Saturday, October 01, 2005

Excerpt from The Limits

The Limits of Respectability

Space came running over to us, "He’s here!"

"The agent? Where?"

"Walked in five minutes ago. There, second table from the front on the left side. NO! No don’t look at him."

A droll Doc responded, "Yeah we certainly don’t want him to know we’re here. Do we?" He rolled his eyes.

Wally had dropped to the floor and was hiding behind one of the tables. "Wally get up! There’s no need to hide. The man’s not a bounty hunter."

"What that big burley biker dude. Are you sure Doc?"

"Beeje said the agent was a big guy with a beard that looked like a biker–," Space informed, "– and that man, is a big guy with a beard who looks like a biker, wouldn’t you agree? Someone get Spike. We’re going up now."

I protested, "It’s only been twenty minutes."

"I say we go now and that’s all you need to know Sparky. Ok let’s do it."

We took the stage for the last time that night. Although musically we were tighter, despite our hope, Spike was again elsewhere and began hurling insults during songs at the grinning Shit-kicker.

Casey had not heeded her husband’s warnings, (or her attention span being what it is . . . forgot), and was up dancing again. The cowboy and his posse had moved their seats closer to the dance floor and between downed glasses of draft, were trying to get Casey’s attention. The Shit-kicker was making mock humping gestures to his friends who egged him on.

I could hear Spike even through the music, yelling at the buffoon, "Don’t you look at my wife!" He was now walking to stage-right for every solo, and glaring maliciously at his nemesis.
I grabbed him by the shoulder between songs and hissed in his ear, "Spike for Christ sake calm down."

The big guy with the beard sat staring at us with arms folded, looking unimpressed, as Spike continued his belligerent ways and butchering the songs. I began to panic. So much was riding on this set, on every song, on every cord played. The big guy with the beard had to like us, or we were screwed, stranded miles from home with no agent to book us. With one song to go, we had to get through it convincingly.

I ran over to Doc who stood behind his keyboards on Spike’s side of the stage as Wally introduced the last song of the night, Golden Earing’s, Twilight Zone, the big blow off, flash pots, strobes, fog machine the whole shootin’ match. We just had to get through this one number and
we were home free.

"Doc you have to watch Spike. I don’t know if he’s going to make it man. Grab him if he looks like he’s going to go ape shit and leave the stage. Wally’s gotta sing this one, and I can’t grab him with the bass on."

Doc gave me his standard, thumbs up rocker pout.

The Shit-kicker was so into Casey he didn’t pay any attention to Spike’s tirade and began trying to lift up her skirt as she whirled by him, while we started into the beginning cords of Twilight Zone. Doc began his voice-over, "Somewhere in a lonely hotel room, there’s a guy
starting to realize that eternal fate has turned its back on him . . ."

I looked at Spike warily. He was unmoving, his eyes fixed solely on his potential target, but at least playing in time with us. And Wally sang, "It’s 2:00 A.M., the fear is gone . . . I’m sittin’ here waitin’ . . . the gun still warm . . ."

The flash-pots didn’t go off at the beginning of the song like they were supposed to. The smoke machine was running low and gave off a steamy, powdery burning odor, as it spat out the last of its liquid in a slippery goo to the right of the stage. A corner of the parachute backdrop had come undone above Doc, and hung partially obscuring the big guy with the beard’s vision.

I could see Wires from stage and the unmistakable embers of a cigarette bouncing up and down in the darkness as he approached the front of the club. He pulled out a pen light flashlight and began adjusting something on the flash-pot in front of Wally. On we played. On Wally sang.
"Help I’m steppin’ into the twilight zone. This place is a mad house. It feels like being cloned . . ."

The big guy with the beard was leaning to one side trying to see what was going on. His arms were still crossed, his expression still devoid of excitement.

The obnoxious Shit-kicker was now licking between two fingers while Casey smiled, and his friends laughed.

"Don’t you fuckin’ be rude to my wife!"

Wires apparently fixed what he was looking for and turned back to the sound console.

"My beacon’s been moved under moon and star . . . where am I to go once I have gone too far". . .

The parachute descended lower. Doc was holding part of it up with one hand while playing his synthesizer and still managed to sing his back-up, "Woah- ohhh". . .

Wires had returned to the sound board and was busy flicking toggle switches. He
disappeared beneath the console and began inspecting cables and plugs.

The Shit-kicker stood up and approached Casey with an outstretched hand.

"Don’t you fuckin’ . . . touch . . . my . . . wife!"

Wally sang, "Soon you will come to know when the bullet hits the bone."

The big guy with the beard got up to leave.

The Shit-kicker now had his hands on Casey’s hips. He pressed his body tight to hers and began to grind with her. His lips inches from her neck caused sudden panic in her eyes. His hands began moving slowly upwards toward her breasts.

"Get your fuckin’ hands off my wife!"

"When the bullet hits the bone!"

Wires jiggled a plug. The flash-pot went off right underneath Wally. A puff of smoke enveloped him and he disappeared from sight. The big guy with the beard stopped and turned toward the stage.

That was it! Spike had seen enough! He screeched, (an animalistic howl really), and leapt forward. There was a horrible discord as Doc’s chest hit the keyboard in an attempt to hold Spike back. Spike’s shirt ripped in two as he sprang from the stage, directly onto the drunk dotard knocking him back into his table, and sending his two friends flipping backward over their chairs. The table collapsed under their weight and splintered into a hundred pieces and Casey fell to the floor.

The parachute gently cascaded downward as it lost its grasp of the ceiling. It covered us and Wally as he waved and coughed through a haze of smoke and sparks.

Doc and I clawed our way to the edge of the stage as Space continued to play and Wally continued to hack up a lung into the microphone, "Help I’m huch! Huch! Twilight Huch’". . .

Our guitarist still had his instrument, plugged in, and around his waist, as he continued to pummel the huge behemoth. Both of his hands were flailing and in between punches his guitar came across like a third fist. TWANG! Right into the Shit-kicker’s head. The cowboy raised his arms in a useless attempt at defense.

Wally was still waving his hand frantically through the smoke somewhere beneath the chute, as his lungs tried to expel smoky debris. Space’s voice could be heard through the P.A. as Bronson and the Shit-kicker’s buddies tried to separate Spike from his victim. "Thanks for coming out. We’re Bitter Romance, here all week and next. Goodnight." This was followed by a lone cymbal crash, Wally’s weak attempt to pluck a cord in unison, and the Twang! of Spike’s guitar striking the head of his victim yet again and resonating through the club.

The Shit-kicker cried helplessly.
Spike growled louder and kept swinging drunk with rage.
Wally tried to make his way blindly from the stage and slipped on the gooey mess from
the fog machine, landing flat on his back with his guitar sticking straight up. Underneath the parachute he looked like a mummified body with a huge hard-on.

With a little help we managed to separate everyone although Spike was still raving on at his foe, "Don’t you ever touch my wife again! I’ll kill you." The Shit-kicker was stumbling around taking errant swings at an invisible boxing partner. His forehead had been opened by Spike’s guitar and a gash had produced a substantial amount of blood running down his face and into his eyes.

The big guy with the beard was gone.

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