the limits of respectability
chapter eighteen - the graveyard shift
Sometime later, when the dust had cleared and the last of the patrons had moved out, Wally was drinking water, recovering slowly. He had a wet cloth pressed to his mouth and shooed away the heavy girl who had tried to comfort him. She left in disgust and with Wally’s Chub point. Space and his lead in the competition were safe for another day.
“Interesting stage show.” It was Megan.
“I wish it was,” I responded. Wally looked up with pathetic puppy dog eyes. “Wally, this is Megan.”
“Like the chick from The Exorcist?”
“No Wally. That was Reagan. I said Megan.”
“Megan Gable.” She offered her hand and Wally shook it. He kept a wet cloth over his mouth with his other hand.
“So . . . you end all your shows like that?”
“No, just tonight.”
“Good. I’m not sure, Bob has that many spare tables.”
I didn’t exactly smile at her repartee.
“Poor baby, you’re all tense. You need someone to come up to your room and fuck you senseless, don’t you?”
“I got news for you Megan I’m already fucked. The whole band’s fucked. But thanks for your pathos.” I turned and left her, shocked at my callous remark. Wally shrugged his shoulders and followed behind me.
We all sat in Space’s room except for Spike and Casey who had been excused. We were to discuss career direction . . . or what was left of it. Our leader paced back and forth searching for words before he finally spoke. Our little Hitler, getting ready to invade us with his verbal barrage. “Of all the nights to fuck it up! All my hard work! All my phone calls...” On he went, My, my, MY!— MY ball, - MY bat, - MY BAND! Blah-de-blah-blah . . . but we listened and no one said a word until he was done.
Doc spoke up. “Well you hired the guy. He’s already missing something . . . what with the cockroaches, and that J curse thing, and then he practically kills one of our audience members. We don’t have many people coming to see this band as it is Space, we can’t have Spike killing them off one by one. Did you see him? He almost decapitated that guy with his guitar.”
“Forget Spike for a moment would you Barlow?”
“Horse corsets! One more swing of his instrument and it would have been, Off with his head! Lopped off with a clean incision like a scythe!”
“Barlow shut it! The problem is the agent. He’s going to get the report we’re unstable and attack audiences and god knows what else? Forget the fact we sucked the last set.”
“The last two sets actually, if you want to get technical about it?” Doc wasn’t very good at holding his tongue.
“Shit! It’s endless gigs in Bugtussle for us,” I moaned.
“Bugtussle? We’ll be lucky to get a gig playing by the roadside leading into Bugtussle after tonight. You think Sleezyk will take us back Sparky. He’s going to be pissed at us when we don’t show up this week as well as next week at Flap Jack’s.”
“We can’t go back to that asshole Doc!” Space was adamant. “Everyone knew it when we started to walk this road. There is no turning back. Sleezyk is no longer an option. It’s up to us now, and only us.”
“What do we do then? We don’t have an agent.” Wally said.
Doc had a slight edge of disdain in his voice. “We have to think of something and fast.”
“– And what about Spike? What if he broke his hand fighting?”
“He didn’t. But I’ll tell you Sparky I feel like marching over to his room and breaking it for him after tonight. That was a selfish act. He should have had more sense.”
“What, let his wife get raped in front of him? I would have gone ape-shit-mental too. Can any of you say you wouldn’t?”
“Doc, she shouldn’t even be here. If he’d left her home none of this would have happened.” I lamented.
“I still say Midnight Cowboy got what was coming to him Sparky.”
“It obviously has cost us Walden, judging how fast the biker left when all hell broke loose?”
Wally began to panic. “How do we even know, the big burly biker dude was the guy Walden sent? What if . . . if . . . the agent was the guy Spike attacked? My god!.....What elks can go wrong?” Wally began to moaned and put a hand to his hip. “Oh my back— ”
“— Relax Wally. It wasn’t him.”
Wally continued, “ . . . and he just attacked him like that. He’s not going to book us after getting Spike’s guitar in the head.”
“Wally! It wasn’t him!”
“Christ! What if Wally’s right?” Now I was beginning to sound like him. “How do you know Space? Wally has a point. It could have been him. He was a big guy and had that biker look in a, Peter Fonda, Easy Rider, sort-of-way.”
“I know it wasn’t him, Sparky, because an agent wouldn’t have acted so unprofessional. Also, he would have come alone, not with two buddies. Walden dosen't associate with people like that. My concern is, now he won’t associate with someone like us either.”
“All I know is, Spike’s crazy. We can’t have a guy like that in the band. It’s only a matter of time before he murders one of us in our sleep with hedge clippers.” Doc brought his hands together. “Snip!”
“You can room with Bronson, Doc! Would you feel safer? Shit!— I was this close to getting Walden. This close.” Space showed us a tiny gap between his thumb and forefinger.
There was a knock at the door. It cut into our debate like a knife, slicing our argument to silence.
The knock came again, louder this time.
“Who the fuck is that at this hour?” Barlow mused.
Wally winced.“Maybe the police to haul Spike away?”
"Then they've got the wrong room you fool. Should be the one with the thumping killer boot."
The knock came again.
“Everybody hide!” Wally insisted. He opened up one of the dresser drawers as if he had intentions of climbing into it.
Doc even offered, “Here Wally. Give me your foot. I’ll help you in.— Just answer the door Space.”
Space pulled the door open slowly. The hall was poorly lit, but from the hulking shape of the figure punching a void in the midst of the door jam, the man was unmistakable. There stood the big guy with the beard.