The Duke. Chapter 1

James Duke begins the path to fame while facing his own inner demons.

Ultimate Guitar

Chapter 1

I was roaming through the woods, angry, violent, beastly. My walk was swift and uncoordinated. Low hanging limbs from sweetly smelling trees scratched my face as I pushed through deep into the forest. The moon shined bright on this cold december night but it was partially covered by the thick clouds. Rain clouds I thought. I kept going until I could see the stars, and the roar of the nearby highway couldn't be heard. Rustling among the leaves and the trees unnerved me a bit but I ignored it as well as the intensifying pain of open wounds. The sound of a small stream could be heard louder and louder and louder and louder until I came across so I stopped and sat with my feet beneath the water, just trying to put myself in their shoes, to understand why or how they could act so viciously towards me. But the more you try to justify someone's actions the more you wonder how they could find the reasoning to think that what they did was right. Then there's more rustling and an elk came into view. He stood tall, majestic, like a king walking among his constituents. His chest puffed out in a proud, powerful show of strength and his nostrils flared. Neither of us made a move and we just stared at eachother, eye to eye, for a while. You tend to forget about the things that make you angry when you stare into the eyes of a 700 pound elk. It all came rushing back like a needle of adrenaline into the heart and in a moment I was standing just across the stream from this massive creature, enraged and reckless.

"The **** you looking at? Huh? Answer me you giant piece of shit!"

He raised his antlers and stepped forward, into the moonlit stream and fully exposed now I realized he was much larger than I'd previously supposed. This noble beast stood high above me and pulled back a bit in what seemed like fear. I smiled and stepped forward into the stream. We stood just a few feet away from eachother. Close enough that I could smell his breath as he exhaled; it reeked like urine and moisture oozed down from his mouth and his nose to where his legs met the ground. There was no fear just an urge, an urge to kill this elk with my bare hands. I wanted to force my hands through his eye sockets and crush his brain within my hands. I wanted to watch him twist and contort in pain, flop around on the ground and die. It appeared that he felt much less kindly about me and before I could even think he was over me, trampling me and the fear began to flow through my veins.

"Stop it please! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Just please stop!"

But animals are animals and animals don't have reason they just have instinct. A basic primal instinct that they operate on to survive. It keeps them alive and they keep listening to it, because animals can't think for themselves, all they have is instinct. Then one of his feet came down hard on my hand and I heard something crunch. Nothing I'd ever felt could ever compare to the wretched pain I felt. This is what happens when people are angry insomniacs who lose their head and go running into the woods at night without considering the fact that they may not be the only one there.

Antlers slammed down into the grown around my leg and ripped skin before lifting back up, dragging me up along with them. My body swung in every direction, bones snapped, ligaments tore and I puked on myself. I hate that I'm going to die painfully and alone in the woods. Execution by elk. I don't think they'd ever find my body out here. Are there vultures in the woods? I doubt it but I'm sure every starving critter would flock to consume every last bit of my rotting carcass.They say when you're about to die your life flashes before your eyes but I just got a bit nostalgiac thinking about my old friends, my old house and the leather boots I would wear. I was muscular and handsome, my skin was a dark even tan instead of being pale, blotchy, and peeling. My hair was jet black and my voice was deep, masculine, attractive. I knew how to talk to women, I mean I really knew. It wasn't so much what I said but how and when I'd say it. Of course that was a few years back.

"Hey man, can I get a cigarette?"

"Huh? What? No, get the hell away from me you fiend. What the hell do you think I am? Your goddamn cigarette vendor? Jesus christ." That would be me at age 17.

"Hey Duke you still playin' at Queen Bee's tonight?"

I was never really fond of the name Duke. It reminded me too much of my great uncle's dead dog Duke. But I'd never met another Duke and I liked that and I got used to people calling me The Duke

"Yeah man it'll be a good gig."

"Like every gig, right? Haha."

"Yeah, like every gig man."

"How about gettin' me and my girl in for free man?"

"How about you quit bein' a cheap-ass and pay the twenty bucks for the two tickets?"

"C'mon on man. I wanna try for it tonight and I need the money for rubbers"

"What? I heard you offered that little asian girl in the 10-inch hooker heels ten bucks to blow you. And that she did."

"Uh...naw man. That was uhm, just a rumour goin' around. Here's the money I gotta go now."

"Get the **** outta here man. Go tell that hooker girlfriend of yours that I miss bein' between her creamy white thighs for twenty bucks an hour."

"Don't be an asshole man. She'll get mad at me."

"The **** did you say? I said get outta here."

I pulled my pack of cigarettes out of my coat pocket, took one out and lit it. I watched the tip of it burn, slowly inching toward me breath by breath. I put my key in the ignition of my car and started her up. The sun glared through the windshield and my sunglasses. I rolled down the window a crack and the smoke drifted out into the passing streams of air. My house was about a mile away but I went around main street to avoid the school traffic. My car rattled into the driveway over the old oil spots of a car barely legal to drive, only to make newer ones. I hung my keys up and went out in the backyard to smoke another cigarette. As I was lighting up my dad walked out and stopped cold in his tracks. He'd made it to the doorway when he'd seen me and had never been comfortable with me smoking before but we just didn't talk about it. My mother's only rules were that they wouldn't be paying for them and that I couldn't smoke in the house. The water in my pool glistened and sparkled in the summer sun. It was calling me so I answered by stripping down to the nude and jumping in. The water was warm and felt good against my skin. I sank beneath the surface and hit the pool floor. My hair floated and waved without the limitations of gravity and I could feel my lungs pulsing, steadily getting stronger and faster until I had to come back up for air. If only I could breathe underwater, then I could stay here forever.

The wind blew across my face and it gave me chills so I wrapped up in a towel and went into the guest house where I spent most of my time reading or writing or creating new music. I let my towel drop and laid naked on the couch, thinking about the nude women I'd gotten familiar with on that couch. It was old, from the 60's with a black leather upholstery and a dark rosewood frame. I lit a cigarette and stood up, looking down at my genitals, examining them and ensuring I still hadn't contracted anything. There was a knock on my door so I slipped my old jeans on and answered it to find that the most enigmatic thing about my life had just reentered it. There stood Mikel Perez, shaggy and long-haired, with nothing but ripped blue-jeans on and a large sack of clothing. Oh God you better take care of me because if you don't, you're gonna have me on your hands.

"What? No kiss sweetheart?"

He smiled brightly and bear-hugged the hell out of me before stepping inside.

"You know a phone call wouldn't have been unappreciated."

"Geez man I come 400 miles to visit my best friend, my brother for God's sake and you're buggin' me about a phone call? We gotta work on your people skills man."

"I don't particularly care to."

"Yeah yeah yeah I know, you don't like people but I'm down here in SD which means you're gonna have to deal with them because there is no way we're not gonna miss out on the women this place has to offer."

"I've got a gig tonight. Wanna come?"

"Hell yeah I wanna come! There's gonna be girls right?"

"There always are my friend."

"Well then it's settled, we're goin' to your gig tonight, we're gonna get drunk, we're gonna **** a few girls backstage and we'll have a jolly ol' time."

"I suppose we have to now. It just wouldn't be right of me to stifle your libido."

"That's the spirit big guy! Now put some damn clothes on! Your dick's still hangin' out and we gotta get ready for your gig."

A few hours later we'd made it to Queen Bee's, a cultural arts center that also had weekly shows. Mikel and I walked into the auditorium and my bandmates looked up from behind the speaker towers and the amp stacks to greet me. We stepped back outside to smoke a cigarette and didn't say much for the first few minutes.

"So man what do you think of all this?"

"I think you're doin' good. I think you're on the path to success my man."

"I've been offered a contract with Sabbath Records."

"Seriously? You said 'yeah' right?"

"Well I need to decide who's going with me. They want me, for my music. They don't want the band. I told them to give me a few weeks to gather up the musicians to cut the record and tour."

"That's cool man. So what, you're just gonna take these guys with you?"

"I'm just taking the bassist. He's my partner man. I write the songs but he adds the polish to it."

"And what about your other bandmates?"

"It's over for them. At least with me it is."

Eight O' Clock. The lights dimmed down and the crowd grew anxious and excited, the tension in the air jumped like electicity, touching everyone in that massive room until there was no noise, just that quiet break right before the storm. I stepped out into the light, cigarette smoke trailing behind me and slung my guitar strap over my shoulder. I got some feedback on my amp but I took one leap forward and in that moment all was silent. No feedback, no people, no distractions. It felt like I was in my pool again, underwater, my hair flowing freely and my body unrestricted. There was nothing else, just this moment that I could live in forever. And then I slammed into the ground and hit that first chord, we were gods, and played.

Three hours later we finished and stepped off the stage feeling as high as the clouds. The crowd roared and cheered, people whistled and screamed our names. Mikel and I sat down on one of the couches backstage and one of the beautiful perks of being even a halfway-decent musician is the women. They flocked to us and sat on our laps and beside us. They curled up at our feet, hanging all over us and Mikel looked to me, I looked to him and we gave eachother the nod. We both stood, made our way to the bathrooms, he into the men's and I into the women's, each of us accompanied by two young girls ready and willing to give us what we wanted. I'd never felt more pleased.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This is really good stuff, dood. I don't know why, but for some reason your writing style reminds me of Neil Gaiman's. I'll make sure to tune in for the next part.
    Good Story. I think you should make your txt bigger or space it out more. I'm not sure just the paragrahps look exshausting to read. I love the story it's the actualy appearance on the screen I'm talking about.
    The thing felt like one huge run-on sentence. I could tell that it wasn't but you need to slow it down. I found it a bit confusing. I mean, where does the elk play in? Was it a dream? And what the hell was he doing wandering around in the woods. I thought it was a good narrative hook, but you never resolved it. It just sort of fizzled. You have some good stuff there, you just need to string it together a little more coherently.
    ratlr wrote: The thing felt like one huge run-on sentence. I could tell that it wasn't but you need to slow it down. I found it a bit confusing. I mean, where does the elk play in? Was it a dream? And what the hell was he doing wandering around in the woods. I thought it was a good narrative hook, but you never resolved it. It just sort of fizzled. You have some good stuff there, you just need to string it together a little more coherently.
    As far as the woods and the elk are concerned you find out later on my man. I wasn't going to start a conflict and resolve it within the span of a single chapter otherwise there's no incentive to come back and read more. And if I did well then it's like a TV show and I don't want episodes I want one unified piece of literature.