A single spotlight fastened to a makeshift rafter reflected off of the beads of sweat that streamed down the faces of the four men on stage. The crowd that surrounded them bobbed rhythmically to the chaos that filled the cramped venue, leaving no room for anyone to think or breathe amongst the noise and suffocating body heat.
Spit and sweat spattered onto the slowly forming mosh pit as the vocalist thrashed his head. His glasses were barely hanging onto his long matted hair, but it was of no concern to him. Each of his growls nearly echoed from the sheer force he was putting through the microphone. The rattle of the bass and guitar could only be heard clearly when there was a break in the song or when he took a ragged breath.
Each guitar riff was nothing special; even the rare solo was a work in progress. However, the relentless blast beats really carried the energy of the group. The crowd still seemed to be tough that night though, as hardly anyone shouted every time one of the single minute songs ended. At least they were able to get the mass of greasy men moving somewhat.
As soon as it had started, it was already over. The vocalist took a dramatic bow after their final song, fixed his glasses, and lifted the microphone to his lips one last time.
“We’re Pleasure In Killing. Thank you,” he announced breathlessly before switching off the mic.
All of the lights flickered on and the band swiftly started moving their gear off of the stage so that the next group was able to set up. The guitars and drum set were stuffed into their cases and the amps were wheeled out to the cars. Not a word was spoken until they propped open the back door to get everything into the proper owners’ trunks.
Once the equipment was outside in the warm summer night air, the exit door slammed shut.
“Fuck man, you were mic’d way too loud,” complained the man pushing a guitar case into the back seat of his sedan. He turned to glare at the vocalist and slammed the car door shut.
“I didn’t do the mics,” jeered the vocalist in return, drawing out the ‘I,’ “That’s Darren’s job.”
“You could’ve adjusted it yourself. We sounded like total dog shit!” replied the exasperated guitarist, “We can’t play here again after that.”
“This is Darren’s dog shit band. Go bitch at him about it,” the vocalist suggested sarcastically.
“Fuck you, Lancia.”
With a roll of his eyes, the vocalist stepped into his car, promptly lit cigarette, and pulled out of the parking lot. The bassist simply shook his head at the exchange and did the same. Thankfully, Darren wasn’t physically able to process the dialogue that had just taken place. He had forgotten his ear plugs and was temporarily deafened by his own drumming.
He gently closed the hatch to his car after making sure his set was properly boxed up and stacked so it wouldn’t slide around.
“Seeya,” he mumbled, raising a hand as the guitarist passed by. He didn’t even know if any words actually came out of his mouth.
It was his turn to leave now. He wanted to stay to watch the other bands and talk to the venue owners, but he was called to cover a shift in the morning. He also wanted to talk to his group, but he figured he could do it at their next rehearsal. He didn’t have much to say because he couldn’t hear jack shit the entire time, but the others might. Judging by the speed at which they left, it likely wasn’t going to be anything good. He let out a sigh and started up his car.
The engine roared to life, and the familiar rumble brought Darren down from his performance induced energy high. He could finally feel the dull throbbing in his arms and legs. Pain was a sign of a good performance, or so he hoped.
He shifted into reverse and made his exit. The bar was in a more remote area on the outskirts of Vegas, but those who lived a night life were still crowding the highway to get to the Strip. As the buildings faded from view and the street lights became few and far between, the environment opened up to an expansive flat desert.
The desert around the city never truly got dark. The mesmerizing lights travelled a long way. To some, the reminder of civilization was comforting. To others, it was a curse. To Darren, it meant nothing. All he needed was space to practice without his neighbors complaining about how loud and obnoxious his playing was. After all, in the desert, no one can hear you scream.
Years of commuting into the city desensitized him to the actual length of the journey. His internal autopilot was the only thing conscious enough to lead him back. Soon enough, home sweet home would be just around the corner. Tiny yellow and blue houses lined the cracked pavement strip that could hardly be considered a road. Behind them, a dirty old mobile home park waited.
While he was never fond of anything less than a full house, his single bedroom home was cheap enough for him to rent by himself with his two jobs. He couldn’t deny that he was enjoying the degree of freedom. The only real problem had with freedom was the sheer amount of dust that made it into his lungs.
He slowly drove his over-lowered car onto the gravel next to the door of a tan vintage mobile home. The white wooden door frame felt especially welcoming after a busy night. He was even more grateful for the air conditioning unit when he finally stepped inside. Without turning on a light, he kicked his shoes off and scooted into the living room. The pure silence of the place made the ringing in his ears harsher when he shed his jacket and flopped down on the floral couch. After thrashing uncomfortably for a few minutes to try to calm his head he found that his restlessness still got the better of him.
All he could do was stare at the ceiling, watching faint images of past memories play out in his head. Morning would arrive eventually.