Well, well, well…
I have never seen my readers so united on the subject of the direction that this story should take.
To be honest, I can’t tell you how relieved I am with the decision that you’ve all made.
I love Dylan.
I don’t want to see him go down the wrong road. As one of you so kindly pointed out, maybe you’d like to see him fall on his face a little—and that can be arranged! (Oh, the power of the author…) But no-one wants to see Dylan descend into the abyss.
Thank you so much for making the right choice.
Me (and Dylan) are both so relieved!
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
A tiny pill inside a plastic wrapper burned a hole in the pocket of my jeans—the same way that Liam’s eyes seemed to burn themselves into me through the entirety of soundcheck.
I found it hard to concentrate on what we were doing, knowing that Jeff had given me something to take the edge off.
Had he given Angela something to take the edge off last Saturday night?
Jeff didn’t strike me as some kind of drug pusher—but then I guess I’d only come across the guys who sold a few bullets of dope.
Drugs weren’t my candy.
Now there was something that I loved.
But I’d never been keen to chase any kind of dragon and now didn’t seem to be the appropriate time to start.
By the time we were back at the motel, I couldn’t stand dealing with Liam’s bizarre behaviour any longer.
I threw my bag on the bed in the room that I shared with Marty.
“You okay?” Marty asked as he placed his bag with care on the stand at the end of his bed.
“Dunno,” did I tell him what was going on?
I shared everything with Marty. If we were going to be living in close quarters like this, the whole time we were on the road, then I could hardly keep anything from him.
I closed the bedroom door, sat down on the bed and pulled the tiny pill out of my jeans.
“You any idea what this is?”
Marty eyeballed the piece of tiny plastic in my palm and then shook his head. “No.”
Then he eyeballed me, concern etched on his face. He pulled the tight band out of his blond hair that had been holding it up in a man bun and then ran his fingers through the straw-like thatch. “Where d’you get it?”
“Jeff gave it to me.”
“Jeff, the sound guy?” Marty couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice.
I nodded, “Yeah.”
“What did he say?”
Had the same look of shock that registered on Marty’s face been the reason that Liam had been following me with his eyes all afternoon?
I looked over at the closed door. I knew Liam and Jesse were just through the other side of the wall. Or maybe, did Jeff give them something to take the edge off as well? That could be why Liam’s eyes had been boring through me all afternoon.
“He said it’d take the edge off of my nerves.”
“Jesus!” Marty’s face morphed into one of concern—the same concern that I’d seen on Liam’s face earlier this afternoon. “You’re not thinking about taking it, are you?”
“Fuck no! I’m the guy who doesn’t touch anything before the gig.” I tried not to sound defensive, but probably failed by the look on Marty’s face. “You know me.”
Marty held his hands up. “Settle. No judgment coming from this side of the room. What you going to do?”
I shrugged. “Dunno. But Liam saw him give it to me and he’s been acting real weird since.”
“Liam is fucking weird.”
I couldn’t help but crack a smile.
“Yeah, but he’s a shit hot drummer.”
“And a fucking hot head to boot,” Marty agreed with a grin. “I thought you two were going to have a fucking great fight in the middle of set up.”
“So did Calvin.”
“Seriously,” Marty said. “What are you going to do?”
What could I do?
Marty and I were the new blokes on the tour. Who knew what the protocol was for this kind of thing.
“You remember how sick Angela was on Sunday morning?” I still carried a resentment that Destiny had insisted that she and Ella take Angela home.
Marty threw himself back on the bed and moaned. “How could I forget?”
“Destiny said that Angela had taken something that someone had given her and it made her ill.”
“You’re putting two and two together here,” Marty said as he rolled onto his side and faced me, “and getting six.”
“No,” I stood up, “hear me out. It makes sense.”
“Nothing makes any sense,” Marty said. “Liam’s a weirdo, he could have given her something for all we know. I don’t even remember Jeff being in the flat.”
“You, like me,” I said trying to keep a straight face, “were otherwise engaged in your room if you recall. We have no fucking idea who was partying in the flat on Saturday night.”
“On point,” Marty conceded. “But that still doesn’t mean that Jeff gave her anything.”
“And Liam’s been acting weirder than usual,” I agreed.
I sat back down on my bed.
“Why don’t you just go ask him about it?” Marty said.
“And risk him beating the living shit out of me.” I held my hands out at the side of my face, palms facing Marty, fingers spread. “Hey, Liam,” I said in a sing-song voice, “you the drug pusher who forced something on my girlfriend’s mate on Saturday night? Hoping to get her trashed and get lucky?” I dropped my hands to my lap. “That’s going to go down fucking well. He’d beat me into a pulp against the concrete bunker we’re staying in.”
The stark, cream concrete of the walls of the motel reminded me of a jail cell.
When we pulled up at the motel, I had an immediate sinking feeling in my stomach. All my imaginings of plush, designer hotel rooms had been quashed as soon as I saw the blue iron roof of the single story concrete block motel unit.
This place reminded me of a 1960’s Hitchcock movie.
I was half expecting someone with a knife to appear in the bathroom at any moment.
The blankets on the bed reminded me of my Grandmother’s back bedroom and the entire motel complex had a back water feel about it that put me on edge for no reason other than it felt like the tour budget may well be on the really low side.
This, together with some scum-sucking drug pusher being on the road with us, wasn’t what I had in mind when I’d dreamed about my first tour.
“You’re going to have to deal with it one way or another,” Marty said, cutting into my maudlin thoughts. “If we’re going to be stuck in dingy motel units like this for two weeks with Jesse and Liam, well you’ve either gotta front them about it, or talk to Calvin.”
“What the fuck would I say to Calvin?” The idea of talking to our manager made me want to puke. “He’s always going on about what a find Jeff is. How he’s the best sound manager in the city. Fuck!”
Marty shrugged and rolled over onto his back. “Your call, mate.”
Thoroughly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Some call I had to make. But I knew I had to do something before we were due on stage tonight.
Anxiety balled like a fist in my stomach as soon as I set eyes on Liam.
I cornered him in the kitchen of the motel unit that the four of us were sharing.
“What the fuck is your problem today?” I decided aggression was my best approach. If Liam was going to beat the shit out of me—best get the adrenals going for it first.
Liam stood by the sink filling his orange water bottle.
“You’d think they could at least spring for a fucking water filter in this dump, wouldn’t you?” He eyed me with a side grin, making the point that he was completely ignoring my question.
I slammed the flat of my hand down on the ageing formica of the bench top the shock reverberating through to my shoulder.
The sound at least made him jump.
“You got anger issues?” he eventually drawled as he concentrated on filling the bottle to the top. “Or maybe you got anxiety issues?” Liam took his time, shut off the tap, turned to face me and then slowly screwed the cap back on his drink bottle.
If he decided he was going to hit me I’d be flat on my back on the floor in an instant.
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t know what anxiety issues are? You’re not shitting bricks that we’ve got our first show of the tour tonight? That if we don’t go down well, you could be back in your bedroom at home playing with your little garage band?”
“Why are you such an arsehole?”
Liam shrugged. “Too many nights on the road with junkies and drunks, I guess.”
As he walked past me and as he navigated the narrow passage from the kitchen to the lounge, his shoulder pushed me out of the way.
The ultimate brush off.
I bristled with hostility and followed him, my breath coming in short bursts. Is this how it was going to be? Me and Liam at each other’s throats the entire time we were on the road and trying to work together? Another fantasy about being on the road shattered.
Marty and Jesse stood in their respective bedroom doorways watching the scene unfold.
The tension in the air was palpable.
“You accusing me of something?” I asked Liam.
“You’re the one who came out here all piss and wind,” he replied, “which at least tells me that you haven’t taken the addict’s little helper that Jeff gave you.”
He had seen.
“Is that what this afternoon’s all been about?”
“If you’re a fucked up drug taker it’s none of my business,” Liam said, “unless you ruin the tour,” he added the last half of the sentence almost swallowed in a guttural growl.
“Was Jeff at the party on Saturday night, or was it you that gave Angela some of this shit?” I threw the tiny plastic cap with its pill inside on the low wooden coffee table in front of Liam. I figured if he was going to accuse me of being a drug taker, I should at least get to the bottom of what happened on Saturday night with him.
“You haven’t taken the shit then?” He lifted his chin in acknowledgment.
“And I’m not going to, I don’t fucking do drugs.”
I watched as Liam’s body physically relaxed.
“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me that?” His entire demeanour had changed in an instant.
“You haven’t given me much of a chance,” I said sitting down in a chair opposite him. “You’re determined to fucking hate on me.”
“Yeah, Jeff was there on Saturday night,” Jesse came out of the doorway, with Marty not too far behind him. I guess the two of them had sensed that the outright threat had blown over.
“Did he give some of this to Ange?”
Jesse shrugged, “If she took something, Jeff will have supplied it.”
“Fuck that arsehole!” At least I knew that Jesse and Liam could be trusted with the girls, but I hadn’t thought about the guys hanging around the periphery.
“Does Calvin know what he’s up to?” I looked from Jesse to Liam and back again. “I mean, he’s threatened to fire us if we get ourselves too messed up on the piss, does he know that Jeff’s handing out pills like lollies?”
“And to his fucking lead singer. Cunt!” Liam spat.
“Let it go, Liam,” Jesse’s voice cut through the tense atmosphere.
I watched in disbelief as the two of them eyeballed each other from either side of the room.
“What?” I asked, looking to either of them for an explanation.
“Nothing!” Liam said in a tone of voice that meant business.
I looked at Jesse for some kind of explanation.
He shook his head—but he never took his eyes off Liam.
Something had gone down.
Something that neither of them wanted to talk about and now I was certain that Jeff must have been involved.
“Fuck, Jeff,” I said as I stood up and picked up the pill off the table.
“Where are you going with that?” Liam asked.
“To see Calvin. This shit’s going to stop. Right here and right now.”
Liam laughed. A deep and rolling laugh that reverberated off the solid concrete walls of the cell that we were living in.
“You’re fucking going nowhere.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean you’re not going to get our sound man sacked three hours before the first gig of the tour. You want to go home and be a nobody?”
I sighed and sat back down.
Liam was right, I hadn’t thought this through.
“So what, we say nothing and god only knows what’s going to happen on the tour.”
“I didn’t say that,” Liam said, “but there’s a couple of things you need to know about old Calvin and Jeff before you go shooting your mouth off.”
* * *
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