Category Archives: Mitchell

ShapeShifter fiction: The Bra and the Shirt


If you’ve never been over to Alice’s Restaurant, you want to fix that. You see, Alice and I have decided to team up for some blog fiction fun and send two of her characters to see everyone’s favorite band.

As soon as the red satin bra landed at Mitchell’s feet, a pang of jealousy shot through Trevor. What was that chick thinking? Throwing it at the big idiot, instead of him?

Trevor looked out into the crowd. She wasn’t hard to find there in the crush of people at the stagefront barriers, given the way she was squealing and grabbing the arm of the guy she was with. One of those easy-going types who’re everyone’s friend. Until you piss him off. He wore all black, too, so you knew not to fuck with him too much. Or he was afraid he’d look like a fool and was playing it safe.

Trev watched the two of them for a second. They were both laughing, the woman covering her face with her hands like she couldn’t believe she’d wiggled out of her bra right there, then launched it with all the skill of the girls at Moon Shadows.

Trevor wanted to sidle up to her, to push aside the stupid-assed beads and feathers she’d filled her hair with, and tell her he was glad she had. It had been fun to watch her squirm out of it. She should have fucking thrown it at his feet after that show, but he understood. Blondie was the frontman. Everyone watched the frontman. Even, sad to say, him.

But that was his job, he reasoned, jumping as Mitchell turned and glared at him. Trevor knew that glare; it was the one that said he’d just fucked up beyond usual. Time to think about music, not the chick who’d thrown her bra.

The song was over, anyway. Mitchell picked up the bra by one strap and let it dangle off his index finger. He held it out. “Look!” he told the crowd.

The roar that went up made Trevor stagger back a few steps. Holy fuck, they almost liked the stupid-assed bra better than the band.

Mitchell turned to Eric with the bra, then Daniel. The drummer stood up and reached out with a drumstick, like he was trying to hook it.

Mitchell, who was standing sideways so most of the crowd could see what was going on — as if the vid screens above them weren’t focused on him anyway — pulled it back and cradled it against his chest. His bra.

Trevor snickered, wondering if he’d model it after the show. They’d used to do dumb shit like that, back before they were headliners. Back when they didn’t have to worry so much about unauthorized cameras.

Mitchell cocked his right eyebrow at Trevor, the one hidden from the stage. It was the only invite Trevor was going to get.

He grabbed the bra from Mitchell. Held it up. Sniffed a cup. Deeply.

A quick glance into the crowd told him the woman who’d thrown it was blushing. Good; Trevor liked older women. Let her dude wait his turn.

“A good one,” Mitchell said into his mic, giving Trevor an approving nod. He turned and faced the crowd head-on. “Now, if any of you other girls out there want to share some goodies with us, you feel free.” He paused and let his face crack into one of his biggest, most doggish grins. “We’ve got a Wall of Fame at home, you know.”

Trevor wasn’t sure why the guy was so desirable. He looked like a total dork, grinning like that.

Mitchell motioned to Eric to come over. He lifted his guitar strap over his head and had the other guitarist hold the works while he stripped off his shirt. It wasn’t just sweat soaked, it was all but dripping.

“Who threw this?” Mitchell asked, pointing to the bra Trevor still held.

Trev stepped up and pointed out the girl, all crazy colors in her hair, all Blending Boyfriend holding her at the waist so she didn’t get trampled as the crowd surged toward Mitchell. Each one of them needed Mitchell’s shirt. Not one of them had a doubt it was going to the girl, but they’d go down hoping.

That was what made ShapeShifter fans so fucking cool.

Sure enough, Mitchell motioned to security. Trevor pointed out the girl again.

The Blending Boyfriend accepted the shirt and gave it to his girl.

The four members of ShapeShifter grinned at each other. Yeah, it was about the music. It always was. But damn if this sort of thing didn’t rock every bit as hard.

Got an idea to have some fun with me and the band? Drop me an e-mail; I’m all ears.


ShapeShifter Fiction: Mitchell’s Voice


Kerri had just gotten comfortable holding up a new section of the wall when she heard the fan say it.

“Admit it, dude. Your voice’s weak.”

She wasn’t the only person to stare, open-mouthed, at the kid. He was Mitchell’s height, but with one of those beefy, burly builds and short dark hair that made him look almost menacing. The ugly tattoos on his arms didn’t help, either. Kerri wasn’t sure, but she thought he actually had a mermaid on the left forearm. Clearly, the guy’s brains had migrated to his muscles.

“Weak?” Mitchell growled. “As in you can tell I’ve been on tour for nine months, or weak as in–”

“As in,” the guy said, nodding. Like this was a happy conversation he was having and he totally wasn’t insulting the singer of ShapeShifter. The notoriously asshole singer of ShapeShifter. The one who’d think nothing of removing the guy’s head from his shoulders.

“What the fuck’s your problem?” the guy next to the rabid fan asked. Kerri looked him over, taking an immediate liking to him: short brown hair the same color as Trevor’s, wire-rimmed glasses that made him look almost nerdy. A black ShapeShifter t-shirt and in his hand, a silver Sharpie that he’d respectfully asked Mitchell to return.

“I think the guy’s got a weak voice.” Rabid fan turned to almost-nerd. “Got a problem with that?”

Mitchell crossed his arms over his chest and looked back at Kerri. He cocked an eyebrow at her, as if to say, “Get a load of this.”

“Yeah,” almost-nerd shot back, taking a step forward.

Tony, the band’s head of security, appeared out of nowhere and hovered over Mitchell’s shoulder. Kerri frowned; he was blocking her view. She wanted to ask him to move but knew he’d go ballistic if she did. He was, after all, only there to make sure Mitchell stayed safe.

“You see,” almost-nerd said. Kerri could see one of his long-fingered hands come up, index finger extended and poking in Rabid fan’s shoulder. “It’s harder than Hell to get a backstage pass to meet this band–”

“You’re telling me?” Rabid fan asked. “Know how long I’ve been waiting for this? To look him in the eye and tell him he’s not the god everyone makes him out to be?”

“Wow,” Mitchell said, stroking his chin. “Thanks a fucking lot.”

Kerri caught the edge behind the friendliness in his voice. She braced herself and noticed that Charlie did as well.

Almost-nerd was shaking his head. “Thousands of real ShapeShifter fans out there and this asshole has to win the backstage pass. Where’s the fucking justice in that?”

Mitchell snorted. “I’ll say.”

Kerri bit her lip; laughing right now would be bad. But Mitchell’s performance was stellar. Almost Trevor-like.

“You know,” Mitchell said in his most innocent way, “maybe we ought to start giving out a quiz to anyone who wants to win a pass. We can weed out the assholes.”

“I am a ShapeShifter fan!” Rabid fan yelped. He took a step toward Mitchell, his own hand held up the way Almost-nerd’s had been, but Tony stepped in the way and pushed the guy’s hand down. Rabid fan didn’t seem to notice. “This band would be so much better with another singer. I’m allowed to be a fan and not like the way certain things get done, you know!”

“Oh?” Mitchell crossed his arms over his chest. “Another singer, huh? Like… say, you?”


Kerri didn’t bother to hide her grin. Rabid fan was about to be very sorry.

Mitchell took a step back, bumping into Tony. He tossed a confused look at the security guy as if he hadn’t been aware of him until just then, but didn’t let that stop his fun. He held his hands up and yelled, “Hey!”

The entire hallway they were standing in went still. Even Trevor, Daniel and Eric looked up, startled, as if they were expecting to be told they needed to evacuate immediately. A few crew members stopped walking and stared, questioning looks on their faces.

“This guy thinks he’s a better singer than me,” Mitchell said. “Let’s give him an audition, should we?”

“I’m not warmed up!”

“So? Neither am I,” he said and launched into a few lines of Behold Me. “Shut the fuck up and sing!”

Kerri wanted to laugh at the panic that flashed across the guy’s face. The rest of the fans broke out of their carefully ordered line and began to gather around. More ShapeShifter staff appeared and Kerri helped them form a barrier between fans and the band.

“Well?” Mitchell asked. “We’re waiting, you know. Some of us have shit to do tonight.”

The guy glanced at his audience. Almost-nerd was softly suggesting ShapeShifter song titles that Rabid fan could sing.

“Oh, fuck it!”

“That’s some good singing,” Trevor told him. “I’d hire you over M, any day.” He nodded.

In one of those casual, easy movements that Kerri loved, Mitchell swatted the back of Trevor’s head.

Rabid fan turned red and opened his mouth.

Nothing came out.

“Go on,” Mitchell urged. “It’s not like we’re gonna fucking judge your ass or anything.”

Rabid fan opened his mouth again. This time, a small, trembling tenor emerged — straight from the guy’s nose.

People laughed and went back to their spots on the wall, some people trying to slide down a bit so they’d get another shot at chatting with the band. Others called them on it and made them go back to where they’d been. Tony jumped and suggested that he’d be glad to escort anyone back into the venue’s public areas. Ducking his head, Rabid fan took him up on it.

Mitchell winked at Kerri and turned to Almost-nerd. “Thanks for the backup, man. Charlie? Do we have anything we can give this guy? He probably saved that dude’s life.”

“I’m sure we can find something,” the band’s tour manager said as Almost-nerd sputtered a thank you. His face turned red with the shock and pleasure of being singled out.

With things returning to normal, Kerri went back to holding up her wall. Mitchell could sing for her later on; if anyone knew how to best appreciate the Great Mitchell Voss, it was his wife. She’d make sure he forgot all about Rabid Fan — at least until he saw the sketches she was already busily drawing in her mind.


Selective Service (Early Days fiction)


I’d like to remind everyone that this Sunday Scribblings prompt does not necessarily reflect the views of Susan. Only of Trevor, since this is in his point of view.

They’d been summoned to dinner. Trevor fucking hated being summoned, even if Sonya had tried to soften the blow by making pot roast. She’d made sure Trevor knew that was on the menu. After all, no one summoned Trevor Fucking Wolff. Not if they actually wanted to see his ugly mug.

Bribery with pot roast, however, was completely acceptable.

“Boys,” Patterson said after dinner but before dessert.

Mitchell burped, turned red, and immediately said all the polite shit that Sonya liked so much.

Patterson ignored him.

Trevor waited.

“You’re both eighteen now,” the elder Voss said. “You know what that means.”

“You said we didn’t have to move out until we’d graduated, Dad!”

Patterson chuckled. “This is a lot less painful than moving. Unless the country goes to war.”

Mitchell drew back in his seat. Trevor reached for his cigarettes, then reminded himself he wasn’t allowed to smoke in the house. Even though he had the feeling he was about to need to. Maybe even something stronger, more soothing.

“You need to register for selective service,” Patterson said. He put the forms on the table. Where he’d just pulled them from, Trevor didn’t know. He didn’t want to know. If he wanted anything, it was for those stupid pieces of paper to go away.

“No can do, powerful legal guardian,” he said. He shook his head slowly from side to side, exaggerating the motion as much as possible. “I am what you’d call one of those conscientious objector people, ready to bolt for Canada.”

“What do you object to?” Patterson asked. Trevor admired his patience; if he’d said that to Hank, it would have been a quick left followed by two rights. And another shirt with too much blood to bother trying to wash. Not to mention what would happen to his nose. Again.

“All of it. Cutting my hair. Saying yessir to an asshole. And guns. I object to guns.”

“Maybe what you need is to be taught to use a gun properly.”

“Why? Planning on sending me back so I have to use one again?”

Mitchell cleared his throat. “Dad?”

Trevor looked at Mitchell. Blondie had turned a new shade of white; now, he looked like something fresh out of Sonya’s washing machine.

“Do you… do you really think…” Mitchell swallowed so loud, Sonya turned and looked at them.

Or maybe, given her proud smile, it was just coincidence. But it gave Mitchell enough gumption for some of that color to come back into the guy’s face.

“Thinking’s bad for your health,” Trevor said. “That’s the only good thing about the military. They don’t let you think. They turn you into mindless automatons who can’t do a damn thing for themselves except maybe, maybe wipe their asses when they take a dump.”

Patterson leaned back and folded his arms across his chest.

Mitchell mirrored him.

“Trevor, I spent many years in the military, and I can promise you that’s not true. In fact, if I weren’t doing my present job, I’d still be a military man. Our military’s important. It’s part of what makes this country so great.”

“I don’t care. I still object. They come after me, I’m outta here. Canada, get ready. Trevor Wolff’s on his way. I’m not killing for anyone, hear me? And fuck anyone who says I’ve got to.”

“What if you could serve without killing?”

“Yeah, right. Like they let you do that. Like they’d let me do that. Fuck, no. They’d take one look at me and tell me I’m the unit’s crazy SOB who lives and breathes just to kill and I’d better suck it all up and be a good little soldier boy and do it. Who fucking cares what Trevor wants or thinks? It’s for a greater good than one fucked up, beat up kid.”

“Mitchell?” Patterson asked as Trevor stopped for a breath.

That was, of course, Trevor’s cue to stuff it and shut the hell up.

In response to dear old dad, Mitchell the idiot uncrossed his arms and pushed at his hair. It was starting to be long enough to sit on his shoulders; at last, he looked sort of cool when he shoved it out of the way. “You know, Dad, I want to see the world one day. I just…” He looked at the piece of paper on the table and, again, swallowed loud enough for them all to hear it. “I just thought I’d do it with a band.”

Patterson patted Mitchell’s hand.

Trevor stared at their hands. Some stupid photographer somewhere probably totally dug that picture they made. Family love. Ahh, how sweet it was.

Trevor wanted to gag.

“Son,” Patterson said, “the chances of this country needing to use a draft are very slim. Registering is the law, and it’s one I’d like to see you both not break.”

Trevor peered at the form. If Mitchell was…

No, he told himself. Doing things only because someone else was? That had to be the world’s stupidest reason for doing anything. A man should stand up for what he believed in.

He’d come scarily close to killing a man once. He’d come scarily close to being killed. More than once.

There was no way anyone was handing him a gun and inviting him back to that Hell. No fucking way. He’d sooner be a Canuck.


Thursday Thirteen: Mitchell’s Favorite Foods


Last week, for whatever reason, I thought it would be fun to write about Trevor’s favorite foods. You guys seemed to have fun with it, too, so when my good friend Wylie asked me to list Mitchell’s favorite foods this week, it seemed like a great idea.

1. Potato chips. Notice how often he’s eating them? Sheesh. The man loves his chips. Don’t try to steal them, though.

2. Tomatoes, charred on his grill.

3. Pan-seared fish, such as snapper or swordfish (thanks, Ann!). Best when prepared with a fruit salsa of some sort, heavy on the lime juice.

4. Anything grilled. Anything. Even things you thought couldn’t be grilled. He’ll try it.

5. Fruits and vegetables. Yep, Mitchell loves ’em. He’ll gladly sit down to a meal and find it’s a heaping salad. (Meat optional.)

6. He’s always the first to devour the backstage veggie tray, especially when it’s got cauliflower and red pepper on it. He’ll munch the pepper slices like they’re potato chips.

7. From the healthy to the barbecue… Big Buck’s Best Barbecue and Big Buck’s Bodacious Sauce hold a special place for him. He’s been all over the world, eaten all sorts of barbecue, and still says Big Buck’s is the best. And yes, he’s a suck-the-rib-clean kinda guy.

8. Ice Cream, of course. While he’s not as avidly sexual about it as Trevor is, there’s something about a good vanilla cone — despite the old taunts from big sister Amy about how, with his silvery-blonde hair, he looked like a vanilla ice cream cone when he wore khaki pants as a kid. (And now you know why he never wears white. ANYWHERE.)

9. Pizza. In moderation.

10. Veal. Who cares if the cow’s raised in a box, it tastes good when it’s dead and sitting on his plate, cooked to perfection.

11. French fries, especially when they’re shoestring cut. Thin and crispy, they accompany a heaping salad well. (this outtake is still in the half-finished stage. Stay tuned!)

12. Whipped cream. That’s all I’m saying.

13. Orange juice. Mitchell’s drink of choice.


Mitchell and Kerri Fiction: Beer Mugs


Mitchell didn’t bother opening his eyes when he staggered out of bed. He’d had no intentions of getting up yet, but Kerri wasn’t in bed anymore and since she’d ridden her bike over, it was possible she’d taken off already — without saying goodbye.

Possible, but not probable. More likely, she was as hungover as he was. Maybe worse. He wasn’t looking forward to seeing their trail of empties.

He paused when he stepped on something on the carpet just inside his bedroom. Cracking one eye open as little as possible, he looked down at it. Kerri’s bra.

He tried to grin, but settled for letting the action happen in his head; moving his face hurt too much. She hadn’t left if that was still there. So what the fuck was she doing?

“Hi,” she said when he made it to the couch and flopped down. “Ooh,” she added; he guessed she’d come near enough to get a good look at him. “You’re hurting.”

He grunted.

“I can at least open my eyes,” she said, as if he’d actually spoken.

He smirked but didn’t take the bait. His eyes were staying closed, and that was all there was to that.

“Hungry?” she asked. “Or just thirsty?”

Both, he realized, which was a surprise. Usually, when he felt like this, all he wanted was sleep.

“Here,” she said.

Eyes still shut, he reached up.

And jumped when he realized he wasn’t closing his hand around one of his many plastic convenience store cups, but was grasping the handle of a glass beer mug instead. That got his eyes open. “Where the fuck’d you find this?”

“In the cabinet,” Kerri said, gesturing over her shoulder at his small galley kitchen. “I think Hell froze over and all the plastic’s dirty.”

He took a long drink, ignoring the uncertain look she was giving him. If he hadn’t wanted her to find the collection, he’d have thrown it away. Probably should have, but it was too late now.

“Am I a spectator sport?” he asked when he’d drained the mug. Damn, it tasted better out of a glass mug instead of a plastic cup.

“Why does that look like one of the mugs that All Access uses?”

“A bunch of places use these,” he said, staring wistfully at the now-empty mug.

She held out her hand for it. “Doesn’t matter how hard you wish, it won’t refill itself.”

Sheepishly, he handed it over. She’d make him pay up later for all this waiting on him, but it’d be worth it. She was a creative debt collector, which made him a willing debtor. Even when he was hungover.

Kerri brought two mugs back with her, handing his over and folding hers in two hands like it was coffee.

“So tell me,” she said, sitting down, that leg tucked under her again. “How is it that you’ve got thirteen more of these, eight of another kind, and an odd assortment of others?”

He tried to shrug.

“They just followed you home?” She raised both eyebrows; her sign that she knew the truth. As always. He bought time with another mouthful of juice, but she kept waiting.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you’re talking, you drift out from the bar to the bus and you don’t realize it’s in your hand until you’re a hundred miles down the road.”

“Security doesn’t stop you?”

“I think they’re supposed to, when we go through the stage doors, but some of those guys they hire, they’re too afraid to say hello to the band. Girls, yeah. But not the band.”

Kerri nodded thoughtfully. “And the plates? You can’t tell me those just find their way into your hands.”

“Trev,” he said. Like she’d needed to ask?

“And you’re totally innocent in this thievery?”

“About the dirty plates that show up in my bag and ruin my stuff? Yeah. I wouldn’t put dirty plates in my own bag.”

“Do dirty plates ever show up in his bag?” The corners of her mouth were twitching. He wanted to tell her she was a bitch for making him come clean like this. Really, it was no big deal.

“Course.” Big deal or no, he could feel his own mouth twitching along with hers. He smiled, pleased it wasn’t so painful this time. “The best was the fork down his boot. Took him two days to step on it. Or maybe the spoon in the inside pocket of his leather jacket, although the day he woke up and we’d shoved two mugs on his feet while he slept was pretty good. Almost had to break them to get them off, which sort of defeated the purpose.”

“Why is this suddenly about the things Trevor’s discovered?”

“Believe me, it’s a lot more fun to give than to receive.”

She cocked her head and thought. Mitchell held his breath, waiting for her to hand down judgment.

All she did was lick her lips. “Can’t wait until you teach me the tricks.”

If he hadn’t been so hungover, Mitchell would have thrown his head back and laughed. He’d found himself one hell of a woman, all right. She’d do just fine when the band hit the road.

While this was picked to fulfill this week’s Sunday Scribblings prompt, if you’d like to learn more about why I thought this fit the subject at hand, you might want to head over to my RedRoom blog, where I wax poetic about things.


Trevor and Mitchell Fiction: Outside Lyrical Pleasures


The first thing Trevor saw when he and Mitchell walked into the shop was Melody, of course. She had that stupid chair of hers positioned perfectly, so that when you walked into Lyrical Pleasures, the first thing you saw wasn’t Lyric. It was Mama Melody, holding court on that stupid velvet lounge chair.

Mitchell, of course, bent over and gave her a kiss.

“Trevor,” Melody purred, raising an eyebrow, clearly waiting for him to follow the big idiot and pay proper homage.

Trevor bent down and, instead of kissing her, touched the spot beside her eye as gently as he could. “You should tell Lyric to start carrying skin shit. Your wrinkles are showing.”

Mitchell grabbed his upper arm and dragged him out into the street as Melody gasped in outrage, but Trevor didn’t care. He couldn’t stand Melody. Didn’t much like Lyric, but at least she didn’t expect groveling from him because he’d decided to spend money in her store.

“The fuck!” Mitchell was too pissed to bother growling. It just came out as a roar, and an ugly one at that. It didn’t help that they’d just been at Harry’s Hoagies and the guy had the breath of the dragon he was fast turning into.

Trevor shrugged and turned his back on Mitchell, bracing his hands against the storefront’s outside wall. Mitchell would beat him into a pulp for what he’d said and frankly, he deserved it. Right here, in full view of everyone.

“You just fucking wait here, all right?” Mitchell said. “And next time, if you don’t want to come with, just fucking say so.”

Trevor took a deep breath. Mitchell wasn’t going to hit him? Why the fuck not?

He glanced around. Nope, no cops in sight. So what was Mitchell’s problem? Maybe he needed to be pushed farther. “Not my fault you give all your rubbers away so you’re out when you actually need one.”

“That’s not what I’m doing here, dickhead. Now don’t fucking move.”

Trevor turned his head. “You mean you want me to stand here like this?” He jerked his head at the building, his hands still planted on its side. He looked like he was waiting to be frisked by that cop. The one not around.

Mitchell narrowed his eyes. “No. On second thought, go close that dumpster and sit on it.”

That, Trevor was all too happy to do.

Maybe he’d come back in a day or two and beg Melody’s forgiveness. She didn’t look that old. Hell, she didn’t even look washed up. In fact, she looked pretty damn good for a woman who had a set of adult twins. She wasn’t just any woman with twins, either; she was still the reigning porn queen, even if she’d retired after she’d had daughter number three. No one had shocked people the way Melody had. No one had made the point about sex being good any better than Melody Maker. Oh, there were new stars, of course, nubile young things who explained the meaning of words like nubile with just one glance. But no one had made other women actually like having sex. Not the way Melody had.

Maybe, Trevor thought as he closed the dumpster and jumped up, letting his legs swing over the metal lip, she did deserve some respect.

But he still wasn’t bending over her like she was some queen. Or if he did, it’d be because they were both naked and willing.

This week’s Sunday Scribblings prompt was aging. I was going to focus on Melody originally, but when I sat down to write, Trevor seized control. Go figure.

If you need a timeline placement for this, it happens before Mitchell meets Kerri (that’s the Trevor’s Song era), but after they’ve established themselves pretty well. Probably right before the Massive album; that’s the album that established them as bona-fide stars.


Fiction Outtake: Gumball Machines (Pre-Trevor’s Song Era)


Trevor stood in front of the machines, a cigarette dangling off his lip. If he’d ever needed to look cool, right now was it. Adults weren’t supposed to chew gum, let alone buy it out of gumball machines. And that was assuming there were gumballs in all these machines. There wasn’t.

If anyone had been handed adult status and tried harder than Trevor Wolff to give it back, Trevor would like to meet that person and shake their hand.

He rubbed the quarter in his hand. Only one, and four things to choose from. Gum, one of those sticky hands that they loved to smack each other with, a rubber ball, and some unknown, unidentified other sort of toy.

There was no sense taking the chance on the unknown thing. Not with only one quarter. Maybe he’d be able to plant it in Daniel or Eric’s bunk, but sooner or later they’d remember they hadn’t bought it.

Mitchell had torn the fingers off the last sticky hand. He’d plastered them to the front of the microwave, trying to make the thing give them the bird, although he was the only one who’d been able to see it. Four of the fingers were still there, looking like … sticky little lines.

It was kinda cool and definitely something that got people talking, but it made the rest of the hand hard to drag across a guy’s beard when he fell asleep in the front lounge. What made it fun — and why Mitchell had done it — was the way the fingers would suddenly pull off a whisker or three. Not even the big idiot could sleep through that.

Trevor drew on the cigarette. Gumballs were fun, but it was hard to chew and smoke at the same time. Now that the band got a per diem that could stretch to cover cigarettes, chewing gum instead of smoking wasn’t as necessary as it used to be.

As for the rubber balls, the bus driver had banned them, at least on the bus. Which was where they were headed as soon as everyone finished whizzing and Trevor decided what to do with his quarter. Saving the ball for later was stupid, too. Mitchell and Daniel would grab it and play some form of tackle handball until either the ball got lost or Charlie pulled them off each other and sent them to opposite corners — and took the ball for himself.

There was no way Trevor was wasting this quarter on those two. Or the stupid-assed tour manager.

Eric came out of the rest stop and stood beside Trevor, looking at the choices. “Slim pickings,” the guitarist said, his hands jammed in the back pockets of his jeans so his elbows stuck out.

“Tell me about it.” Trevor moved slightly so he wouldn’t get touched by one of the elbows.

Eric bobbed his head and for a second there, Trevor was afraid the guy would tell him all about it. He’d done that sort of shit before.

“Maybe we should wait for the another one,” Eric said. “There’s bound to be something better out there.”

“What’s better than Mitchell’s face when he sticks his foot in a shoe and finds a sticky hand waiting for him?”

“Mitchell’s face when he’s gone a week without finding a sticky hand,” Eric said. “We’ve done that one so much, we’re all checking our shoes before we put them on.”

Trevor couldn’t argue with that. He exhaled hard, watching the smoke float past Eric’s face. It was sort of fun to see how relieved everyone looked when they didn’t see anything waiting for them. “I’m bored,” Trevor said.

“Me, too,” Eric said. He pulled his hands out of his pockets. “We need to come up with something different.”

Trevor nodded his agreement, the end of his cigarette flapping along.

“When the time is right, we’ll know what to do,” Eric said.

Trevor closed his eyes, willing Eric’s spirituality lecture to stop right there. He wanted to have fun, not listen to a bunch of bullshit.

“No,” Mitchell said.

Trevor didn’t open his eyes yet. Clearly, the big idiot thought he was raiding the sticky hands.

Eric coughed. A fake, hollow cough. The kind that said someone had detected the sort of fun that was needed.

Trevor opened his eyes and used his tongue to flick his cigarette off his lip and onto the ground. “Too late,” he told Mitchell in a sing-song.

“Trevor–” Mitchell growled.

Daniel came out and looked at Mitchell, then at Trevor. And finally at the gumball machines. He groaned. “You didn’t.”

Trevor slid the quarter into his back pocket, trying to be casual about it. “I did,” he said and shrugged.

“Me, too,” Eric said. He was smiling, like this was great fun. For him, who never did this sort of shit, it probably was.

Mitchell opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. Not even hot air. He turned and walked off to the bus. Daniel did the same thing: opened his mouth. No sound, no hot air.

The drummer turned away and jogged to catch up to Mitchell.

Eric and Trevor looked at each other. “This could be fun,” Soul-boy said.

“Could be,” Trevor agreed. “At least until they dump all the shit out of our bunks, looking for whatever they think we just bought.”

“It’ll break up the boredom,” Eric said.

Again, Trevor couldn’t argue. He felt the quarter in his back pocket. The guy was right. Sometimes, it was best to wait, even a little bit. There would be better gumball machines up ahead. Better pranks.

Although, this one was off to a good start.

This bit of fun was inspired by another Easystreet Prompt. You can read a bit of the thoughts that went into this outtake at my blog. If I can get it to post correctly.


Mitchell and Kerri fiction: The Art Book (Trevor’s Song Era)


“Here,” Mitchell said, handing her the package. “I bought you something.”

“What is it?”

“Look.” When Kerri squinted at the mailing label, he said, “Inside.”

“It’s not an envelope?”

“Not even close.” He nodded at it.

She turned it on its end and found the pull tab on the padded envelope. “You’re sure?” she asked him, raising her eyebrows. She looked so alive right then, so vibrant, he thought about swooping her up and throwing her in their bed.

“Go on,” he made himself say. “Look inside.”

She gasped when she saw it. With reverence, she pulled it out of the envelope, letting the mailer fall on the floor while she put it carefully down on her lap and stroked it. “How did you know?”

He shrugged. “I saw you looking at it one night. In that catalog you like.”

“I thought you were sleeping.”

He shrugged again. “Guess it’s a good thing you thought so.”

She stroked the book cover, then lifted it slowly, listening to the cover groan. He smiled. He hadn’t believed it was merely a stupid book on art technique when he’d seen the glow in her eyes every time she’d looked at the catalog, and he didn’t believe that it was merely a stupid book now, either.


Mitchell Fiction: Camping


Mitchell rested his hands behind his head, cradling it over the flat pillow Eric had given him. The cool night air felt good on his arms and the exposed part of his chest that stuck out of the sleeping bag. Maybe there was hope for this camping idea yet.

He hadn’t wanted to come. Hell, he’d laughed when Eric had suggested it; he liked to be outside, sure, but to find a spot in the middle of the woods and spend the night? Doing what?

The lead guitarist hadn’t backed down, no matter how grumpy Mitchell got. Camping, it seemed, was going to happen. Just the two of them, a couple of sleeping bags, a tent that Eric damn well better know how to pitch, some food in a bear-proof container, and two acoustic guitars.

It had been obvious that Eric knew what he was doing. “It’s how Dad escapes from the congregation,” Eric had said as he’d slid the poles in place. “Everywhere else he goes — even if he’s in another city — he runs into people who know him. So he comes up here instead. Jared used to come with him until he got a life, then it was my turn.” Eric had shrugged. “I may have a life, but it includes this now.”

Mitchell thought he was nuts. Once the tent was up, he got bored. Picking up firewood wasn’t exactly stimulating, although actually getting the thing started had some fun points. Like when Eric had pulled a stick out of the fire, its end glowing orange, and challenged him to a swordfight.

That hadn’t lasted long, so they’d roasted their weenies, toasted the buns, and threw a few ears of corn on the edges. Somehow, it all tasted better out there. Mitchell didn’t want to admit it, but he sort of was digging this. Being able to take a piss wherever he felt like it wasn’t a bad thing, either.

Going to bed before sunrise had sucked, but he’d actually been too tired to care. And now here he was, awake at the crack of dawn, listening to the birds start singing.

Part of why Eric had dragged him out here was because lately, the songs weren’t there. The band had a new album due, but whenever they sat down to write songs, they all sounded like shit. Flat. Or fake. Forced. Definitely not the Fuck You, World that ShapeShifter was known for. Worst of all, the music that was always playing in Mitchell’s head had stopped.

This solution of Eric’s had seemed stupid at first — songs about birds chirping weren’t exactly Fuck You, World. But now, as the world woke up and dragged Eric along with it, the birds weren’t the only music Mitchell was hearing.


Fiction Outtake: Cranberries (The Early Days)


Patterson didn’t mind that they’d left early. The after-dinner entertainment had been the same for years now: the men gathered around the television, the women in the kitchen, cleaning up and gossiping, the kids who were too young to do either dispersing to the basement or another round of football in the yard.

Mitchell, for all his love of baseball, loathed watching football. And Trevor’s lewd comments about the sport had been immediately unwelcome.

Frankly, Patterson had been glad to have an excuse to leave. He wasn’t much of a football lover, himself, and family togetherness had its limits when there was so much in your life you couldn’t discuss.

He pulled the Bronco into its spot on the side of the driveway and sat for a moment. Trevor, in the back seat, had gotten awfully quiet. Too quiet.

Mitchell, beside him, hopped out of the Bronco like he didn’t have a care in the world. Like leaving early wasn’t a big deal. To the boy, it probably hadn’t been. Spending the day with the family had been okay at first, with the annual flag football game and the cousins to catch up with. But if you kept Mitchell away from his guitar too long, he started to get twitchy. Once that happened, the cousins decided he was weird. Adding Trevor to the mix hadn’t helped, but leaving that one at home had never crossed Patterson’s mind. Trevor was part of the family now, no matter how hard he worked at reminding them all that he wasn’t.

Trevor followed Mitchell out of the Bronco, but didn’t wait by the back door with the younger boy. Instead, Trevor stared at the sky.

“Did you ever wonder,” he said to Patterson, his face turned upward.

“I wondered what’s bothering you tonight.”

Trevor shoved his hands into the pockets of the leather vest he’d consented to wear over his denim jacket. He hunched his shoulders.

Patterson had a few guesses. But it was best if the boy talked without prompts.

Suddenly, the hands were out of the pockets, the shoulders were down, and the boy had spun to face his guardian. “Do you have any fucking clue what it’s like to watch that table get cleared and hear everyone laugh that everyone forgot about the cranberries and this and that and everything else? Do you have any fucking clue how lucky you are to even have a fucking family?”

“Yes,” Patterson said. “And not just because this is a holiday of gratitude, either.”

Mitchell wandered closer, but stayed safely behind Trevor.

“Do you know what my Thanksgivings used to be like?” Trevor went on, his face turning red in the starlight. “Do you know what we’d have for dinner?”

“No,” Patterson said. “Tell me.”

Trevor just shook his head, like the words wouldn’t come. Mitchell sat down in the grass and folded his legs Indian-style. He began playing with his shoelaces.

Trevor pulled his cigarettes out of the chest pocket of the denim jacket. “Some years, it was us sitting around the table, watching him drink a bottle of JD. One year, he beat Mom with the bird she’d brought home and then made her cook it and stood there while we ate it. I puked it back up about an hour later.” He snorted. “And don’t forget the year there was no food because Mom couldn’t get a hold of his paycheck and he stole hers and drank ’em both.”

Mitchell shook his head and visibly swallowed. Patterson just listened. He’d been witness to scenes like this, although not at the Wolff household. It didn’t matter; the tragedy was still the same. The fact that he’d been able to make a difference in this young man’s life couldn’t even begin to make up for the families he hadn’t been able to help so directly.

“Happy fucking birthday, Trevor,” Trevor said, sniffing hard and rubbing at his eyes with the sleeve of his denim jacket. “They usually forgot. And there’s the Voss family,” he said, gesturing expansively, “with a birthday cake and apologies for being a week late.”

Patterson looked at Mitchell; he felt the boy watching him. He’d managed to shelter Mitchell from the worst of Trevor’s stories; this couldn’t be easy.

Mitchell was imploring his father to make it stop. To help him know what to say or do.

Patterson pursed his lips and gave the barest shake to his head.

“And all that fucking food that everyone forgot to eat,” Trevor said.

“We didn’t forget,” Mitchell said. “No one likes the cranberries. So Aunt Paula leaves ’em on the table because we’re supposed to have cranberries. She’s probably shoving them back in the container she uses every year, and she’ll throw it in the freezer until next year. They’ll make it to the table, probably still frozen, and then when we clear, everyone will joke about forgetting to eat them when the truth is, no one wants ’em.”

“Think that’s funny?” Trevor whirled and bent over to look at Mitchell, who shrugged.

“I think cranberries are okay,” Mitchell said.

Patterson had to bite his lip to keep from smiling.

Trevor cocked his head, considering.

Mitchell started pulling at the grass.

“So you’re saying I’m a cranberry?” Trevor asked at last.

Mitchell made a sound sort of like one of Trevor’s indignant snorts. “No,” the boy said. “You’re an ass who’s keeping me from my guitar. C’mon. Let’s go make music.”

Patterson moved to unlock the front door, wondering if a parent could be more proud of his son. It wasn’t likely.


Fiction Outtake: Rusty’s Place (Trevor’s Song Era)


So this was it, Trevor thought as he followed Mitchell off the elevator and down the narrow, dark hallway. This was the other love shack, the one Mitchell bonked Rusty in when he wasn’t doing her in his own place. Trevor wasn’t so sure he wanted to go in. Hell, he wasn’t sure why Mitchell wanted in Rusty, but the big idiot had never been the smartest thing around when it came to girls.

At least the door to Rusty’s place was cool: floor to ceiling and on these rollers that made a great noise when Mitchell pulled it open. It looked old and industrial and was almost as interesting as his place.

The first thing Trevor noticed was the space. Huge. Empty. A few ugly couches, a few lights set around them like he’d seen at photo shoots the band had been on. And a drafting desk, white, facing the couches.

A couple of mismatched throw rugs on the floor. Rusty’s bike by the door, and hooks for keys and shit. Not hooks, he realized as he looked closer. Carabiners. They made stealing her keys pretty fucking hard, the way they were rigged, there. It was almost a good idea.

Behind the drafting desk, he saw a couple of stools, one of which held Her Rustiness. Her shadow fell behind her on one of those screens for privacy that had some soothing nature scene painted on it. That must be her living space back there, but damn if Trevor could see any of it. Damn if Trevor wanted to see it.

He hated to admit it, but the whole place added up to some sort of artsy style. A little too serious to be a student’s digs but at the same time it was obvious she wasn’t on easy street. If this wasn’t Rusty’s place, he might even have been able to respect the person who lived here.

“Hey, you’re here,” she said from behind that drafting desk. She lifted her head and pierced him with those damn eyes of hers. Trevor still didn’t understand how Mitchell had found a girl who had the famous Voss eyes.

“Yep,” Mitchell said, crossing the couch area and going over to Rusty. He put his hands on her waist and kissed her like he was trying to crawl down her throat. All of him, not just his tongue.

Trevor looked around, wondering where the bathroom was. Just in case bad judgment got the better of him and he decided not to yak on her floor. Watching her clean up that mess would be sublime — assuming Mitchell didn’t make him do it himself, which the idiot would probably do. After all, Rusty might get her precious self dirty or something.

He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. It hadn’t hit him; it couldn’t be Mitchell. That meant…

He jumped again, away from Rusty this time. He gave her a quick once-over: paint-covered sweatpants that used to be grey and a sorta snug but not tight t-shirt. He couldn’t deny she had a good shape. Even worse, the paint streaks brought that out.

That she was barefoot didn’t surprise him. Mitchell would have to fall for someone who hated clothes as much as he did. It was that simple, until you got to the eyes. That was just fucking freaky.

“Hi, Trev,” she said like he hadn’t just handed out this insult by getting away from her touch. Sometimes, he thought she was clueless, but then he looked in those eyes and knew better. The Queen of Polite, that’s what he ought to call her. Maybe he would — except Rusty fit so much better. And it pissed her off.

Trevor realized he had no cranky comeback for her. Nothing about the lack of walls helping make sure she didn’t get lost. Nothing about the high ceilings or those couches. Nothing.

Mitchell growled and stuck an elbow in his ribs. Trevor glared at him and reached for his cigarettes.

“Let’s get rolling,” Mitchell said.

“I need to change,” Rusty said. She vanished behind the stupid screen.

“You can’t change enough,” Trevor told her and placed an unlit cigarette in its usual place at the corner of his mouth.

“How did I know you’d say that?” she asked. It was weird, talking to her like this. He couldn’t see her but nothing was muffling her voice. It was like talking to someone who was invisible. Then again, life would be better if she wasn’t there at all.

“Maybe you’re a fucking clairvoyant or something.”

“Maybe I’m just smart,” she said, coming around the screen all dressed in jeans and another t-shirt, this one without paint on it. “We ready?” She held her arm out. Mitchell grabbed it and wound it around his waist.

Trevor tried not to gag. “I’m readier than you’ll ever know,” he said.
“Good thing,” she said as Mitchell took a swipe at the back of Trevor’s head. It wasn’t hard; just enough to remind him to watch himself. Like he’d do anything else here in Rusty’s lair. If she’d used it to snag Mitchell, there was no telling what she’d do to him.

So you’ve met Trevor, Mitchell, and Kerri over the past week. Now you get to see them in action, as part of the Sunday Scribblings prompt.

I don’t know about this one. For those of you who’re regulars, I’m going to drive you NUTS when I say this: it feels like it belongs right inside of Trevor’s Song. Sorry, but it’s true.

Stay tuned for news on how to help get that book into your hands. There’s a lot brewing behind the scenes here. And yes, you’ll like it all.


Fast Facts: Mitchell Voss


If you missed the other day’s post, I’m offering a few quick notes about the main characters who run around this joint like they’re real people. To many of us, they are.

I did Trevor first, of course. No, wait. We’re talking about Trevor, so let me rephrase. I did not DO Trevor. I wrote about him. He’s not real, remember. A real person can only fantasize. But then, so does Trevor. And so does his best friend.

Anyway, that brings us to…

Mitchell Voss.

1. Let’s start with the physical: six-one. Keeps fit by spending so many hours in swimming pools, his silvery-blonde hair turns green. Hazel eyes that look right through Trevor and annoy him to no end.

2. Trevor’s the closest thing he’s got to a brother. He’s actually got two older sisters. One’s a doctor and lives nearby. The other is a mom and lives out of Riverview.

3. A large part of the ShapeShifter dynamic is the Frick and Frack, Heckle and Jeckle, Lucy and Ethel that goes on between Mitchell and Trevor. It’s been this way since Mitchell dreamed of a band and Trevor decided to make it happen.

4. It’s rare to find Mitchell without a guitar in hand. The man oozes music and for better or for worse, there’s not much more to him than music. But does there need to be more?

5. Many of my long-time groupies have come to love Mitchell more than Trevor. He’s moody, sensitive, and the calm in the face of Trevor’s storm. He’s also completely devoted to his wife, Kerri, in ways that all us married women wish our husbands really, truly were like. No matter how great our husbands.

(okay, now. Who was this post REALLY about? I told you that Trevor rules the roost around here!)

Want more Mitchell?

This link will take you to one of my favorite Year 2 outtakes.

This link will take you to his bio page. Have fun getting to know one of my favorite men.


Fiction Outtake: The Time After Dinner (The Early Days)


It’s not necessary, but it may help if you visit The Time Before Dinner. This is a sequel of sorts. You should be able to catch on to the basic idea if you’re too lazy to go look, though.

When Mitchell got up after dinner and left the house, Trevor knew exactly where he was going — and why. He figured he’d give the idiot a while to get his head together, but Amy started bugging him, grabbing at his forearm and being so fucking whiny that Trevor left the house to track down Mitchell sooner than he wanted to.

Sure enough, Mitchell was in their spot by the river, chewing on a piece of grass and staring at nothing. He was all stretched out, his legs crossed at the ankle, the hand that wasn’t playing with the grass in his mouth tucked up behind his head.

He looked like Huck Finn. He even had his shoes off.

Trevor sat down beside him and stared at the river. It was barely moving today. Even the air was still. “Yeah?” Trevor asked. “So?”

“So what?”

With a curl in his upper lip, Trevor mimicked Mitchell. Like the idiot didn’t know what this was all about. “I go to all that trouble to find you a girl who’s willing to take on your virginal ass and that’s all you can say to me?”

“Uhh… thanks?”

Trevor grabbed the grass and yanked it out of Mitchell’s mouth.

Mitchell yelped and sat up, fingers hovering over his lip. “Fuckhead!”

“That didn’t hurt, you baby.” He made a show of looking Mitchell up and down. “It’s a fucking miracle I was able to find someone for you, and this shit is exactly why.”

Mitchell turned away and didn’t say anything.

Trevor let him stew. He lit up a cigarette and waited.

“So,” he said when Mitchell relaxed a hair, “did you last longer than thirty seconds?”


Trevor crowed, the cigarette dangling off his lower lip as he laughed. “You didn’t, did you! I fucking knew it!”

“I lasted,” Mitchell growled.

“One day. Two miracles. Think Hell’s about to freeze over?”

Mitchell took a swipe at the back of Trevor’s head. Trevor just grinned.

“How’d you do it?” he asked when Mitchell stopped growling. “Multiplication tables?”

“Chords. I talked myself through two different Rat Catcher songs.”


“What’s wrong?”

“You’re there with a girl for the first fucking time ever and all you can do is play your fucking guitar?”

“It worked, didn’t it? Two Rat Catcher songs… that’s, like, ten minutes!”

“You stupid fuck. You’ve got a girl. Don’t you know what that means?”

“I do now, yeah.”

Trevor wanted to smear Mitchell’s grin into the riverbank. “No! No, no, no!” He jumped up and pulled his cigarette off his lip. It felt like it tore and for a second, he could see a piece of grass hanging out of Mitchell’s mouth. But only for a second; he had more important things to set the stupid ass straight about.

Mitchell was looking at him, his elbows hooked around his knees.

He took that as permission to rant. “Girls are soft. They smell good. They’re curvy and fun to touch. They squirm. And, oh fuck, the sounds they make. You didn’t notice any of that, did you?”

“Yeah. Of course!”

“Then what the fuck did you need to play your stupid-assed guitar for?”

“‘Cause if I hadn’t, you’d be sitting here yelling at me for being too fast and not stopping to appreciate her the right way. Why’d you come out here, anyway? Nothing I do is ever right yet you never shut up about what a perfect person I am. It can’t be both ways, know that?”

Mitchell was on his feet now. His eyes had turned that dark blue that Trevor knew meant danger, and his face was red.

Trevor took a step back. Maybe Mitchell had been smart enough to figure this girl stuff out on his own. But on the other hand, maybe he hadn’t been.

“And you should just stay outta my sex life anyway!” Mitchell yelled.

“If I did that, you wouldn’t have one!

He knew the fist to his gut was coming. It felt good when it landed, taking some of his breath away and doubling him over not quite in half. Instinct made him want to cover his head, but this was Mitchell, and it ended there. He wasn’t Hank; he knew when to stop.

Too bad I don’t, Trevor thought as his breath came back and he straightened up. “You should be thanking me.”

“For the girl? Yeah, sure, whatever. For showing up here and putting on your high-and-mighty act? No fucking way. Take it with you and leave me the fuck alone already.” Mitchell sat down, his back to Trevor. He was probably staring off at the river, but his back was shaking.

Trevor went and sat beside him. “Okay, I’m done being a dick now.”


“Was it?” He nudged Mitchell with his elbow and watched as the guy fought with himself. It was more fun to stay pissed, Trevor knew that. Smart people got out of the way when Mitchell was pissed.

Trevor wasn’t smart. He was also Mitchell’s best friend. He knew if he waited, he’d get it.

“Yeah, it was good,” the big idiot finally said. He let out a deep breath and nodded. “It was good.”


Fiction Outtake: Bored on the Bus (Trevor’s Song Era)


They’d been on the bus for what felt like weeks. So long that they were way overdue for a day off inside of an actual hotel room — and every single member of ShapeShifter was grossed out by the thought of how excited they were about something as sterile and isolated as a hotel room. But at this point, with only the bus or the inside of the venue to look at, a hotel seemed like the ultimate luxury.

During these stretches, it wasn’t unusual for no one to talk. No one had anything to say, really. Not when you were spending exactly every waking minute with each other. Not when you’d done this dance for years.

Mitchell didn’t even have much to say to Kerri, which was pretty pathetic considering they were still newlyweds. She didn’t seem to care, except that she was as bored as the rest of them. So bored that she had squished herself on the couch beside him, her chin on his upraised knee. Instead of drawing, she was playing idly with the hair on his leg. He knew she wouldn’t be doing it if he’d put his jeans back on, but when all you were doing was sitting on a bus, why bother with pants?

He could only take so much of Kerri’s petting and stroking. It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t comforting. It was just damn annoying.

He lifted his leg and straightened it, moving gently so he didn’t startle her onto the floor or hurt her. “Woman,” he growled, “my leg is not a guitar. If you want to strum something, go find one.”

With a shrug, Kerri stood up.

“What are you doing?” He knew he flailed as he sat up, but he didn’t care. She’d been supposed to stop petting him, not do … whatever.

“Getting a guitar,” she said carelessly, and disappeared into the bunks.

Eric and Daniel chuckled as Mitchell groaned, but Trevor nodded. “That’ll teach your dumb ass,” the bass player said and lit a cigarette. “You know she can’t resist a challenge. Even an easy one like that.”

“At least it’ll give us something to do,” Daniel said as Kerri came back carrying Mabel.

She sat down at the other end of Trevor’s couch, facing Mitchell, and put the guitar properly on her right leg. Then she shook out her hair and straightened her back, looking to the table at Eric. Mitchell noticed how pointedly she ignored him. He tried to keep his latest groan inaudible; it would only egg her on.

“So. What do I do now?” she asked Eric, a too-bright smile plastered to her face.

Mitchell wanted to cover his own face with his hands. Anything to keep from watching this. But he couldn’t look away.

“You need a pick,” Eric said.

Kerri handed the guitar to Trevor, who took it with a sneer. She stood up, watching Mitchell as if she expected him to do something.

“What?” he asked as she stared down at him. Fuck, but he hated it when she smiled like that. All smug and full of herself — and about to make him the butt of some joke, he was sure. Anyone with a shred of common sense would get up and leave before it happened, but he was stuck there, both by his own inertia and some sick need to be present.

Kerri bent down so she could reach across him, making sure she brushed her breast against his face. She dug in the change pocket of his jeans.

He refused to so much as breathe until she came up with one of the eight million or so picks they’d had made for this tour. He told himself not to panic; he still had two others in there. And maybe she’d give it back. Or, even better, make him come looking for it.

She smirked at him as she reseated herself and took Mabel back from Trevor.

“Okay,” she said to Eric, “now what?”

Trevor leaned forward as Eric motioned Mitchell out of the way so he could sit across from Kerri and give her instructions. She made a show of not knowing how to hold the pick or how to use it.

Her performance set Mitchell’s teeth on edge. And that was before she struck a note.

“What about my face?” she asked when Eric told her she was ready to move on to the next step.

“What about it?” Eric asked.

“Not even Asshole there can play guitar with his face,” Trevor said, jerking his chin at Mitchell, who growled. Kerri didn’t need to know about the time he’d tried. Hell, Mitchell wasn’t sure Trevor knew about it.

Kerri took a deep, exaggerated breath. “I know that,” she said. “But to watch the three of you, in order to play guitar, you also have to make faces. Like this,” she said, puckering up like she’d eaten a lemon. “Or this,” she said, opening her mouth and widening her eyes.

Daniel laughed.

“Oh, you’re not much better, you know,” Kerri said, pointing the pick at him. She stuck her tongue into her cheek and, again, let her jaw drop open.

Mitchell bit back a smile, but Eric didn’t bother hiding it. Her faces were poor imitations of theirs, but they got the point across. Daniel pretended he didn’t care, and Trevor was pretending he wasn’t paying attention, even though his eyes flicked back and forth. He was, like always, too full of himself to give in and have a good time, especially because it was Kerri at the root of it all. Trevor couldn’t stand it when she pulled shit like this — because he wanted to be the one at the center of it.

“You know what’s going to happen now?” Daniel asked, picking up Eric’s cigarettes and fiddling with the pack. “We’re going to get on stage tonight and obsess about our faces.”

That was entirely too true.

Mitchell told himself he shouldn’t care. Guitar players were supposed to make faces; the girls in the crowd ate it up. The guys thought it was the path to coolness — and a lot of them practiced their faces more than they did their guitars even though the more you played, the more natural the faces turned. It was all part of rock and roll.

Besides, he told himself as Kerri tried to stand up, only to discover the hard way that guitars had straps for a specific reason, if this got inside his head too bad, he’d divorce the wench.

But in the meantime, at least he wasn’t bored.

Has it been too long since we’ve had an outtake just for the fun or it, or WHAT?


ShapeShifter Fiction: Key Lime Pie (Trevor’s Song era)


No Thirteen this week, as I’m off to Cub Scout Camp again this summer. As a treat, I thought I’d show you what you guys inspired, based on your responses to this Thirteen I wrote back in May. Hope you like it; there may be more to follow if you do.

Eric didn’t notice it until he was on his way back to sound check. He’d just taken a bathroom break that had been long enough to make his tech feel like part of the band instead of the stand-in for the real guitarist. Stupid touring; it got to him like this every few weeks, it seemed. It got to all of them, but he swore, he got it the worst.

He stopped by the deli tray to grab a slice of turkey. That’s when he noticed it, sitting on the end of the table like it didn’t need to be kept cold or anything.

Mitchell was not going to be happy about it.

Eric wasn’t quite out of the dressing room when the rest of the guys pushed through the door.

“Nice of you to come back,” Trevor told him with one of his usual sneers. “I thought you were a member of ShapeShifter.”

“I didn’t really want the guy puking on stage,” Mitchell told the bass player. Eric tried to get a feel for the guy’s mood. Sometimes, sound check went well and mellowed Mitchell out. Sometimes, it totally sucked and the guy was a dragon. Right now, he was talkative.

“Remember what happened when that one roadie puked?” Mitchell asked. “How fucking bad it smelled? And it lasted until the end of the tour, too. No, Eric, you did the right thing, ducking out on us. We wrote a new song,” the band leader said.

Eric smiled wanly and flopped down on the couch. Mitchell was in a good enough mood. Maybe he wouldn’t hurt someone when he noticed it.

… or then again, maybe he would, Eric thought when Mitchell growled, “What the fuck is that?”

Eric sat up to look.

Mitchell stood in front of it, breathing so hard, his nostrils flared. “Get someone in here who can explain this,” he said.

Since the four of them were alone at the moment, Daniel jumped to do it.

“Just use it for an ashtray,” Trevor said, taking his cigarette out of his mouth and reaching to lead by example.

Mitchell strong-armed him out of the way.

“Well, fuck you, too,” Trevor said.

“Not until we get some fucking answers,” Mitchell growled. He hadn’t taken his eyes off it. Eric wasn’t sure he would, even though it was pretty obvious the thing wasn’t going to move by itself.

Daniel came back. “They’re going to find someone,” he said and stood on his toes to peek over Mitchell’s shoulder, as if he needed to be shielded from it. “At least this one’s not green.”

Mitchell growled more loudly. Daniel backed off. Even Trevor took a step back.

A few minutes passed with no one really knowing what to do. All four of them kept throwing glances at it, like they expected it to get up and come after them or something. Maybe melt, Eric decided, picking up a can of Coke from a bus tray full of melting ice. If that ice was melting, there was no way the non-green thing was in good shape.

Not like any of them would be dumb enough to eat it.

“There’s a problem?” The mousy man who led Charlie, the band’s tour manager, into the dressing room had seven strands of hair left at the front of his head. They’d been pulled back into a ponytail and they made the guy instantly memorable.

Charlie peeked over Mitchell’s shoulder. “Whoa. That’s some bad vibes.” He turned to the mousy guy. “That a key lime pie?”

Mousy guy nodded. “My wife made it. She said she read in a magazine that you guys like key lime pies.”

From across the room, Eric could hear Mitchell breathing. Hard. He closed his eyes and hoped the guy wasn’t about to explode.

“Take it out of here,” Mitchell said. It wasn’t a request.

“But my wife…”

“Take it!”

“What’ll I tell her?” The guy’s eyes were darting everywhere, like he was about to panic.

Mitchell picked up the pie and pressed it firmly into the guy’s chest. “Tell her you hope it doesn’t stain. And tell her she needs to be more careful about what she reads because we fucking hate key lime pie.”

He let go. Half the pie fell to the floor. The other half stuck to the guy’s shirt.

“Oh,” the guy said in such a small voice, it was almost a squeak.

Eric stood up. “Look,” he said, “thank your wife for the pie, but explain to her that she read an article written by a reporter who has a problem with us ever since Trevor puked on him after eating a key lime pie that some fan had made.”

“But my wife…”

Daniel put a hand on the guy’s shoulder, looking with distaste at the custard smeared on his shirt, “Was wrong, and you got off light. We’re the band. This pie was a violation of our concert rider and we could pull even more of a prima donna routine and make you very unhappy. You got off light. Hell, Charlie, give the guy a free t-shirt to wear and then call JR. We don’t do shows with this joker anymore.”

The mousy guy paled. “But…”

Mitchell started to laugh. “You’re the promoter and you fucked up this royally? Dude, you’re done. Go fucking sell real estate or something.” He jerked his head toward the door and Charlie sprang into action, escorting the mousy promoter dude out of the dressing room.

Trevor and Daniel laughed. Even Mitchell relaxed enough to smile.

“The best laid plans…” Eric said and decided that pie or no, he needed to return to the bathroom.

Ahh, yes. Sometimes, it sucks to be in a band. If you’re new to ShapeShifter, or if you want to read more, click on the cast of characters tab at the top of the page. You’ll find links with each character sketch. I know. There are a lot of them.

Not sure where to start?

Here are a few of my favorite ShapeShifter adventures on the road:

Backstage Party
Bean Dip #1
Bean Dip #2
Green Hair Week — The Concert (You may need to read the whole series to really get it, but it’s fun.)

If you need me for anything, I’ll be back in a few days. The Tour Manager will hold the fort down while I’m gone.


Fiction Outtake: Foot Pedals (the Early Days)


It all began the day Mitchell bought the pedals for his guitar.

“You plug it in, right?” he asked Trevor, who looked up from an inspection of the match he’d just used to light a joint.

Trevor shrugged.

Mitchell stuck the plug into the hole on his guitar. The power cord went into
the outlet. “That’s all, right?”

Trevor shrugged.

Mitchell tried a note. Nothing. He stepped on the pedals. Nothing.

“What the fuck?”

Trevor took a drag off the joint and gave Mitchell one of those raised-eyebrow looks that meant he was echoing the question. “Ask Gus,” the bass player said once he’d exhaled. “He sold you the fucking thing. He shoulda showed you how to make it work.”

Mitchell pulled his head into his shoulders. “I told him I’d read the manual if I needed help.”

“So why don’t you?”

“Gus kept it. He told me to figure it out on my own.”

Trevor nodded slowly. It reminded Mitchell of those wise men in those bad movies Trevor always liked to watch. “So go figure and leave me the fuck alone already.”

Mitchell shook his head and turned back to the new pedal. Gus was right. The best way to master something like this was to fart around with it until you understood it.

Still… it had to have a power switch or something.

Didn’t it?

Ahh, my boys. If you’re new to Trevor and Mitchell, click on their names to learn more about them and to maybe even read a few other outtakes they star in. You know you want to.

If you’re not new to Trevor and Mitchell, why not poke around some anyway? Refresh your memory, find something new. There’s plenty in my archives, you know.


Fiction Outtake: Daniel’s Shoulder (part 2)


If you missed the start of this, you’d better go read it, or this will be little more than nonsense for ya. The first part’s short, although not as short as this one. It won’t take long. And there’s a link to bring you back here.

As he left the dressing room, Mitchell held up a hand at the roadie who’d been sent to escort him to the meet-and-greet. “I need to make a call,” he said and turned toward the production office.

Lyric answered almost immediately.

“Daniel’s shoulder’s bothering him,” he said, “so have the bills get sent his way. Oh, and Lyric, he’s paying you a thirty-buck per diem.”

She laughed. “Thanks, but you didn’t need to.”

“Hey, I take care of my girls. So go make calls; you might be able to get on Kerri’s flight out in the morning.”

“Does this mean you’ll be paying me a per diem, too, the next time you need me out there?”

“Fuck no.”


Fiction Outtake: Daniel’s Shoulder (part 1)


The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is sore/soar. I was going to play with Eric, whose guitar is often said to soar above the rhythm line that Mitchell, Daniel, and Trevor lay down, but I’ve got a massive migraine and this was hanging around, waiting to be shared. Be sure to check back for the second part.

It was the look on Daniel‘s face that froze Mitchell, mid-stride. He knew that look on his drummer’s face, the left eye slitted, the left side of the mouth poured open so that half the guy’s teeth were showing. Even though he didn’t have first-hand knowledge of the shoulder pulled to the ear or the hand gently rubbing it, Mitchell knew the pain.

“Need me to call Lyric?”

“Yeah, would you?” Daniel tried to relax his shoulder. And his face. The shoulder went back into place more easily.

Mitchell paused, finally grabbing a chair and turning it backwards so he could lean into it when he sat.

“Can we talk later and you call her now?” Daniel asked. He grimaced and rubbed his shoulder again.

“I’m not the one paying her.”

“Oh.” The drummer thought a minute. “What’s her usual rate?”

“Airfare, hotel room, and a thirty-buck per diem.”

“Thirty bucks!”

Mitchell shrugged. “She’s gotta eat.”

Daniel winced again and dug harder at that sore left shoulder. “Okay, fine. Whatever.”

With a nod, Mitchell stood up and went to place the call.

Okay, so you’ve got to read the next part, which reveals the punchline. Go here for it. You can leave comments here or there. Or both. I love comments.


Mitchell fiction: Interview


From an excerpt of an interview with ShapeShifter’s Mitchell Voss…

Voss leans forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. “Exactly,” he said. “Our music is ferocious. It’s supposed to be. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be the release it is.”

Music as a release. It’s a concept that has lost steam over the years, replaced by the phenomenon of self-mutilation. But it’s a concept Voss holds to.

“We all need that release. We all need something that takes us outside ourself and, in a way, soothes us. Something that when we come back to ourselves, things are okay again and the problems are manageable.”

What sort of problems can someone like Voss have? After all, the man’s an international superstar. He’s got security to keep overeager fans away. He’s got people to take out the kitchen trash at the mere snap of his fingers.

“That’d be nice,” he says. “I f—– hate taking the trash out. My parents used to make me do it just because they knew how much I hated it. They’d tell me to suck it up and remember that every beautiful thing has its hidden, ugly side. And then they’d launch into this lecture about being lazy and the importance of doing chores around the house and how if I hate it that much, I’ll understand how wonderful it is to have kids of my own and blah blah blah… Suddenly, the idea of taking out the trash becomes appealing!”

Still, Voss doesn’t smile. The famous frown deepens. “It doesn’t matter who you are or how you earn your way in the world. We all have those times when we need to break free of being polite and let it all hang out. Our fans get that. That’s part of what makes the bond they have with us so strong. We’re leading the way, almost. Showing them how to cut loose and let it all out. Come along with us and get the s— out of your system for the length of a song, a CD, a show. You’ll feel better afterward.”

Yep, it’s fiction. But it’s fun to show off my journalistically trained chops every now and then!


Fiction Outtake: A Body for Practice


A while back, I brought you some of the Lyric/Mitchell agreement. Here’s how it all got started.

Mitchell was collecting cords, thinking he looked pretty cool, the way he knew to coil them by using his palm and his elbow as posts. Roadies did it this way; nevermind that he was band, roadies had the look down. Besides, if the band tanked… Dad always was telling him to have something to fall back on.

Eric was there on the stage with him, yawning and grumbling to himself.

“We headed to Roach’s after this?” Mitchell asked.

“Think so,” Eric said. “At least, I am.”

Mitchell nodded, like it was all decided. Going to Roach’s after shows was becoming a ritual — and the growing number of fans were figuring it out. Daniel didn’t think they’d be able to do this much longer. Mitchell didn’t care. It was all about right now, and right now was pretty damn fun.

“Hey,” someone said behind him.

He looked over his shoulder at a girl with brown hair that looked like it had been braided when wet, then let loose when it was dry. She wore jeans and cowboy boots, and a tight t-shirt that was some faded out orange color. He couldn’t call her hot, but she had something about her…

“Need something?”

“Yeah,” she said and lifted her chin, like she was expecting a fight. Mitchell fidgeted; this might be good.

“I need a body.”

Eric and Mitchell exchanged looks, trying to figure out who was willing to volunteer. After all, there were bound to be plenty of other, hotter girls at Roach’s… Hopefully.

“I’m training to be a massage therapist,” she said into the silence. “I need someone to practice on and I thought that someone who thrashes around as much as you guys do would want some free massages.”

Mitchell stretched his arms over his head, then put his hands on his waist and twisted. “Yeah, that could work.” He looked harder at the girl. She looked familiar… “Hey, you’re Melody’s girl!”

Eric turned to look at her at last. His jaw dropped, as though Lyric was Melody herself.

“I’m Lyric, yes, and if you think this is some invite to be in one of Mom’s movies or something, forget the whole deal. This is real massage, not massage-your-peter. Got it?”

“Whoa,” Eric said and, grabbing the cables from Mitchell, hurried off the stage.

“Let me get this straight,” Mitchell said, crossing his arms over his chest and looking down from the stage at Lyric. “You’re Melody’s girl, but you’re not offering sex.”

“That’s right.”

“For free.”


He arched an eyebrow at her and waited. She’d figure out soon enough what he was waiting for.

She did. “I want a ShapeShifter t-shirt and my name on the permanent guest list.”

“Is that all?”

“I could charge cash. Everyone else in my class does.”

Mitchell didn’t bother to hide a smile. Everyone in town knew you didn’t fuck around with Melody and her girls. “But you won’t.”

“Does that mean you’re in?”

He glanced around, not sure why the guys weren’t around. There was more gear to pack up and he’d be damned if he was doing it all himself. “Yeah,” he said. “I’m in.”

He half-expected her to squeal and throw her arms around his neck. But all she did was nod like she’d known he’d go for it.

“Let’s go,” she said.


“Got a date?”

“Yeah,” he said, wondering if hanging at Roach’s with the guys counted. “Tomorrow. Noon. You tell me where,” he added, hoping she wouldn’t pick some public place and humiliate him.

“I’ll call you in the morning.”

“You have my number?”

“Melody’s kid knows who Patterson’s kid is. Don’t worry about it. I’ll call you.”

Mitchell stared, speechless, as she turned on one of those cowboy boot heels of hers and walked out of the club like she owned it. If she didn’t now, Mitchell didn’t doubt that with an attitude like that, one day, she just might.

In the meantime, he’d be getting himself some free massages. Damn, but the guys were going to be jealous when they heard that. Assuming they got their asses back inside and packed their shit up, anyway. If they left it all for him, Lyric was going to be his own little secret for as long as he could swing it.

He grinned and picked up the last of the stuff he was responsible for. Fuck ’em. Fuck all three of ’em. They snoozed. They loozed.

Why haven’t you joined the Poetry Train yet?

And stay tuned; I’m going to try to make time to start giving you some of the fun stuff I picked up at RT.

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