Category Archives: Fictional Characters

Byline: Chelle LaFleur: Callin’ out Tommy Goldman

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Now, all you boys and girls who been readin’ Chelle’s pieces at this here Trumpet knows that Chelle ain’t no big fan of Terry Fantillo. That man’s been through seven wives, and I heard tell from more than one person that he was workin’ on number five while still married to three, and still got four on the side, too.

That ain’t nobody Chelle can stand behind.

But sometimes, someone goes and does somethin’ that makes even Chelle say a cheer over. Today, that someone’s Terry Fantillo, mister man of a million wives.

You heard that teenybopper Tommy Goldman’s been headin’ down that path o’ darkness, right? The gettin’ thrown outta the casino he wasn’t old enough to be in, the breakup with Sherry Case smack dab in the middle of his show. That made her newest record, which ain’t one Chelle’s called up on Spotify or nothin’, sell another three million copies in the States alone in two hours. And then there’s the fight Tommy had with the photographer who waited for him to get off-a his tour bus and actually caught sight of one-a Tommy’s hairs outta place.

Tommy’s got a new trick, one he learned from that redheaded hothead: he been takin’ the stage an hour late.

Now, our hothead, he don’t care and he don’t apologize. But Tommy? He been makin’ these Tweets that sound lamer than a racehorse that got put down three days ago. Chelle here just wanna know whose equipment is failin’ there, Tommy boy? And which piece is it really?

The music world’s been buzzin’ about that, sho’ nuff. And then Terry Fantillo steps smack in the middle-a it and calls him out. Tells him to get his act together and then goes on and calls him somethin’ that can’t be printed in this here family newspaper. Not that you all ain’t seen it before. I just can’t be askin’ my bosses to print that word, and I can’t be payin’ those fines if they do, neither.

But you know what Chelle here is doin’? A fat girl happy dance. Almost went through the floor, jumpin’ up and down the way I did when I saw what Terry Fantillo up and done.

Maybe it takes one-a them unprintable words to know another when he sees it, but Terry Fantillo sure came through. He may not do it for all them wives he’s had over the years, but he did it on behalf of all us music lovers who think the show oughta start on time.

You heard it first, and you heard it here: Maybe there’s somethin’ redeemable about Terry Fantillo yet. But probably not Tommy Goldman. The only redemption he’s gonna be doin’ is gonna be redeemin’ his stocks and bonds to pay for his rehab.

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Kerri Fiction: Needs Salt

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I keep thinking I’m done writing flash featuring the extended cast of the Trevolution, but then something like this comes out.

It was a joke. It was supposed to be an easy joke, the kind that didn’t backfire and embarrass the mastermind. But a joke. Nothing more.

The idea of stealing the other school’s mascot had been done to death back in the 1950s. Back in the days when the school mascot was an actual animal and not a fuzzy suit worn by the guy who thought being a cheerleader was the best way to get girls. Besides, they’d have to pay for any destruction done to the mascot, and making amends like that wasn’t Kerri’s style.

Kerri didn’t know how her planning had overlooked him. She had grabbed her usual accomplices, and even snared the head lunch lady into helping out. Soon, the entire cafeteria staff was involved. They should have thought to work together to make sure this didn’t happen.

The plan was simple: take the day’s allotment of mashed potatoes and, once they were cooked or stirred or whatever the lunch ladies did to make them that perfectly paste-textured mess, Deke would turn it into a sculpture of the rival school’s mascot. He was always bragging he was a better artist than Kerri. This would be his chance to show the entire school. Until their classmates got set loose.

Deke didn’t know it, but those individually-wrapped pats of butter, set on cardboard and with the wax paper over top, were in position to be fired at the sculpture rather than the ceiling. Total destruction.

Deke might not have forgiven her, but at least the matter would be settled. No matter how bad the entire high school hated the Vikings, they’d never fire the butter pats at a sculpture Kerri had made.

It should have been perfect. It started out that way. The lunch ladies cooked. Deke sculpted. Kerri snuck out of class on a bathroom pass and gave it a thumbs up, especially when she stuck a finger in the butter pats and found them the exact right temperature for sticking to what they were thrown at.

And then Fat Douglas walked into the cafeteria.

Kerri got lucky; she was there to see it. To stare in horror as Fat Douglas—who’d earned his name because he ate so much, by rights, he ought to be the fattest person on the planet—took a spoon and dug in.

He started with the Viking’s right horn.

Three spoonfuls in, Deke finally noticed him. “That’s art, you motherfucking loser!” He launched himself at Fat Douglas, who was the skinniest kid in the school, except for maybe Amy the gymnast, who was determined to not-eat herself to death.

Fat Douglas’s spoon went flying. So did Deke and Fatty, right under the table nearest the stage. A dull thud told Kerri they’d just rolled into the edge of the stage.

From her vantage point, it looked like Deke and Fat Douglas both gave as good as they were getting. That surprised Kerri; she hadn’t expected either of them to have the first clue how to throw a punch.

The bell rang, and students entered the cafeteria. People paused when they saw the statue. They cheered when they saw Kerri—and then they ran over to Deke and Fat Douglas and egged them on.

Kerri wasn’t sure how long it went on or who ran for the principal, but he waded in and broke up the fight.

“You’re coming, too, Broadhurst,” he said as he escorted Deke and Fat Douglas out of the cafeteria to a very loud Bronx cheer. “Don’t think I don’t know any better.”

Kerri shrugged and followed them to the principal’s office. It wasn’t the first time she’d been summoned.

The principal sat Fat Douglas and Deke in opposite corners, then pulled out a chair for Kerri. He set it perfectly in the middle of the two boys—and directly across from his seat. Which he sat in and pulled up more closely to his desk. Leaning his forearms on the top surface, he leaned forward and fixed Kerri with a glare.

“I have one question,” he said in a deadly voice.

Kerri licked her lips, not sure where this was going.

The principal turned to Fat Douglas. Out of the corner of her eye, Kerri watched the color drain out of the kid’s face. She almost fell sorry for him. Almost. Taking a bite out of Deke’s sculpture hadn’t been particularly smart.

“How’d it taste?”

Fat Douglas broke into a smile, even though the look on the principal’s face was enough to melt the mashed potato sculpture. “It needed salt.”

This was a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to stop in and see what other cool stuff was created this week.

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Roadie Poet: Drab

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If you’ve never met Roadie Poet, definitely take a stroll through his archives. It won’t take you long to see why he’s got a cult following all his own.

There’s something drab about
Places like this.
They’re all the same.
Generic.

This is what it looks like
when you’re
a roadie.

The color’s on the outside,
where the paying people sit.

Not here,
where the employees go.

Don’t matter if they’re athletes
musicians,
or roadies.

In the end,
we’re the paid help.
Nothing more.

Not even
the reason
for places like this.

As drab,
generic,
and boring
as they are
back here.

Backstage.

But later,
Oh, later,
this entire building
and every person in it
will pulsate
with the music.

Every rafter,
every tendril of light
that escapes the drapes
we’ll hang
will throb.

Pulsate.
Throb.
Rock.

This is what it will mean
to rock the house.

And it won’t matter
that when you look away
from the stage,
all you’ll see
will be
drab
compared to the
magic
we’re creating.

For you,
the paying people.
Who never get to see
how drab
our existence
sometimes
is.

This was a Three Word Wednesday post. Stop in and see what others have come up with.

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Kerri’s Diary: Overstock

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Thanks to everyone who turned out and picked up copies of King Trevor yesterday, on its release day! Here’s more from Kerri’s diary, a loose-tie in. If you haven’t joined the Trevolution yet, now’s the time!

Mitchell and Daniel took off together for lunch. Mitchell said I could come, even though they’d be talking business. I had nothing better to do, so I tagged along.

It was fascinating stuff.

The jist is that they’d ordered two different new t-shirt designs to debut on this leg of the tour. One was my first drawing of Cool Dude. Trevor’s gotten some comments from people about it, and it was featured in that guitar gods interview they did with me and Trev. Mitchell had to bully JR into letting us put that shirt out. JR had been convinced that despite the magazine, no one would want a cartoon. It went against the ShapeShifter image, he’d said.

To me, that’s why Cool Dude is cool.

Still, I kept my mouth shut while they talked about this. The whole band had thought they were onto something. They fought JR and finally Mitchell threatened to fire him if JR didn’t make those t-shirts available. “It’s not like we fucking have to pay the artist a royalty!” he’d screamed.

I’d asked him why not, but he’d given me one of those looks, and I let it drop. You’d think that after doing the design for Behold Me, I’d have known better this time around. Guess not.

Needless to say, the band was right. The Cool Dude t-shirt has been selling like mad. In fact, Daniel and Mitchell looked at each other, then at me, then at each other again. I get what pregnant silence means now.

“Maybe,” I said. “But you’ll have to pay more.”

Mitchell snorted, then growled.

“Stick it,” I said. “Maybe I’ll use the royalties to fund a scholarship at Riverview Art.”

I think that idea satisfied him. I mean, the band’s doing well enough that so are we.

The other t-shirt, though… that’s the problem. It was supposed to be one of those basic wardrobe staples that no one can live without. The ShapeShifter logo at the top, and the most recent promo shot underneath. It was JR’s pet. He was convinced it’d be the band’s newest top-seller.

Can you say overstock?

Yeah. Me, too.

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Kerri’s Diary: The Sneeze

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With less than a week to go until the debut of King Trevor, here’s another snippet from Kerri’s Diary. This project is a side piece to the current books in print that are part of the Trevolution. This post, inspired in part by real life, incorporates this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt words.

You know those romantic images of the woman who always sleeps in her lover’s arms? Mitchell and I sleep like that. I’ll admit it. Scary thing is that it’s hard to get to sleep if I’m not using him as a pillow.

Don’t buy the hype about how it’s nothing but great. Neither of us moves much when we sleep, so sometimes, we’ll wake up and find we’ve gone stiff during the night – especially Mitchell, especially the night after a show. These early shows have been the hardest on him. Sometimes, one or the other of us will have an arm or a leg – or shoulder, or whatever – go numb.

The worst happened this morning. I can’t even tell you how it started because I was asleep, but I guess I sneezed.

And, of course, when you’re using a man’s body for your pillow and you sneeze while you’re asleep…

Well, his growls were what woke me. Even then, I was groggy. I’m not trying to justify it, so bear with me. I wasn’t sure what had happened, and I wasn’t even entirely certain I had sneezed in real life even though I’d sneezed in the dream I’d been having.

I moved my hand over his chest and … it was all wet. Not the sweaty kid of wet, either. This was… different.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“You sneezed,” he said. It came out mostly as a growl.

I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh. “You mean I sneezed on you?”

He got out of bed. It was obvious this was funnier to me than it was to him.

I rolled onto my back and laughed some more. He stayed in the bathroom until I stopped giggling, but as soon as he came out and I saw him, I started again. I couldn’t help it. In a way, this was worse than any of those other random body functions that happen while making love.

“Payback’s a bitch, Ker,” he finally said and got back into bed. He made it clear I wasn’t allowed back on his shoulder, and when I rolled onto my side, he fit himself against me.

And that’s when I realized: I had my back to him. And his face.

And paybacks are, indeed, bitches.

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Kerri’s Diary: Warmer Clothes

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Okay, so it’s March, not July, when I’m posting this, but the weather here makes this a fitting piece. Less than two weeks until the release of King Trevor — are you ready??

Mitchell called last night and asked me to bring some warmer clothes for him when I come back out on the road. He said he’s already stolen a sweatshirt from his own merch, but it’s not enough. He needs a coat or something.

I don’t get it. It’s the summer, for crying out loud. July. And the band is in the States, where it doesn’t exactly get cold enough to be coat weather. At least, it usually doesn’t do that in July.

You don’t argue with Mitchell when he gets in these moods, though. You shut up and dig through the coat closet and find something that’s not as heavy as his ShapeShifter jacket, but is still warmer than the denim he’s got with him. Maybe even warmer than the warm-up jacket I was eyeing, but then my choices are this horrid stadium jacket that had to have been one of those prank presents from Amy or Beth, or this even worse barn jacket.

That’s what makes me think that Mitchell doesn’t need a coat right now. That he’s looking ahead and knowing he’ll need one soon, and that if he whines about being cold in the middle of July, I’ll take pity on him and buy him something nicer than either of these two. Yet why he thinks I won’t come up with something worse is beyond me.

Unless he’s planning that if I do, he’ll just make me wear it. Me, who wants nothing more than a heavy leather ShapeShifter jacket like the one in the closet. The one I’m half-tempted to take out and sleep with. I mean, it reeks of him. I may be home for only a week but damn, I miss him.

Maybe I’ll wait on the whole coat thing and drag him out shopping on a day off once I’ve gotten back out there. That way, any ugly thing he winds up with will be his own doing.

But I’ll pack him an extra pair of sweatpants, just in case he really is cold. Maybe another sweatshirt, too. A heavier one. Just in case…

Be sure to check out the other FridayFlash folk and see what they are creating… It’s always fun to sample the depth of experience on the Net…

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Kerri’s Diary: First Show

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This week’s Three Word Wednesday and #FridayFlash combines with my new Kerri’s Diary series. This piece, obviously, is set during Trevor’s Song. As we get closer to the release of King Trevor, the newest book in the Trevolution, you’ll be reading more snippets from Kerri’s Diary. Hope you’ll join me for the ride — and pick up the books, while you’re at it.

After all these months, it finally happened.

I got to see ShapeShifter play live. A real, live concert. Not a practice, not a warm-up show in a mostly-empty arena. A concert.

Mitchell was right. I didn’t get it until I experienced it.

Amateur that I was, Eric told me I had to go down into the crowd and watch that way. Right down there, at the barrier, he said. He found a member of the local security team to put me in place and stay with me, to make sure I wouldn’t get trampled. I laughed, but it turns out, Eric was right. I needed the guard’s diligent ways; ShapeShifter fans are rough. It’s not that they mosh so much as they almost have this need to get up in the band’s face and touch them and be close to them, especially Mitchell. He’s more than just the guy in front, as he calls himself. He’s electric up there, magnetic. He’s calling people to him, and I doubt he even realizes what he’s doing.

I watched big, beefy guys get hauled over the barrier, red-faced and gasping for breath. Girls who looked like they were about to pass out, who’d immediately burst into tears at where they found themselves. So close to the band and yet being shown the way to someplace that’d only move them farther from their heroes. They’d get yanked free, and there’d be six more people cramming into that space they’d just come out of.

The crush was incredible. And there were only eighteen thousand total fans in the arena. The security guy said he’s been on the road with bands who’ve played in front of fifty or sixty thousand. This, he said, was nothing. When you get numbers like that, the floor’s packed. People can—and sometimes do—get trampled.

I believe him. And … I don’t. It’s just too hard to get your brain around. I’ll admit it here since I can’t admit it anywhere else, but at times, I was scared.

I spent the rest of the night drawing, and yet I couldn’t draw anything. I was too busy watching, taking it all in. This was my first experience with the whole spectacle: the hurry-up-and-wait once you get to the venue, the interviews, the pre-show, the after-show, the fans, the media types, the label people. And the groupies. Oh, yeah. Don’t forget the groupies. They hate me already and half of them don’t even realize the woman standing in the band’s shadows is the wife. They hate the very concept of me. I’ve taken Mitchell from them.

Eric said the thing to do is get to know a few. I’ll know which ones, he promised. Nurture a friendship with them, he said. Let their influence pave the way. I’m betting he’s right.

Mitchell said that after tonight, I can go down into the pit, the area between the stage and the barrier, and watch from there. He said Eric was right: my first time had to be done right.

Then he winked, the horny bastard.

One final plug: if you like serial fiction, be sure to stop in at Alice Audrey’s spot on the Net for us Serialists. Read a few, add your own… it’s all good.

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Kerri’s Diary: Snow in Detroit

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With the release of King Trevor, the follow-up to Trevor’s Song, coming out in less than a month, I decided it was time to share this project I’ve worked on, off and on, over the years. As always, this is tie-in material and has no spoilers to what awaits you in King Trevor.

There’s snow here and even though we’ve seen snow already, there’s something about the snow here that made me stop and think. It doesn’t snow in Riverview, so this is the first time I’ve seen snow since I left Pittsburgh.

I didn’t think I’d missed it, but there’s something about it that looks so right, I can’t get over it.

I wanted to take a short walk in it. Hear it crunch under my feet and feel the cold seep up my body. Remember the stillness, the quiet of a snowfall. I wish there was a way to paint those sensations, but I don’t think you can get it unless you experience it.

Mitchell came with me. It was four in the morning and all I wanted to do was walk across the lawn of the hotel. Who’d have thought a downtown hotel would have grass, but if it’s not grass under the snow, it’s an unshoveled patio and who really cares? The idea is to just be in the snow.

He got cold before we walked long, and we’re both tired. It doesn’t matter; it was enough.

I don’t know if I’m glad it doesn’t snow in Riverview, but I’m glad I live there now. Like Mitchell, I’m not leaving so fast.

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Trinity Fiction: Cancel My Labor

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This was another Three Word Wednesday post that just screamed at me. I listened.

“Cancel my labor,” Trinity said.

“Trin,” Springer said. “It don’t work that way. The baby got in. It’s got to come out.”

She closed her eyes and threw her head back. “I know, but… why can’t there be a magic wand or something?” As if in agreement, her belly heaved as the baby kicked. Trinity put her hand on the lump and caressed it.

Springer sighed. He didn’t know what to say. He was out of his element on this one, and he knew it. He needed to escape from Trinity and Grandma and their crazy babies-on-the-brain, but at the same time, he couldn’t stay away. Trinity and Grandma had started telling him that since Trinity was going to keep the baby, Springer was the closest thing around to a father. They hinted that he’d have to step it up.

He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Not because it wasn’t his baby; he hadn’t even gotten his hand on Trinity’s tits before she’d gotten herself knocked up.

It was that he was seventeen and still had a year to go before graduating high school. He worked part-time as a nighttime stockboy at the local Huge-Mart. Those weren’t particularly fatherly traits. Not if he wanted the kid to look up to him.

“And do it now,” Trinity was saying. She ran a finger under the elastic waistband of her maternity jeans. “I am sick of these ugly clothes. I want my own back.”

“Nine months up, nine months down,” Springer said, parroting Grandma.

Trinity made an exasperated noise and lumbered to her feet before tottering off.

Truth was, Springer couldn’t wait until she was her old self again, either. Before this had happened, he’d wanted to get to know Trinity better. She’d been so wild and free – before the baby. Now, she was tired and scared. She wasn’t the same girl.

Funny thing, though, was that Springer thought she might be hotter than ever like this. He liked that she looked to him for advice and guidance, even though he didn’t know anything and all he could do was keep on repeating what Grandma said.

She shuffled back into the room he was in, puffing a bit. “Really,” she gasped and held a hand behind her, canting her hips up toward the ceiling and almost doing a backbend as she tried to seat herself. She fell into the couch with a plop. “I’ve had enough. Magic wand time!”

“Trin, there’s no magic wand.”

Her breath caught. Springer peered at her; tears were filling up that spot at the top of her bottom lids, where tears gathered right before they spilled over. “You’ve been in class with me,” she said. “ You’ve seen what goes on. I don’t think I can do it.”

“It’s not like you have a choice anymore,” Springer said. He didn’t know why he was suddenly so angry; it wasn’t a place he went to often.

Trinity’s tears spilled over. Springer softened. “You’ll be fine,” he said, sliding to his knees in front of her. He put his hands on her knees. Like the rest of her, they’d grown soft, swollen with motherhood. That change, he wasn’t so keen on. He’d liked Trinity as she’d been before: angular, spiky. Maybe even a little bit hard.

She was shaking her head. “I can’t do it, Springer.”

“Yes, you can,” he said. “Women been doing this for years.” He was parroting Grandma down to her own language. As if anyone cared.

Trinity bit her lower lip and squeezed her eyes shut. A tear squeezed through.

Springer stood up so he could bend over and wrap her in a hug. A pang shot through him as she buried her head on his chest; he’d wanted so much more than this between them.

He sighed. Always second-best.

Be sure to check in at Three Word Wednesday (link’s above) and Friday Flash for some other reading fun.

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Roadie Poet: Peach Guts

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No clue where this came from. Or why. Or even how. The Three Word Wednesday words this week were pretty dark — control, flesh, razor — but this… isn’t.

You have to have
control

to slip the blade between the skin and the
flesh.

Like this.
Slow.

Don’t breathe.

Much.

Or talk.

Don’t do that either.

But

Do

Wash the
peach guts
off the
Razor

before you use it

to open

that box

of t-shirts.

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Trinity’s Decision

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It’s been a long time since I’ve visited with Trinity, Springer’s sort-of girlfriend. This week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt demanded I revisit her, since I’d left her in a pretty bad position the last time we saw her…

Lust hit with a jolt, surged through the body. It didn’t matter what he looked like, or who he was. Not usually. What mattered was how she felt at the moment, how available he was, and if he’d let her be the one who put the rubber on.

No wonder she’d gotten herself into this mess, she figured. Knocked up, living with Springer’s grandmother, trying to figure out if she should keep it or what. She had another week before abortion wouldn’t be an option.

“Detach yourself from it,” Springer’s grandmother said, patting her on the hand. The lady was smart and kind, if a bit demanding. Springer said at her age, she’d earned it.

Trinity hoped she wouldn’t be around long enough to find out what that meant. She didn’t want to grow attached to these people. They deserved better than her.

“If this was your friend, not you,” Springer’s grandmother said, “what would you tell her to do?”

Trinity shrugged, a slow raising of her shoulders that Springer’s grandmother was supposed to know wasn’t a brush-off. It was supposed to let her know that truly, she had no idea what she’d say. Abortions were big. They were loaded.

Trinity wasn’t sure she could live with that sort of pressure. She thought she’d spend the rest of her life wondering what the baby would have been like. Was it a boy or a girl? What would it grow up to be like?

“I think you know,” Springer’s grandmother said.

“No abortion,” Trinity said, pulling her knees up to her chest and hugging them. “I should. I know I should.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Grandma, I don’t know if I can live with this. No matter what I do, it’s the wrong thing.” She raised her face to the ceiling, felt the tears on her cheeks. “I wish this had never happened.”

Grandma patted her knee. “I know, Trinity.” Her hand stayed there for a second too long, and Trinity knew. She tilted her head so she could look Grandma in the eye.

Grandma had known the same pulls. The lust, the searing need to be filled and completed. The blessed release when you came.

And what happened when the rubber slipped. Or broke. Or did whatever it had done.

“What did you do?” she whispered.

“I didn’t let it defeat me,” Grandma whispered back.

I’ve also cross-posted this as my #FridayFlash. If you’d like the backstory, here are the links you need:
Springer and Trinity meet
Trinity gets in trouble
Springer tries to help
Be sure you leave comments if you stop in; I love comments! It’s how I know you visited.

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Roadie Poet: New Year’s Eve

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New Year’s Eve.

I’m off tour.
More’s still out.
So’s Hambone.

Mom’s with Antonio.
They’re going strong.

That means
tonight
It’s just me.
Alone.

For New Year’s Eve.

Used to be,
I thought
only losers
were alone
on
New Year’s Eve.

I’m no loser.
If anything,
I’m a nomad.
A nomad
With friends
On tour.
And a mom
with
a love life.

I’ve heard it said
that
what you do on
New Year’s Eve
is
What you’ll do
All
Year
Long.

Hope that doesn’t mean
I’ll be
Alone.

All.

Year.

Long.

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Kermit Ladd Fiction: The Wall of Sound

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Once again, I’m combining this week’s Three Word Wednesday post with real life. This is a stand-alone piece, but you old-timers will recognize and remember Kermit Ladd.

Kermit Ladd, intrepid journalist, was sent to the gorgeous suburb of Maison Villa to meet with legendary guitarist Terry Fantillo. With his seventh wife by his side, he proceeded to show all present his scaled-down models of the stack of amplifiers he intends to build.

“It’ll be the second man-made object visible from space,” he brags. One almost expects him to pound on his puffed-up cheset, but all present are spared that spectacle.

“I thought about making it a touring exhibit,” he goes on to say, “but my engineers told me it would be better to make it immoble. Otherwise, my stack,” he ads with one of those nods that tells you the speaker is about to divulge a huge secret for your ears only, “would confuse the astronauts in the International Space Station. They wouldn’t ever know what city they were looking at, or what part of the world was showing. I think it’d be great, but NASA wasn’t so into the idea. The astronauts have enough to deal with and focus on up there, I guess.”

When asked if he would ever turn on this wall of amplification, Fantillo laughs. “Wouldn’t that be the ultimate retribution for the asshole neighbor who keeps letting his dog shit in your yard?”

His laughter goes on even when he’s the only one laughing. If the atmosphere becomes strained, Fantillo doesn’t notice.

“Yeah, we’ll turn it on once or twice,” he says once his guffaws have smoothed out into something approaching a state of sobriety. For Fantillo, widely rumored to have an unacknowledged drinking problem, that is quite the claim. “The engineers tell me anyone in close proximity will be sorry, but we’ll do it. Maybe when we have friends over for the Super Bowl or New Year’s Eve.”

Wife Number Seven nods.

Fantillo smiles at her as if she has greatly pleased him. “It’s enough to have such a thing,” he says. “My wall of amplification. Maybe someone will put it in a museum, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s going to be one-of-a-kind. No one will ever duplicate what I’m doing.”

The question, dear readers, is why anyone would ever want to.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Irony?

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Three Word Wednesday and the awesome dudes at Metal Sucks teamed up for this flash featuring ShapeShifter. But… where’s Trevor?

“We’re working with who on this one?” Mitchell asked. He scratched the top of his head, his elbow sticking out at an odd angle. Kerri had to duck under it.

“Jason McNair,” Daniel said, looking over the fax he’d just picked up at the hotel lobby. “He’ll meet us here in the lobby in …” He glanced at his wrist, but Kerri wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t like he ever wore a watch.

Kerri smiled as Daniel looked around the ornate lobby for a clock. A red digital display — terribly out of place with the gold filigree and plush upholstery everywhere else — hung over the front desk. Daniel blinked at it, then checked the fax again. “Ten minutes,” the drummer said.

“Why?” Mitchell asked, sounding pained. “What’s wrong with Adam?”

Daniel shrugged. “JR wanted some new blood. Apparently, this Jason dude has a concept he wants to sell us.” He consulted the fax again as Eric arrived. “We have to behave, JR says,” Daniel continued, acknowledging Eric’s arrival with a shallow nod.

Mitchell began coughing, sounding for all the world like he was choking on something. Kerri understood; telling ShapeShifter to behave was sort of like telling the sun to stop shining. It was also an invitation to create a mob scene.

In short: that sort of instruction never went over well.

Daniel held up the second page of the fax, turning it so Mitchell, Kerri, and Eric could see it. “He’s the one who did this,” he said.
Mitchell’s face turned purple. Kerri, laughing herself, pounded him on the shoulder. Eric frowned and took the picture from Daniel. “We can’t jettison the guy? Get out of here, like, now?”

“Doubt it,” Daniel said. With two fingers, he plucked the page out of Eric’s hands and spent a long minute studying it. Kerri leaned over his shoulder, alternately appalled and amused by it.

The band, who she’d never heard of, was made up of five guys. They stood in a Flying V, the four outside of the vortex looking as typical metal as possible: aloof, disillusioned, angry, ready to kick some ass. All at once.

There was serious irony in the shot, Kerri thought. The straw hat on the dude on the left. The only baldie and the only long-hair standing together.

But that final dude… the one at the back of the V. The one with his back to the camera and his hands held out wide, like they were ready to grab the gun out of the holster on his hip and start shooting, only to reach for the one under his knee when all six shots were gone…

Kerri hoped it was irony the picture was supposed to be conveying.

And God help this Jason guy if he tried to make anyone in ShapeShifter pose like that.

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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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