In The Van On Comeback Road Part 22

Billy starts to walk away and I step forward and swing a heavy kick into his ass, which sends him lurching forward into the crowd.

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The first band finishes. After their gear is off the stage we get up and throw together our equipment. Bobby helps Mark set up his kit. I'm pleased to see Jason hasn't bothered with his usual spider web of patch cords and pedals, but I'm still bitter and angry over the news that my wife is now doing internet porn. I'm even angrier that some prick would choose tonight to tell me the news.

Jason's the one that notices the scowl on my face and asks if anything's wrong.

"Some guy was talking shit about my ex," I tell him.

"Oh." He looks like he doesn't know what to say. "Are we going to kick his ass?"

"Maybe, but not until after the show." We finish getting everything set up, figure out the mikes, confer with Leo about the sound and the recording, and hop off the stage to wait five minutes until our appointed starting time.

Since we've all stayed clean and sober, Mark asks if we can have one beer each, just to toast, or something like that. I look at Jason and he shrugs, so I say sure, why not. I head to the bar and buy a round, and when I bring the beers back I see that Billy, the prick who was telling me about Sheila's internet escapades is standing with the band. I grit my teeth but decide not to lose my cool. I walk up and pass the beers to the boys. I don't even look at Billy while we clink the bottles together and have a drink.

"Hey Terry man, I'm sorry if I made you upset before," says Billy. "I didn't think it would be such a big deal, you know? After all, Sheila's done that stuff before, you know like, everybody knows about it, right? So I thought I was just talking about what's going on, like catching up, you know?"

I look at Billy and through clenched teeth I manage to clearly say: "I don't want to talk about this. This is not my business. I do not want to know what Sheila is doing, and I want you to get the fuck away from me."

Billy gets pissy and shouts, "Well fuck you then! Jesus, you invite me here to see your shitty band, and all you do is give me shit! Fuck you Terry, you're an asshole!"

He starts to walk away and I step forward and swing a heavy kick into his ass, which sends him lurching forward into the crowd, bumping people and spilling drinks. Bobby steps forward and pushes me back into Jason and Mark, separating me from Billy. Billy spins around and Bobby is there in his face, pushing him toward the back of the room, clearing him away while everybody stares and chatters about what just happened. That's when I notice that Matt and Wayne, the drummer and singer from Machine Within a Machine are in the crowd.

Jason and Mark are holding me by the arms, I guess expecting that I'm going to go flying after Billy to try and kill him or something. "Let go of me," I tell them. "It's all right. I'm cool."

They let me go. I check my watch and see that it's time to get started, so I push my way through the crowd to check with Leo at the sound booth. Some people talk to me, ask me what happened, but I ignore them and keep repeating, "It's all right, it's all right."

"Jesus, what the hell was that?" Leo asks as soon as I get close. "Did you just kick that guy in the ass?"

"Yeah, but don't worry about it," I say. "He's an old friend. Are you ready?"

He nods. "Yeah, it's all good here. I'll start recording as soon as you guys step on stage."

I go back to where Jason and Mark are standing by the stage stairs. Bobby appears from out of the crowd.

"Nice one, Terry," he says. "He'll be sitting funny for the rest of the night."

"Where is he?" I ask.

"I moved him to the front room, but he'll be able to get back in. Don't worry about it. I'll keep an eye out for him. Just get up there."

"Right." I look at Jason and Mark. "You guys ready?"

Without speaking, Mark jumps up the stairs and gets behind the kit. Jason and I follow him up, and because the room is full of our friends, there is a round of cheering when we step into the lights. There is also a sense of uneasiness in the room, a feeling of unpredictability borne from the fact that I kicked a guy in the ass only moments before starting the show.

I count in the first song and we start, going fast and hard into 'Knuckles.' We get through to the end of it and a big cheer goes up, but from the back of the room I hear one lone, long "Boooooo." I know it's Billy.

We play 'Rough Go' and I hear the boo again during the audience applause. I ignore it and introduce the band. Jason is giving me a worried look, but I look hard at him and say "It's okay. Let's just play."

Three more songs go by, and I can hear booing between every one. Jason and I take a quick second before starting the next one to get in tune and he says to me, "Man, that guy is fucking this all up! We're recording this! What are we going to do?"

"Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it."

I turn back toward the audience and immediately hear the boo again. "Boo all you want," I say into the mike. "I'm not going to stop calling your mom."

The crowd laughs, but he keeps booing. "All right," I say. "I'll buy a pitcher of beer to whoever brings me that guy's severed head. ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR!"

We start 'End of Us' and as predictable as can be, Billy keeps booing. I can even hear him while we're playing. I look at Bobby standing near the stage and I yell at him, well away from the mike so the whole room doesn't hear: "Go kill that asshole."

Bobby shrugs and gives me a look like, "What the fuck am I supposed to do?" But he wanders off into the crowd.

We finish the song, and the cheering is lessened. The booing is confusing the crowd, putting it off of cheering. This time I can hear Billy screaming at the back, "Terry's wife is a MILF! MILF! MILF! MILF!"

A few people laugh and start cheering 'MILF' along with him, but I count off again and we start Jason's song 'Better Off Not Knowing.' Jason steps up to sing but he's nervous and thrown off by the booing and he can barely croak out the words. I end up carrying most of it. He doesn't even bother with the last chorus and I sing it alone.

This time there's no booing, and I figure either Bobby found Billy and pushed him out the doors, or Billy's throat gave out from heckling us too much. Regardless, I count into the next song and we play through the next half dozen songs, although we are definitely not playing at our best level.

The last song we had on our set list is the new song, which I had called 'Time For You And Me.' Jason takes my bass and I strap on his guitar. He takes a moment to find his fingering. I look at him. He looks shaken but still okay. I look back at Mark, and the Scotsman is red-faced and sweaty, but otherwise he looks fine. I nod to them, turn to the audience and count in the song.

We crash into the first chord and god help me I will never be able to explain this, but at that second the stage lights go out. Mark and Jason immediately stop playing, and I quit a moment later.

"Oh, what the fuck?" Jason says loud enough for it to go out through his mike. There's a laugh from the crowd and a cheer that falls somewhere between support and mockery. In the dim light I can see the sound guy from the bar rushing up to the stage to find the problem. He plays with some cables for a minute. I shout down to him and he says he doesn't know what the problem is.

I shake my head. "Cursed," I mutter under my breath. "Doomed before we stepped on stage." I clench my fists and step up to the mike. "All right people," I say to the audience. "Did you come here to see us or to hear us?"

There's a cheer. I call to Jason and Mark and ask them if they can play the song in the dark. Mark says no problem, but Jason hesitates.

"I don't know," he says.

"Do your best, okay?" I say. "I just want to get through this and get off this stage."

"Okay."

I turn back to the mike and announce "We're going to try this one in the dark." There's another cheer. I count us in, and we plow muddily into the song. It goes badly.

I want to say that I have faith in Jason and I don't blame him for what happens. He only learned to play bass a few weeks earlier, and is really not experienced enough to play the song without being able to see his hands. Having said that, he makes a mess of the song, missing changes, playing wrong notes and generally falling out of time enough to screw up Mark and me as well. We force our way through an absolute clunker and the lights come up just in time for Mark to do a big final roll on the drums. We finish the song and our horrible set.

There was cheering and clapping and we tear down our stuff before getting off stage. When we finally mix with the crowd, people are supportive and tell us that we were good. I know there's a lot of sugar-coating going on. I go to the back of the room and look for Billy, not sure what I'll do if I find him. Bobby catches up with me and says that the bouncers threw Billy out. I nod. I don't say anything and go to get a drink.

2006 Nolan Whyte

79 comments sorted by best / new / date

    DirtyNoise
    Cool one! I would have beat his face bloody and played the set with his blood on my hands!!
    cactus
    These are the best, keep 'em coming! and for the record these stories are ****ing inspiring!
    gutfeeling666
    Damn man what a tight-ass! I wouldeve brought Bills severed head on a pole and stuck it on my guitar! Coolness! \m/(..)\m/
    cptazad
    hell ya man keep it up, you are an awesome writer, def. publish it [u must have heard this a million times by now, so make it a million and one =) ]
    Cal UK
    That was well good, as always keep up the good work Nolan. I guess Terry did literally kick Billy's ass.
    theblurbass
    Oh this is a nice one.I played in a band before and there were actually a few 'Billies; in the crowd.. i don't blame him for kickin him in the ass though.. if it were me,i would have pulled him onstage and embarass him like shi*!! Can't wait for the nx one..
    scousertommy
    "a feeling of unpredictability borne from the fact that I kicked a guy in the ass only moments before starting the show. " Hahaha brilliant. Great installment!
    x_themetalfan_x
    "Jesus, what the hell was that?" Leo asks as soon as I get close. "Did you just kick that guy in the ass?" "Yeah, but don't worry about it," I say. "He's an old friend. Are you ready?"
    Classic right there. Good stuff man!
    furtherfan21
    IT was good but you used the same introduction for every time you played a song and that got kind of old. "i counted in the song" I can imagine how it must be hard to come up with a different way to say that though. The rest of it was good though
    Willyoe
    that's happened to me so many times (**** up on one thing and the set goes down the drain) good stuff
    SGRocker407
    This stuff is amazing. I've read them alot, and I'm always going back to read previous chapters. This whole series is amazing. I'll be sad when it finally does come to an end.
    Rosencrantz
    Ha Ha I think all the background noise and threats n stuff would make for a freakin sweet live album. Could You imagine hearing: "Boo all you want!", "Im not going to stop calling your mom!" between songs on a album.
    Incubus_Rage_27
    desimate : this should definately b a tv show lol
    Haha this would make a bloody great show, id watch it and i watch about an hour of tv a week if that
    scarfacesuit
    yeah i think you guys did the right thing. that jerk deserved a kick in the ass. good stuff guys. keep it up
    Nor'Easterbass
    i'd beat his ass man. cool ****ing story tho. i always dismissed these too as as lame w/o reading one. but now i'll def not miss another. i would hate to have gone thru this set tho. WOW. i thought some of my band's have gone bad. *whistles*. Good on ya for not losing it tho. Good luck man.
    SGstriker
    Need.....next....part....soon....for....life....uhh.. 10/10 IMO best one yet.
    Fyre Deity
    Fudge... this is why i would NEVER want to be a performer. =/ I would've just given it up if that shit happened. Great stuff, once again.
    Gypsy Eyed
    I like your stories, a lot. But the problem is they're way too short .. you should post 1 short story like every week, or write longer stories & post less often... dunno, but I always seem to forget what happened in the story before when I get to read the new one ..
    sral76
    Latley i thought the writing was kinda getting slack (and the thing with terry and the chick was kinda lame) But this one really threw a bone at us and it worked out really well. keep em coming! And even though they may take a little more time in between each one as long as they are as good as this one i dont mind!
    TheMrDoug
    Wait no one has asked for the web page of his wife yet WTF? Keep up the great work this is a great break from the routine.
    dannycruz
    I'm pissed at Billy and a bit nervous like if it was me tryng to play the show. So i guess Mr. Whyte did a good job of getting the message through!
    Inf1n1tY.
    You need to learn how to write with absouloute lightspeed so that I can read your episodes without stoping. great work =)
    Metal_Rich
    Considering hes not even real, I have a want to kick Billy in the nuts! Amazing as usual!
    marius44
    Another great article. As always looking forward to the next one. Oh, and by the way I hope you beat Billy the prick senseless, and paint your bass with his blood.
    mray
    This was very good. i was expecting you guys to play some amazing show and for everything to be so cliche! and you threw me a twist! keep em coming