[SleepingDragon]: 268.Metal Daze.Chapter 6 - Turmoil
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just wanna be loved by you”
-‘No One Like You
Within a day, Steve’s eye had swollen so much you could see the lump from the other side of his nose. His mother had him lay on the couch with ice packs on it. He slept as much as he could get away with. The nurse had been right. The blurred vision caused him terrible headaches unless he kept the eye closed or covered.
He took a bit of a break from practicing for a few days while the eye healed. It was impossible to read tablature or any of his chord and scale books. Concentrating on anything was difficult. He resigned himself to sleeping, eating and listening to the TV with his eyes closed, while his mom made sure he had fresh ice packs and plenty of Tylenol.
After about a week, the swelling had gone down and the vision problems had dissipated. Steve was left with a good shiner though, and stayed in most of the time to save himself the embarrassment of having people see it. With the headaches no longer an issue, Steve picked his guitar up, and spent all his time practicing, as if to make up for lost time.
Roxy had called once, to see how he was doing. She said she’d gone for a walk and was calling from a pay phone.
“I’ll call as much as I can.” She told him before hanging up. “I miss you so much. It really sucks here. I can’t wait till the show.”
That had been the long and short of it. He really wished she were closer and that he could see her more of the time. It was a drag being so far apart, especially when he couldn’t just pick up the phone and call her whenever he wanted. A couple of times, he had considered calling her cousin Trina because he felt he simply had to talk to her. He knew it wasn’t advisable though, and refrained from the urge.
As to the Scorpions concert, Matt had ordered their tickets by mail. He and Steve would be making the trip by themselves. Steve’s parents had no issue with him going but refused to lend the car again. The only thing left to work out was how they were going to get there. Matt had hopes of picking up his own used car by the day of the show. His brother had an older model Buick Century for sale and Matt just needed to come up with the cash.
Steve was making leaps and bounds with his guitar playing and had composed the rhythm and lead sections for several more songs by the time he and Matt got together again to play. The material was not only better; it was far more complex and professional sounding. He’d worked some flange and whah effects into the lead work and simplified the rhythm parts where he could, so that Matt wouldn’t have trouble playing them.
“So I just play E, C, B, E during that part?” Matt asked, double-checkin
“Yup. That’s all it is. Ready to try it?” Steve gave a four count and they kicked into the song. He stopped Matt after about ten seconds. “You’ve got the timing right. Now you just need to give it more crunch. Remember to palm mute and turn your pick a little sideways. Ready? Let’s go again.”
They played it again and it sounded exactly the same.
“What are you doing man?” Steve asked, slightly annoyed.
“I’m playing your song, man.” Matt returned.
“Yea, but your not doing it right.” Steve insisted. “It needs to sound more powerful there, and that last chord needs to really hit you between the eyes.”
“Man,” Matt breathed, exasperated. He set his guitar on a nearby stand. “I’m not you. I don’t play like you. I don’t know all these fancy tricks you know.”
“It’s basic stuff.” Steve asserted.
They stared at each other in silence for a moment. Steve shook his head.
“Look.” Matt said finally. “We have two different styles of playing. Your stuff is really good, but I can’t play it like you do. Maybe we should stick to me writing the songs and you doing the lead work.”
Steve couldn’t believe it. All that effort and Matt didn’t even want to try to work on the new stuff. For the sake of the band though, he humored him.
“Okay.” He said. “What do you have to work on?”
“Nothing.” Matt admitted. “I’ve had to work a lot lately. Haven’t had much time to write.”
“All right.” Steve acquiesced. “You come up with some more stuff when you can. I’ll put some riffs and lead to it. Just let me know.”
They spent the next half-hour running through their originals and then did some free-form jamming for a while. They took a break then and went for a walk to smoke a doobie. They talked about the upcoming concert and Matt’s new car. It looked like he was going to be able to buy it after all. When they were plenty buzzed, they headed back towards Matt’s to raid the refrigerator or find some other source of munchies.
“You really need to do something with those songs, you know.” Matt said, out of the blue. “They’re awesome.”
“Like what?” Steve asked.
“I don’t know.” Matt admitted. “Maybe find some guys that can play them?”
“What? Man what are you talking about?” Steve asked incredulously, “We’re a band, remember? We just need to get a few things worked out.”
“Yea, but you have more time for practicing than me and Sean.” He said. “Maybe you could do a side project of some sort, I don’t know.”
A side project? Was he serious? Steve had put all his extra energy into the band since the day it was formed. How would he have time to do anything on the side? He remembered what Roxy had told him at the Kiss concert. ‘You’re better than they are, you know.’ She thought he should go to L.A. and seek out other musicians. Could she have been right? Was he that much better than his friends? It didn’t seem to Steve that the songs he had written were that hard to play. He also needed someone with some talent to add lyrics to music, because that was the one area where he really lacked. Matt was that guy in ‘Flame Sabre’. Steve really believed that all they needed was a bass player and a good amount of practice time. If only his friends would buckle down and learn some new things like he had.
They reached the house and after a quick search of the cupboards, Matt produced a bag of Funyuns. His parents were out so he put Nazareth's Hair of the Dog on the turntable downstairs and cranked it up. The two friends sat on the couch, snacking out and listening to the music. After a few moments, there was a knock on the door.
Before Matt could answer it, Sean and Julia let themselves in. They were holding hands and were smiling from ear to ear. They walked into the living room and stood facing Steve and Matt.
“We have an announcement to make.” Sean bellowed over the loud music. He looked over to Julia who smiled broadly in return.
“We’re getting married!” She cried and began jumping up and down in the living room, causing the record to skip. She gave Sean a big hug and then kissed him. She then accepted congratulatory hugs from Matt and Steve in turn.
“Congrats.” Steve said happily. “When’s the big day?”
“End of summer.” Sean said. “We haven’t picked a day but it’ll be sometime in September.”
“Wow,” Matt said. “That’s awesome.”
Steve wasn’t surprised at all. Sean and Julia spent most of their off time together; so much so that it was nearly impossible to find a time when all the band members could rehearse together. He was supremely happy for them, but at the same time wondered what would become of the band. He supposed it wouldn’t make much difference. They were always together anyway. He didn’t see that it would cause their practice times to be any further apart then they already were.
Matt called Sherry and invited her over, telling her the news. All there decided a celebration was in order. Matt and Sean walked the few blocks downtown to look for a buyer, while Steve and Julia hung out waiting for Sherry to arrive.
“How’s Roxy doing?” Julia asked, lighting a Merit green.
“Miserable.” Steve said honestly. “She called the other day. She hates it there.”
“That sucks.” Julia said flatly.
“Yea,” Steve agreed. “But we’re meeting at the Scorpions concert next week. At least we can see each other there.”
“Well, that’s cool.” Julia replied. “Oh hey, can I ask a favor, Slam?”
“Will you give her my number and have her call me?” She asked. “I have something important to ask her.”
“Yea, no problem.” Steve said. “But I can’t promise she’ll be able to call.”
“Just tell her it’s real important, ok?”
The door burst open then and Sherry ran into the room screaming, her arms out wide. Julia jumped up and the two girls embraced.
The pair hugged and kissed and screamed out together for a couple of minutes, then finally settled down.
“You will be my maid of honor, won’t you?” Julia asked Sherry.
This inquiry was met with more screams and hugs. Steve sat on the couch with a smirk on his face, taking it in. Before the girls managed to quiet down again, Matt and Sean returned with fifths of Southern Comfort and Sloe Gin as well as half gallon of orange juice.
“Anyone up for a slow comfortable screw?” Matt inquired with raised eyebrows. He headed for the cupboard and got down several glasses. Soon they were gathered in a small circle near the dining room table, drinking toasts to Sean and Julia.
Suddenly, in the midst of the celebration, Steve felt more alone than he had in a long time. His friends had their girls there with them, but where was his girl? Roxy would probably have given anything to be there with them, but the truth was, she couldn’t be. Steve couldn’t have the kind of relationship with her that Sean and Matt had with their girlfriends, at least not right then. Hell, he couldn’t even pick up the phone and call her. He longed to do that, if only to tell her the news and make her a part of the celebration somehow.
Steve also had a feeling in the pit of his stomach that he was seeing the beginning of the end to Flame Sabre, at least as it existed. The relationships that Matt and Sean had with Sherry and Julia had become priorities in their lives. The band had already taken a back seat to dates, picnics, parties on the beach and other things that involved the girls. What was to come? Dinner with the in-laws? Having babies? PTA meetings?
He wondered if it would be the same for him if Roxy were able to be with him more. She seemed very supportive of his playing and his aspirations to be an accomplished musician. Would that change when they could spend every waking moment together? Would she become jealous of his practice time? Would she complain because he wanted to go rehearse? Would she eventually rather go to dinner parties and have kids than go to concerts and make out? He had a hard time imagining her that way, but he had to admit he didn’t know a lot about her yet.
When the toasting was done, including one to the absent Roxy and himself, the couples paired off. Matt and Sherry took one end of a couch while Julia sat on Sean’s lap in an easy chair. Steve operated the stereo, alternating between Queen, Kiss and Led Zeppelin as each album finished. He nursed his drinks and sang along with the music while his friends necked.
After a time, Sherry accompanied Matt upstairs to his room and Steve begged a ride home from Sean. His mom was still up when he got in and she lectured him some about drinking. She was excited about the news of the engagement however, and didn’t make too big of a deal about him being ‘tipsy’.
There was leftover fried chicken in the refrigerator and Steve grabbed himself a plate and sat at the table with it. His mom made herself a sandwich and joined him.
“Mom,” he asked between bites. “Did you always want to be married and have kids?”
“No,” She replied with a smirk. “When I was your age, I wanted to be a singer.”
“I met your father.”