Philadelphia, PA, September 3, 1958
Everything checked out normal at station WHAT. Disc jockey Jerry Blavat was signing off his radio show with an up tempo rock and roll tune. His assistant, and best friend, Mike Nesmith, was packing records into a box.
"It's great that you get to play your own record collection on the show," he said.
"Yeah," Jerry said. "But rock and roll on the radio is still a pretty new concept. Think it'll catch on?"
"If it hasn't caught on by now, Elvis Presley is out of a job."
Jerry nodded. He took the record off the player, and put it in the box Mike was carrying. Then the two of them left the station to grab some coffee. As they were sitting at a local diner, WHAT's station manager walked into the diner, and approached them.
"Boys, I have a proposal for you," he said.
"Sorry, you're not my type," Mike said. Jerry started laughing.
"Not that kind of proposal, you ding-a-ling!" the station manager shouted. Mike's warped sense of humor got on his nerves. "How would you like to go out west?"
"How far out west are you talking?" Jerry asked.
"California," the station manager said. "There's a small town outside of Los Angeles called Pleasant Valley, and they're looking for a new disc jockey, so I recommended you, Jerry. Besides it'll get Mike and his humor out of my hair."
"Small town?" Mike asked. "How close to Hollywood are we talkin'?"
"Mi-ike!" Jerry shouted. Then he sighed. "I don't know . . . . . I mean, the kids dig what I do here, and you said it was a small town . . . . what do you think, Mike?"
"It's up to you, Jer," Mike said. "Far be it for me to dictate orders to you."
"Okay," Jerry said. "I'll do it. When do we leave?"
"Pack up the show," the station manager said. "You leave tomorrow morning."
Mike and Jerry nodded, and then left the diner in order to get Jerry's records packed up for the trip. They also had to get their own personal stuff packed up. The next morning, they took their suitcases, and about five boxes a records to the train station.
"I don't see why we couldn't have taken a plane," Jerry said.
"There are no flights goin' to Pleasant Valley," Mike said. "But I managed to get us on a train that'll take us directly to the city. It just may take us awhile."
"I'm guessing a couple of days."
Mike and Jerry carried their things onto the train and waited until the train pulled out. Jerry was right about one thing, though. The train ride was a long one. It took about three days to get to Pleasant Valley, California. Once they got off the train, they looked around. Pleasant Valley was a small town, not very big. There was City Hall, and the radio station which was just a one story building.
"I guess that's where we go," Jerry said, and he started walking towards the building. Mike followed.
The two walked into the radio station, and a Pat Boone song met their ears. They looked at each other wide eyed.
"Can I help you, gentlemen?" the secretary asked.
"Yeah," Jerry said. "I'm Jerry Blavat, and that's Mike Nesmith. We're supposed to be doing a radio show here."
"Oh, you're the new announcer," the secretary said. "Wait here."
The secretary stood up, and walked to the back room. Mike just shrugged and sat down in a chair. Once the Pat Boone song was over, Johnny Mathis came on next.
"I wonder if this guy's gonna play an Elvis song?" Mike asked.
"Don't bet on it," Jerry said. "Check out that sign on the wall over there."
Mike looked over in the direction that Jerry was pointing. The sign on the wall said "Absolutely, Positively, NO ROCK AND ROLL."
"Well, that doesn't make sense," Mike said. "Rock and roll is big these days!"
"Maybe they're gonna take the sign down," Jerry said. "They must've told the station manager that I was a rock DJ."
"Not anymore," the station manager, Ralph Berkley, said, walking into the front room. "Our Mayor, Charles Jesse, doesn't like rock and roll music. He says it's loud, vulgar, and simply not pleasant. We like to keep things in this town pleasant."
"Hence the name," Mike said.
"But most of my records are rock and roll," Jerry said.
"We'll supply you with the records," Mr. Berkley said, handing Jerry a play list. You start today at seven this evening. I'll see you then."
Mike and Jerry left the radio station and began to walk around the town. It was directly out of Leave it to Beaver. White picket fences and all. Both of them were glancing around, not really sure what to make of the place.
"So what do you call this?" Jerry asked.
"Pleasant," Mike said. He made a face, and started walking towards the diner that was on the corner. Jerry followed.
The boys walked inside, and saw a bunch of kids sitting around, listening to Perry Como, and all of them looked like they were in a coma.
"This place is like a morgue," Mike said as he and Jerry sat down at the counter.
"It's not bad," the guy behind the counter said. "So what can I get you two?"
"Coffee," Jerry said, looking around at the kids. All of them looked like they were ready to fall asleep in a minute or so.
"With music like this, we're gonna need somethin' to stay awake," Mike replied.
"You two music critics?" the guy behind the counter asked, picking up a coffee pot. He took out two cups and began filling them.
"No," Jerry said. "I'm a disc jockey, and Mike here's my assistant."
Mike didn't acknowledge anything. He just kept looking around the diner. He noticed a couple of kids stirring around cereal, letting it get soggy. One boy was hovering over the jukebox, drumming his fingers on it. He was looking for a good song, but he couldn't seem to find one he liked. Two girls were sitting in a booth, one drumming her fingers on the table, the other tapping her foot, bored. Another boy actually yawned! Mike looked over and saw a girl wearing a volunteer nurse's uniform, sitting on the other end of the counter, stirring her coffee. She looked to be as bored as all the teenagers in the diner. Mike just kept staring at her.
"Mike, we've got to do something," Jerry said, suddenly. "This place is dead."
"I've got an idea," Mike said. "Give me 'Little Darlin'."
"What do you want that one for?" Jerry asked, fishing the Diamonds' "Little Darling" out of his box. He handed it to Mike.
The Texan walked over to the jukebox, and unplugged it. The kids didn't even notice. Mike pushed the jukebox out of the corner of the wall, and managed to open the back of it. He slipped the record inside, put it on the player, and pushed a couple of buttons. The next thing that was heard was the clacking of castanets, and a cow bell. That got the kids' attention. When the music started, Mike and Jerry took center stage, and began lip synching with the song. Everyone in the diner stared at them, lip synching and dancing around.
"Who are these guys?" one girl asked.
"Beats me," a boy said.
"What's this song?"
"I don't know. But it's better than Perry Como!"
Mike jumped onto a table, and continued to mouth the song, along with Jerry. Although Jerry kept his feet on the floor. Mike managed to get the nurse's attention, just as the talking part of the song came on, and he continued to mouth the words. The nurse just stared at him as if he were nuts. Once the interlude was over, Mike began jumping from table to table, mouthing the rest of the song. The guy behind the counter just shook his head, disgustedly. Once the song was over, Mike walked over to the nurse and sat down next to her.
"So, baby, what did you think?" he asked.
"I thought that was disgusting," the nurse said.
"You didn't like the song?"
"I liked the song, but as you were jumping from table to table, you put your foot in a bowl of soggy Corn Flakes."
Mike looked down at his boot, and saw the mess of milk and soggy cereal on the bottom of it. Jerry rolled his eyes. Mike clicked his tongue against his teeth, and turned to the nurse.
"I'm goin' for a new look," he said.
"Oh brother," the nurse said, rolling her eyes. She paid for her coffee, stood up, and started to leave. Mike stood up and ran to the door before she could get to it. He held it open for her.
"Allow me," he said.
"Thanks," the nurse said, a little uncertainly. She just gave Mike a look, and started walking. Mike raced after her.
"So what's your name?" he asked. "Mine's Mike."
"It's Phyllis," the nurse said. "And I'm about to be late for work, so if you'll excuse me, I really must be going."
"Look me up some time. I work at the radio station!"
Phyllis shook her head, and walked on, not giving Mike a second thought. Mike groaned, and snapped his fingers. He walked back to the diner, and went inside, sitting at the counter. Jerry was smiling, sneakily.
"Strike out again, Casanova?" he asked.
"Very funny," Mike said. "I'd like to see you get a date once in awhile."
"Yeah, well," Jerry said. "The squeaky clean poodle skirt wearing girls aren't my type anyway."
"Well, don't expect to find city girls in this place."
Jerry shrugged, and just picked up his cup of coffee. Mike began stirring his around, getting the uneasy feeling he and Jerry were being watched. He glanced out of the corner of his eye, and saw two teenagers, a boy and a girl, standing at least three feet away, and just staring at them.
"You ask them," the girl said.
"No way," the boy said. "You ask them!"
"Because it was your idea, and you think the guy on the left's cute."
"Okay, okay, I'll ask them, but you have to come with me."
"Ask us what?" Mike asked, turning around. Jerry did the same. The two teenagers began to get a little nervous all of a sudden.
"Well, uhh," the girl stammered. "We, uhh, we . . . ."
"We wanted to know what song that was," the boy said. "We've never heard anything like it before!"
"That was 'Little Darling' by the Diamonds," Jerry replied.
"Oh," the girl said. "Who are they?"
"A rock group," Mike said.
"You mean rock and roll?" the boy asked.
"Yeah," Jerry said, nodding. "Don't tell me you've never heard rock and roll before!"
"No," the girl said.
"Never," the boy replied.
"Geez, how far gone is Pleasant Valley?" Mike asked. "You mean you've never heard of Elvis Presley, or Jerry Lee Lewis?"
"Or the Drifters?" Jerry asked. "Or anybody like that?"
"No," the two teenagers said. Mike and Jerry looked at each other.
"Well, today's your lucky day," Mike said. "You're gonna hear rock and roll tonight startin' promptly at seven o' clock. Jerry's the new night DJ in town."
"Cool," the boy said.
"So, what do they call you guys?" Mike asked.
"I'm Linda Stanley, and this is Fluey McAlister," the girl said.
"We've heard stories that rock and roll is vulgar," Fluey said. "Is it true?"
"Well, some songs may have double meanings," Jerry said. "But they're hard to detect. Most parents don't like it because it's so different from what they listen to."
"Incidentally, what do you guys listen to?" Mike asked.
"Pat Boone, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin," Fluey said, making a sick face. "And, the horror, Lawrence Welk."
"Oh no, not Lawrence Welk!" Mike yelled. "That's pure torture to a teenager! Augh!"
"Don't we know it," Linda said. "We're forced to watch him on TV every Sunday."
"Don't you even see The Ed Sullivan Show?" Jerry asked.
"We don't pick it up in this area," Linda replied.
"These poor kids need help!" Mike shouted. "I'll tell you what. You two go tell your friends to tune in on WPVS tonight at seven."
"They won't believe us," Fluey said. "The only thing that's on WPVS at seven every night is Big Band."
"Yeah, and who wants to listen to that?" Linda asked.
"Just trust us, kids," Jerry said. "Mike and I know exactly what we're talking about."
Linda and Fluey looked at each other. Then they picked up their books and left for school. They had to hurry, or else they were going to be late. Once all the kids left, Mike and Jerry began walking around the town, taking in the sights. It only took about an hour. The town was on the small side. There was a basic drive-in (a popular hang out among the kids in the town, as well as the diner). A grade, junior high, and high school, and a bunch of houses in the suburbs.
"Welcome to Suburbia," Mike said.
"Oh come on," Jerry said. "It might not be so bad living here."
"I guess," Mike replied, looking around. "It's just that, well, I don't know. A town with kids who've never heard of Elvis Presley? That's a little disturbin'."
"Relax, Mike," Jerry said. "We're going to bring rock and roll to this town. The kids'll love it! Although I'm a little worried about that sign on the wall I saw."
"Who cares? Kids need rock and roll! They can't go on listenin' to . . . ." Mike shuddered for a moment. "Lawrence Welk!"
Jerry nodded. He felt Mike had a point there. But he still wasn't so sure. Meanwhile, at Pleasant Valley High School, Linda and Fluey were walking around, giving their friends the heads up on what was going on at the radio station that night.
"They're gonna play rock and roll," Fluey said.
"Rock and roll?" a redheaded boy named Multi Mills asked.
"Are you putting us on?" a brunette named Erin James asked.
"We won't have to listen to all that junk our parents like anymore?" Multi's girlfriend, Shawn Smith, asked.
"I hope not," Fluey said. "I mean, yeah, some of that junk's okay, but we need music for our own generation!"
"Spread the word to everyone you know," Linda said, and she and Fluey walked off. The other kids split up as well.
Erin walked into her English class and sat down next to her friend, Jessica Bennett.
"Pass it on," she said. "WPVS is gonna play rock and roll tonight at seven."
"You're kidding," Jessica said.
"Fluey told me himself. He said the DJ who's gonna play it told him. Just spread the word."
Jessica shrugged, and told the kid next to her about the rock and roll revolution. Multi was in math class, when he turned to his friend, Coiley Collins.
"WPVS," he said. "Seven. Rock and roll. Pass it on."
"Yeah?" Coiley asked. Then he tapped the shoulder of the kid in front of him. "WPVS. Seven. Rock and roll. Pass it on."
The kids began to pass the news back and forth. By fifth period, everyone in the school new about WPVS playing rock and roll that night at seven. By seventh period, it was all anyone could talk about. They kept bombarding Linda and Fluey with questions about it. They were sitting in the music room, answering all the questions they could, when the music teacher, Drake Mallard, came in.
"Okay, guys, settle down," he said. "I heard something around these halls about rock music on WPVS? Anyone want to explain?"
The kids were quiet. To them, Drake Mallard was another adult, one who looked down on rock and roll. Not hardly. Drake had been to Los Angeles many a time with his two daughters (who were nine and five years old) and heard many a rock and roll song, and he enjoyed the upbeat, danceable music. But the kids in his class didn't think he could actually grasp the concept of rock and roll.
"What's the matter?" he asked, looking at the class. "Don't think I understand rock? Hey, I've got two kids, who hate Lawrence Welk as much as you do. Heck, I hate Lawrence Welk as much as you guys do!"
The kids just sat there and stared at their teacher. Drake shook his head, and sat down at the piano.
"What, don't think I know rock?" he asked. "Let me tell you guys something, I've seen Elvis Presley in concert. I've seen the Coasters, I've seen the Del Vikings. You name it, I've seen it!"
"Whoa," Fluey said. "So you're telling us that you're not just some adult who doesn't dig the crazy rock scene?"
"Now what do you think?" Drake asked.
"We always thought all adults were like that," Linda said.
Drake sighed. He was only thirty, one of the youngest teachers at the high school, actually. He sighed, and sat down at the piano anyway. He was going to teach these kids to sing if it killed him. And it probably would have, since he was about to teach them a rock and roll song.
Later that day, Mike and Jerry were over at the radio station, going through records. A lot of them were from when anyone over the age of forty-five liked them.
"Can you believe this junk?" Mike asked. "Boy, it's a good think they got us now."
"You said it," Jerry said, taking out his own records. "Where would these poor kids be without us?"
"Lost in Lawrence Welk Land," Mike said. "Yecchh, these are terrible. What do they make these kids listen to? Broadway show tunes?"
"Probably. I don't know what exactly they want me to do, but I'm gonna do rock."
As Mike and Jerry continued to go through their records, when Mr. Berkley came into the studio, carrying some records, and a piece of paper.
"Okay, guys," he said, putting the records on the desk. "There are your records, and here's the play list."
"Play list?" Mike asked.
"You gotta be kidding me," Jerry said, looking at the list. "This is . . . . . this is . . . ."
"This is fogey music," Mike said.
"I can't play this," Jerry said. "I promised the kids rock and roll."
"Rock and roll?" Mr. Berkley asked, staring at Mike and Jerry as if they're crazy. "Rock and roll?! Rock and roll?! You can't play rock and roll!"
"Well, why not?" Jerry asked.
"It's not pleasant," Mr. Berkley said. "Mayor Jesse has said that nothing pleasant is allowed in Pleasant Valley."
"Oh that's crazy!" Mike shouted.
"Play everything on that list," Mr. Berkley said, ignoring Mike. "And nothing but what is on that list."
Mr. Berkley left the station. He didn't usually hang around for the seven to eleven o' clock timeslot at WPVS. He rarely listened, too. At any rate, Jerry looked at the list, and put one of Mr. Berkley's records onto the turn table, and turned on the microphone.
"At the tone, the time will be seven o' clock," he said, letting the record play a little. "And at the tone, it will be time to rock!"
Jerry then yanked the record directly off the turntable, resulting in a big scratch on it. Mike let out a low whistle, and then threw Jerry a rock and roll tune.
"This is Jerry Blavat, bringing you rock and roll to Pleasant Valley, California on WPVS," Jerry said, going at least a mile a minute.
All the teenagers in town were tuning in. They had never heard anything like this in their entire lives. They turned the volume up and were practically plastered to the radios. The parents were staring at the kids, wondering what in the world were they doing! They were also wondering about the music coming out of the radio.
"What in the Sam Hill is that?!" Fluey's father, Jimmy, shouted.
"Rock and roll," Fluey said.
"Rock and roll? What the heck is rock and roll?"
Fluey indicated the radio. Jimmy just made a face, and listened in. Jerry was playing a song by the Coasters, then switched to Elvis, then Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. For a change of pace, he put on the Everly Brothers, Frankie Avalon, and Brenda Lee. Every single parent in town couldn't figure it out. Linda's father, Hank, heard Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill," and nearly had a heart attack!
"Who is this guy?" he asked.
"You heard him, Daddy," Linda said. "Jerry Blavat."
"What's that noise he's playing?"
"It's not noise. It's rock and roll!"
"Whatever happened to the guy on this station who would play Broadway show tunes?"
"Oh, Daddy! Get with it. Frank Sinatra and Perry Como just aren't in anymore. Elvis is!"
As if that were a cue, and Elvis Presley song came blaring out of the radio. At a local community college, three students were sitting in the student union, drinking coffee and snacking on fries when one of them, Reggie Bushroot, tuned in to WPVS.
"Whoa!" he shouted, once he heard Buddy Holly's "Rave On."
"What in the world is that?" a girl named Cynthia Porter asked.
"Whatever it is, it's garbage," Cynthia's boyfriend, Marshall P. "Skippy" Wallace III, said. "Turn it off, Reggie."
"No, I kinda like this," Reggie said.
"Skippy's right," Cynthia said. "Turn it off!"
"Fine," Reggie said, turning off the radio.
"It had a beat," his girlfriend, Sarah Phoenix said. "Like far out, man."
"You're dating a beatnik," Skippy groaned. "And you like that . . . . that trash they call music. Reggie, I certainly do not understand you."
"Well, I don't understand you, either," Reggie said. "I don't understand anyone who likes the marches of John Philips Sousa."
Skippy rolled his eyes, and opened a text book. Cynthia did the same thing. Sarah shrugged, and walked to the corner, to practice her bongos. Reggie just shook his head, opened his own text book and started his homework. The next morning, Mike and Jerry walked into the diner, and got a big ovation from the teenagers that were gathered there. Some of the patrons looked a little confused, however, wondering why all those teenagers were applauding these two guys.
"Looks like we were a hit," Mike said.
"Apparently so," Jerry replied. He and Mike sat down at the counter. Mike glanced over and saw Phyllis sitting at the end of the counter. He smiled and walked over to her.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," Phyllis said, a little uncertainly.
"So did you hear the show last night?"
"No, I missed it. But the head nurse at St. Bernadette's Hospital heard it. She was wondering where to call to send whoever it was talking to the nut house."
"Well, she's gotta be an old fogey anyway."
"Yeah, she's a fossil."
"See, you're with it. You're with the rock and roll age."
"I think you've got the wrong girl. Excuse me."
Phyllis was about to stand up, but Mike blocked her off. She was getting pretty annoyed with him.
"Hey come on," he said. "I'm just tryin' to be friendly."
"What you're trying to do is be fresh," Phyllis said.
"So what's the difference? Listen, I can get us tickets to an Elvis Presley concert. What say you and I go?"
"I really don't think so."
"Well, okay, if you don't dig the concert scene, what about a drive in movie?"
"No, thank you. I've got to be going."
"Okay, look, what does it take to get a date with you? Don't I strike you as an ambition type? I mean, I've got a lot of things other guys don't!"
Mike leaned on the counter then. Phyllis looked at him as if he had a vine sprouting out of his ear.
"Like your elbow in my coffee for one?" she asked.
Mike looked down and noticed that when he leaned onto the counter, he inadvertently stuck his elbow in Phyllis's coffee cup. Instead of taking it out, he left it in there and looked at Phyllis.
"There's always the attraction of wearin' food," he said. "I'm thinkin' about gettin' my ear pierced and hangin' a grape from it."
Phyllis up and left just then. The further she got away from Mike, the better. Jerry saw him strike out and started laughing.
"Very funny," Mike said, sitting down next to his friend.
"I'm sorry," Jerry said. "But yesterday, you put your foot not only in your mouth, but in a bowl of soggy Corn Flakes, and now you stick your elbow in her coffee. What are you gonna do next?"
"Die of embarrassment. How in the world do you ask a girl out?"
"You've got me. I haven't had a date since nineteen fifty-six!"
Mike rolled his eyes. He and Jerry left the diner and began walking around the town again. They approached the community college and took a look around. Most of the students were walking around, either talking or reading.
"This is what education brings," Mike said, looking around.
"Aren't you two a little out of place?" a voice asked. Mike and Jerry turned around and saw three people standing behind them. They were Skippy Wallace, Cynthia Porter, and Reggie Bushroot.
"We're sort of new in town," Mike said.
"Yeah," Jerry replied. "Learning our way around, you know."
"I recognize that voice," Reggie said. "You're the guy who was playing that wild music on the radio last night!"
"Well, what do you know," Mike said. "We've picked up some older fans."
"Oh please," Cynthia groaned. "Come along boys. We'll be late."
Cynthia and Skippy walked off. Reggie was about to go with them, but he turned towards Mike and Jerry.
"Are you playing any more of that stuff tonight?" he asked.
"Darn right," Mike said.
"Cool," Reggie said, and he ran off to catch up with Skippy and Cynthia.
Mike and Jerry looked at each other and smiled, as if to say "another satisfied customer." Then they walked off. That night around seven, Jerry and Mike did the same thing, but mixed up the songs a little. The parents were completely disgusted.
"That tears it," Jimmy McAlister said, and he picked up the phone. "I'm callin' that radio station right now!"
"Come on, Dad!" Fluey shouted. "You can't kick Jerry off the air! He's the best thing that ever happened to this town!"
"All that noise is the best thing that ever happened to this town? I don't think so. How can you like that stuff?!"
"Well, I think you'd like some of it, Dad. Not all of it is like this."
"I've heard enough!"
Jimmy cranked down the volume on the radio. Fluey glared at his father, but kept the volume down while Jimmy called the radio station and ranted about Jerry. Mr. Berkley was in the middle of taking phone calls from the parents of Pleasant Valley, trying to calm them down.
"Yes, I know," he kept saying. "No, I didn't tell him to play rock and roll. Yes, he knows we have a procedure. Yes, I'll do something. Ho boy."
Mr. Berkley hung up all his phones and sighed. He turned to another DJ, the one who usually pulled the "graveyard shift."
"If that phone rings one more time, I'll shoot it," he said.
"Why don't you talk to this guy?" the other DJ asked. "I mean, maybe he'll agree to play what you want him to play, with a little force."
"I'll try anything at this point."
Mr. Berkley went down to the studio, where Jerry was playing "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. He walked inside, and approached Mike and Jerry.
"Boys, I don't know how clear I was but," he said. "There is to be no rock and roll at this station."
"Aw, come on!" Mike shouted. "The kids love it!"
"Yeah, but the parents don't!" Mr. Berkley shouted.
"Who are you trying to sell to?" Jerry asked. "The parents, or the kids? Last time I looked, it was the kids."
"Look, just please play what's on the play list!"
"I'll play what I want."
With that, Jerry put on Little Richard, just to get a rise out of Mr. Berkley. Mr. Berkley groaned, and stormed off. Mike gave him a smug look, and looked at Jerry approvingly. The phones kept ringing off the hook. Some were from the parents, but most were from the kids, raving over Jerry. Mr. Berkley thought about this. Probably the ratings would soar. The kids in Pleasant Valley rarely listened to WPVS. With Jerry, they were tuning in in droves!
"That crazy kid may have something here," he said, thoughtfully.
The next morning, Mike and Jerry walked into the diner, as usual, and sat down at the counter, as usual. As usual, Mike saw Phyllis and tried to make a play for her. And as usual, she shot him out of the saddle.
"Hey baby, how 'bout a date?" he asked.
"You never give up, do you?" Phyllis asked.
"What can I say? I'm persistent."
"And that is about all."
Phyllis paid her tab, and then left the diner. Mike let out a frustrated sigh, and walked over to Jerry.
"What does it take to get a date with that girl?!" he shouted.
"You can stop being so pushy for starters," Jerry said. "Try not to be so macho, okay? Girls don't dig macho."
"Unless they're totally and completely shallow," Reggie said, walking over to the counter. "We weren't properly introduced the other day, but I'm Reggie Bushroot."
"Nice to meet you," Mike said. "I'm Mike, and this here's Jerry 'Tonsils' Blavat."
"Very funny," Jerry said, smacking Mike in the shoulder.
"Hey, man, with that voice, you think you're gonna just go by Jerry Blavat?" Mike asked. Jerry shook his head and ignored him.
"So you hang around the college?" he asked Reggie.
"Yeah, I take about five courses," Reggie said. "But this music . . . . . I gotta tell you, it's better than Pat Boone, and Johnny Mathis and junk like that."
"Yeah, what's with the people in this town?" Mike asked.
"Well, the mayor of Pleasant Valley strives to keep this town pleasant," Reggie said. "I'm sure you've already heard this story. And a lot of people don't think rock and roll is pleasant. Especially stuff by the black artists."
"I think I get it," Jerry said, tapping his chin thoughtfully. "Listen, Reg, some rock and roll isn't what the mayor or anyone else thinks. And we'll prove it."
"Yeah, we'll win over these parents," Mike said.
Reggie didn't have any idea what in the world they were up to. But he had to leave and get to class. And speaking of classes, Jerry's radio show was all the kids at the high school could talk about.
"I wonder where you can get those records?" one girl asked.
"Maybe you have to send away for them with cereal box tops," a boy said. "They're sure not available around here!"
"We should start a petition around the record stores," Linda suggested.
"Yeah, make 'em carry rock and roll," Fluey said.
The other kids agreed. A lot of the teachers didn't really appreciate the kids being exposed to rock and roll. Especially one of the history teachers.
"Tell me, who was the fifth president of the United States?" he asked. "Mr. Mills."
"Uhh . . . ." Multi said, trying to think. "Frankie Avalon?"
"No, that is incorrect," the teacher said. "Miss Stanley, how about enlightening us?"
"Ricky Nelson?" Linda asked.
The teacher groaned loudly. None of his students were paying any attention. They didn't like any of the classes until they got to music class. That day, Drake had shut the door completely so the other teachers or the principal, wouldn't hear the class. He was supposed to be teaching the kids to sing patriotic songs for an upcoming assembly. But he was really teaching them rock and roll songs.
"Okay, guys," he said. "Who recognizes this tune?"
Drake let a record play for a few moments.
"Dion and the Belmonts!" Erin called out.
"Right," Drake said. "How about this one?"
Drake played another one. About five kids called out Frankie Avalon, and then Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, and Fats Domino.
"Been listening to this guy for only a few nights and already they can play name that tune," Drake said. "As you all know, we have an assembly coming up, and they want the class to perform in it."
"Ooohhhhh," every last kid in the class groaned.
"I know, I know," Drake said. "I hate it as much as you guys. But what can we do?"
"Mr. Mallard, every single school assembly we've ever been in is boring!" Jessica complained.
"Yeah, can't we jazz this one up a little?" Coiley asked.
"That's just what I was thinking," Drake said. "I'm going to teach you guys a rock and roll song."
The kids began jumping up and down, screaming in delight. Drake pulled a record out of his bag, and put it on the player. The song he was going to teach the kids was a song by Dion and the Belmonts. They practiced it, breaking it into four parts (soprano, alto, baritone, and bass). Drake was glad the assembly wasn't for a few days yet. The kids needed a little work if they wanted to get the song right.
That night, Mike and Jerry were going through their record collection, looking for something good to play.
"How 'bout Frankie Avalon?" Mike asked.
"Perfect!" Jerry shouted, and he threw "Venus" onto his turntable.
Seven o' clock on the dot, "Venus" sounded over the airwaves. A lot of the girls fell in love with Frankie Avalon's voice, and began swooning. The parents weren't exactly sure what to make of it. They continued to bombard the radio station. News of this reached the office of the mayor of Pleasant Valley, the honorable Charles Jesse, and he wasn't too happy with this type of music.
"I've heard about rock and roll," he said. "It makes nice and polite children turn into juvenile delinquents! I simply won't allow it!"
"But sir, the kids in the town seem to like the music," Mayor Jesse's assistant, Norman Rottwheeler, said. "My daughter goes crazy for this sort of music."
"I know, that's the problem," Mayor Jesse replied. "If we take it off the air, the kids in Pleasant Valley will get very unpleasant indeed. But things have already begun to get unpleasant. Call the radio station."
Norman picked up the phone and immediately dialed WPVS's number. Mr. Berkley, sick and tired of answering the constantly ringing phones, moaned, and picked it up anyway.
"Hello?" he whined.
"Is this station WPVS's manager?" Norman asked.
"Yes, unfortunately. Another complaint?"
"No sir. A call from his honor, Mayor Charles Jesse."
"Oh. Well, that's different. Put him on!"
There was a slight pause while the mayor got on the line.
"Is this WPVS's station manager?" Mayor Jesse asked.
"Yes sir, your honor, sir!" Mr. Berkley shouted. "Ralph Berkley at your service, sir!"
"I think you know why I'm calling. It's your new night record jockey. All that rock and roll!"
"I know, sir, I know. But my hands are tied. I can't get him to use a play list, and the teenagers in town will want to lynch me if I take him off the air."
"Well, we wouldn't want that. That just isn't pleasant! If we think hard enough, we'll have a way to keep everyone happy, and the kids can have their rock and roll."
"I suppose I could move Jerry to the late night show."
"I think that should do quite nicely. Then the kids can still have their rock and roll, and it will be at a more appropriate time."
That was the end of that. Mr. Berkley let Jerry finish up his set that night, and then walked over to him and Mike before they left the station.
"Monday, you two start the late shift," he said.
"The graveyard shift?" Mike asked.
"Why the sudden change, boss?" Jerry asked.
"The mayor of Pleasant Valley called and told me to move you and your rock and roll to a more appropriate time slot," Mr. Berkley said.
"Oh," Jerry said.
"Okay, no problem," Mike said, and he and Jerry started out.
"Are you sure about that?" Jerry asked. "I mean, the eleven o' clock show? I don't know, but I think we'll get more complaints this way."
"Don't sweat it. We'll get more complaints than before, and we'll be back to our seven o' clock time slot in no time flat!"
Jerry wasn't so sure about this. The next morning when they went to the diner for breakfast, they let the kids know about the schedule change, and all of them were ready to declare war on WPVS for that decision!
"We're all in bed by that time!" Shawn yelled.
"No fair!" Linda shouted.
"Why're they moving you to the graveyard shift?" Fluey asked.
"Apparently, the mayor doesn't think rock and roll is 'pleasant' enough for his taste," Jerry explained. "And he wants to move us to where he thinks unpleasant music belongs, and that's during the late nights."
"Yeah, when all the good movies are on TV, too," Multi groaned.
"There's nothin' we can do about it," Mike said. "Except if you guys stay up late to tune us in, and start fallin' asleep durin' school, and things get more hectic, they'll have no choice but to put us on earlier."
"I say we write letters to the mayor and radio station," Fluey said.
"Right," Linda said. "You guys should be on after school!"
All the other kids agreed. The next Monday, Jerry and Mike started their graveyard shift, playing the raunchiest rock and roll they could dig up! Much worse than what they played when they were on at seven! Of course, every last teenager staid up until the show was over to hear it. By Tuesday, the entire student body of Pleasant Valley High School looked like zombies. Hair was disheveled, clothes were messy, kids were falling asleep, walking into walls. Teachers didn't quite know what to think, except Drake knew what they were up to.
"I suggest you write in letters," he said. "It'll be easier than staying up all night."
"That's the whole idea," Fluey said.
After a week of having the teenagers in town move around like zombies, Mayor Jesse ordered Mr. Berkley to put Mike and Jerry on in the afternoons after school. That way the kids would be happy, and parents wouldn't have to listen to it, since most of the music got played at the malt shop, drive in, and diner.
A week went by, and Pleasant Valley High School was planning their annual Fall Dance. Linda and Fluey were on the entertainment committee, which was usually Lawrence Welk type music, waltzes, and polkas, which the kids were getting pretty sick of.
"We could get Jerry Blavat to DJ the dance," Linda said.
"Perfect!" Fluey shouted. "And Mr. Mallard is head of the entertainment committee, he'll definitely go for it!"
"Yeah, he's not like all our other teachers. Mr. Mallard's really with it."
Linda and Fluey shook on it, and went to find Drake to tell them their idea. Once Drake approved, the two teenagers went to the radio station and found Mike and Jerry sorted through records to play on their show.
"Hey," Mike said. "What brings you guys down here?"
"We want to ask you something," Fluey said.
"Our school's having a dance on Saturday," Linda said. "And we want you guys to play the music."
"Rock and roll right in the school?" Jerry asked. "Well, that's not something I'd normally do, but for a pretty girl such as yourself, I guess I can't say no to that."
"He's a sucker for girls with big, brown eyes," Mike said, giving Linda a wink.
"Ha, ha, ha," Jerry said. "Very droll, Mike, very droll."
"Well, admit it!" Mike shouted.
Jerry ignored him completely for that remark, and sighed. The kids left the station and went to tell their friends the good news. By the end of the week, the kids at the high school were practically bouncing off the walls. The principal, Joseph Ronald, wasn't too happy with Drake for actually allowing Jerry and Mike to play their rock and roll records.
"I'm just appalled!" he shouted. "How could you agree to something as vulgar as rock and roll?!"
"What's so vulgar about rock?" Drake asked. "Listen, the kids like it! They'll be out to lynch us if we cancel now!"
"I just hope things won't get out of control at the dance."
"Good. I'm chaperoning."
Drake, who happened to be the other chaperone at the dance, groaned. He wasn't looking forward to the dance now, that was for sure! Saturday night, the students of Pleasant Valley High School arrived at the gym, ready for the dance. Mike and Jerry walked in, and saw about five teachers, and some of the staff from St. Bernadette's Hospital.
"What's with the nurses?" Mike asked.
"The principal's afraid either we're gonna hurt ourselves dancing, or the teachers might have heart attacks due to the music," Fluey said.
"Well, this works out well for me," Mike said, eyeing Phyllis by the door.
"She's just gonna shoot you out of the saddle again," Jerry said, sorting through his records. "Get it through your head, Mike. She doesn't like you."
"I'll fix that. Start the show, Jer."
Jerry shrugged, and put on the first record, "DeDe Dinah" by Frankie Avalon. That wasn't something the kids could go crazy with. Let them go wild with the Chuck Berry music. Mike climbed off the stage, and walked over towards Phyllis.
"Hi," he said.
"Oh, hello," Phyllis said, sort of making a face.
"So got roped into comin' here in case the old fogeys have heart attacks?"
"I was just told to report to the high school gymnasium tonight, just in case someone got hurt doing 'those crazy dances' as the head nurse calls them. Personally, I think they look pretty easy."
"Yeah, they are. When I was workin' in Philadelphia, the kids would be dancin' in the streets. That's where they do American Bandstand, you know."
"I've never seen American Bandstand."
"This town is more far out than I thought it was."
"I don't think it is."
"Yeah, well, I just came from Philly, where rock music is big, so what do you expect?"
"Just save me a spot on your dance card. I'll be back when I hear somethin'."
Mike walked away. Phyllis rolled her eyes. Back at the bandstand, at least a hundred teenage girls were gathered around either staring up at Jerry, are waving around screaming, trying to get his attention.
"Dance with me, Jerry!" a girl called out.
"No, dance with me!" another cried. Mike climbed onto the bandstand and sorted through records.
"Hey, your loyal subjects beckon you, yon King of the Teens," Mike teased.
"Ha, ha," Jerry said. "You know I gotta play the records."
"I'll play with the records. You dance with the teeny boppers. You're a teenage idol. Dance with the girls. They'll love it."
Jerry shrugged and jumped off the bandstand. All the girls began screaming, and tried to grab onto him, all yelling that they were first. Jerry stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled.
"Ladies, please!" he shouted. "What do I look like? A taffy pull? Don't worry. I'll dance at least one dance with all of you."
The girls screamed so loud, all the boys thought the windows would smash to pieces. Mike put on "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and Jerry and Erin cut loose on the floor. He danced to Frankie Avalon's "Gingerbread" with Jessica, and the El Dorados' "At My Front Door" with Shawn. Mike put on a couple of fast numbers while Jerry took turns dancing with every girl at the dance. After awhile, he climbed onto the bandstand. Mike handed him a record.
"Take a break," he said. "Play this. It's my turn to dance."
"Okay," Jerry said, putting the record on the turntable.
Frankie Lymon's "Goody Goody" came out of the speakers. Mike walked over to Phyllis and took her hand.
"Come on, let's dance!" he shouted.
"Uhh, I don't know," Phyllis said.
"Look, if you dance with me for this song, I won't bug you for the rest of the night."
"Cross my heart, hope to die, and may lightnin' strike me."
"Oh, all right."
Mike and Phyllis walked out onto the dance floor just as the singing started. Everybody stopped what they were doing and looked at them. Mike may not have been a very coordinated dancer, but he was pretty good. So was Phyllis. All the kids were impressed.
"Nice to see the nurses at St. Bernadette's know how to move," Fluey said.
Once the song was over, everyone applauded Mike and Phyllis, and the two of them took a couple of bows.
"There, now, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Mike asked.
"I guess not," Phyllis said.
"So how 'bout a date next Saturday night?"
"Don't you ever quit?"
"Not until I get a date."
"All right. Fine. I'll go out with you if it'll get you to quit bugging me!"
Mike and Phyllis shook on it, and Phyllis walked off. Jerry laughed, and shook his head.
"Okay, everybody," he said into the microphone. "Time to slow down the tempo a little."
Jerry put on "Venus" and a couple of other slow songs, changing the mood completely. The kids started slow dancing, and the chaperones intervened, making sure the kids didn't get too close to each other while dancing.
"Parents worry too much," Mike said. "What are you gonna play for the last song?"
"Probably 'Earth Angel'," Jerry said.
Mike nodded. After a few more songs, the dance began to wind down. Jerry took the microphone, and handed the Penguins' "Earth Angel" to Mike to put on the turn table.
"Okay, kids," Jerry said into the mic. "This is the last dance of the night. So make it count."
Jerry put the microphone down and jumped off the bandstand. He had one more girl to dance with, and that was Linda Stanley. She had the biggest crush on him of all the girls in the school, and she planned the slow dance with him. Mike sort of figured that. Once the dance was over, Mike and Jerry packed up their stuff and left. Linda and Fluey ran over to their fathers, who were chaperoning the dance.
"Well, what did you think?" Linda asked.
"Yeah, wasn't that great!" Fluey asked.
"I can honestly say it wasn't as bad as I thought," Hank said.
"It was worse," Jimmy commented. "Whatever happened to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra?"
"Or Beethoven and Brahms?" Hank asked.
"Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra aren't in it," Fluey said.
"And Beethoven and Brahms are dead," Linda replied. "And I mean that."
Hank and Jimmy shook their heads. It was about all they could do. It was obvious they weren't going to talk their kids out of listening to this music. They brought it up with the mayor. Mayor Jesse was up a tree. He didn't have the slightest idea how to stop this rock and roll revolution.
"Rock and roll isn't hurting anyone," he said. "It may not be pleasant, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to have the kids listen to this music."
The parents groaned, but went with the mayor's decision anyway. They allowed their kids to listen to rock and roll, on the stipulation they turned the sound down, and listened away from them. It worked out fine. Monday, Mike and Jerry were found at the diner, going over plans for another live show, but this time at the college.
"I took a poll," Mike said. "A lot of college kids want a rock show, like we did for the high school."
"Sure," Jerry said. "But it'll have to wait until next week. I scored some tickets to an Elvis concert in LA."
"Hey, great! Count me in! Maybe I can talk Phyllis into comin' with us. When is it?"
"A week from Saturday. The week after your date."
"I don't know, Mike. You promised to leave her alone if she went out with you to the movies."
"Well, she might change her mind, you know. You know how fickle women are."
"Ain't that the truth!"
Mike nodded. Saturday came around. Mike drove by Phyllis's house, climbed out of his car, walked up to the front door, and rang the doorbell. Phyllis came out, and started walking towards the car.
"Let's just go get this date over with," she said. "But I want to make a few ground rules first."
"Okay, sure," Mike said.
"No touching anything below the shoulders, no referring to me as 'baby' or anything of the kind, no suggestive behavior, and no steaming up the windows."
Mike was a little taken aback at this. But he shrugged, and got in his car. He and Phyllis drove to the drive in movie. They were seeing a picture called Return of the Son of the Blob, an extremely low budget B horror flick. It was one cheesy picture. The characters were overacting, and most of the dialogue was girls screaming.
"Why are we even watchin' this?" Mike asked.
"It's the only movie in town," Phyllis said.
Mike just sat there, staring at the screen for awhile. He kept glancing over at Phyllis every now and again.
"Jerry got tickets for an Elvis Presley concert in Los Angeles," he said. "You interested in goin'?"
"I thought you promised not to ask me out again if I went out with you this time."
"Well, I was hopin' maybe you'd change your mind about me."
Phyllis rolled her eyes. Mike clicked his tongue against his teeth. The movie was at a scene where a scientist and his gorgeous blonde Marilyn Monroe-esque assistant were in the lab, trying to find a formula to stop the blob. And they were getting pretty mushy about it. Mike pretended to yawn and stretch, and he brought his arm down around Phyllis's shoulders. She just stared at his hand for a moment, and then pulled it off, plopping it down.
"Keep the hands off the body," she said.
"Good grief," Mike groaned. "You know what? That does it. That's it. I've had it. This date is over. I don't even know why I bothered! Jerry tried to warn me, but did I listen? Noooo! He tried to tell me you didn't like me, but I didn't listen!"
Mike started his car and began to pull out of the theater. Phyllis just looked at him, oddly, and then she stared down at her hands, and began twiddling her thumbs. Mike pulled the car to a stop outside her house.
"Don't worry," he said. "I'll never bother you again. I know you don't like me. I make your skin crawl, right?"
"Well, no . . . ." Phyllis said. "If you want to know the truth, you are sorta, kinda cute and all."
"Uh huh. Sure."
"No, really. I just thought you were a little . . . . . well . . . . . forward."
"I know, I know. A lot of girls dug it in Philly, but I guess Pleasant Valley's different from Philly. I gotta remember that."
Phyllis giggled. She was about to walk up to her door, when she stopped and walked back towards Mike's car.
"Forget somethin'?" he asked.
"Yeah, this," Phyllis said, and she leaned into the car, giving Mike a kiss. Then she pulled away and walked off.
"Good night," she said.
"Uh . . . . huh," Mike said, absently. Then he drove off. He got back to his apartment and walked inside, nearly hitting a wall.
"Hi," Jerry said.
"Yeah," Mike said.
"What happened? You made a move and you got slapped?"
"No, she actually changed her mind about me."
"Nope. And I've got the lipstick on my collar to prove it."
"Are you sure it wasn't her evil twin sister?"
Jerry just laughed. A few days later, the boys were at the diner as usual. Mike walked over to Phyllis and sat down next to her.
"Incidentally was that your evil twin sister on our date last night?" he asked.
"No," Phyllis said. "I actually changed my mind about you."
"Good. Now about that Elvis concert Saturday night. . . . ."
"I'd like to, but I'm working."
"Why don't you invite a couple of your teenage friends to go? I'm sure one of them would love the chance to see Elvis Presley."
"That's not a bad idea."
Mike walked over to Jerry, who was leaning against the jukebox, looking through stuff to play.
"Hey I got an idea," he said. "Why don't we take a couple of kids to the Elvis concert?"
"Phyllis turned ya down, huh?" Jerry asked, not looking up.
"Only because she has to work that night. Well, what do you think?"
"Yeah, okay, sure. I've already asked Linda, anyway, and she asked if she could bring Fluey with her. Turns out, he's taken a huge liking to Elvis. I had a feeling Phyllis would shoot you out of the saddle again."
"Suits me just fine. So what have we got?"
"Well, we don't exactly have tickets. We have backstage passes. So the kids'll get to meet Elvis."
This was news to Mike. He couldn't wait until Saturday night. Of course, Fluey and Linda had to get permission to go to the concert, and they resorted to begging them to let them go.
"Please, please, please, Daddy, please!" Linda shouted.
"Come on, Hank," Linda's mother, Christine, said. "Let her go to the concert."
"I don't know," Hank said. "I've heard about this Elvis Presley guy, moving around like he's got a snake in his shorts . . . . ."
"If you let me go, I won't beg you to go to another concert for an entire year!" Linda shouted.
"Well . . . . all right," Hank said. "I give up. Besides, if you don't go, I'm probably gonna regret it."
"Thanks, Daddy!" Linda shouted, and she ran off.
Fluey was having just about as hard a time as Linda was, trying to convince Jimmy to let him go to the concert.
"Come on, Dad! It's the most important thing in my life right about now!" he shouted.
"No," Jimmy said, flatly.
"Dad, you're not being fair!"
"I said no, and I'm not gonna change my mind!"
"I know how much you like rock and roll, but you could get clobbered by all those girls tryin' to get a piece of Elvis Presley."
"No, Dad, it's fine. Really. It's just that the record store downtown just got some rock and roll records in stock, and I'll just have to spend Saturday night listening to them non stop at top volume."
"I would if you don't let me go to the concert."
"All right, fine, you can go. But don't come home at dawn, all right?"
"Got it. Thanks, Dad!"
Fluey ran off to call Linda and tell her that he was all set. Jimmy shook his head.
"What's this world comin' to?" he asked, sitting in his easy chair.
Saturday night came around. Mike, Jerry, Linda, and Fluey were hanging out backstage at the Elvis Presley concert. He was singing all the songs he had at the time (this is 1958, remember?) Linda and Fluey were practically jumping up and down, screaming, much like the girls in the audience. After a little while, The King came backstage, to greet Mike and Jerry and the two teenagers. They were practically hyperventilating!
"As you can see, Mr. Presley, they're excited," Jerry said.
"It's all right," Elvis said. "I'm used to it."
"Can we have your autograph?" Linda asked.
"Sure," Elvis said, as he took a piece of paper and a pen from Linda.
As Elvis was signing, Mike looked out into the audience. Then he clicked his tongue against his teeth, and took off his T-shirt. Jerry looked at him as if he were nuts.
"What are you doing?" he asked. Mike ignored him and turned to Elvis.
"Would you mind signin' this?" he asked. "All across it."
"Okay," Elvis said, shrugging. "But what are you going to do with it?"
"Put it on and jump out into the audience."
"What?!" Jerry, Linda, and Fluey shouted in unison.
"What do you want to do a crazy thing like that for?!" Jerry shouted.
"To see what happens," Mike replied, as he put his shirt back on.
Mike walked out onto the stage and spread his arms out so the kids could see Elvis Presley's signature on his shirt. They began screaming like crazy. Mike then smiled, and jumped out into the audience, while all the screaming girls began making grabs at his shirt, tearing it to pieces. Jerry's lower jaw nearly hit the floor.
"Oh my god," he said.
"Whoa!" Fluey shouted.
"I can't look!" Linda exclaimed.
By the time the girls were finished, all Mike had left of the shirt was just a tiny shred. He had gotten clobbered, but good, and he was out there on the ground, laughing about it.
"Wow, that was some trip!" he shouted.
"Mike, are you all right?" Jerry asked.
Mike just laughed. Jerry looked at the kids. They got the drift right away. Mike had to be taken back to Pleasant Valley in the back of an ambulance! He was admitted into St. Bernadette's the minute they got back to Pleasant Valley. Phyllis saw him being wheeled in, and turned to Jerry and the kids.
"What in the world happened?" she asked.
"He had Elvis sign his T-shirt and then he jumped into the audience," Jerry said. "Just to see what would happen."
"It's a miracle he wasn't killed," Linda said.
"I think we'd better go, Linda," Fluey said. "Or else our parents are gonna kill us."
Linda nodded, and she and Fluey left the hospital. Jerry staid. He wanted to find out exactly what Mike thought he was doing. He and Phyllis weren't able to get in to see him until about an hour later.
"Hey guys," he said. "What's shakin'?"
"What in the world were you thinking?!" Jerry shouted.
"You could've gotten killed!" Phyllis shouted. "You're just lucky you came out of that with scratches and bruises!"
"Yeah, I just wanted to see what would happen," Mike said.
"I know, you told us that," Jerry said. "Well, you found out."
"It was kinda fun, actually," Mike said. "Besides, it's all over, and I won't do it again. We still on for the college thing?"
"Yeah, okay," Jerry said. "Sure."
"You wanna check in on it, Phyllis?" Mike asked. "Next Saturday."
"Oh what the heck?" Phyllis said, shrugging. "Okay, sure."
Mike smiled. Jerry shook his head. There were times when Mike just truly amazed him. Monday morning, the news of the "Presley Incident," as the press called it, made all the papers in Pleasant Valley, only because Mike was living in that city. Mr. Berkley wasn't too happy.
"What were you doing?!" he yelled at Mike.
"He wanted to see what would happen," Jerry replied, going through his records. "It's no big deal."
"Yeah," Mike said. "It's great publicity!"
"Unbelievable," Mr. Berkley groaned and walked off.
Before Fluey left for school, Jimmy gave him the chewing out of his life!
"I gotta tell you, rock and roll is a dirty thing!" he shouted.
"Look, Mike was just feeling a little crazy," Fluey said. "I may have been a little excited, but I wasn't that excited!"
"Still . . . . ."
"Oh come on, Dad!"
With that, Fluey rolled his eyes and left. Jimmy shook his head, and picked up the phone. He wanted to talk to Hank about this. The two of them agreed rock and roll was starting to get dangerous.
"We'd better bring this up with the mayor," Hank said. "Before the kids in town follow this guy's example!"
"Good thinkin'," Jimmy said. "Let's go."
Hank and Jimmy hung up, and then met at City Hall. They walked inside, and spoke to Mayor Jesse's secretary about this whole rock and roll craze. They were allowed into the office, and spoke to Mayor Jesse immediately.
"Mayor Jesse, I assume you know what happened at that Elvis Pretzel . . . . ." Jimmy said.
"Presley," Hank corrected.
"Presley concert Saturday night," Jimmy continued.
"Read about it in the papers," Mayor Jesse said.
"We only bring this up because my daughter and Jimmy's son were at that concert," Hank said. "With the record jockey from WPVS, as well as his friend."
"The said friend was the one who dove into the crowd," Jimmy said. "Now what kind of example is that to set for two teenagers?"
"That is a very good point," Mayor Jesse said. "Rock and roll is dangerous! People can get hurt!"
Mayor Jesse then began making phone calls, trying to ban rock and roll, but Mike and Jerry just kept on playing it. They didn't seem to care that it was deemed "dangerous."
On the campus of the college, there were posters all over the place, advertising the show there. Skippy, Cynthia, and Reggie passed by them and looked.
"I can't believe it," Cynthia said. "He's bringing that garbage here."
"It's not garbage!" Reggie shouted. "It's music!"
"What kind?" Skippy asked. "Cave man music? I've got to tell you, Reggie, this stuff is loud, grotesque, and ugly!"
"Yeah, but it sure keeps your foot tapping!" Reggie commented, and walked off, wondering why in the world he always hung around these jerks.
Saturday rolled around. Reggie was front and center in the gym of the campus. A couple of kids from PVHS were there, too. They didn't want to miss a minute of Jerry's rock and roll show.
"Okay guys!" Jerry shouted into the mic. "How 'bout a little Fats Domino?"
Voices practically exploded in the gym. Jerry put on "I'm Walkin'" and the kids went nuts, dancing around like crazy. Cynthia and Skippy walked inside, carrying a stack of papers. They passed them on to some of the kids in the room.
"Here, Reg," Skippy said, giving Reggie half his stack. "Make yourself useful."
"What are these?" Reggie asked, looking at the papers Skippy had given him. On them were Jerry's picture, and there was a red circle with a slash through it over it. The top of them read "Ban Blavat and Rock and Roll."
"Just a little civil duty," Cynthia said.
"Yeah, well you're on your own, Skip," Reggie said, promptly handing the fliers back to Skippy. "I happen to like rock and roll!"
"The mayor's thinking of putting a two dollar tax on everyone who listens to rock music," Skippy said. "Think about it."
"Get outta here, will ya?!" Reggie shouted, and continued dancing.
Skippy and Cynthia looked at each other, and walked off, but not without posting a couple of their fliers on the bulletin board outside the gym, and everywhere else they could on campus. Then they started papering the town with their fliers. They wanted rock and roll banned as much as the parents did!
Back in the gym, Jerry was starting to get a little carried away with his radio bit. He kept screaming into the microphone every chance he got. Mike was throwing him his records as if they were Frisbees. And it wasn't just the stuff he played on the radio, either. He was playing records that were deemed "unsuitable for white audiences." In other words, mostly R&B records, that were a little . . . . . . risqué, shall we say? The kids didn't care. They loved every minute of it!
"I hope the cops don't show up," Jerry said. "It's getting pretty noisy in here."
"What can they do?" Mike asked. "Arrest us? We're practicin' freedom of assembly, here!"
"What about the music?"
"Freedom of listenin' to whatever it is we want to listen to! It's our constitutional right!"
"It's a right all right, but I don't think that one's in the constitution."
"Well it should be!"
Jerry laughed, shook his head, and played a couple more records. Most of them were upbeat dance tunes, stuff you couldn't slow dance to. Not that it mattered. The kids were the ones who were going practically crazy dancing to this stuff. People who lived near the college began complaining about the noise. One woman actually called the police.
"There are a bunch of hoodlums over at the college disturbing the peace!" she shouted.
"Don't worry, ma'am," the policeman said. "We'll take care of it."
A police car left the station, sirens blaring. Mike, Jerry, and their audience couldn't hear it over the music. The cops figured the kids probably couldn't hear anything at all, not even if they used their bullhorns.
"I hate to do this," one said, picking up a garden hose that was outside the building. "After all, it isn't very pleasant."
"I know," the other cop said. "But ever since that darn disc jockey came to town, nothing's been pleasant anymore. Let 'em have it!"
The first cop turned on the hose full blast, and shot it inside the gym, soaking everybody in sight.
"Whoa!" Reggie shouted.
"Hey!" Fluey yelled.
"What's going on?!" Linda screamed.
Jerry immediately stopped the music, and he and Mike jumped off the bandstand. The minute they got down, they were sprayed with the water hose.
"Hey!" Mike yelled.
"Turn it off!" Jerry yelled. "What's the big idea?!"
"Okay, break it up, you kids," the second cop said, as the first turned off the hose.
"What seems to be the trouble, officer?" Mike asked.
"We got a call saying a group of kids were playing loud music, screaming, and disturbing the peace," the cop said. "Now knock it off. Everybody go home! It's too late to be making all this noise!"
Everybody groaned, and walked off. Mike and Jerry began to collect their records. Once they got them all, they walked over to the cops.
"Whatever happened of freedom of assembly?" Mike asked. "It's in the Constitution!"
"Jefferson never had to listen to rock and roll!" the first cop shouted, and he and his buddy walked off. Mike and Jerry groaned, and walked off.
A couple of days went by. Clearly, anyone over thirty-five in Pleasant Valley, California had took a stand against rock and roll. Jerry and Mike kept yanking down the "Ban Blavat" fliers, but anti-rock college students kept putting them back up.
"I wonder if the mayor knows about this?" Jerry asked, ripping a flier down.
"I don't think so," Mike said. "After all, it isn't very pleasant. I say we bring it up with him."
"I agree with you," Drake said, walking over. "This whole deal with keeping the town pleasant has gone out of hand, I think!"
"Finally, someone over twenty-five who's on our side," Jerry said.
"Right," Drake said. "I'm Drake Mallard, I teach music at the high school. I've got to say, you've inspired my students. A lot of them want to get into rock and roll when they get older."
"Yeah, but that doesn't look like it's gonna happen with all this anti-rock thing going on," Jerry said.
"We'll just have to bring this whole thing up with the mayor," Mike said. "Tryin' to stop rock and roll is about as unpleasant as you can get!"
Mike, Jerry, and Drake walked towards City Hall, and stormed inside. Mike didn't even bother with the secretary. He just stormed into the mayor's office. Jerry and Drake followed.
"Listen up, Jesse!" he shouted, thrusting the flier in the mayor's face. "We want to let you know that this whole deal of tryin' to ban rock is just makin' this town as unpleasant as you think it was when rock and roll got started!"
"Uhh, Mike?" Drake said.
"Cool it! I'm on a roll!" Mike hissed. Then he raised his voice at the mayor. "You've got some nerve tryin' to ban somethin' the kids really go for! What's the matter with you?! They only become juvenile delinquents from listenin' to this stuff in the movies! There's nothin' vulgar and unpleasant about it!"
"Mike!" Drake shouted.
"What?!" Mike yelled.
"You're yelling at the mayor's assistant."
"Oops. Heh, heh. Sorry about that."
Norman stared at Mike, Jerry, and Drake as if they were crazy, but he informed the mayor that they wanted to speak with him. Once they were inside, Mike calmly gave Mayor Jesse the flier, and Jerry tried to explain their case.
"Now, I know you may think rock and roll is unpleasant," Jerry said. "But really, the kids like it, and times are changing. Some of it may have a little innuendo, but that doesn't matter. A lot of time, the kids can't really see through it."
"Besides, things are gettin' downright unpleasant around here just tryin' to stop it," Mike said. "The cops turned on a hose and chased us out of the college's gym for disturbin' the peace!"
"And the kids in my class aren't becoming delinquents," Drake said. "Just give this music a chance."
"Well, I can honestly say these fliers are certainly unpleasant," Mayor Jesse said. "You men have a point. Things in this town have indeed gotten unpleasant. I'll make you a deal, Mr. Blavat. You tone down the decibels on your show, and I'll try putting a stop to the halt of rock and roll music."
"Done deal, sir," Jerry said, and he and Mayor Jesse shook hands.
That appeared to be that. Reggie, Skippy, and Cynthia saw Jerry, Mike, and Drake leave the mayor's office, and they figured it was the end of rock and roll as they knew it. That afternoon at the student union, they tuned into WPVS, expecting to hear what was on before Jerry was in that time slot: classical music. Instead, Fats Domino came out. All three of them were shocked.
"What the?" Skippy asked.
"He's still on the air?!" Cynthia shouted.
"Hah!" Reggie shouted. "Looks like rock and roll is here to stay."
Skippy grinded his teeth and vigorously stirred his coffee so hard, the cup shook and nearly tipped over. He wanted rock and roll off the airwaves. He didn't think it was appropriate. There was only one thing left to do. That afternoon, he gathered a group of his friends together, ones who wanted rock off the airwaves as much as he did.
"All right, everybody," he said. "We've got to get this Blavat guy off the air, right?"
"Right!" the group shouted.
"And the only way to do that is to run him out of town, right?"
"Then we will! Tonight, so the mayor doesn't find out how unpleasant we're acting, right?"
Luckily, Skippy knew, from Reggie, that Jerry was going to be working late at the radio station, going over some records with the late night DJ, so he could play some rock and roll himself. WPVS was slowly converting into a rock and roll station. Around eleven thirty that night, Jerry walked out of the radio station, only to be met by Skippy and his friends.
"Hey," he said. "What's going on?"
"We've had it with you and your rock and roll ways!" Skippy shouted. "Now you've got a choice!"
"Yeah. Either you get out of town on your own, or we'll chase you out!"
"You've got to be putting me on!"
"Oh really? Get him, guys!"
Skippy and his friends started yelling like cave men. Jerry didn't want to take any chances messing with them, so he ran off. The college students turned cave men were hot on his heels. They chased him down the block, into the suburban area, screaming all the way. Mike was just coming back from a date with Phyllis when he saw Jerry run by, followed by an angry mob. He was surprised they weren't carrying torches! Other than that, it was like a scene out of a cheesy horror movie. Mike got out of his car and followed the angry "villagers" to see what in the world was going on!
"We have him on the run now!" Skippy shouted.
Jerry looked over his shoulder, and saw that the college students were gaining on him. He was surprised they weren't waking anybody up! Jerry had to find a way out of this before he got clobbered. Luckily, he spied a tree in his general direction. He ran over to it, and began climbing it. He crawled onto one of the branches, and jumped onto the roof of a nearby two story house. That wasn't a very smart move. The house had a slightly sloped roof. Jerry nearly fell off, but he has pretty good balance. The mob began yelling and climbing the tree in order to get to the roof. Luckily, Mike arrived on the scene before they could even get going. He stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled as shrilly as humanly possible.
"HOLD IT!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. The college students stopped what they were doing abruptly and turned to stare at Mike.
"Whew!" Jerry shouted. "What a relief!"
"Stay there, Jerry!" Mike called. "Or else you'll take your life in your hands! Let me cool 'em off, first!"
"You're the boss, Mike."
Mike crossed his arms, and glared at Skippy and his friends.
"Now just what in the world do you think you're doin'?!" he shouted. "What gives you the right to run a guy out of town just 'cause you don't like the music he plays?!"
"Well, it's not pleasant," Skippy said.
"Neither is the way you're actin'," Mike said. "I've got a good mind to report you to Mayor Jesse!"
"You wouldn't! You couldn't! You shouldn't!"
"I would, I could, and I will if you don't knock off the angry mob bit! And I mean right now, buster! Or you'll see me get unpleasant!"
Skippy got into a conference with his friends, and nodded.
"All right," Skippy said. "You win. We'll stop."
"Thank you," Mike said. "That's a very wise decision. Okay, Jerry! You can come down now!"
Jerry slowly made his way over to the tree. He knew the only way down was to jump from the roof to the tree branch, and climb down. He aimed carefully, and jumped, but it was a little too short, and he missed the branch by half an inch. He then fell to the ground, landing flat on his back, and knocking himself out. Mike ran over, panicked.
"Jerry!" he shouted. He kneeled next to his friend, but he didn't want to move him. He turned towards the mob.
"Don't just stand there!" he yelled. "Call an ambulance or somethin'!"
Skippy ran off for a nearby phone. An ambulance arrived a few moments later. Mike followed it to the hospital in his car. Once there, he practically raced down the hall, resulting in colliding with Phyllis. Both of them crashed to the ground.
"Well, it's a good thing we're in a hospital," Phyllis said. "We may need a doctor."
"I'm in no mood for jokes," Mike said. "Jerry fell from the roof of a two story buildin' and I want to know if he's okay."
"What was he doing that for?"
"Runnin' from an angry mob. Apparently, the only way out was to climb a tree, and jump to the roof of a house, so when he started down, he jumped for the tree, missed it, and plummeted. Ended up knockin' himself out. And landed flat on his back too, like a sack of potatoes."
"That's not good. Come with me."
Mike followed Phyllis down the hall, and into a waiting room. After a few moments a doctor emerged.
"Dr. Carlson," Phyllis said. "This is a friend of the patient's."
"What was your friend doing on that roof?" Dr. Carlson asked.
"Fallin'," Mike commented. "He was runnin' from an angry mob who wanted to run him out of town, and the only way out of the mess was up, but when he came down, well . . . ."
"Oh, he came down all right," Dr. Carlson said. "Right on his back. That's not good. Not good at all."
"Well, he'll be okay, won't he? I mean, there's no brain damage or anythin' is there? I mean, Jerry did knock himself out."
"That's true, but brain damage is the least of his worries. No, there's no brain damage. That's part of the good news. The other part of the good news is that he'll live."
"Good. But what's the bad news?"
"I'm afraid your friend is paraplegic."
"What in the world does that mean?"
"It means the lower half of Jerry's body is paralyzed," Phyllis said. "Both legs included. He must've damaged his spinal chord when he fell."
"Para . . . . ." Mike said, but he couldn't seem to get the word out of his mouth. "You mean he won't be able to use his legs again?!"
Phyllis couldn't think of a thing to say. Dr. Carlson just nodded. Mike wanted to punch a hole in the wall. Jerry had thrived on dancing. That's what most of the kids liked about his live shows. He'd get out and dance with them. You couldn't tell him from the teenagers! What was he going to do now?
"Does he know yet?" Mike asked.
"Not yet," Dr. Carlson said. "We intend to tell him the minute he wakes up."
Mike nodded, and started down the hall out the door. Phyllis followed him.
"You okay?" she asked.
"I will be," Mike said. "Once I get used to this. And let me tell you, it won't be easy!"
Phyllis sort of anticipated that. Of course, in a small town like Pleasant Valley, news of unpleasantness spread like wildfire. By the next morning, the papers were reporting the incident, and so was the morning news, and the morning show on WPVS.
"Again, we'd like to repeat the news of the Pleasant Valley Community College ruckus that happened shortly after eleven thirty last night," the DJ said. "WPVS's first rock and roll disc jockey, Jerry Blavat, fell from the roof of a two story house after being chased by a mob from the college, wanting to run him out of town. We have just received word that Blavat has been paralyzed from the waist down, which may disappoint a few of you kids out there, who enjoyed watching him dance to his brand of music. And speaking of music, here's some right now."
The disc jockey put on the Safaris' "Image of a Girl." Pleasant Valley's youth seemed to be thrown into a deep blue funk. Reggie sat at the counter of the student union, stirring his coffee, staring into it, absently. He wanted to throttle Skippy for this.
Drake sat at his desk, arms folded across his chest. He let the radio drone on. He was thinking what the student body was going to be like. He had a feeling the students weren't going to be taking this well, especially if they heard. Drake opened his desk drawer and pulled a poster he had advertising Jerry's appearance at the school dance, and he placed it on a hook above the chalkboard. Then he stood in the doorway and looked out at the students.
Most of the girls were crying over this. A lot of them had crushes on Jerry. Linda was leaning against Erin and Jessica, bawling her eyes out. She had the biggest crush on Jerry of any girl in the school. This was a very emotional time for her.
Fluey was leaning against his locker, staring down at the floor. It was about all he could do. He stood up straight, and slammed his fist straight into his locker, causing a dent in the door. He pretended it was Skippy's head. He was madder than he had ever been in his entire life.
Mike was absently wandering the halls of the hospital, hands jammed into the pockets of his jacket. He stopped at Jerry's room, and looked in. Jerry was still unconscious, and had an IV tube stuck in his arm. Some sort of liquid was dripping into his system. Mike leaned against the doorway, and just stared at his friend. Phyllis came up behind him, and put her hand on his shoulder. Mike turned around, and just looked at her. Phyllis took Mike in her arms, and just hugged him. Neither of them said a word. Mike was just too overcome.
The whole town seemed to be silent. Reggie walked aimlessly around the campus. Skippy and Cynthia ran over to him.
"So you want to hit the student union?" Skippy asked.
"No," Reggie replied. "I'm not talking to you."
"Oh for heaven's sake, why not?"
"I know you were chasing Jerry out of town the other night. Or at least trying to. I'm surprised you didn't push him off that roof!"
"Oh for crying out loud, Reggie!"
Reggie didn't respond. He just walked away. He was through with Skippy and Cynthia. He didn't even know why he even bothered with them in the first place. Mike, in the meantime, was holed up in the hospital room with Jerry. Jerry was staring aimlessly at the ceiling, having just found out that he couldn't move his legs.
"My life as I now know it is over," he said.
"Your life isn't over," Mike said. "So you can't dance anymore. Big deal. You can still play the records."
"You don't get it, Mike. I was this big phenomenon. This dancing DJ. What reason do the kids have to listen to me now?"
"They like the music. You brought this sleepy little town to life. You turn on the radio, and there's rock and roll."
"Okay, so they tune in because they like the music. What if I'm doing a live gig? What then?"
"It's no big deal, Jerry."
"It is to me, Mike. Dancing is my life! How do you expect me to live with this?"
Mike didn't have an answer to that one. He just sighed and shook his head. That afternoon, he took Jerry's place at the radio station and played the records. Most of them were slow songs. He wasn't in the mood to play anything a little more up. He put on some commercials, sighed, and sat back in his chair. Mr. Berkley walked in.
"Can't you play something the kids in this town can dance to?" he asked. "The city is like a morgue!"
"If I were in the mood to play somethin' up, I would," Mike said. "But I'm not in the mood."
"But the kids in this town need a little dance music."
"I know, but I'm not in the mood."
"But . . . ."
"When I say I'm not in the mood, I mean it, all right? So get off my back, okay?"
Mike put on another slow record and sighed. This just wasn't his day, he thought. The next day wasn't much better. He went to the diner, and all the kids there flocked around him, wanting every last detail.
"I can honestly tell you he's wallowin' in self pity," Mike said. "Since he can't dance, well, he just doesn't want to do anythin'."
"But he can still play the records, can't he?" Linda asked. "I mean, it doesn't matter to us if he can't dance."
"Right," Fluey said. "We just want him doing the music."
"Nobody can play the music like Jerry," Shawn replied.
"I know, I know," Mike said. "And I tell him that, but he doesn't listen."
"Well, you'd better do something before he contemplates suicide," Multi said.
The others agreed. Mike sighed, he didn't have the foggiest idea about what to do about Jerry. He went back to St. Bernadette's. Phyllis was in Jerry's room, trying to convince him to eat something. He refused.
"Mike, I'm glad you're here," Phyllis said. "Please talk to Jerry. I can't get through to him."
"What makes you think I can?" Mike asked. But he sighed and walked over. "Okay, Jer, listen up."
"What?" Jerry asked.
"Man, you are startin' to drive me nuts, okay? Wallowin' in self pity isn't gonna help matters."
"I know, Mike, but I don't know what else to do."
Mike sighed once again. Jerry's pessimistic attitude was really started to wear his nerves thin.
"Listen, I talked to the kids," he said. "They just want the music. They want you to play the music. They said nobody can do it like you."
"Forget it, Mike," Jerry said. "No one wants a DJ who's known for dancing, who can't dance."
"Please, Jerry," Phyllis said. "It's not the end of the world."
"Well it is to me!" Jerry shouted.
Mike sighed. He and Phyllis left the room. There was obviously no changing Jerry's mind. Mike reported the news to the high school kids, who were fed up.
"That does it!" Fluey shouted. "I'm not gonna take it anymore!"
"Me neither!" Linda shouted.
The two of them went around the school, and gathered their friends. When they went home that day, they all started on special projects for an after school event that was going to take place the next day. The parents didn't have the slightest idea what they were doing. The next day around three fifteen, Mike was found at St. Bernadette's, in Jerry's room, trying to convince him that the fact that he was paralyzed from the waist down wasn't the end of the world. Phyllis was doing the same.
"You're gonna starve to death if you don't eat somethin', Jerry," Mike said.
"Maybe that's a good thing," Jerry said.
"Jerry, come on," Phyllis said. "I know you're upset, and I don't blame you, but you've got to get out of this room! Get around a little."
"You're gonna have to get used to the wheelchair," Mike said.
Phyllis had brought a wheelchair into the room quite some time ago. She and Mike were trying to get Jerry to get used to the idea, but he refused to listen to them. He also refused to even get out of bed. He didn't see the point.
"Nothing doing," Jerry said. "I'm not gonna do it. I might as well just die right here!"
Mike sighed, and stood up. He walked over to the window, and leaned against it for support. It was about all he could do. He looked out, and noticed what looked like the entire teen population of Pleasant Valley march up to the front of the hospital, holding posters. One girl had a portable record player, and the kids were playing rock and roll records and top volume.
"Hey, Phyllis, come and look at this," Mike said.
"What is it?" Phyllis asked, walking over. She looked out the window, and her eyes grew wide.
The kids, led by Fluey and Linda were dancing to Danny and the Junior's "At the Hop," and others were holding up signs for Jerry, giving him moral support. Once "At the Hop" was over, Fluey switched the record to another upbeat dance tune.
"Jerry, you gotta see this," Mike said.
"I don't want to," Jerry said.
"No, really," Phyllis said. "You should see this."
Jerry didn't respond. He turned his head away from the window. The kids continued dancing around, and some were even singing with the record! They kept doing that, singing and dancing to the records. Mike opened the window, so he could hear better, and so Jerry could hear them. When the kids saw Mike open the window, they began cheering. A kid turned up the volume on the record player. Music blared out of it.
"Come on, Jerry, listen to this," Mike said.
Jerry wanted to ignore it, but he couldn't. He turned his head toward the window. Mike kept standing there, looking at Jerry, and smiling. Jerry was somewhat intrigued, not to mention surprised.
"What's going on out there?" he asked.
"Why don't you come take a look?" Mike asked.
"Well . . . ."
Mike smiled and leaned out the window. The kids began clapping and cheering.
"Hey, you guys!" he called. "Come on and convince Jerry to come to the window!"
"Jerry, Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!" Linda and Fluey started chanting. The other kids picked up the chant.
"Come out and play, Jerry!" a girl shouted.
The kids continued chanting Jerry's name over and over again. Jerry leaned up and looked out the window. Mike and Phyllis looked at each other and smiled.
"What's going on out there?" Jerry asked.
"Wanna find out?" Mike asked.
Phyllis smiled, and brought the wheelchair around. Mike pulled Jerry out of the bed, and helped him into the wheelchair. Phyllis wheeled him over to the window, so he could see what was going on. Mike followed to check out the initial reaction. Once the kids saw Jerry in the window, they began screaming and cheering.
"Who'd have thought I'd cause a reaction like that?" Jerry asked.
"Well, you're Pleasant Valley teen's national hero," Mike replied.
Jerry nodded, and looked out at the kids. They were jumping up and down, applauding, cheering, screaming, and whistling. Jerry smiled. Never in his life had he gotten a reaction like this from playing rock and roll records. After a few days, Jerry was released from St. Bernadette's. He was back at the radio station with Mike, and the two of them were spinning records. Although Jerry seemed a bit depressed. He was staring at the Bobby Darin record spinning on his turntable.
"What's the matter?" Mike asked.
"Huh?" Jerry asked, looking up at Mike.
"I said what's the matter."
"Oh. I dunno. I guess I'm a little depressed that nothing's ever going to be the same again, you know what I mean?"
"Yeah, I know. But you saw the kids out there. You brought them rock and roll. You stood up against the system. They don't care that you can't dance anymore."
"It's not that. If I hadn't played rock and roll, this never would have happened. I don't belong in a small town like this, Mike. I belong back in Philadelphia."
"You mean you're leavin'?"
"Yeah. I'm going back to Philly."
"But the kids . . . . ."
"You'll still be here, Mike. You know my routine. You can play the rock and roll for them. It's not as if they'll go without it."
"You're positive you want to do this."
Jerry nodded. His mind was made up. Mike sighed, and spread the word around town. A lot of the teenagers were a bit upset about it.
"There's nothing we can do to change his mind?" Linda asked.
"Unfortunately, no," Mike replied. "But it's not like you'll go without rock and roll. I'll still play it for you. I know it's not the same, but give me a chance."
The kids seemed to go for that. The next morning, Mike, Jerry, and Phyllis were at the train station, seeing Jerry off. Fluey, Linda, Erin, and Jessica were there, too, wanting to say goodbye to their hero. Drake and Reggie were there, too, and, surprisingly, so were Hank Stanley and Jimmy McAlister.
"We're sorry to see you go, Jer," Drake said.
"Yeah, the town won't be the same without you," Reggie said.
"Thanks," Jerry said. "I'll miss this place, but I think I'd fare better in the city. Small town life isn't for me."
"To each his own," Reggie said.
"I gotta tell you, you turned this town upside down with that music of yours," Jimmy said. "But the kids can't go on listenin' to what Hank and me grew up on, I can tell you that."
"Besides," Hank said. "Rock and roll isn't as loud and vulgar as we all thought."
Jerry laughed over that one. The kids walked up to him next.
"We wish you'd change your mind," Jessica said.
"Yeah, we'll miss you," Erin replied.
"Don't worry about it," Jerry said. "I'll come back and visit."
"When are you gonna find the time?" Linda asked. "You'll be too busy with record hops."
"You never know," Jerry replied.
"Right, man," Fluey said. "Next term, the school's starting a radio production class."
"I'll bet you're already signed up for it," Jerry said.
"You got it. I'm planning on being Pleasant Valley's next big disc jockey."
"Great. Just graduate from college, first. You'll have a better chance at it if you learn there's more to being a disc jockey than just spinning records."
Phyllis and Mike walked up next. Mike was silent. He couldn't think of a thing to say. Phyllis leaned down and hugged Jerry.
"When I first heard your music, I didn't know what to think," she said. "Now I think it's the greatest."
"Way to kiss up," Reggie teased. Phyllis gave him a dirty look.
"If it weren't for rock and roll, I probably wouldn't have gotten a date with Phyllis," Mike said.
"I thought it was because you were persistent," Jerry said.
"Nah, it was that Frankie Lymon song you played at the school dance," Mike said. "Or the one I asked you to play, that is. Hey, man, don't be a stranger, okay? Call, write, come visit, you know the drill."
"Yeah, and I expect you to come swing by Philly," Jerry said.
Mike nodded. Jerry smiled, and wheeled himself up to the train. The doors shut, the whistle blew, and the train pulled out of the station. The crowd began to leave, but Mike staid behind for a moment or so.
"Keep on rockin', Jer," he said, and he walked off.