Well, we never got too far at any time from being evenly divided on the voting this week. By the time the voting closed we were back to a 50/50 split on which way to take the story.
As Chief Storyteller I've given myself the casting vote! I have to have some privileges, right? ;-)
I do hope that I’ve managed to satisfy all of you with the way that I’ve taken things this week.
Enjoy the chapter and DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
Marty rolled onto his side and turned his back on me. “I’m too sick. You’ll have to get yourself to town.”
“Fuck you, Marty.”
I stood up and stalked my way to the other side of the room. I remembered something that Mr Zee told me earlier this year when I was at school, No-one will care about your career as much as you.
Marty was the last person that I expected to drop the ball on me now.
I stormed past his bed on my way to the shower, I had about an hour and a half to work out how the hell I was going to get from here to Ponsonby. The public transport system was a farce. Maybe I could go home, ask mum if she’d give me a lift in. It hurt, the idea of crawling back there—but this was important—pride was something I’d have to put to one side.
Men like Calvin Woods didn’t come along often. The door had opened a crack—I had to make sure that I barged through it and kept pushing like fuck.
The hot water hit my body.
I wasn’t going to stand around in the shower for long—mainly because I didn’t have much time—but the invigorating sensation of hot water flowing across my skin was a welcome comfort. I’d always expected Marty to stand by my side on this journey. He was my wing-man. I still couldn’t believe that he’d let me down like this.
It fucking hurt.
In all the years that we’d been mates, there had never been a crossed word. For him to let me down now, just when things were picking up for us, it was unthinkable.
I dried myself off, put on some clean clothes and then walked back into the bedroom. I had no choice but to humble myself and walk down the road to talk to Mum.
Marty wasn’t in the bedroom when I returned.
He could get out of bed, but he couldn’t drag his sorry arse into town.
We were finished.
I’d never forgive him for this.
If I didn’t make it in time to this meeting and this opportunity slipped me by, I’d fucking hate him for the rest of my life.
I unclipped the latch on the outside door as Marty walked back in the room.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“To find a way to get to a meeting that’s going to change my life,” I said. I couldn’t keep the bitterness out of my voice.
“Mum’s given me the car,” Marty said with a heavy sigh. “What time do you need to be there?”
I turned around.
“I knew you wouldn’t let me down you shit.”
“You’re a liar,” Marty said, “but I couldn’t come this far with you and not see this through now, could I?”
“If you didn’t look like such shit,” I said, “I’d come over there and hug you.”
“Don’t fucking touch me,” Marty said. “You have any idea what a monumental effort it’s been for me to get out of the scratcher this morning?”
“You won’t regret it, I promise,” I said, “this is the beginning of something huge for us.”
“Yeah, right,” Marty said as he headed for the bathroom. “We’re stopping at The Burger Barn on the way and you’re paying.”
“Yes!” I said to myself as I punched the air after Marty left the room.
We were on our way.
I knew we were going to make something of ourselves and I also knew that Marty would never let me down.
I’d never felt so sick in my life.
A double bacon and cheeseburger with the works had gone some way to settle my stomach—but my head continued to pound like a woodpecker was trying to break out from the inside of my skull.
Dylan King had gotten me into some scrapes over the years that we’d been together—but last night had topped anything that I’d been involved in before.
Dylan was a leader—me, I was the follower.
Dylan took me down roads that I’d never have the guts to travel on my own and now, here I found myself standing outside the doors of The Globe in Ponsonby.
Legendary drinking hole, rock club and the site of many a headline grabbing incident over the years that the bar had been in operation.
“You sure he’s here?” I asked Dylan as we stood outside the shuttered double wooden doors.
Brass handles showed signs of years of wear.
How many Aucklanders had put their hand on those doors and walked through into this establishment? I couldn’t count the number of bands that had started out their careers here.
If I’d been honest with Dylan this morning, I’d have told him that I was shit scared of this opportunity. We weren’t ready.
Fuck! I wasn’t ready.
This was the big time.
This place changed people’s lives. I couldn’t be sure that I was ready for this kind of change in my life. It was easier this morning to bury my head under the blankets and pray that this was all some kind of alcohol fuelled fantasy.
I stood. Stone cold sober (well, nearly stone cold sober) on the front step of The Globe waiting for the owner.
Things like this didn’t happen to regular guys like me from the suburbs.
Things like this happened to the Dylan King’s of the world.
What had I done to be dragged alongside Dylan on this outrageous journey he’d embarked on?
Dylan rapped again on the front door.
We heard movement inside.
“Ready?” Dylan asked me as he took a deep breath.
“Fuck, no,” I whispered under my breath.
Dylan slapped me on the back. The movement was enough to dislodge the double bacon burger that I’d just eaten.
I threw up all over the front step of The Globe just as the door opened.
“Fuck!” Dylan yelled.
“Don’t worry, mate, I’ve seen worse,” a voice in front of me said.
I looked up and there was no-one there.
“You finished?” the gravely voice asked.
I followed the sound and my eyes fell on a man sitting in a wheelchair. I guessed he was probably somewhere in his mid-forties. He had the look of a goth rocker about him—but he wasn’t quite as gaunt. My first impression was that this dude was too cool to be sitting in a wheelchair.
“Sorry about that,” Dylan said as he glared at me.
“Happens all the time,” our host said. “I’ll get someone down here to clean it up. You need a bathroom?” he asked me.
“Nah,” my nerves had gotten the better of me. I should have given the burger a miss—but it was too late for those kinds of regrets now.
“I’m Dylan King,” I heard Dylan say as he held his hand out towards our host.
“Calvin Woods,” our host said as he shook Dylan’s hand. “And you are?” he said to me as he extended his hand.
“Marty Campbell” I was surprised at the strength of Calvin’s grip as he shook my hand. “A glass of water wouldn’t go amiss,” I said.
“Hair of the Dog you need,” Calvin replied. “We’ll get you a Bloody Mary, that’ll see you right.”
“Three Bloody Mary’s” Calvin called out to no-one in particular, as he turned his chair and rolled himself off into the middle of the pub. “Bolt the door behind you boys,” he said over his shoulder.
Dylan raised his eyebrows at me as he bolted the door.
By the time we were into the pub proper, a young woman had three small tumblers of what looked like tomato sauce sitting on a table.
“Take a seat boys,” Calvin said as he picked up one of the tumblers and took a swig of the bright red liquid.
Calvin lifted his chin in my direction once Dylan and I had sat down. “Tough night last night?”
“Something like that,” I mumbled.
“That’ll sort you out,” Calvin said.
My stomach rolled as I brought the liquid to my lips. Tentatively, I took a sip. It wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. In fact, the liquid did begin to bring some much needed relief to my jangled nerve endings.
“Right,” Calvin said, taking control of the meeting. “The reason I asked you boys here is because I have a proposition for you.”
It seemed as if Marty had been on some kind of self-destruct mission from the moment that his feet had hit the floor this morning.
When he puked on the doorstep of The Globe all I wanted was for the ground to open up and swallow me.
As far as I could tell, Calvin seemed completely unmoved by the puking incident.
The whole time we’d been here, I felt as if I had one eye on Calvin and one eye on Marty—waiting for Marty to make some other kind of idiotic move.
I heard the word proposition come from Calvin’s mouth and my entire concentration moved in a nano-second to him.
“What kind of a proposition?” I asked as I took another slug of the Bloody Mary. I could feel the alcohol pooling in my stomach—easing the tension that I carried.
“I saw you two play last night. I’ve got a couple of lads, about your ages, who play bass and drums. I figure the four of you could put together a tight band. Play here and at some of the other pubs I have through the country. You interested?”
“Hell, yeah,” I said. I wasn’t even going to look at Marty. He’d nearly fucked this up for the two of us.
“It would mean you coming and living in here. Liam and Jesse live upstairs. There’s plenty of room for you to practice and you’d get free run of the hotel. I’ll supply your meals, plus I’ll pay you a working salary.”
“What’s expected of us?” Marty finally piped up.
I cast a glance in his direction.
The colour had come back into his pale face, but his lips still sat in the same grim line they’d been sitting in since he opened his eyes this morning.
Didn’t he recognise the kind of opportunity that we were being offered?
I wanted to kick him under the table—I was worried about us showing any lack of keenness to Calvin.
“You’ll live in here, when you’re not on the road touring. When we’re here, you’ll play three nights a week. Touring the schedule will be tougher—but you’ll make more money on tour.” Calvin leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and eyeing first Marty and then me. “I’ve broken a number of bands from this pub. Some of them have gone on to be international acts. I saw something in you guys last night that I haven’t seen in a long time.” He leaned back in his chair. Eyed us both again, individually. “You boys have got talent, I can see that much. But to make it in this industry, you’ve gotta have dog-fuck. I’ve got two boys upstairs who have that talent and they’ve got the dog-fuck too. The question I have for you two, is do you want it enough? Because, if you do, I’m here to make it happen for you.”
I looked at Marty.
I knew I had what it took—but did he?
“You guys want to have a beer and think about it?”
“No,” I said.
“Yes,” Marty said at the exact same time.
The curl of a smile crossed Calvin’s lips.
“Two beers here,” he said to no-one in particular. “I’ll be in my office boys,” he said as he began to back up his chair from the table. “Alannah over there will show you where my office is once you’ve decided what you want. Take your time,” he said and then with a wink he added, “but don’t be too long. Opportunities vanish fast in this business.”
He spun on his wheels and was gone.
Two beers arrived on the table in front of us.
“What the fuck is there to talk about?” Dylan hissed at me and then he took a swig of the beer.
“School for one thing,” I said.
“Fuck school. You heard what he said. You’re not going to need school, we’re on our way. This is what we’ve always wanted.”
“This is what you’ve always wanted,” I said.
Dylan slumped in his seat in front of me. “What?”
“You heard me.”
“Don’t fucking pike on me now. What have you been doing writing all that amazing material if you didn’t want to do this?”
“I never expected it would go anywhere. I mean, I’ve got exams in six weeks.”
“Fuck exams! We’ll be on the road. Touring. It’s a dream come true.” Dylan was beginning to sound desperate.
Was it his dream? Had I just been tagging along all this time?
“Look, mate,” Dylan said as he leaned forward, trying to press home to me the gravity of the situation. “It’s not just me you’ll be letting down if you don’t do this, it’s the other two guys. We said last night that all we needed was a great drummer and bass player and Calvin’s offering us them. You know how many bands he’s broken from The Globe.”
“I know,” I moaned and I dropped my forehead on the table. The wood felt cool against the heat of my flesh. “What if I’m not up to this?”
“You’re fucking up to it, mate.” Dylan said. “The crowd last night, they went wild. That’s just a tiny taste of what we have in our future.”
“This is going to fuck my parents off,” I said.
“You’re an adult,” Dylan reminded me, “you can do what the hell you want and they can’t stop you.”
I lifted my head up off the table. “You should have done that legal degree,” Marty said. “You’ve got a pretty compelling argument.”
“You’ll do it?” The excitement in Dylan’s eyes was enough to propel me over the edge.
“Yeah, I’ll do it.” I just wished I could find the same kind of enthusiasm for this endeavour that Dylan found. Maybe his fervour would be contagious, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was stepping way out of my comfort zone on this one.
* * *
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