Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 7
The Chase school was, it seemed, a place where teachers and assistants
handled every kind of handicap that came their way. Coco found the address
in the phonebook, and she set out in her lunch hour on the next day to
walk the couple of miles it would take her to get there. She could have
taken the subway, but she wanted time to think. She'd been thinking hard
for most of the previous day and partway through the night, but she hadn't
found a sure way around her problem yet.
She passed four or five men sitting on the stoop before a brownstone,
all of them having a small street-party of their own with beers and spirits
in brown paper bags that were passed from hand to hand. Empty beer cans
had been set neatly on the stone posts, and the pavement before them was
dark with runoff water from an unclosed faucet. They whistled and shouted
as Coco went by. She didn't even seem to hear them.
When she got to the school, she stopped outside. The wheelchair ramp
up to the main door told her that she was about to step into new territory.
She was suddenly, unaccountably nervous, and she was ashamed for it. She
walked through the main door and up to the school clerk's desk, and she
asked if it would be posssible to speak to Troy Phillips.
The clerk sent her to wait in an open area, a patio surrounded by classroom
buildings. Some of the kids that she saw passing through were in wheelchairs,
some had disabilities that were immediately visible, but most looked .
. . well, ordinary.
She tried to relax a little. She didn't even hear Troy coming up beside
'They said you wanted to see me,' he said.
Coco looked up at him. There was something slightly different about
him, as if he'd been building protective walls around himself and doing
it in such a hurry that the cracks still showed. But there was also something
else; a sense of relief, a feeling akin to that of the fox when he gets
back amongst his own kind and away from the danger of the hounds.
'Sit down,' she invited, but Troy shook his head, Coco got to her feet,
and they walked the length of the patio.
It wasn't easy to find an opening. 'Troy,' she began, 'everybody misses
you. Bruno, Doris, Leroy . . . '
'I don't want to hear,' Troy said.
'I miss you, too.'
Troy stopped, and looked at her. What was whe trying to pull? 'You hurt
me,' he pointed out. It wasn't an accusation, just a statement of fact.
'I know,' Coco said, 'and I'm sorry. I want a chance to make it up to
But Troy was already shaking his head. 'This is where I belong,' he
said. 'This is where I can be on top of the hill instead of right down
at the bottom. No place else.'
'It'll stay that way, if you never try.'
'I did try. I'd rather stay here.'
'I want you to come back. Shorofsky's holding new auditions.'
There was a moment's heitation, but no more. 'If I come back and if
they let me sing . . . well, we'll all know why, won't we?'
'Not this time, Troy. If you win it'll be because of your heart and
your voice. I can handle that if you can.'
'You don't understand,' Troy began, but Coco understood only too well.
'I understand you're scared,' she said. 'But you're not alone in that.
Every time I get up to sing or to dance, I'm sure the audience will see
'It's different for you.'
'It comes with the territory. If you're going to perform, you're going
to be scared. You don't have a corner on stage fright, just because you're
"different".' Coco smiled, to take any of the sting out of what she was
'But I'm . . . '
'I know what you are. You're a singer, and that's what counts.'
She'd gone as for as she could; anything beyond that was up to Troy
himself. She wanted to see him at the audition, even if his presence increased
the pressure on her own chances, because she'd already made herself face
the fact that she'd been trying to put over to Troy; coming out first wouldn't
mean a thing to either of them if the competition itself wasn't the best
She moved to leave. Troy called after her, 'What happens when it's over?'
She grinned at him, walking backwards. 'You'll be on unemploment like
the rest of us. That's showbiz!'
She gave him one last wave, and left. Over to you, Troy.
The story of Danny Amatullo's coaching had finally reached Diana Huddleston.
Now almost everbody in the school was waiting for them for them to meet
up again. Some were laying bets on which eye she'd black; others were only
laying bets on which she'd black first. They were hoping to be around when
it happend, but preferably at a safe distance.
The way that it turned out, the Big Event took place in a quiet corner
of the library with nobody watching.
Diana was having to put in some extra time on her Spanish, because she'd
been caught out over a passage from Don Quixote only the day before; Ms.
Ramirez had pointed out in a marginal note to Diana's class paper that
her summary of the book's theme bore an uncanny resemblace to the sleeve
notes on the Man of La Mancha cast recording in the school's record collection.
A little extra sweat, please, Huddleston.
So Diana sat on her own with a large stack of books disguising a quick-study
aid booklet that she'd bought from the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Broadway,
and she tried to get absorbed. It didn't help that she kept humming The
Impossible Dream to herself, over and over.
When Danny arrived, he made straight for her.
She was startled; not so much by his sudden apperearance, but by the
fact that he came at her with a full head of steam. He was the one who
ought to be cowering in the corner with his arms held up over his head
as he cried for mercy!
'I have nothing to say to you,' Diana said quickly, but Danny kept on
'That's great,' he said, because I've got enough to say for the both
of us.' He pulled out a chair and sat himself down beside her. And then,
in a kind of token deference to the fact that they were in a library, he
lowered his voice just a little. 'First of all,' he said, 'all that moon,
June, spoon stuff wasn't me. Doris Schwartz wrote all those lines. I just
'I know. It's the dumbest thing I ever heard.'
'What was dumb is that you went for it.'
'I certainly did not,' Diana began to protest, but Danny cut in.
'Lock, stock, and barrel,' he said flatly. 'You went for the words,
Diana, instead of me. Maybe when I talk it doesn't sound like Shakespeare
or even Doris Schwartz, but I had feelings for you. Real feelings.'
Diana was still gaping at the intensity of his approach as he stood
up to leave. After a couple of steps, he stopped and turned to face her.
'But do you want to know what's even dumber?' he said. 'That I even
tried it in the first place. That was dumb. Next time, the kid is going
to trust the kid. Period.'
With that, he walked off. He didn't even give her time to reply. Seconds
later, the library doors banged closed.
'Do you think I let him off too lightly?' Diana said, to no-one in particular.
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