Jay sits red-eyed and twitchy in his parents' kitchen waiting for his father to wake up. The events of the night before keep replaying in his head like an anxious nightmare: Hellakill's charity gig and their failure to capture the audience, the discussions about the band's misdirection, the discovery that Peter's van had been broken into and their equipment stolen, talking to the police and the long, exhausting arguments between the band members that followed.
The clock on the microwave says a quarter to six. The sky in the east isn't getting light yet, but Jay knows his father will be up soon. Like his mother, the old man works ridiculous hours and sometimes doesn't come home at all in hopes of avoiding confrontation with the other members of the family. It's a shaky, unsustainable household system.
At ten after six Jeff Warren comes into the kitchen and pours himself a cup of the coffee Jay made. You're up early, he grunts.
I haven't been to bed yet. I need to talk to you about something. Serious.
Jeff Warren takes the milk from the fridge and pours a dash into his cup. Oh? He doesn't look at his son.
I might need to borrow some money.
His father turns around, a relieved look on his face. Oh. What for?
My guitar and gig amp were stolen last night. Our whole van got cleared out, and I don't have the cash to replace it. Can you loan me some money?
I don't know, Jay. A new guitar and amp, what's that going to cost?
At least a thousand bucks to get proper gear. There's no point in going cheap and buying crap.
Jeff sips his coffee, and after a moment's thought, shakes his head. No, I can't do that.
Jay, frustrated and on the point of exhaustion, feels his hands forming fists under the table. I'd pay you back, he says. Besides, Danny probably spends that much on video games every year. I need this.
Well, that's a little different. I can tell you it isn't a thousand bucks, but if you haven't noticed, Danny is still in school. You graduated three years ago and you're unemployed, living here rent free.
That band is my job, Jay says. And I've given you guys money for my share.
That's true, you have occasionally. Jeff Warren sits down at the table across from Jay. As for the band being your job, assuming you're serious, I would say you're not doing very well if after three years you haven't earned or saved enough to replace your guitar. Don't you have insurance?
Sounds like you don't take that job very seriously. He pauses, and looks at his son's face. He sighs. Look, I don't mean to be a dick about this. It's tough having your stuff ripped off, I know. I had a car stolen when I was your age. If I had an extra grand lying around to lend you, this might even be worth talking about, but I don't. He sips his coffee and looks through the doorway towards his bedroom. Um, there are going to be some changes around here in the next little while, and money is going to be tight. I don't want to worry you or anything, but we're all going to have to pull our own weight. There really isn't extra money for things like guitars. Jeff Warren shrugs. Besides, don't you have another one anyway?
Jay smiles ironically. What, the one from Sears?
Sure. What's wrong with that one?
Dad, I got that when I was twelve. It's a half-assed beginner guitar with crap sound and it's sized for a child. I'd look like an idiot if I used that thing on stage.
Doesn't the guy from AC/DC use a little guitar?
Yeah, nice try. He's like, five feet tall so a tiny guitar looks normal on him. If I use a tiny guitar I'm going to look like I stole it from some little kid.
His father nods. Right. And I guess the guy from AC/DC doesn't buy his guitars at Sears.
Jeff Warren leaves for work, and Jay, with nothing left to try, goes to his room and falls exhausted on his bed.
Danny arrives home from school at four o'clock that afternoon, his backpack slung low off his shoulders. He's tired and bitter from staying up late, fighting between the urge to play video games and finish his English assignment. He managed to finish at one in the morning but did a poor job of it. He knows he's going to get another low mark on it, likely a small notch above a failing grade.
Dropping his backpack on the living room couch, he heads into the kitchen. Jay is there, standing in his bathrobe talking on the phone. Danny nods to his brother.
Pattern Disruption? Jay says into the receiver. They're good enough to get a gig on their own. They don't need us.
Pattern Disruption, Danny thinks. That's the band with the cute drummer. Karen? No, Kathy.
I guess, Jay says into the receiver. So you haven't talked to them yet?... Friday night rehearsals? I guess you can do that when you never have any gigs... Yeah, good point. Okay, yeah, I'll come. You realize it doesn't help me though. I still won't have a guitar.
Danny, who had been looking into the cupboards for a snack gives Jay a confused look.
Right. See you. Jay hangs up the phone.
What was that all about? Danny asks, pouring himself a bowl of cereal.
Our equipment was stolen last night.
Shit, man. How?
Out of the van.
That sucks. Danny gets the milk from the fridge and sets himself up at the table. You forget to lock it?
No, fuck-wad. They used a slim jim on the lock. Jay snaps. Look, sorry. I didn't sleep last night. He pauses. What are you doing tonight?
Nothing, Danny says, munching a mouthful of cereal. Probably hanging out with Kev. Why?
Do you want to hang out with Steve and me and those guys from Pattern Disruption?
Is it another party?
No, they're just rehearsing. The freaks practice on Friday nights, can you believe that? We're just going to hang out. Steve and I need to ask them if we can borrow their gear for a show a few weeks from now.
So why do you need me?
Could be fun. We'll have some laughs. You get along with Steve, right?
Danny stirs the cereal with his spoon. Yeah, Steve's okay. He's funny. He's nicer than Tyson, anyway. That guy seems like kind of a cock sometimes.
Yeah, he takes himself pretty seriously, Jay says. He thinks maybe you're not going to be good enough to play in the band. But you're going to try and prove him wrong, aren't you?
Danny shrugs. I guess. Are we going to play today?
Jay nods. I have to dig out my old guitar. Let me shower and I'll meet you downstairs.
That night Jay and Danny take the bus downtown. They meet up with Steve and start walking to Julie's house where Pattern Disruption practices.
See, it's a good plan, Steve says as they walk. These guys never get gigs except house parties and free festivals and shit like that. So even if they don't get paid, I'm sure they'd be happy to come up and play a few songs at a place like Duke's, just to get the exposure. We can use their gear for the rest of the night, and everybody wins.
It feels manipulative, Jay says, adjusting his beer-filled backpack. I feel like we're trying to take advantage of them.
Of course we are, Steve says. But they're getting something out of it. If they get booked to play Duke's after that, it would totally be worth while for them.
Duke's? Danny says. In the Fields Hotel? That place is kinda rough, isn't it?
It's not that bad, Jay says. It has a rough reputation. It's more redneck than dangerous. Besides, they're one of the better paying places in the city.
Yeah, agrees Steve. As long as you can put up with ugly patrons and '80s hairstyles, it's a good place to play. And Pattern Disruption could handle the place. You know, I think they just don't know how to look for gigs.
So what are you guys going to do about your gear? Danny asks as they turn onto a quiet side street. Can the cops do anything?
Not much, Jay says. We gave them the serial numbers off the guitars, but except for checking pawn shops and shit like that, there's not much we can do.
Unless we see the shit-bags using the stuff at a gig, says Steve, pulling the cord to start an imaginary chainsaw. Then we go all Scarface on them. He mimes cutting Jay in half. Bzzzzz-ew.
Fuck, would that ever be nice. Jay pulls out a cigarette. I'd fucking kill anyone I saw using my guitar on stage.
They walk along until they come to a large house surrounded by a tall hedge. The muffled rumble and crash of a band can be heard coming from the property.
Is this the one? Jay asks. It sounds like the one.
Yeah, I guess, Steve says. Julie gave me the number but I've never been here before. Can you see the number on the house? He starts up the driveway and leans toward the garage door. Yeah, he says to Jay and Danny on the sidewalk. It's them in there. I can hear them playing that fucking 'Peaches' song. Come on, let's find a way in.
They walk along the walkway at the side of the garage toward the rear of the property. There's a window, and they step on their toes to look in. Pattern Disruption is inside the garage, working their way through the song. The bass player Ron notices and nods to them, but the band keeps playing. Steve, Jay and Danny walk to the back and bang on the entry door. The music carries on.
I guess they're going to finish the song, Jay says.
Steve smirks. They're dedicated.
Jay turns to Danny. I guess I should have mentioned this before, he says. I saw Ron and Kathy at the show last night. Kathy, the drummer, right? She asked me how old you were. I um, I told her you're twenty years old and that you're in college.
Steve bursts out laughing, unable to stop until he's doubled over, gasping for breath.
Danny shakes his head in angry wonder. What the fuck did you tell her that for? I mean, fuck me man, what the fuck?
Hey, I'm sorry. I was trying to help you out. She seemed interested, despite what an idiot you made of yourself at that party. I figured there's no way she would go for you if she knew you're in high school, so I told a little lie. It'll work out fine. Just nod and shrug if she asks you about school.
Aw, Danny sputters, unable even to form words. Aw, gah, you fucking...ugh. You fuck! You fucked me.
The music inside the garage comes to a stop. Steve straightens up, holding his sides. Oh! Oh, that's beautiful. Don't worry Danny, he says, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder. We'll cover for you. I'll say you're in one of my classes.
Yeah, they'll really believe that, you bastards...
The door opens and Scott, Pattern Disruption's guitar player greets them. Hey boys, he says. Come on in.
2007 Nolan Whyte