Common Ground

Childhood friends, turned more, turned upside down


23. Contracts

“Okay so Isaac said he had huge news for us and said we had to go down to his office at like 4 because it apparently isn’t text worthy.” Matt said to me that morning at my locker.
“That’s very unlike him.” Tim said slowly.
“Did anyone tell Bethany?” I asked.
“Yeah, I texted her already.” Alex said, chiming in. “She’s pissed she’s missing her gym day.”
“Yeah, I’m upset too.” Matt said, shaking his head.
“It just means she’s going to be taking a midnight run again.” I said, half laughing.
“She does that kind of shit?” Tim questioned.
“All the damn time.” I said.
“Serious dedication.” Alex pointed out. That’s when the bell rang and we all started splitting up, going out separate ways while I stayed at my locker, going as slow as possible.
“Figured you would be here.” I turned and saw Emily and half smiled.
“What’s up?”
“I had a question for you.”
“Okay, I’m all ears.”
“What are you doing for Beth’s birthday? It’s coming up in a couple weeks and she was kind of telling me how she hasn’t liked any of her birthday’s the past couple of years so I wanted to know if you had anything special planned before I jumped in.”
“Wait…I thought it was in a month?!”
“Oh my god…Trevor! No wonder she’s so upset! You always forgot her birthday!”
“Okay, I have nothing to defend myself with. What day is it again?”
“October 2nd.” Emily said, crossing her arms.
“Okay, so literally two weeks from now…”
“That’s what I said.”
“Okay I obviously don’t have anything planned…”
“So here I am, saving your ass…again.”
“Shit, okay I get it; I’m an asshole. But help…”
“Yeah, I was going to plan a surprise party the weekend before since like her birthday is a Monday this year. So not this weekend, but next weekend. Do you guys have a show?”
“Not that I am aware of yet. But even so, we can always do this on a Saturday, not a Friday.”
“Also true.” Emily said, nodding. “Okay, you’re in charge of invitations, okay? Bethany cannot find out, do you understand?!”
“Good. I’m going to be enlisting help…oh, also, warn your mom so maybe she can clear out for a night. I don’t think she’s going to want to deal with all of us, you know? But I have nowhere else to throw this party.”
“Your house? A pool party? It’s still sitting in the fucking 80’s all the time so why not do this at your house?”
“Ugh, fine…I’m sure I can convince my parents to let it happen, but you are the backup option if I can’t get them to cave, got it?” 
“Got it.”
“Okay, start working on an invite list please.” Emily said before walking off. I groaned, realizing how much of a dick I looked like now; forgetting my own girlfriends’ birthday…
“Why are you writing so many names down?” Logan asked me in class.
“Bethany’s birthday party…it’s in a couple weeks. Emily said we should throw her a surprise party so I have to come up with the invite list.”
“Invite list? Just tell everyone just like we do all our parties.”
“Uh no; this isn’t going to be at my house; it’ll be at Emily’s most likely so we all know that’s a no go.”
“’d think with their son they’d be chill with it.”
“That’s probably why they are not okay with it to be honest.” I pointed out.
“Hmm…true…but anyway, am I invited?”
“I mean, yeah but I’m trying to focus more on Bethany than my friends, okay? So don’t be a fucking douche to her. She hates her birthday as it is.”
“Wait, what? Why?” Logan asked, suddenly a lot more interested.
“Because I’m a dick, that’s why.”
“That’s no surprise. I was waited for the detail, the good shit. Not for you to state the obvious to be honest with you.”
“I’m aware but that’s all you’re getting.” Logan rolled his eyes and looked back at the teacher who was now giving us the death glare.

I was waiting for the guys to get home so we could head to this silly meeting Isaac was making us go to. I had no idea why this was even necessary since we had band practice today too. I mean, if it was show related you would think he would want us working on our music, not sitting in his god damn office. I sighed as I pulled my hair up and looked out the window as I saw them pull up and make their way inside.
“Don’t we have to leave?” I asked, sighing.
“In like 15 minutes. I want a snack.” Matt said as the other guys started inhaling food already. I sighed and walked back into the living room going back to my history class, trying to finish it since I was basically done.
I was getting kind of upset since my birthday was in a couple weeks and not a single person had said anything to me. No one asked if I wanted to do anything, asked what I wanted, nothing. I mean, I don’t like celebrating to begin with but it’s still nice to know someone is thinking about me. It was kind of throwing me into a funk and I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to just not focus on it but I knew that wasn’t going to be a thing. It really tore at me since Trevor hasn’t done or said shit until like a month after my birthday. He always tried to make an excuse for why he forgot but I knew it was always bullshit.
“Ready?” Alex came in, asking me.
“Yeah.” I nodded and followed them out to the car as we all piled in to head into town.
When we got to his office, he was already waiting for us with this creepy, huge smile on his face. This almost threw me into a panic since this could mean something big and I didn’t think I was ready for anything too big just yet. We all slowly sat down and he started shuffling papers around.
“Okay, so, I have great news!” Isaac said. We all sat their quiet, just wanting this to end. “So, instead of doing shows on just Friday every weekend, I have now set it up where every other weekend you have a weekend long show and not just in this area, but all over the east coast.” All our jaws dropped and I almost started choking.
“What?” Trevor finally choked out.
“Yes and this weekend it begins. They are much higher paying gigs so there’s a plus. You seem to have a solid team in order to get these things done. But this weekend you guys are headed to New Jersey!”
“Wait, hold on.” I said, stepping in. “We have our team in place? We have friends who give up their spare time, for no money, to help us one day during the weekend. Nowhere did they agree to this, nor are they getting paid. I don’t see that shit happening with them.” I saw all eyes suddenly going on me and I knew I wasn’t letting this go. “If we are even going to suggest to them giving up every other weekend to drag their asses around, following us, they deserve to be getting paid. I also don’t think they’ll be down unless they’re getting paid. So I suggest you hire them after we talk to them. Odds are, that’s the only way they will agree to this.”
“Well then I can just get people from here to go with you.” Isaac challenged. I smirked and sat back.
“Well than I’m out.”
“Wait, hold on, you can’t just back out like that!” Isaac snapped. Damn, he was weaker than I thought.
“Then I suggest you start figuring out how to pay these people what they deserve.”
“Give me a list.” Isaac said slowly.
“Okay so you have Bree and Alexis; in charge of hair, makeup, clothes; but Bree also is included in all the merch designing. We have Emily and Sophie who are in charge of merch sales, Shannon who is in charge of our advertisement and website, Drew who is in charge of videos and also the website, and Kaylee, Melissa, and Vienna in charge of ticket sales. I suggest finding somewhere in this new budget of yours to pay these people without cutting our pay. I’m sure you have it since you like to take more than 50% of what we make per show.” Isaac started turning red and started digging for papers.
“Uhm, yeah, we can make this work…” 
“Are these our contracts?” I said, ripping them from his grip. “Okay so this is our pay per show without the commission from merch and tickets…and we get 25% per person on that; solid. I’m keeping these and I will be bringing a lawyer with us when we come back with our “team” so I know we aren’t getting ripped off; got it Isaac? Does tomorrow work for you, same time?”
“Uh, yeah of course.”
“Great, nice meeting.” I said, standing up, still having all the guys on me. I walked out and they followed in suit, in shock.
“What was that?!” Trevor yelled when we got to the car.
“You’ll thank me later, I promise.”
“Are you serious?! This is the best shit to happen to us ever and you’re just going to pull that kind of shit?!” Trevor kept yelling.
“You know what, you want to be a fucking dick about it, go back in with the signed. But I’m out in that case. I don’t sign shit without fully reading it and in cases like this, a lawyer going over it. So you know what Trevor, keep it the fuck up.” I said, stepping up to his level.
“Trevor…she has a point.” Matt said slowly.
“Fuck you.” He yelled, slamming the car door. Everyone looked back at me and I shrugged. I looked down at my leggings and rolled them up and took my shirt off and threw it at Matt so I was just in my tank that was underneath.
“What are you doing?” Tim asked.
“Running home; see you there.” I said, handing him the contracts. I turned around, taking a deep breathe, and off I went.

“Where is Bethany?” I asked when the guys got in the car.
“Running home.” Alex said slowly.
“Dude, let it go. You’ve done more than enough for today.” Matt snapped at me. I shut up and looked out the window, not sure how I felt about all of this.
When we got home, it was hours before Bethany actually showed up. She was dripping in sweat and still on the phone with what seemed to be someone out of everyone who had been helping us out. She didn’t even look at me as she walked through the kitchen and out to the back deck.
“Wow…what did you do?” Bree asked me.
“Screamed at her for doing the right fucking thing.” Matt snapped. “Speaking of which, she’s probably going to talk to you and Alexis too.”
“Uh, okay; what does that have to do with what Trevor did?” Bree asked again.
“Dude, just leave it at Trevor was being a fucking asshole.”
“There’s nothing new with that.” Alexis said, walking in.
“Exactly.” Matt said, agreeing.
“Right here…”
“Oh, I’m well fucking aware of where you are.”
“It takes a hell of a lot to piss Matt off bro, you stepped over a line with his best friend.” Bree said, shaking her head.
“Okay so I got a little loud…”
“A little?!” Matt snapped. “You full blown screamed your fucking head off at her for doing us, and everyone who has been helping us a favor so don’t you fucking dare try and sugar coat it.”
“Holy shit…” Alexis said.
“Okay, question.” We all turned and saw Bethany standing there.
“Yeah?” Matt asked.
“Nah, for Alexis and Bree.”
“What’s up?” Alexis asked.
“Every other weekend, paid travelling with the band to do what you do.”
“I mean, I’m down…but does that mean you won’t just have Friday shows anymore? You travel around every other weekend and do shows all weekend?” Bree asked.
“Yup; signed contracts and all.”
“Well I’m in.” Alexis said.
“Yeah, same here.”
“Perfect.” Bethany said before heading upstairs to my guess, shower.
“You yelled at her for wanting to help everyone get jobs for what we’ve been doing for free and making sure we don’t get cheated in contracts?” Alexis asked. “That’s a new low for you, Trev.” She shook her head as her and Bree walked out.
“Okay, so I fucked up…” I said slowly to Matt.
“Oh, you’re telling me? Maybe you should tell her that.”
“I’m sorry man…”
“I accept your apology. Now make sure she does too.” I nodded and headed upstairs to find Bethany. I waited on the bed since she was in the shower. Looking back on everything I did feel like an asshole, I just got caught up in the moment of being able to expand our following and didn’t stop to think about everyone else.
“Babe…” I said slowly when she walked out. She ignored me, getting her pajamas and changed. I waited to give her a couple minutes but all she did was plop herself at the desk in my room and opened her laptop, going back to what looked like her school work. I sighed and looked down. “I know now what I did was wrong, looking back at it, and I’m sorry.”
“Okay.” That was all she said after about 5 minutes. I sighed and crawled under the covers, wanting to disappear. I tried to force myself to sleep but with her so angry, and knowing it, it was really difficult because I just wanted things to be okay since I had such a great track record of always fucking things up.
After what felt like hours, Bethany crawled into bed with me but turned her back to me. I reached for her hip to just feel her skin but she shook me off and I felt like I was about to start crying. I took a deep breath and pulled her to me, not giving her the option.
“I’m sorry.” I whispered, my voice cracking. I felt her body relax but she didn’t say anything, just stayed put and at least not fighting me anymore. I accepted this was all I was getting for today and just held her as I stayed up, not able to sleep.

“Okay so these seem to be…loosely written.” Ms. Jacobson said as she was going over the contracts I brought her. She was Claire’s friend and she had always told us to call her if we ever needed anything.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, it says that Isaac can’t be fired if you end up getting big, that you can’t book any side shows or side gigs; including interviews without his verbal permission. But then you also have things in here like you need to provide your own transportation, he doesn’t need to do jack basically but you can’t fire him and do things at your own free will since he seems to be your boss guy who doesn’t do anything. It sounds to me you guys do all this on your own. He wanted you to sign these on the spot?”
“Good thinking sweetie on not letting him. So, what do you want to be put in here and what else do you need drawn up by 3?”
“Here’s a list, and other contracts I need drawn up and what needs to be in those contracts.”
“This should be easy; my assistant can help. Good thing this week is a slow week. Okay. I’ll see you back around 3 than.”
“Thank you so much.”
“No problem sweetie.” I walked outside, taking a deep breath and texted all the guys.
An hour later, we all met up at the house since Claire was at work and I knew the guys would find any reason to ditch, I figured this was a good time.
“Okay, so what’s up Bethany?” Matt asked.
“Okay, I have a proposition that might make some of you guys hate me, or mad at me…again, but just hear me out.”
“Okay…” Alex said.
“This is kind of fucked up but…I have a lawyer drawing up all new contracts and everyone else’s contracts currently and I want us to fire Isaac.”
“WHAT?!” Trevor yelled.
“Hear me out.” I snapped. “I was talking to this girl yesterday; she graduated already and joined her fathers business and she’s in the music business; managing to be exact. She’s willing to follow through with the same contracts the lawyer is drawing up but actually do a managers job…”
“Who is this?” Alex asked.
“And we’re supposed to fire Isaac and trust you?” Trevor questioned.
“Okay, way to sound like a fucking asshole again but no. She’s on her way here so you guys can all talk to her, ask her whatever you want. If you aren’t down, fine; we can stick with Isaac but only if he agrees to the new contracts because his were fucked beyond belief. Even the lawyer was mind fucked by them.” I said, shrugging.
“What’s her name?” Matt asked as the doorbell rang.
“Caroline.” I said before going to get the door.
“So you must be Trevor, Matt, Tim, and Alex…”

After about an hour of asking her questions, getting to know her, what she does, how she runs things, I honestly felt like I never knew what a real band manager did since Isaac never did anything she did. I was mind blown. It looked like all the guys were as well. We all sat with each other while Caroline waited in the other room after that hour and we all discussed it while Bethany stood in the corner.
“Are you going to join in?” Matt asked her.
“Uh, I’ve already made my decision so it’s all on you guys to decide.” She said, shrugging.
“I have a question for you.” I said, leaning back.
“Why are you doing this? I know you’re always going to say to help us but…this is a whole new level of helping.” I asked.
“Well…I’ll be honest; I never liked Isaac but I wasn’t a full member so I felt like I never had a say but with this new step forward, I want all five of us, plus our team to have the best manager we can have; to help all of us instead of our manager sitting on their ass all day long and barely giving us notice on shows.”
“So we vote now.” Tim said.
“For Caroline, hands up.” I said. Everyone raised their hands and we all smiled and high-fived each other.
“Beth, would you like to do the honors of the hiring and firing?” Matt joked.
“Oh I so fucking would.” We followed her into the living room where she informed Caroline she was hired and she smiled and nodded before telling us how she was about to go fight the venue in jersey to keep us when Isaac called to try and pull out. With that she left and Bethany turned to us.
“Well, I weirdly feel like relieved.” I said slowly.
“That’s good; I have to head back to the lawyers office now to get the new contracts before rushing back here to make sure we have everyone for the firing of Isaac and the contract signing with Caroline after.”
“Okay…we’ll wait here for you in case people start showing up.” Matt said. Beth nodded and I chased after her to her car.
“What Trevor?”
“Can I come with you…?” She rolled her eyes and sighed before nodded. I hopped in her car and she sped off, not saying anything else.

“So it’s pretty straight forward. Since he never forced you to sign contracts in the beginning, you can just fire him at free-will and…the new contracts. We can review them once we get to Caroline’s office.”
“Thank you Ms. Jacobson.”
“No problem sweetie; I’m going to head over there now and I will see you in a little over an hour, yes?”
“Of course. Thank you so much.” I said, smiling. When I got back down to the car, Trevor was standing outside the car and staring at me. “What?”
“You look so beautiful all professional like…”
“Babe, come on…”
“No, you have now yelled at me twice in two days without even thinking anything through and thinking of my feelings. I am only trying to help you guys and you seem to be the only one not wanting me to help. The other guys are fine with me giving my two cents so this kind of bothers me, and by kind of, I mean it does a hell of a lot. It’s like you don’t want to admit I know more about the industry than you do…”
“No, we have places to be and not enough time to get all this shit done so get in the fucking car.” I said, turning my car on. Trevor sighed as he got in my car before I floored it home.
When we got to the house, I briefly explained what was going on, sent everyone the address for Caroline’s office and had them head there while the guys and I headed over the Isaac’s office to fire him from being our manager. It was a shit show of a day but it needed to be done…this was our step forward.
After firing Isaac, and after a lot of begging, pleading, screaming, tears, and a lot of threats, we finally got out of there. I knew he wasn’t going to take it easy but that was more than I ever expected. In the car on our way to Caroline’s office, I was shaking a little, still mildly freaked out by what happened at Isaac’s office. It totally threw me off and I was not okay.
“Here, you’ll need this.” Trevor said, handing me a med bottle.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Your anxiety meds. I’ve been carrying them around when we go out in case you ever need them.” I nodded slowly before taking one and handing him the bottle back.
Once we got to the office, everyone was waiting outside in the parking lot for us and I suddenly felt better all over again. This is why I did what I do; for the people who agreed to stay by our side, for the people who deserve to get some credit for all that they do for us.
When we got inside, Ms. Jacobson was waiting for us in the lobby where the receptionist brought us to the conference room where Caroline was waiting with the company lawyer just to go over the contracts one last time since we were basically doing this one person at a time since each person had slightly different wants or needs in their contract.
After two hours, parental or guardian signatures, contract signing, agreements happening, it felt like all the chaos of today was worth it. We headed home, everyone going their separate ways to begin prepping for Friday; since as soon as school was out, the tour bus we were getting was going to be picking us up from our house to make the trip to Jersey for the Friday night show, Saturday night show, Sunday night show, and the late night trip home Sunday so everyone could be back for school on Monday.

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