Chapter 9

        Johnny Wright appeared as if out of nowhere and slid in between them. “Let’s go, people,” he interjected, holding up the keys to the van.

        Chris rolled his eyes. “I still don’t see why we can’t take our own cars.”

        “Because No-Fro over here had to have the reddest, flashiest car he could find, and then drove it all over Orlando right after purchasing it,” Lance grumbled.

        Justin glared at him. “I didn’t INVITE the teenys to follow me all over town,” he retorted, climbing into the van. He slammed the door in Lance’s face.


3 Hours later, 11:00 AM

        Gray eyed the open door with longing, an escape route from the Nsync hell she was currently experiencing. The room, orderly and clean when they had first arrived, now looked as if a bomb had gone off. Paper was everywhere; covering the floor, spilling out of files, and spread out over any available inch of space. Mile-high stacks of manila folders that brimmed with pages and pages of lyrics and sheet music balanced precariously on one another surrounded her.

        She was afraid that if she tried to escape, they would all come tumbling down and disrupt Chris’ “inner song-finding peace” as he had referred to it earlier that morning. It actually looked suspiciously like sleeping, but she wasn’t there to comment. Johnny had long since disappeared, muttering something about not wanting to be there for the explosion. She had been wondering what he meant.

        Now she knew, just from gazing around the room. JC was in a corner somewhere, hiding behind filing cabinets and nursing a bottle of water and some aspirin under the pretext of looking for potential lyrics. In actuality, he was scribbling in some sort of notebook.. Justin was dutifully pouring over lyrics, pausing occasionally to bug Chris or Joey, who was having a problem re-alphabetizing the folders he pulled out. Every once and a while, he’d hum to himself, bop his head to an imaginary beat that only he could hear, then shake his head. That meant that the song wouldn’t work, and he’d toss it aside and dig for another one. Joey was alternately cackling to himself over song titles he found amusing, or drawing on Gray’s exposed leg, which was already half-way covered with doodles. He reminded her of a first grader, with an incredibly short attention span. Lance was the quietist, not really doing anything but flipping through lyrics. But Gray had occasionally caught him talking on his cell amidst the chatter, Justin’s humming, and Joey’s giggles.

        A clunking sound brought Gray out of her thoughts.

        “Dammit, I missed. Justin, put it in the trash can and gimme a new pen,” Chris demanded.

        So much for sleeping, Gray thought to herself.

        “What do I look like, your bitch? Get off your lazy butt and get a new pen yourself. And learn how to throw, so you don’t miss the trash can next time.” Justin replied, never taking his eyes off the sheet of paper he was looking at.

        Joey cackled. “Hey guys, check this one out!”

        Lance snatched it out of his hand. “Songs like this should be illegal, especially in the hands of someone as horny as Joey,” he said, scanning the page.

        “Hey, I have good taste,” Joey defended.

        “Good taste? You were the one who wanted us to sing that Applesauce song you found a few years ago. That’s what I call TACKY,” Justin commented.

        “Joey, we’re not singing about chocolate balls.” Lance grumbled.

        “I like chocolate balls,” Chris piped up.

        Joey cracked up laughing. “WHOSE chocolate balls, Chris?”

        Christ stood up, contorting his features into a mock sexual look. “Yours.”

        Joey gagged, and Gray had to laugh. “Joey, you never told me what flavor you balls were! You made me guess…”

        Joey turned pink. “Shut UP, Gray. I did not.”

        “Whatever. I bet that’s one of your pick up lines,” Justin smirked.

        “That’s it.” Joey snatched a full file folder and chucked it at the grinning Justin. It rained papers.

        Justin looked down in disbelief. “You ruined my piles,” he accused, looking shocked.

        Joey shrugged innocently. “Oops?”

        Justin’s pen sailed through the air, poking Joey in the stomach and falling to the ground. Chris let loose with a barrage of paper clips he had somehow managed to rustle up. Gray cowered behind her stack off folders, trying to stay out of missile range. The little song lyric room had become a war zone.