Fiction by Alicia Sometimes
Death by Stereo
A beach. Aberdare Mountain Ranges, Kenya. Mt Hakone-yama, Japan
She sits by his toes and sculptures the sand with sea and twigs. She is considering the principles of mechanics: how the pendulum swings more slowly at the equator, the movement of ellipses, planetary orbits attracted toward a centre. She’s the emotional archivist. She looks up at the pouty moon and asks him how he feels about attraction.
Tonight she wears her intrigue like a raincoat. They remember the book: if you place enough speakers on the top of mountains you can seriously blow up some stars. (They’re paraphrasing now after a little whiskey). Together they spent weeks lifting a woofer on top of the Aberdare Mountain Ranges in Kenya and another at Mt Hakone-yama in Japan. Very different sized peaks, but the rule book said it was okay.
It wasn’t just about the speakers themselves or emitting sounds at the perfect angle. The music played needed to be just right. Feelings had to be concise. These guys were trained star blowers, professionals. Somehow they developed crushes on one another, each one thinking that their love was unrequited. So, they sit on this beach and wait. For movement.
They had argued before about what was the appropriate song to perform the explosion, after all, if you’re going to collect sprayed hydrogen for the magic that happens in pop music, you better choose wisely. Lists were made. Would it be J-pop, something like Sexy You by Go Hiromi? What about Spandau Ballet or Eddie Murphy? Should they go with bad taste or so bad it’s good or so bad it’s just really, really awful? Or great music?
The manual says: must make people feel something strong. They wrote down a top five ‘All Time Plain Wrong Songs’:
5.Billy Don’t Be A Hero – Bo Donaldson & The Haywoods
4.Together Forever – Rick Astley
3. Muskrat Love – Captain & Tenille
2.MacArthur Park – Richard Harris or Donna Summer
1. Mr Tambourine Man – William Shatner
In the end their instinct was to pick Mr Shatner. (Something about test audiences feeling either sick or doubled up in laughter.) There was a nice symmetry with an early episode of Star Trek also. When the time came to press play on the cassette deck, they were so nervous after their hands had touched by accident, they didn’t entirely notice the fireworks up above. The bright lights appeared to have stained the off white moon and the sound of William Shatner singing, In the jingle jangle morning, I’ll come following you was heard all over the world. And just for one moment as the stars seemed to stretch their fingers out across the universe, no-one cringed as most people realised, pop music was safe for at least another year.
© Alicia Sometimes. Alicia is a Melbourne poet, writer, broadcaster and musician. She hosted Aural Text on RRR for 14 years. This story is from her 2009 collection Soundtrack.