Brian looked at the clock on the emergency room wall. It only displayed the time as 12:30 am, but it felt like he had been there forever. Only an hour ago he and Rob had put Kevin in the back seat of his truck and raced to the hospital like it was a matter of life or death because it basically was. Their friend and bandmate had already lost a lot of blood and was losing more by the second. He probably would have died in their arms had the hospital not been only about a mile away.
His head resting in his hand on the arm of the waiting room chair, Brian kept nodding off and almost fell asleep until the rest of the band made their way into the room through the sliding glass doors that read "E.R." in 16 inch, bold red lettering. After exchanging a few worried glances, Special K and Rich sat down in chairs facing Brian, Jess, and Rob.
"So how's he doing?", asked Rich.
"They haven't told us anything yet. You know just as much as us at this point" Brian stretched his arms upward and yawned in an attempt to shake off some of his exhaustion.
"I hope he's ok" Special K proclaimed as he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.
"Me too. I don't want to have to go to another friend's funeral and have to look for another guitarist that good. They're rarer than bigfoot around here." Again Brian stretched as he got up and walked over to the coffee machine to grab a cup.
"Yeah, John was a great guy and an animal on the axe. I really wish he hadn't decided to be stupid and down a half a bottle of Captain then attempt an 8 mile drive home. I still visit the site where he smashed into that oak tree at least once a year." Rich reminisced about their lost friend and first lead guitarist, John Bello.
As he took a sip from the steaming hot cup of coffee he poured himself, underestimating just how hot it really was and burning his lips in the process, Brian thought back to that fateful night 2 years ago. They had been gigging for a year or so when they got an offer to play at a friend's backyard party. This friend was rather loaded and offered them $100 each to play at his party and they jumped at it like a cat pouncing on a mouse. As he took another sip, he went deeper and deeper into thought until it seemed like that night was happening all over again.
"Hey John, you ready to blow the lid off this f*cking place?" Brian looked at his friend as he shouted into the mic on the hastily assembled wooden stage. Looking around the friend's property they were on, he spotted a few people in the crowd he recognized- kids he went to school with, people he worked with, and a few of his cousins. The place was perfect for the party- his friend owned a gigantic, 50 acre christmas tree farm with plenty of wide open spaces to put a stage, light setup, and plenty of space for a sound guy to do his thing. They ahd invited everyone they knew, and it seems they also did the same in return. There had to be between 500 and 600 people their for the party, all of which were in front of the stage for the show.
"Damn straight, Schmidty! Let's do it!" Brian smiled at his use of the nickname everyone had given him due to his last name being Schmidt. With a huge smile on his face, John looked back at his friend after answering him through his mic and they both simultaneously rang out a long Drop D power chord on the 3rd frets of the 5th and 6th string. Special K came in a second later with continuous double bass at around a 16th note only a little slower, and Rich came in on his bass, complimenting Brian and John's power chord with one of his own. The crowd went nuts when Rob came in on the mic when they switched to a galloping rhythm on their signature song, You Hate.
You take, you break, you forsake everything I've done for you, Yet I can't help but love all the f*cked up things to me that you do, I beg, I plead, I scream for more, But again I find myself layed out on the floor!
It is I you hate, It is I you forsake, It is I you cannot take, But to you, love is all I wanna make!
Two hours later, their set was just finishing up on their encore. Sweaty and exhausted, John went into a nasty guitar solo as the rest of the band dragged out power chords and a drum roll, and they ended abruptly with a crash of the cymbals and an open power chord. Rob thanked the crowd for their support and threw some thanks to the other 2 local bands that played before them. All three bands were on about the same level in popularity, so they had to draw straws to find out the order in which they'd be playing. Luckily, The Truth (who at the time called themselves Baby Stomper) drew the longest straw and got to go on last.
An hour or so after they finished cleaning up everything, they were properly smashed, having played about 10 rounds of pong, only with shots of Jack and Captain instead of beer. There were also plenty of illegal substances making their way around the multitude of people still hanging around. About 100 or so had stayed after the bands finished up to party hard with them, but only about 2 or 3 dozen intended to stay the night, mostly due to them being so inebriated they could barely stand up. Brian was in the middle of a game of pong with Rich and a couple groupies when he felt a tap on his right shoulder.
"Yo. Yo, yo... man. I'ma get the f*cked outta shere. I gotta get up fer work early t'marra" Brian turned and it was John, who was clearly beyond the 7th level of f*cked up. He was hanging on a groupie's shoulder, supporting himself.
"You sure bout that, man? I mean, the party's shtill gooooooinnn!" Struggling to stand up himself, Brian put his hand on the end of the pong table to steady himself. He didn't want his friend to drive home in his state, but he could hardly do anything about it being just as smashed. His state of mind also skewed his view of how drunk other people were. No one around them were any better themselves.
John leaned over and attempted to whisper in Brian's ear, but couldn't control the volume of his voice with how much alcohol was flowing through his blood stream. "Yeeaaahhh, maaan. I'll beee just fine. Plus I gots dis hot ash groupie that wants my meat. Cannut argya with that, can ya?"
"Nah, guesh not. Jusht....jusht be careful, mmmk?"
"You know me, ahm always careful. I'll catch ya later. Keep it metal!
John stumbled back to his car with the groupie in tow, both of them falling over themselves to get in. John started up his Lancer and attempted to back out of his spot straight, narrowly avoiding running one of the party goers over, and squealed out of the driveway. He succeeded in missing the gate to the white picket fence at the end of the driveway, but completely took the lamp post out of the ground that marked the entrance to it at night. Brian had a huge smile on his face thinking his friend was fine, but a sickeningly loud crunch and the sound of shattering glass and bursting tires a few seconds later wiped it completely off. He immediately turned when he heard a few people scream at the top of their lungs and swore he could smell smoke.
Running to the front of the property, he looked in the direction that John had gone and a few hundred feet down the road was a car completely engulfed in flames. He and a few other people, including Rich and the groupies they were with raced down on foot to see if they could help, but the flames were so intense they couldn't get anywhere near it.
Planting himself on the side of the road and burying his face in his hands with tears streaking down his arms, Brian's mind just went blank. He felt like he was floating above his own body as he watched the whole scene unfold. He knew they were there but wasn't completely aware of the police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances screaming to the scene, lights and sirens blaring. He didn't even move when a ricochet blast from the fire hose blasted him and soaked him almost to the bone. He only came to when he found someone put their hand on his left shoulder and shake him a bit to get him to come around.
"Brian? Brian! Snap out of it! The doctor's coming out, he's got news on Kevin's condition!"
Looking back, Brian saw Jess behind him, but it didn't register in his mind where exactly he was for a few seconds. He looked around and reminded himself that he was in the E.R. of the hospital. He could have sworn that he had traveled back in time to that fateful night and hours had passed. He pulled out his cell phone from his jean shorts pocket, and only 5 minutes had elapsed. Turning and following Jess, he walked over to Rich, Rob, and Special K who were now standing in a semi-circle around the doctor as he gave them the news on their friend.
"So what's going on back there? Is he alright?" Jess had an eager look on her face as she asked the doctor, her hands folded together and in front of her face.
"Well I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?" The doctor rifled through the clip board of papers he was holding, looking down at it.
"I don't care, just tell us how he's doing!" Rob looked like he was about ready to punch someone, which he very well may have if the doctor delayed anymore.
"Ok, well the good news is that your friend is going to live. The knife missed all his major organs and arteries, and we were able to patch him up. He lost a lot of blood though, and we had to put him under to get him to stop moving around so much and opening up the wound again."
"And the bad news?" Brian didn't even look up as he kept his head down, not wanting to show that he was scared shitless for his friend. He just kept looking from his shoes to his left arm where Jess had wrapped he right arm around it.
"The bad news is we think the knife nicked a nerve. Specifically one that deals with fine motor control in his upper extremities."
"English please, doc?" Special K looked at the doctor more confused than a mosquito in a mannequin factory.
"It means he may never be able to play guitar again. We won't know until he gets plenty of rest and has time to heal. My suggestion would be to not let him play guitar for a few weeks to let him get better. I'm sorry for your friend, but I have a bunch of other patients I need to go check on. I wish you guys and him only the best."
As the doctor coldly walked back into the restricted area where they kept the patients, the remaining members of The Truth were left to contemplate the fate of their band as they sat back down in the waiting room chairs.