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 An out of tune noise clanks out of the speaker of the black box to Tony’s right. The aged man hangs his head down and groans. The strings to his dusty instrument were in dire need of a change. The same went for all the guitars on the wall and sitting on stands in the room. Tony positioned his aching left hand in a different chord, the rusted strings digging into the fingertips and leaving red-brown dust between his fingers. Playing through the pain and unsatisfying sound the guitar made. Another crashing sound vibrated the room, a clearly distraught musician swore loudly, ready to slam his priceless guitar on the floor and forget he ever played. How long ago had it been since he last picked up an instrument? Five years? Ten? Before the strike and the leaving of his fourth wife- whenever that had been.

 Clarissa had run out on him taking another chunk of his savings and added another blemish to his already less-than-saint like reputation. Tony did not blame her. What else could someone do when they walked in on an already neglecting spouse in bed with the maid? After the divorce papers were finalized, the stroke happened.

 That stern, spiteful (who had obviously not been a fan) had told him, with the slightest look of enjoyment, that he would never have mobility in the right side of his body again. Boy, had that ruddy quack been wrong. Tony had used all the energy in his withered body and the anger of the recent divorce to channel a strength every day to ensure that he would be able to move both sides of his body. It wasn’t perfect and playing guitar had obviously proved to be a pain as his weak fingers tried to grip the pick and strum, but that was okay. He had proved the world and himself that there was still something there.

 The old musician was a living relic. A past legend of rock and heavy metal. Selling platinum records and performing sold out stadiums. Bands like Black Sabbath and AC/DC all wanted to tour with his band, Ghastly, even as a solo artist, he packed the crowds in. Gene Simmons had even asked Tony to join TN e band when Ghastly had finally gotten tired of his antics- not that they had survived long without their lead guitarist and singer.

 As the early eighties replaced the seventies, the partying lifestyle had become too overwhelming. Already playing with their second drummer and third bassist, the members wanted to boot Tony. Well, an album and a tour later, the fans had decided that watching a former rhythm guitarist sing the songs that Tony once dominated nightly wasn’t fun, so the crowd followed him through a solo career. It didn’t matter what he played, old Ghastly hits or new Tony De Fallimento experimentations, the audiences cheered and returned to worship the man. Not that any of that lasted too long either.

 As years turned to decades, the maturing audiences grew increasingly unhappy with a string of lack-luster shows and album releases that had proven that a once great musician had fallen victim to just trying to make another buck and be heard on the radio. Years of cocaine and heavy smoking washed down expensive whiskey with just as many women had taken their toll. Soon, even the fans had tickled away. Wives coming and going and to forgetting guitar solos and whole lines of songs weren’t cute anymore. Going from stadiums where he couldn’t even hear himself play to dive bars around the country where most people just showed up to confirm that he hadn’t died yet, De Fallimento had decided to call it quits in 2006.

 A comeback album had been attempted by Tony and Ghastly’s original drummer, Pete Mailings in 2010 under the old band name, but that was quickly disillusioned by the divorce and stroke. Not to mention the fact that the two still couldn’t hold a conversation that resulted in cheap jabs and the opening of old wounds. Oh well, it was probably for the best anyway. If people had wanted to see Ghastly, they would at least want three out of four original members and that wasn’t happening anytime soon. Pete had ended up dying of pancreatic cancer three years later and old Tommy Valentine -bassist- had succumbed to choking on his own vomit while sleeping after a night of heavy drinking in ’92. That left just former rhythm guitarist-turned vocalist- Mark Sims and Tony. Last Tony had heard, Mark barely even remembered who he was most days, so it was just Tony- not that that was saying much.

 The guitarist shook his bead and took his mind off of the past. There was nothing he could do about the regret now. He was due to tour in six months with a group of Young musicians who had eagerly auditioned and exclaimed upon being called to be told that they had gotten the job. For the first time since 1986, Tommy was touring for the pure enjoyment of playing music again. A world tour to be performed in every major stadium in all the major cities. Even a music fest to end the line of shows in his own hometown. One last goodbye to let the fans know that he still appreciated them.

 A smile grew across the musician’s haggard face as he played the opening notes to his first hit as a solo musician. The licks of his song, “Still My Baby” now resurfacing from under the depths of nearly five decades of debauchery. Yes. This was it, he started singing the lyrics in a raspy, but admissible voice. Six months of this and the first tour Tony De Fallimento would play on in sixteen years would be his best one in decades. Next month, the other musicians would start coming over every day for practices as a group and five months after that, the first show of the tour at the Hollywood Bowl would commence. Tony was ready.

June 19, 2020 22:11

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2 comments

Kathleen Osborne
11:24 Jun 25, 2020

Hi Christian, loved your story... I could picture the incredible musician he had been and the debauched old one he became. I saw one thing..."That stern, spiteful (who had obviously not been a fan) had told him" it wasn't until the next sentence the reader knows it is a doctor he is talking about. I'm betting when you copied it in, it dropped a word. You have a wonderful ability to draw your reading deeper and deeper into the story. Kathleen

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Chris Buono
16:35 Jun 25, 2020

Oh thank you, it must have been an overlook when I was editing it a bit. I appreciate your kindness and for pointing that out!

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