John parked the van behind The Warehouse. By now the kids should have finished playing however many songs they could get away with and should be waiting. If he pushed it back too much more, Bruce would be calling, demanding a ride for their equipment, and maybe a chance to yell about the gig. No way John was going to submit to that.
Bruce should be grateful for the chance, even if it did come through the back door. So the owner was expecting a different band all together. Didn’t matter, did it? One band was as good as another most of the time.
Well, this time was probably going to land him in hot water with everyone. After all, he’d flung a band that couldn’t possibly be any more amateur on a venue that demanded good tunes and prized originality. He was counting on the patron’s interest in the odd and obscure. They’d probably think a bunch of teeny boppers barely out of middle school were entertaining.
So what if this was the place where Bruce’s career as a musician ran smack into a brick wall. Almost literally. He’d taken offense at some stupid thing one of the patrons of the bar had said, and taken the man around back to work him over only to find out the guy was the son of the Chicago-based producer they were here to impress.
The band had tossed Bruce like a used snot rag and gone on to Chicago without him. And without John as well. Tarred with the same brush. So far as John was concerned, Bruce would owe him for years to come.
“Consider it payback,” John muttered as he got out of the van and headed for the back door.
The tape he’d put over the lock was still there, so he was able to slip in without having to call the owner up again. He didn’t want to face the music just yet.
He could hear the shouting before he got through the abandoned kitchen, but it sounded more like people having a really good time than a riot. The other band, the headliner, must have started early because there was some pretty good music coming through the walls.
He stepped into the bar proper to face a wild scene. Must have been a couple dozen people whooping it up on the dance floor, and just about everyone in the joint faced the little stage where Malaprop played.
The girl on bass guitar slid across the dance floor on her knees while a girl in a pink mask egged her on with ooh’s and oh-my’s. Bruce had a shit eating grin on his face. And the guys on the stage on the other end of the room were still tuning up.
Base guitar girl hit a final cord, to more than enough applause.
“That’s all, Folks,” Bruce said into his microphone while the audience yelled for an encore. “I’m afraid we’ve already played every song we know. But thanks for coming and watch for us in the future. We are Malaprop. Say it right and we’ll catch you later.”
Some people actually sulked at this news. John blinked. Could he actually have stumbled across something lucrative? John knew who everyone would claim was the highlight of the night, and it wouldn’t be the tune up gang.
“Fantastic show,” he said while the kids packed up. “Even better than I expected, and that’s saying something.”
“I bet,” Bruce muttered.
“What song was that? I didn’t recognize it. Original?”
“It was Little Friend by Nickelback.”
“Well, covers are all right.” John clapped his hands together and mentally moved the kids down a rung or two in his list of priorities. “Of course it would be nice if you had something original.”
He must have stepped in something he shouldn’t have because everyone got kind of stiff. Well, at least he knew they were listening.
“The way I see it, if you can just get a few originals under your belt we’ll really have something. I can see it now. You’ll be getting a lot more gigs now. In time I could even swing a record deal for you.”
“Where are my drums?” The male drummer straightened from what was left of his kit. He held a kitchen pot in one hand and a trash can in the other.
“Three of my cases were empty.”
“Oh. That’s why they were so light. Well, I’m sure they’re back at the practice room.”
“They better be.” The drummer put his back to John.
“So I’ll tell Bruce when and where the next one will be, shall I? Right after we get the contract signed…”
“No contracts,” Bruce said.
“What are you saying. Of course you’ll be signing on with me.”
“Well, we’ll talk about it later.” They most certainly would. Bruce’s attitude needed a bit of adjusting, but that would come with a little instruction. The girl in the pink mask walked by. “Oh, hey. Let me help you with that.” He reached for the ribbons tying it in place.
“No!” Half the band practically jumped down his throat and the girl shied away as if he had attacked her. What was with these kids?
“Sorry,” he said resentfully, then said it again with more honesty when he saw the angry way they all looked at him. Something was up with them. He’d have to figure out what because they could be the hottest ticket he’d seen in a long time. But not right now. Anything he did now would probably just backfire.
“I’ll go see about your pay.” He headed for the bouncer at the front door to see what had been collected and to extract his fee.
Yeah, this could be good. This could be John’s ticket to the big time. About time, too.
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