“Brunette, big tits, third row in.” Following JJ’s gaze as he talked into the radio communication we all wore, I located the woman he alluded to in the surging crowd. She had on a shirt two sizes too small and obviously nothing underneath causing the attention of our oversexed guitarist. I knew he appreciated the view of her breasts hanging out of the hem of her shirt with plenty of room in between where the shirt ends and her cut off jean shorts started to show off her flat stomach.
Fishing out a lanyard and backstage pass, I make my way through the front barricades and get as close to her as the surging crowd would allow. As I leaned in she realized I was there to deliver her ticket to a backstage party and gave me a knowing look.
“Hey, what about me?” Her equally skimpy dressed blond-haired friend stared at me waiting for her pass. It was a common occurrence at the shows I worked for Social Offender. If it wasn’t a girl for JJ it was one for Ryder. They were the only two single members of the band and took full advantage.
Now, how to handle this? JJ usually told me ahead of time if he felt he wanted to double up, but tonight he was rushed to get on stage. Of course, he had never rejected another female companion, usually one right after another, but it always made me feel like an ass to be the one inquiring.
“Ah, you interested in JJ with her?” It came out lame and I shook my head yet again at the shithead I had become. What I thought would be a promising career in being a bodyguard to a famous rock band had turned me into being a glorified pimp.
“Oh gross. No way. I was thinking more on the lines of the lead singer.” Of course, there was always one who thought Brandt would leave his wife and kids just for the pleasure to screw a hot groupie. At least I didn’t need to make an excuse for saying no.
“Sorry that one is taken.” She only looked disappointed for a second.
“Well he hasn’t met me yet now has he?” Disillusioned as she was, I just rolled my eyes and started to back away into the crowd to resume my position. The other concertgoers were watching the exchange and it just added to the humiliation that was my life.
“Wait! What if I blow you? Then do I get a pass?” It seemed I got asked it a million times in the past. As sad as it was, I even took some up on the offer in the beginning. It became short-lived as the feeling of being used pulled at my sense of decency. These women didn’t care who they serviced, only to gain the attention of someone in the band.
“Sorry. JJ is the only one you have a chance at tonight and his interest lies in the brunette. Unless you would want to join them in his dressing room, of course.” She gave me a scornful look as I shrugged and headed over to the backstage area. We were closing in on the encore, and then they would need more security for the after-party. Besides, I wasn’t interested in bartering with her for the deal no matter what her goods entailed.
When my cousin Mouse told me all the stories of being a roadie, he made it sound like the opportunity of a lifetime. Getting paid to see the country and meeting musicians. The thrill of the road and the thrill of the women who always congregated around the band. At the age of nineteen, it did sound a hell of a lot better than the trailer park I lived in with my parents in Iowa, but the shiny new feel soon wore off.
My grades in high school weren’t good enough for a full-ride scholarship or even close to the money I would need for college, so I started to think about other ways to get there. My whole goal in life was to work in public law enforcement. To help people and be a hero to those in need and the police force could offer me a ticket to the only type of fame to interest me.
Now at twenty-three years of age, my dreams of attending the police academy started to dwindle given most of the money I earned on tour went to my parents back home. My dad’s back declined to the point he couldn’t work and my mother couldn’t keep up on the bills as a waitress. They had a hard time taking the money at first, my dad too proud, but I told him he could see it as a loan. He currently took classes at the vocational development office in town to get a better job for his back. Even if he could gain employment after the classes ended it might still be years until I saw any of the funds back in my account, and I didn’t think I could take much more of the pimping lifestyle thrust upon me. That was when a new idea kept popping into my head: The army.
If I went the GI route I could get training in the military police and money for schooling. I could travel and see the sights and the US government would pay for it.
And I wouldn’t need to deal with sex-starved groupies any longer.
My dream became more of a priority lately but I needed to bide my time. The tour lasted throughout the summer and Big John, the head of security for the tour, needed me here to help out. The band was famous and it took a lot to keep everyone involved safe, including Brandt and his wife Chelsea.
They were like family to me. Chelsea was a sweetheart and always so giving, treating me like a little brother. She never gave me shit when I wouldn’t sleep around like the rest of the crew and made me a home-cooked meal when she could. And she was a fantastic cook. Of course, when she felt up to it.
Chelsea came on tour with us this week as Brandt told us yesterday she was pregnant again. They had two twins turning one in July and with her newly pregnant, it wasn’t exactly planned. I heard the guys give him shit, something to do with a janitor’s closet at the last awards show, although Chelsea seemed so poised and quiet I found it hard to believe. The pregnancy must be new since the awards show happened less than two months ago.
Brandt’s worry about her was sound. When she joined us on tour she looked pale and worn out. He admitted her morning sickness made things worse for both of them. Until he had her on his new tour bus he wasn’t on his game and his music suffered, so he bought another RV and insisted she come with. Chelsea and the kids weren’t the only ones joining us on this tour. Evidently, his sister would be joining them to help with the twins over the summer. After tonight’s show, he would be leaving on the red-eye flight to see her graduate college and bring her back.
I only met Rea a couple of times. She came on the road with him last summer for a handful of days when she had a break from school. A little bit of a primadonna from what I remembered. She had me go and get her anything she wanted on a whim thinking I was her own personal slave. Strutting around after Brandt in her expensive clothes not even giving the roadies the time of day. Kept mostly to herself. And now I had to deal with her all summer.
It only reinforced my determination to make it to the next town’s recruiting office. As I drove the tour bus to the next gig tomorrow, I could stop there and sign up for basic training. At least it gave me a goal to look forward to as I couldn’t leave Big John short for the summer, but I was finally taking the step to advance my career. No more waiting for it to happen to me. And no more having to pimp for JJ or Ryder.
The crowd cheered and I adjusted my earpiece to hear Brandt announce their exit off stage left. Moving into position to their side, I walked the distance to the dressing rooms to shield off any crazies. With the amount of fame the band had acquired over the years, it got worse every tour.
“Over here, Ryder.”
"Quade, I want to have your babies.”
The same old same old, but we became a well-oiled machine this far into the tour. Keeping a lookout for anything suspicious I eyed the beefed up security, relieved when this arena took it seriously with bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors to even get inside the doors.
The band ignored the jeers of the onlookers as they were whisked away into the large back room to grab some water and towels before taking off to their private dressing rooms to shower and change. JJ leaned into me, “Tell them to have that brunette in my dressing room. I want her right after I get done in the shower. Did she have a friend?”
I knew he would be interested, ”Yeah, but she didn’t seem the sharing type.”
He shrugged, “Tell them to get her too. I can be persuasive.” Persuasive wasn’t the word for what JJ did with those women but I didn’t feel it was my place to mention it.
“Great night Brandt.” One of the roadies fist-bumped him before heading back to the stage area to dismantle the set for the next venue.
“Thanks.” Brandt grabbed a water bottle and drained it in one long drink before grabbing another. It always made me a little nervous when he got so thirsty. As a type 1 diabetic, it could mean his blood sugars were out of whack although he hadn’t had an issue with it for several years.
During the first tour I went on with the band, he started drinking heavily and had a diabetic episode resulting in a coma. It was a time he thought he had lost Chelsea. I tried what I could to get him to keep track of his blood sugars and felt partly responsible for him going to the hospital. I should have known better. My little sister was diabetic. She died two years ago from complications of pneumonia, being more susceptible as a hard-to-control diabetic, and there was nothing anyone could do. I missed her a lot. We were several years apart in age and I helped to raise her seeing as my parents were gone most of the time trying to keep us afloat. She would always be in my thoughts.
When Brandt found out about her pneumonia and her passing, he paid for all of her medical bills and set up a fund in her name through the diabetes foundation. It was the only reason I stayed as long as I did with the band. Both Chelsea and Brandt had a sense of morality I found hard to find in today’s society, and I really looked up to him.
“Do you have the car ready?” I came out of my memories to find Brandt staring at me.
“Yes. It’s out in the back. Hopefully no one will see us leave. Do you want me to take you to Chelsea before the airport?”
Shaking his head no, we made our way to the after room. “No time. Besides, I don’t want to risk being followed to the site. It is better off for her if they see me leave at the airport.”
Chelsea and the kids were parked at an out of way location. The campsite we scoped out ahead of time warranted a heavier price to keep it secret. Big John stood watch out there right now making sure no one bothered her. For the rest of the tour, we would need to be on alert to keep them out of the public eye as much as possible.
“Have you heard anything?” Brandt Inquired about Chelsea.
“Big John said she and the babies are sleeping peacefully and will head out soon for the next city.” Relief lightened on his face. He didn’t want to leave her but promised Rea he would be there to see her graduate.
“Good. I will only be gone for two days. I will meet you guys in the next town with Rebecca.” He turned around almost running into JJ.
“Can’t wait.” Brandt’s mood darkened perceivably.
“Sorry JJ. Now that my sister is over eighteen, she is far too old for you.”
He shrugged, “I decided I like older women.” Brandt became more agitated by his quip.
With a slightly pissed-off look on his face, he clapped his hands loudly talking to the room still full of roadies and other crew techs getting ready to take down the stage. “Attention everyone. My baby sister is coming to help with the kids and only help with the kids. She is off-limits to anyone in or out of the band. Do you hear me? If I find anyone sniffing around her, there will be consequences.” He added the last part looking at JJ. It was made lightheartedly but everyone knew he was only half kidding. Brandt was protective of his women.
If I didn’t know the band as well as I did, I would suspect some dissension in the ranks. JJ didn’t have any interest in Rea and said what he did to get a rise out of Brandt. They pushed each other constantly. Both two very talented musicians and they butted heads because of it. Another outcome of their squabbles — they created fantastic music together.
JJ looked at Brandt with a sly grin. “You can’t help it if she is drawn to me.”
Ryder came over and draped an arm over JJ’s shoulder, “I think you have it confused my good man. She is looking for a guy who can please her like me.”
Brandt shook his head at him, “Not you too.”
“What? Now that you knocked up your wife again there is no chance at us. You know what the thought of kids does to me. There is no way I could ever get it up again.” It didn’t surprise me Brandt let Ryder get away talking about his wife when he would think of killing JJ for the same.
“It is precisely why I keep her knocked up, ever think of that? Besides, it is a good thing you will never procreate.” The guys bantered for a little while yet before they left for the dressing rooms.
Waiting in the after-party room, I surveyed the crowd and did my band duties. Besides keeping them alive I had the arduous task of making sure enough markers and photos were set aside for the rest of the band to sign later. Besides, Brandt needed time to freshen up after his show anyway, and since being promoted to his personal bodyguard, I didn’t think I was above helping out.
We were leaving right away for the airport and it was sure to disappoint the fans. The crowd expected the lead singer to be available, although he spent most of his time recently helping to take care of Chelsea. Besides promoting the band, he felt the fans got robbed, but knew he would be able to give the time again once Rea came back with him.
Checking the time on my phone, I headed down to Brandt’s room to get him for the trip to the airport. Knocking and opening the door, I instantly realized my mistake. Sitting down in the far chair was a dripping wet JJ clad only in a towel knocking back a couple of pills and drinking them down with a bottle of whiskey.
Worse yet, the brunette from the crowd was leaning on the couch in front of him naked with her legs spread wide. A look of ecstasy covered her face as her blond friend from before squatted in front of her with her face concealed between the brunette’s legs. She was equally naked, and I was instantly reminded about her offer to blow me to get her chance at a member of the band. I guess she didn’t need me after all.
The blond paused once when she heard the door open. When she noticed me standing in the doorway, she looked up. Her mouth and chin glistened with fluids from working her friend into a tizzy. Her eyes met mine before she looked away ashamed.
JJ of course looked unfazed, dazed from before as his drug use was getting worse although he still tried to hide it from the rest of us. The band had an idea but probably not to the extent he had abused. They didn’t say anything to him thinking he had it under control, but I didn’t get the same vibe. He used drugs to push himself harder and harder which could only lead to burnout at some point.
JJ seemed in his element. He liked to manipulate people. What ‘grossed’ the friend out just thirty minutes ago, had now made it feasible to be able to say she was with a rockstar. She would have been banished had she not done his bidding. He used his fame to see how far he could exploit people, and she gave up her dignity just to appease him. It was a damn shame.
“Sorry man. Wrong room.” Going to close the door, I knew I didn’t do it fast enough when I heard him call out.
“Hey, boy scout. You want to join in?” JJ nicknamed me boy scout since the first tour and I let him. He even cajoled me into my fair share of women at a time when I wanted to fit in so bad I was willing to lower my morals to do it. That was before Big John took me under his wing and made me realize I didn’t want to get sucked into the life.
“No time. Gotta go.” I left it at that. If I told him I didn’t want to get involved in his soiree, he would just egg me on. This way he would leave me alone for a while.
Closing my door, I continued to the next room making sure it wasn’t Ryder’s. Knowing him he was probably getting his post-show hummer and I didn’t need another reason to want to bleach my eyes out. Quade, the only other band member who was sane, married a woman back on our first headlining tour. He respected her and didn’t whore around on her, an all-around decent guy really.
Finally getting it right, I knocked and opened to Brandt finishing putting clothes in a bag. “Here man can you get these laundered?”
Handing me the bag as he picked up his suitcase with his other hand. “Sure.”
Taking the bag from him, I often wondered if I would be able to avoid laundry detail when I got in the army. It would be great not to be anyone’s personal slave for a while, but I doubted it since there was a hierarchy there as well. The only difference being my own place as top dog someday with the army instead of always being a slave here.
“Car is around back, and if we leave before the after-party, it will be easier.” He nodded while tucking his hair into his baseball hat. Not much of a disguise but where we parked was out of the way. Letting me walk in front of him I guided us through the growing crowd of onlookers waiting to come back for the after-party. I matched Brandt in the height department, but my shoulders were broader making an easy path for him as we got to the back door.
Opening the back door, the cooler night air met the staunch atmosphere of the venue. The sky was muted by the embedded clouds as I appreciate the scent of a recent rain welcoming the start of June. A crowd of people a hundred yards down turned toward us when the door opened, and voices rose in the quiet of the dark alley as we made our way through the parking lot. We were spotted but the short distance to the car made our getaway easy enough. Pulling out of the back of the lot we were on the highway in less than five minutes with the help of the police directing traffic.
I bet the police didn’t mind helping out with this. Especially knowing they wouldn’t need to launder anyone’s sweaty clothes. It brought me back to my enlistment tomorrow feeling guilty I didn’t tell Brandt yet. He had been a good friend to me. I should at least let him know.
“Brandt, tomorrow I am going to the recruitment office. I want to enlist in the army.”
He was busy texting on his phone when I divulged this information. A look of shock and curiosity erupted on his face. “Enlisting? Really? How long have you been thinking about this?”
“For a really long time. I always wanted to do something with my life. I thought of police work but realized serving my country was a better step at this moment.”
Guarded, he frowned at me. “And you think now is the time?”
“Yeah, I think now is the best time. I mean, I really like going on tour with you but...” How do I tell him there was more for me than being a pimp for his bandmates?
“But you’re sick of being the gofer.” Relieved I didn’t need to explain, I let him continue, “You were better than that all along. I knew that. Big John knew that. Guess it was time you figured it out.”
“Exactly what did you know?”
“That you were too good for life on the road. You hate running our errands. Almost as much as you hate delivering women to JJ and Ryder.” I winced thinking he read my mind. He knew just as well as I did what happened on the tour bus with those two. Although he tried to keep it hidden from Chelsea he had yet to stifle their creative juices when it came to groupies.
“Well, I don’t want to be a gofer anymore. I don’t know how Big John handles it.”
He chuckled, “Big John is no one’s gofer. If I told him to get my shirts washed, he would make me eat them. That is why we had to promote him to tour manager. He is too old for our shit. I am surprised he lasted this long. Part of me thinks Chelsea talked him into it and the reason why he is our driver exclusively. I guess we will have to find a new errand boy.” Chelsea and Big John had a special bond, and he was just as protective of her as Brandt.
“When are you thinking of leaving?”
It weighed heavily on my mind. Big John being as much of a father to me as my own father, I couldn’t think of leaving him high and dry for the rest of the summer. “After the tour ends. I will wait until then to leave.”
Brandt looked out the window, seemingly in thought. “Well, we will all miss you. I know I won’t be able to stop you and as hard as it is I applaud your decision. You know my father’s uncle was in the Navy. He was stationed in a sub. Pretty cool listening to his stories.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah, he passed away a year or two ago, but he was a neat older guy.”
Brandt let out a deep breath and clapped me on the back as we pulled into the airport drop off area. “Let me know if there is anything you need from me.”
“There is. Could you keep this between the two of us? I will tell everyone eventually but I would rather let my last couple of months be free of talk of me leaving.” I didn’t want the other security guys or the roadies to treat me differently. Some would applaud my ideals much like Brandt but others would think I felt was too good for their job and give me shit.
“That I can do.” He opened the car door and shut it to go into the back to retrieve his suitcase. As he got it out and shut the door he knocked on the passenger window. Lowering the glass I leaned out to hear him. “And Logan, take care of my family while I am gone.”
Brandt may be a worrier when it came to his family but I took pride in his confidence in my ability to look after them. “You bet.”