“Erika, can you turn the stereo down?”

His hands on either side of his head, he sat transfixed on the chair for over an hour. Bowed in concentration, he tried to memorize excerpts he shaded from the required reading material. The loud sound that suddenly echoed inside his room disturbed his desire to finish the lesson before supper.

Joey was accustomed to his younger sister’s love of music, extremely boisterous music to be exact, much similar to a concert’s. Since he’s male, he was supposed to fit that role but his aversion of any noise above a shout, akin to the cheering in the playing field, made him an avid slow and soothing music listener.

She appeared on the door smiling from ear to ear, as if she taunted him to take action. But she knew him well enough that he would give her all the leeway for being younger and a girl.

“Are you hiding something from me?” she asked, looking around the room, especially the closet.

“What are you up to?” he was curious why so suddenly she was interested in him. He could not interpret her meaningful gaze.

“I might not even know that you are not what you are supposed to be,” she replied cryptically.

“Okay,” he said, putting her at ease. “I am not an alien, if that’s what you suspect. I am just a patient brother who is getting tired of your antics.”

“I mean …” she kept him guessing.

“Stop it!” he waved her out. “I told you to turn the volume down.”

For reply, Erika pointed to the window facing the yard.

“It’s outside?” he asked, running over to see what she meant.

It was true.  He peeked and saw the trio singing their hearts out, belting out an old song, seemingly appropriate for the daring act.

“I think you owe me an explanation,” Erika giggled.

“Go out there and shoo them away.” Joey was not only puzzled but also embarrassed by the display. The neighbors might think of him or them in a much different light.

“Oh, this could be fun,” she gushed, running out to capture the moment on video. “I’ll upload it. It could go viral.”

“Hold on!” Joey ran after her, fearing her initiative might backfire on his face. “No filming, Erika!”

“Why not?” she asked, stopping in the middle of the stairs, her questioning look was sad for the missed opportunity. “It’s only about them.”

“And what will you type as caption?”

“Girls serenading my brother.”

“You ever think what that will mean about me?”

Kill joy, she thought. No one would take it seriously. It would be construed as a harmless prank.

“You don’t want me to be popular,” she sighed, retreating to her own room without waiting for his response.

Joey ran down the stairs and got out in a hurry. He had to cut short the spectacle before they attracted curious neighbors.

“Ladies, would you like to come in?” he asked, not showing his irritation.

Leyla towed her back up singers along, eager to come face to face with the apple of her eyes.

Joey’s father appeared from nowhere, his hair unkempt, surprised to see who his son invited inside. He also heard the singing earlier though he did not know it was live.

“You did not tell me you have suitors, er visitors, coming,” he remarked in his jolly voice, the odd sense of humor quickly taking advantage of the extraordinary situation.

Joey kept his cool.

(to be continued)



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