With their parents away, four young people form a rock band that becomes wildly popular, carrying them into a "freer" life than they can cope with.
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Cherokee Bat loved the canyons. Beachwood Canyon, lined with palm trees, hibiscus, bougainvillea and a row of candles lit for the two old ladies who had been killed by a hit-and-run, led to the Hollywood sign or to the lake that changed colors under a bridge of stone bears. Topanga Canyon wound like a river to the sea past flower children, paintings of Indian goddesses and a restaurant where the tablecloths glowed purple-twilight and coyotes watched from among the leaves. Laurel Canyon had the ruins of Houdini's magic mansion, the country store where rock stars like Jim Morrison probably used to buy their beer, stained-glass Marilyn Monroes shining in the trees, leopard-spotted cars, gardens full of pink poison oleander and the Mediterranean villa on the hill where Joni Mitchell once lived, dreaming about clouds and carousels and guarded by stone lions. It also had the house built of cherry wood and antique windows where Cherokee lived with her family.
Cherokee always felt closer to animals in the canyons. Not just the stone lions and bears but the real animals-silver squirrels at the lake, deer, a flock of parrots that must have escaped their cages to find each other, peacocks screaming in gardens and the horses at Sunset Stables. Cherokee dreamedshe was a horse with a mane the color of a smog -sunset and she dreamed she was a bird with feathers like rainbows in oil puddles. She would wake up and go to the mirror. She wanted to be faster, quieter, darker, shimmering. So she ran around the lake, up the trails, along winding canyon roads, trying not to make noise, barefoot so her feet would get tougher or in beaded moccasins when they hurt toomuch. Then she went back to the mirror. She was too naked. She wanted hooves, haunches, a beak, claws, wings.
There was a collage of dead butterflies on the wall of the canyon house where Cherokee lived with her almost-sister Witch Baby and the rest of their family. At night Cherokee dreamed the butterflies came to life, broke the glass and flew out at her in a storm, covering her with silky pollen. When she woke up she painted her dream. She searched for feathers everywhere---collected them in canyons and on beaches, comparing the shapes and colors, sketching them, trying to understand how they worked. Then she studied pictures of birds and pasted the feathers down in wing patterns. But it wasn't until Witch Baby began to bury herself that Cherokee decided to make the wings.
Witch Baby was Cherokee's almost-sister but they were very different. Cherokee's white-blonde hair was as easy to comb as water and she kept it in many long braids; Witch Baby's dark hair was a seaweed clump of tangles. It formed little angry balls that Witch Baby tugged at I with her fingers until they Pulled right out. Cherokee, who ran and danced, had perfect posture. Witch Baby's shoulders hunched up to her ears from yearsof creeping around taking candid photographs and from playing her drums. Cherokee wore white suede moccasins and turquoise and silver beads; Witch 'Baby's toes curled like snails inside her cowboy-boot rollerskates and she wore an assortment of what ever she could find until she decided shewould rather wear mud.
One day, Witch Baby went, into the backyard, took off all her clothes and began to roll around in the wet earth. She smeared mud everywhere, clumped handfuls into her hair, stuffed it in her ears, up her nostrils and even ate some. She slid around on her belly through the mud. Then she slid into the garden shed and lay there in the dark without moving.
Cherokee and Witch Baby's family, Weetzie Bat and My Secret Agent Lover Man, BrandyLynn Bat and Dirk and Duck, were away in South America shooting a movie about magic. They had left Cherokee and Witch Baby under the care of their friend Coyote, but Cherokee hated to bother him. He lived on top of a hill and was always very busy with his chants and dances and meditative rituals. So Cherokee decided to try to take care of Witch Baby by herself. She went into the shed and said, "Witch Baby, come out. We'll go to Farmer's Market and get date shakes and look at the puppies in the pet store there and figure out a way to rescue them." But Witch Baby buried herself deeper in the mud.
"Witch Baby, come out and play drums for me," Cherokee said. "You are the most slinkster-jamming drummer girl and I want to dance." But Witch Baby shut her eyes and, swallowed a handful of gritty dirt.
Cherokee heard Witch Baby's thoughts in her own head.
I am a seed in the slippery, silent, blind, breathless dark. I have no nose or mouth, ears or eyes to see. Just a skin of satin black and a secret green dream deep inside.
For hours, Cherokee begged Witch Baby to come out. Finally she went into the house and called the boy who had been her best friend for as long as she could remember--Raphael Chong Jah-Love.
Raphael was practicing his guitar at the house down the street where he lived with his parents, Valentine and Ping Chong Jah-Love. Valentine and Ping were away in South America with Cherokee and Witch Baby's family working on the movie.
"Witch Baby is buried in mud!" Cherokee told Raphael when he answered the phone. "She won't come out of the shed. Could you ask her to play drums with us?"
"Witch Baby is the best drummer I know, Kee," Raphael said. "But she'll never play drums with us."
Raphael and Cherokee wanted to start a band but they needed a bass player and a drummer. Witch Baby had always refused to help them.
"Just ask her to play for you then, just once," Cherokee begged. "I am really worried about her."Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys. Copyright © by Francesca Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including Weetzie Bat; the book collections Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books and Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales, and Secrets; the illustrated novella House of Dolls; the vampire romance novel Pretty Dead; and the gothic werewolf novel The Frenzy. Her work is published around the world.
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