by Miles Rost
“Seems like the only thing I get recognized for around here is my screwups.”
To no one in particular, John Barrett uttered words that came from the deepest part of his heart. A bassist for the band Stickyfeet, he was the guy who kept the band going when the lead singer or the two guitarists had their fits and their temper tantrums. Sometimes things went well when they went off the rails. Other times, like this day, he was on the receiving end of blame for lousy concern ticket numbers coming out of the mouth of their manager, Buck Waignwright.
“Hey! You need to keep the other guys up and working. Our ticket sales went through the crapper for the last 4 shows!”
John just rolled his eyes as Buck railed him up and down for not doing the role of being the brother’s keeper.
“It’s not my fault Izzy and Travis get plastered before the concert and can’t keep themselves sitting up. I try to pour the coffee down their throats and keep my basslines neat, but I can’t do everything.”
“Well, maybe you should try just a little bit harder.”
“Or you could hire a roadie whose job would be to keep them from going into the sauce.”
Buck laughed, and coughed, then laughed some more.
“We have 5 dates left for the tour. Once that’s done, we’re going to do some re-evaluating. You better be ready, cause you might just have a place on the chopping block.”
John stood, flipped him off, then left.
He got in his car and drove to his “let off steam” spot, high above the city. He could see the people below, like ants they scurried about.
He sat for a long time, talking to no one in particular, but letting off steam.
“I’ve had to deal with all this crap for nearly 6 years,” he said, to the trees and the shrubs overlooking the city, “It’s easy to say what I did wrong and what I did right. I have never had a chance to truly go out and do something of my own.”
He looked up at the sky, laying on the hood of his car, watching clouds pass by quickly.
“Maybe the road is not easy, and maybe the prize is small. But after all these years of waiting, I’m gonna show them all. Somehow, someway, I will be able to show Buck, Izzy, and the rest of them that they need someone else to hold their hands.”
“That’s a pretty big pronouncement, John. How do you think you’ll do it?”
John turned over on the hood. He looked down at a pair of shiny black cowboy boots, a pair of long legs squeezed into a pair of jeans, a flannel shirt tied in the front, showing just enough to get a man interested, and finally a face that he would recognize from a long time back.
“So, how did you find me, Miss Eliza Chapman?”
“I knew this place from a long time ago, when you weren’t much of a bass player and more of an introspective poet.”
“Those days are long gone. Apparently, I’m only support staff now.”
“So, I guess this means you’re not interested in maybe joining a band as a lead man?”
John’s eyes perked up a bit, though he tried to hide it with indifference.
“Bright Star just lost their bassist and their lead singer. They need to fill both, but they are looking at changing their styles. I figured that you’re probably getting tired of being Izzy Larkin’s personal belch-boy, so I mentioned your name. They seem like they may be interested.”
John looked at her, and invited her up onto the hood of the car.
“Looking out at the city, what do you see?”
“I see a rich environment of people and potentially awesome shows.”
John smiled, as he looked out.
“I can hear the roar of a distant crowd. They are waiting for me, they’re shouting out loud. I want to entertain people, give them the ability to forget their problems for a 2-3 hour show. They can’t do that when I have to clean up after Izzy and the others.”
She looked out as well, and nodded.
“Bright Star fired the lead singer for doing too many drugs. They want a straight edge for this next one.”
John looked at her and smiled.
“You’re the manager for them, right?”
“Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
“I have 5 dates left to play, then I can be free to do what I want.”
“Gives us time to practice, it looks like. We’re going into the studio in about a month to cut the next record. Think you’d be up for moving some of your songs over?”
“Move? No way. I’ll create some new stuff. After these 5 days, I want a clean start. It’s the finality. Get the deal in writing, and we’ll work.”
“How about a preliminary agreement?”
“In what way?”
“The old fashioned way. Sealed with a kiss.”
John chuckled, until he was rolled over onto by Eliza. And given a big kiss.
“I ain’t gonna change my mind, Eliza. But understand, I’m now in business with you. No relationship stuff.”
Eliza smiled, as she sat up on the edge of the car. John looked out at the city, and smiled.