Author’s note

I’m serializing the first 10% of Smokin’ & Cryin’ here on my blog. It’s the story of a young American rock band set in the early 1970s. Please feel free to share this with your friends.

Overture is the first installment. This post is #9 in the series.


Chapter 4 -Econoline continued (part 2)

Deuce booked us at a bar in a paper mill town that stunk like ten thousand bean farts. The minuscule stage was crammed into a back corner. With the P.A. system wedged in, we were stepping all over each other. Perry’s bass headstock was under my nose, and I knocked over Waverly’s high hat at least three times. Fed up, he hauled it out to the equipment trailer during a set break—and caught me puking in the alley.

“What’s up with you? Flu?” he asked.

“Nah, man.” I hurled again. It was my nerves.

“You’ve got the fear flu if I ever saw it. Don’t sweat it. You’re doing fine. Who cares what those dipshits think, anyway? Nothing but a bunch of drunks with unhappy home lives, hanging around this dive on a Wednesday night.”

“What’s that make us?” I asked.

“Ha-ha. Good point.”

Between sets, this hairdresser girl offered to cover the class ring damage on my cheek. She used beige gunk from a jar at the bottom of her handbag. It stung. And didn’t hide the gash, anyway.

I was a ghoul. All I had going was my beautiful Les Paul. Too bad I couldn’t hide behind it. Perry was right. I had no idea what to do up there. Luckily, the nine or ten people in the bar took more interest in their drunken game of darts.

Deuce worked every angle getting Smoky Topaz booked. He landed us gigs in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Each place we stopped, he’d borrow the phone book and quietly tear out listings for bars and nightclubs, which he’d sock away in a milk crate. While we set up or tore down our gear, he’d turn the nearest phone booth into his private office, making call after call with his secret weapon: a dime on a string.

As a group, our sound grew tighter by the week. Arthur never missed a lick. Perry’s bottom end was wicked and if the bar had a piano, he rocked that, too. Waverly was a terror behind the drum kit. No wonder he slept like the dead. My singing was all right, but I was the one most likely to fall out of the groove with my guitar.

Read the tenth installment of Smokin’ & Cryin’!

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Spotify playlist for Smokin’ & Cryin’


Photo by Alexandre Godreau on Unsplash