Hands in the Air: Chapter 1

The man entered the dark room, knowing he could turn on the light but for the moment he enjoyed the cool shadows that hid him. He was no longer a man who thrived in shadows, his soul now longed for the lights to be on, but right now the anonymity of the dark comforted him.

But that isn’t you. Not anymore. Don’t fear the dark, but down enjoy it either. The little voice in his head had been speaking to him more and more. He wasn’t sure if it had been there before. It might have been, but just like much from his previous life, he had ignored it.

Light cascaded the room and he turned to face the door, looking at the woman who was momentarily startled there. That wasn’t surprising. In this new life of his, he did cause many jaws to drop. It was either from his scarred face or from the tattoos that covered his arms, many of them either a gory depiction of something heinous to others that were just hateful words in artistic drawings.

Most days he wore long sleeves, even in the heat of a summer day. He wasn’t sure why he had worn the t-shirt today. Maybe he wanted to unsettle the woman, or maybe he finally felt it was time to be excepted for himself, both his old life and the new.

She was a professional. She recovered quickly and the smile seemed genuine as she crossed the room with her hand outstretched.

“Good morning. Are you ready to get started?” Her voice was sweet, and he was surprised by the kindness he already felt emanating from her. He wasn’t used to people who saw all his tats acting that way.

“Sure”

“And you don’t mind that we’re going to tape the interview tonight for rebroadcast in the morning.”

“Not at all. I’ve never been a morning person.”

“So your manager told me. Well, if you don’t mind, let’s head to the studio and start recording.”

He followed her and as he had often been, he was amazed at how unlike the radio station was to how he imagined. He hadn’t been in many throughout his career as most times he would call in an interview. Seldom had he ever gone to the offices and met with them in person. Most times he was on tour, his band selling out the largest venues.

All of that was gone now. This was a new life. He wasn’t with them anymore, or better to say, they were no longer with him, abandoning him when he needed them the most. It didn’t matter, when all had left, he had found a father that would always walk along side him.

They entered the small room that looked like was barely large enough to house the L-shaped desk and the recording equipment mounted on it. His seat was on the outside of the desk while the woman sat down behind it amongst the controls.

“So, what should I call you? I mean, your assistant who I had talked to-“

“That was my producer. She’s heard your story. I guess she was a fan of yours. She thought the story of what you’ve been through would make a great segment.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

She must have heard something in his voice. She was quick to try and console him.

“Don’t get me wrong. This interview is about you. It’s your life. You’re not just a fifteen minute soundbite to exploit. I want you to know that. I want to hear what you’ve been through and through everything you found your way to Christ.

“Oh wow, I’m sorry. My name’s Racheal.” She said, shaking her head. She must have realized that she had gone on the defensive when he’d really just been asking for her name. When the producer had called him asking for this interview, she had said it would be an in-depth story about him, and not just the superficial promo like other stations would be doing for his upcoming debut CD.

It seemed like they were all so interested and fascinated by him, that they forgot that he was new to this world and didn’t know everyone there. Just because it was the largest syndicated Christian station in the world, they seemed to just assume that he would know all of them by their voices. Either that, or his appearance through them off that much, and his gravely voice disturbed them on the phone, that they forgot who they were.

“It’s okay.” He said, his voice still soft. This wasn’t going how he had expected, and was beginning to just want to get this over with and get out of there.

“So Josh,” The woman said, her smile returning as she started turning the controls. While everything was coming to life, he sat down, and before he realized that she had stopped playing with dials and switches, she was adjusting the microphone so that it was at the perfect height in front of him. He blinked as he looked at it. “I really don’t know much about you, so let’s start with what brought you here. You’ve had an interesting life. What brought you to Christ…”

****

The air was alive. It hummed with the excitement building through the large speakers behind him. He could feel it. It was calling to him. There was constant sound around him, but the world was that of darkness. He knew they were calling out to him, all his little demons, the throngs of them ready for his every word. They were waiting and they were all there because of him. He was the center of their world and the feeling of it, while it was intoxicating, was also empty.

He stood there. He could here the anticipation as it thrummed through the crowd. He knew that all of it was about to begin and when it did, the tension would break and it would all go crazy. He closed his eyes and felt the electricity coursing through him. All of this, it was intoxicating. He almost wanted to start early and blow all the timing, but he had to hold himself back. He wasn’t good with willpower. His desires called to him and normally he acted on them. Waiting now, it was torture, but everything would be better for it. The show would run flawlessly, just all he had to do was wait.

A chorus erupted, chants for his name called out. He felt like he had all the power, and to these that gathered there, he was their god. It was time to give them what they had come to see. The timing was right.

“Get those devil horns in the air!” His words were lost in the explosion of noise that was the cheering of the crowd. Their excitement had bubbled over after waiting through two hours of opening acts. Now was the time, this had been what they were waiting for, and here he was to give it to them. The opening chords filled the arena and the already deafening crowd somehow managed to get louder.

The show was about to begin. The smell was of sweat mixed with the pungent odor of stale beer to create its own perfume. The crowd threw off an intensity that the singer thought could rival sex. Maybe that was why when he wasn’t on stage he was always in another’s bed. Often he would be trying to match that spark that electrified him, making him aroused every time he took to the stage.

The opening chords shifted, there was a pulsing in the drum beat pulling them into the bridge. His moment was coming closer. He moved to the microphone, letting the last chord of his rhythm hang for the audience building to a crescendo of noise.

“We are all tools, we are the fools, we are all meat, preparing for the heat!” He growls it out and below him he can hear the chanting of the crowd as they sing along. They are already beating him to the chorus, not wanting to wait for the brief guitar interlude. He smiled as he could feel their energy coursing through him and he refocused it, putting his heart and soul into belting out the chorus. He returned to the mic and let it flow through him, becoming a part of the force that was around him.

“We are all meat! Meat for the beast! We! Are! All! Meat! Meat for the BEAST!”

The crowd went wild…

****

The show went on, and when Josh Walker, known to the masses as Meathead, walked off stage he felt like he should be spent, and deep inside of him he did. That didn’t stop or slow him down. His soul might be tired but his body was on fire. That charge he got from the audience still flowed through him and he needed to expel it. He needed to burn it off and knew that the only way that was going to happen was to find the first party he could find and get trashed.

He needed to find Tony. Tony would have the drugs, some women and would steer him to wherever Roger, their drummer, would be having his party. Roger always spent the first half of the day whenever they descended upon a new, unsuspecting city, scouting out what they would need and where to score. The man was like a bloodhound when it came down to it, and while Josh had initially been reluctant to partake, years on the road had whittled away at his resistance.

“Man, that was one helluva show,” some roadie said. The man had come up to Josh, but knew better than to touch him. Instead, and Josh never knew if it was out of a mocking or that they truly did worship him, bowed in a way that reminded him of Wayne from Wayne’s World. They all seemed to do it, not just one of the roadies, but all those around him. It was as if they were continually worshiping him and wanted to at any time, drop to their knees and chant, “We’re not worthy.” It would have been comical, had he not been able to see the earnest look they had for him in their eyes.

He nodded at the man, barely acknowledging the one of many as they were moving around him. The man expected nothing more and was already moving past him. While Josh’s work was done, the show having been performed and now the fun beginning, the roadies were about to start. Josh knew that by morning, when he would be pulling himself awake from some drug and alcohol induced hangover, the stage and all the other equipment would be packed away already on its way to the next destination.

It was a well oiled machine, and he didn’t care about how any of it worked. He just sang, worked up the crowd, wrote a few songs now and then, and worked his way to the next party.

“You guys rocked!” another man yelled as he ran past. Josh was lost in another hallway back stage. He still hadn’t found anyone he had recognized. How was that even possible. The show had ended. Where was the band? Usually he could see CeCe, their guitarist or Peter, their bassist as soon as he left the stage. They weren’t even around. Hadn’t they followed him from the stage?

He turned another corner and didn’t recognize anything that was around him. It was dark, not well lit like had had seen for much of the back stage area except for that around the stage? Had he circled back and was back where he had started.

No, he knew this darkness. There was something familiar about it. It wasn’t comfortable, there was a heat from emanated from the hallway and a smell that wrinkled his nose. Death was down that hallway, and he found himself taking another step towards it.

“Hey man, you lost? Nothing down there man but I can get you to your dressing room.”

Josh blinked as though he was pulling himself out of a daze and looked around to find the voice he’d heard. To his side stood a tall man with long dark hair down to his shoulders who had put a hand on his shoulder. The man was smiling, his eyes sparking and Josh had the sense that he recognized the man, but couldn’t place him.

Made sense, he’d probably seen this roadie around a time or two. They rode with a large crew and he knew less than a handful of them. He mostly only knew the ones he had to talk to to get his guitar plugged in and the sound how he wanted it. Other than that, he never had much use for the help. They were paid, and given instructions not to interact, let alone to touch one of the band. This man touching his shoulder was breaking a cardinal rule, and Josh burned with anger at having it broken. He was also lost, though, and this roadie said he knew where to go.

“Sure, lead on.” The roadie nodded and they started back the way they had come. Josh didn’t look back to the dark hallway, but he felt the goose flesh rise and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end after turning away from it. What had been in the hallway? Something had been waiting for him, he could feel that there had been a presence there.

Within a few turns, Josh began to recognize the equipment sitting in the hallways and knew he was getting closer to the bands rooms. That was good as his throat was getting dry and his bladder started to remind him that it was full.

“Hey, hey, hey, where the hell ya going! Meathead, come one man.” Josh heard the man calling out to him and he turned to see Tony rushing to catch up to them.

“Sorry man.” He roadie said and quickly rushed away, losing himself in a crowd of woman who were coming from the other direction. Compared to how empty the hallways had been since he’d left the stage, it suddenly felt crowded with all the people rushing around him.

“Meathead.” Tony said again. He was out of breath when he reached Josh and held a hand out for Josh to hold up and give him a second while he caught his breath. Tony was a large guy, his stomach often times bulging over the low waisted pants he liked to wear. He could easily pass for a car salesman in Las Vegas, a really seedy one where they dazzled customers with sparkle while they swindled unsuspecting customers out of their money.

This man had been the key to much of their success, building up their brand, and when it was needed, supplied them with anything they carnally desired. He was also their manager and he kept everything taken care of, and Josh knew that it did mean everything. If a body needed to be taken, Josh had no doubt that Tony would somehow ‘know a guy.’

“Hey Tony, was just looking for you.” Josh said as he was already turning away from his approaching manager. Before Tony had called out to him, he had seen their dressing room and now reached for the door.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Tony asked. Josh went into the room. “Meathead, where are you going?”

“In here. Why? I’ve really gotta go. Don’t want to wet myself.”

Josh entered the room, but before he could make it to the bathroom, he stopped noticing the naked woman that was sitting on the couch across the woman. She was looking at him, smiling.

“Meathead, You can’t be doing this. You left the stage, man. You left the stage. You need to get back out there.”

“Why, the show’s over.” Josh turned away from the naked woman. He’d have fun with her later as she was obviously there for him. Must have been a present from one of the guys.

“Dude. No, no. Don’t be pulling this again.”

“What man? I gotta take a leak.” Josh said, now eyeing the bathroom. Tony followed him as he stepped into the little room. He didn’t wait for the man to get out as he started to urinate.

“Josh, you walked off before the end of the set. The rest of the guys are still out there. They’re jamming, but getting impatient. Everyone’s wondering where the hell you are, man. Everyone’s waiting.”

Josh looked back to the man. His girth was taking up the width of the door, but he wasn’t backing away.

“Really?”

“Yes. You just walked off mid-song. What the hell were you thinking?”

“Don’t know. Don’t remember.”

“Come on, man. I need to get you back on stage.”

“Sure.” Josh finished doing his business and Tony backed out of the door so he could follow him out. Out of the little room, Josh looked over at the woman who was now strutting over to him. He smiled at her and she smiled back. “You sure I don’t have time for a -”

“No, come on!”

****

Josh walked back out into the stage as the jam that had been going on without him faded. He rushed over to the Mic and did a roaring growl that ended in screaming “Can these demons play or what!”

The crowd roared. Josh chanted into the mic “Demon’s play, demon’s play, the meathead is back and here to stay.” The crowd went nuts and chanted along with him. He swayed with the chants letting it continue while he nodded his head approving the excitement that was building.

“Okay, so I just was back in my dressing room, and guess what I found waiting for me.”

Josh started to walk back and forth across the stage. As he did the music shifted into a strut like rhythm and he went with it. He started bobbing up and down. Eventually he made it to the side of the stage that he had entered on and made a subtle motion that the band saw. The music stopped and he stood erect.

“Back in my room I found the entrance to the womb, but I postponed these carnal delights to continue our dance tonight. I told her don’t you worry, I will try to hurry, but these demons are waiting and your flesh they are craving.”

Josh had just a moment to think, damn that was good, I wish I had that written down somewhere, before he reached back stage. He grabbed the woman by the wrist and pulled her out into the red lights that saturated around them.

“Come on honey, it’s time to be meat for the beast.”

****

J.R. Sever is new to Breaking Fate Publishing and has only just started writing his first novel. We hope to continue encouraging him through this process. If you’d like to visit his blog and follow his work, you can find him at http://www.jrsever.wordpress.com

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