I would like to tell you that when the guys from Seriosity showed up to get their drums, they got lippy and we, the heroic members of Riot Band, had to kick their asses. It would make a great story if they arrived with our guitars, and on inspection there was a scratch on my bass that hadn't been there before, and Nick, Jed, Ryan and I were forced to beat the collective shit out of our surf-metal adversaries.
It would be wonderful if I could tell a story about a massive house-clearing battle, with the Seriosity guys showing up with nunchuks and baseballs bats, and only superior kung fu skills saving us from getting our skulls split. I would like to tell about an Old West saloon brawl, with guys getting thrown through the front window of the house onto the muddy front lawn, with broken chairs and bottles flying through the air and an old man in the corner playing ragtime piano to provide the musical backdrop.
But alas, it didn't go down that way.
Nick, Jed, Ryan and I were sitting around Nick's trashed living room, playing video games and talking over the show when we heard a vehicle pull up in front of the house. I took a look out the window and spotted an old beast of a pickup. Two guys hopped out, grabbed guitar cases from the back, and came up to the front door.
Is it the whole band? Jed asked, not getting off the couch to look. His nose was swollen and red. It had crossed my mind that it might be broken, but he didn't seem to think so.
Just two, I said.
It was James, the bass player, and Kyle, the drummer. The two guitarists, Doug and Randy, weren't with them. Apparently they had been the most involved in the fight, so it was probably smart on Seriosity's part to not have them show their faces.
I went and answered the door, letting the two of them in. Kyle walked in with a six pack of beer, which he offered to us as a sign of peace. They offered up meek apologies for the scrap and handed over our guitars.
Jed and Ryan and I exchanged looks and decided to play it cool. There was nothing to be gained by being assholes to these guys. The guitars were untouched, so the six of us drank the beers in an awkward silence, and then Kyle and James hauled the amps and drums out of Nick's basement.
When their gear was in the back of the truck, they came back in and stood looking at Nick. Um, how did it go with the money from the door? Kyle asked.
Nick looked around at us. Hell, I forgot, he said. Anyone know where that can of money ended up?
We looked around for the bucket of cash that Nick's hairball roommate Jordan had been guarding, but we couldn't turn it up. Nick went upstairs to wake up Jordan, who came down the stairs about ten minutes later. He looked like something Satan's dog had thrown up, but he had the money can. In his drunken state, he'd decided to take it to bed with him.
Nick spread the cash out on the floor and counted it out, with all of us crowded around watching. It totaled up to a hundred sixty dollars, meaning that eighty people had shown up for the party and actually paid. Splitting the money ten ways, with an equal cut for the members of the two bands, plus Nick and his roommates, we were all due sixteen dollars. Nothing special, but not really bad, either.
Nick handed over the sixty-four bucks to pay out the four members of Seriosity, and Kyle and James left. I guess both sides tried to act classy, but I got the sense everyone still had bad feelings about how the night went down.
So we'd survived our first show. But Riot Band was officially back to having no drum set to use.
Should I try and figure out the next gig? Nick said as we left his house that afternoon. I could check around, see about another band that's willing to share their drums?
I shrugged. No rush, I said. I need to spend some time with my books. I've been pretty slack with studying while we got ready for this thing. I don't want to fail any courses.
Yeah, Ryan said. We can take it easy for a while. Maybe write some songs.
Right, Jed said, looking over at me.
Hold on, guys, Nick said. Is that it? Are we taking a break until the end of the semester, or what? One show and that's it?
No, no, I said. Um, let's practice Friday afternoon, maybe. I nodded to Jed. You can bring your acoustic. We'll just work on shit. New songs. Figure out what we want to do next.
We agreed on the time and then all went our separate ways. And I actually did spend Saturday night studying. I took it easy on Sunday, and on Monday it was back to my usual routine. Classes, studying in the coffee shop, and then home to eat, study more, and sleep.
On Tuesday night, Jed called up and caught me at my apartment. Eric, hey, he said. How's it going? Been working on any lyrics?
What? No. I've been studying. Why?
I wasn't kidding when I said we should try and write some songs together, he said. Look, do you want to get together tomorrow night? We could just kick around some idea. Play with some chords and words. If you want, I could bring my guitar around to your place.
I was standing in my kitchen holding the phone. My roommates were all around me. Kara and Angie were in the kitchen as well, baking. Dustin and Roommate Nick were playing videos games in the living room. It was like a freaking ant hill of roommates.
No, I told Jed. My place is no good. Can we jam at your place?
It's not really ideal, he said. My landlord is kind of a psycho. I'd rather not get into it.
Okay, I said. Give me a few minutes, and I'll call you back. I hung up on him and called Jasmine, who happily agreed to let us use her apartment. I called Jed back, and we had a date.
* * * * *
I took my bass with me to school on Wednesday, and after class I met Jasmine at The Bean Machine. She looked hot. The weather was getting warmer and warmer, and she was wearing a short plaid skirt and a tight top under her jacket. Her legs were pale, but after not seeing much skin over the winter, they looked pretty good.
Hey, she said, sitting down across from me. How's it going?
Good, I said.
That's good. I was glad you called, even if it was just to use my place, she said. I was starting to think you didn't want to hang out with me.
Um, no, I said. I've been studying a lot, that's all. I've got some catching up to do.
That's cool. God, I had the worst day. I'm so sick of the stupid assholes that you have to deal with every day. Do you know what I mean? Dumb f--kers in class asking stupid questions, wasting time... Bitches drifting down the hallways on their cell phones, slowing everybody else down Sometimes I wish I could just blow away anyone who gets in my way, you know?
Yeah, I guess, I said. I don't pay much attention to things like that.
Hold on, she said. I'll be right back. She got up and went to get a cup of coffee. There were a few people in line before her, and it took a few minutes to get served. When she got back, she was even grumpier than before.
Did you see that slob in front of me? she said. Just ignorant. How long does it take to order coffee? God, I just hate people.
I wasn't quite sure what she was so pissed off about, so I just nodded seriously. Yeah, I said. What a dick. Um, you seem upset.
No, she said. I'm fine. Look, do you want to go outside for a smoke? I don't feel like sitting in here.
I picked up my bass and we left. Jasmine smoked a cigarette and talked as we walked to her place. She seemed to have complaints about everything. I listened as we walked along, but for the most part, I didn't have much to add. I didn't really know Jasmine very well yet. I'd seen her drunk a few times, when she had been either aggressive or amorous, and when she was sober she usually seemed cool and interested in impressing me. This against-everything rant caught me off guard.
We got to her place, and I leaned my bass against the wall. I was glad to see that her goofy roommate, Barnes, wasn't home. I took off my coat and sat down on the living room couch.
Jasmine went to the little kitchen. Want something to drink? she asked.
No. I'm still full of coffee.
I'm going to have some wine. Want some?
No, I said. I'm really okay. Besides, it's like, four o'clock.
She took a green-tinted bottle out of the refrigerator. Yeah, but so what? she said. It's not like I'm performing surgery later. She took a water glass out of the cupboard and poured herself a generous glass of red wine, then put the bottle back in the fridge.
Aren't you supposed to drink red wine warm? I asked, as she came over and sat next to me.
Maybe, she said. I guess I'm not classy like that. She then proceeded to knock back half of the glass, drinking it down in long gulps. She shivered, twitched a bit, then sighed and smiled at me. Nice, she said. She set the glass down on the end table.
I'm not much of a wine person, myself, I said.
Jasmine reached over and started stroking the back of my neck. That doesn't matter, she said. You're pretty cool, I think. You don't seem to be a total prick like most people I seem to meet. It's nice to meet a guy who isn't a total asshole for once.
You've dated some jerks, huh?
Yeah, she said, twirling her fingers through my hair. Real dicks. Guys who would f--k me and then not return my calls...I hate shit like that. She took her hands off my neck long enough to take out her cigarette pack and light a cigarette.
While Jasmine smoked her cigarette and drank up the rest of her wine, she told me about a few of the guys she'd gone out with recently. She had vitriol for each of them, although the only crime they seemed to commit was, at one point or another, wanting to stop dating her. She drank up the last of her wine and crushed out her cigarette.
You're not like those guys, she said, and she slid in close to me. I can tell.
A little alarm bell went off in my head as she put her lips on mine and kissed me. I could taste the dirty-sour mix of cheap wine and cigarettes. It was sleazy, but I guess that was part of the attraction, because I ignored the alarm bell and kissed her back.
* * * * *
Around seven o'clock Jed arrived. I was sitting in the living room again, thumping around on my bass. Jasmine was in the shower. I answered the buzzer and let Jed in.
He had his acoustic with him, and he sat down on a chair across from me. Nice place, he said. Who did you say lived here?
Jasmine, I said. I guess she's my girlfriend now.
He grinned. You don't sound exactly thrilled about it.
I've got a lot on my mind, I said.
Oh, yeah? he said, taking his guitar out its case. Like what?
Well, for example, how do you think Ryan will take it when he finds out we're getting together behind his back to write new songs? He seems pretty sensitive about that kind of thing. He could get pissed off.
Yeah, I thought of that too, Jed said. His nose didn't look so red now, but he did have two black eyes, which after four days were beginning to fade to a yellow bruise color. I figure if we come up with some good riffs, we can just slip them into the jam, and build a song around them together. Or if we come up with a whole song, we'll just say you wrote it by yourself.
You'd let me take the credit?
He shrugged. Sure. It's no big deal.
What if the song becomes a huge hit? Worth millions?
Ha! Dude, that's not going to happen. He turned and looked toward the bathroom. Is she in the shower?
Did you guys just... He trailed off, but his meaning was clear. I nodded again.
Should I take off? he asked. You know, if you two want to hang out by yourselves, I'd understand.
No, I said. Let's play. I need some distraction right now. Like I said, I've got a lot on my mind.
2009 Nolan Whyte