It was one hell of a show for Disbelief. They had unveiled two new songs to a fairly warm reception, though the audience hadn't exactly been enthused by Captain Silver. They had seemingly mastered the art of screwing up the music without anybody noticing as well. There were several notes that he had missed - he was almost embarrassed with what he considered his lacklustre performance, but since it was the first time that 'A Hound's Hell' has been performed nobody even noticed.
Now, with his guitar safely stowed in the back room and Redchip preparing to perform, Adam was heading back towards his seat. His plan was to take up the comforting cushions that he had previously occupied, close his eyes, relax and hope for the best. Unfortunately, he was not allowed that luxury.
He was the first member of Disbelief to leave after Ruin was completed. Having literally ran out of riffs and rhythms to play, and with the members of Redchip glaring at them all the while, the four members of Disbelief brought Ruin to a united and long suspended close. Afterwards, having used an amplifier that belonged to a Redchip guitarist, Adam was able to simply unplug and pack away. His muscles aching all over and his body covered in sweat, the young guitarist informed his companions of his intention before seeking refuge over by the window. Sadly, along the way, he felt a heavy hand fall on to his shoulder.
"You kick a lot of arse, kid," came a deep but quiet voice from behind him. "You're Adam, right? It doesn't really matter what your name is, I've heard all I need to hear. Come outside, I want to talk to you in private."
Adam craned his neck so that he could see the man behind him. Surprised as he was to be approached personally, Adam was not totally shocked to see the gaunt face and lifeless eyes of Rick Ash here at Indy's. Everybody present here had either expected or hoped to see Ash, but Adam had not even dreamt that he would be singled out like this. With such a big name stood beside him, Adam didn't feel as though he could refuse.
"Right, do you want me to shift this microphone out of the way of your bassist's way?" asked Paul of Bret, the Redchip singer. Currently standing discussing something with Jace, Bret didn't answer straight away, but Paul hadn't expected him to. After only a brief introduction and a request for help setting up, Bret had wandered off to speak with Jace and not returned.
"Where does he want his microphone?" Paul whispered to the bassist, who was busy organising numerous pedals on the floor not three feet away.
For a moment, the stocky young bassist stared blankly, clearly confused by the face that he was being addressed. Thankfully, he got over it quickly, directing Paul towards a spot on the floor just in front of the two guitarists.
Confused, Paul stayed where he was, microphone stand in one hand. "I can't put it there," he said. "If I do that he'll be blocking off half of the band. Surely nobody wants to be that guy."
"Hey, I don't make the rules, man," responded the bassist defensively. "I can't change how we operate. If you don't like it, take it up with the boss."
With that, the bassist went back to his pedals, effectively dismissing Paul. More than a little annoyed, Paul carried the microphone, stand and all, to the instructed spot and planted it there. Taking one last glance at the preparing band, Paul couldn't help but notice that Bret, the singer and also the leader of this band, was standing completely separate from them all.
He was standing at the bar, ignoring them all, chatting like old friends with Jace, the drummer of a completely different band. Setting up for Redchip himself, Paul's hopes for a good show to follow them evaporated.
It had been a long time since Jace had had to look into the mismatched eyes of Bret Turner. It had been even longer since he had been able to do so without feeling a surge of hatred fighting to get out of his chest. In a way the feeling was comforting. A lot had changed in the last few years, but he was glad to see that his feelings towards his old friend were still the same.
He had first met Bret some twelve years previous, back in the days when they were very young boys together. Despite having known Paul since they were both able to walk, for many years Jace had been closer to Bret. They had spent the vast majority of school sitting beside each other, talking about music and mocking the 'idiots' who were trying to learn. Now, with his dyed blonde hair and his 'mod fashion' Bret was everything that Jace detested.
The memory of his first time playing drums was clear and present in his mind. Not far into his teenage years, Bret had pulled him along to one of the original Redchip practice sessions, long before anybody had even heard of Rick Ash. Having everything he needed except for a drummer, Bret had shown Jace what to do with his sticks and, before long, he had found himself quite talented at it. Striking the toms and the snare was a feeling that he quickly become addicted to. After a stressful day, he would mentally apply the faces of all of those who had angered him to each drum in turn, then beat it as hard as he could until he felt quite relaxed. Quickly, Jace became part of the band. However, that was not all that Bret had introduced him to.
At the age of sixteen, having been playing the drums for just over a year, Jace had been handed something that ruled his life from then until his sister nearly died because of it. Bret's older brother, Zack Turner, supplied the instruments with which the two friends ruined any chances of succeeding in school and college as well as ruining any hope of being a successful band. Since quitting the drugs and quitting Redchip, a lot had changed. At first, Bret was angry with him, but he refused to quit his habits, so Jace had let him go, as well as abandoning any hopes of the commercial success that came with the eternal genius of Rick Ash. Redchip were not a successful band even now, but Rick Ash was a successful guitarist. The hero that rescued Jace was not himself, and it certainly was not Bret or Zack Turner: it was Paul Taylor and Disbelief.
Thus far, neither of them had brought up the fact that the last time that Jace had seen Bret's older brother, they had ended up smashing their fists into each other's teeth. Jace had given over the lead of the conversation. He had been approached before he could escape and, still desperate to talk with Paul before his bassist managed to get too close to Ally, Jace was watching Paul out of the corner of his eye.
Anyway, I heard they're sending a talent scout to come and look at us tonight? Bret was saying. They had wandered down an odd path that Jace wasn't actually paying much attention to. This, however, brought Jace out of his revelry. A mate of mine works at the record store in the Fire Brand Records building. He told me that they're sending somebody to check me out, but I don't recognise any of the scouts. We had Matty Cooper watching us once, but he only came out the once and we haven't seen him since. Do you reckon he was impressed?
Jace sighed an aggravated sigh. Do you have any idea how sick I am of that name? he began to say. Every time I hear about that idiot, it's in a situation that's bound to cause me unending piss-off-ed-ness. I've never even met the guy and I hate him already. He's one of three people who work in a record company. He's not God. He's bloody annoying. I know most of his business without ever even seeing him-
Through the entirety of Jace's little speech, Bret's eyes had slowly widened. Finally, unable to control himself, Bret interrupted him: You know who it is, don't you?
I know exactly who it is, Jace announced with a calm smile. I'm not going to tell you so don't be asking, but Cooper did send somebody here. They were told to watch us too, so you'd best make sure that you're better than we were otherwise you don't stand a chance in hell.
Of course we'll be better than you, proclaimed Bret with a laugh. With me up there, how could we fail? No offence to the guy you've got up front but he hasn't got a great voice, has he? He's a bit slow too by the look of him. Anyway, that doesn't matter. Who is it? Why are they looking at you as well?
The arrogance released with every word that Bret said quite astounded Jace. Slowly becoming more and more furious with proceedings, he decided to cut his losses. You're a real arsehole aren't you Bret? he said brutally. He could tell his insult had hit home, but the surprise on the face of his former friend did nothing to contain his anger. I'm going to go and talk to Paul now, you know, the real friend stood by me through thick and thin. You're more like a reminder of everything I hate now. You're a rotten piece of shit. Kindly f--k off.
Saying no more, Jace turned his back on Bret for what he strongly suspected would be the last time. Catching Paul in his sights over by the PA system controls, Jace walked straight towards him, ignoring the stream of abuse that Bret threw after him. He felt quite proud of himself; this was the first time he had ever tried the route of simply being the bigger man.
The final member of Disbelief had brought his white Fender into the back room with no intention of putting it away just yet. Adrenaline was still rushing through his body, the feelings that the music had created were still running through his mind. He was awake, he was alive, and he wanted to play his guitar. It was his tool, his friend and his link to the world. It made him feel warm, it made him feel welcome and it made him feel right.
The back room was dark and empty. The occasional old and cracked cymbal was sitting abandoned and forgotten in a corner, while the guitar of Adam and the bass of Paul were packed away and settled against the middle of a wall. Ed's own case was positioned beside theirs. There was a small wooden chair in the centre that Ed chose to sit on. It was not comfortable, but it provided him with the position that he required. He shifted his guitar to a more convenient place and began to play.
The little white tortoise shell pick in his hand moved slowly back and forth, striking each string softly and calmly. He began with the introduction to Ruin in D minor. The sounds that his instrument was creating moved through his ears and then through his mind, bringing crystal clear images to his imagination. In his head he recalled the most harsh memories of his life. His father took up the bulk of the images, while the few spare moments always found some horrible and long passed time to fill it. His head bowed so that he could see his strings, his cheeks began to feel the effects of the mood playing through him as his eyes began to release the sadness that he would never tell anybody about.