"I'm getting the feeling that they're not too into us," Bessie said to the band as the chords from their previous song faded away.
"Really? I found their garbled shouts to be quiet encouraging," Andronicus said.
"I'm pretty sure that running back has got the hots for you, Andro," Dave said, poking him with a suggestive wink. "He's been staring at you the entire set and running his finger across his neck in a most erotic manner."
"That doesn't add up, Dave."
"No matter, I believe things have gone swimmingly so far. It's time to drive this puppy home."
Mist was drifting down from the sky now, and the stadium glowed. Dave looked out towards the audience, his head sweeping around to appraise all stands and benches. He cleared his throat and spoke into the mic.
"Boys and girls, this is our last song."
The cheers were deafening. Scott's face burned and Dave smiled broadly, clearing taking their reaction the wrong way.
"I just want to say, to all you beautiful people out there, we have never met a more welcoming crowd. This one goes out to all out pig skin loving classmates. Let's win this one for Ol' Binkman!"
The home team whooped and hollered, accompanied by scattered clapping. No one was sure who Ol' Binkman was, though they assumed he must have been some player of import. However, everyone could get behind winning.
"That's right, people. May he rest in peace on that great line of scrimmage in the sky. Let's have a moment of silence to honor his sacrifice."
Everyone bowed their heads, lowered helmets and giant foam fingers, and soothed crying children. No one dared break the silence, for fear of being scorned by their neighbors.
"Dude, what's a line of cribbage?"
"Yeah, and who's Ol' Binkman?" Scott was stretching his back, confident no one was witness to his disrespect of the moment of silence.
"You guys, shut up. Just go with it."
"Just go with it!"
A minute passed, and Dave cleared his throat to regain the attention of the crowd. "You guys ready?"
"Yeah." The response was halfhearted. Dave tsked into the mic, unimpressed.
"I said, ARE YOU GUYS READY!"
"Alright, hold on a sec."
As Dave turned to instruct his band, a person cloaked in a black robe darted out from behind the stage and ran headlong into Dave, knocking him down. The person grabbed the mic and dashed out of reach, taking advantage of the band's shock to make his own announcement.
"Unfortunately, this sorry excuse for a band won't have the opportunity to play this song. I would like to tell you all that I, and a few of my esteemed colleagues, will destroy Didn't Say Banana! We will crush their hopes and dreams like saltine crackers into a bowl of soup." The usurped cackled into the mic and made a crushed motion with his free hand. Dave was on his knees, checking his guitar for damage. He pushed himself up with one hand, holding the neck with another, and looked at the villain who had stolen his moment of glory. To Scott his eyes looked like daggers, ready to stab the intruder. Dave's smile had taken on a sickly quality.
His face obscured by a low hanging hood, the person turned his head to look at Dave. A sleeved arm rose to point at Dave.
"You will pay, Dave, and your little band too! Tonight, I declare war!"
Dave chuckled and started walking towards him. Everyone watched his progress, thoroughly confused. The person handed the mic to Dave and backed up, his body tensed as if to run.
"Challenged accepted!" Dave yelled. "As Bessie is my witness, I will see your wicked machinations undone! Bananas," he said excitedly, "let's roll out." He tossed the mic to floor and jumped off stage, running towards the school parking lot. Mark looked at Andronicus, Andronicus looked at Melody, and Melody shrugged. Everyone picked up their respective instruments and chased after Dave in the silence of the stadium. There had been a lot of awkward silences that night, Scott reflected as he fretted over what he should take with him. A van drove onto the field and swung around in front of the stage, the double doors in the back flying open. The entire kit was hurriedly shoved into the van, and Scott closed the doors behind him as the van's wheels spun in the soft ground of the field. Dave was behind the wheel, and he turned it erratically leaving tire marks in the once level grass. Inconsiderate of his friends in the back, he swerved in and out of rows in the parking lot and made a sharp right onto the street. Though he and Bessie were safely secured up front, those in the backed were flung against the left side of the van, crushing and being crushed by each other and their once tuned instrument.
"Slow down you maniac!" Melody shrieked, trying to push Mark off of her. Scott winced as his crossed his legs to sit on threaded metal floor of the van, putting his back against the wheel well.
"So," Scott said, "think they'll book us again?"
It was almost midnight when Dave decided they could have a break. Sitting on milk crates in his garage and staring at each other while his sister ran around them waving tickets to the Aluminum Cans' next show had done little to improve their solemn mood, nor hard it elicited any ideas as to what their next move would be. The general consensus had been that they need to get better for one, to write more songs, and to play more shows. The last would be most problematic, seeing as how they had a tendency to get blacklisted from every venue. The word seemed to have spread.
Though they were on break, Dave insisted that everyone walk together, and they journeyed away from his house to a busier street, sometimes talking to each other with misted breath floating before their faces but mostly just quietly walking. The sounds of their footsteps echoed, and they walked past liquor stores with steel shutters covering the doors and bars with a few bedraggled patrons. Dave stopped in front of one, looking intently at the door.
"What did you just say, Scott?"
"Me? I didn't say anything."
"Your heart called out to me."
"Really? I should probably go to a hospital then. Later."
"Andro, grab him." Scott struggled against Andronicus' surprisingly strong grip and Bessie raised her hand tentatively.
"Um, I was asking Melody what she thinks we should do next."
"Yeah," Melody said, "that's just what we've been talking about for FOUR GODDAMN HOURS. By the way, Dave, who was that guy who ruined our show? It sounded like he had a grudge against you."
"Dude, wasn't that, like, that dude who tried to stop us from running out after that one show?"
"Heh, I don't know what you guys are talking about. Just leave the thinking to me."
"That's probably not the best idea," Scott wheezed, still struggling.
Dave ripped a poster off the door of the bar and held it taut between his hands, letting the others scour its contents.
"Don't tell me"
"Oh, I will tell you, my dearest Scott. This is probably the biggest event of the year. Battle"
"There is no way in hell we could win something like that."
"Bitch, you crazy," Andronicus said, letting go of Scott so he could snap his fingers. "I like it."
"Shut it, you two. WE ARE ENTERING BATTLE OF THE BAAAAAAANNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDS!!!!"
Dave's sworn enemy sighed as his put his cloak on the coat rack. It had been a long week, and he wasn't sure if Dave had taken the challenge seriously. The band he managed was sitting in the living room of his grandmother's house, and he knew they were anxious to hear how his night's venture had gone. The three were talking in hushed voices, and their heads jerked up as he walked in.
"I'm home, grandma!"
"Welcome back!" His grandmother walked out from the kitchen bearing a tray of fresh cookies. "Your friends are quite the young gentlemen. Here, have some cookies you kids."
"Thanks, Mrs. Parsippany," they said in chorus.
"Thanks, grandma. Could we get a little privacy? We have some business to discuss."
"Oh, sure, I bet it's really important stuff. Have fun!"
His grandmother shuffled out of the room and he sat in the plastic covered armchair. The band sat across from him on a matching couch, their normally cooler-than-thou faces brimming with anticipation.
"So, how'd it go?"
"Dave's the same as always, never taking me seriously. This time, he's crossed the line though. For years he's been the favorite, besting me at everything with his cocksure attitude, gorgeous blonde locks and sparkling blue eyes..."
"Hey, aren't you blonde too?"
"That's completely beside the point, Seth. He's crossed the line by insulting you three with his pathetic excuse for the band. I'm one hundred percent sure he'll do Battle of the Bands this year. There's no way he'd miss an opportunity to show off, that smug son of a bitch."
"Do you really hate your cousin that much?"
"Yes, Mike. That bastard won't win this time. Not when I have the hottest band on my side. I mean, you guys are the Aluminum Cans. There is no way we can lose. No way."
"Alex is right, you guys," Grant said, crossing his arms across his chest. "Those little shits are going down."
Alex tapped his fingers together, his smile a twisted mimicry of Dave's. Vengeance would be his.