It appears you all believe that Calvin’s a straight-shooter. That was my impression as well.
Early voting didn’t suggest that the outcome would be in the band’s favour—but I guess I’ve got to stop looking at the voting too early on.
I love the way you’re all keeping me (and the band) honest!
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
Part of me still wondered why we were all bowing to Liam’s will. How had he managed to put himself in charge of the entire band?
Calvin didn’t seem to have any trouble listening to the drummer, so I guessed maybe I should stop worrying about who should be calling the shots and spend some more time attending to the keeping of us all safe from idiots like Jeff.
“What’s up?” Calvin asked as he expertly spun his chair around in front of me and Liam.
“Guys, over here,” Liam indicated for Marty and Jesse to join us.
Jeff and Stan continued to load the van.
I guess band meetings happened in the strangest of locations.
“What’s up?” Calvin asked as he looked from one member of the band to another.
“There’s a problem with Jeff,” Liam said as he tipped his head in my direction. “Seems he thinks it’s okay to push drugs on the boys here.”
“What do you mean?” Calvin asked as he looked at me. “You got something to say, Dylan?”
I pulled the small foil packet from my pocket and held it out in the palm of my hand for Calvin to see.
“Where did this come from?” Calvin asked. Steely grey eyes stared up at me from a weathered face. Calvin knew the score, why was he making this so difficult for me?
“Jeff gave it to me this afternoon. Said I should take it if I had nerves.”
“Did he now?”
Calvin held up his hand to me, palm facing upward.
I tipped the foil packet into his hand and wondered whether this would be the last I’d see of the tiny pill.
“What do you want me to do about it?” Calvin asked as he surveyed the four of us.
“You’re really gonna ask that question after what happened to Steve?” I could feel the agitation emanating from Liam. Stood beside me, the drummer’s body was so tense that I could easily have mistaken him for a marble statue.
“You can’t blame what happened to Steve on Jeff,” Calvin said as he closed his fingers around the package in the palm of his hand.
“Really?” Liam said. He couldn’t hide the sarcasm in his voice.
“I’ll deal with this,” Calvin said as he made a move to turn his chair around.
“The same way you dealt with it last time. Right,” Liam said. “How many lead singers you want to lose to the mental hospital? I mean, fuck. This time he might even manage to kill someone.”
Turned his chair back to face Liam and in a lowered tone of voice said, “The four of you in my motel room tomorrow morning at 9am. Don’t be late.”
Then he turned around and wheeled himself off the stage.
“Fuck him,” Liam muttered under his breath.
“That went well,” Jesse agreed.
“But will he do anything?” Marty asked the two of them.
Liam shrugged. “Who the fuck knows. Calvin’s always been his own man.”
“Look,” I said trying to diffuse the emotions that swirled around the four of us. “We just gotta steer clear of Jeff. If Calvin’s going to keep him around, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“Fuck that,” Liam said as he stormed off back towards his drum kit which sat in a stack against the back curtain of the stage.
“Shouldn’t we go after him?” I looked toward Jesse.
“He’ll calm down,” Jesse said. “He always does. Come on, lets get the rest of this shit in the van and we can have a few beers back at the motel.”
Sounded like a reasonable plan.
The gig had gone well.
I couldn’t imagine what Calvin would want to talk to the four of us about tomorrow morning—unless he was going to cancel the tour.
I hadn’t even thought through the repercussions of accusing Jeff of being a drug dealer.
My music career could be over in an instant.
Why the hell hadn’t I just thrown the fucking tablet down the toilet?
Bags packed and stowed in the van so we could go to our next stop—or straight home—dependant upon how the meeting went with Calvin this morning, the four of us duly marched into his motel unit.
“Calvin,” Liam said as we walked through the door.
Jeff sat across the small formica table from Calvin.
He greeted the four of us.
Not a single one of us said another word.
Jeff looked to Calvin.
“Boys,” Calvin said in acknowledgment of our presence.
Then he placed the single foil packet in the middle of the table and eyeballed Jeff.
“You want to tell me what the fuck you’re doing offering this shit to my lead singer?”
I went cold.
The only sound I could hear was the insistent chirping of the sparrows, the sound drifting in from the open motel door.
Marty crossed his arms beside me.
Liam’s eyes never left Jeff.
I watched in horror as Liam’s hands flexed in and out of fists at his side.
“It’s not how it looks,” Jeff said his entire attention fixed on Calvin.
“That’s what you said about Steve,” Calvin replied.
Calvin knew and he didn’t do anything? That didn’t seem right to me.
Liam made a move towards Jeff.
Jeff scrambled to his feet and flattened himself against the concrete block wall of the motel unit.
Jesse stepped between Liam and Jeff. “Let it go,” he said to Liam, “he’s not fucking worth it.”
I watched as the tension in Liam’s body faltered for a moment. He stared at Jeff and then back to Jesse.
“You’re right,” Liam said to Jesse as he took a step back and then cradled his right fist in the palm of his left hand.
“Good man,” Jesse said as he took his place beside me and Marty.
“I gave you one chance,” Calvin said to Jeff.
“One fucking chance too many,” Liam muttered beside me.
“Honest, Calvin. It’s not how it looks,” Jeff sounded desperate, his line of sight flitted from the menacing presence of Liam and then back to Calvin sat on the other side of the table.
“You’re fired,” Calvin said. “Pull your shit out of my car. I never want to see you again.”
“But, mate,” Jeff said.
“Don’t fucking mate me,” Calvin replied his voice had dropped an octave. “I gave you a chance because of how far we go back. You gave me your word that you had nothing to do with Steve’s demise. I was willing to take you at your word.” Calvin waved his hand in the direction of the pill on the table. “But this.” He shook his head, he looked more disappointed than angry. “This I can’t condone and I can’t sit by and watch what happened to Steve happen again. I’ll pay you for the rest of the tour. I won’t have you bad-mouthing me in the industry. But don’t ever fucking darken my door again. We’re finished.”
Calvin spun his chair out from under the table.
“Come on boys, in the van. We’re due in Tauranga by lunchtime.”
I think we’d been sitting in the van in silence for about quarter of an hour before anyone said anything.
“So who’s going to do the sound?” Marty asked.
“Not to worry,” Stan said from the driver’s seat, “Calvin will have someone on the sound desk by the time we get to Tauranga.”
“How so?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Calvin knows anyone who’s worth knowing in this industry,” Stan said as he finished a tight overtaking manoeuvre that scared the living shit out of me.
“Fuck, Stan!” Jesse screamed. “They’re going to have to scrape us off the road with a shovel at this rate.”
“Been driving these roads longer than you’ve been alive, sonny,” Stan replied as he put his foot down again.
If I didn’t die at the hands of an unrepentant drug dealer, then I was likely to be found dead down a ravine somewhere on the side of the road because we’d been run off said road by a speeding semi-trailer.
“I don’t tell you blokes how to play those instruments in the back,” Stan said with a smile, “so don’t be trying to tell me how to get you around the countryside on time.”
“Let’s just hope that whoever Calvin finds,” Jesse said, “they can make us sound half as good as Jeff could.”
“Shame really,” Jesse added, “it’s the only reason Calvin kept him around for as long as he did.”
“We’re better off without him,” Liam said. “He’s a piece of shit and I hope he rots in hell.”
I’d learned something about Liam over the last twenty-four hours, he wasn’t shy about telling us what was going on and at least we all knew exactly where we stood with him.
I guess that’s what living on the road did to you.
Everything seemed more immediate and intense.
There was no hiding anything from anyone.
No doubt about it.
The next few weeks were going to be interesting in more ways than one.
The afternoon was a repeat performance of yesterday.
We’d stopped at some local diner just outside of Waihi for an early lunch. Nothing to see, but a gaggle of oldies in camper vans moving in convoy.
In what seemed like no time at all, Stan pulled into a side street.
A tiny, battered notice with the words “Backstage” painted in a font that looked like it had its day in the 80’s was the only indication we were in the right place.
“Wait here lads,” Stan said, “I’ll get her opened up for you.”
I don’t honestly know what I’d expected, but sitting in a battered van in a back-street in Tauranga wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind.
“Be interesting to see who Calvin’s got for sound,” Liam said.
“You really think someone’ll be here?” Marty asked.
“Sure,” Liam replied. “Calvin’s a pro. He’ll have had someone lined up before we even stopped for lunch.”
I shook my head.
We’d only been on the road for a day and a half and we’d already sacked someone for drug dealing. I guess you couldn’t write about this kind of thing.
A knocking on the window surprised me.
I slid the window aside.
“You guys the band playing here tonight?”
“Yeah, what’s it to you?” Liam said from over my shoulder.
“Adam Kincaid from the Tauranga Times.” He flashed a card at me that I could barely see. “Can I get a shot of you for the paper?”
“Sure,” Jesse said as he pulled the sliding door of the van to one side.
We piled out and made an effort to try to arrange ourselves in something that resembled a cool shot. It wasn’t too hard, considering the rock-grunge state of the area. We looked pretty impressive in front of the orange bricks of the building.
“Great,” Adam said as he continued to click the camera.
“You need to know anything about us?” I asked.
Adam shook his head. “No, we’ve got the press release.” But then he added, “How was the show last night?”
“Knocked it out of the park,” Liam said. “Full house. They couldn’t get enough of us. Three encores.”
“Cool,” Adam said.
The door behind us opened and Stan appeared in all of his ancient, beige glory.
“Okay lads, let’s get the gear in.”
“Have a good one,” Adam said with a wave as he vanished down towards the main street.
“Who’s he?” Stan asked as he opened up the back doors of the van.
“Local press,” Liam said as he picked up the first two pieces that came out of the van and headed for the back of the stage.
Here we go again, I thought as I picked up a couple of guitar cases and followed Liam up the dark steps and into the backstage area proper.
Unlike yesterday’s venue, this was actually a theatre.
A bank of seats climbed their way up from the small area that I assumed would usually house some kind of orchestra.
For our purposes, it would serve as a welcome mosh pit.
I’d enjoyed having the fans so close to the stage last night—but the fact that we were so much higher up from them this time gave me a sense of much needed security.
They’d really been in my face last night and the experience had been somewhat unsettling. I liked the idea that I could keep at least some kind of space between me and the people we were entertaining.
Calvin appeared from a doorway in the middle of the rear of the seats. He’d obviously come in the front door.
He had someone with him.
A young woman.
She wore her black hair up in high pigtails on each side of her head. They almost looked as if they were suspended on wires and moved independently of her body.
I was certain she had something to do with music because she wore the regulation black jeans and black t-shirt of someone who travelled on the road. Except in her case, the front of her t-shirt appeared to be covered in a rainbow pattern of sparkling glass which caught the filtered light that fell through the theatre.
I stood entranced, watching this exquisite and exotic creature as she made her way across to the sound desk with Calvin.
The two of them stood deep in conversation, all the while her raven-like hair bobbed away in an out-of-control manner at the side of her face.
“This shit’s not going to get itself out of the van,” Liam arrived at my side. “What the fuck you looking at?”
“Over there, with Calvin,” I tipped my head in the direction of the young woman and our manager. “You think she’s the new sound guy?”
* * *
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