to the next album. Only the styles change, sometimes wildly, and the band consistently foreshadows the changing tastes in pop music by several years, courtesy of Robyn’s power of foresight. They rarely get credit for that, but the girls didn’t care. They did it just for fun and a little mad money. And they never really stop doing it, even much later when Jill and the mainline B’nei Elohim are virtually at war.
After their first album is complete they have far less difficulty distributing the LP and the singles, and getting radio play, than bands with less name recognition. Hunky-Dory is modestly famous, but only locally, and their impact is regional, not yet national, and certainly not international. They hit the road and travel to cities as far west as Honolulu, as far north as Vancouver, as far east as Denver, and as far south as San Francisco. But it isn’t all work. Along the way they also visit the Redwoods, the Hawaiian volcanoes, Glacier Park and Yellowstone Park.
Hunky-Dory is pretty tame and “square” for a band. They don’t drink alcohol or smoke funny cigarettes, but regular cigarettes are ubiquitous, and the effect of second-hand smoke on the roadies’ children like Hailey wasn’t really apprehended at that time. Hailey witnessed many of the children crying on her first day of school because they had never been apart from their parents, while she herself was very often away from her mother Gina, to be cared for by other B’nei Elohim. And though she could not remember it, Hailey had even been cared for by the priestesses of Yeshua on Barbelo.
In the middle of the decade of the Fifties Hunky-Dory began to use more aggressive drumming from Hunky, with more creative fills, but the big change was in the bottom end. Dory set aside her acoustic bass (which was always difficult to mic for concerts anyway) and picked up a Fender Precision electric bass, or P-Bass. Dory’s performance was pushed way forward in the mix and run through a spring reverb box, which allowed Dory to essentially duet with her own slapped-back notes. But the new bass took some getting used to. Instead of standing up on an end-pin, it lay horizontally across her chest, supported with a shoulder strap. But it was easier to tune than her double bass and also allowed her to get out of her seat and dance around the stage, leading to more visually dynamic concerts.
Jill set aside her saxophone and picked up a solid-body electric guitar, which Dory taught her to play after she was satisfied with her own electric bass technique. They still used the AABA arrangement of Rock ‘n’ Roll songs, but now Jill soloed the ‘B’ part on electric guitar rather than saxophone. She slit the speaker cones in her amplifier with a knife to create a ragged distortion that sounded (counter-intuitively) very good.
Jill’s twangy guitar riff would become de rigueur in the British spy movies of the following decade. But there was also a Bavarian flavor to the songs, with Jill the cute little madchen singing about gingerbread, pilsners, nutcrackers and other whiter-than-white bread things. The rhythm and blues were left far behind.
One Friday night Hunky and Dory drive to the top of Doll Hill to gaze at the lights of Puget Sound City and make love in the back seat of their huge Detroit-made car, aided, of course, by the trusty Purple Cable. Pretty soon the whole car begins to smell like a girl’s gym locker room, and they can’t see anything outside for the condensed sweat on the windows. Hunky and Dory run through every trick in the lesbian sex book, and then some.
Round about ten o’clock the moon comes out, and a Mexican AM radio station they know about started broadcasting at 250,000 watts, with a beer can top opening, a massive echoing chug, and an unearthly belch, carried by RF skip all across North America. The cross-country truckers and every kid at a drive-in hamburger joint or making out at Inspiration point like Hunky and Dory know that distinctive belch. That was Anchor Baby, a man who spoke at a machine-gun pace in a strange kind of street jive designed specifically to infuriate the grown-ups, and he played whatever the hell he wanted to. The first song he wanted to play that night was from Hunky-Dory.
By the late Fifties the tour itinerary of the band is much larger than before, encompassing the entire western half of the United States. They even play a gig at the foot of the Matterhorn ride in Disneyland. The album created by Hunky-Dory in the fall of 1958 is called Suicide Club, which would have eerie reverberations a few years later when Jill operated a company called Cryoscan.
The nameless first album by Hunky-Dory had been recorded in a garage with egg cartons lining the walls to improve the acoustics. Their second album had been recorded in a professional studio, but they had to book time there, and they only had short slots, sometimes as brief as two hours, to lay down what they could. But for Suicide Club, the third album, the girls build their own recording studio with an eight-track system, and they actually live in it for three months while they create their record. And when they are finished, the studio becomes a source of income when other artists line up to get time in it.
The sound is exotic, morbid, even Gothic, and certainly ahead of its time. Robyn trades in her piano for an organ. Dory uses a store-boughten fuzz box between her bass and the mixer board. Jill picks up a sitar as often as she picks up a guitar. Hunky slows things down a bit from the earlier days and develops a more stately, deliberate beat, but there’s still a drum solo or two that is hotter than anything anyone else was doing at the time.
No less than five cuts on the record garner airplay including “No Love Lost,” “Forever,” “Pipe Dreams,” and “All Or Nothing”. But the biggest hit on the album is “Life and Death Are the Same” and this becomes the eternal war cry of the B’nei Elohim. In February 1959, on the very Day the Music Died, Hunky-Dory puts this maxim to the test.
Early in the first semester of Edgar Shybear’s class at Canterwood Academy Yeshua, Haziel, and a number of Fallen Angels deliver a wide variety of musical instruments for the children to play, looking for talent in pretty much the same manner as throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what stuck.
Telan Antero likes the physicality of the drum kit. Edgar eventually settles on the electric guitar. Kishar finds he can play a keyboard rather well with almost no instruction. Bikol Sala discovers that she likes the electric bass. Everyone else tries the other instruments and learn they have no talent for playing them at all, including Hope Shelton, but Hope soon demonstrates that her real talent lies in her own voice. She can mimic any singer that she heard, and indeed any sound at all, which the others find to be surpassingly strange.
So Hope becomes the lead singer for a band that forms more-or-less spontaneously, but in imitation of Hunky-Dory. Haziel asks them to think of a name. They eventually settle on Bite the Wax Tadpole.
In the place and time where Edgar Shybear and Hope Shelton came from, everyone uses Micros to swap music for free over the Swarm, and so music as a business has collapsed into ruins, leaving only those enthusiasts willing to perform for free. On Barbelo and on the moons spoken of by Asael and Murmi, however, nephilim purchased analog recordings on spools of thread made from a plant native to Barbelo called deathsilk, which is as thin as the silk from a spider but somehow as strong as steel. It can cut anything except other strands of deathsilk, which themselves can only be cut with a very hot flame. Deathsilk is also used in blades which resemble violin bows. These swords are used only for slashing, not piercing.
The music of Barbelo, however, occupies a very narrow range between solemn hymns to Thaumiel to operatic post-battle lamentations. No one, in the entire history of Barbelo and its space colonies, had ever made music just for the sheer joy of it. Such a thing is subversive in a way Thaumiel is ill-equipped to counter. So Yeshua lays a challenge before the twelve children of Canterwood Academy: Introduce the people of Barbelo and the Jovian system to fun music.
Of the dozen children, only Edgar and Hope had heard the kind of “fun” music Yeshua is looking for, and fun it was indeed. There are melodies running around in Edgar’s head but to get the other children to play them he was forced to invent a system of notation entirely from scratch. And that is precisely what the academy was for, not only to teach existing facts, but to teach the children how to think.
Seven of the children aren’t performers in Bite the Wax Tadpole, but Nelchael is a budding poet and hy stepped in with song lyrics to go with Edgar’s melodies. The lyrics range from nursery rhymes to the brainless fun of Larund hill country bumpkins to the sweaty energy of Talishite revival music.
But the thing that really brings the band together is a field trip to Earth, escorted by Hope’s adoptive parents Victoria and Mark Shelton. After emerging from the pond at the base of Doll Hill everyone goes to a mountain lodge at Stampede Pass about a half hour east of the Green River Gorge area. Some of the more adventurous children put on skis and hit the slopes, while Asael, Murmi, and most of the girls content themselves with riding on inner tubes. All of them have a memorably great time, but the outing inspires Kishar to write a song titled “Skiin’ USA” which would serve as a template for a flood of other songs.
With Telan keeping time and Bikol stitching the song together harmonically on bass, Edgar carries the main melody line on guitar and Kishar keeps the whole thing chugging along with improvised chords on his piano. Hope sings Nelchael’s lyrics with a voice that is girlish yet with rich undertones that bely her age. Other children made costumes or painted cover art. Abdiel learned to operate a micro to record and edit their songs. So they all worked to meet Yeshua’s challenge.
Drivin’ all night on the leg from Amarillo
Hubby at home is he dreamin’ on his pillow?
Musta kilt me a half-dozen Armadillos
Racin’ home to find him in bed with a fellow
So begins Far Country on the first spool by Bite the Wax Tadpole titled Stampede after the place where the children went skiing, a title which describes the wild proceedings of the album to a T.
The spool is recorded live at a concert at Canterwood Academy, attended by Yeshua, Haziel, the Sala queen, most of the B’nei Elohim, and perhaps five hundred others were all there to see a child of about seven singing in a grown-up girl’s voice about grown-up girl things.
The Whole Town’s a Rollin’ is the second song, and it is the best one. After the silliness of the first song the band wanted to hook the listener and show them right up front they were getting some serious energy and fun, which was focused mostly on Kishar tickling the ivory. Abdiel runs the soundboard while Nelchael, Abdiel, and Muran stand off to the side and supply backup vocals.
Snow Bunny is a naughty ditty about a girl with loose morals hanging around the lodge, a song that would earn a quick ban on Barbelo had not Hope snarled some of the words to the song unintelligibly to deliberately mislead censors.
In the middle of the set the band plays the first song they ever recorded, Skiin’ USA, which features Bikol’s bass pushed way forward in the mix plus a sixteen bar call-and-response “duet” between Kishar on piano and Malekwa on guitar. Like most of their songs, it is an AABA pattern.
To balance the dumb but fun songs like Far Country there are smart, important songs like Responsibility Boundaries:
Can a dream bleed until it dies
Drained of all hope through skeptic floors?
Shall the living cut their losses?
Bow to merchants with empty stores?
How artistic is our healing
To grow hard crusts on shameful sores?
For the instrumental title Seven Humps Telan’s drumming is as organic and improvisational as usual, but swooshes up and down in pitch as he hits the skins near the rim and moves to the center. Hope is idled, but she stands there dancing in place and swings her microphone in a circle.
Before the final song, which is a slow ballad, Victoria approaches Hope very closely so she could be heard over the noise.
Honey, you know you’re adopted, right?
Hope nods her head. Adopted, as all children inwardly suspect.
It was because Robyn has the very heavy responsibility of leading the B’nei Elohim now that Lilith is gone. There she is in the third row. That’s your mother. That’s Robyn. The beautiful blonde woman in the yellow dress. Do you see her?
Hope does see her, but it is time to sing the last song, Mom-Shaped Hole, which is supposed to be about Hope’s longing for Victoria while she was in school, but now it takes on a much deeper resonance for her.
I hope you can hear me
Nobody else can take your role
How can I go on now?
All I have is a mom shaped hole
Hope sings the entire song with her eyes locked on Robyn, but she sees that Robyn never once looks directly back at her. Robyn seems to be having a good time, but she only looks at the other children playing, or the people in the seats around her. And after the concert when the audience starts to filter out of the amphitheater Hope drifts off the stage trying to catch up to her, but too many people get in the way, and soon Robyn is gone.
Shit, Jill, it’s slipping!
Robyn had gotten past the half-hearted pat down at the box office without being stopped, but sha neglected to wrap the tape more carefully around har thigh, and a bottle of brandy slid down the inside of her long skirt and shattered on the blacktop.
Jill didn’t break her stride or even look back.
JILL (with mock indignation)
You brought that in here?
That brings knowing chuckles to some of the others walking on the long, crowded, landscaped path leading to the Carter Barron Amphitheater near Washington DC. Jill is hoping her own bottle of hootch wouldn’t slip next.
As Jill and Robyn pick their way to their seats the rhythm section of the band is warming up, with Hunky beating out a long drum solo and Dory doing some live improvisation on electric bass. The “gimmick” of Suicide Club era Hunky-Dory is a sort of bad-girl mystique. They encouraged the rampant rumors floating around that the lead singer is wanted by the authorities, which is in fact the case.
Jill points out to Robyn that besides the usual concert bouncers there is a heavy law enforcement presence around and behind the stage. They form a gauntlet up there, determined to intercept the mystery woman before the show, if and when she showed up. Jill wants to abort the whole thing, but Robyn says there is no stopping it now. She knows what’s going to happen, and it’s not going to be good at all, which breaks Robyn’s heart, but it’s all part of the long-range “plan” that results in victory over Thaumiel.
The presence of DECON agents in their fedoras and DC city police add to the crowd’s feeling of anticipation. Then, by an unspoken signal, part of the crowd suddenly rushes down to fill up the space in front of the stage. Jill and Robyn start diving over the newly vacated seats to join them, pushing their way through them right up to the edge of the stage. After a word from Dory to a couple of bouncers, Jill and Robyn are physically pulled up onto the stage. The crowd, clued in on the mythos of Hunky-Dory, cheer the clever way Jill and Robyn bypassed the heat behind the stage, and they begin to grow excited.
Tubby low tones began boinging out of the electric bass guitar Dory has strapped on, interacting with Hunky who is beating the crap out of her drum kit, yet still improvising her rhythms in, and around, and under Dory’s more precisely timed bass lines that gives Hunky-Dory their very unusual but organic sound. In a reversal of convention it is Dory who kept perfect time and Hunky’s drumming is the human element of subtle randomness.
Meanwhile Jill and Robyn range all over the stage, dancing, doing the flashy legwork of putting on a good show as the roar and whistling of the crowd rise to a deafening level
Good evening, Washington DC! It’s good to be out of the Seattle rain for a while. I’m Jill. My friends Jill and Hunky and Dory are gonna play some tunes with me, starting with this old familiar favorite–
Jill is interrupted by police and DECON agents swarming the stage from its perimeter, apparently on a prearranged signal. Earl Roland is with them. He moved close enough that Jill can hear him shout over the noise.
Becky, what the hell are you doing?
Robyn decides to appeal to her fans.
Hey folks, it looks like the police don’t want us to play for you tonight! So what do you say to that?
The crowd expresses their great displeasure, booing, throwing stuff at the stage, pushing the security guys back and some of them even wedge between the bouncers and clamber up onto the stage to confront the cops. A riot is a hair’s-breadth away and Earl Roland knows it. He makes a chopping motion with his hand. The men releas the band and return to their positions just off-stage. They can afford to wait.
The crowd cheers again, excited by this full-participation theater Hunky-Dory is putting on. Jill isn’t sure how long they’d get to play before the hammer of the Law dropped and her father moved in again so she told the band to play No Love Lost.
The opening bars of the biggest hit from Suicide Club fills the stadium, and the fans go wild. Robyn starts belting it out.
Take good notes
And rate her
But you don’t know
There’s no love lost!
Try your best
To lose her
Cruise holy writ
For a reason why!
There’s no love lost!
Your goody-good book
Bible Baptist bitches
Are gonna know this time!
Eve was framed by Adam
But blaming the victim
Won’t Fly this time!
Then go ahead and dump her
Tell yourself it’s to save her soul.
There’s no love lost!
Get your flock to mock her
She won’t submit to the status quo!
There’s no love lost!
Dory launches into the blistering slapped bass solo that bridges to the middle third of the song. Shots begin to ring out. Jill goes down on the stage, bullets having struck each leg. She marvels that there is no pain.
Robyn, Hunky, and Dory dive into the crowd and scatter away. Roland doesn’t want them anyway. Not right that moment.
In a nearby hospital, after doctors stabilize Jill, her father comes calling. Jill remains under heavy guard, both to keep her in the hospital room and to keep her friends out.
You’re thinking your own fame was your downfall, aren’t you Becky? You’re thinking I saw that article in Life magazine, recognized my own daughter, and here I am.
Naw, Daddy, we all know your DECON agency is watching us.
That film was the damndest thing I ever saw. I’m talking about the one you showed in the Senate. At the time of the incident it rather faithfully recorded I don’t remember you bringing a movie camera to the house.
So you’re saying we faked it, Daddy?
No, Becky, it was real enough. I can only surmise that you took it from your own memories, somehow. Such a thing would be unbelievably useful to me at DECON. Think of the coercive pornography I could make from the head of some whore, with the President or Senator she’s sleeping with never realizing he’s being filmed!
Good luck with that idea, Daddy. The stuff we used to make the movie with is literally out of this world.
Nevertheless, you will tell me all about it. And also you will tell me all about the Golden Gift. And the flying saucers. And how your friends always manage to escape when they are caught.
And if I refuse to tell you all that, Father? Will you run your own daughter through the wringer?
Becky, the doctors tell me that despite the bullet that lodged in your right leg they can remove it without much more damage. You’ll limp but you shouldn’t lose the leg. But I’m thinking, no, the surgery would involve general anesthesia, and I think I remember from when you were a little girl that you are allergic to that. I’m thinking the ether or chloroform or whatever they want to give you when they take the bullet out might kill you. Still, if we leave the bullet in your leg, that will kill you too, only slower. So I’m thinking the only option you have is that we must amputate the right one. Without anesthesia.
You would do that to your own daughter? Are you insane, Daddy?
Insane? Becky, I’m shocked at your words. I’m only interested in doing what’s best for you. In fact, that left leg too, where the other bullet grazed you, I know the doctors say it doesn’t look too bad, but now that I can see it closer, I think it might need to be hacked off too, after they do the right one. They say, Becky, that most people can almost bear it when the doctor is sawing through the skin and the meat, but when he starts sawing through the bone, they can’t bear that part at all. So do yourself a favor and talk to me.
But she did not talk to him, and right up to the point when the doctor commenced the procedure she kept expecting Lilith or Yeshua to yank her out of there with a fold-door, but it never happened.
Jill didn’t do an End of Cycle like she did the last time Roland tortured her, when part of her was still Jerry Shybear, but she did supply her own general anesthetic before the doctor started to cut, by simply switching her consciousness off. Only during the evening after the surgery, when she was still unconscious in recovery and even her guard fell asleep for just a few seconds, did she get pulled out of there to safety.
When she awoke her doctor had been replaced by Yeshua, and the room had changed. Jill felt curiously light.
That took long enough, Lord.
She looked down at her legs expecting them to be good as new. But she had a pair of short stumps cut above the knees, wrapped in bandages.
I could have removed the bullet and saved the right leg, Jill, but I can’t make you a new leg, let alone two. That’s some father you have who would maim his own daughter.
Where am I, Lord?
This is the Moon, and it’s about twenty years up the timeline for you.
If you can manipulate time, Lord, then please go back to 1959 and talk me out of doing that concert so I don’t lose my legs. Or at the very least pull me out of that hospital before my father cuts ’em off.
I’m sorry, Jill. I can certainly do what you ask, but I must not do it. There’s a historical thread my mother and I call the Narrow Way that allows us to defeat Thaumiel and in that thread you must lose your legs to make it work.
But you’re talking about my legs!
I’ll make it up to you, Jill, after we win through to the other side. An eloah promises this! Besides, even if I do what you asked me to do, there would only be a copy of Jill who saves her legs. This original version of you, right here, wouldn’t get her legs back no matter what I did. I’m sure you know this must be true. You’ve thought about a similar situation many times when you developed your notion of a True Death.
Then tell me why your ‘Narrow Way’ requires that I lose my legs?
I’m sorry, Jill, if I gave you that information, you might work to nullify your own role and the Narrow Way would be lost.
To hell with your Narrow Way, Yeshua! You’ve just lost me as a willing participant anyway. I’m going to whatever I can to fight you. I’ll even join with Thaumiel.
Jill, I told you I would make it up to you after all this is over, and there are some among the B’nei Elohim who will make a far greater sacrifice than you with your two precious limbs. If that is still not enough for you, then proceed to the camp of Thaumiel and hurt your friends exactly as you described. But I will protect the Narrow Way.