Mario Flambeau was once a guitar god, a superstar in the psychedelic heyday. Now he's a burned-out wreck. When a desperate producer finds him in a church basement in a band with other derelicts, he has visions of a major comeback payday. Add a drummer with an anger management problem and a preening drifter diva lead singer, and you've got all the makings of a true rock and roll apocalypse.
You do things different when you're a mute security guard. You have to. People don't naturally have your respect. Now I use a whistle. Before I would just kind of go and maybe tap them on the shoulder if they were doing something they shouldn't be. People didn't react too well to that. People don't always liked to be touched by strangers, especially big scary-looking ones. I can't help it if I'm six four, two forty and built like a rock. Also, I'm half Japanese half Mexican and look like a samurai bullfighter. My name is Pablo Yokimura. I always wore a little sign around my neck explaining my inability to speak, but when they were shouting at me and I wasn't saying anything back the shoplifters got even madder, especially since most of them didn't understand sign language. Once or twice a fight broke out. The fights were over quickly, but my dad (his name's Hiroshi) said it wasn't working out and so he fired me.
I got lucky through my mom (she's a social worker, her name's Maria Elena) and found a part-time job coaching a local middle school boys' track team. The first thing the principal did was give me a whistle on a string to put around my neck, along with the little sign which said "I'm mute". At first it seemed kind of weird, but I watched the other coaches and saw what they were doing, using the whistle to make the kids start and stop doing things. I would write down on a little whiteboard what I wanted the kids to do (run a lap, sprint the hundred, stretch), followed by a demonstration of me doing the thing myself, then blow the whistle and the kids would do it. When it was time to stop I'd blow the whistle again. You get the picture. There was this one kid named Anthony Carter who gave me the suggestion I could use the whistle to make other sounds than just the one loud blast. I started making more subtle noises, toots and peeps and trills and even a sort of language like the Morse Code, with short and long beeps and notes, depending on what I wanted to say, like, "Good job", or "One more time", or "Wait, let me show you". Pretty soon the kids all said they could understand every thing I blew. Nobody else could, of course, but the kids were all that mattered.
I started using it at home a little bit. My parents were already used to paying extra attention for sign language, and also the whiteboard thing went way back, to even before I could really write. My mom and dad taught me to scribble little drawings on it to express myself. Once I started writing it was pretty routine to use that with non-signers and even at home when I felt like it. Adding the whistle was just another way to talk. There are things that are better expressed through noise.
I convinced my dad to give me another shot at the security guard thing in his music shop. For one thing, I needed the money, and also I just liked working there. Music was always my first love, and being around my dad and the store is also cool. I pretty much lived half my life at least in that place ever since I can remember. There are pictures of me as a baby in a playpen behind the counter. As a toddler and child I roamed the store at will, sampling every instrument and listening to records. I learned to read sheet music even before I learned to read books, and the books I learned to read from were biographies of musicians and other books about music. My dad's store (I should just call it Yokimura Music, which is it's actual name), is based on the premise that if a product has anything to do with music in anyway, it has a place in there.
It worked out better once I got the hang of the whistle. That way I didn't have to engage in any physical contact with the malefactor. I'd just blow my whistle and that got their attention all right. I also made myself a big red Stop sign like you see on street corners, and I'd hold that up for them to look at when they turned in the direction of the blast. That usually did the trick. For the more hardcore cases we team up, Marshall and me, and he would do the talking. He's almost as tall and me and a little bit heavier too, and has a hell of a mean face when he wants to. Most of the time he's just a pussycat. Like I said, it usually worked. There are some situations, though, when a whistle just isn't enough. I guess that's what I started out to say.