Rock Revenge:Alex's Story

By: Candy J. Starr

It was like the light of common sense finally penetrated the darkness of my mind.

I got out of bed, realising I couldn’t sleep and mourn my life away. Jake would’ve never wanted that. I came alive in baby steps. I had to force myself at first, opening the curtains and letting in the sun.

Taking a shower every morning.

Looking for work.

Summer holidays had just started when Jake died and I’d graduated from high school with plans to go to university. But summer had ended without me doing a thing about it. I’d lost all heart for study. Mum and Dad didn’t even nag me. Mum just moped about the house, with barely more energy than I had. Dad spent most of his time in the garage working in on his car.

Jake’s things sat in his room, untouched.

Summoning up all my courage, I opened the door. The room stunk. Pizza boxes littered the floor, along with stinky gym socks and dirty t-shirts. It was a wonder the rats hadn’t moved in.

Mum didn’t have the heart to do this, I’d have to do it. I gathered up the clothes from the floor and threw them in a garbage bag. Then I opened the wardrobe. The smell of Jake hit me and I wanted to collapse into a heap, but I sank my teeth into my lip for a moment to hold back the emotion, then kept going.

I didn’t stop until I used up every garbage bag in the house. The magazines I found under the bed, I didn’t even look at.

Mum stood outside the door and watched me for a while. She didn’t tell me to stop but she didn’t come in to help either. It was easier to do this alone, anyway. Jake’s room had always been a pigsty but now it was far too clean. I didn’t want to obliterate him, I just wanted to take the fear away. I didn’t want the house to have a closed door forever.

In the corner of the room sat Jake’s Fender. It’d been a gift from Alex. Jake loved that guitar. Both Alex and Jake played guitar. Pete played bass and Steve was the drummer. But Jake had been able to play anything — guitar, drums, keyboards. I left that guitar propped up against the wall, not wanting to touch it.

Not long after that, I found a job waiting tables in a cafe. Then I moved out of home. The cafe owners had a small apartment over the cafe just sitting empty. They were happy for me to move in. I think Mum wanted me to stay. She didn’t want an empty house but I couldn’t let them support me forever. I was an adult now.

Slowly, I’d let the world back in.

And, as I did, the thoughts of Alex turned black. Instead of wanting him to redeem himself, I had one motivation only — and that was revenge.

I’d not even had an idea about how to go about finding him. He’d fallen off the radar altogether. Pete and Steve hadn’t heard from him either. Every night after work, I’d go online and search for him.

Dad had been obsessed with bringing him to justice for a while. He went to the police station and spoke them so many times. They said there was no evidence that Alex had even been drunk. That’d been wrong. People had seen him get behind the wheel. Pete said he’d told Alex not to drive. Alex was crazy drunk. Pete told him to leave the van behind and get a cab. They’d pick it up the next day.

Alex hadn’t listened. He’d not wanted to leave all the gear behind. The other guys would’ve normally been in the van too but some chicks had invited them to a party. Alex and Jake had wanted to go home, though.

“I should’ve gone with them,” Pete kept saying.

“What good would that’ve done? You might be dead now too.”

“I could’ve driven. I wasn’t as rat-faced as Alex.”

Then he’d hang his head. I had no more words to reassure him. He’d started coming into the cafe where I worked late in the afternoon, wanting to talk about Jake. I wasn’t sure if it helped or if it just made things harder.

Then we got talking about music. Pete wanted to start another band. I didn’t want to tell him that, without Alex and Jake, he’d get nowhere. They’d been the driving forces; the ones people would pay money to see.

“You can play guitar,” he said to me one day.

I laughed. “Not well.”

“Don’t underestimate yourself, Dee. Anyway, we need you so we can call the band Dee Cups.”

“Not funny.”

I didn’t say anything that day but the idea grew in me. I’d never wanted to be part of the band. I’d been happy just watching the guys. But why not? Maybe something of Jake’s would stay alive if I played his music. When I’d cleaned his room, I’d found a bunch of notebooks with bits of songs. Nothing he’d played with the band, just scraps of songs he’d written himself. That could be a start.

I grabbed Jake’s Fender from his room one night and took it back to my apartment. A few days later, I began mucking around with it.

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