In The Van On Comeback Road Part 16

author: Nolan Whyte date: 07/15/2006 category: fiction
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I wake up late, about one o'clock in the afternoon. There's a nagging feeling of uselessness that I always get the day after a show, especially when I don't have another one scheduled. There's one thing that playing a rock and roll show does, and that's make you want to play another rock and roll show as soon as possible. Only thing is, The Clutch Dogs do not have any more gigs scheduled. The show at The Bovine proved to me that we were ready to perform, and even though we definitely made plenty of mistakes, we also put on a hell of a good show. It's time, I figure, to distribute some more demos and get the word out that we're available to gig. It crosses my mind about sending some demos to some booking agencies, but I figure that can wait for the time being. I'll see how I can do without them first. Returning the rented minivan is the only thing I have to do all day, so I eat a bowl of cereal and pick up my acoustic guitar. I tune up and start strumming a bit, goofing around with the opening of 'Jumping Jack Flash,' which I often use as a starting point when I jam by myself. I move on and work over some chords, practice fingering patterns that I don't use very often and eventually run through a few songs before I start trying to form new riffs. I find a new line and run over it and over it, trying to find just the right chord progression, before I realize that I'm basically playing Buddy Holly's song 'Peggy Sue.' I riff on the number for a bit before I try to find something new. I fall into a fresh line and pretty soon I find that I'm doing 'Peggy Sue' again. It goes along like this for probably an hour, and five times I find myself gradually jamming back towards 'Peggy Sue.' Ultimately I give it up, run through as much of the old hit that I can remember, and think about how it would sound sped up with heavy distortion on the guitar. Not bad, maybe. I'll see what Mark and Jason think about it next time we practice. Maybe they'll suggest I give up trying to play rock clubs and start playing old folks homes. "Hell with it," I say to no one in particular, and put the guitar back on its stand. I grab my jacket and head out the door. I run the minivan back to the company where I rented it, pay at the service desk and start walking up town. It's a long way back to my apartment, but I feel like walking and getting some air. I take Yonge Street, which runs right up through the center of downtown Toronto. Inevitably I pass a strip club and inevitably I wonder if Sheila, my soon to be ex-wife is inside doing private dances for U of T students to help pay her lawyer to make her the former Mrs. Terry Wilson. The idea crosses my mind that maybe I should stick my nose inside, just for a laugh. I could have a beer and watch the dancers for a while and banter with them when they come around to offer me private dances. And maybe, just maybe, Sheila would really be inside. We could talk, maybe sweetly and quietly and things would be okay between us for just a little while. I could always duck out just before I felt the shittiness creeping up between us, the snappy banter that degenerates into nitpicking and sniping and sooner or later, open hatred. I keep walking and I feel lonely. There really aren't any buddies I can call up and ask to meet for coffee or a beer. The only people I've been seeing lately are Mark and Jason, and I have to remind myself that they are band mates, not friends, and they might not appreciate hearing from me the very next day after a show. It's not like we socialize at all outside of practice. The only thing I really have on my mind is what I can do to get this band going. I figure we'll need to record something, more than just the little demo disc that I have. We'll need something we can use to sell ourselves, something we can use for merch at our shows, when we get some. Something to sell at gigs, and hopefully something kids will like enough to rip off and put on their computer so other people could download us over the internet, which seems like nothing but free advertising to me. The idea puts me into thinking about making a Clutch Dogs website, which seems mystical and impossible for a computer-talentless asshole like me. Maybe Jason knows something about it. I would hate to think about actually paying someone to set up a website for me. More to talk about at the next practice. Recording again gets me to thinking. We three are clearly not studio-ready, since we need much more time in rehearsal, but damn it if I'm not an impatient sonofabitch. Probably a live recording, taken through the soundboard at a gig would work best. Simple, relatively cheap, and we could overdub whatever we needed to clean up later on. The live sound was good. Raw, ugly, and good. True rock and roll. I get back towards my neighborhood, but I make a small detour to a guitar store about three blocks from my place. Sadly, I'm kind of a regular there, always hanging out with no cash in my pocket, fingering the guitars and never buying anything more then a replacement set of strings or a patch chord. The bell rings when I push the door open. It's a bit dim inside, musty, and a hundred guitars hang from the ceiling like corpses in an abattoir. Corpses ready to be brought to life by eager hand. "Hey Terry," says Leo, emerging from the back room. Leo is a big bastard, probably six-foot-four, and heavy set. He's got the big goatee and hair down to his ass pulled into a pony tail. I've seen him working as a sound tech at local shows a few times, but mostly he just works in the shop. He doesn't own the place, but he is there pretty much all the time. "How's it going, Leo?" I ask him. "Shit," he responds. "I hate everything. There were some kids in here after school eating chips while they were touching the guitars. I wanted to run over them with my truck. I spent half an hour wiping their fingerprints off stuff after they left. Sometimes I just want to burn this place down so I never have to come back here again. How about you?" "Can't complain. Say, if I wanted to record a gig live through a soundboard, what do you think it would cost me?" He strokes his goatee and thinks for a second. "Including paying for the rental of the board and paying the sound tech, it would be about five hundred bucks. Why, you got some friends that want to record?" "Naa, I'm fronting a band. We're called The Clutch Dogs. Had a gig last night at The Bovine." "Really? Shit, Terry, you know you're too ugly to be fronting a band. You should be standing way back behind the speakers where no one can see you. I mean god, look at you. You look like something my dog threw up." "Jeez Leo, haven't you heard? Ugly is the new handsome, which is good news for you. You're uglier than the shit I scrape off my shoes." "That right, Terry? Well you're uglier than a Sid Vicious violin solo." "Yeah, but not as ugly as Sid's underwear, which is gorgeous compared to your ugly mug. God Leo, I feel sick just looking at you." "Maybe, but not as sick as you'd feel if I showed you a mirror." I sigh. "Anyway, trying to ignore that hideous disease you call a face for a minute, would it really be five hundred? Even for me?" Leo sits down behind the counter and pulls a piece of strawberry licorice out of a bag. He starts chewing noisily and says through smacking lips, "Why would it be any cheaper for you? All you do is hang around here giving the clap to the local prostitutes." "True, but ugly bastards like us have to stick together." He shrugs. "Maybe I can make it four-seventy-five or four-eighty. Got a date in mind?" "No, we haven't got any gigs lined up for the time being." "Aw shit man, you're haggling with me over prices and you haven't even got anything lined up? Get out of my store." "Heh heh. All right you metal-head piece of shit. I'm leaving." I steal a piece of strawberry licorice out of his bag and stroll out the door. "See you Leo." "See you buddy." I walk back to my apartment, eat a baloney sandwich, and spend another hour playing 'Peggy Sue.' Afterwards I drink a few beers and fall asleep before the sun goes down. 2006 Nolan Whyte
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