And that's how I learned my father can slap his son as well as he slaps his bass. Jay muttered, tossing the low tom at Anson, who was barely awake.
That's fine and dandy there, Jesus, but why are we playing this late? Anson answered. He caught the tom deftly and yawned.
You got us this gig, man. Was Becker's response. He was sitting nearby on Eric's amp, sipping a Diet Coke. So no complaining!
Anson growled under his breath and placed the tom down next to Becker.
But you'd think I would have figured out the time. Anson replied morbidly. Becker looked down at his watch, which was barely illuminated in the dim light of the street lamps. It was fourteen minutes to midnight, and the opening band (them) had not even gone on yet. Becker nodded amusedly.
Eric soon walked out from the back door of the Garden, with a simple piece of printer paper in his hand. Becker stood to greet him, but Eric kept walking. He turned around the van and went to Anson. The two mulled over the paper for a moment before Eric went to Jay for further consultation.
Yeah, not like I need to see the set list, or anything. Becker muttered under his breath. Maybe we should just finish with Enigma.' Anson suggested as he pulled his amp out of the van. Nah. Eric replied. 'Enigma' is an opener, if anything.
Well, it still reeks of Butthole Surfers. Anson joked.
Careful there. Becker leapt in. I wrote that.
Which explains the self-righteous bass line. Anson shot back.
Oh, snap. Came Jay's input from the roof of the van where he now stood. Gather round, apostles.
The three present did so, leaning on the black coloured side of the van. Charlie was still inside, trying to get everything in order. But the remaining apostles gathered around their false God like hungry dogs did to a slab of meat loaf.
Tonight is ourwell, I'll call it our highlight. It is our highlight, and we need to prove it to someone that we can do it. No, not those people in there. Not La Migra. And not even God! We need to prove it to ourselves. We need to show ourselves that we can be the best we can be. And even though I sound like a god dang drill instructor, I know we can go in there and leave on fire. And that's not even due to Eric's raging pyromania! So get in there and show yourself that you are a God among men!
There was a long pause as everyone lowered their head in thought. Becker always hated long silences. He felt as if the awkwardness might actually kill him, like a poisonous gas. He had to break it; somehow.
And he did, by coughing as loud as he could. Everyone returned to their senses, and Jay leapt off the van as swift as a stuntman and landed softly on the balls of his feet. He turned to Becker and laid a hand on his shoulder.
You are such an awkward young man. He said with a laugh. Becker scowled.
Must you be the speech maker? Becker replied as the two grabbed supplies and waddled to the door.
Sure do. Jay replied. He opened the door to the Garden. It screeched like a skinned cat. I am the son of God.
Becker heard a laugh from Anson as the group entered the back door of the Garden. A strange musky smoke smell immediately assaulted their nostrils and made their eyes water. Becker could only guess where the smoke came from. The four barged through the back halls, which had vines painted on the walls to symbolize a literal Garden. A door around the corner had a label taped to it: Chagrin.
Holy hell, we get our own room? Becker said with a grin. Jay nodded gleefully, his shaggy hair bouncing with his movements. He gave a shove on the door, and it opened to reveal a nice sized room with cream coloured walls and a large mirror on one end. Charlie sat in a beanbag chair in one corner, his face buried in his PSP. Snap. Anson said as he peered in the room from the hall. Okay, where'd they hide the stash?
He tossed his amp in a corner and sat on the vanity placed against the north wall of the room. It creaked oddly but held his weight appropriately. Eric stumbled in after handing his equipment off to one of the stage managers and shoved Becker aside. Christ on a crutch. We really get a dressing room? Eric muttered as he threw himself into the other beanbag chair in the opposite corner to Charlie.
Yep. Charlie replied. Next to him on the floor was a bottle of Poland Springs and a small bottle of mouthwash. What are those for? Anson asked curiously.
Water to clear my throat. Scope to make it bleed.
That'sweird. Eric sighed, placing his face in his hands. He took a deep breath and took the familiar crumpled piece of paper out of his jacket pocket. Eric had decided to dress himself accordingly this evening: a black Gibson t-shirt and carpenter jeans. Over it he wore a strange black jacket covered in unnecessary zippers. Very metal, Becker could describe it as.
Were you planning on letting me see the set list? Becker asked indignantly.
You're a bassist. Eric set up. Here's all you need to know: CDBDCDBB
Burn! shouted Anson. He gave a cackle, but it was destroyed when the vanity creaked again, and the look on the poor rhythm guitarists face was priceless. I've written more songs than you. Becker scoffed as he snatched away Charlie's water and took a large sip before throwing it back at the singer, who responded with a boar-like snort. Ah, you got me! Eric replied sarcastically and gripped his chest as if he was having a heart attack. In his wraith-like spasms, he tossed the crumpled paper at Becker, who caught it as well as a baseball catcher would. He looked over it with a disturbing interest.
So you open with Enigma anyway? Becker asked as he threw the paper back. It bounced casually off Eric's broad chest and rolled across the floor. Just to piss you off. Eric replied sleepily. Goddamn, what time is it?
12:12. Jay said as he glanced at Becker's watch. We go on at 12:30.
Just enough time for a quickie! Anson announced pervishly, much to the band's chagrin.
Gina's in Bermuda, isn't she? Eric asked, blinking oddly.
I guess you would know, huh? Anson returned with harshness in his voice. I know you two have been fooling around behind my back for a week now.
Well, I love how you comforted her after the whole Spraypaint Shredder incident!
They had labeled their violent stalker the Spraypaint Shredder. They had recovered rather easily from the incident, but it kept them unnerved knowing that he or she was still out there somewhere. Becker had been up late last night, unable to sleep with the thought that the Shredder might be in the audience tonight. He shivered at the thought, even as Anson and Eric fought.
Guys! Guys! Jay interrupted, throwing himself between the two guitarists before they could tear each other to shreds. Do NOT allow her to come between us!
Whatever. Eric replied calmly, albeit with a sick grin.
Watch it, Eric. Anson said, getting in Eric's face. You're not invincible.
The gig went smoothly, much to Becker's surprise. He could literally feel the tension in the band. However, Jay played with an intensity Becker had not seen before, and Eric & Anson must have channeled their frustration into their guitar work, as they tore it right up. Charlie was his usual dopey self, and Becker followed suit as only a bassist can.
They started with Mars, a mellower tune written by Jay and Becker, which transitioned nicely into Crash the Glass, which was faster and more aggressive. Jay's blast beats on the bass drum seemed to flow into the bass rhythm (mostly slap-pop work). Anson even kept time appropriately, unlike his usual rhythm. They then moved into Inferno (Eric's song) then Glory. Becker thought that was an awkward little transition, but he went with it. Then, as Eric directed Anson to start the distortion to Enigma, it happened. Anson scowled, began the chord, and spat at Eric. The larger, more skilled guitarist narrowly avoided it, and instead used his dodge as a flourish, turning into his own opening riff. Anson countered, carrying the rhythm to where Becker and Jay entered. Charlie watched in disbelief as Eric and Anson literally glared at each other and ended the song and their set. Immediately, the two took off their guitars and left the stage in separate directions, like boxers left the ring to their separate corners. Except in this case, there were no corner coaches waiting to give them a pep talk. Becker reacted quick enough in removing his bass to catch Anson's sleeve and reel him in close.
Anson, do not let this break us up. Becker begged with his brightest eyes.
Save the puppy dog eyes. Anson shot back, pulling free. Eric needs to learn about consequences.
It was about 1:30 before La Migra finished. Becker found himself alone at a green table in the darkest corner of the Garden. A thick smoke hovered at just about eye level, and it showed in Becker's gaze. He could already tell he was off the wagon, and it almost ruined his greeting when Andrew, the bassist for La Migra, approached him with an honest look in his eyes. Andrew was a bit more heavy set than the rest of La Migra, and had a strange almost-bowl cut hairdo. He could slap his bass as well as a pimp slaps a ho, and it showed: his fingers were calloused to hell and his face was tired and worn.
Dude, nice set. Becker managed to shoot out in time for Andrew to take a seat next to him.
Same to you, man. Andrew replied. Let me get right to the point. I won't bulls--t you. We really liked how you guys played. Theuh, intensity was right up in there. It's like you guys hate each other.
He laughed, and Becker joined him in a fake chortle. It was sad. They kind of DID hate each other.
Anyway, here's the news. Andrew picked up. La Migra is going on a bit of awell, we'll call it a tour. Mike and Kris have saved up and rented money for this big ass bus, and we're gonna hit the whole eastern sea board. We want you guys to come with. Interested?
Becker could hardly believe his ears. Really? Touring with La Migra? This was something only the Claw Brothers Band had experienced (of course then, it was La Migra who were still the bright eyed newbies touring with Claw Brothers.) He had to accept.
Hell, yeah. Becker said with a light in his glazed eyes. Just drop me a line.
I got your e-mail and everything. Andrew said as he stood. I'll send you info later.
Awesome. Becker said as Andrew walked back into the gloom. Justawesome
At 2, the remainder of Chagrin was packing up the van. Jay, Becker, and Charlie were moving slowly but surely, and were fairly unaware of the location of both the guitarists. Jay was the most in gear, and he loaded his drums with relative ease as Charlie and Becker struggled with amps.
Don't let this get you down, guys. Jay said hopefully. It's just a little spat over a girl. It'll pass.
Becker wanted to tell them about La Migra's offer, but he decided it wasn't the best time for it. He kept quiet for now as he loaded his amp into the dark, gaping mouth of the van. It seemed to swallow his arms, but much to his relief, they returned to him undigested.
It was then they heard the yelp that would haunt them for ages. It was a scream of terror; of pain. It made their blood run cold and their spines shiver. And immediately, all three knew whose mouth it had come from.
Jay was off running toward the Garden's only alley between itself and the bowling alley downtown. Charlie and Becker were right behind, running like scared gazelle from a lion. Becker nearly vomited when he saw the sight of Jay cradling Eric's head in his arms as Eric held one hand to his stomach. A flow of red ran between his fingers. Eric! Jay cried. What happened?!
Eric lifted his head uneasily and spoke in a hoarse whisper.
Stabbed me. He said weakly. Tell me Anson didn't do this! Jay said slowly but with a rage in his voice.
No. Eric answered with a groan as the red pool beneath his hand grew larger. Becker could hear the sound of Eric ragged breathing, Jay's sobs, and Charlie dialing 911. Nothing else. Nothing else in the world mattered right then. He was caught in his own personal hell.
But then Becker turned in his wave of confusion. No better streetlight could have illuminated what he saw on that damned brick wall. It was written in bright green paint.
The Shredder had struck again.