Mike checks his email, and sees one from Jax titled “Unbelievable”. It’s a link to a Youtube clip. He clicks on it. August Burns Red – Meddler (Rolf Asgaard cover). The video shows someone playing guitar over a backing track of the song. Only the rapidly moving hands of the guitarist can be seen, said individual wearing a dark western pearl buttoned shirt. Mike replays it three times and shakes his head each time he sees Rolf tremolo picking. The clip has over two million views, and Mike notes that the comments are enthusiastic. Delgado Community College is the Youtube channel.
He clicks on the UP NEXT clip: Rolf Asgaard talks about August Burns Red. Every time I play ABR, I’m just in awe of their technical riffs, Rolf tells the students gathered around him after class. Mike notices that he’s wearing the same western pearl buttoned shirt that was in the guitar clip. Good job on picking up the double on the sixteenth, Jon tells him. Thanks, brother, Rolf replies with a grin. Mike sees that Jon is wearing a white oxford dress shirt with a skinny black tie. What album is that song from? A student asks him. Constellations, Clarence. What’s your favorite ABR song, Rolf? Tanya, on that album, and at this moment in time, I’m going to have to say Crusades, Rolf admits. Jon glances at him skeptically. It’s a dirge; I thought Whitewashed was your favorite. That was when I was still drumming. Meddler is my favorite to play guitar. But lyrically, well, I’ve been reading this anthology of a Belgian poet from World War I – and I was struck by how he opened the collection. The poet refers to himself in the third person. Translated into English, it goes something like “He dedicates these pages, with emotion, to the man he used to be”. And Crusades captures that for me. It starts out with a lot of energy. But you can feel it slough off all the way to a false sunset, where they shift to a downbeat, and then it picks back up again – and that’s where I just start banging, Rolf says grinning. Jon’s right though; it is a dirge. Not for everyone.
What’s your favorite, Jon? A student asks him. I rename the tracks after I’ve tabbed them, Jon admits. My favorite is “One Day”. Rolf nods his agreement and grins. Jon extended the outro. Will you play it for us? A student asks Jon. He looks down and shakes his head no. Time to close up shop, Rolf says suddenly, springing to his feet. And the clip ends.
This is Cassidy Meadows with Channel 5 Eyewitness news, a perky blonde says into the camera. I’m here outside the community college where rockstars Jon Boanerges and Rolf Asgaard are teaching a music appreciation class. A lone security guard mans the main door to the complex, and a sign says Student Identification required beyond this point. Suddenly students start exiting the doors, and the guard holds it open for Jon to push his dolly with his gear on it through. A couple students drag Pelican cases behind them. Onlookers gather around them as they walk to the compact SUV where the Channel 5 camera crew is set up by Jon’s white Tuscan. Rolf signs autographs at the curb and chats up the small crowd while Jon opens the rear hatch and starts loading his gear. He looks down the whole time and refuses to engage the reporter’s questions. Excuse me, he murmurs with his head down, as he maneuvers around her. Please talk to me, I’m Bettina’s replacement. He glances up at her quickly, and then lowers his head. Hi, he mumbles, and goes past her and opens the driver’s door and gets in. Classical music can be heard coming out of the speakers. And Jon backs up slowly to where Rolf is still chatting with the crowd. People make way for the reporter to come up to Rolf. Hi, I’m Cassidy Meadows, Bettina’s replacement at Channel Five news. That’s a beautiful name, Rolf says with a grin, as they shake hands. For a Disney princess, mocks one of the students, and a few others break out snickering. Jon puts on his hazard lights. And Rolf walks over to compact SUV. One quick question? She asks him. He stops at the door. Sure. How’s Jax doing? He looks at her and doesn’t say anything, and an awkward silence follows. Can I get a ride to the bus station, Rolf? A giant black student athlete interrupts. Cassidy Meadows, I’ll give you a lead on Jax if you’ll give DeAndre a ride to the bus station. She nods. Check out the Value Investors Club.
Want to go with me to NYC this weekend? Jon asks Rolf as he drives him home. Not especially. I was planning on going night fishing with Toni and her boss tomorrow. Why? What do you got going on? Sam’s uncle invited me to go to the Met with him. He wants to introduce me to some people. You’ll do fine. <pause> Can charisma be learned? Jon asks. Rolf strokes his chin. Who is more charismatic? Lana or Bettina? Bettina, Jon replies. Rolf nods. Bettina is cheerful and greets others with a smile and is generous with her praise. Jon drives in silence. That’s not me, he says finally.
You got that reporter to do something for you without even trying, and she had just met you. So you want a technique to be learned, Rolf says grinning. Alright. If you say a person’s name either at the beginning or at the end of a request, and tilt your head and smile, they’ll almost always go along with you.
I’m not good at remembering names, Jon says. Handshake, color of eyes, name – it’s that simple. What? When you meet someone, you shake their hand. When you shake their hand, you look into their eyes and if you cannot smile like Bettina, then project a positive thought about the person, and then you hear their name and peg it in your memory to the color of their eyes. If you need something from them later, recall their name and say it either at the beginning or end of the request, as you smile and tilt your head.
Jon shakes his head in bewilderment. Where in the world did you get that? From the guy who interrogated Japanese prisoners during WWII. Jon gives Rolf a weird look.
Give me a briefback. Rolf tells him. What do I do when I’m introduced to someone? Shake hands, notice the color of their eyes, and peg their name to that. Jon says. Rolf nods. Do that and you’ll remember their name. But in order to form a connection you have to either smile like Bettina does, or project a positive thought about them as you shake hands and notice the color of their eyes.
I’m just not good at meeting people, Jon admits. If you want to get better, come by and pick me up some rainy evening and we’ll do a random funeral visitation. Jon gives him a puzzled look. Grief is always awkward, Jon. Just the fact that you showed up is what matters to the bereaved. What would I say? My friend Rolf asked me if I’d come with him to this celebration of a live well lived. What would you say then? That I read his or her obit in the Times and it touched me. And I’d introduce myself. I could never do that, Jon says flatly.
Jon, going will teach you to push out your center and become interested in others. And it’ll give you a chance to practice meeting people. I’m not good at making small talk, Jon says.
Excuse me, would you be willing to rate my handshake on a scale of one to ten? One being a wet fish; ten being a crusher. I’m trying to develop a Goldilocks handshake, one that’s just right. Rolf offers his hand to Jon, and pumps it enthusiastically, Rolf Asgaard. Jon breaks out laughing and pounds the steering wheel. I’d give that an eight. Hey, help me out, what can I do better? Rolf puts his hands in his hair. Your name just slipped my mind. Jon. Do you spell that with an H? No. You a friend of the family, Jon? Yeah. So the handshake? Too enthusiastic. Slow it down, Jon tells him. Introduce me to somebody. Jon shakes his head, and grins at Rolf.
Now - who is more intriguing? Lana or Bettina? Lana, Jon replies. Lana is charismatic in her own way; she’s reserved with strangers, but she still draws people to her – take Jenny, for example. Lana might be a better study for you than Bettina.
Jon drops Rolf off at the mouth of his driveway. Thanks, Rolf. You did good tonight, brother. And with that, Rolf hops out and walks the dark lane to his house; the reporter’s boyfriend drives by them without stopping in his Prius.
The next day, a Channel Five newsvan parks in front of the pails of asphalt sealant, and Ted the cameraman films the intrepid reporter walking up the long driveway, with its freshly replanted row of trees from the Hurricane Katrina devastation years ago. Only to find a do not disturb sign hung on the door latch.
I cannot run this, her editor tells her. Go talk to him. He doesn’t ever leave, she complains. Bettina was never able to finish her profile on him either, the editor says with a smug grin. Just you wait, the reporter says, and stomps off. She spends the rest of the day in her car staking out the drive. Her boyfriend brings her Chinese carryout, and they eat together watching the drive. It’s actually really peaceful out here, even with all the traffic, she tells him as they watch the sun set. Want to get high? She asks him. I'm going on duty soon, he tells her. You don't know what you're missing, she replies. I need to get ready for my shift, and he gets out and drives off in his Prius.
At 7:50, a black Dodge pickup pulling a bass boat pulls up to the asphalt pails, and a gorgeous redhead in a loose fitting maternity shirt jumps out along with an older man. They remove the buckets, and the pickup roars up the driveway. Five minutes later, the pickup pulls back out of the driveway, and the reporter follows them to a put in on Lake Pontchartain.
Hi, remember me? The reporter asks. Cassidy Meadows, Rolf replies. Bettina’s replacement is what everyone calls me. Got room? She asks. Sure, the older man says. Her newsvan shows up, and Ted walks over with his camera on his shoulder. Can I interview you real quick? She asks Rolf. How about we do a fishing promo with all of us? Rolf counters. Sure. The cameraman sets up on the dock as they load their gear into the boat. I’m Rolf, PI. I’m Toni, NOPD. I’m Peter, FBI. We received an anonymous tip that there are too many fish in these waters, the older man improvs. We take these complaints seriously, Toni says, and we even called in a local PI to assist. Are you really a private investigator? The reporter asks Rolf. Licensed and bonded, he replies. How do people get in touch with you? Referrals. Lana and I aren’t actively looking for new clients at this time. Do you have a card? No. Really??? So how would someone who needed your help get in touch with you? Through Toni and Peter, Rolf says, gesturing to them.
May I come with you? Toni, there should be an extra life vest up in the bow compartment, Peter tells her. Toni finds it, and then gets out and helps the reporter put it on and size it. It’s manually activated; pull the string and it’ll inflate. Toni hops into one of the captains chairs next to Peter. Rolf pops up the other rear conversion seat in the stern for her to sit on, and offers her his hand as she steps in the boat. Ted films them as the boat launches away from the dock, then heads back to the station to edit the footage for the late news.
The next day her editor calls to congratulate her. That was a good segment, and we saw a lot of local interest and a surge of web traffic. Viewers want a followup. They want to see more of this rockstar/private investigator.
How was it? Her boyfriend asks her that evening as they go out for celebratory dinner. They are really serious about fishing, she replies. Did you catch anything? I worked the net for Peter and pulled the fish out of the water once he reeled them alongside the boat. On the way back, Rolf and Peter talked recipes. Get this, Rolf bakes his fish in the oven on top of a brown paper grocery bag. Oh, and he was the one who cleaned and filleted them at the station.
So what did you think of Rolf? I’d tap that. He gives her a wry look. Well? He should be on one of those fishing shows; he’s that good. Did you talk to him at all? Not really. It was too noisy back by the motor, and then he fished with Toni in the front of the boat. What did you learn that would be useful in your followup? He loves pier fishing in the summer at night. What did he say about teaching? He told us that Jon gave out the questions to the final exam on the first day of class. Why would he do that? The boyfriend asks. Think about it, she replies. He wants them all to get A’s??? So he can teach them the answers. Oh.
What’s going on with SH5? Toni’s boyfriend Mike is in Iceland training for that UFC fight. Simon is dating Bettina. What about Jax? Toni said that Jax sold his place. That her actress friend Samantha bought it from him. Get this, she’s in Hollywood right now making an Arnold movie, costarring with Ryan Gosling.