Band Practice – By Chris

The warehouse was stifling hot and James flipped on the light with a drumstick. He had the middle of his light blonde hair stuck up in some kind of a Mohawk and he wiped the sweat out of his blue eyes that girls always freak out over. He threw the sweat-rag on a stool.

I grabbed Dave’s guitar off the hook on the wall, then leaned against the amp stack.”I don’t know if I should go on tour,” I said to him.

“Why not?” he looked surprised. He tossed the drumstick on to the snare drum which promptly rolled onto the floor.

“Pretty sure Odette is going to leave me.”

“No way. I can’t believe that dude,” he said shaking his head. “What happened?”

I sat down on an amp and started to tune Dave’s guitar. It felt good to do something familiar. I looked up at James who was sitting at his drums now and starting to thud the bass drum with his bare foot. He looked so care free, like his biggest problem was what kind of product he should use in his hair to form the ultimate Mohawk. “I’m wondering if I should I leave her first.” I said.

He stopped thudding the drum. “Leave her?” He said. “Didn’t her sister just die?”

“She’s cheating on me with some fucking college student down the street.” I managed to spit out. “And she doesn’t want me anymore so I don’t want her.”  I could sense a lump forming in my throat but I was too angry to feel sad.

James started to run his hands through his hair. “That is so fucked up dude” he said. “Have you really thought about it all, like, what you should do?”

”Pretty much all I do is think about it” I said. “I talked to Dave’s brother since you know he’s a lawyer and all, and he said I would be able to keep all of the money from the band since I earned it before we were married.” I gazed at the orange pick as I moved it against the strings. It seemed to make the words easier to say. “So, she would only get half of what I earn from the record store and maybe the house.”

I looked up at James who was staring at me in disbelief from behind the drum set. We were both silent for a minute. “And I wonder how soon it would be for her to move that asshole in?” I said. “Did I tell you I met him? He’s a fucking kid! I am not even sure he is out of puberty yet. I am sure I saw a god damn zit on his chin.”

Alex came in carrying his bass in one hand and sucking on a Slurpee with the other. He looked at me, then James, then me again. “Who died?” he said.

“Odette’s doin’ it with some college student” James said. “And Chris is trying to figure out how to leave her with no money.”

“She’s got plenty of money.” I practically shouted. “She doesn’t need anything from me.”

Alex sat on the bass amp, took his shirt off and threw it on the floor and looked at me shaking his head. He shaved his head yesterday so he kind of looked like a freak with his shirt off…so much skin it was disturbing. “I thought you guys were the real deal” he said. “I can’t believe she’d do that to you.”

“I had a chance to confront her too.” I said. “Last week I came home early one day and he was at my god damn house. I just let it go though because she didn’t even fight for me. She didn’t deny anything, not really anyway. She ran to her room and acted all wounded and scared. She acted like I was the bad guy. She acted like Odette.”

“Did you punch the kid?” Alex slurped up some of the ice. He pulled the straw out and some blue dripped onto his bare chest.

“Yeah” James piped in. “Did you punch the fucker?”

The air conditioner kicked on and blew some cold air through the thick humidity.

“Nah, I went over to his front door and I just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have the anger or energy or something. I know it’s Odette’s fault. She’s hard to say no to.”

James and Alex flashed each other a look.

“And, I didn’t get it.” I said. “I mean, sure, he’s not ugly, but it’s not like I couldn’t get any girl I want!”

James laughed, “And you never even cheated on her on tour either did you? And you had like, a hundred opportunities.”

I shrugged, not really wanting to think too much about that. “That was a long time ago.” I said, “But now there’s that fine chick at Starbucks with the pink streak in her hair to match her bra strap that’s always hanging out.” They both nodded and murmured in approval. “She hasn’t charged me in like 5 months! I don’t do anything about it. Yet my wife falls for some asshole that is studying carbs or something.” I put my guitar pick between my lips.

James started to beat the bass drum again and then played some fills. Alex sighed and started to get his bass plugged in.

“You want me to go over there and beat the crap out of him?” James shouted over his drumming. “Maybe I should stuff a fucking sausage roll down his throat!?”

I smiled, enjoying the image then spat the pic out on the floor. “Thanks bro, but what good would that do? And what about Zoe? The Mother always gets custody. I’ll have to be one of those weekend Dads. I’ll have to go to Chuck E Cheese.”

“I’ll go to Chuck E Cheese with you!” Alex piped in. He started to play a new bass line so I strummed some notes over it. Then I stopped and looked at them both. This was not what I wanted. This wasn’t the song I wanted to write.

“Maybe I’ll tell Odette we have to move.” I said. ‘Maybe if we start over things can go back to the way they were.” I imagined us living in a house by the ocean. Zoe loved the water. “And maybe things will even be better. We can have another kid. We can have a fresh start.”

The guys stopped playing. They looked grim which was unusual for them.

“You can’t move. The band needs you here.” Alex said and James threw his drumstick at him. “what…are you doing? This isn’t about you!”

I looked at James and Alex. They had been there from the beginning. They knew how important my girls were to me.

“Something has to fucking change.” I said. “I can’t loose her. I can’t let her take Zoe from me.”

They both nodded looking depressed too and I felt like an asshole. I started to strum some chords of a song I made up for Odette when we were kids but they didn’t join in.

Dave walked in and held his hand out for me to give him his guitar.

I pulled it from around my neck and handed it to him and suddenly wanted to get practice done and over with. “Let’s do this!” I said. “I gotta get home in time to make dinner!”  James started to bang on the drums. Dave plugged in to the stacks, cranked up the volume and a loud hum resonated through the warehouse. I wandered over to the mic, closed my eyes, pressed my lips against cold metal and breathed. “Check, check, check.”

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