I'm with the band, no, really: Chapter one "You're uniquely qualified"

"You got who to hire me to do what?"

Levi didn't really want his sister to repeat the news: he wanted to buy time. He hated to refuse her anything, but this was the most bizarre proposal she had come up with in a lifetime of bizarre proposals.

But Ava knew better than to give him time to marshall his defenses. "You're going to take care of the children who are traveling with the Forestieres," she said. He knew what she meant: the Forestierres were a large and popular West African band with their own patented sthyle of music, hypnotic and thrilling at the same time. Perfect to dance to, and Levi had often danced to it in the privacy of his living room, dreaming of golden nights and honehyed-voiced men. But he'd never had the groupie mentality: his dreams were only dreams. "It's a total win-win situation. You know you owe me, and the pay's as good as you're going to get this summer anyway by the time you figure in rent and food which you're getting free."

"I'd still be paying rent --" Levi stopped himself. He didn't want to get swept up into this thing of hers. "I don't owe you enough for this," he said. "I'll water your plants while you're on tour instead."

"My girlfriend is doing that," she said. "Come on, you know I wouldn't ask you unless I needed you. I don't jave time to find anyone else, and anyway, you're uniquely qualified."

"How do you figure that? I'm a schoolteacher, not a nanny."

"You speak French, you understand children, you're open to people from other cultures, and you're unemployed."

Levi sighed. It was true: he was unemployed. His school district had laid off over a hundred teachers. They laid off a lot of teachers every year, before they got their funding for the next year, and they re-hired most of them during the summer. But he had it on good authority that he could not expect to be one of them this year. There were too many layoffs and he was the lowest on the list. "You know, taking this job of yours could ensure that I stayed unemployed next year. I wouldn't be able to spend enough time applying for a new job."

"I'll find you another job when you get back, how's about that? I've got connections." And she did. Ava wore so many hats Levi couldn't keep track of them all. And though she was only three years older than him she had what seemed like decades more experience and savoir faire.

But it wasn't the promise of help in getting a new job that did him in. "Please," she said again. "You're going to have a budget. You won't just be babysitting. You'll be giving them an educational experience. Field studies in American geography, or something."

"Okay," he said at last. "But you better not be lying about that budget."