Rock Revenge:Alex's StoryBy: Candy J. Starr
I mucked around, tuning my guitar, while waiting for the other guys to turn up for rehearsal. The gig the other night had been a mess and I needed to make sure that we worked to get beyond that. No matter what emotions boiled under the surface, no matter what interruptions, we were professionals. Nothing should touch us.
Of course, I’d never expected Dee to show up in the middle of the gig.
I thought I’d handled things well. As well as I could, under the circumstances. I mean, what could I say to the girl? Sorry? That wasn’t going to cut it. There weren’t words that would make this better. The best way was to let her hold on to her hatred of me, give her some way of making sense of it by making me the bad guy.
After the accident, I waited to be arrested. I’d been taken to the emergency room, not at the public hospital where they’d taken Jake but the fancy private hospital. I had the best of care but the whole time I just kept thinking that Jake was dead and it was my fault, as surely as if I’d driven a knife through his heart.
My parents came in to visit. They didn’t sit down but stood at the end of the bed. I only had some scratches and would be released the next morning. They just wanted to observe me, make sure I didn’t have concussion or any of that.
“This will ruin your future,” my father said.
“Hell, like I don’t know that. Jail time never bodes well.”
My mother poured me a glass of water from the jug beside my bed. I didn’t want it.
“Don’t be silly, honey. That’s all been sorted out. It was an accident. An accident.” She stressed the “accident” part as if she wouldn’t hear any arguments. “But you will have to leave town. There will be talk and it won’t be good for business. It might take a while for things to settle. In a few years, you can return and we can get your career back on track but, for now, just keep a low profile.”
I’d told my parents a million times I had no intention of working in the family firm. They owned half of the town, had built most of it, and the idea of that kind of business bored me to tears. No matter how many times I told them, you’d have thought I’d never even spoken. They never argued, they never said I was wrong, they just talked over the top of me, as though my voice hadn’t reached them.
Was it wrong that, in the middle of this disaster, I had one spot of happiness? A reprieve from that pressure? At least for a few years, I’d be free.
“You can pack your things tomorrow. Maybe spend some time in Europe or Asia? Travel is good. It broadens the mind. Probably good timing anyway. Once we start grooming you for the business, you’ll not get much chance to get away.”
My father rubbed his hands together as though he’d just solved a slightly vexing crossword.
“I need to see the family.” I meant Jake’s family, of course.
My father frowned. “You will NOT be doing that.”
“But I have to speak to them, to make them understand… Well, at least say something.”
“You’ll have no contact with them. If you admit to any liability, they will hammer you.”
Maybe it was piss weak of me not to insist but my father convinced me that people were spreading the vilest rumours about me. They wanted to destroy my life. Maybe it was easy for me to believe because the thought of looking into the eyes of Jake’s mother and seeing the depths of sorrow there, that scared me more than anything else in this world.
Jake had always been the golden boy of town. He had an easy way with people that I never had. I’d gone away to an elite private school, and when I returned to town, people gave me a wide berth. It didn’t help that my parents employed most people, or their parents. I was always an outsider.
I’d come home on holidays from university a few years ago and had wandered into the local music store to get some strings. The place was empty except for a sandy-haired guy mucking around on black and white Fender. We got talking. About music, mainly. It was rare for one of the locals to talk to me without measuring their words, worrying they’d say the wrong thing.
“Do you work here?” I asked.
“Part-time. Saving up enough money, then, with the staff discount, this baby will be mine. The only thing coming between me and dreams is not actually having a guitar.”
“Can you play?”
He didn’t answer, just stood up and plugged that guitar in. I’d been dreaming of starting a band as much as he had but I had plenty of guitars, the thing I lacked was band members. Especially ones that had the same determination that I did.
“We need a bassist and a drummer,” I said.
“Pete that works here plays bass. And I know a guy who might be interested in drumming.”