Category Archives: Fiction

Byline: Chelle LaFleur: Firing DJs

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More and more, I’m letting Chelle rant about doings in and around the music industry. Be sure to click on her category over there and check out how her voice has evolved and see which of her rants are based on real life. I’ll be honest about this one: it is. You may say it’s hypocritical of me, who is scarily dependent on her satellite radio, to let Chelle have this view, but c’mon. Chelle is fictional. Go with it.

Now, Chelle here don’t know what flavor Kool-Aid them peeps over at that big ole radio conglomerate must’ve drank to think this was some good idea to hitch their wagons to. It sure ain’t any Kool-Aid Chelle be wantin’ a taste of.

It don’t pass muster. Part of what makes this here music business so amazing is the way it regionalizes itself. That means, boys and girls not as savvy as Chelle here, that when you get off that airplane and move about the country and turn on the radio in whatever city you done wound up in, you hear different music. Different songs from them bands you know and love. Even better, you get to hear bands you never heard of. You get to bring it home and spread the love.

This is important stuff. It’s what gives each city its character, like the way jazz defines this fair city, and how jazz defines Chicago but in both places, jazz is an entirely different creature.

And metal. We got grunge outta Seattle, we got the Bay Area sound, we got LA and Hair Metal, we got Riverview and my ShapeShifter boys. You think all them individual sounds woulda come about if every single one-a them boys who listened to the radio back in the good old days heard the same old, same old?

That’s what we’re facin’, boys and girls. Everyone hearin’ the same music at the same time. Same bands. Same songs. Same, same, same.

And then all you music lovers go and complain how every band sounds ‘xactly the same.

Well, here’s some news for y’all! They do! That’s ’cause they all bein’ influenced by the same other bands and the same other songs out there. There’s nothin’ in anybody’s ears that sets them apart no more.

Even worse, there’s now hundreds and thousands of good folk who love music and who tried to devote their entire lives to it, who now gotta go find jobs. How many-a ’em gonna get further than Wal-Mart? They be music lovers, just like you and me. And they out in the cold, which ain’t doin’ nobody no good. Especially the rest of us music lovers. You get what I’m sayin’?

You heard it first, and you heard it here: firin’ all them DJs only done a bad turn to a music world already hurtin’. There ain’t no music fans at that big corporation. If there are, they done sold their souls to the almighty dollar.

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Mitchell and Daniel Fiction: Sleepyheads

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Note from Susan: I had to cut this from the follow-up to Trevor’s Song, but I like it. So I’m sharing it with you guys.

“If Val knew you were here, she’d say we’re both on the rag or something,” Daniel said as greeting. His eyes were only half-open, he had no shirt on, and he was wearing green plaid pajama bottoms. Or sleep pants or whatever the fuck you called them. They were all creased up, too, like he’d actually been sleeping in them.

In all the years Mitchell had known Daniel, he’d never once seen the guy wear sleep pants. If you’d asked, Mitchell would have answered that Daniel either slept where he dropped, fully dressed, or stripped down to bare skin. That’s how it went when they were on tour.

And then there was his hair. This might be the only time in the guy’s life it wasn’t perfect. In fact, it stood up in spots, like Val had been using it for something to grab onto. Which was way more than Mitchell wanted to know about Daniel’s night so far.

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Trevor Fiction: Sucky Night

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Author’s Note: This Three Word Wednesday post is part of the Trevolution. It has no spoilers for Trevor’s Song, and fits right into any of the Demo Tapes anthologies. If you’re new to the Trevolution, what are you waiting for?

Trevor yawned. It was big enough that the entire floor could see his tonsils, but who fucking cared? This show was lame. Lamest they’d ever done.

Figured there were fifty thousand people in the joint — or there would be by the time Sammy Spencer hit the stage with the latest version of his backup band. No one could take the place of Scarred Heart. And no one cared about who he picked as the first opener for his shows, either.

“Man, we’re fucking up tonight,” Mitchell said between songs. Trevor wasn’t even sure which songs they were between. Everything they played sounded bad. Mitchell, their awesome frontman all the girls dug, was coming off as some dull-assed jerk.

“Man, we sure are!” Trevor shot back with the brightest, fakest voice. Like he was some fucking cheerleader or something. Wouldn’t that be a hoot. As if there were people out there who thought Trevor Wolff wouldn’t put the skirt on. It would be way more fun to get it off the cheerleader he’d steal it from but…

“What?” he asked when Mitchell flicked his ear.

“Quit being an asshole. We’re all in this together. We gotta get out of it together.”

Trevor jerked his chin at Eric. “Been talking to Soul Boy, there, again?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got three songs left and we can let these people think we suck or we can show ’em we’re here for the long haul.”

“I think we ought to race through ’em as fast as we can and go hide out backstage until everyone’s gone,” Trevor said. He nodded and crossed his arms over his chest. His bass bobbed without a hand to steady it.

It was Mitchell who put a hand on it. Mitchell who told him to suck it up. And it was Eric and Daniel who agreed. They’d salvage this show, or they’d die trying.

Dying sounded like the better option to Trevor, but he was smart enough to own up to when he was outvoted. He’d play harder, run around faster, something so Mitchell wouldn’t beat him up later and accuse him of a lack of effort.

As if on cue, Mitchell, Eric, and Trevor turned back to the audience. Trevor watched Mitchell take a deep breath, as if getting ready to turn on the jets and wow these bored people.

Trevor figured he’d let Mitchell do that. In the meantime, Trevor himself would scope out the audience. Maybe a cheerleader had shown up, ready to be charmed out of her skirt.

He could hope.

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Roadie Poet: Ghost

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Last night of the tour.
I walk across the stage.
Last time.
Not that I’m nostalgic.
Or glad to be done.

It’s the footprint.
Just one.
Back near the speaker stack.

One footprint.
Like a ghost.

Hambone says it’s a
size 18.
I’m an 11.
I’ll take his word
for it.

Band’s guitar tech,
Jimmy,
left it.
So they say.

No one’s sure why.
Or how.

It’s creepy.
Jimmy,
he died one night.

Bus 18.
Same as his shoe size.
Woke up when they got to town,
found him there.
In the john.
On the floor.
Spilling into the hallway.

That night,
the footprint appeared
on the stage
over near where he’d stand,
back by the speaker stack.

Three guys from Bus 18
quit the tour.
Rumor has it
they went to rehab.

Tonight’s the last night
of the tour.
Last time to see
the footprint.

Just one.
Like a ghost.

Not that I’m nostalgic.
Or glad to be done.
But I’ll be glad
when I don’t have to see
that footprint.

Ever again.

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Byline: Chelle LaFleur — The Corner Pharmacy

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Note from Susan:

Usually, when I write a piece of fiction based on headlines, I try to mask it as thoroughly as possible. I haven’t done that here, although I have twisted the facts in order to make the absurd even more exaggerated, and the sad even more pathetic. Savvy music fans will by now have heard the story of Coheed and Cambria’s Michael Todd and will undoubtedly know where my inspiration came from. Please know this piece isn’t meant to be my take on what happened. It’s not. It is fiction, inspired by a real life event but fiction nonetheless. I am also most definitely not trying to make light of the tragedy that is addiction. But for the grace of God, the saying goes…

So while I’m playing with the stupid things one desperate man did, I’m also sending out healing vibes to his real-life counterpart, Michael Todd, who’s had a long-going struggle with drugs. Get clean, dude. Get healthy. Don’t let this lick you; the world needs your musical talents.

And in the meantime, have some fictional fun with Chelle LaFleur, everyone’s favorite rock reporter.

Now, I been hearin’ stories of stupid folk for my entire life. Chelle here may not be as old as some-a you out there, but she’s heard more stories than any one woman ought to.

This one oughta win some sort of Darwin award or some such.

Gary Westin, whose band West in Dawn, went and got hisself busted a good two hours before he was supposed to take the stage, warmin’ it up for my favorite band in the whole wide world, ShapeShifter.

You know my boyfriend Mitchell Voss weren’t so keen to get the early word on what went down.

Seems that Gary character — and word around town goes along the lines of Gary bein’ somethin’ more than a character — decided to take a walk. That ain’t so unusual. Hangin’ backstage gets borin’ for these boys. They wanna be up on that stage, playin’ their hearts out and listenin’ to us fans scream. So they up and take a walk. Most of ’em, though, most of ’em stay inside. Stay nearby. Chelle ain’t the first journalist who’s showed up for an interview only to hear the guy she’s lookin’ for has up and took off, so the choices are either go home or take the nearest available band member.

Gary up and took off, all right. He took hisself down to the corner pharmacy. Just strolled on it, the stories go. So does the video tape. Casual as anythin’, as anyone else.

Until he leaned over the pharmacy counter and whispered somethin’ that the pharmacist swears has to do with bombs and explosions and dyin’ right there, two hours before the show, ‘less Gary can get his hands on some quality drugs.

Chelle ain’t talkin’ ’bout no Midol, boys and girls. Chelle’s talkin’ ’bout oxy.

Yep, Gary Westin, the dude behind West in Dawn, is an addict.

The best part-a this story ain’t been told yet, boys and girls. You still with Chelle? Seems that pharmacist believed Gary’s story, so she handed over three bottles of the stuff. Three a-them industrial-sized bottles, the ones the pharmacists get and then pour out and count your drugs from. They’s hundreds and thousands pills in there. Gary walked off with three of ’em. He got hisself a quality heist, all right.

Now, this is where it starts to get good. Gary left that fake bomb in the doorway of the corner pharmacy and started to stroll off, probably back to that place where he’d be playin’ for ShapeShifter in a few. Time was startin’ to get short. The rest of his band was gatherin’ for a pre-show dinner.

But Gary, all he can think about is gettin’ one-a them pills inside, where it’ll do him some good. His nose started runnin’ and he started jonesin’ and the next thing you knew, Gary took a step off the curb in whatever uptight city they was in, and the cop who’s showin’ up to talk to the pharmacist grabs onto Gary. Them pills all go jiggle as he tries to stuff all three bottles down his pants, but the cop? He’s more worried ’bout the fact our man Gary is jaywalkin’ on his way back from the corner pharmacy. It takes the pharmacist to point out how Gary ain’t that well endowed by Mother Nature.

By the time it all gots sorted out and word got back to my ShapeShifter boys, it was one hour to showtime. And the openin’ act went and got hisself thrown in the slammer. I told you Chelle ain’t heard anythin’ so stupid in her entire life.

This story got part of a happy endin’, anyway. My ShapeShifter boys took the rest of West in Dawn and jumped up on that stage and played a whole slew-a cover tunes that had the crowd rockin’ out. Then they turned right on around and played another two hours of ShapeShifter songs.

Last I hear, Gary’s facin’ twenty years for stealin’ that oxy, and two weeks on top-a that for the jaywalkin’.

You heard it first and you heard it here: If you gotta get your fix, don’t jaywalk on your way back from holdin’ up the corner pharmacy. Hear?

Another note from Susan: I’ve been kicking around the idea of how to let Chelle tell this story, so thanks to the wonders at Three Word Wednesday for providing me with three really good words that unlocked the piece.

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Byline Chelle LaFleur: Green?

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It’s been way too long since rock and roll writer Chelle LaFleur stopped in with some of her words of wisdom. Here are a few, once again, based on a true story.

Now, Chelle ain’t been here much of late. That’s ’cause Chelle ain’t had much to say. All that bad behavior we expect from our rocker heroes lately been comin’ from them politicians, and they ain’t people who Chelle prefers to pay much attention to. Chelle don’t do politics. She rocks and rolls. Which means Chelle here been bored. B.O.R.E.D.

Until word of Rattlesnake Quake came down the pike. Seems they been together so long, they be worse than an old married couple. They’re one-a them old married couples who figured out they sleep better if they each got their own room and a twin bed in it. Except them boys in Rattlesnake Quake, they did that separate hotel room thing a long time ago.

They’ve moved on in the world and up to their own tour bus.

Different strokes for different folks, we all like to say. ‘Cept them guys in Rattlesnake Quake been braggin’ about how they turned this tour all green ‘n all. Which explains why Richie and Doug each got their own tour bus.

If you think about that too much and your head explodes, don’t be callin’ Chelle here. She’s busy pickin’ up the pieces of her own brain.

Now you got a grip on the background here. Richie and Doug. Two tour busses. It oughta end there, right?

That wouldn’t give Chelle much of a thread to talk about if that were all. You boys and girls know Chelle. You know it can’t end there.

Nope. It ended on some highway or maybe a parking lot. Details are sketchy, but no one’s fightin’ the fact that it went and happened. Which means that if they’d up and been as green as they sayin’ they bein’, this never woulda happened and instead of makin’ fun of them boys in Rattlesnake Quake for tryin’ to save some carbon emissions when they’re up and drivin’ all around the country, we’re all sittin’ here instead, makin’ fun of ’em for drivin’ into each other and spewing twice as much carbon into the air.

Like Chelle said, don’t think too much about any of it. Your head might explode, same as I heard that toilet on Richie’s bus did when Doug’s bus hit it.

You heard it first, and you heard it here: goin’ green means one bus, no matter how much better y’all sleep when you all got your own space.

***
Like I said, this is based on a true story, but which parts are true, I’ll leave up to you to figure out. If you’d like to keep YOUR head from exploding, head over to Three Word Wednesday or the Friday Flash hub and check out what other tales folks are spinning this week.

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Trevor Fiction: The Naked Jumble

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So it’s Friday and I wasn’t going to do this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt. I’m busy, as you guys can tell by my lack of Three Word Wednesday and Friday Flashes.

But I opened the feed in my reader anyway and checked out the words. Just in case they inspired me.

Then I went and got myself a new keyboard.

Because, you see, this week’s Three Word Wednesday’s three words are: grin, jumble, and naked.

For real?

Are you sure about that?

Let’s stop and think about this, shall we? Grin. Jumble. Naked.

C’mon. I don’t even have to write this.

Or, if I do, it’ll look like this:

Trevor. Naked jumble. Grin.

There you go. Like you hadn’t already envisioned this, yourselves.

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Trevor Fiction: Grace

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Note from Susan: If you’re looking for the Weekend Hangout, you’re on the right blog, wrong post. If you’re here to check out my Friday Flash, Three Word Wednesday, or fiction in general, you’ve hit the right blog, right post. Have fun.

“Grace?” Trevor said. He looked the girl over; she was too skinny to be considered thin, and was more jittery than a coke addict who’d just gotten all toked up. He couldn’t see her eyes; she was looking down, but she knew how to work those jeans, in a quiet, un-self-conscious way. It wasn’t enough.

“A woman named Grace ought to have some,” he said and walked away.

“Hey,” Mitchell said, his voice low but not concerned, “you’re passing?”

“I don’t do junkies,” Trevor said with a sniff.

Mitchell snorted, then wiped at the base of his nose with the back of his hand. It went horizontal, knuckles to wrist, and then disappeared into the front pocket of his jeans.

Trevor eyed him.

“Junkies. You’re sniffing. Oh, never mind.”

Trevor sniffed again. Just to prove the point.

He felt her hand on his wrist before he sensed she’d come near. Shit. Skinny, graceless, as jumpy as a junkie — and ghostlike.

This girl was not Trevor’s type. But here she was, grabbing at him, ready to protest that she did, indeed, have grace.

She got two words out before she tripped over something.

Trevor didn’t have a choice. He had to play the gentleman and stop her from falling, if only because she was trying to take him out on her way to the floor. He glanced down at her feet, hoping she’d tripped because it wasn’t easy to totter along in those heels his favorite girls wore. Then again, he hung out with strippers. They knew how to work a pair of heels.

Graceful, here, was wearing flat boots. Not even the clunky type that were easy to trip over. Nope. They were dainty, delicate.

Like a girl named Grace ought to be.

“I don’t want…” She blushed. Trevor stared, fascinated. He’d seen all sorts of shit by this point in his life, but girls who looked at him and blushed were a novelty.

“Well… I don’t want that.”

That?” Trevor folded his arms over his chest, the same way he expected Mitchell had. Mitchell was behind him, out of sight. It was only this ugly duckling mis-named Grace who had the front row.

Her blush deepened. “Yeah. That. You know. What most girls want from you.”

Trevor smiled. She’d managed to say probably the only thing that would save her from an immediate ejection from his personal space. “You’re not most girls?” he asked.

“Not that type,” she said and finally met his eyes. Hers were green, a bright emerald green. And holy shit, but if she gained some confidence and grew into her name, she’d be one of those chicks every man on the planet lusted after. He watched a backbone steel itself somewhere deep inside her. “I don’t even want to be. Not really. I just want to be…”

She broke their gaze and looked away. Her hands scrubbed her sides, looking for pockets.

“You want to be my steady girl? The one above all others? The one I call when it’s late and I’m bored and lonely?” Shit, how many times had he heard this song and dance?

“Cool,” she said, and this time, there was even more backbone in her eyes.

Trevor knew what this was costing her. He nodded. “C’mon, then. But here’s your first lesson. Cool? Comes from inside. From wherever it is you found the balls to tell me what you’re after, here. It’s there. You just need to let it out.”

Her eyes had stuck themselves to him. If they could have come out of her head and physically picked a spot where they’d live forever and ever, amen, they would have. For the first time, he got what it meant to have someone hang on his every word.

He put his arm around her. “Come with me, little Graceful.” He lifted his face to the ceiling and let out a delighted cackle. “Uncle Trevor here’s got a thing or two to teach you.”

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Mitchell Fiction: Peanut Butter Cups (Trevor’s Song era)

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If you follow me on Facebook (and, at this point in time, you really should), you’d have seen my link to Edittorrent.

I had seen editor Theresa Stevens making a plea on Twitter for submissions for her setting series. So I wrote her a scene with Mitchell in it.

After MUCH tweaking — some based on the comment trail, some not — I give you the full scene.

“The things I do for Kerri,” Mitchell muttered as he reached for the door. He winced as it flung open; weighing nothing, it had slipped out of his fingers. He could hear Ma’s disapproving voice, telling him to be more careful. It was glass, which did break.

With a lunge, he grabbed the door — after it finished banging into the metal chair rail running the distance around the full-length store windows.

He glanced around the sidewalk, but thanks to his security dudes, he had the general vicinity to himself. Good thing; the band hardly needed rumors that The Great Mitchell Voss was beating up unsuspecting storefronts.

Turning around to carefully close the door behind him, he tried to look through it, as if seeing where he’d just come from would teach him something profound. Weird how he could only see himself in a clear glass door.

So far, this trip was turning into a total mind fuck. And then he turned around to look at the interior of the store.

He’d expected it to be more like The Cocoa Bean at home: sterile rows of glass grocery-store cases, the ones with half-dome fronts. Instead of seafood, the Cocoa Bean cases were loaded with truffles and bon-bons and bark and all that shit girls craved.

And the peanut butter cups. The ones Kerri went so bonkers for, the ones he’d been on a quest for in practically every city he’d been in since she’d discovered the handmade ones at the Cocoa Bean.

If this place had peanut butter cups, they weren’t going to be easy to find. There weren’t any of those cases he’d anticipated seeing. Nope. The place was full of tables. Round ones that’d seat two in a restaurant. Each had been covered by a colored tablecloth so bright, he wanted his sunglasses, and each had been stacked with various forms of chocolate. Every table had a theme and a flower pot set on a pedestal — every bit as gaudy as the damn tablecloths — holding a hard-to-read, hand-lettered sign. In colors that complimented the tablecloths.

He groaned. Deciphering what was what would take all day. He only had an hour, and that included time to get back to wherever it was they were playing that night.

“Can I help you?” A woman practically bounced from a hidden spot in the store. Her dyed black hair made a great contrast with everything else in the place; it was the only soothing thing he’d seen yet. Not even the brown of the chocolate managed to produce that effect.

Mitchell bit back a smile. He’d have never noticed something like that before he’d found his artist wife. “I need peanut butter cups,” he said.

The woman, dressed in a bright green blouse and white pants that positively glowed, beamed, revealing teeth so blinding, Mitchell’s hand reached for his sunglasses all on their own. He sighed in relief.

If the woman was phased, she didn’t show it. “Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white? Organic? Shade grown? Fair harvested? Free range?”

“Free range?” he repeated, wanting to ask how fucking stupid she thought he was. He held up a hand when she opened her mouth to answer. “I know. It’s a joke. Where are the dark and milk? And do you have samples? She’s particular.”

“Oh, for a particular lady?” The woman actually batted her eyelashes at him.

“Yes.” He thought about turning to go, about leaving. After all, this wild goose chase was something Kerri didn’t even know he was going on. She thought he’d headed out early to give an interview, a last-minute addition to an afternoon of making nice to the press before a concert promoter-baked dinner.

“Well, then, only the best for your lady,” the woman said, leaning close.

Mitchell forced a simpering smile. He’d seen this sort of flirtation too many times — and that was just in getting from the hotel room to the car that’d been waiting for him. “Yes,” he said. “Only the best for my wife.”

The woman pretended to draw back, as if his words had stung. But she moved a little bit faster, producing peanut butter cups from who-knew-where and slicing them in half for him to taste and standing silently as he took a bite of each, all the wind out of her sails.

Either it was inevitable or a total shock, but the cups were good. Damn good. The peanut butter was perfect — peanutty, smooth, melt-on-your-tongue. The milk chocolate was a bit too milky for him, but the dark was bitter yet round. They were so good, he felt bad about standing there like a rude-assed rock star with his sunglasses on.

He didn’t take them off.

He bought a dozen of the dark chocolate cups and was more careful with the glass door as he left. “The things I do for Kerri,” he muttered to Tony, who’d been pressed into action, keeping a few girls from storming the store.

The guard kept the fan girls at bay as Mitchell slid into the car and headed off to meet his wife, peanut butter cups in hand. He couldn’t wait to tell her about the store; she’d love the place. Probably even want to come back and see it for herself.

Just so she left him behind.

It’d be a bonus if she left the chocolate, too.

He smiled as the driver headed for the arena. Yeah. Like he’d done this only for Kerri.

If you’re visiting as part of Sample Sunday, welcome and please leave a comment. I’ll return your visit. Mitchell is a character featured in both Demo Tapes anthologies, as well as in Trevor’s Song. This moment in time parallels Trevor’s Song but doesn’t intersect or spoil the novel. Go here for all the buy links you could possibly need.

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Trevor Fiction: Game On?

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I’m really rocking the fiction lately, no? If you’re here for Sample Sunday, this is a companion piece to all three of my books. Trevor and company run rampant through them, as well as this here blog. It’s building on last week’s post, which built on the post the week before that… As always, be sure to leave a comment so I know you were here.

Trevor knew something was up by the way Daniel and Mitchell approached. Arms crossed over chests, faces serious.

“What did I do this time?” he sighed. Because, really. They only looked like this when he’d done something they decided was wrong.

“You’re not going to like it,” Daniel said. Mitchell shifted his weight and glared at Trevor. Like it was all his fault.

Hell, it probably was.

“Give it to me,” Trevor sighed, leaning back and letting his eyes stay shut in a lingering blink.

Mitchell produced a fax, one of those pages printed on shiny paper with the ink that rubbed off everywhere. “Heard of this Hammerhead band?”

“No. Should I have?”

Mitchell shrugged and held the paper out. Trevor ignored it. “Just tell me.”

“They heard about that thing you did a couple years ago, with the pasties.”

“Huh?” Trevor squinted up at him. This wasn’t the kind of thing he’d been expecting. Not when there’d been an angry boyfriend beating down the dressing room door a few minutes ago. Fuck, he was tired of the losers who said they’d be honored if he’d do their girl, and then change their minds halfway through.

“Remember?” Daniel asked. He sat down beside Trevor on the couch. Eric hadn’t covered it for once; Trevor wasn’t sure what sort of cooties they were picking up from it. Didn’t much care, either. If he needed drugs to kick it, Amy would tell him where to get some.

“Yeah, whatever,” Trevor said. He couldn’t much care about something that had happened years ago. Not right then.

“Told you he wouldn’t remember,” Mitchell said. “Which sucks, Trev. This Howard dude, he’s trying to top you. He’s talking all over the place about it. How he had to show you how to do it right, how he’s better than you.”

Trevor yawned. “So?”

Mitchell pulled back. His glare turned into something more cautious. “So? That’s all you’ve got to say? You’re not going to rise to the occasion and put this guy in his place?”

“Mitchell, you dumb fuck,” Trevor drawled, “Think about it. We’re talking about doing our first headlining tour. This nobody’s trying to show me up, just so people talk about him. And while he’s flapping his lips, he’s giving us some pretty good, pretty free attention at the same time. C’mon. Be smart for fucking once.”

“Getting into a war with him will only make people talk about him,” Daniel said, bobbing his head. He twirled his fingers, even though there was no drumstick in them. “And focus on him, not us.”

And it makes me look like a dork if I don’t answer the right way. Let him talk, M,” Trevor said as Mitchell started to sputter. “If someone asks, I’ll be ready. But in the meantime, mum’s the word.”

“How much weed were you just smoking?” Mitchell asked.

Trevor smiled blissfully. “Enough.” He sat forward. “But even if I wasn’t, why am I helping out a nobody?”

“You didn’t read this article,” Mitchell said, holding it out again. “Daniel and I think we need to invite them to tour with us once we’re headlining. It’d be fun.”

Trevor perked up. “Fun?”

“Fun,” Mitchell said and shook the fax paper so it rattled.

Trevor took it. He was always up for fun.

I’ve linked this up at Three Word Wednesday, since it was written to the prompt, and at the Weekend Writer’s Retreat. Check out both places for some great writing. Also, I’ll be Tweeting this as my Friday Flash and Sample Sunday post. More awesome people to visit!

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Hammerhead Fiction: New Management

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An idea inspired by a recent fictional piece wound up being a perfect fit for this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt. Although Hammerhead appears in Trevor’s Song for a quick moment, I’ve been eager to do more with these raunchy, randy men for years now. I’m glad to have the chance.

Howard the Hammer, leading man of up and coming rock band Hammerhead, needed some positive attention for his band. Lately, all anyone had been talking about was their backstage antics.

They were great fun and worth talking about, but there was way more to Hammerhead than debauchery. There was, for instance, what happened on the stage. None of the backstage fun would ever happen if there wasn’t anything up front to get people’s attention.

Howard chuckled. Yep, that sounded like Hammerhead, all right. Backstage, up front. All they needed was a girl, and they’d be living large.

If management wasn’t all over him to clean up their image, he’d have done more with the front/back idea. Found a girl willing to model how much fun it was up front, and how good the backstage was. After all, that sort of thing was the essence of Hammerhead.

The band had hardly been named for the shark.

“Be practical,” Howard muttered to himself. “Focus on the music. Focus on the show. Stick to performing. That’s all we gotta do, right?”

No one answered. Not that Howard had expected anyone to; it was hard to get an answer from an empty room. The rest of the guys knew better than to walk in on him when he was thinking. He needed space and time to think. And no interruptions. They’d learned; they gave him everything he needed.

Howard was the gravy train. Without Howard, there’d be no Hammerhead. He’d earned some space to do his thinking in.

Still, doing a show without any theatrics seemed… wrong somehow. To make matters worse, Howard had read an article about a show ShapeShifter had done once, way back when they were getting started. Trevor had riled everyone up by sticking a pair of pasties on his t-shirt.

It was like a dare. The kind Howard couldn’t walk away from. Trevor had pulled that one night when no one had been around to see.

Hammerhead was going to stand up in front of five thousand people in a few hours. Five thousand people who would, to the last man, see rhinestone-encrusted pasties nestled in there with his chest hair. He wouldn’t even need to say anything. The people who knew the ShapeShifter story would get it. The Hammerhead fans would figure it was nothing out of the ordinary, just another thing Howard the Hammer was doing. Anyone else could lick ’em off.

Howard pulled off his shirt and looked down at himself. Would these things he’d bought even fit over his pierced nipple?

He jumped at a knock at the door. It was his drummer, Stunning Stan. “Howard? It safe to come in yet? We’re standing out here like losers and, dude, I gotta take a piss like you would not believe.”

“Yeah, come on in,” Howard said with a sigh. It was a calculated risk. Management had been clear: if they didn’t get some positive attention soon, they’d be clearing out. Hammerhead would need a new manager. But playing it completely straight and narrow didn’t sit right with Howard. They were Hammerhead, for crying out loud.

“Help me out here,” he said when Stunning Stan came out of the john. Stan was the only one he’d ask for help; the other two would pull at the piercing, tell him he was being stupid, steal the pasties for themselves. Their chests were bare next to Howard’s — hell, a gorilla’s chest was bare next to Howard’s. The whole fun of this was the glitter peeking out between all this hair, teasing the girls who’d find their way backstage later on.

And even later, people would talk about this. They’d forget ShapeShifter had ever done it. It’d be Hammerhead legend.

New management might not be such a bad idea after all.

looking for other great fiction? Check out the #SundaySample prompt on Twitter — and on various book-related message boards — and the Weekend Writer’s Retreat, too! Add your links; don’t be shy.

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Trevor Ficton: Twirling

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If this is your first time visiting with Trevor and the band, welcome! This short fiction ties in to my novel, Trevor’s Song, and will appear in a future Demo Tapes anthology. You who’ve read the book may be quick enough to catch a reference to it, but don’t feel bad if you don’t. This story contains no obvious spoilers — but is the perfect reason why you’ll want to pick up one of my three books and become a proper Trevor Wolff (or Mitchell Voss) groupie.

Mitchell was, Trevor quickly noticed, too dumb or too naïve or too sheltered or too stupid, or too something to realize what had just landed at his feet. Probably all of the above; the idiot was certainly a work in progress.

Trevor, however, was none of the above. When the song ended, he gave Mitchell the old familiar nod, the one to tell the frontman to stand down for a second.

Mitchell stepped back from his microphone and crossed his arms over his chest. Waiting.

Trevor sniffed. The asshole wasn’t giving him the right sort of invitation. Really. This one deserved an introduction. It was going to be good.

But, of course, the guy was too stupid or too something to realize what those round, red pyramids were. They weren’t fucking streamers, like he was probably thinking, what with the strings hanging down from the middles of them, at the top of the peaks. They were way better.

Trevor hoped there’d still be adhesive on the backs. Usable adhesive.

He shoved his bass onto his back and knelt to pick them up. Sure enough, both were right there, waiting for him. This was too good, too perfect.

And then it got better. They hadn’t been used.

He heard a few giggles when he stood up. “These from you?” he asked, leaning out into the barrier space between the stage and the fans. It wasn’t terribly big; hell, the whole place was on the small side. Two hundred people, tops. And only about half that who’d turned out to see the band. And three girls standing there, giggling, their faces flushing with something other than the energy the band was giving off.

One of them had given him a new toy. Even if no one was stepping up to claim responsibility. Yet.

Fucking figured. Even something as simple as this, and no one had the balls — or, in this case, the tits — to own up to having done the deed. Maybe she’d reveal herself later, come up to him after the show, pull the front of her shirt aside so he could see them in action, properly attached and waiting for the sort of attention only Trevor Wolff could give them…

He straightened, feeling Mitchell watching. Eric was curious, of course, and Daniel had stood so he could see over his drums. Not that there had been anything to watch yet, but it was time…

He peeled the paper backing off the adhesive. With his best snigger, he did the same to the other paper, trying to keep both cradled in the same hand. It wasn’t easy; the tassel kept trying to drip between his fingers. Finally, he let it.

Mitchell started tapping a foot. Never a good sign. If the idiot’s face had started to turn red, Trevor didn’t know. He wasn’t looking.

Trevor turned his back on the crowd. Daniel watched as Trev put his new toys in place.

Mitchell took a step back. His eyes got huge as he realized what Trevor had found. With a shake of his head and an arm wiping across his mouth so no one would see him smile, he turned back to the crowd. “And which of you pussies helped Trevor get all dressed up tonight?”

That introduction was better, Trevor decided and turned around, his bass still slung behind him. He grinned and thrust his chest out as far as he could, then did everything he could to make the tassels spin in circles.

Fuck, Stacia made it look easy. But that’s why she was Riverview’s top stripper. And why Trevor was only a bass player.

The crowd didn’t quite roar, but they didn’t fall quiet, either. Trevor could hear some laughter, and a lot of whoops. He tried to shimmy his shoulders. He took three steps forward and four back. He looked over at where Eric should have been, except the guitarist was in the wings, his face buried in a towel and his shoulders shaking harder than Trevor’s.

Trevor tried a few more of Stacia’s moves, and then the audience let loose, howling, cat-calling, and cheering like mad. Still behind his drums, Daniel encouraged them.

It wasn’t until one of his new toys fell off his t-shirt and he fumbled at it, finally managing to catch it and stick it on his bass like a new knob that he’d had enough. Maybe it had something to do with Mitchell, who’d come over to Trevor and was motioning that he was going to pinch the pastie — and Trevor’s tit under it, too. As if Trevor had tits, being a man and all, but that was another story. If you were gonna play the part, you couldn’t bitch when someone else wanted to join in. It was always better with company.

Whatever. Trevor didn’t fucking care — so long as Mitchell didn’t squeeze too hard. He was getting a moment, thanks to stupid-head beside him here.

Or… maybe not. If the guy’d had a clue, Trevor never would have gotten this chance.

He twirled the tassel on the fallen pastie as ge stuck it to his bass and grinned. Too bad there weren’t more people here; it would take awhile for the word of this to spread.

Trevor looked back at those three girls in the front. He’d bet just about anything on one of them approaching and offering to show him the moves he’d botched so badly. Fuck, he wasn’t a stripper. He was a bass player in a rock band, for fuck’s sake. He shouldn’t have to know how to twirl a tassel.

Just so long as she did, Trevor figured they’d be set.

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Roadie Poet: Moist

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“Moist,” Hambone proclaims.
“Moist and meaty.”

He digs back into
his steak.
Poor thing.
Dead.
Harmless.
Doesn’t deserve the treatment
Ham’s giving it.

I don’t know who said
steak deserves anything.
‘Cept getting eat.

You don’t get
steak
on a roadie’s contract.

That means
we’re in a restaurant.
Me and Hambone.

I almost forgot
my restaurant manners.
Ham
never
had any.

“Moist and meaty!”
he yelps.

I try not to slide
under the table
to hide.

There might be
someone’s
steak
under there.

One that wasn’t
moist and meaty.

Believe it or not, this is a Three Word Wednesday post!

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ShapeShifter fiction: Signs of the Apocalypse

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Daniel had been with Mitchell when the call had come in. It hadn’t taken a lot of discussion for the veto, but Daniel thought Eric and Trevor ought to know what had been suggested.

And then he’d run off to an interview, leaving Mitchell to do the dirty work. Or, as the case — of course — was, hear about it.

“It’s just not plausible,” Eric said, like he had to apologize for his opinion.

Trevor stared at him. “What the fuck? Plausible? Who cares about shit like plausible? It’s a stupid idea and you and Dans were right to say no.”

Mitchell wondered if Trevor even knew what the word meant. He’d be surprised if he didn’t; Trev was smarter than he liked to let on. But over the years, Mitchell had learned that Trev threw tantrums like this, he usually had no fucking clue what he was actually talking about. Especially because in this case, if he could understand Eric, he’d realize he agreed.

“We should absolutely care,” Eric said. “If our fans can’t trust us to be authentic–”

“Wait right there,” Trevor said, holding up a hand. He hadn’t had time to stick his cigarette into the corner of his mouth; he still held it between his thumb and index finger, like a roach. “What the fuck does authentic have to do with plausible?”

Bingo, Mitchell thought, trying to keep his face blank.

“Because,” Eric said, then stopped himself.

“That’s a fucktard of a reason,” Trevor said. He finally perched the cigarette in its place and shoved some hair out of his way. “Why not say something like it’ll taint the pool of samples, or Trev, are you going to do this willingly, or do we have to outvote you again?

“Want us to?” Mitchell asked. It was getting harder to hold back a smile, but if he wasn’t able to, Trevor would go absolutely ballistic. Trevor’s life, after all, was all about the guy’s pride.

“No!” Trevor got up and started pacing. “I want… I want…” He froze, jerked his head up, and narrowed his eyes. “Do you fucks even care what I want?”

“Always have,” Mitchell said as Eric murmured something along the same lines.

“I want you to fucking use words I get! Is that too much to fucking ask for?”

Mitchell pretended to scrub at his face, the way he did when he got frustrated. He figured that this way, Trevor couldn’t see his surprise. Trevor had just owned up to something on his own.

That could very well mean the world was ending.

“Plausible means it’s believable. So if we’re doing something not plausible, we’re also not being authentic, which means real,” Eric said.

“Damn straight that shit’s not believable. Us, doing one of those New Year’s Eve TV shows?”

Mitchell pulled his hands away. “Unless we’re onstage that night and they cut to a live shot of us for a full song. I can see us getting away with that.”

“But not standing on some stage in the middle of fucking Times Square,” Trevor said before Mitchell could.

“I know people who’ve spent their lives dreaming of being there,” Eric said. “We’ve toured with some of them.”

“Which is why we’re on top of the world and they’re down there, still staring up at us,” Trevor said.

“You’d be surprised,” Eric said. “A lot of us grew up watching Dick Clark. It makes sense to dream about. Dick’s launched an awful lot of careers.”

“Launched? We fucking launched years ago,” Trevor sneered.

“Well,” Eric said, “try this. He can launch us into more homes faster than we may get there on our own.”

“Tell me this, Soul Boy,” Trevor said, bending down into Eric’s face. The guitarist leaned back.

Mitchell watched carefully. Trevor being this aggressive must be another sign of the Apocalypse. As if being invited to be on Dick Clark hadn’t been the first. They were adding up, fast.

“Why do we want to be in more homes, faster?” Trevor was asking.

Mitchell breathed again. So that was all Trevor wanted to know.

“So we can rule the Earth?” Eric asked, his gentle voice weak, as if Trevor being in his face was scaring him. “Remember? Doing that was your idea.”

“Yeah, but I never said we should get there this way.”

Eric shrugged. Trevor stood up and looked over at Mitchell. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I already did. If we’re doing a show and they cut in, fine. Otherwise, forget it.”

Trevor stopped cold, as if he hadn’t heard Mitchell say that the first time. He nodded as he thought that over. “So you’re telling me you’re willing to compromise?”

Mitchell sighed. “It’s not such a dirty word, Trev. Try it every now and then.”

“No.”

“I’ve seen them do cut-ins over the years,” Eric said. “It’s not selling out, Trev. It’s letting people join us. Think how many people have turned into ShapeShifter fans because they’ve seen us live.”

Trevor looked from Mitchell to Eric and back again. “Maybe.”

Mitchell gave Eric a quick wink. “That means okay but it kills my pride to admit it.”

Trevor snorted.

Mitchell stared in fascination. Part of him wondered if he looked like that when he snorted, nostrils flared and drops of snot flying, face totally constipated. The other part couldn’t believe Trevor Fucking Wolff had just fucking snorted. That was about as beneath him as compromise.

Of course, he’d just done that, too.

Maybe, Mitchell figured, it was the final sign of the Apocalypse. If so, there was no way in Hell he was doing Dick Clark. Fuck that. He was going to be at home, in bed with Kerri.

Just in case.

Have you missed the fiction around here? I have. I’ve got some other goodies coming up, as well, so stay tuned. This is my #FridayFlash, #SundaySnippet, and Three Word Wednesday post. I may stop writing to the prompts; I don’t know yet. I feel like they’re not as good as when I just let my brain fly on its own.

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Springer Fiction: Roadie

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Our last Musical Hanukkah Celebration piece is slipping in under the wire here. I’m including it as a Sunday Snippet, since it’s set in my fictional city of Riverview, but if you’re here as part of that, only Eric appears in any of my books. Eric’s worth knowing, however.

Springer didn’t have much hope, but he jammed his fists into the pockets in his jean jacket and tried not to hunch his shoulders. He’d never get noticed if he was staring down at the ground. Confidence, baby. Jason at work said it was all about making people think you were confident, even when you were about to piss yourself with fear and nerves. Given how many people were around, Springer decided he’d try anything to stand out from the crowd. After all, even the girls looked like him. Every single person hanging around had long hair and wore a jean jacket.

One more thing about keeping your head up, Springer noticed. You saw things. That didn’t mean he recognized the van that pulled into the small lot at the back of The Rocket Theater. After all, it looked like twenty others he’d seen since he’d been standing across the street. There was no reason to pay any special attention to it. But for some reason, he did.

“Hey, Springer!”

He looked around at the other people hovering on the corner with him. No one looked familiar.

Then he caught the movement from across the street. From someone standing in a shadow near the door to the backstage area.

He raised his head a bit higher. The person responded by changing the way he waved. It went from a wide arc for attracting attention and turned into an invitation.

Springer swallowed hard and jogged across the street, darting between cars, curious who had recognized him — and why. It wasn’t like he had a ticket this year. He could hear a few jealous comments from the pack behind him, but he didn’t care. He’d been picked — for something.

It was Eric Wallace who was waving madly at him. “I thought that was you. Ready for another great year?” the guitarist asked. The guitarist of ShapeShifter had noticed his pretend confidence.

Springer jammed his hands back in the pockets of his jean jacket and gave in to the need to bow his shoulders. “No ticket,” he mumbled.

Eric leaned closer and asked Springer to repeat himself. Springer couldn’t bring himself to be any louder.

“Oh, no problem. I need a PA tonight,” Eric said. “It’s not paid and I’ll run you all over the place, but you’ll get to see the show with the rest of our staff.”

Springer knew he looked like an idiot, the way his head jerked up. His mouth was probably hanging open, and his eyes were probably huge. Like he cared. The important thing was that he’d been deemed cool enough to help out.

Eric gave him a minute to get it together. “Ready?” he asked.

Springer nodded, wishing his tongue would do something other than pulse like a panting dog. At least it was inside his mouth, and at least he’d managed to seal his lips shut. There was hope.

Eric handed him a laminate. “Don’t lose this. Now, go find the production office. Inside somewhere, there’s supposed to be a box full of pictures of the band. Please bring them to the dressing room, along with a box of Sharpies.”

As he hung the laminate around his neck, Springer started walking toward the stage door.

“Hey, Springer!” Eric called.

Springer turned, but kept walking backwards until he splatted against the wall.

“Thanks. We need cool fans like you.”

The impact points from the wall immediately stopped hurting. Springer wasn’t even sure his feet were touching the ground as he fumbled for the door and disappeared inside, intent on finding the production office and earning a spot working for Eric. Suddenly, it wasn’t so hard to hold his head up and have confidence.

Remember, if you haven’t picked up my books, they are now 50% off at Smashwords — but only until January 1. And yep, at least 50% of the royalties from the sales will head off to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. If you’d like to make a direct donation to the Foundation, I’ll be entering you in a raffle to win some really cool books. C’mon. Help out tomorrow’s rockers. Or orchestra members. Or music fans…

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Roadie Poet: Handy

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November and December both turned into horrible months for me. For those of you looking to join in the Musical Hanukkah Celebration, fear not. There’s more to come. In fact, here’s some Roadie Poet.

About a month ago,
call came in.

We’d be in Denver anyway.
That makes us handy,
I guess.

They also want the best.
Seems Walter Cichewski is gonna do a show
A tie-in
With this Musical Holiday Thing.
ShapeShifter’s baby.

You’ve heard of it.

Me, Hambone, More.
We’re only some of the crew they want.

We’re handy.
And we’re damn good at what we do.

This ain’t a paid gig.
It won’t tie us up all day.
Just for the show.
Plenty of time for us to rest up.

We’d be off anyway.
And
We’re handy.

Remember, Musical Hanukkah left this blog and entered the real world this year. Buy my books between now and December 31, or use this link and make a direct donation to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation in the West of Mars name. You’ll get a prize or two for the direct donation. Just remember who gets the real prizes: kids who otherwise wouldn’t get to make music. Help tomorrow’s musical stars, will ya?

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DMH Fiction: Maccabee

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Yeah, tonight’s the Monday during Hanukkah and by rights, I ought to be bringing you the Musical Hanukkah Celebration. But there’s still more pre-celebration stuff to post, and hey, it’s fiction. Time’s flexible in fiction.

Fozzy held it out to Scott. One drawing, done. Complete with color. Every line perfect.

That’s how it went with Fozzy. He didn’t do things half-assed. That’s what made it worthwhile having him in the band. As far as lead guitarists went, he wasn’t the best out there, but he could hold his own among pretty much the rest of the pack.

“Go on. Take a better look,” Fozzy said.

Scott set his DS down on the couch beside him and took the drawing. A big building filled the background; it had a giant Jewish star on the front. Scott guessed that was supposed to be the Temple that got fought over in the Chanukiah story. It was so big and dominating, it was hard to look at the people in front, dressed in the usual short, white tunics and sandals with the gay straps that wrapped around the leg up to the knee.

“Them’s the Maccabee people,” Fozzy said, pointing to them. He picked up the paper Scott had handed him. “See? They’re right here. Headed off to war.”

Scott studied them. “They have the Hatchet.”

“Yeah.”

“You know they lost the war?”

“That’s what those papers said,” Fozzy said. He pulled on his earlobe. “But they won in the end, right? People remember ’em for trying. They got a holiday out of it. The Hatchet’s never been part of a holiday before.”

The DS beeped, but Scott ignored it. “I think we nailed this motherfucker.”

Fozzy bobbed his head, his wheat-brown curls exaggerating the movement. “The Hatchet comes through again.”

“Who knew the Maccabees had such an ally?”

“Then why’d they lose?”

“It’s a better story if they do,” Scott said.

Fozzy scrunched up his face, trying to make sense of that.

Scott left him. He wasn’t a fan of history, either, but trying to explain this to Fozzy would only make both their brains hurt. It was enough that the special t-shirt for the Musical Hanukkah thing had Judah Maccabee marching into battle, carrying the Deadly Metal Hatchet.

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DMH Fiction: Fozzy Stuck

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Have you been following along with this year’s Musical Hanukkah fiction? There’s been a lot so far. Not as much as I’d originally planned, but enough that you may have missed some. Here’s the start of a two-parter. And Happy Hanukkah, as the holiday began at sundown last night.

“Why’d we say we’d do this again?” Fozzy squinted up at Scott.

Scott looked up from his DS. “Because you don’t say no when ShapeShifter asks you to do something for them. What’s wrong?”

“The Hatchet. How can the Hatchet do its thing? Remember what happened the last time the Hatchet attacked a kid?”

Scott did. The shirt had sold like gangbusters — until they’d had to pull it or get sued by some mom who didn’t have a sense of humor. They’d been warned not to go near anything controversial with this shirt. This was a benefit. It was doing a good deed, it was giving back. It wasn’t supposed to piss anyone off. Fucking up could mean the demise of Deadly Metal Hatchet. The band and the Hatchet itself.

Fozzy had tried arguing that controversy got better news coverage, but no one wanted to listen. Scott told him to drop it and put some effort into making the Hatchet behave for the benefit shirt. It was the first year of the expanded party thing, part of the revival of the event after last year’s cancellation. Not a lot of bands had been asked to join in. That made Deadly Metal Hatchet special.

Scott put the DS down and came to stand behind Fozzy. He reached over the guy’s shoulder and picked up the papers that had been faxed over. “All about Chanukiah,” he read out loud.

Fozzy made a loud, keening noise.

Scott looked over the pages and put one down in front of Fozzy. “Stop it. Here’s your solution.” He waited while Fozzy quieted down and looked over the page he’d chosen.

The guy was quiet a long time. Then, slowly, his head started to bob as he caught on to Scott’s idea. He didn’t say a word or even make a sound as he began drawing.

Scott went back to his DS. Fozzy would take however long he needed to get this done. It’d be worth the wait.

Yep, some Three Word Wednesday woven in here, and I’ll be posting (and promoting) this as my Friday Flash. Be sure to leave comments, stop back for the conclusion, and to either buy more of my books for holiday gifts (I have print copies here if you need some autographs) or make a donation directly to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation via the contests page. There will be a raffle for some awesome books for the folk who choose this latter option!

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Responsibility

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“So JR was one of those kids who went to a school that had to cut their music program. What’s the big deal?” Kerri asked later that night, once Daniel had taken the manager to his house and the rest of the band had dispersed.

“So this turned into a fucking pet project of his,” Mitchell said. “Something that’s supposed to grow and advance the cause. We’re now supposed to save every last poor kid in the States, just so they don’t wind up like him.” He hung his head and shook it gently.

Kerri knew he was watching the ends of his hair dance. Usually, it amused her. Tonight, she was too baffled by Mitchell’s violent and childish response to react properly.

“Was it supposed to be yours and no one else’s?” she asked carefully. Next, he’d start accusing her of pandering to him, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. But when he got in these moods, anything was possible.

Except violence, thankfully. Unless Trevor showed up, and then it wasn’t violence. Not really.

“It wasn’t supposed to be anything more than fun,” he insisted. “That’s it. Fun. Fun for our fans, fun for us, fun for the crew and the media and everyone. Except fucking JR had to come in and fucking ruin it for us. Move out of All Access and into the Rocket Theater. Party with the fucking drag queens–”

“Watch it.”

He snarled. She stared him down. “If it’s not fun anymore, then don’t do it,” she said.

“It’d be fun if JR would stop fucking trying to grow it! It’s supposed to be small and stupid and silly and what people want to be part of. It’s not supposed to be huge and country-wide and taking on a life of its own.”

Kerri covered her face with her hands.

“What?” Mitchell demanded.

She looked up. “The problem with creating something awesome and amazing is that it does take on a life of its own. You should be flattered.”

“It just wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

Kerri tried not to sigh too audibly. “Well, it is, so you need to deal with it.”

“No,” Mitchell said. He stood up and immediately started shuffling his feet, like he was ready to go out for a run or something.

Except, Kerri had never known Mitchell to run. Not unless he was chasing Trevor, anyway.

“When it starts hitting too close to home, like JR just made it do, the fun disappears. It turns into the same stupid sort of responsibility that the entire fucking band turned into. Every time we turn around, we owe people shit. And now we owe JR ’cause his life would have been so fucking different if he’d only been able to play a fucking instrument.”

“Maybe his lack of musical background is part of what makes him such a good manager,” Kerri said.
Mitchell gave her a sharp glance, like he’d had the same thought and hadn’t been able to justify believing it.

“You’re letting this get to you,” Kerri said. “You’re not responsible for your manager growing up poor.”
“No, now I’m responsible for him being fucking rich.”

“He’s every bit as responsible for you and your success. It goes both ways.”

Mitchell growled. Kerri bit back a smile; he hated it when she sounded like Trevor, pointing out the obvious.

“I’m still not making a benefit song,” he said, sneering the last word.

“Don’t. No matter what connection JR’s got to it, the benefit is still your baby. Besides, what did Daniel and Eric say?”

“No.”

“There you go. What are you so stressed about?”

Mitchell turned his back on Kerri and mumbled something that sounded like I feel responsible now.

She didn’t doubt that he did.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Benefit Song

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Yep, I’m tying this Three Word Wednesday post into the Musical Hanukkah Celebration. Sales are picking up, so be sure to be part of this extravaganza. The more books you buy, the bigger our own donation. No benefit song needed.

If the guys in ShapeShifter had learned anything about their motor-mouth manager, it was that as soon as he stopped with the verbal diarrhea, the band was in serious danger.

“A proposal has been made,” JR said.

Mitchell pushed back into the couch. Like backing away would help.

Trevor noticed Eric and Daniel were doing it, too. He figured a smart person would brace himself, but no one had ever told Trevor he was smart. Besides, whatever it was couldn’t be worse than Mitchell bringing Rusty into their lives.

Trevor Wolff hated to be wrong.

“As part of the Musical Hanukkah Celebration,” the manager said, still so slowly, a person could actually, honest-to-God make out where each word began and ended, “it’s been suggested.”

“Out with it already!” Mitchell roared.

JR scratched the back of his hand. His momentary silence was both a delight and a cause for serious concern. This was going to be bad, Trevor realized.

The manager drew in a breath, but when he spoke, he wasn’t off to the races like usual. “All the bands participating in the event get together beforehand, say before Thanksgiving, and collaborate on a song. Think We are the World, or Live Aid.”

Trevor expected Mitchell to lose it so utterly, he’d blow a few gaskets and they’d have to rush him to Amy’s office for some doctoring. Instead, the guy had face-planted in his own lap, hands dangling on the floor, oh-so-happy to have had this shit land on his head. Clearly, the guy wasn’t going to be able to come through in the clutch. Not this time.

“M?” Eric asked. “You okay?”

Mitchell shook his head. Trevor figured that couldn’t feel good, with his nose scraping his legs. Then again, maybe it wasn’t so bad; the guy didn’t have the sort of schnozz Trevor did.

“Need a barf bag?” Daniel asked.

Mitchell kept shaking his head.

Trevor leaned forward and peered more closely at the big idiot. The guy’s face was bright red; how he wasn’t shaking with rage, Trevor didn’t know.

“Quit showing us Rusty’s favorite fuck position and fucking talk to us already,” he said, turning his back on the guy. He began to count.

Sure enough, he’d only gotten to three when the dragon let the fire-breath out. “A fucking benefit song? On top of everything else we’re doing here?”

“It’s great publicity,” JR said. Something must have loosened his tongue because he started blathering about the exposure and the money they could earn. “It’s about kids, Mitchell. Daniel, Eric, talk some sense into the guy will you please We can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars just by pricing this as a ninety-nine cent download Hundreds of thousands!”

“NO!” Mitchell howled. He jumped to his feet and got in JR’s face, shutting the manager up. “There will be no benefit song, do you fucking hear me, JR? Bringing other bands in other cities into this thing was bad enough. The whole idea here was to have fun, remember? Where the fuck did that go? Why the fuck is this all about the money to you?”

JR’s face turned red.

“Oh, motherfucker,” Mitchell said. It came out in a breath, airy and defeated.

Trevor couldn’t agree more.

This piece will be continued! In the meantime, pick up my books or make a direct donation — the latter option will get you an entry into a raffle for some great books that I did not write!

Be sure to stop in at the Weekend Writer’s Retreat, as well — see what’s been posted and add your own fiction!

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