Kathy leads Danny and Kev up the stairs and out into the back yard. There are a few other people out in the cool air, standing and talking and smoking cigarettes. Kathy, who is older than the two high school boys, takes the initiative and leads them to a dark corner of the yard near the fence.
The boys follow her, and Kev pulls a folded up cigarette pack from his pocket. He flips open the top and shakes out a thin joint, pops it between his lips with a tiny Bic lighter sparks it up. He takes a couple puffs to get it lit and passes it to Kathy.
Danny watches her as she takes the joint, and with a finger and thumb, holds the delicate joint to her lips. She's probably Jay's age, maybe twenty-one or twenty-two, with a full figure and thick curly brown hair falling over her shoulder. Dark eye shadow lines her eyes behind thick-framed glasses. She's cute. Danny tries to think of something to say to her, and eventually comes up with the obvious.
"So," he starts. "What instrument do you play?"
"Drums," she says, holding in the smoke from her drag. She passes to Danny and finally exhales. "So you're Jay's brother? He's an awesome guitar player. Do you play too?"
"A little," Danny says.
"Yeah?" Kev says. "Since when?"
Danny gives him an angry look, but he keeps his voice cool. "I just started."
"Is Jay teaching you?" asks Kathy.
Danny passes to Kev. "Yeah."
"Aww, that is so sweet!" Kathy says. "You brother is teaching you how to play guitar."
Danny shrugs. "I guess."
"What kind of music do you guys play?" Kev asks Kathy.
"Oh, you know," she says, taking the joint from him. She has to flip it around in her fingertips to get it to her lips. "Like, party rock and stuff. Some punk, some rock. Just fun stuff. We're not a real serious band like Hellakill."
"Play any Misfits?" Danny asks.
"No," she says. "I know some Misfits songs, but the band doesn't do any."
"What, you're a Misfits fan now?" Kev asks him.
Danny is noncommittal. "They're all right. What's wrong with that? You don't even know The Misfits."
"Everybody knows The Misfits."
"Yeah? What's your favorite song then?"
"I don't know," Kev says. "'Evil Never Dies?'"
"That's not a song," Kathy says. "That was just on one of their t-shirts."
"Well, whatever," he says with a shrug, apparently considering the matter closed.
Kathy passes Danny the last stub of the joint. He finishes it and flicks it over the fence into the neighbor's bushes. "That was good," Kathy says. "Thanks guys. I'd better head back in."
The boys wait a moment longer and finish up their cans of beer. "You like her," Kev says.
"Whatever," Danny responds.
"I can't blame you," Kev says. "She's not bad. A bit old, but she's in a band, and that's hot I guess. Anyway, we'll have to wait and see if she's as good as Joey Jordison."
"Who the hell is that?"
Danny doesn't say anything. They finish the last of their beers and head into the house, stomping down the stairs in search of Jay and his backpack full of fresh cans.
In the basement, Pattern Disruption is getting set up. Ron, with his mop of hair and Buddy Holly glasses has a black bass slung over his shoulder, and Scott, a small guy with Celtic knot tattoos around his forearms, has on a red sunburst Fender. Julie, the blonde in the blue t-shirt, stands with a vodka cooler in her hand watching the boys get in tune.
The sound of tuning guitars draws the attention of the people upstairs, and pretty soon the basement is full of college students waiting for the band to perform. Jay has a spot on the crowded couch. Danny and Kev get fresh beers from the bag and stand in the middle of the room.
Danny spots Kathy coming out of the bathroom. She works her way through the crowd to where the band is set up. He watches her. She has taken off the brown sweater she had on outside, keeping on a black tank top. Sitting down behind the drum kit, she pauses to tie her mass of curly hair into a ponytail before picking up her drumsticks.
He finds himself watching her every action. Although she is a bit bigger, she is definitely cute. He wonders how old she is exactly. Too old for me, anyway, Danny thinks. Then again, maybe he has a shot with her. After all, she was friendly outside. But maybe she was only friendly because they were sharing the pot. The thoughts swirl around in his head, making him confused and self-conscious. It's the joint, he figures. It's making me paranoid. He chugs some beer, hoping to clear his head.
When Kathy batters the toms and does a roll on the snare, the crowd sends up an encouraging cheer. Julie takes a last swallow of artificially fruit-flavored booze, sets the bottle down, and with four sharp clacks of Kathy's drumsticks, Pattern Disruption bursts into their first song. It's a blast of pop-punk fury, with the musicians hammering away enthusiastically and Julie screaming out the words, the microphone held well back from her mouth.
The crowd reacts joyously, and even though none of them know the band or the song, they leap and dance and cheer along.
Danny and Kev nod their heads to the beat and watch. Even though everyone around them is dancing, they don't want to risk looking uncool in front of the college kids by dancing as well. But they watch. "This is all right," Danny shouts to Kev over the noise. Kev shrugs in reply.
The relative simplicity of Pattern Disruption's act makes their name ironic: they have a simple pattern and they don't disrupt it. The songs are all short and high-tempo, with simple hooks and catchy choruses that the college kids quickly learn to sing along with. In the close confines of the basement, with only a few feet separating the band from the audience, there is a chaotic atmosphere of dancing and shouting, with people jumping to see the band play. Danny jumps to see, although when he jumps he only looks to see Kathy.
After six songs, the boys have both finished their cans. Kev elbows Danny. "Grab some beers," he shouts. "Let's head outside."
Kev gives a sneer and a bored shrug. Danny shrugs too, but he looks confused. All the same, he squeezes through the packed-in people to Jay on the couch. Jay looks at Danny when he starts rooting through the backpack. Danny smiles, pulls out four cans of beer, and slips away back through the crowd.
The boys push their way to the stairs and out into the yard. "Why did you want to leave?" Danny asks, handing his friend two of the beers.
Kev sets one of the cans down and opens the other. "It's too hot down there. Besides, it's kind of like, I don't know, radio rock or pop rock or something. They're pretty good, but they don't really rock hard, you know?"
"Yeah, I guess," Danny says. "But it's pretty cool seeing a band get up and play live, don't you think? I mean, okay, they aren't Slipknot, but they're right there doing it, you know? And they are pretty good."
Kev digs into his pocket and pulls out the little packet and produces another joint. He lights it up and passes it to Danny. "Seriously dude," Kev asks, "Misfits, playing guitar, hanging out with your brother... how come you're suddenly into music so much?"
"I'm not," Danny says, putting the joint to his lips. He takes his hit and thinks about whether or not to tell his friend that Jay offered him a tryout with Hellakill. Later, he thinks. It's would be stupid to tell anyone before he even learns to play. "I'm just trying to do something different," he says. "Shit, don't you ever get bored of doing the same thing all the time?"
The boys finish the second joint and drink down the beers they brought with them, listening to the music coming from the basement. When they venture back in, Danny realizes how wasted he's quickly gotten. He and Kev often smoke joints while sitting and playing video games, but not usually one so soon after another, and not while drinking. Danny doesn't usually drink much at all, and despite his tough talk, neither does Kev.
They get downstairs. The band is dripping with sweat and the basement stinks from close bodies dancing against each other. Danny and Kev squeeze into the middle of the crowd. The band plays through the end of another loud, fast number, crashing to a halt with a crescendo of cymbals. Julie pauses, looks to her band mates, and asks through the mike, "Should we get Jay up here?"
Ron, Kathy and Scott cheer, and Julie implores the crowd to cheer for Danny's brother to come up. "Jay from Hellakill!" she shouts. Jay gets up off the couch, and although no one in the basement knows who he is, everyone cheers. He joins Julie at the microphone.
"What the hell?" asks Kev. "He's going to sing? I thought he was a guitar player."
"Jay's left-handed," Danny tells him. "I guess he can't play that guy's guitar."
"So what the hell is he doing up there?"
"This one's called 'Peaches,'" Julia announces. Kathy counts the band into a slow riff and Julie begins singing, "Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches."
"What is this shit?" Kev asks.
The band hits the verse and they suddenly crank up the temp and volume, with the cymbals suddenly crashing and the guitar screeching and blasting. Jay and Julie scream the words out together into the same microphone and the crowd begins moshing, pushing against each other and jumping up on each other's shoulders in the low-ceilinged basement.
Danny, skinny as hell and drunk on top of it, loses his balance and stumbles to the floor. Kev grabs his arm to pull him up but gets bumped, loses his balance and falls on top of his friend. They get pulled back up by the other dancers and spend the rest of the song trying to stay on their feet, while the crowd chants along with Jay and Julie, "Millions of peaches, peaches for me..." Danny ducks and dodges, trying to see between bodies. He gets a view of Kathy, red-faced and sweaty, pounding the drums at hyperactive speed.
At last the song draws to a close, and Pattern Disruption receives a long, enthusiastic ovation for their efforts. While not a technically advanced or even exceptionally skillful band, they put on a successful show through sheer effort and enthusiasm. The crowd in the basement loves them for it.
With the band finished, people start to drift upstairs to escape the stifling humidity. Danny wobbles through the loosening crowd to Jay's backpack over and digs inside, pulling out two cans of beer. He tosses one to Kev and opens his own, looking over at Jay talking to the band. He takes a good slug of beer and wobbles over to join them.
"That was fucking awesome," he says, with a slight slur.
"Thanks," says Scott. The band members carry on talking with Jay, leaving Danny and Kev on the outside of the conversation.
The boys follow them around as they haul their gear outside to a borrowed van. Danny waits, watching and drinking more beer, hoping for a random chance moment when he and Kathy are, for even a moment, alone. He hears Kev asking Ron about the 'Peaches" song, and Ron saying something about the president, but he's having trouble following the talk. He focuses on what he wants to say to Kathy, although it's all very muddled inside his head.
Kathy heads back toward the house, going up the steps and in through the front door, and Danny announces his need to use the washroom. He bounds drunkenly toward the house, hits the steps and trips, crashing face-first into the door. From there he has a hard time following exactly what's going on, as his brother's hands lift him up from the ground.
2007 Nolan Whyte