Sax in the Park is the prequel novella to the first Perth Girls book, The Quiet One. It will be available as a free download when you pre-order The Quiet One, with pre-orders going up on 14 March 2016.
Plastic wine glass in hand, seated on a picnic rug beside the beautiful water feature at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial at Kings Park, Amanda sighed happily. It had been ages since she’d been out and about in Perth, which was a shame because hanging out in the amazing pre-summer weather and looking at the gorgeous city views always gave her a bit of inner quiet in amongst the hectic crazy that her life had become.
Perth in the summer was hot and sticky, and at those times Amanda preferred to stay at home, or even, god forbid, at work, so long as there was an air conditioner she could sit under. But in November, before the summer heat really kicked in, outside was perfection, and Amanda tried to take every advantage of it she could.
Today, or this evening, to be more precise, she had joined some of her large circle of friends at an outdoors Pops concert at Kings Park. She couldn’t wait for the music to start – the orchestra playing alongside the more traditional rock instruments, and screaming and belting voices alongside the serene beauty of the chorus.
She turned to her left, and asked Penny what time the concert was due to start.
Penny Davis, one of the organisers of the group, consulted her programme. “Says here it will be eight pm.” She looked enquiringly at Amanda. “Why?”
Amanda shook her head. “No reason. I just wondered.”
Penny nodded. “I think they’ve set up some laser lighting, so they probably want it to be dark before they start.”
“Fair enough.” Amanda leaned back on her elbows and sighed again. “It’s OK. I’ll just relax here for a bit.”
“Stressful day?” Penny said. Penny was one of those people that everyone turned to when they wanted to chat, and sometimes vent. She was like the favorite aunty of the group, even though she was the same age as all of them.
“Stressful year,” Amanda said, grimacing. “I just seem to work more and more hours and get less and less done.”
“Tell me about it,” another voice interrupted, and Lydia del Castro joined the conversation. “I have at least a dozen phone calls to make when I get to work tomorrow. And all of them are urgent, of course.” She smiled, and Amanda grinned back. She and Lydia had started a Bachelor of Commerce together at Curtin University, although Lydia had majored in Economics and Management, while Amanda did Marketing. Amanda had always been a tiny bit jealous of Lydia’s wavy dark hair and chocolate eyes, especially when she compared them to her own mousy brown and hazel.
“Well, at least we have Miss Penny to organise our social calendars for us,” Amanda said, and the whole group of them, nine in total, raised their plastic champagne glasses, and murmured “Here, here.”
Penny flushed. “It’s pretty easy to do when you have friends on the inside. I can’t wait to see what happens backstage at a gig like this. Is there even a backstage? Or a green room?” Penny was constantly involved in one community theatre show or another, although she preferred to stay behind the curtain instead of in front of it. Any time she could get a glimpse backstage at a professional show or a concert, she was there, eyes wide and mouth open.
Amanda chuckled. “I have a feeling the green room will be a tent with grass on the floor.” Penny replied “Well, I have to tell you, it would be better than some of the green rooms I’ve been in.”
The others smiled, and their languid conversation grew slower as the sun dipped behind the horizon. The concert started with a loud chord and a blast of lights, and Amanda clapped along with everyone else.
Directly in her ear, Penny shouted “We should go to the front.” Amanda nodded and they got up and moved to the area in front of the stage that was set up for people who wanted to dance to the music, leaving Lydia and a couple of the other girls behind. Amanda loved to dance. She didn’t get anywhere near enough time to shake her tail feather these days, so any opportunity was welcomed. Her best friend, Lily, was also one to hit the dance floor at every opportunity. And while Amanda was a little sad that Lily couldn’t be here tonight, she certainly wasn’t going to give up the possibility of a boogie.
The orchestra and band were even better up close. Amanda could see the faces of the musicians, putting their every effort into their music. Then, she heard a discordant note from the saxophone, and she swivelled to look for the musician, her hips continuing to swing.
He stood to the back of the orchestra, his face obscured by the gleaming brass sax. It was a tenor sax, with an incredible tone. Amanda realised she was looking at someone who had a really good grasp of the techniques for pulling an amazing sound out of the instrument. Then, he hit another off note. Amanda winced. She elbowed Penny, and shouted in her ear “That sax player is making a hash of this song.”
“What?” shouted Penny, and Amanda shook her head as if to say never mind. Penny went back to her dancing, Amanda went back to her saxophonist watching.
When the song finished, Penny said “What did you say?”
In a voice that was probably too loud, Amanda said “I said the sax player was making a mess of the song.”
“I didn’t notice,” Penny said, “then again, I’m hardly a musical expert.” They both looked over at the saxophonist, who seemed to be scowling directly at them. Amanda flicked her gaze quickly away.
“Crap. Did he hear me?”