Fiction Friday – 15 May 2009 Epitaph
This Week’s Theme: Four college bandmates who haven’t seen each other in years travel back to their former campus for a reunion.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a washed up rock star, an alcoholic lawyer and a corrupt Senator walk onto a stretch of deserted waste ground. Not sure what the punchline is yet. I’m not sure anyone will laugh.
“Senator.” The lawyer gives a curt nod to the Man Who Would Be President next time round. It’s amazing that they haven’t seen each other since the last gig – Stevie’s petrochemical clients would kill to know he might have the ear of a guy on the Hill, especially if the pollsters have it right, and that Bryan is a shoe-in for the White House.
Ha. The stoner drummer of a lousy soft rock cover band could be running the country. It’s the kind of thing Bryan would have come up with after a frat night.
“Been a long time Steve. Dan.” The Senator holds a hand out to the shambling has-been Danny Blade. Or Dan Isaacs as we knew him. Funny, four years of hard partying, he was the only one not into the girls, the drugs – and the only one who kept on with the music after. Still, he made up for it during those decades on tour. Talented guy. Shame his hands shake too much now to play the violin, but he’s got enough control to keep playing guitar, and that’s all the remaining fans care about.
“Bryan. Didn’t think you’d come.”
Look at them all standing there like they’re at a damn funeral. Like the damn wise monkeys. Stevie who speaks no evil, and makes his clients sound good. Bryan who sees no evil ‘cos he looks the other way in return for some hefty kickbacks. And little Dan, who won’t hear no evil said against anyone. Well happy anniversary guys. Here’s thirty years since we brought the house down on our final gig.
“When did they tear the Java Hut down?”
“Couple of weeks after the fire. The structure became unsound, they couldn’t repair it.” Bryan shivers. Guess that fancy coat isn’t as warm as it looks.
Dan pulls a small bottle out from the pocket of his leather jacket, and knocks it back. “Here’s to you Jim. The heart and soul of Heart and Soul.” He passes it along to Stevie, who lingers over the cheap scotch. “Jim… wish you were still here brother.” I can see the tears starting to form in his eyes, and Bryan puts a hand on his shoulder.
“Accidents happen Steve. You weren’t to know the amp was faulty. And you got all those people out when the fire started…”
“I didn’t get Jim out.” He looks down at the ground. Don’t feel bad Stevie. Bryan’s right. You weren’t to know. You didn’t sabotage the amp. You didn’t connect the live wire to the jack for my guitar.
They turn, and slowly walk away, muttering insincere promises to keep in touch. Like hell they will. Dan hails a cab which pulls away, then Stevie gets into his mid-life crisis convertible. Only Bryan remains, his sleek black secure car and driver sitting patiently. He gives one last look my way, before getting in to the car, his wife – my Dawn – in the back waiting for him.
I’ve waited 30 years to see you Bryan. 30 years unable to leave. I can wait as long again. But I will see you again. And it’ll be hell.