I made a quick call to Julia before going back into the club. It didn’t ring once, went straight to voicemail. “This is Julia, sorry I missed your call…..” I hung up.
I went through the back and cracked open a beer on the way to stage. Bobby, the stage manager, stopped me. He clanked his bottle against mine and said, “Give me a great show!”
“I’ve got something special for you tonight,” I said.
“Gonna take me out back and fuck me?”
“Can I fuck you wife?”
“How about you sit back and enjoy the show like you always do and keep the crowd under control, like you always do.”
“I’m flattered that you think I do my job even half the time,” he said. “How do you like the new guy?”
“I like him just fine.” I lied.
“You know I worked real hard to get him for you, real hard.”
“Yeah, I know Bobby.”
“I just want to make sure you know I do my best to make your job easier, to take care of you.”
He sounded so full of shit. “I appreciate it.”
The new guy was some pretty boy from California. He had a killer voice, which was all that mattered, but he gave me the creeps. We perform five days a week at the same joint and always get drinks after the set but he never stays. Antisocial I guess, and that makes me not trust him. He barely talks and smiles all the time but never laughs and he does this thing where he’ll tell a joke and right at the punchline take two steps towards you and get in your face and stare at you hard, real hard, searching for a flash of a smile somewhere on your face, the mouth, the eyes. And he’s got this big shiny forehead that makes him easy to spot from across the room and I honestly appreciate that part about him so I know when to head the other direction.
Just then I caught a glipmse of pretty boy’s big shiny forehead so I downed the rest of my beer and slammed it on Bobby’s table before hopping on stage to start tightening my drum heads. It was nearly time to rock.
We were on our sixth song and I was drenched in sweat and pretty drunk. The sound guy John had been slipping me shots between songs and I was feeling unstoppable. We started playing our most popular tune, Undead Battlefield. This was a huge crowd pleaser with the right amount of smooth guitar licks and intricate drum fills. Everyone was going nuts screaming, flinging the contents of their drinks on stage (Bobby hated that shit, I personally loved it, and Dwayne the guitarist loved it even though it fucked up two of his amps). During the guitar solo I reached back to grab another shot from John. He had two ready and I downed them both. Pretty boy winked at me and smiled, lit a cigarette and took a long drag. Dumbass. I closed my eyes and got back into the tune, slamming my sticks against cymbals, rolling off the snare and down the toms, kicking the double-bass pedals as hard as I could. My legs and arms were burning from playing so hard, I could feel sweat roll down my legs in fat drops. I played louder and faster and improvised a solo and I didn’t give a shit if I played over anyone else, it sounded great. My whole body ached as I strained to push myself to play the greatest solo I’ve ever played. It took everything I had and then some. I opened my eyes. I was on fire. Flames snaked around the drumset and pooled the stage around me. I couldn’t see anyone else, not even pretty boy’s shiny forehead. I tried to get up to run but I couldn’t move. I looked down and realized my legs were completely engulfed in flames, chunks of flesh falling off the bone like slow-cooked pork. My ass was melting into seat. I was so confused and upset I screamed. I could still feel my arms and tried hitting the drums and I heard the crash cymbal ring out loud and clear so I began playing the rest of my solo without any double-bass and the flames grew taller and just as I felt an overwhelming pain I fell into darkness.