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Johnny Slipknot

Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 39
Location: The Burned City
prologue  Reply with quote  


When Seth stepped to the microphone for the last time that night, he had the distinct impression he was looking into the maw of a dragon. A big, lazy, apathetic, smoke-belching lizard, whose half-chewed victims (some 56 of them) were just sitting there slow-eyed and alcohol numbed.

So the clientele of The Squeeze Box and the club itself seemed to Seth Slocum, front man for the cover-band Back Lash on a warm August night in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Nineteen Ninety and Six in the Year of ‘Dear Lord’.

The SqueezeBox had never been a high point in the bands less than stellar tour circuit, but the thing that pissed Seth off was how the audience never seemed willing to even show some disapproval. No insults shouted from the back booth, no chants for the next band, and never, ever a hostile object thrown at the stage. No one could be bothered. The whole scene unnerved Seth.

He turned to look at Trip who was tuning his guitar for no real reason, Seth knew, except to take his mind off the eerie silence left in the wake of the last number. When he tore his attention from his much pampered instrument, Seth tapped his temple twice with an index finger signifying ‘this will be the last number we do for these sacks of piss'. Trip had come to know the signal well and passed it on. Bull on bass and Jay on drums squared themselves and prepared to slug their way through the last song. A Van Halen tune that sometimes didn’t go over like a lead fart.

Seth turned back to the zombies. He cleared his throat and was about to warn the throng that this would be it for the evening (in case everyone was just pacing themselves in a Herculean effort to keep the moshing to a minimum). But then…

....the words didn’t come. Seth just stood there staring into the darkness of the club. Jay shot a confused look at Bull who, in turn, prepared for the possibility of dragging Seth to the ground (before he could reach the first crowd member and beat him dead with his Telecaster). Trip worked his Camel light to the other side of his mouth in anticipation, his fingers feeling the increasing need to check the guitar for tonal flaws that may have occurred in the last fifty seconds.

The moment was broken as Seth stepped back and lifted his guitar over his head, as if to free himself from the leather strap...

but instead....

at the last second......

brought it down hard to his hip. An ear-biting chord was unleashed. Jay jumped in his seat, one drumstick clattering to the floor.

The chord hung high and strong in the air, filling every inch of the room, and making tailbones vibrate.
The audience nearly reacted.

Bull, trying to recover, scanned the play-list on the floor amps for signs of a change in the program, but Trip didn’t take his eyes off Seth.

Seth stood with his feet together and his head bowed, dark hair curling loosely in his eyes while the guitar wailed. He seemed like a patient father waiting out a tantrum from a petulant two-year-old. At last, the chord began to waiver and subside. But, before it could die, Seth slid his hand up the neck of the guitar, dragging the near dead chord from the grave, up to the next octave and a new decibel life.

The audience shifted.
The ghost of a smile touched Bull’s face, who glanced at Jay and saw a look of fear in his bewildered eyes.

Trip continued to stare down Seth’s back.

One by one, the other members of the band took up the beat and fell into the hole torn open by their friend. The next eighteen minutes were a blur of anger, volume, and truth.

When it was over, Seth unstrapped his guitar and walked off. He was joined by his friends at the backstage door. The four never noticed the applause that followed them from the stage.

Bull wrinkled his nose as the other three light cigarettes.
Jay cleared his throat and said, “Well.”
“Yep.” Trip added, rubbing the feeling back into his wrist.
“So…” Bull said.
Seth continued to stare at his feet, silently.
“IHOP?” Bull asked.
“Sounds good to me.”
They gathered up their gear, collected their meager earnings from the club owner and headed to Trip’s beat up VW van.
Bull put a hand on Seth’s shoulder. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” He answered. “I think it’s time to start doing our own tunes.”
Jay opened the rusty German-built door and said, “We figured that when you started channeling the ghost of Jimi Hendrix up there.”
“I know.” Seth said. “I’m sorry about that. Don’t know where I went for that.”
Trip blew a cloud of smoke into the summer air, “It doesn’t matter. That beat the shit outta ‘Running with the Devil’ in my book.”
“It was a strong move.” Bull said, nodding. “And, considering that crowd, it was…”
“Wise.” Jay finished.
“Magic.” Trip said.



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