It was our last show of tour and we were all totally pumped and determined to make sure that it was awesome. After three months of songs rotating around the same set-list I was beyond sick of playing the same guitar riffs over and over and over again. I was also sick of listening to Chris plunk away at his bass and offer up the same anecdotes and stories between songs. I could predict exactly where the audience was going to laugh, and Chris would shoot me a “stop fucking scowling – look” on those occasions that it bugged me the most. But tonight I was not jaded. I put everything I had into each song. I think I was even smiling through some of them and I walked up next to Chris for the song where we freak out a little on our guitars, and we rocked it even harder. The audience was totally getting it and responding, it was fucking amazing.
James went ape-shit on the drums and at then end of the show, after our final encore when he hurled his sticks into the audience, he nailed me in the back of the head with one. This also happened to be projected on the big screen behind us so the entire club saw it and the audience surprised me with how loud they laughed. It actually pissed me off for a second because that shit hurt. But I just picked it up and hurled it back at James then he slid off the drum stool and jumped on me, on stage and we had an all out wrestling match, knocking over a mic stand while the audience roared. Chris pulled us apart, we were only really joking around, anyway. Then James almost pushed me off stage into the audience so I picked his ass up and carried him most of the way off stage until he punched me in the back.
We were laughing our asses off back there and Chris told us we were a couple of fucking clowns. I don’t usually let loose like that in front of people I don’t know…especially not 5,000 of them. We went back to what Chris likes to call, the “holding room” and I thought, hell, I’ll do a couple more shots since it was our last show. That’s when one of the roadies, one of the new ones comes up to me and says, there a girl here who swears she is friends with you guys and she wants to come back stage.
“What’s her name?”
“She said her name is Rissa and she lives in Athens and she hung out with you guys in St. Augustine a couple of months ago.”
I nodded at him, “Thanks man, let me check with Chris.”
Chris was sitting on the couch with James, watching a video on his phone that had been posted to Youtube already of me and James wrestling on the stage. James was yelling, “Oh shit!!!” as we watched ourselves go crashing into the mic stand. Chris started laughing and calling us idiots and I shook his shoulder
“Hey Chris,” I said, “Guess who’s here to see us?
“Who?” he said, taking the glass and wiping his eyes.
“What?!” he said, looking at me, his face changing before me from laughing, into utter shock. “What the fuck. What is she doing here?”
“I don’t know? Wanna find out?”
He was silent for a second. “Sure.”
“OK” We looked at each other and shrugged then poured the Makers Mark down our throats. “This is going to be interesting” I said and went to tell the new guy to let her in.
The new guy walked off down the dark hallway to get her and Chris turned to me. “Jake”s girlfriend wants to hang out with us” he said while grinning at me…turning a bit red. “Do you even know how we could get back at that asshole with this one? Jake’s fucking girlfriend is coming backstage. Here. Our show.” He got up and poured himself some more whisky. “I wonder if she is still dating him? I really fucking hope so.”
I wanted to laugh too but I my head was throbbing still from the fucking drumstick. I was also starting to feel uneasy about seeing Chris all excited about potential revenge that involved someone’s girlfriend. He started pacing around the room, drinking his whisky and running his free hand through his sweaty hair. “God, “ he said, “We can’t even play our last show without getting away from all this shit. But here, we control the narrative. This is our territory!”
“What are you talking about?” I said from the couch. “Controlling what narrative? Are we the fucking Outsiders or something? Then The new guy walked in and Rissa appeared from behind him. She was still tan from the Florida beaches and her long, straight hair looking as golden as her sparkly tank top, one strap slipping off one tan, muscular shoulder. She was very pretty in a very wholesome way. Her short, blond, surfer-girl friend was holding her hand and she was so wide-eyed and giggly that I had to look away. Letting fans was always a crap shoot. Friends were always fun. But with fans, things could get complicated. We once had a pissed off dad find his way back stage. I got up from the couch and peered down the hallway behind them, then closed the door. Chris was getting them both drinks. We both knew that Rissa was 20, not 21. And I put my drink down and rubbed the bump on my head. Someone was going to have to stay sober and I was starting to see that needed to be me.
“Rissa! What the hell are you doing here?” Chris said as he handed her a shot of whisky. “Aren’t you hanging out with that moron, Jake? I told you to stay away from him. Did you ever listen?”
She laughed and said, “Yeah, we are still hanging out, but not at this particular second. Let me introduce you to Janie. You guys are her favorite band. She is totally excited about meeting you guys and the entire reason we are here.” Chris shook Janie’s hand with a disinterested smile. Then he put his hands on Clarissa’s shoulders and physically turned her to face me. He said, “This is my friend, David. Jake is a pussy, and if you want to see what a real man looks like, here we are.
I suddenly realized what Chris was trying to do. I think she realized at the same time and we looked at each other with surprised eyes. She was cute but she was 20 years old and I was done with girls under the age of 25 now that I was getting close to 30.
I stood up, “Excuse us for a minute” I said then pulled Chris aside and hissed, “I don’t know about this.”
“About what, Dave?”
“Getting these underage girls drunk and trying to set me up with Rissa. It’s not right.”
Chris laughed in my face and leaned in so they couldn’t hear and hissed back,
“Since when did you care about serving alcohol to minors? You’ve been drinking since you were 15.”
“It just, freaking me out, what do you want me to do with her?
“I just need you to kiss her, or something.That’s it, that will be enough to piss Jake off and she shouldn’t mind too much right?” he said.
“I’m terrible at this.”
“At what? Kissing girls? You do this shit every night!”
“No, at like, trying to make them like me first. I’m fine with girls who are throwing themselves at me! I can’t do the Casanova thing from…scratch. I don’t want to have, like a conversation with her! I’m still pumped from the show and I want to party, not try and think or be smooth! Fuck.”
Chris was looking at me like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. I didn’t care. He frowned, “Then send her over to me, I’ll do it” he said.
“To you? What are you going to do?” I couldn’t believe it. He had just been talking to Odette on the phone last night, for so damn long, that I thought he was dead. Now here he was willing seduce some girl, just to get even with Jake?
“Where are your priorities, dude? You just made up with Odette. Don’t fuck that up already.”
“Don’t even worry about it, I’m not going to do anything lame. Listen, Dave, I just need to you help me this one time. I’m not letting this opportunity to get back at that asshole who fucked my wife, slip away. And if Rissa is into you, I won’t need to worry about that on my end.
I shrugged. “This is NOT my thing. But okay, I guess” I said. “But don’t do anymore shots, asshole. You need to be sober for this.”
I left Chris and walked over to Rissa and her friend who were laughing at one of Alex’s dumb jokes, and I just took Rissa’s hand and pulled her over to the couch with me. I sat on the sinking cushion and tugged her to sit down next to me. She scooted away from me a little and I touched her long hair and said, “Look at your hair man, how do you girls make your hair look like this, all wavy and silky and shit?” I felt so stupid delivering a line out of nowhere.
She shrugged. “It’s just natural.”
“Don’t you put a bunch of expensive shampoo in it and get like crazy expensive highlights done at the salon or something?”
She looked at me blankly, “mine is just from the sun”.
“Wow, I said. “I like hair. Um, It’s really fucking pretty.”
She stood up quickly and I felt like a failure. It looked like she was scanning the room for her friend who was just giggling and talking at Chris while he ate chips from the snack table. “Janie! Come sit over here next to me!” she said. I shot a look at Chris and he nodded then took Janie’s hand and looked at her while she talked. Janie was not at all interested in going over to hang out with Rissa. Rissa sat back down on the couch and held her whisky glass with two hands, looking straight ahead.
I tried to think of how I could touch her and not be a creep, so I picked up her hand and looked at her fingernails. She was surprised to see her hand in mine so I figured I needed to quickly distract her. Her nails ended up being short and dirty…not much for me to work with. I said, “That’s cool to see that you don’t sit on your ass all day painting your fingernails.”
“I like to go mountain biking with…well, yeah, I don’t care much about my fingernails” she laughed.
I needed to keep the conversation going so I said, “I fuckin hate that when girls grow them out so long that when they are texting they make like, an annoying tap, tap, tap sound with the end of their nails. Yeah, um, I hate that, yep.” I nodded.
She pulled her hand away from me and rubbed it with her other hand.
“Listen, I don’t know how long I can stay” she said. Janie lives here in Colorado and she had tickets so I promised her I would go with her, then she really wanted me to get her back stage with you guys. But I really have to go in a second,” she said. Someone started playing some 90’s rap music really loud in there and I tried to figure out what to do next. My first instinct was to say “Yeah cool” and show her the door and go and party and have fun. But since Chris was counting on me to somehow lure her away from Jake, I leaned in to her ear and said, “You can go if you want, but I’ve never met anyone like you before and I’m going to be really sad when you leave.” This was so stupid. I felt like dust.
She looked confused. “Really?” she said.
I leaned in again. “There is something really special about you and I’m totally into you.” I looked down at my phone that buzzed at me to let me know I had to fight in the clan war in Clash Royale. OK. I was gong to have to do that. I looked back up at her amazed expression.
“You don’t even know me” she laughed with the music blaring in the background . “What are you talking about?”
I was scrambling now. I thought to myself, what does everyone want to hear and believe about life and love? I said. “When you walked into the room I was like, that is the girl for me.” I glanced back down at my phone, wondering what deck I should use for this clan wa, then rubbed my nose and forced myself to look up and smile at her.
Rissa started laughing and put her head back the couch, “You are so funny, Jesus Christ.” she said.
I looked over at Chris, perplexed and he shook his head at me and rolled his eyes. I looked back at this uber-confidant young girl, dripping in gold, all flopped back on the couch and slid my arm behind her back and pulled her up close to me. I could feel my heart beating…not because I particularly liked her, but because I was nervous. She blinked, fairly stunned. I smoothed her hair out of her face and took her chin in my hands and leaned towards her to kiss her.
“Um, I have a boyfriend” she said, leaning back before I could kiss her.
“He’s not here.” I said leaning closer with my eyes closed. I could feel her breath on my lips. Then she shoved my chest and body away from her.
“That doesn’t matter, asshole, stop hitting on me with all of your bullshit.” She wasn’t laughing anymore.
I moved away feeling horrified. Now she was looking around for her friend, obviously so she could get the hell out of here. My embarrassment began to translate to instant anger at Chris. “Listen,” I said loudly above the music. “ I’m really not usually like this” My cheeks were fucking burning. It was pretty sobering to be totally shot down by a 20-year-old, especially after playing such a successful, awesome show. “I think Chris wants me to lure you away from Jake or something.” The music got much quieter and when I was brave enough to glance back at her face she was staring at me inquisitively.
“Why?” She was suddenly interested in what I had to say. She looked over at Chris again and I saw in her eyes and her expression that she was much more interested in him. I felt a bit oddly jealous, even though I didn’t’ like her. At this point I realized I needed to put this whole mess back on Chris’s shoulders and if she was more interested in him, then great. “I guess he likes you or something, even though technically he is unavailable.” I said.
“Really?” She looked over at him and he winked at her. “Shit” she said. “Why would he like me? Odette is so beautiful.”
“I don’t know.”
I got up of the couch leaving her sitting there and went over to Chris who had just poured himself another drink. I put my arm around his shoulders and said,” I’m done being humiliated, she’s all yours. Now you just need to figure out what is more important friend, revenge, or your fucking family.” I took the glass out of his hand, dumped the whisky in the large gray trash can. I handed him back the empty glass then went to sit back down on the couch that was now empty, to play in the clan war while everyone partied around me.