Michael glared across the bar at Diana. This was his night, the big gig. She wasn’t going to ruin it for him.
“That the one who keeps calling the cops on you?” Asked Dennis, the guitarist in the band. Dennis flicked away the black, curly locks that made him look like a glam rock throwback. “She’s hot.” He sipped a beer, two fingers and a thumb on the neck of the bottle as if he was a prim and proper gentleman sipping tea from fine porcelain.
“She’s a pain in the ass. Every time I get in the zone she starts banging on the wall or the door, or it’s the cops. I keep telling them, I’m allowed to practice until eleven o’clock. That’s the law. And I stop at ten anyway. She needs to pull the stick out of her ass.” Michael chewed his nail and looked at the stage. Two big amps and their instruments.
“Maybe she’ll sing along,” said Dennis. “She probably knows the words.” He twirled a silver necklace with a skull hanging from it.
“Maybe hell will freeze over. Where’s Dustin? We’re meant to start in three minutes.” Michael glared around the bar. Two dozen people in their Friday night best were drinking, some of them waiting for the music.
“He’ll be pissing Mike, he’s always pissing. He’s got the smallest bladder in the world.” Dennis nodded as the drummer emerged from the toilets and straightened his glasses on the way out.
“Mi amigos.” Dustin picked up his whiskey and coke from the bar. “It’s almost time.” He sipped.
“Yeah. I need another drink,” said Mike. He hailed the barman. “Triple vodka and coke please.”
“I can’t serve a triple. Sorry mate.” The barman, in a T-shirt that read TK’s, The Home of Midnight Music.
“What do you mean you can’t serve a triple?” Asked the singer.
“I’m not allowed to serve a triple. I don’t know why. I’m just not. There’s an easy mathematical solution to it though. The bartender smiled, showing a handful of gold teeth.
“Maths, what? I just need some vodka.” The singer’s voice was whiny and pissed himself off.
“Mike here will have a double vodka and coke and a side order of a single shot of vodka.” Dustin said, raising his eyebrows to the singer.
Saluting with two fingers and a smile the barman poured the drink and the shot and turned his back. “Now if that single shot were to somehow fall into the glass, I really couldn’t be held accountable for that. The only real difference is the price.”
Skinny Mike poured the shot into the drink then downed the two together and took the cash from Dustin’s hand. Dustin’s broad shoulders were those of a body builder.
“Come on. We’re up.” Dennis whipped all his hair back over his shoulders and strode towards the stage. Getting up the stairs in his tight leather trousers was a farce the other two doubted was worth it.
“Break a leg,” said the barman.
“Good evening, everyone,” Mike gripped the mic. “We are Your Mother’s Wet Dream.” He smiled as the crowd sniggered. “This first song goes out to a special woman who’s always supported our music.” He pointed to Dianna. “Whenever I think of you, I just want to turn the volume up because I know how much you love it.”
Diana walked forwards in a black dress with a blue cocktail in her hand.
“This one’s called Dedication,” Mike counted his friends in on his fingers. Dennis began strumming on the guitar. The singer joined him with the bass as Dustin faded in with the drums. Nodding in time with the beat Mike closed his eyes and sang as if they were still practicing in his dank bedsit.
“Banging on the door again,
Know I’ll see your face when,
You’re banging on the door,
Telling me you want more.”
The singer let Dennis have his solo, looking back at Dustin with his arms raised, waiting for the rise. When the guitarist hit the peak of his riff the drummer smashed his kit with a big an angry beat.
“THIS IS MY DREAM, MY LIFE.
MIC IN MY HANDS, ALL NIGHT.
TURN IT UP, ITS NOT FAIR,
WHEN YOU SAY I DON’T CARE.
I got kicked out for my music,
Got nothing else, can’t lose it
I live on nothing but rice.” Mike opened his eyes and saw some confused faces.
“You try to give me advice.
I’m no victim of circumstance.
Ruined my life for just one chance.
THIS IS MY DREAM-”
Diana walked right to the front of the stage. Her smile was the smile of bitter revenge.
Diana’s blue drink hit Mike in the face before he could finish the line. Dustin and Dennis kept playing as their singer shook the blue alcohol out of his hair. Holding out his middle finger to the woman who was taking out her phone to photograph him, he turned up the volume of the amp next to him.
“TURN IT UP, IT’S NOT FAIR?” His words tasted of sugar and vodka.
“WHEN YOU SAY I DON’T CARE.” Some of the drunks behind Diana were mumbling along to the chorus. Simple repetition was the key to success he’d read. His songs went round and round so that people could sing along in no time.
“I got kicked out for my music,
Got nothing else, can’t lose it.
You can’t give me advice,
And I won’t play nice.
Banging on the door again,
Know I’ll see your face when,
You’re banging on the door,
Telling me you want more.” Clapping his hands Mike launched into the chorus that had three drunks singing along. One track down. He strummed along on the bass as Dennis showed off again, Dustin trying to keep up with the improvisation.
Strolling to the bar, Mike ordered another drink. Diana appeared at his side.
“You’re an asshole,” she said.
“How am I the arsehole, Diana. Please explain how I’m the dick in all of this.” He held out his arms. His ropey little arms were decorated with tattoos that illustrated an eight-year old’s nightmares. “This is why I do it. What’s your problem?” He took his drink and downed it before she could throw it at him. “Thanks for the mid song refreshment by the way. Most groupies wait for the song to finish before showering the band with affection. It was really sweet of you. I was expecting something with a more bitter taste.”
She was crying. Her eyeliner was wet ink on a hanging page. Her blue eyes were coloured with orange from the bar lights.
Mike’s heart stopped.
Diana was crying?
“What? What is this?” He waved his hand at her. A demon ring’s ruby eyes glittered in the orange light.
“Every time you start playing, he freaks out.” She was sobbing.
“Who?” Mike asked, drawn in against his will by the tears. She was tiny as he stood next to her. Heels weren’t enough to make up the difference in their height.
“My dad. He fought in the war. He’s scared of sudden noises, and he can’t leave the house. He’s scared of getting shot by snipers in open spaces.”
“Bullshit. This is just some crap to get you the golden silence you want in the middle of the day when it’s perfectly legal for me to play. I never even play late.”
“All of his friends died.” She growled through her teeth. Her eyes were red. Her twig arms were drum sticks even compared to his own skinny arms. “He has night terrors and even in the day when he should be fine, you’re blasting music that makes him think he’s on a battlefield again.”
“You never mentioned any of that.”
“WHY SHOULD I?” She screamed. “YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE A DECENT HUMAN BEING AND TURN THE MUSIC DOWN.” She stormed out of the bar and left her purse on the counter. Every step was that of a new-born giraffe, drunk as she was in heels.
He rushed after her.
“Please tell me she’s lying,” he said to himself as he pushed out of the door into the rain.