Melodies of a Tattered Shadow

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Chapter13 D’ KICKER’S is DEAD

Odd pinkish matters were spread all over the ground; that went along with bloods. The red high heel shoes for Paul was a frightful sight, it looked un-mistakably Eliz’s. He agonized and froze in his stand, unable to move his feet. The crowd was starting to close on him, police were getting weary and they could sense that it could be a start of a mob. But Paul never noticed all the surrounding activities; he was only fixated on the bloodied woman lying on the ground, oblivious to the danger that was starting to crawl on him. For him everything was gloomy, as if he was not in sunny California, everything seemed to become heavy and gray and he couldn’t bear it, the faces of the people were all blurred, their voices and shouts mute in silence, it’s as if his wits was trying to escape from him. He tried to gather all his strength and moved his feet and about to go to the victim but still he’s static. The crowds trying to get a closer look wait anxiously, waiting for any reaction from him and then out from the barricade Paul tried to force himself out to cross over, the crowd got even more wound up and all of them tried to force themselves into the barricade.

The police was put on a defensive, they pushed the crowd back. One of them noticed Paul was still forcing himself into the dead lady’s barricade. The police hastily shouted at him, “Sir, you can’t go there, the forensic are still investigating and checking the evidence.”

“But she was my friend, I have to see her,” Paul shouted back angrily at the policeman.

“I’m sorry, sir, I’m afraid you cannot go near the body for now until the forensic people tell us that they are finished with the area,” the police officer responded.

But from the crime scene one of the forensic staff overheard and noticed the exchange between Paul and the other officer, and rushes to them, of course he is a celebrity in the first place, “Sir, do you know the victim? Can you positively identify her?” The forensic staff asked Paul.

“Yes… can I see her?” still staring at the victim, Paul answered sadly.

The forensic staff pulled him off from the barricade and said, “Yes Sir, for identification purposes… but this is ugly may I remind you, you can opt to only see the body if you wish to… not the face.”

“Why can’t I see her face?” Paul gloomily asked.

“Sir, her face suffers a substantial amount of damage and was bloodied, you cannot identify her through her face and I assure you it’s not something you would want to remember her for.” the forensic politely answered.

Paul paused sadly and looked above trying to anticipate the worst, “Okay… just show me, whatever you can show… for me to identify her.”

Paul with heavy feet tried to put up a step, feeling nauseated. Reaching the body of the bloodied victim, he clenched his fist and closes his eyes, trying to bear in his chest the unbearable, this was the only person who knew him for what he truly was, the thought that he loses her was excruciating.

The forensic lifted the blanket to show him the mid and lower part of the body “Do you recognize anything from this Sir?”

Paul struggles it out to view the victim on the ground and fell instantly silent, as the crowd gasped in anticipation. He knew that all of the evidence now points to Eliz, that she was the hapless victim. Although all with traces or in zestful of blood, it was her blouse, her jeans and most distinguishingly, it was her favorite red high heel shoes. He looked in the sky, trying to grasp in his head the reality of losing a dear friend, but still he tried to deny it in himself. Suddenly, a sinking feeling overcomes him just like the one he felt when he first becomes aware of the news of Elizabeth Payne’s death. Readily, he felt crowded and the noised pierces his ears, the crowd’s faces felt like teasing him and their voices seemed vulgar and painful.

“Sir, do you recognize anything?” the forensic repeated his question.

With tears falling in his eyes, smudging his eyes shadow, his usual rocker’s make-up, but he didn’t care he just utter, “Yes, she is Eliz my dear friend, it’s her clothes and… it’s definitely her shoes,” and then suddenly a strong wind blew, yanking the blanket away and exposing the whole corpse including the shuttered head and blown-up face of the victim.

The crowd gasped and some promptly puke and vomits from the site, it was gory and horrible, her face was mashed-up and the pinkish matter that was splattered on the ground, they could now confirm and surmised was brain matters. Paul was angered by the crowd reaction on his friend’s demised; deep inside, he wanted to throw everyone out from the site. Paul was overwhelmed by what his friends had suffered from, his tears streamed uncontrollably and he fights it off to cry in anguished. He disrobed his leather jacket and kneeled, covered the victim and embraced his friend. The crowd looks on, some murmur how wrongly, he associated himself with such a low-life prostitute while his few true fans answered back and accepted the fact that he truly loved Eliz.

Paul was asked for more information, about the victim, but he couldn’t tell them anything except for her name Elizabeth Chase. His mind was blank and shocked. Eliz knew more about him than he knew about her. He stayed on till the blanket was backed and the body covered. He had a last look until the coroner hastily put the body in a wheel gurney and into the coroner’s van.

*****

Paul entered his home devastated; he lost a dear friend, the only friend who knows him for what he really is, he looked around not knowing what to do and went to his own liquor bar and grabbed a bottle of whiskey and took some joints in his stashed. Poured a handful of whiskey in a glass and lit the joint, he drank the liquor straight up and smoke the joint. He collapsed underneath his bar shaking and folded into a fetal position, crying his heart out. He desperately poured again and drank the spirit quickly, while he popped the joint after every swig of whiskey, he repeated this several times, hoping it would numb him of his pains. He struggled to stand up with the whiskey bottle in his right hand and the glass and joints in the other. Absent-mindedly, he proceeded to his music room, adjacent to his bedroom. His favorite spot in his house adorned with poster and frames of The Beatles, The Queen, and its individual members and just like his bedroom it faces the sea and the veranda area where he and Peter normally hangs-out. It was also where the old stereo and album collection of Peter’s parents was kept and moved, after it was given to him in Tennessee, his TREASURE. It’s been a long time since he got hold of these record collections, he approached the stereo and the collection and noticed the label of his old 45 collection of Bohemian Rhapsody on top of the stereo and becomes aware that there’s a note written on it.

Girlfriend,

I’m sorry I wrote on this label, I know how important this record to you, and I was about to listen to it, unfortunately people outside are shouting angrily towards you and me, they must have known that I’m in your house. I’m sorry for putting you in this situation. By the way I borrowed some of your manly clothes, I presumed I cannot go out as me, so I take a cue from you.

Till next time with love

Eliz

Dumbfounded, Paul although tipsy about that time, quickly ran crookedly to his room and checked his cabinets, and dizzyingly tried hard to read and account his clothing. He seemed to recognize that some of his clothes were missing; he was about to walk out of the room but was tripped. At first, he thought he must have been really drunk, but when he checked what tripped him, it was a set of women’s clothing he didn’t recognize that tangled in his feet. He knew it didn’t belong to him and most importantly, it didn’t belong to Eliz or even his mom, not even to the cleaners that regularly clean his place. He furthered check it out and found a bag besides the women’s clothing

Still nauseated, he went through the bag and found an assortment of women things, from makeup to perfume, an instant camera. He continued to search for an identification of the owner, but he couldn’t find anything except for some things that used to belong to him that he already had thrown away: a broken watch, a handkerchief, several empty bottles of Halston and some receipts for numerous things he purchased. He was puzzled initially by this. Further on, he discovered a black booklet and later realized and surmised that the owner of the clothes and bags might be the one that was killed in his front gate, which just happened to wore Eliz clothing for some reason, a fan that intruded his property. Even though somewhat apprehensive and frightened, he’d become even more earnest to find the real identity of the woman.

“The black booklet…” he utters and opens the first the few pages, it was filled with quotation from famous authors, leaders and celebrities like, Friedrich Nietzsche’s ’A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything’, Woody Allen’s ‘Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering – and it’s all over too soon’, Aristotle’s A friend is a second self’ and ’All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream’ by Edgar Allan Poe, but after a few pages he noticed that it changes to something familiar to him, verses like ’Mad as hell, I wish I could kill, the thief of innocence in my dreams’ taken from the song Mad as Hell;Heaven must be a hungry wolf, Killing as he wants in spree. Can you feel the pain of your bite? It wounds like hell and it bleeds non-stop’, taken from song Heaven must be a Hungry wolf; ’Loaded bottles can make you sing, it can make other scream in fear, What a delight, her spirit brings, death to some who just happened to be there from the song’ Loaded Bottle; ’Vows for undying love, Pledge to protect her until the end, No hurt can harm her, Love can Kill, if that will come’, taken from song Love can Kill, all lines that were taken from songs he had written.

A chill suddenly arose in his backbone, his throat dried up in fright and the memory of John Lennon’s death obtrudes in his psyche, even in his drunken state he couldn’t seem to ignore it. All the verses he contended worries him because it must have been taken out of context, carefully collected and selected from the songs as an inspiration of unhealthy mind. Somehow he felt both responsible and afraid of the poor owner of the booklet. In his mind, she might not be the last or the only fan that felt or thought that way, he continued to flip the pages and stumbled on an introductory page to a journal that reads:

To: D’ Kid My Soul Mate

Here is the story of our life, there is no denying that

in the near future will be sharing time to read this journal

of ours. I will try to chronicle all our activities, so that our

entwined fate can be known by everyone in the future, a

Love that is pure and eternal, that defies boundaries and

distance. Not even death can separate us because we are destined.

Your loving Soul Mate

Danna

Paul felt confused and anxious, he didn’t know if he felt scared or pity for the one who owned the booklet. Should he continue on reading and discover a lot worse than he had known or gave it to the police so that they could find out who the obsessed fan was. While he contemplated on what to do the phone rang, he absent-mindedly put the booklet in his shirt pocket and quickly answered the phone.

“Girlfriend it’s me,” Eliz spoke on the other line.

“Eliz, I’m glad you’re okay,” Paul responded with glee.

“No, don’t mention my name, some might hear you, are you alone?”

“Yeah, I am, why do you ask?”

“It’s all over the news, that your prostitute girlfriend was killed in front of your property, I’m worried that the police might still be there.” Eliz commented nervously.

“It happened outside, in front of the house. I guess for a moment they don’t see the need to check out my place, who knows? Maybe tomorrow or later they will be here.” Paul answered, drunkardly.

“That’s the reason I called, I hope you’ll understand and support me on this…” Eliz said.

“What do you mean? You know I’m just plain glad that you are okay, I definitely will support you, even if it means, me losing everything.” Paul answered.

“I know friend, but it’s not what I mean.” Eliz clarified.

“What do you mean?”

“Let things be, let them think that I’m dead.” Eliz declared.

“What about her?” Paul asked intently.

“Nothing can change the fact that she is dead.” Eliz said.

“But what about her family?” Paul asked further.

“If you are her family, would you be happy knowing your kin dies while pretending to be Paul Andrews’ prostitute girlfriend? I’m sure her relative would prefer that they don’t hear anything from her again, just like my relatives…”

“But that will be wrong.” Paul stated.

“My dear friend this is my chance… and yours too.”

“What do you mean?” Paul asked again.

“My friend, I mean your career and the survival of our friendship. As you know after the scandal, the media will continuously haunt and find anything related to me to put you down. With my so called death, this will stop. I know, no matter how soulless people from the media are, they don’t want to tramp on the dead. It’s disrespectful to insult someone who passed on.” Eliz explained.

“If you are right, how do you think we can continue on to see each other?” Paul in confusion asked.

“Just like what you had been doing… in disguise.”

“I don’t know Eliz…” Paul responded but was interrupted by a ring at the doorbell; he answered through the intercom and asked at the other line in the gate “who is it?”

“This is the Police Mr. Andrews, may we speak to you?” A Police Officer answered back on the intercom in response.

He quickly tried to inform Eliz about the visitor, but she was no longer in the line, she’d hanged-up the moment she heard of the police. Paul opened the gate remotely and let the police in his property.

“Good evening Officer, what can I do for you?” he greeted the officer upon seeing them in his door.

The police noticed that Paul was intoxicated and said, “We apologized for the inconvenience, we just like to inform you that there was a mistake in the identification. Are you sure that the person you identify was your friend Eliz?” The Police Officer asked.

Sensing that the police already knew that the victim wasn’t Eliz, he tried to weigh his answer and said, “I was sure that… the clothes and shoes is of my friend’s, I can’t recognize the face because of the damage so I assumed it was her,” Paul answered confidently helped by his tipsy state.

“Mr. Andrews have you heard from Miss Elizabeth Chase?” the Police Officer asked again.

“Why?” Paul retorted clumsily.

“It was not Elizabeth Chase that was killed this afternoon, her finger print record didn’t match with the victim.” the Police Officer responded.

Hearing that the police already knew that the victim was not Eliz, he volunteered the clothes and bag that he thought to belong to the victim but deliberately didn’t respond to the question regarding Eliz.

“Mr. Andrews we would appreciate if you can inform Miss Elizabeth Chase to shed light on how the victim got hold of her clothes. Her identity and death was still a mystery, maybe she could help with that also.” the Police Officer stated.

Paul was still trying to understand what it meant for Eliz but he responded, “Of course, I will inform her…” and followed, “if we ever get to talk?”

When the police left him hurriedly dial in Eliz number, a roommate answered that she had never been there for three days, the days they were together up to the incident.

*****

Tabloids already implicated Elizabeth Chase the following day in the death of the unidentified women. Alleging that Eliz planned all the things including the death of a mystery woman by dressing her to look like her, knowing full well that she would be mobbed and get killed in order to regain the public sympathy towards her boyfriend Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews. But the Police neither confirm nor deny Elizabeth Chase’s alleged link to the death of the woman; the police statement was that Elizabeth Chase was a Person-of-Interest in the case. These were the same news that stumbled on Paul Andrews when he picked up his newspaper in his yard. Surprisingly, that morning, there were no people in front of his property, it was quiet and closely serene, he leads himself to his veranda carrying with him the paper, the irony of a sunny day he felt was dismaying him, along with the soft tide of the sea. The beach was beautiful, few people were jogging and some couples were seated chatting joyfully, there were even a family flying kites. He contended in protest ’why can it be me in the beach with Peter or perhaps Eliz, why do they have to leave me? Have I done something really heinous to not deserve to be with them?’ He surmised ’was this really my fate?’

Paul felt helpless, he wanted his friend back, but he didn’t know how he’s going to defend his friend and he didn’t even know where to find her. In his agony, he tried very hard to think of how he could help and was reminded of the black booklet of the mystery women.

Looking at the ocean, he whispered to himself, ’I don’t remember handing it to the police, maybe there is something there that can help Eliz…’ But admittedly he had a big drink last night and could not remember a thing, ’I have to find it.’

He searched continuously in his house, including all the areas he had not gone to the night before. Until, he reached the laundry room and searched the pocket of the shirt he was wearing that night, he pulled it out and the black booklet was in his hand.

He hurriedly went to his den and started flipping through the pages, searching for something that might exonerate his friend, until there was no recourse but to read it through the whole journal, even if he didn’t want to find out what scary thoughts might be in there, coming from an obsessed fan who wrote it.

An entry of the journal reads:

“I missed my brother, I remember many times, I will just wake-up tide up to a bed in a hospital room. When he was around I don’t remember being tied up like that. Have I become an animal that they need me to tie up? Where is he? I always asked crying and shouting, while I wrestle with the medical staff and then everything is a blur again and I cannot remember a thing and would wake up still being restrained to a bed. I don’t remember, how many times I woke up like that, until one day my brother was there again, he smiles, and I was glad. He keeps on telling me not to forget to drink my medicine so I can go home with him. I asked him why he has to go, he said that there are other people that are depending on him, and also, since he knows that I’m a strong sister he helps others out. I wanted to tell him that he should not leave me, but I wanted him to know I’m strong just like he said. I would ask him, why is our parents not with him and he would answer that they are no longer with us and that they are with God in heaven. Every time he said this, I feel sad but he will always say, ’It’s just fine. All of us will go there in time’. I will ask him further, will you go there with them? He would answer; ‘eventually we will all go there.’ I would tell him not to go there and leave me, and he will say, ‘I promise you, I will never leave you, I will always find a way to be with you’.”

Reading the entry, readily Paul felt pity for the lady, he understood that she might be a mental patient, judging from the way she told her story, but more importantly, she had a brother, he presumed that if he read it through, he might know who she was if she mentioned who her brother was. He flipped through the page trying to find the name of the brother, but instead chanced upon the title of his song Loaded Bottle.

“I have not known you until the time I heard the song, ‘Loaded Bottles’, that time I was nursing a shattered heart. My brother who had been my only support, my love and soul mate in the world had been killed, due to a meaningless car accident. My brother who was on his way to visit me in the hospital was struck by a drunk driver.

Everything in my life was a blur; many times I’m in places I don’t remember why and when I had been there. The only constant thing that made me remember and feel happy about is my brother. I will remember him with me in my bedroom, in my hospital room and in restaurants, even in cinemas; everything else is nothing without him. I don’t know if he is the meaning of life, but it seems everything is worthless without him. I am not worried about him leaving, because I know he always come back, and he promises that he will find a way to be with me no matter what. The day that I learned he died was a surprise to me. It was a usual day in the hospital, we are in the common room, where visitors and families can join the patients and just like he reminded always, I’ve taken my medicine, so I am lucid. Whenever I asked the staff about my brother they would just say he’ll be coming soon. Even though I normally cry in anger whenever I missed him, that day I was calm, just like yesterday even though he had not come. The other patients tell me ‘that’s what the medicines do to you’. Although I missed him, I was not impatient at that time; I just wait there for him to come. One of the visitors left a newspaper in my side; I pick it up and read it. It said that there was a car accident yesterday cause by a drunk driver, another car was hit and a religious pastor was killed, the Pastor’s name was Daniel Cruise, he was dead on the spot.”

“My brother was dead, he is not coming, I wanted in my heart to shout and cry out, but I was unable to cry, I remember what the other patient told me. That night, although there was pain inside me, I still can’t cry. I decided not to drink any medicine anymore. When they hand me over my medicine, I pretended to swallow it and went in my room. After several hours, my heart was howling in pain. I was crying at the top of my lungs; I shouted to my brother, ‘Why did you leave me?’ The hospital staff rushes to me and tied-me up again to my bed. I remember feeling happy that I was able to cry for my brother and I smiled and laughed. The staff says I’m getting worse, but for me, I know I felt better, able to cry my heart out for my brother. They injected something in me. When I woke up, I still remember the night that past and my brother’s death, I tried to cry again but I can’t. I was tied-up and calmed when the nurse came for my medicine; I beg her not to give me the drug and explained that I wanted to cry for my brother. She looks into my eyes, I can see in her eyes that she understands, she weeps… but still administered to me the medicine.”

“It must have been months or years when I finally hear your song ‘Loaded Bottle’. I was back in college and in my dorm room, my roommate opens the radio and then I heard it, the word and your soft, vulnerable voice melt in my being and immediately tears ran down in my eyes. I don’t remember me crying while I was on my medicine, but to my surprise, I did. When you sang ’Loaded bottles can make you sing, it can make other scream in fear, What a delight, her spirit brings, death to some who just happened to be there’, your voice sounds like an angel pleading for help, it pierces my heart, just like your cry, I want to be rescued. From the time I went out of the hospital, I’m in the maintenance of several drugs, to make me normal, but I know, despite of the absence of my tantrums, I’m not normal. I feared of going back to the hospital, the memories of being tied-up to a hospital bed was an awful ghost, so I religiously take my medicine, but still somehow I feel like a robot due to the medicine, I know there was something lacking. Your song, had made me feel alive again, not like being a robot. I quickly remember my longing for my brother, the brother that I had never mourned for. My roommate was surprised when she saw me crying out loud, shouting for my brother. She embraces me with delight and surprised, she was happy to see that I have emotion, but sad that I long for a lost brother. The whole night, I cried to my heart’s content. The following morning I was resolved to acquire all your music and to know more about you.”

Paul was in tears after finishing that part of the journal, he now hasn’t just pitied the owner of the booklet, but readily understood her heart, like someone who was deeply wounded too from the demised of a dear one, he continued on to read the journal.

I was able to acquire some of your records like ‘Angel’s Cry’ and ‘Mad as Hell’. When I listen to your band singingMad as hell, I wish I could kill, the thief of innocence in my dreams’, It opens up memories in the deep recesses of my mind that I no longer can remember, my Dad and my Mom. I don’t remember them, I had never remembered longing for them and yet through your song everything was vivid. I was eight when they were taken away, shots from a masked burglar stops my Mom’s pleading for my safety. I was there, they shoot my Dad and finally my Mom, the burglar just said, ‘she’s just a baby she won’t remember anything’, and left. True to their word I didn’t remember anything until then. I cried listening to that song from the pain of losing my parents and the joy of remembering them. I know for others pain, was just pain to make you suffer, but for me, it helps me remember, my longing… for my love ones.”

“When I got your record of ‘Heaven must be a Hungry Wolf’ and listened to your lyrics saying, ’Heaven must be a hungry wolf, Killing as he wants in spree. Can you feel the pain of your bite? It wounds like hell and it bleeds non-stop’. I started to wonder, why are you singing my pain? Pain that made me closer to my lost kin, I suddenly remember my brother’s promise that he will find a way, he will not leave me. Maybe he did not leave me, I assumed; he did find a way to guide me, to make me real, not the robot, the product of my medicine. From thereon I know my brother’s spirit resides in you. I know just like before, you want time for the others so you can help them out and me as your sister knew that I’m strong and able to wait on you, I will wait for you as always and help you with all my life, your true soul mate.”

Paul continued on reading and he was surprised to see the names: Sarah, Elizabeth, Cindy and Chelsea. Danna Cruise the owner of the booklet knew everything about him, as much as what Eliz knows, more than his Mom knows. He narrated that he followed every move he made, including his relationship with Peter, his regular trip to Asheville, North Carolina dress as a woman, including his complexity with Chelsea and the murder of Elizabeth Payne. Danna Cruise confessed that she did it following their pledge from the song ’Love can Kill’, that include the lyrics ’Vows for undying love, Pledge to protect her until the end, No hurt can harm her, Love can Kill, if that will come’. She also admitted that she was a Chemistry Major. Paul began to feel scared and thought, “What if Danna had shared her knowledge about him to others?”

Paul continued on reading, up to the last entry where she spoke about his relationship with Eliz.

I love Eliz as much as you love her, she was really an intelligent being, and your conversation with her was always insightful. We were truly blessed to have each other, she was your best friend and I am your soul mate. People don’t understand Eliz the way we understand her, they are a bunch of moronic, religious idiots. I will not let them touch Eliz like I won’t let them touch you; I have enough knowledge in Chemistry and have prepared materials to protect you. As our song goes, ’I vow undying love, I pledge to protect you until the end, no hurt can harm you, and Love can kill, now that it comes’”.

“Since, I heard your songs. I have longed to be with my Dad, my Mom and my brother. With my act today I know I will be with them, thank you for bringing me back to my family, our spirit will always be with you..”

With that, Paul then fully understood what had happened. Danna Cruise sacrificed herself so that he could protect them, including his relationship with Eliz, and his secret ties with Chelsea and Elizabeth Payne. Somehow Paul was regretful for not knowing Danna Cruise personally, she had loved him unconditionally and offered her life, but unfortunately her sacrificed was in vain, because Eliz had a record that included her fingerprints. Paul was in a dilemma then, knowing that this journal would exonerate Eliz, but he could not present it to the Police since it included all his secrets. He struggled if he would just tear-off parts that exposed his secrets, but he knows, once the police or worse the court asked about the tear-off part, he would cave in. His life was a big lie he contends; he would not dishonor her just to protect himself and Eliz.

*****

It was all in the newspaper and TV news network the following day, the Police had already identified the victim as Danna Cruise a Chemistry Major student of UCLA. She had a history of mental illness and they concluded that her death was due to her mental instability coupled with the knowledge in chemistry to build explosives. Her room mates had collaborated in the findings that she was obsessed with the music of D’ Kickers.

It was a sunny California day again, it was a beautiful day, but again the irony was already making Paul mad. The news had made Danna Cruise a lunatic mad girl; it hurts him because he knows that the lady was far from that. She genuinely loved him as a kin, not in a fanatic way, but genuine care for him as a family. He wanted to shout to the world that they were wrong about her. But who would believe him, when in the same paper he holds an article that accused him of deliberately misleading the police to make people believe that it was her prostitute girlfriend that dies, so that they could continue on with their ungodly relationship.

For several days and weeks the news and ridicule against Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews had not let up; spearheaded by WOLF, a conglomerate news network, whose owner and employees was known for so called conservative values, but in reality almost all of their key executives, roots and genealogy could be traced from the Khu Klux Klan. They were angered by Paul’s stand siding with a black man that killed three white teenagers that assaulted his daughter. Now, it was payback time, they would not stop until they finish-off his career or literary kill him by mostly uneducated members of the Klan.

*****

The day of their practice in their studio, the group was huddled up debating and deciding on what to do in their situation, most especially Paul’s situation. Each one of them holds different kinds of media materials: from magazines, broadsheets, tabloids, apart from a bundle of materials that littered the floor, each containing negative articles pertaining to Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews. There were articles that said Paul was a regular patron of hookers before being caught red handed with Eliz. There were other materials that said he was a sex craze drug addict; that’s why his music was demonic in nature. When Paul arrived late, which had become a norm since Peter left the band; the group swiftly fell in silence, it was eerie. Paul could sense that everything had gone wrong. Everybody pretended to grab their instrument and tried to tune it. Although there were sounds emitting from each instrument: the sporadic topped on the drums, the little squealed of the electric guitar and the low humming sound of the bass guitar, but still Paul feel eerily mute. He could feel his friend’s frustration, everybody avoided to look at him except for Scott who thought that the majority were wrong, not just their friends but the world itself.

“Kid, don’t worry about these things… it will pass… we’ve been through worse.” Scott told Paul.

Before Paul could respond Vincent entered the record studio and declared, “Guys its final… the concert benefit is cancelled, all our musician and celebrity friends have back-out from it.”

“We already anticipate it… I guess it’s less painful than we thought.” Andy remarked.

“I guess we should just move on… and prepare for our promotion of our upcoming album.” Joey suggested.

Hearing this somehow Vincent fell silent, he was timing himself, he hadn’t said it all. Paul just like Vincent was silent; he knew just like Vincent that it’s not the end of downpours of depressing news.

“Yeah… let’s prepare for our album promotion,” Scott added, smiling, trying to force a glee on the otherwise gloomy situation.

Vincent interjected and said, “Guys…” and he paused with sadness, “I really don’t know, how much we can promote the new album, every network I’m talking to have downright rejected our proposal for our promotion and the few that had agreed on us before are starting to send their cancelation of agreement with us.”

“What do you mean?” Andy asked worriedly.

Vincent wouldn’t know how to put it and he was starting to get mum, Paul interrupts and says, “No one likes us in their show; we cannot promote in any entertainment broadcast media… unless we are willing to pay for it.”

Eric said in dismay, “Do you mean, advertising our album like… detergent or toothpaste advertisement… that is low… really low.”

“That would mean losing our credibility as an artist.” Joey protested.

Eric smugly answered, “Joey in case you don’t know… there’s no more credibility that you can speak of… it’s all down the drain… all thanks to a prostitute.”

Angered, ‘UMPH’ Scott quickly punched Eric in the face. Eric stumbled on the drum sets and pierces and tear-off the drums and sending the Zimbals on the floor, that sounded like an intro to a really bad music. Scott followed, shouting, and with finger pointing, “You damned idiot… you don’t know us,” Joey and Andy got a hold of Scott.

Eric struggled to stand up, nursing a bloody nose and swiping his long hair off his face, “Yah… you’re right, I don’t know you… I didn’t know that you are a bunch of LOSERS,” he said and left the studio.

Everybody was silent afterwards, after a while, Scott spoke, “We don’t need him… there’s a bunch of lead guitarist that is dying to replace him in our group.”

Still, everybody was silent; they knew in their heart that it might not be true, because some of them then doubted the survival of their band.

“Do you think we can advertise?” Andy asked Vincent after a moment of lull.

Vincent who had been their pseudo father ever since he managed them, started to feel heavy in his heart and his eyes started to redden, but still he tried hard to speak “Guys… it’s not that if we can advertise… we do advertise in some media, like in billboards but to advertise our album in TV and Radio like a detergent bar or the music of Christian group… Eric is right it is low, besides we don’t have the money for it and most importantly, sad to say…” Vincent quenched his chest with his fist and tried hard to ignore the pain in his chest; in his mind he was convincing himself that it was just acid reflux.

“Vincent, are you alright?” Paul asked worriedly.

“I’m okay…” Vincent answered, trying to cover-up a grimacing pain.

“So what are we going to do?” Joey asked.

“Guys… it’s not just… ours…” Vincent quenching his chest again,

“Vincent, are you really alright” Paul fearfully asked again.

“Kid…” Vincent collapsed on the floor, his eyes redden shut staring at Paul, he could hardly breathe but he tried to murmur something towards Paul.

When the ambulance arrived, Vincent was not moving and medics instantly tried to resuscitate him, while he was being carried on a wheeled gurney. He was unresponsive, they tried the defibrillator on him several times; jerking his chest but still no pulsed. Everybody felt the worst had happened, but still, they hope for a miracle.

Everybody followed the ambulance through the hospital except Paul. He could barely move his feet, he was fastened to where Vincent had fallen, clenching his fist on his side, sweat started dripping on his forehead and neck. No one from the group had noticed that Paul was not with them when they hurried to the hospital, because of the chaos.

The studio was eerily quiet an omen of downfall could be felt, the loudness of silence was painfully chilling, the lights was dimmed, the disarray instruments from Scott and Eric commotion were all in a state of dullness, but beneath the silence deep inside a tormenting anger was boiling. Paul started slowly stomping his right foot heavily on the floor, generating heavy scar noises in an otherwise dreary room. He fell on his knees in angered, bowed down and started stomping his right hand to the floor and shouted from the top of his lungs… “What… what… have I done? Do I deserve this…? Are you that really HUNGRY? Why don’t you take me?” Paul sobbed on the floor, he murmured crying, “I am tired of this… Are You just watching there, standing idly or a participant of this horrible joke,” sounded pleading in his sobbed, but suddenly stood up and looked above, aimed his fist above his head and declared, “You called this life!? You sicken me… it’s not enough for You to let someone destroy my youth… but instead, You let the dark shadow on people You should shelter… You are a FRAUD!!!”

In the hospital, media people were already there trying to get a scoop of the event, they already smell death of a celebrity, another article to add in their news to file up their hunger for advertising money. When they heard that it was the manager of D’ Kickers they were delighted in secret, it’s a continuing saga of scandalous news. Any celebrity news was good news for them, but most especially a continuing series of scandalous once, a great formula to add more, of course for their advertiser. They saw the regular member of the band except for one, through this you could see their shrewd smile, they were like vultures addicted to the smell of rancid decaying meat.

*****

It was all in the news, that Vincent Baker the man responsible for D’ Kickers success had died of a heart attack. Speculation had spread that Mr. Baker succumbed to heart attacked when he and Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews were arguing about financial matters of the band and when Eric Thompson walked-out. On the same night, Paul was oblivious to the news. He need not need to hear or see the news on TV or Radio he already knew, he accepted that death and misery where his company; wherever he went they followed him. Sitting at his piano he wrote:

Tireless Monkey

Storm, never gets tired of me

It always dwells in my heart

Always swinging in my limbs

Like a tireless monkey

Rain of fire in a frozen secret

My blood boils, but my skin is frozen like ice

Had my back in heat and froze of irony

Swinging tireless monkey

Refrain:

When can I escape his grasp and paw

Searing my bone and skin to sorrow

When can I escaped this tireless monkey

He grips my heart tight as hell in revelry

Momentarily enjoy a taste of solitary

But he comes back swinging with tragedy

Disaster was his name in plenty

Devil tireless monkey

In deceit he sings with glee

Always so ever powerful to give agony

He feeds on your spirit and misery

Demon tireless monkey

After writing the song, he walked to his veranda with Jack Daniels on his hand and of course a joint on the other. He smiled, looking at the sky; the smog of L.A. had made it impossible to see the stars, the beach tide was monumentally strong as if it’s angry, he sneered and murmured, ’At least tonight there is no irony, thank you’, and raise the glass of whiskey in the air. The night sky showed sorrow and despair, not even the moon could be seen. All you can see were spots of dark, polluted clouds, the gloom looked as if it’s going to have a storm but it’s not, it’s just L.A. smog. Paul wondered that night asking himself why was it so hard to hold onto the one you love and tried to convince himself, ’Maybe the lesson is not to love at all… just like HIM, HE doesn’t care, HE let everything pass’, he continued with that thought with tears steadily dripping from his eyes. He saw a couple in the beach snuggling, he stood up and shouted

“Hey, you there… don’t be too attached to each other… one of you will be snatched away.” The man stood up and about to answer back but was pulled back by his partner to just leave the area. Paul continued to shout to the couple while they leave “one of you will be snatched away… you’re FUCK… I tell you,” and sat and started to sob. He was engulfed that night by whiskey and marijuana; he passed out there and remained asleep for the rest of the night. It was already 10:00 am when he finally opened his eyes, greeted by a peck from seagulls in his lower lip feeding on his puke. It was fortunate that his veranda was far above of the beach and that people couldn’t see him in disarray. He stood up, swaying while walking towards his room. He heard commotion outside his front gate, but he didn’t care, he disrobed his vomited clothes and headed to his shower, twist it open and collapsed on the shower’s floor, he just let the downpour of water hit him, wished that it was a thunderstorm that could sweep off his pain and loneliness in this world.

While outside his gate, reporters, photographers and rumor mongering people waited for him, the crowd was getting restless, wanting to be the first vulture to bite on a dead meat. Different speculation and rumors spread surrounding the death of Mr. Vincent Baker but none of them were good news for him. Apart from the fabricated news that they were arguing at the time of the manager’s heart attacked. There were articles that Paul accused Vincent of stealing D’ Kickers’ money and that Vincent was arguing with Paul because he was trying to kick D’ Kid out from the band.

As he went off to shower his phone rang, and he answered. “Where were you last night? Why weren’t you in the hospital? Do you already know?” Scott asked.

“Yes Scott, I do know… he was dead already when the ambulance took him.” Paul answered glumly.

“So why weren’t you in the hospital? There are sort of speculation and ridiculous rumors because you are not in the hospital,”

“Scott, that is nothing new, I already know that he’s gone, I can’t have him back even if I’ve gone to the hospital.”

*****

Mr. Vincent Baker’s funeral was arranged privately, only close relatives and friends were there, no media. It was held in a small, close knit town in Ohio since he was from there originally. People had high respect for each other so no media affair was observed easily. The family of Mr. Baker didn’t believe the news; they trust Paul Andrews and the band. Especially Mrs. Edith Baker, Vincent’s wife, she treated Paul like a son, like her husband did. All of the band members were there and joined the solemnity of the occasion. Paul was one of the selected people to speak in the eulogy for Vincent Baker. The Church was beautiful, it smelled and adorned by beautiful flowers, kids who were grandchildren of Vincent by his brother and sisters were there running around. They let them be, since that’s what Vincent would have wanted.

Paul stood at the podium, matching his black suit was a pair of sunglasses, his eyes was bulging from crying. He truly loved Vincent as an elder brother, an uncle or even as another father. His speech was hoarse and was somewhat inaudible. Apart from his dad, Vincent was the only older guy he knew that he could trust, he howled, “I am mad… why do you always take away the ones I love… Are you really that hungry? Lots of evil men roam around the street… there are too far many of them… why don’t You take them away? Have You already conceded defeat? Have You surrender this world to them? So what do we pray for? You are a useless landlord… We will all wither away because of Your futility. I don’t understand Your notion of salvation… it seems that You need saving Yourself.” All of those he told in the podium crying, fortunately his cry made much of his speech inaudible for others, they could only surmise that he was really hurt from Vincent’s passing. It was only the pastor beside him that understood his speech, the pastor pitied him and he could only assume that Paul was really hurting not just because of Vincent’s passing but of something more.

The Pastor approached Paul when the mass was finished, “Mr. Andrews can I have a moment of your time, I am Pastor Edgar Spoon”.

Paul looked into the Pastor and already knows that it’s about his speech. “Pastor, I know you love your vocation and I respect that, I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, I apologized.”

“Son, I understand you are a loving and caring person, that’s why you’re hurt when someone leaves.”

“Again Pastor I apologized, I don’t think it’s the right time for me to talk to someone like you at this moment.”

“My child, I know you’re hurting, but there is a lot of pain that can be cured by understanding.”

“Understanding what?”

“Understanding HIM, understanding me and understanding you… will help heal your wound.”

“But I don’t think as a representative you can heal the world’s ills. Which, according to your teaching are done with His blessings ’Nothing happens in the world, without Him knowing’, yeah, I already know and understand HIM, he is a spectator… He just let the vultures feed on dead meat, but even worse, He let the vultures now eat the living.” Paul said this and left the Pastor.

*****

Their return to Los Angeles was uneventful, finally it seemed the scandal embroiling D’ Kid and D’ Kickers had let-up. There was no news about them in any print media and in broadcasting, their absence was deafening. Except around this time they were supposed to be talked about, it’s the day of the released of their new album, titled: Obsession. Few people knew about the release of their latest album. Only hardcore and loyal fans knew about it. Paul and the band members at the start believed that this would be one of their greatest works. But now unfortunately, no one even talked about it. It seemed that D’ Kickers died with Vincent Baker and nobody cared.

They were then huddled-up in the studio, contemplating and waiting for news from their recording studio about the sales of their latest album, they were hoping that the pre-promotion they did prior to the scandal could somehow help with the sales. Instead, Vincent’s secretary gave them the financial standing of the band and Vincent & Paul’s management partnership. Although they were not familiar with accounting computation they readily understood the numbers, they were standing on thin ice. The cancelation of the benefit concert had hurt them financially, due to the pullout of the sponsors, their group had shoulder the entire financial obligation made for pre-publicity and promotion of the concert, and worse, they were still indebted to numerous advertising firms and the concert venue due to lost opportunity. From standing point, they were now bankrupt, their only hope now was the sales of their album for them to keep them rolling.

Unfortunately, with the absence of proper promotion and the scandal that embroiled Paul, the new album sales, bombs. When Vincent’s secretary presented them the sales estimate along with her resignation in the afternoon, they already know. Although anticipated, still it was painful; their hardship had gone down the drain. Andy and Joey avoided looking towards Paul, their silence speaks volume and something was creeping deep inside.

“Guy’s we can overcome this… we’re used to not having money… we did this not for money… isn’t it?” Scott commented. But still Andy and Joey remained quiet.

Paul just stood there, he wanted his friends to get mad and angry at him, he didn’t want the feeling that in his drowning, he pulled his friend with him. “Guys, I’m sorry… It’s all my fault; I will raise what you have lost and reimburse it to you…”

Andy clenching his fists speak-out, “Do you think it’s about money? Just like Scott said were used to not having money… this is not just about money, remember we get to where ever we are now with your own money to save us back then, so I don’t care if I’m losing money now.”

“Paul this is about us… our band… our friendship,” Joey added with a hoarse frustrated voice.

“Andy... Joey? What do you mean?” Scott asked, but the two just remained muted.

Paul froze, his eyes swell and tears started to fall, everything about his friend’s flashes in his head: from the time they were in school’s detention, their practiced session in Peter’s basement, the fire in Cindy’s birthday, when Fox woke-up from coma, their arrival in L.A., when Fox left the band, when they meet and party with the band Queen, all of the time he shared with them, but the reason they were in this predicament his friends had not fully known, the secret in his life. He knew that his friends would not make it with him, now that they were being consumed also of his disease to which it’s not of their own making, they would only continue to decay and melt into oblivion if they stayed with him. Although it kills him, he decided on what’s good for his friends and said, “Scott, what Joey and Andy means was that you are all leaving the group… D’ Kickers was tainted it can no longer continue on… D’ Kickers is DEAD.”

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