The Beat of the Drum
In the name of love
Before you break my heart.
STOP! In the name of love
Before you tear us apart.
Think it over,
Think it over...
The Daydreams were singing and dancing on the stage, entertaining the troops at the army camp with their act. One of the best known girl groups in the country, the African American trio were coming to the end of a tour of bases, which was due to culminate in an appearance at the Wrigley Stadium before the big game on the 4th of July.
April, the lead singer, was wearing a red poncho designed like a Stop sign for the road, as well as grey tights and black knee length go-go boots. Melody was slightly less garishly dressed, in a black leather slip dress with a large white arrow motif pointing down at the front, and white boots, while Coral had on a white coat with black and red trim on the collar and cuffs, the same design on her knee length boots.
As they finished their song, the assembled soldiers whooped and hollered, cheering the girls as they ran off and went into the dressing room.
“FINALLY,” April said as she pulled off the heavy poncho, and sat in her crop top and tights, “have they any idea how hot it is under that?”
“Tell me about it,” Coral said as she peeled her coat off, “I must have lost five pounds just walking out onto the stage.”
“Even this is sticking like crazy,” Melody added as she let the dress fall to the floor, and collapsed in the chair. “At least at Wrigley we get to wear the dresses.”
“And we have a couple of days off to relax,” April said with a smile. “I fancy heading to the mall tomorrow, you girls with me?”
“Only if we can go as ourselves,” Melody said as she removed the black wig, putting it on a stand as she shook her head. “Who decided all Negro girl bands had to have black hair?”
“Same person who decided we couldn’t appear on American Bandstand,” Coral said. “you know – racist misogynistic record company manager.”
“Amen to that sister,” April said.
The mall was playing music from Pet Sounds as the three girls walked round, nobody even taking a second look at them as stopped and looked in the windows. April was wearing a white sleeveless top with a roll neck, a pleated blue mini skirt, and white stilettos, a blue scarf tied over her hair.
Melody had on a short sleeved blue blouse and powder blue shorts, with matching heels and a folded blue scarf tied round her neck, while Coral was wearing a green top with the shoulders pulled down and matching Capri pants.
“What do you think of that particular dress,” Coral said as she pointed to a peach slip dress, the skirt barely coming down the mannequin’s legs.
“Nice – but no way we’d be able to wear it on stage, especially tomorrow,” April said with a smile. “Let’s find a coffee shop.”
As they walked off, they didn’t see the two men watching from a distance, one of them heading to a pay phone as the other followed.
“Boss? We found them – we’ll call when they can be picked up.”
“Excuse me – can I have an autograph?”
“sure,” April said as she took the young girl’s book and signed the blank page, and then passed it to the other two. She smiled as the girl ran back to show her mother, before looking at her watch.
“Aw damn – we need to get back for rehearsals,” she said, finishing her coffee as she stood up. “I’ll be back in a minute – nature calls.”
“We’ll meet you outside,” Melody said as she and Coral left money on the table, and headed out of the bar. April disappeared through the door for a few minutes, returning and thanking the staff before she stepped outside.
“Now here have those two gone to,” she said as she looked round, but there was no sign of her bandmates. As she looked from side to side, a young man walked up to her and said “excuse me, is your name April?”
“Yes that’s right – why?”
“Good,” he said as out of his pocket he produced a hand gun. “Don’t make a fuss or do anything stupid, just walk slowly with me. Your friends are waiting for you.”
“As Is aid,” the young man continued as he took April’s arm, and pressed the pistol against her back, “no fuss, act normally, and walk with me.”
April looked round, as she slowly walked towards the car park, unsure of what if anything she could do with the man holding her at gunpoint. Eventually, they reached an old Mustang, which the man popped open the trunk lid of as they stood behind it.
“Get in,” he said as he took a roll of duct tape out, “and lie on your side.”
“What are you going to do,” April said as she somehow managed it fit in.
“Keep your quiet for one thing,” the man said as he taped her wrists together, and then down to her legs as he wrapped the tape around her thighs. Securing her ankles, he then tore off several strips and pressed them over April’s mouth, before pressing one last strip over her eyes.
“Not a word,” he said as April heard the trunk slam shut, and then felt the car start up as it moved away, the road bumps making her jump as well as they moved along. She knew this was a kidnapping, but why? Who? And for what? Just money – or some crazed fan like that film they had all seen?”
“Get up,” the man said as April felt the tape cut away from her arms and legs, and she was forced to stand, taken by the arm and made to walk somewhere, her mouth and eyes still covered by the tape.
“Hmggddd – prrllll!”
“Grls,” she mumbled as she was made to sit on a chair, and she felt her arms been pulled behind her, rope pulling her wrists together as it rubbed on her bare skin. Whoever was doing this was making it tight, as she felt the ropes around and between her arms, and then forced against what she presumed was the wooden chair back.
Someone else had started to tie her ankles together, and as she tried to move them her own upper body was pulled back against the chair, and what was probably more rope used to lash her into place.
“Hmmgfddd,” she then said as the tape was yanked away from her eyes, taking half her eyebrows with it, and she blinked as she looked round the room.
Melody was lying on her side on a bed, ropes holding her wrists behind her back and tied tightly round her upper body, legs and ankles, while silver tape covered her mouth. Coral was sitting on the floor, her legs bent and tied to her body as she looked out over her own gag.
Looking to the side, she saw three young men standing there, grinning as they looked at their captives.
“We’ll bring you some food later,” the one who had nabbed April said as he looked at them, “have fun while you wait.”
They watched as the men walked out, and then looked at each other as they tried to get free...
“No tricks,” the man said as he untied April, and she rubbed her wrists before peeling the tape away from her mouth. They had brought a folding table into the room, and placed a number of Chinese take-out boxes on there as well as bottles of water. They could hear noises through the small windows high up near the ceiling, but not much more.
“Look,” Melody said as she rubbed her hands, “what the hell is this all about. You snatch us two as soon as we leave the coffee shop, then snatch our friend, but why?”
April glanced up as she thought she heard a drum being hit, but said nothing as she looked back at the three men.
“We got our reasons – now eat. Tomorrow’s a big day.”
“Yeah - 4th July, big game, big party, big performance by us...”
“Almost correct,” the man said as they left, and locked the door again behind them. The three girls looked at each other, and then looked in the boxes.
“Well, it looks edible,” Coral said as she took a shrimp out, and bit into it. “Who are these maniacs anyway?”
“I have no freaking idea,” Melody said as they started to eat, the sound of the drums coming from up above. “Wherever we are, a band is playing.”
“I know,” April said, “but if we can’t figure out how to get out of here soon, or if they don’t let us go, we’re going to miss the game tomorrow.”
“Surely the record company are going to notice we didn’t make it to rehearsal?”
“You’d hope so, but you know that lot,” April said with a sigh. “If it isn’t in front of them with a dollar sign...”
“Maybe we’ve been kidnapped for money?”
“Maybe,” Coral said, “but if that’s the case, wouldn’t they have taken a ransom photo? Have you seen a flash bulb or heard a camera?”
The other two girls shook their heads as the high windows started to darken. April looked round the room, noticing the pipes that ran along the wall near the floor, and an idea suddenly struck her.
“All right,” the man said as he and his partners opened the door, “time to make you three secure for the night. Kneel down, hands behind your backs.”
“You don’t have to tie us up,” Melody said as they picked up the rope from before, “we can’t get out of the room, you could just...”
“Quiet,” the man said as once again all three girls had their wrists crossed behind their backs and tied together with ropes, and then their arms tied tightly to their sides. They were then made to sit against the wall as their ankles were crossed, and secured, and then their legs bound below and above their knees.
“Sleep tight,” the man laughed as they then had strips of brown sticking plaster pressed firmly down over their mouths, making it difficult for them to talk as the men moved out.
But talking wasn’t what was on April’s mind. Moving herself round, she waited as Melody moved as well before she managed to reach and ease her show off, and then sit slightly forward, grunting as she began to tap on the pipes with the shoe. Three short hits, three long hits, three short hits...
“Think they got any sleep?”
“Who cares,” the leader said to the other two as he unlocked the cellar door, “just as long as they can’t make the show. After that, they can...”
“Watch you as you stand trial for kidnapping,” the police officer said as the three men walked in, only to be cuffed and marched back out again.
“How the hell...”
“You know, for soldiers you’re really dumb,” Melody said as she stood with the other two, “pipes, heels, Morse code?”
“And to hold us in the bowels of Wrigley Stadium,” April added. “It was the marching bands we heard, wasn’t it?”
“Well, you ladies are safe now,” the officer said as the would-be kidnappers were led away. “Those three saw your show the other day, evidently.”
“Yeah, well,” Coral said, “the real kicker was they were trying to stop us from doing the really important stuff today.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,” the announcer said, “to lead us in the national anthem, please welcome The Daydreams!”
The crowd cheered as Melody, April and Coral walked out, wearing red shift dresses, white gloves and stiletto heels, and blue chiffon scarves, as they stood at the microphone and sang.
Oh say can you see,
By the dawn’s early night...