They picked up all their gear, Riley grabbed Mr. Snugglewhumps and they ran to Fairfax and Wilshire to get back on the 720.
This time the 720 offered a new surprise- a welcomed uneventful ride. The three of them sat in silence for a while, deep in their own individual worlds. It seemed that they all needed this down time. Sometime after the Westwood stop, Akemi broke the silence and said, “Riley, do you sing?”
“A little, I mean, I can sing back up and in tune. How about you?” Riley said.
“Oh, I can sing harmony and I can write some half-way decent vocal parts. Vincent, how about you—can you sing?” said Akemi.
“Back up, yeah,” said Vincent.
“Well I hate to be Debbie Downer and point out the obvious but don’t metal bands usually have a lead singer?” said Akemi.
“Of course Akemi, and that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about while we’ve been sitting here. I’m thinking,” said Riley.
“Aha! Vincent once again rescues not one but two damsels in distress,” said Vincent.
“Oh, please!” said Riley.
“No, really—I know just the guy. He plays on the Third Street Promenade and he does metal covers in his own style—just his voice and a sunburst solid body electric. Anyway, he sings cool and here’s another plus –he is really good at coming up with original lyrics. Like, he can just come up with them on the spot,” said Vincent.
‘Wait . . . wait a minute –you know what? I know him. His name is Langston Labelle. I used to talk to him when I was playing for tips on the Third Street Promenade myself,” said Riley.
“Yeah, yeah, no, you’re right– 2nd and Arizona actually — that’s the guy,” said Vincent.
“Now that I think of it, I know him too. He’s that braniac kid with the 4.0. He’s never gotten a grade less than an A+ –ever! I heard that his mom is some bigwig, visiting science professor scholar from Nigeria,” said Akemi.
“That’s true,” said Vincent. “And his dad met his mom there in Lagos while he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the University of Lagos,”continued Vincent.
“Where is he originally from? . . . I’m just curious.” said Riley.
“New Orleans,” Said Vincent.
“That’s interesting. At any rate, it sounds like the acorn didn’t fall too far from the tree.” said Riley.
“For sure,” said Vincent.
“Anyway, for a guy with a beautiful sounding, four-octave range voice, he’s really quite shy. I told him that he should be singing for crowds in arenas, not singing on the Promenade for spare change. But according to him, if there are more than four or five people watching him, his voice just freezes up. I think he just needs some courage,” said Riley.
“That’s Langston alright and you know, as you were talking I was thinking—he’s a perfect fit—I mean each one of us is looking for something. That certain missing thing that we can get by joining this band– you know?” said Vincent.
“I agree totally and here’s the thing; He sings great– great attitude and . . . he’s easy on the eyes,” said Riley.
“Easy on the eyes? Oooh.” said Vincent.
‘Well I just meant that he’d be good for the band,” said Riley.
“Oh sure . . . sure . . . sure,”said Vincent.
“Touché,” said Riley.
“I don’t mean to interrupt or be the sour note in our celebration of the new acquisition to our band–lead singer, Langston, but how do we even know that he wants to join our merry metal pranksters? Maybe he’ll just say no. And just a couple of other questions, how and where do we find him?” said Akemi
“We’ll know the answers to all your questions and concerns soon enough—here’s our stop,” said Vincent.
“What?” said Akemi.
“We’re just a block away from the Third Street Promenade–Langston’s probably playing there as we speak. Let’s go,” said Vincent.
They got off the bus and walked down 4th street to Broadway and then walked west to the Third Street Promenade . As they made their way towards Arizona Avenue, they wove through the crowd of shoppers and tourists on the Promenade– passing by the Moscow metal red heads and the top hatted, tuxedoed Silverman. Looking down to 2nd Street, they saw a trumpet player and a folk guitarist—but no Langston. They went up and down the Promenade from Broadway to Wilshire a couple of times– still no Langston. Mr. Snugglewhumps said hello to the cat lady and her captive cats. The cat lady shrugged, the cats meowed. No Langston.
“Well maybe he’s on the pier,” said Akemi.
“No, no I know where he is. Let’s just catch the number 9 blue bus to Temescal Canyon,” said Vincent.
“What? Wait. How do you . . . ?” said Riley.
“Just . . . just trust me on this one, Riley,” said Vincent.
“Well . . . OK,” said Riley and off they went to catch the number 9.
The ride was winding but short and they got off at Temescal and Sunset Boulevards. They quickly walked through the park and they were soon at the trail head. At the trail head there was a sign which Vincent read aloud. “The Santa Monica Mountains are the natural habitat for mountain lions –exercise extreme caution when hiking the trails.” Then without hesitating in his reading, Vincent improvised, “Be afraid . . . be very afraid . . . ”
“That is not even funny, Vincent. And really, the lions are more afraid of us than we are of them,” said Riley.
Just then they heard a roar echoing out of the canyon and everyone jumped. Vincent then said, “Not to worry, I know who that is.”
“Who it is?” said Akemi.
Yeah, don’t you mean what it is?” said Riley.
“No. Because I know it’s Langston,” said Vincent.
“Langston!” Akemi and Riley said.
“Yeah, Langston loves the acoustics –the natural reverb of the canyon and he can be brave out here,” Vincent said.
And as they listened, they now could indeed tell that it was more like the sound of a very strong voiced, metal lead singer and not a lion.
“OK OK, now I get it. Vincent needs a brain, I need a heart and Langston needs courage,” said Akemi.
“The brain, heart and courage thing is another story, let’s just stay in our story,” said Riley.
“Well, let’s just hike a little ways. There’s a favorite spot where Langston sings. I know exactly where it is and it’s not too far,” said Vincent.