Feb 152013
 

Most of you haven’t met Vanessa Kontempt yet. You still won’t; a train wreck like her is going to be hard to write. But here’s a member of her entourage, someone new on these pages.

The room looked like someone had gone on a rampage. In fact, someone had. Three someones, to be specific.

Fuelled by too much alcohol, too many groupies, a heaping mound of cocaine, and a morbid desire to be the next to die at age 27, Vanessa Kontempt had been the one who’d started it.

As usual.

Freddy and Lurch had joined in, as usual, and now here was Adrian, left to pick up the pieces, smooth the ruffled feathers, and fix everything. As usual.

“I thought it was the tour manager they called the asshole,” he muttered as he took in the damage. He held his breath, waiting for a light bulb to fall out of its socket or something, but it seemed it was all over. Damage done. Vanessa, Freddy, and Lurch had been rolled out to the bus and Stiffy was holding court to make sure they wouldn’t get off the bus and wreck something else.

They’d warned him before he took the tour. It wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t going to be pretty, and that’s why they were offering the extra hazard pay. That hazard pay… it wasn’t enough. Not really. Not for having someone like Vanessa in his life on a daily basis.

Adrian ran a hand over his bald head, loving the smoothness. He should have known when he’d shaved that morning that this would happen. Vanessa always had to wreck his good moods. He swore it was some special talent she had. Like she’d come poke around, realize he was in a good mood, and get to work on how to ruin it.

“You the one I gotta dick with?” the in-house guy asked. He was maybe thirty, but he was wider than he was tall. His breath rasped even when he wasn’t talking, and every word was a wheeze. Adrian had spent the day making everyone else deal with this guy.

Yet more karma biting him on the ass.

Karma, Adrian decided, wasn’t just a motherfucker. It was a sisterfucker, a daughterfucker, a sonfucker, and a fatherfucker. All rolled into one.

“Yes,” he sighed and stared the guy down. Truth be told, he looked like a wonton.

Adrian decided karma was even worse than he’d imagined. Until that moment, he used to jones for Chinese food.

“Let’s not make this so bad,” the wonton wheezed. “Your divas wrecked a table, the couch, and five chairs. We gotta wash down the walls and clean the carpets.”

“Show me the receipt from the last time the carpets were washed,” Adrian said, his hand rasping against his stubble. Bald head, stubbly cheeks. It spoke for him.

The wonton shifted, a cumbersome prospect at best. “Now, I don’t think we need to be that particular.”

Adrian crossed his arms over his chest and cocked his head. He’d picked up that move from the movies, but it hadn’t failed him yet. “I do. Cough it up.”

The wonton held out his hand, trying to stall the tour manager. “Now, now, I thought we weren’t gonna make it so bad.”

“You show me proof that the carpet was cleaned in the past month, and I’ll add it to the bill.” Adrian didn’t change his position.

The wonton licked his lips. “Well, now, we got us a problem. Your divas went and poured a Red Bull across the floor in the hopes of turnin’ it into a ant parade.”

“Red Bull?” Adrian raised an eyebrow. “Where’d that come from? There aren’t any energy drinks anywhere in our rider.”

“Maybe it was a Coke.”

“Maybe you’re blowing air up my ass in the hopes I’ll cave and let you pull one over on us. But Vanessa’s management’s paying me so that won’t happen, and since they’re the ones paying my salary, you can take your Red Bull and shove it where the sun don’t shine. If you can get your fat arms that far around your own body.”

The wonton’s wheeze got louder and his doughy face turned red. “There’s no need to get personal.”

Adrian leaned closer, getting down to the wonton’s eye level. “I haven’t even started to get personal yet.” He grinned. “Want me to?”

That did it. The wonton licked his lips again. The red drained out of his face, leaving it whiter than the cocaine had been.

“The table, the couch, and five chairs,” Adrian said. “By my count, we’re talking seven hundred.” He took a step closer to the wonton and held his breath. Someone had forgotten to stick the leftovers in the refrigerator, and it was ripe.

“Nine,” the wonton wheezed.

“Seven.”

“Eight fifty.”

“Seven.”

“Eight twenty-five.”

“Ever feel like a broken record? Seven.”

“Eight?”

Adrian hardened his face.

“Seven fifty?”

He ran a hand over his stubble again, making it rasp.

“Seven,” the wonton said with a wheeze that might have been a sigh. “But you have to leave Dodge within half an hour.”

“We’ll be gone as soon as I set foot on the bus.”

The wonton counted out the cash. The full amount, and then he very deliberately counted seven hundred back. “You won’t even miss it,” he wheeze-grumbled.

Adrian grinned at him, his special grin. The one he saved for when he was proving that tour managers were assholes. “The only thing you’ll miss is having to pay the poor schlub who’s gotta drag the next beat-up couch out of the storage closet. The red one’ll look great in here.”

The wonton’s wheeze was more of a gasp and for a second there, the guy looked more like a fish two minutes out of water than a wonton. “What–? How–?”

“I been around, dumbshit.”

Adrian folded the cash and tucked the wad into his bag. Shaking his head, he turned and left the production office for the bus.

“Adrian,” Vanessa said when he got on. “Think we can find some Chinese food before we hit the highway? I’ve got a craving for some…” She bit her lower lip, her eyes darting back and forth. For a second there, she looked cute. Vulnerable.

“Wonton soup?” he asked tiredly.

“Hot and sour,” she said thoughtfully.

“Hot and sour, it is.”

This was a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to stop in and see what else is happening in this cool community.

Mar 302012
 

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…

Sep 172010
 

Note from Susan: if you click on Green Hair Week, you’ll learn a little bit about Jim Shields and what happened to Mitchell. While this piece is a companion to my novel, Trevor’s Song, and will probably feature in a Demo Tapes anthology somewhere down the road, it has no spoilers for anything already in print.

“The guy just makes my skin crawl,” Mitchell said, trying to suppress the shudder. “We need to be off this tour and done with him.”

“Has he done something to offend?” JR asked.

Mitchell paused, waiting for JR’s usual verbal onslaught. It didn’t come. JR was actually, for once, quiet.

Trevor flicked his cigarette from the corner of his mouth onto the ground. He didn’t bother to grind it dead. “What the fuck does it matter? The guy’s a fucking powder keg. Up one minute, down the next. All in our faces about shit we can’t control, then making like he’s our best friend.”

“He’s too volatile,” Eric said, nodding.

Mitchell thought about that for a second, then nodded. Perfect way to describe the dick. Volatile.

“Backstage is a powder keg,” the guitarist went on. “We all hate being there. C’mon, JR. There’s got to be a way to get us off this tour. Daniel and M here say you’re getting all sorts of offers for us to open for better acts. I think you need to take a longer look at some of them, even if it means we take a break.”

“It hasn’t all been bad with Jim,” the manager said. “You had a nice long break in Phoenix and it turned out to benefit you quite well”

“My hair turned green,” Mitchell said. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the manager until JR shut up.

“But the break refreshed you. It taught me and your booking agents quite a bit that we’ll be discussing once it’s your turn to headline but for now, you’re not quite ready to headline, so it’s all opening acts for you still and really, Jim Shields isn’t that bad of a guy Why can’t you just finish up this tour like we’ve planned It’s really not that much longer”

“Because,” Trevor said, taking his time as he lit up a new cigarette. It was for effect, Mitchell could tell. Hell, most of Trevor’s cigarettes were for effect. His own bad boy version of being demure. Or something.

“I need more of a reason than that, Trevor. You have a contract with Jim You signed it and were perfectly happy to You were excited, even, and so was I This was going to be a good thing, bringing you new fans and getting you into cities you’d never visited before.”

“Because,” Mitchell growled, “if you don’t get us away from that asshole, I’m going to shove his microphone stand up his ass and make it come out his mouth. I don’t give a shit about contracts or opportunities or anything like that. I care about not being yanked around by this asshole anymore.”

He was aware of everyone around him cringing, of his voice rising, of the pressure in his cheeks that meant his face had turned red. Trevor would probably tell him later that viens had popped. He didn’t care. Didn’t care about any of it. He’d had enough. The band had had enough. It had nothing to do with his fucking green hair and everything to do with unstable dickhead Jim Shields. This is what it had come down to. It was a matter of survival, no matter how fucking dramatic that sounded. No one could live like Jim was making them live.

Mitchell would be damned if ShapeShifter was going to have to keep trying.

Yup, this is a Three Word Wednesday prompt: demure, offend, volatile. And I’ll link it at The Weekend Writer’s Retreat, also. AND at Friday Flash. AND Sunday Scribblings. That might be all, but who knows? I do like to increase my fan base!

Aug 262010
 

Note from Susan: If you were here a year ago, you may remember our Wardrobe Girl, Loren. I actually have other fiction I wrote right after I wrote that one, but never posted. We’ll have to fix that. In the meantime, here’s something to keep you entertained.

Before tonight, Loren would have told you she didn’t have a prayer of fitting in with this crowd. They didn’t like chicks in the first place, let alone girls like her who were on the road to hide from something. Maybe — hopefully, although Loren wasn’t sure if there was hope anymore — heal a bit.

Maybe she’d been wrong to hold herself back, to abstain. From the fun, the camaraderie, the deep, dark nights spent drinking and swapping tales as the bus rolled them toward another city they’d never get to see.

But now here she was, proudly wearing the halo they’d made her from those plastic things that went around six packs of beer and soda. She wasn’t drinking, but then, neither was Roberta. A woman shouldn’t drink too much on the road, Roberta often told her. Especially with roadies like Monkey around, even though he wasn’t part of this current group. Nope, this was RP, Hambone, RP’s girlfriend Maureen, and a couple others whose names Loren couldn’t remember. She knew their faces, though. They were all young, like her. They’d chosen the road instead of anything else — college hadn’t been an option for most of them. Not like it had been for Loren.

Who knew; maybe it was still an option for Loren. She wasn’t ready to think like that yet. Heck, it was hard enough just being here with a group of people, watching them drink and listening to them talk.
Wearing their halo and smiling as they sounded like they meant it when they said they were glad she wasn’t locked away in her bunk or sitting in a corner, staring at the walls. “You’re too mopey,” they told her. “Smile.”

She’d been hearing that a lot from the crew lately. Even from the band. Smile. Like there was anything to smile for. Or at.

Hambone told a joke and everyone cracked up. RP tipped over backward and Maureen and Hambone pulled him up, laughing even harder. Loren watched and, for the first time since she’d joined the tour, didn’t feel like they were laughing at her. She didn’t feel quite so raw inside.

Roberta caught Loren’s eye and nodded knowingly.

Loren had to touch her face to realize she was smiling, too.

And then her halo slipped down over one eye. She heard herself laugh.

Ready for this week’s links to prompt sites? Here ya go… Three Word Wednesday, Thursday Tales, and Friday Flash. And let’s not forget Weekend Writer’s Retreat, too!

Aug 062010
 

If you’re new here, these characters can be found in all three of my books, The Demo Tapes (Year 1 and Year 2) and Trevor’s Song, the new, full-length novel starting the toasted marshmallow featured below. There are no spoilers in the following piece.

Noooo. Hotel pools were no longer good enough for the Great Mitchell Voss, it seemed. Nope. The fucker had to be outside, in the sunshine, where it was warm and where the sun would glisten off his fucking suntanned skin and make all the housewives swoon with longing at the way the golden tan contrasted with the loser’s silver-blonde hair.

Of course, there was a plus to this outdoor pool they were walking into: Charlie had promised them up and down no one would bat an eye at them. This pool was part of some blueblood health club, where any idiot could come ogle the pro athletes and the local TV people and everyone else who didn’t deign to be bugged by the adoring yokels who don’t know when to give a person some space.

They probably wouldn’t get anyone to play in the water with, Trevor figured. Places like this, no one did anything but swim laps and work on their tans. The people here were pampered. They preened.

They’d never let the likes of ShapeShifter invade them again.

They hadn’t even gotten into the place, and Trevor knew how it’d end. With the four of them walking out, laughing over a good time — and every other poor sod in the joint trying to figure out what had just happened to them. Oh, some of the women would be all intrigued, biting their lower lips and considering taking old Trevor up on his attentions. If only they weren’t married. If only they didn’t have the kids, or the stretch marks, or the guts…

Yeah. Nothing would come of that, either. Talk about a waste of a day’s good flirting.

Except… once they got there, count on Mitchell to fuck up the script. To pull off his shirt and make his hair cascade out behind him like some fucking romance novel cover model. If the band tanked, the asshole sure had another career waiting — so long as someone airbrushed his face real good. Then again, the girls seemed to like that cleft chin and those blue-green eyes well enough.

By the time Mitchell swan dived off the diving board the first time, every one of those pampered moms, their bodies too taut to have birthed babies and look so good without the benefit of plastic work along the way, their kids snot-nosed despite the good, chlorinated water to rinse it off. Yeah, every last person at that pool was sighing and wishing Mitchell would come talk to them. Even the grandma, her skin leathery from too many days out by this pool and her hair one of the fakest oranges Trevor had ever seen. Yeah, even her.

They’d be invited back, no doubt about it.

Trevor wasn’t sure if he should be grateful to Mitchell — burning every bridge you came to got old every now and then — or hate the bastard for the way the big idiot could make every single person on the planet eat out of the palm of his hand.

Maybe he’d settle for doing both.

**
Once again, I’ll be linking this piece up at a bunch of places. The Weekend Writer’s Retreat. Friday Flash. Writer’s Island.