Dave, a member of my writer's group, has a music-heavy theme in his current selection. In my high school and college years I used to love music. I followed all the bands and from 12 noon to 4pm Monday through Friday, Fuse (which used to be MuchMusic USA) would play solid rock videos from all sorts of bands, not just the mainstream crossovers. As I have aged and have seen my energy levels dwindle, I no longer follow music much. But after multiple entries from Dave and my ensuing nostalgia, I typed out this short story. It is not my finest work and is the thinnest of first drafts. But I like it pretty well anyway :) Enjoy.
The first time I heard “The One” by Metallica, I was at Dean's place searching for my panties. The Black Album had just hit stores and was selling out all over the country. Our local rock station was playing their older stuff and bitching about how the band had sold out. These bitter has-been disc jockies love to throw around the accusation of “selling out” to justify how they ended up behind a soundboard instead of in front of crowds.
I met Metallica once. They were a good time. It was when they were still unknown, before Ride the Lightning. We were just a bunch of 18 year olds then, rockin' out and having sex. Those were the days when we all sat around and smoked pot—the days before we could afford cocaine. I wish I had stayed around with them. They could have gotten me in with a lot of bands. I could have been James' groupie. He had that mop of blond hair and a baby face. He was always cool to be around, even when he was drunk. He would've been better to me than Dean. James would never have broken my ribs.
Dean played bass for a speed metal band. They weren't so in anymore, and their career had been on a down-slide. That was my cue to find a more famous band to ride with, preferably one with hot members. But it was getting harder every year. Every nubile blond that came to the Strip meant I had more competition for my guys.
If I could only have found my panties, that night would have gone a lot better. I rummaged through all his beer cans and dirty clothes, finding several pairs of panties. Too bad none of them were mine. They were all size small.
I wished that DJ would stop playing Metallica. Every time I heard them, all I saw was Cliff's face. He was their bass player who died in a bus accident. He was cool, you know? Now they had some punk playing for them. Jason something. He was pretty good. But it must be hard taking the place of a dead man. You never quite feel like you're welcome. I knew how he felt.
There was a time when the name Lizzy Valkyrie meant something. Younger groupies would ask me for advice. Shit, they'd ask me for autographs. But by the time I shacked up with Dean, my notoriety had started to fade, and I wasn't even 30.
Dean was playing a gig at the Whiskey. Normally, I'd be right there in the front row. But I showed up a little late and saw some stupid bitch dressed like Madonna coming out of his dressing room. Didn't she know that fad was over? So I came back to the hotel and started gathering my stuff. Clearly, my services were no longer needed. Def Leopard would be coming into town, and they were way bigger than Dean's pack of losers. I opened one of the night stand drawers and smiled. No panties, just several baggies of coke. Even better. I decided to forget about the panties. It was getting late, and if Dean caught me there, he would have kicked the crap out of me. His temper was always worst after a show. Two hours of performing meant two hours without drugs.
I left the room and waited for the elevator. There was a ding as the far elevator reached my floor. I was about to walk toward it when I heard Dean's voice, plus a giggling woman. I dashed around the corner so he wouldn't see me. The two came sauntering into the hall. She was smiling stupidly at him. She must have been trashed, because the way he was cursing at her would take the smile off anyone's face. I was glad I was leaving. They walked into the hotel room and shut the door. I smiled again and got into the elevator.
The same thing happened every night. Dean would drink himself stupid, then there would be bad, sloppy sex. He would fall asleep, then wake up around 3 pm the next day. He would reach for his coke before he even peed. I laughed as I thought of the look on his face when he found it missing. I got out of the elevator and walked out of the hotel. I got into a cab and dozed in the back seat during the trip to the cheapest hotel on the Strip. In all that time, I never thought once about that poor girl. I never knew what I had done to her. Not until the next morning.
I always sleep in front of the tv. I'm afraid of the dark. Always have been. So on the rare occasion that I slept alone, I would put the tv on to scatter the darkness. I kept it on mute. I preferred to listen to the radio while I slept, even though they were still playing Metallica. When I awoke the next day, around 1 pm, I'd say, the first thing I saw was Dean. I screamed and fell off the couch. My change in heart rate was so drastic that I almost fainted. As I struggled to catch my breath and force down the nausea, I realized that Dean was only on the tv screen. I calmed down.
But my heart beat increased again when the shot cut to a body bag being wheeled out of the hotel I was in just hours before. I don't remember grabbing the remote to turn up the volume. But I must have, because I remember what I heard next: “...young woman was found beaten to death this morning by police. Witnesses describe a violent argument regarding the theft of drugs. One of the hotel guests called police, but they did not arrive in time. Rocker Dean Magnusson was placed under arrest at the scene.” I heard that clip over and over again, all day long. I hear it in my head every time I close my eyes. I hear them talking about the girl I killed. I hear them talking and talking, with Metallica playing in the background.